Brett Sutton, Daniel Andrews evidence released by COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry


Brett Sutton’s anger at how Victoria’s hotel quarantine program was set up without his input has been laid bare in an email released by the inquiry into the scheme.

The state’s Chief Health Officer said it was “astounding” that he and his deputy, Annaliese van Diemen, were excluded from the planning process for the scheme, known as Operation Soteria, despite having legal responsibility for it.

The tensions are revealed in an April 13 email from Professor Sutton to Euan Wallace, the CEO of Safer Care Victoria, which is responsible for patient and hospital safety.

In it, Professor Sutton said Operation Soteria was set up and put in place through Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) “without even getting my approval or even input”.

“It was seen as an almost wholly logistic exercise and had EM [Emergency Management Victoria] governance without an understanding of where accountability sat, or perhaps should sit.”

He said because hotel quarantine was a policy recommendation from National Cabinet, state chief health officers needed to issue directions for its implementation — which made them legally accountable for it.

“In this case Annaliese wrote the direction —so was effectively the ‘maker’ of the entire scheme and has responsibility in law for it,” he wrote.

A “disconnect” with EMV colleagues meant they “effectively excluded those with significant accountability”, he wrote.

In previous evidence, Professor Sutton told the inquiry he believed he should have been appointed to the role of ‘state controller’, so he had better oversight of pandemic responses for which he bore some responsibility.

Dozens of documents released by inquiry

The COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry has been looking into the beleaguered scheme after its failures were blamed for Victoria’s devastating second wave of the virus.

On Friday afternoon, it released dozens of documents, including affidavits from Professor Sutton and Premier Daniel Andrews, phone records from top staffers at the Department of Premier and Cabinet and Mr Andrews’s office, and emails from various departments.

The inquiry requested the additional material to try and determine who was involved in the decision to engage private security at the quarantine hotels and at what point Professor Sutton knew private security guards were being used — matters that weren’t resolved by the inquiry’s last hearing in September.

Professor Sutton has said he did not know private security was being used in the scheme until he read about it in the media — even though he was copied into an email about that plan.

Premier Daniel Andrews, in his affidavit, also maintained he played no role in determining that private security would be used in the program, and did not know who had.

Daniel Andrews provided additional evidence to the inquiry after his appearance.(AAP: Erik Anderson)

However, the Premier shed some light on why he mentioned “private security” at a press conference he held on the afternoon of March 27, despite later saying no decision had been made to use private security by that time.

Mr Andrews said while he had no memory of it, it was likely he was briefed before the press conference by his chief-of-staff Lissie Ratcliff, and “probably” his press secretary Stephanie Anderson and media director Adam Sims.

Mr Andrews said they may have been briefed by a member of his private office, whose name had been redacted.

“I am informed that it is possible that those who briefed me obtained information from [name redacted] for the purposes of the briefing, but I am informed that [name redacted] was not present when I was briefed.”

Text messages between Premier, chief-of-staff released

At the press conference, Mr Andrews told the media that “police, private security, all of our health team will be able to monitor compliance in a much easier way” at the hotels.

However, when he gave verbal evidence to the inquiry, Mr Andrews said he was not sure why he had mentioned private security at the press conference, or how he had learned they would be used.

Jennifer Coate sits behind a bend with the words
Jennifer Coate’s final report is due to be handed down by December 21.  (AAP: James Ross)

Mr Andrews said for the sake of “completeness” he would also provide text messages between him and his chief-of-staff about the hotel arrangements that he was aware of later that evening.

The text messages showed the CEO of Linfox was happy to assist with hotel arrangements, and supermarket La Manna was happy to feed people.

Mr Andrews asked Ms Ratcliff: “how are we going on hotels and midnight tomorrow. Do we have many flights tomorrow? Call if you need to”.

Ms Ratcliff responded that she would have updates on the number of rooms: “we’re aiming for more than 5,000 — transportation, guidelines for leaving rooms, protection for workers, number of expected arrivals and flights for Sunday”.

