Strongman Troy Conley attempts Guinness World Record pull of 16 cars


As the morning sun pierces the clouds over Bankstown Airport, strongman Troy Conley is pacing its southern runway, stretching with the aid of a thick plastic band, preparing to drag 23,737kg of automobile.

Sixteen cars, from small city runabouts to family SUVs, each joined nose to tail by chain, the front car too tipped with metal links, but attached to a harness for the upper body.

Ten metres in front of that, an airport bobcat with thick marine rope laced around its back axle, providing the fixed point that Troy will use, to drag the 23 tonnes behind him. It’s the same rope used to tie ferries to the Harbour’s wharves.

Strongman Troy Conley attempted to break a Guinness World Record for pulling cars. (9News)

“It’s got a nice thick handle, which I like to grip,” says Troy.

“So for me, that pulling side of things really helps.”

He talks between alternating mouthfuls of salt and vinegar chips and slugs of Coke, designed to stop him cramping during his attempt to create a new Guinness World Record, for the most cars pulled by an individual male.

The current record is six years old, set by a Canadian who pulled 15 cars.

“And the minimum weight of each car does have to be 900kg,” Brian Sobel, official Guinness World Record adjudicator said.

“All of these are well above that.”

Troy Conley Guinness World Record attempt
Troy had three attempts at hauling the 23,737kg load down Bankstown Airport’s runway. (9News)

Troy is doing so on the day world records are attempted around the planet.

“He needs to travel a total of five metres,” Brian said.

“I’ll be measuring from the back tyres.”

After some final high fives to the contingent of drivers helping guide this mechanical centipede, Troy straps on the harness, drills several breaths of smelling salts, and prepares to pull.

His wife Emmi is guiding the lead car. Emmi’s a little worried.

“There are a few different ways of taking off the brakes, so hopefully everybody does it correctly and then we’re off,” she said.

Her words are prophetic. The first attempt ends after 30 seconds. There’s a call to check brakes. It’s whispered someone may have had a foot on the anchor.

Troy Conley Guinness World Record attempt
While Troy didn’t succeed today, he took satisfaction in the fact it was for a good cause. (9News)

Second go and wheels are moving. The enormous pre-work in taking up the chain slack between 16 cars complete, the front tyres under Emmi’s control in the lead vehicle shift forward slowly.

There’s a discussion with the judge. He can get two more whacks; Troy says he just needs the one.

“I know in strongman competitions, of course, sometimes you don’t get the weight on the first try, but it’s in you somewhere, and we’re going to give him the shot he deserves,” Brian said.

The small crowd knows it’s the final shot, and voices are much louder with encouragement. Alas, no.

Troy’s support crew gathers in concession. Kathy Garland and her seven-year-old daughter Ava hug him.

Troy Conley Guinness World Record attempt
Troy did successfully pull the Little Wings plane in support of the charity’s helping family’s like Kathy and Ava. (9News)

Kathy and Ava come from a small town five hours west of the airport, forced to stay in Sydney to fight Ava’s leukaemia.

Mother and daughter have been thankful recipients of one of the charities Troy is supporting.

Little Wings allowed them to fight cancer yet go home.

“The strength I had to use, is nothing compared to what kids like Ava use every day,” Troy gulps, caught between emotion and exhaustion.

Aussies who have broken into the 2021 record books

Thankfully, he has enough in the tank to help park the Little Wings plane, but today showed not everyone gets to reach the golden ring, as much as they try, on Guinness World Record day.



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Judge’s ICAC ruling in Troy Bell case could have ‘catastrophic effect’, court told


Eleven South Australian corruption prosecutions have become “paralysed” after a District Court judge found the state’s anti-corruption watchdog acted illegally in the case against MP Troy Bell, a court has heard.

Judge Liesl Chapman this afternoon refused to allow the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to refer her findings to the Full Court for review.

That decision could pave the way for Mr Bell’s defence team to ask the court to throw out all evidence obtained by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) during its probe into the politician.

