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Friday, October 28, 2016

Corporate greed trumps pulic safety

Deborah Thomas

Four people died this week at Dreamworld on the Thunder River Rapids ride.

Brother and sister Luke Dorsett 35 and Kate Goodchild 32, and Mr Dorsett's partner Roozi Araghi, all from Canberra and Cindy Low 42, died when their raft flipped over on Tuesday afternoon.

Two people were flung out of the raft and the other two were mangled underneath the machinery.  Although the investigation will take some time, it appears the company has a lot of questions to answer regarding their safety record.

The ABC has obtained more than 150 pages of documents from Queensland Workplace Health and Safety showing safety concerns dating back to 2012.

In one of the documents, a safety inspector said 13 rides, including the Thunder River Rapids, were "not fit for service."

So with this information in mind, it's easy to see why Dreamworld chief executive, Doborah Thomas is currently the most hated woman in Australia.

She was caught out in a lie yesterday on camera.  Asked if she had been in contact with the families of the deceased persons she said the company "didn't know how to contact them."

The grieving family members were watching her press conference and were enraged by her comment and sent their phone number to a journalist in the crowd.  Once informed of the contact number she said "I will not call her now in front of the media, but I am very happy to call her very soon after the meeting.

Running for cover she said "I will give them my condolences....I am a mother.....I have a family...I take my family to Dreamworld."

But it was the bonus that really turned people off this woman -  for an excellent record over the past 12 months, she will receive a bonus in the form of shares as part of a long-term incentive plan, rumoured to be around $1 million. 

She did herself no favours by finally visiting the theme park today, trying hard to look sorry.

The bottom line is that four lives were lost by cutting back on safety issues to keep the money rolling in and the buck stops with her.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dr Brian Crickitt murder trial

Dr Brian Crickitt

The scenario is pretty clever - how to commit the perfect murder. 

Inject your wife with insulin, knowing that after 24 hours, no sign of it will be left in the body.

But how to stop an autopsy being done before the 24 hours is up?

Do it on New Year's Eve, knowing that it is very unlikely an autopsy would be done the next day.

Sydney doctor Brian Crickitt is standing trial for the murder of his wife Christine on New Year's Eve 2009.

Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC told the court that at the time of his wife's death, he was having an affair with Linda Livermore and they were planning a future together.

He went on to claim that he murdered his wife so he could collect $500,000 life insurance, marry his mistress, and keep their shared property assets.  He also claimed that Dr Crickitt searched on Google for 'intentional insulin overdose' and information about symptoms the day before she died.

Mr Tedeschi told the judge-only trial that the doctor wrote a prescription for fast-acting insulin under another patient's name and filled it himself at a Campbelltown pharmacy on 31 December 2009.

Crickitt told police he spent the night in a park after an argument with his wife but the prosecution suggested he really spent it with his lover and later took her to view his wife's body at the morgue.

Because the doctor knew that insulin degrades quickly in the body, Mr Tedeschi told Justice Clifton Hoeben the doctor "deliberately chose New Year's Eve knowing it was highly unlikely an autopsy would be done on New Year's Day."

And sure enough, on 2nd January, the autopsy showed no clear cause of death.

Defence Barrister Tim Gartelmann SC disputes that insulin was the cause or even a factor in Mrs Crickitt's death and that ultimately, the cause of death still remains unresolved.

Mark Tedeschi QC

This case, as all others with Mr Tedeschi leading the charge, will be very interesting.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Paedophile Robert Ellis sentenced in Bali

Melbourne paedophile Robert Andrew Fiddes Ellis has finally been sentenced to 15 years in prison and at the age of 70, he's likely to die there.

He admitted it was easier to get access to children in Indonesia than Australia and that's why he's been living in Bali for years.  He had the audacity to ask the judges if he could "pray" before the sentence was read out, but it didn't help him.

Judges appealed to Indonesians to be on the lookout for Western paedophiles coming to Bali to destroy generations of Balinese children.

This month Indonesia passed new laws of chemical castration and even the death penalty for those found guilty of paedophilia but they are not retrospective so Ellis just missed out.

Former Victorian police officer, Glen Hulley, who was instrumental in bringing Ellis and others to justice, was in court for the verdict.

"I hope this sentence sends a very clear message to other paedophiles and sex offenders travelling to Bali for this purpose" he said.  "This man has caused stress and trauma to multiple children over an extended period of time and it calls for a very severe penalty."

One of the women who delivered some of the children to Ellis, had herself been his victim as a child.

But it's very unfair because he's having a hard time in prison - no one visits him, he has no mobile phone, and he can't speak or understand the language.

What a shame.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Drug addicted parents given second chance

You have to wonder why an ice-addicted couple - a violent man and his wife - would want to have nine children.  But we already know the reason - the more children they have, the more government benefits they receive, which gives them the means to maintain their drug addiction.  

A Sydney couple in Blacktown who have already had eight children removed from their care have received an extraordinary offer - they were given a full-time carer provided by the NSW government to help them keep their ninth child, now seven months old.

Why, you ask?

Family and Community Services Minister Brad Hazzard said separating children from their parents was not always the answer to difficult social problems, so they are trialling a different approach.

"There is absolutely no question that removing a baby from a mum is no guarantee that baby is going to have a positive future" he said. "Sadly, too many children in foster care end up with very negative lives."

The baby was one of 2227 unborn babies classified as being "at significant risk of harm" in 2014/15 because of drug, alcohol and domestic violence issues that had seen the couple's eight other children taken away.