The reply from Ms Ratcliff to Mr Andrews also said “it’ll only apply to flights landing after midnight so anyone coming in during the day tomorrow won’t be caught up.

“Will get you an update as soon as it comes through.”

Inquiry chair Jennifer Coate is due to hand down her findings by December 21.



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Jarryd Hayne trial: Day 4 updates, sexual assault evidence from Newcastle Court | NRL news


Police phone taps recorded Jarryd Hayne telling former NSW teammate Mitchell Pearce that he would sue the woman accusing him of sexual assault for defamation.

Mr Hayne is on trial in the Newcastle District Court for the alleged attack on the woman on September 30, 2018 – the night of that year’s NRL grand final.

He is accused of performing oral and digital sex on her without her consent in the Newcastle suburb of Fletcher.

The 32-year-old has pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual intercourse without consent aggravated by recklessly inflicting actual bodily harm.

It’s alleged that Hayne was drunk when he came to the woman’s home in a cab and that he caused her considerable pain and to bleed when he performed a sexual act on her.



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No evidence that increased unemployment benefits act as disincentive for job seekers, economists say | Welfare


There is “no evidence” the coronavirus supplement stopped jobseekers looking for work and even a “substantial increase” in unemployment benefits would not provide a disincentive to take a job.

Those are the conclusions of the labour market economist Jeff Borland presented to a Senate inquiry into extending the supplement to March at the reduced rate of $150 a fortnight.

The evidence, supported by the social policy academic Peter Whiteford, contradicts concerns from Coalition backbench MPs and anecdotal evidence from employers that jobseekers are turning down work.

Scott Morrison has warned temporary economic supports must be pared back to prevent disincentive effects, reasoning that drove the government to cut the supplement from $550 a fortnight from September.

Borland told the Senate community affairs legislation committee that there was “no evidence the higher jobseeker rate in 2020 has had any appreciable effect on incentives to take up paid work”.

Borland found that although the rate of people moving from unemployment to employment froze at the start of the pandemic, as soon as the economy reopened in May “the rate of that flow … returned to its previous level” compared with the preceding three years.

Nor were job vacancies taking longer to fill, which would be expected if jobseeker acted as a disincentive, he said.

Borland said although there was “anecdotal” evidence from some employers, they could be attributing regular difficulty filling positions to the supplement.

“There are always some employers who have difficulty” filling positions, he said, citing employment department data from before the pandemic showing some 45% of employers complained of difficulty filling vacancies despite 20 applicants on average for each job.

Whiteford noted that if jobseeker goes back to its old rate of $40 a day it will be 40% of the minimum wage, providing an “extremely high” incentive to find work.

But even if jobseeker was raised to the rate of the age pension, at 65% of the minimum wage, workers would still be “much, much better off” in full-time work, he said.

In November, Morrison said Australia’s safety net could “potentially” act as an impediment to employment “as we hear from so many employers around the country who are seeking people to go into jobs”.

In June Guardian Australia revealed claims that jobseekers were turning down work were based on a handful of responses from among 2,324 surveyed employers.

The shadow social services minister, Linda Burney, said the government “continues to contradict the evidence of the experts by cynically insinuating that Australians out of work are choosing unemployment”.

“With 1.8 million Australians expected to be on unemployment by the end of the year, the reality is that there are simply not enough jobs for everyone who needs one.”

The Greens senator Rachel Siewert said it was “outrageous that the government have continued their ideological attacks on people on income support in the face of the worst recession of a generation”.

Despite the government insisting no decision has been made about the future of jobseeker payments, the coronavirus supplement extension bill stipulates that after 31 March the supplement will be repealed.

The bill permanently removes Covid-19 exemptions to the liquid assets test waiting period and the assets test, meaning singles with $5,500 of liquid assets and couples with $11,000 would have to wait up to 13 weeks to get jobseeker.

Earlier in the hearing, the Australian Council of Social Services chief executive, Cassandra Goldie, urged the Senate to oppose the bill on the basis it should instead push for jobseeker to be raised to the rate of the aged pension.