DPP Martin Hinton QC told the court that if Mr Bell was successful and evidence obtained by ICAC was excluded from the trial, his office would have no case against the accused.

“Our whole case goes,” he said.

Earlier this month, Mr Bell — who is the independent Member for Mount Gambier — lost a bid to have his criminal prosecution put on hold indefinitely.

Judge Liesl Chapman found SA’s ICAC office exceeded its powers.(ABC News)

But Judge Chapman found the ICAC exceeded its powers by directly referring Mr Bell’s case to the DPP and continuing to investigate once charges had been laid in 2017.

“The court does not condone conduct which is contrary to the ICAC Act,” Judge Chapman said in her reasons.

“Nevertheless, a permanent stay of a criminal prosecution is an extraordinary step which will very rarely be justified.”

Mr Bell has pleaded not guilty to 20 counts of theft and six counts of dishonestly relating to the alleged misappropriation of $2 million of public funds before he was elected to State Parliament.

DPP warns of ‘catastrophic effect’

Earlier today, Mr Hinton told the court that all current prosecutions had been illegally referred to his office directly, bypassing police — describing Judge Chapman’s finding as having a “catastrophic effect”.

He said most corruption prosecutions stemming from investigations by the ICAC were still in the Magistrates Court.

“One matter with four accused has been committed to [the District Court], and one is awaiting trial in December,” he said.

Some corruption prosecutions on foot relate to former Renewal SA boss John Hanlon and executive Georgina Vasilevski, former magistrate Bob Harrap and police officers Sean Hobbs and Andrew Jaunay.

“We are now in a position where we have to consider the ramifications of Your Honour’s judgement and what remedies need to be taken so we’re on the right side of the law,” Mr Hinton said.

Bruce Lander sits at a desk with a microphone.
Bruce Lander QC was appointed SA’s first anti-corruption commissioner in 2013.(ABC News)

He said it was not as easy as just handing all their files to police because officers needed to be available to “act and act as quickly as possible”.

But Ms Shaw told the court that if Judge Chapman’s findings go to the Full Court for review, it would be “oppressive” to her client and result in the trial becoming “fragmented”.

Mr Hinton told the court last week that the judgement was “profound” and would have greater implications for prosecutions stemming from ICAC investigations.

He said while the DPP successfully fought off the permanent stay, his office had been rendered “paralysed” by the judgement as it went through an appeals process.

“We will now have to tread warily around what we do with the individual former investigators for ICAC,” he told the court last week.

“There is no way around the complex situation we are in. No-one foresaw this but we are in it, so there will be delay.

“It travels well beyond this matter. In fact, it affects virtually all matters that are currently in my office because they have all been referenced directly.”

The DPP has 48 hours to appeal Judge Chapman’s refusal to refer the matter to the Full Court for review.



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Former WA treasurer Troy Buswell’s ex-wife investigated for making ‘unauthorised’ recordings, lawyer claims


Police internal affairs are handling a “complaint” made against the police officer ex-wife and alleged domestic violence victim of former WA treasurer Troy Buswell over “unauthorised” recordings of him, Mr Buswell’s lawyer has told a Perth court.

Mr Buswell has pleaded not guilty to three charges of assaulting his former wife Melissa Hankinson and causing her bodily harm and three charges of common assault.

The incidents are alleged to have happened at Subiaco, Southern River, Vasse and Yoongarillup, near Busselton, between 2015 and 2018, including one alleged assault on Valentine’s Day in 2016.

Mr Buswell is also facing a seventh charge of unlawfully damaging a door valued at $200.

Today Mr Buswell appeared in court because of an application by prosecutors to make Ms Hankinson, who is a police officer, a “special witness” so she can give evidence via video link from a remote room, and not in person.

However during the hearing, Mr Buswell’s lawyer, Laura Willox, said police internal affairs were handling a complaint against Ms Hankinson alleging she had made “unauthorised” recordings of Mr Buswell.

