Adelaide man who left drugs at hotel counter sentenced for ‘extremely amateur’ offending



An Adelaide man who was arrested after leaving more than 7 kilograms of drugs at a hotel front counter for staff to look after has received a suspended sentence because of the “exceptional circumstances” around the case.

Con Psarras, 31, pleaded guilty in Adelaide’s District Court to trafficking a large commercial quantity of a controlled drug and was sentenced on Friday.

The court was told Psarras left a sports bag with 7.68kg of the drug fantasy in it at the front counter of the Findon Hotel on May 14 last year.

He asked the staff to look after it while he found money for the booking.

Judge Paul Cuthbertson said the employee and the hotel’s assistant manager could see it contained a white plastic container with a “viscous liquid-like drug” in it.

Psarras returned at 9:00pm to book in but refused to give his credit card details and the staff called police.

‘Exceptional circumstances’ around case

While the maximum penalty for the charge is a fine of $1 million and imprisonment for life, Judge Cuthbertson said it was possible to hand out a suspended sentence for the crime in “exceptional circumstances”.

He described the offending as “unusual in the extreme” and “stupid behaviour”.

“Although the quantity of the drug is such that it comes within the offence of trafficking in a large commercial quantity, the circumstances of the offending are unusual in that [it is] far from suggesting a highly professional, serious and organised crime offence,” Judge Cuthbertson said.

“It bears all the appearances of being extremely amateur and committed under circumstances suggesting the offender may well have been under the influence of some drugs at the time due to the certain risk he was running of putting drugs into the custody of the hotel and thus risking a serious criminal charge.”

He also said Psarras had put in effort in rehabilitation and had had success with it.

He also had strong family support.

The judge said Psarras turned to the offending after becoming involved with an “inappropriate group of acquaintances” after having to quit his job at his father’s concreting business after developing an allergy to concrete.

Considering a 20 per cent discount for pleading guilty and the five months he had already spent in custody, Judge Cuthbertson fixed a non-parole period of two years.

He suspended the sentence in exchange for a $100 bond, along with strict conditions, including drug testing and 200 hours of community service.



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Police charge man after series of offending in western Victoria


Bendigo Crime Investigation Unit detectives have charged a 21-year-old man following a series of alleged offences in western Victoria across October and November.

Police will allege the man, of no fixed address, committed a series of armed robberies and burglaries in White Hills, Castlemaine and Epsom.

The first of the alleged offences occurred at a pharmacy in White Hills on 27 October about 4am. The store’s window was smashed and the till, containing cash, was stolen.

On 5 November, police will allege the man attended a car wash in Castlemaine about 1.10am and threatened to kill a taxi driver who was washing her car.

It is alleged he threatened the woman with a crowbar, before stealing her money, mobile phone, car keys and cigarettes.

Later that morning, police will allege the man burgled a retail store in Epsom by kicking in the door. He left empty handed.

On 8 November, the man allegedly attended a laundromat in White Hills with an angle grinder and a crowbar at 10.10pm.

He allegedly attempted to cut locks on coin machines before threatening the staff member with the crowbar.

On 11 November, it is alleged the man attended a service station in Epsom about 5.20am.

The staff member preparing the store for opening told the man the store wasn’t open yet, before he allegedly ran towards her with a crowbar.

He allegedly threatened her life before directing her to open tills and cigarette storage. The man allegedly stole over $1000 of cash and cigarettes.

The man was arrested today in Wodonga after a lengthy investigation, and has been charged with armed robberies, burglary, theft, make threats to kill, criminal damage and other offences.

He has been remanded in custody to appear before the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court for a committal mention on 17 February.

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.



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Egypt’s Sisi says freedom of expression stops at offending more than 1.5 billion people


October 28, 2020

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said on Wednesday freedom of expression should stop at offending more than 1.5 billion people, following the display of images in France of the Prophet Mohammad that Muslims see as blasphemous.

Sisi also said he firmly rejects any form of violence or terrorism from anyone in the name of defending religion, religious symbols or icons.

(Reporting by Nadine Awadalla; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Catherine Evans)



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Caring for kids, stopping offending: The town’s big issue.


By ERWIN CHLANDA

There was a strong thread at the election debate on Wednesday night, right across the political spectrum, about caring for young people and stopping them offending.

The record deficit was raised without any candidate offering a way of paying it back, and there were diverting views about water, fracking and the resuscitation of the economy post COVID.