Corey Irlam, the deputy chief executive of the Council of the Ageing, said a return to the old rate of jobseeker would drive older Australians, who face great difficulty re-entering the workforce over the age of 55, further into poverty.

Paul Zahra, the chief executive of the Australian Retailers Association, said the coronavirus supplement had been the “quiet achiever” of the pandemic, helping support an anticipated 2.8% increase in Christmas trade compared with 2019.

Given 58% of jobseeker payments were spent in retail, Zahra said the ARA estimated that the supplement was worth $8.5bn per year to the sector, helping to support 130,000 jobs.



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Lin Wood subpoenas Ga. officials for video evidence


Attorneys L. Lin Wood (Photo by Apu Gomes/Getty Images)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 5:30 PM PT – Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Attorney Lin Wood served a subpoena to Georgia officials seeking video-evidence, which may reveal voter fraud.

In a subpoena to the Georgia Secretary of State, Wood asked the state to produce the footage from the ‘State Farm Arena’ in Atlanta, which was filmed between November 3 and 4.

The veteran attorney is specifically interested in videos from room 604 and the elevators around it. He believes ballot dumps and tampering took place at the State Farm Arena when officials stopped the count due to a “burst water pipe,” which it turns out actually never happened.

Additionally, Wood found Democrats allegedly destroyed evidence of voter fraud with an A1 Shredding truck. In a series of tweets Tuesday, the renowned attorney posted videos of an A1 Shredding truck outside a polling location in Cobb County, Georgia.

The videos showed unidentified people supposedly shredding absentee ballots and other documented evidence of fraud.

A1 Shredding released a statement, which said they are aware of the incident and have asked the FBI to investigate.

Wood said an upcoming lawsuit on Wednesday will reveal mechanisms as well as the scale of Democrat voter fraud in Georgia.

MORE NEWS: Seattle City Council Moves To Cut Police Budget By Roughly 18%





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Evidence builds that an early mutation made the COVID-19 pandemic harder to stop


But a host of new research – including close genetic analysis of outbreaks and lab work with hamsters and human lung tissue – has supported the view that the mutated virus did in fact have a distinct advantage, infecting people more easily than the original variant detected in Wuhan, China.

There is no evidence that a coronavirus with the 614G mutation causes more severe symptoms, kills more people or complicates the development of vaccines. Nor do the findings change the reality that places that quickly and aggressively enacted lockdowns and encouraged measures like social distancing and masks have fared far better than the those that did not.

But the subtle change in the virus’ genome appears to have had a big ripple effect, said David Engelthaler, a geneticist at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Arizona.

“When all is said and done, it could be that this mutation is what made the pandemic,” he said.

The first outbreaks of the virus would have spread around the world even without the mutation, believe most researchers, including Engelthaler. The original variant spotted in Wuhan in late 2019 was already highly contagious, he said.

But the mutation appears to have made the pandemic spread farther and faster than it would have without it.

Scientists are especially cautious in this area of virology.

Lab studies found that mutations of the Ebola virus, which spread in West Africa starting in 2013, increased infectivity in tissue culture. But that conclusion did not translate to increased transmission in lab studies with animals. And some experts said the effect of the 614G mutation might be modest compared with other factors, like social distancing rates.

But the new evidence, from research groups in the United Kingdom and the United States, has changed the minds of many scientists who were initially sceptical.

One study found that outbreaks in communities in the United Kingdom grew faster when seeded by the 614G variant than when seeded by its Wuhan ancestor. Another reported that hamsters infected each other more quickly when exposed to the variant. And in a third, the variant infected human bronchial and nasal tissue in a cell-culture dish far more efficiently than its ancestor.

Trevor Bedford, associate professor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre and the University of Washington, said that the collection of findings from different lines of research had won him over.

“My being convinced comes from seeing the same thing repeatedly,” Bedford said. “I think at this point that it is real.”