Mr Buswell is due back in court in October.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)

Ms Willox said the issue created a possible conflict of interest for the prosecution, because its lawyers were from the State Solicitors Office (SSO), which also represented police internal affairs.

She said the matter had been raised with the SSO, but it was yet to respond.

Lawyer wants details of complaint disclosed

Ms Willox requested material relating to the complaint, which she said was relevant to the charges against Mr Buswell, be disclosed to the defence.

The Magistrate said he was unable to make that order without seeing the material, but said if the conflict of interest issue could not be resolved then a “special” appointment would need to be made.

The Magistrate did make an order for the general disclosure of materials to the defence, while the “special witness” application was adjourned to be determined at a later date.

Mr Buswell, whose bail was renewed, is next due to appear in court on October 6, when a trial date may be set.



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Trial of MP Troy Bell to go ahead despite ‘mistakes and errors’ in ICAC probe


South Australian MP Troy Bell will face trial for allegedly misappropriating $2 million of public funds after a failed bid to halt his prosecution, despite the judge finding “mistakes and errors” had been made during the anti-corruption investigation.

District Court Judge Liesl Chapman today refused to put the proceedings on hold indefinitely.

But she did find the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) exceeded its powers by continuing to investigate Mr Bell after he had been charged.

“There were certainly mistakes and errors which were unhelpful.

“The conduct of the ICAC is not such that allowing the prosecution of Mr Bell to proceed would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.”

Marie Shaw QC, for Mr Bell, flagged a possible appeal of Judge Chapman’s decision.

On the eve of his 50-day trial, the independent Member for Mount Gambier applied to Judge Chapman for his criminal prosecution to be put on hold indefinitely because he could not receive a fair trial.

His lawyers submitted that the ICAC illegally continued to investigate the politician after the matter was referred to the DPP in May 2017.

The ICAC investigation into Mr Bell was found to be have exceeded its powers.(ABC Southeast: Kate Hill)

Ms Shaw previously told the court that the ICAC had “interfered with the administration of justice” by working “arm in arm” with the DPP to prosecute her client.

Mr Bell has pleaded not guilty to 20 counts of theft and six counts of dishonesty, and stands accused of misappropriating $2 million of education funding between 2009 and 2013 before he was elected as an MP.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Martin Hinton QC has told the court that the relationship between his office and the ICAC was not unlawful, and the matter would come down to how provisions of the ICAC Act were interpreted.

“The act allows the prosecution to use the fruits of an ICAC investigation in criminal proceedings,” he said.

He said Parliament had tried to “tread that line between the protection of reputation and what’s necessary to investigate corruption in public administration”.

Mr Hinton conceded mistakes had been made by ICAC investigators during their probe into Mr Bell, but said they should not result in his trial being halted.



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MP Troy Bell described ICAC probe as ‘political witch-hunt’ in tapped call, court told


South Australian MP Troy Bell told his lawyers that an anti-corruption probe into his affairs was a “political witch-hunt” — a comment he claims should be confidential but will be used against him by prosecutors at trial, a court has heard.

The independent Member for Mount Gambier is fighting accusations he misappropriated $2 million of public funds between 2009 and 2013.

His 50-day District Court trial was scheduled to start this week, but his legal team has mounted an application to have the proceedings put on hold indefinitely, claiming Mr Bell cannot receive a fair trial.

Marie Shaw QC, for Mr Bell, told the court that the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) had continued to investigate Mr Bell after the matter was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in May 2017.

“It’s unlawful,” she told Judge Liesl Chapman.

Mr Bell was charged with 20 counts of theft and six counts of dishonestly dealing with documents in August 2017.

Ms Shaw said ICAC had “interfered with the administration of justice” by working “arm in arm” with the DPP to prosecute her client.

“Parliament’s intention was never to allow the ICAC powers — the inquisitorial powers, what some have described as ‘star chamber powers’ — to transgress into the accusatorial system.”