As usual it was a well-meaning and generous initiative by the Chamber of Commerce but it was not a debate: There was no room for statements and claims to be challenged, tested.

Wayne Thompson, from the floor, asked the vital question in the youth curfew debate: What happens if a kid taken to a place of safety doesn’t stay there? He got no answer.

The two major parties – if the CLP, with two Members of Parliament, can be called major – are hiding from the media: Chief Minister Michael Gunner isn’t even replying to a request for an interview from the Alice Springs News, and none of the CLP candidates are available for one either, clearly preferring to communicate via minders and on social media.

And in the “debate” where were the well researched, sourced, costed, shovel-ready project proposals with solid business plans and money assured?

What was the Opposition up to in that space during the four years of Labor financial mayhem?

The public was expected to believe that the five elected members of the Town Council, hapless in the face of Alice’s woes, would suddenly fire in the Legislative Assembly. Really?

That’s Mayor Damien Ryan, three first-time councillors Marli Banks, Catherine Satour (absent because of a bereavement), Matt Paterson, and also Eli Melky, the head of the Federation Party, in the audience.

Cr Melky is still on council and we’ll get back the others, no doubt, if they don’t get elected to Parliament.

In the first of the meeting’s three parts the candidates were given two minutes each to introduce themselves to the audience of about 50, filling only half the COVID-spaced chairs: What qualities make a good representative for our region? How have you demonstrated these qualities?

Born and raised; worked tirelessly; family values; community work; problem solver; proactive; strong leadership qualities; sporting clubs; I love Alice Springs – that kind of stuff.

Then came four topics set by the organisers, starting with population decline and loss of skills.

Jackson Ankers (ALP, Araluen): We have the most generous home owner scheme in the whole country. Araluen voters are either Millennials or Generation Z. They will grow the population. More than ever we need the Aboriginal art gallery.

Domenico Pecorari (Federation): The population is declining despite migration from bush communities and overseas. Beautifying the Mall and a new hospital are merely a brief sugar fix. We don’t need a gas-led but a culture-led recovery.

Scott McConnell (Independent, Braitling): Crime is driven by social inequality. Indigenous people are feeling not welcome in their own country. Wenten Rubuntja’s book The Town Grew Up Dancing had the message: stop dividing this community and it will grow.

Matt Paterson (Territory Alliance) put his money on mining. A government resource co-ordinator general would streamline government processes: WA has the world’s fastest approval scheme, the NT is in 13th place. Currently proposed projects would operate from between three and a half years and 37 years and employ 1330 people after construction.

Wayne Wright (Independent): Making home ownership more accessible is the key.

Damien Ryan (CLP): We need jobs, community safety and opportunities. Mining is locked up in red tape. We need private money to flow into agriculture, mining and renewables. (Big applause.)

The economy shrank 21%, investments 85%.

Joshua Burgoyne (CLP, Braitling): The Gunner Government is $8 billion in debt which a CLP Government would have to pay down through earnings from investments. It takes nine months to get an exceptional development approval. Using local consultants rather than imported ones would reduce waste. Connecting the wet north with the dry Centre could turn the NT into the nation’s “agricultural powerhouse”.

Bernard Hickey (Greens, Araluen): Finding a way for Aboriginal people to feel more equal and involved will improve the economy.

Robyn Lambley (Territory Alliance, Araluen): Mismanagement has put us in the worst shape in Australia, but there will need to be more debt “temporarily”.

Pecorari: Get financial advice and follow it. When you are in a hole, stop digging. Higher royalties and pay for water used in mining. Reduce the size of the public service. Measures to prevent crime. Convert expenses to investments.

Dale Wakefield (ALP, Braitling): Debt is about saving jobs and saving businesses, keeping the economy going “in challenging times” and after a “chaotic” previous government.

McConnell: We’re not being governed well. Yet we are an “incredibly privileged jurisdiction”. Chief Minister sits on the national cabinet. We get $4.66 GST return on every dollar we spend. “We are getting lots of money and we are wasting it. Let’s stop peddling this crap that we are hard done by.” There needs to be one collaborative approach.

Antisocial behaviour.

McConnell: We need social inclusion for Aboriginal people, involve them in our economy. The cattle station Napperby had more Aboriginal employment than now when he grew up there. Our children are not safe.

Ken Lechleitner (Federation, Gwoja): Instead of punitive laws we should have “good, inclusive laws” which encourage responsibility towards each-other and allow us to dream together.