A patient is treated in the ICU of Bassini Hospital near Milan, which was hit hard in the early months of the pandemic. Credit:LaPresse

While impressed with the new work, Bedford and other scientists said it was still unclear if an inherent advantage was the main reason for the global dominance of the variant.

Kristian Andersen, a geneticist at Scripps Research, La Jolla, said the research did show that the variant is more transmissible, but he believes the difference is subtle.

Even so, Andersen said that the variant’s higher transmissibility could help explain why some countries that were initially successful in containing the virus became susceptible to it later. The virus may have been “harder to contain than the first time around,” he said.

“What you used to do may not be quite enough to control it,” Andersen said. “Don’t necessarily expect that the enemy of two months ago is the enemy you have the next time.”

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Around the world, the emergence of 614G has generated both serious scientific debate and largely political blame dodging. Government officials in Vietnam and Thailand, which fared well in containing the ancestral strain despite an influx of Chinese visitors early in the year, have suggested that the later outbreaks may have been partly the result of the 614G virus.

Thailand has kept both variants of the virus under control over the past year through the strict quarantining of returnees, a ban on foreign tourists, masks and other measures, said Thira Woratanarat, an associate professor in the faculty of medicine at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. Still, he said, resurgences in the region are concerning.

“We have seen several countries, like Vietnam, South Korea and Japan, that seemed to have it under control,” Thira said. “But then there was a second wave.”

In Vietnam, he said, the virus with the 614G mutation was first confirmed in the central coastal city of Danang after about 100 days with no reported cases of local transmission. An outbreak quickly spread to 10 cities and provinces. In Singapore, he said, the mutated virus spread in crowded dormitories for migrant workers.

“When the mutated virus lives in big groups, it spreads faster and makes it much more difficult to control,” he said.

But other researchers said that a lack of proper containment measures, not the mutation, is largely to blame for resurgent outbreaks.

“The reason this is spreading is people are not having enough measures in place,” said Kari Stefansson, founder and chief executive of deCODE Genetics, a leading genome analysis firm based in Iceland. “It seems like extraordinarily poor politics to blame the inadequacies on the virus. They should be picking on someone their own size, not this tiny virus.”

In one of the new studies, a British team of researchers had an advantage shared by no one else: They were able to draw upon the largest national database of coronavirus genome sequences in the world. The researchers collected new evidence that, at least in the United Kingdom, the variant took over because it indeed spreads faster.

“When we look at clusters, the G variant grows more quickly,” said Erik M Volz, a researcher at the Medical Research Council Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College London and the leader of the study.

The data collected by the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium allowed the team to observe the growth of infected clusters as a kind of horse race. Side by side, did clusters of 614G infections grow faster than infections involving the ancestral variant?

The 614G variant clearly won the race, the analysis found. The precise rate remains uncertain, but the most likely value gives 614G roughly a 20 per cent advantage in its exponential rate of growth.

“This is exactly the kind of analysis that needed to be done, and it provides more support for G being more transmissible” than the ancestral virus, said one of the researchers, Katharina V Koelle, an associate professor of biology at Emory University.

In a separate series of studies, a team led by Ralph Baric at the University of North Carolina tested live viruses, comparing the 614G variant with the ancestral version. In one, the team found that 614G viruses were more infectious in samples of human bronchial and nasal tissue, the most likely source of virus to be transmitted to others.

Another study, published in Science, found that the variant was more readily transmissible in hamsters when infected animals came within a few inches of each other. Scientists consider animal experiments a critical step to test whether a mutation that makes viruses more infectious in a lab dish also does so in a living population.

Baric’s team placed an infected hamster in a cage, adjacent to the cage of an uninfected one; the cages were several inches apart, so the animals could not touch one another. Any transmission could occur only through the air, in droplets or aerosols.

After two days, five of eight hamsters with the 614G variant had infected its pair. None of those with the ancestral virus had done so.

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“When you take all the data together, everything is consistent with a system that increases infectiousness and transmissibility,” Baric said.

The virus will continue to change, and while most of those changes will be mere typos, some may be more meaningful, Engelthaler said.

“There will be the possibility of additional alterations that change the nature of the pandemic,” he said.