Ms Shaw said 5,000 pages of material that ICAC obtained from the then-Department of Education and Children’s Services had not been disclosed to Mr Bell’s defence team because provisions of the ICAC Act allow it to remain secret.

“The prosecution has been able to create an advantage for itself, place the accused at a disadvantage in his attempt to meet these charges and therefore interfere with the administration of justice,” she said.

Ms Shaw also said prosecutors were going to rely on a comment the MP made to his lawyer about the ICAC investigation being a “political witch-hunt” as part of its case against him.

Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander.(ABC News)

The court was told that Mr Bell was a Liberal Party member when the initial complaint was made to ICAC by Penny Richardson, the branch president of the Labor Party in Mount Gambier and deputy mayor of the council.

Ms Shaw said Mr Bell was elected on March 16, 2014, and Ms Richardson made a complaint to ICAC about a “conflict of interest” the next day.

“That resulted in ICAC dealing with the complaint by issuing a notice to the Department of Education to make its inquiry,” she said.

“It was during the inquiry that various accountancy records were collated which were transmitted to ICAC and form part of these proceedings.”

Counsel for both the DPP and ICAC are yet to respond to the application, which is set down for five days.



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Probe launched into Broome chopper crash that killed Troy Thomas, 12yo girl


The head of Australia’s transport safety watchdog says the helicopter involved in Saturday’s fatal crash in Broome appeared to enter a spin shortly after take-off.

The Robinson R-44 helicopter crashed in Broome’s northern suburbs on Saturday afternoon, killing 40-year-old pilot Troy Thomas and a 12-year-old girl.

Mr Thomas’ 12-year-old daughter, Mia, remains in a serious but stable condition at Perth Children’s Hospital, while a 24-year-old female passenger remains in a critical condition at Royal Perth Hospital.

Two investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) arrived in Broome this afternoon, with another two due to arrive tomorrow.

ATSB chief commissioner Greg Hood said this afternoon that the investigation into the tragic incident would proceed carefully.

“Air traffic control provided clearance for the aircraft to become airborne about three nautical miles north of Broome airport,” he said.

“[Control] observed the aircraft to climb above the treetops, when the aircraft appeared to enter a spin and impact terrain in the industrial area just north of Broome.”

Kimberley pilot and tourism figure Troy Thomas was killed in Saturday’s helicopter crash.(Supplied: Facebook)

The aircraft crashed on Antheous Way in Bilingurr, close to the headquarters of Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures, which Mr Thomas founded in 2006.

The street remains cordoned off as both police and ATSB staff examine the wreckage.

“We’ll be looking at company records, records relating to the pilot and records relating to maintenance,” Mr Hood said.

Mr Hood said people could submit CCTV or contact the investigation via the Bureau’s website.

Friends and family shattered

Tributes have continued to pour in for Mr Thomas, with his loss felt right across the Broome community.

This morning Adam Barnard and Gianna Cortese said Mr Thomas’ efforts had put Horizontal Falls on the Australian and global tourism map.

Mr Barnard praised Mr Thomas’ loyalty and support for his friends.

“I couldn’t come anywhere close to what he’s achieved and what he’s done,” Mr Barnard said.

Image of a man in a dark blue shirt with white lettering standing at the side of a residential street in Broome.
Adam Barnard, a friend of Troy Thomas, says his friend’s skill and passion for the region left him in awe.(ABC Kimberley: Hannah Barry)

Ms Cortese said his skill as a pilot opened up amazing parts of the Kimberley to his family, friends and visitors alike.

“I’d turn up on this tiny little boat,” she said.

“He’d land on that tiny little boat in the middle of nowhere.

“Then he’d go over and take us to this little cliff face and land on this tiny little rock.

A large party planned for Mr Thomas’ 40th birthday, which was to be held on a property near Mandurah, had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Mr Barnard said the rescheduled party, which was held on Rowley Shoals of the coast of Broome with a close group of Mr Thomas’ friends and family, would remain a cherished memory.

“We sang him happy birthday and he got his cake,” he said.



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