Lambley: Caring for our kids is our number one issue. She hesitates to use the word curfew but says we need to take them to a place of safety, find a responsible adult. Mr Thompson’s question was left hanging.

Later in the meeting Minister Wakefield disclosed that the management of the juvenile detention centre, adjacent to the adult jail, will be handed over to an “Aboriginal health service”. Congress says it is negotiating.

For the time being, it is understood the “Juvie” will stay with Territory Families if Labor is re-elected, and go to Corrections under a CLP government.

Bill Yan (CLP, Namatjira): I don’t feel safe at home, in the town. Bring the police portfolio back under the Chief Minister. Offending must have consequences.

Mr Yan, who resigned as the head of the Alice Springs prison to stand for Namatjira, later said in response to a question from the floor that the adult recidivism is 56%. Rehabilitation measures need more than 12 months to succeed and many sentences are shorter than that.

Wakefield: There are no silver bullets, there has to be “continuous hard work and commitment to policy that works and is evidence based, supporting families and making sure we intervene before a crime occurs.” Act during the first 1000 days of life.

Chris Tomlins (Greens): Take the kids out to communities, engage them in tourism and as rangers, and show them how we can work together. They are now in a vicious cycle of coming to town, offending, imprisonment, release and being “left behind in Alice”.

Enviromnent protection renewable resources.

Hickey: Develop a renewables industry, farms on indigenous communities, bush foods, rangers, carbon abatement, green army, arts and cultural occupations.

Ryan: Renewables have potential but while we need to be “sensible how to get there” we have the potential to provide clean energy to the rest of Australia. We could lead the world in the transition to hydrogen but need to “get there slowly”.

Wakefield: She is “incredibly proud” of the government’s environmental record and the move of renewable power in the grid from 2% to 16%. The previous government regarded solar power as a “hoax”. Sun Cable in Tennant Creek will put us on the world map. “The minerals we have around us are essential for the renewable economy” moving to hydrogen power and “export it to the world”. (Loud applause.)

Marli Banks (Federation, Braitling): “Local decision making needs to be implemented” in economic development issues.

Paterson: Emphasised his party’s “no fracking” policy. Advocates a renewables taskforce.

McConnell: “Stupid” fracking “is not part of our future”. He calls for a return to Alice Springs of the conservation and parks administrations.

In reply to a comment from the floor during the public questions session Minister Wakefield said water allocation will be a “huge issue” for the next government: “The CLP has a history of handing out water licences left, right and centre” to its mates.

When Jenny Mostran, from the floor, suggested ID should be required from voters Minister Wakefield asked for public feedback.

Another member of the public said the Electoral Commissioner had suggested 25,000 people, mostly Indigenous, were not on the roll and did not vote.

Ryan: This is a Federal, Local and Territory government issue. We don’t have enough people for our second Federal seat. The Federal Electoral Commission had closed its office in the NT.

Lambley: There is just one NT Electoral Commission staffer in Alice Springs to cover the whole of Central Australian. The low turnout in the bush is a major concern.

Wakefield: The Federal Government had moved its Electoral Office to Queensland. The most vulnerable don’t get a voice.

Maya Cifali, from the floor, asked Mr Paterson about fracking and uranium mining. He replied the mining industry can get by without fracking and the uranium question is up to the party.

Mr Ryan replied to a question on education that the Charles Darwin University needs to be strengthened “from the bottom up”.

Mr Burgoyne, whose father is a retired police officer, said the force works incredibly hard, needs to be properly resourced, is an incredible group of people who put their life on the line. He made no comment about the police number in the Southern Command being more than three times greater per capita when compared to the national figure.

In discussion about sporting ovals Mr Paterson said one more sporting ground is needed and Ms Banks said one may be lost, Anzac Oval, if a national Aboriginal art centre goes ahead there.

Mr Lechleitner said when he’s asked who built the new Supreme Court he replies its “men behaving badly. We (Aboriginal people) have to change that, we have to own this problem”.

Gwoja, the new seat in the west of the NT and stretching from the Arafura to the SA border, can have a “thriving economy” with gold, gas, cattle and water in generous supply, he says.

“Let us grow up together.”

SOON: Is defunding the police part of the Greens platform? We are asking for an interview with Bernard Hickey.

Photos: At top – moderator Professor Rolf Gerritsen, Minister Wakefield (green dress), candidate Damien Ryan (seated at right); other candidates.



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