Already, Engelthaler said, he has seen strong indications of such alterations in his own unpublished data tracking the spread of different variants in Arizona.

“We have to listen to what the virus is telling us,” he said.

The New York Times

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Sidney Powell: There’s lots of evidence of voter fraud


Sidney Powell, right, speaks next to former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, as members of President Donald Trump’s legal team, during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Thursday Nov. 19, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:30 AM PT – Sunday, November 22, 2020

President Trump’s legal team is continuing the battle for a free and fair election.

In an interview Saturday, the President’s campaign lawyer, Sidney Powell, said Joe Biden potentially received 10 million fraudulent votes during this year’s election. She went on to say there could be several million votes coming from illegitimate places under the names of people who have been dead for days, months and even years.

Powell has come down especially hard on Dominion Voting Systems for allegedly switching tallies from President Trump to Joe Biden. Additionally, she drew attention to how widespread voter fraud could have been conducted to make it less obvious in places like the contested battleground states.

Ballots are stored on portable shelving at a Cobb County Election facility as officials handle ballots during an audit, Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Powell asserted the fraud ran deeper than in just the presidential vote by stating Democrats added 35,000 votes to each Democrat candidate’s tally. She said she has plenty of evidence for her case that she plans to unveil in the coming days.

“I think we’re going to find a significant conspiracy through that…we’ve also got evidence of people being paid and we’ve got pictures of the check stubs for people to ballot harvest and do fraudulent voting, stated the attorney.”

The attorney said Georgia is probably going to be the first state she goes after. The team of campaign lawyers are expected to file cases in federal court as early as this week.

RELATED: Recounts across the country waiting to be certified





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Australian Federal Police urged to investigate alleged war crimes


CANBERRA, ACT, Australia – The inquiry into Australian Special Forces’ misconduct in Afghanistan has found evidence of war crimes involving 25 current or former Australian Defence Force personnel.

The inquiry found “credible information” of 23 incidents in which one or more non-combatants or prisoners of war “were unlawfully killed by or at the direction of members of the Special Operations Task Group, in circumstances which, if accepted by a jury, would be the war crime of murder.”

In a further two incidents, a non-combatant or prisoner was mistreated in a way that would be “the war crime of cruel treatment.”

Some incidents involved one victim, and in some there were multiple victims.

The inquiry found a total of 39 individuals were killed, and a further two cruelly treated.

The 25 current or former ADF personnel were perpetrators “either as principals or accessories” some of them on a single occasion and a few on multiple occasions.

None of the alleged crimes involved decisions made “under pressure, in the heat of battle.”

The inquiry, in a report released on Thursday, has recommended the Chief of the Defence Force refer 36 matters to the Australian Federal Police for criminal investigation, relating to 23 incidents, and involving 19 individuals.

The inquiry, which examined conduct by the Special Forces between 2005 and 2016 was conducted by Justice Paul Brereton. Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week announced the establishment of a special investigator’s office to prepare material for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

While the report is damning specifically for the special forces operation in the prolonged Afghanistan war, it will cast a pall over the Australian military more generally.

It recommends Australia immediately compensate families of Afghan nationals unlawfully killed, without waiting for criminal liability to be established.

“This will be an important step in rehabilitating Australia’s national reputation, in particular with Afghanistan, and it is simply the right thing to do,” the report says.

It says although many members of the Australian Operation Task Group showed great courage and commitment, and the group had considerable achievements, “what is now known must disentitle the unit as a whole to eligibility for recognition for sustained outstanding service.”

“It has to be said that what this Report discloses is disgraceful and a profound betrayal of the Australian Defence Forces’ professional standards and expectations.”

The inquiry has recommended revoking the award of the Meritorious Unit Citation, “as an effective demonstration of the collective responsibility and accountability” of the group as a whole.

The investigation found that while commanders on the ground were involved, those higher up the chain did not know of the war crimes being perpetrated.

Among the evidence, the inquiry found credible information that “junior soldiers were required by their patrol commanders to shoot a prisoner, in order to achieve the sliders first kill, in a practice that was known as ‘blooding.'”

It also found that “throwdowns” (weapons and radios) would be placed with the body as a “cover story” for operational reporting and to deflect scrutiny.

“This was reinforced with a cone of silence.”

The report laid blame on culture, condemning the “warrior culture” of some SAS commanders in Australia.

The Chief of the ADF, Angus Campbell said at a news conference he “sincerely and unreservedly apologised” for any wrongdoing by Australian soldiers.

Campbell said he had accepted all 143 Brereton recommendations, dealing with culture, governance, and accountability.

Author: Michelle Grattan – Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

The Conversation



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Fox News host Tucker Carlson blasts Sidney Powell for lack of evidence in fraud claims


Carlson’s rebuke of Powell marked a notable departure for a show – and a network – that has given hours of credulous coverage to false claims by Trump and his associates that fraud cost him the election. It came after Fox News aired a rambling news conference on Thursday featuring Powell and Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, making numerous false and far-fetched allegations about the election.

The segment also put Carlson at odds with other Fox News hosts like Jesse Watters, who on his Thursday show described Powell and Giuliani’s news conference as “a big shot of adrenaline”.

Powell, who didn’t respond to a message from The Washington Post, pushed back on Carlson in a statement to the Washington Examiner, saying that she would “encourage him and all journalists to review all the materials we have provided so far and conduct their own investigations”.

On his Thursday show, Carlson didn’t discount the larger claims of Trump’s attorneys that massive fraud disrupted the election – an allegation that has been repeatedly dismissed in court and for which the White House has presented no public evidence.

While conceding that Giuliani “did not conclusively prove” any fraud at Thursday’s new conference, Carlson argued that “he did raise legitimate questions and in some cases, he pointed to what appeared to be real wrongdoing”. And he praised Giuliani and Powell for calling into question the security of electronic voting.

But Carlson said that Powell had gone too far without proof in claiming that Trump “had won by a landslide,” and that a conspiracy masterminded by electronic voting firms had changed the results. Her statements on those subjects have been repeatedly disproved, The Washington Post‘s Fact Checker reported on Thursday.

“What Powell was describing would amount to the single greatest crime in American history,” Carlson said.

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Carlson emphasised that he “did not dismiss any” of Powell’s claims, and said he “took Sidney Powell seriously with no intention of fighting with her”. But he said he was disturbed that she didn’t produce any evidence for his show.

“We simply wanted to see the details. How could you not want to see them?” he said.

Carlson ended the segment by defending his decision to call Powell out.

“Why are we telling you this?” he said. “We’re telling you this because it’s true, and in the end, that’s all that matters.”

The Washington Post

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Scott Austic acquitted of murdering pregnant lover Stacey Thorne after police allegedly planted evidence


After 13 years fighting to clear his name, most of that time in custody, WA man Scott Austic has been found not guilty — after a second trial — of murdering his pregnant lover.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains the name and images of people who have died.

Amid allegations that police in 2007 framed the 45-year-old, the Supreme Court jury deliberated for two hours before acquitting him of fatally stabbing 35-year-old Stacey Thorne.

Mr Austic’s mother broke down sobbing when the verdict was delivered.

Ms Thorne was 22 weeks’ pregnant with Mr Austic’s child when she was stabbed 21 times at her Boddington home, about 120 kilometres south-east of Perth, before stumbling outside where she collapsed and died.

Mr Austic, described in court as Ms Thorne’s casual sexual partner, first stood trial in 2009 when he was found guilty of wilful murder and sentenced to life in jail with a 25-year minimum.

An appeal in 2010 was dismissed, but he was granted a rare second challenge to his conviction eight years later, after concerns were raised that key pieces of evidence, including the alleged murder weapon, were planted by police.

Last year, after that second appeal was heard, Mr Austic’s conviction was overturned and a retrial ordered.

That took place over the past three weeks with prosecutor Justin Whalley SC outlining “11 strands of circumstantial evidence” that he claimed proved Mr Austic was Ms Thorne’s killer.

Stacey Thorne was pregnant with Mr Austic’s child when she was murdered.(AAP: WA Police)

The evidence included:

  • Mr Austic “lying” to police in an interview about what he was wearing on the night of the stabbing, because CCTV from the local hotel showed him in different clothing
  • the discovery of a Jim Beam can with Mr Austic’s DNA on a verge outside Ms Thorne’s home
  • the discovery of a knife with Ms Thorne’s blood on it in a paddock near Mr Austic’s home
  • the finding of a bloodstained cigarette packet on a table at Mr Austic’s house; and importantly
  • a motive, because Mr Austic did not want Ms Thorne to have his child
Photograph of a Jim Beam can found near the scene of the murder of Stacey Thorne.
Police claimed the Jim Beam can was found near the scene of the murder with Mr Austic’s DNA on it.(Supplied: Court of Appeal)

The evidence about that alleged motive included a text message Mr Austic sent Ms Thorne 10 days before her death saying “I will do anything for you not to have it. Just please let me know. I’ll do anything.”

As he did at his first trial, Mr Austic denied having anything to do with Ms Thorne’s death.

Police allegedly planted evidence

However, at the retrial, unlike the initial case, the defence was based on allegations “a small but corrupt” group of police officers, who had decided early on Mr Austic was the culprit, planted crucial evidence against him.

David Edwardson QC said that included the Jim Beam can and the knife that was alleged to be the murder weapon.

The defence called an expert, who testified the knife “miraculously” found by detectives in a paddock that already been thoroughly searched by State Emergency Service volunteers, was not long enough to have inflicted the deep wounds suffered by Ms Thorne.

Photograph of the knife alleged to have been the murder weapon in the murder of Stacey Thorne.
The bloodied knife was said to have been found by police in a paddock that had already been searched by SES volunteers.(Supplied: Court of Appeal)

The defence also claimed the cigarette packet found on the table at Mr Austic’s home did not appear in photographs and videos of the same scene taken by forensic police the day before.

The police officers who found the items were called to testify at the trial, and categorically denied “introducing”, or planting, the items in question.

In a closing address to the jury, Mr Whalley described the allegations as “fantasy land.”

He suggested the bloodstained cigarette packet on the table at Mr Austic’s could be seen in “zoomed in” versions of the original photographs taken by police.

A table with a number of items on it, including a torch, coffee mug, cigarette packet, stubby holder and hammer.
A cigarette packet stained with Ms Thorne’s blood was visible in this later crime scene photo but not the original images.(Supplied)

He also raised the possibility that the forensic pathologist who did the post-mortem examination on Ms Thorne’s body in 2007, who had since died, may have made “erroneous” measurements of the knife wounds she suffered.

But in the end, the jury of 12 men and women was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Austic murdered Ms Thorne, and delivered a unanimous verdict of not guilty.

Victim’s family voice anger over outcome

The courtroom was packed with members of Mr Austic and Ms Thorne’s families.

The police officers who investigated the case — including those whose credibility was called into question — were in attendance.

Outside the court Ms Thorne’s sister Hayley said the family was devastated by the verdict.

“To be feeling the way that we are feeling now, is like, I can’t even feel my own body,” Hayley Thorne said.

“It’s not justice with a white jury, where’s our justice? This is white privilege.”

An emotional Hayley Thorne speaks to the media after the verdict.
Hayley Thorne says the family is devastated by the outcome of the retrial.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)

Ms Thorne said the family would be upset to see Mr Austic walking free.

“It hurts, it hurts. If we see him walking out of this courthouse it’s going to kill us,” she said.

Hayley Thorne’s niece, Charmaine Williams, said the last 13 years had been heartbreaking for the family.

“Every time they have an appeal, it brings up the hurt for our family. Every time,” she said.

“Stacey never died, you know?

“She is with us, but we’re still feeling the pain every time they bring that up in our faces and it’s not fair on our family.

“Where’s the justice? There’s no justice.”



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