So why are children placed in foster homes ending up with a negative life?  We need to find out and fix it.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

First Alaskan woman charged with possessing child pornography

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) A former Alaska woman who was sexually abused by her paternal grandfather and then, as an adult, downloaded and traded videos of child exploitation has avoided any jail.
Brittany Alexandra Robinson, 25 was the first woman in Alaska to be charged with possessing and distributing child pornography, according to Anchorage police.
A former day care worker at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Robinson received a prison-free sentence on Thursday. Superior Court Judge Kevin M. Saxby agreed with Robinson’s public defender that three years in prison, with three suspended, and five years of probation was appropriate.
“I do find good prospects for rehabilitation here based on the evaluation that was provided to me and the testimony I have heard, including Ms. Robinson’s short, but I’m convinced, heartfelt, expression of remorse,” Saxby said before imposing the sentence.
Prior to hearing her sentence, Robinson addressed the court, wiping tears from her eyes and taking deep breaths before speaking.
“I’m deeply sorry that this has happened. I understand the severity of the situation. And I recognize that I need to heal from the trauma that I experienced in life. I know that with the support of the people around me I can move forward in a positive direction to ensure that nothing like this happens again,” said Robinson, who now lives out of state and is the mother of a three-year-old child.
The case stems from an undercover investigation by Anchorage police in March 2013 in which detectives discovered Robinson was using file-sharing software to view graphic images and videos of children being sexually abused.
Adam Alexander, an attorney with the state Office of Special Prosecutions, told the court on Thursday that Robinson downloaded “a pretty significant" amount of “pretty terrible images of child exploitation.”
Nothing excuses the fact that Robinson -- “in an awful case of irony” -- was responsible for perpetuating the sexual exploitation of children in a way that was “very similar to some of her own experiences,” Alexander said.
Robinson and her younger sister were victimized by their paternal grandfather, Roger Paul Ward, for many years, according to public defender Jonathon Torres.
Ward was recently released from prison in Nevada after a lengthy prison sentence for sexually abusing his granddaughters. Robinson told her parents about being raped by her grandfather but her parents did nothing about it, Torres said.
The family’s coping strategy was to keep silent about the abuse, Torres told the judge.
The sexual exploitation of Robinson’s younger sister was so bad that the child was eventually hospitalized with serious injuries. Authorities realized soon afterward that Robinson had suffered years of abuse, Torres said.
Ward was convicted of two counts of sexual abuse and received 20 years of prison time on each count, Torres said.
When Anchorage police discovered Robinson was downloading and trading child pornography, they seized numerous computers and digital media from her JBER home. A forensic analysis of the equipment resulted in Robinson being charged with 12 felony counts of distribution of child pornography and 18 counts of possession of child pornography.
A warrant was obtained for her arrest on June 24, 2013, but she was able to quash it by posting bail prior to her arrest, police said at the time.
In October 2015, the defense and prosecution reached a plea deal in which Robinson agreed to plead guilty to a single count of indecent viewing of photography.
Alexander said the case presented prosecution challenges because Robinson was both “a victim as a child and an offender as a young woman "in fairly short order.”
“This gives us the opportunity to understand in a very direct fashion the long-term consequence that an adult’s exploitation of a child has on that child as the child grows older, and that’s what we’re seeing here with Ms. Robinson,” Alexander told the court.
Saxby said Robinson’s behavior was compulsive and wrong. But he said the evidence showed that the defendant’s acquisition of child pornography was not for her own gratification but rather “it was more exploratory.”
That’s how her public defender described the behavior too.
“Ms. Robinson wasn’t looking at these images for sexual gratification. It was more that she identified with the victims in the case,” Torres said.

Contact KTUU reporter Paula Dobbyn at, 907-762-9242, or @pauladobbyn

Smug is much more than a graffiti artist

Smug – a Master of Graffiti

Generally, he sticks to the photograph that he’s working from, but not everything he does comes straight from it. Inevitably, some changes are bound to happen, as there are elements like light and shadows that he simply needs to play with in order to stick them to the wall. More importantly, things that appear perfect in photos can look entirely different when pasted onto a wall – size, texture, the wall itself, and any obstacles play a major role in the final look of the piece. Ultimately, Smug doesn’t even try to copy photos to perfection, since he always adds something personal to it. The more he paints, the less he depends on the source material. As someone who’s more into character, obviously, he thinks and respects the tradition of letter graffiti, considering it to be older than character writing. That said, when he moved onto characters, it seemed as if they were coming to him more naturally than letters or anything he had done before. From the start, his photo realism pieces looked fine, and he’s since been improving his art, eventually becoming one of the most famous street artist in the world. Always enjoying a good laugh, Smug intentionally add humour to his works. He can also create dead-serious works, but those with elements of humour are his favourite ones.

Born in a small Australian town about three hours from Sydney, Smug was always interested in art. The interesting thing is, despite drawing for years, it wasn’t until he graduated from high school that he actually picked up a spray can and began targeting walls instead of book pages. When he was younger, the artist skated and hung around in the streets with his friends, writing their names on the walls and listening hip-hop. Graffiti was a big part of that culture, so everything came into the right place. Asked about his artistic name, Smug states that he doesn’t even remember how he received his. At the time, he tagged using various names, but Smug somehow remained. He still takes inspiration from the friend that he sees regularly, writers that he works with regularly. People that are part of his everyday life are the people that are pushing him to become a better person and a better artist.

Glasgow mural of Saint Mungo
This mural by Sam Bates, aka Smug, took about a week to paint. It depicts Saint Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow, and Smug has dressed him in modern-day clothes. When Mungo was young, some boys from his village started throwing stones at robins. One bird was hit and fell to the ground. The boys ran away but Mungo picked it up, prayed over it, and it flew away. 

To qualify as a saint, he performed four miracles in Glasgow. The following verse is used to remember them. 

Here is the bird that never flew
Here is the tree that never grew
Here is the bell that never rang
Here is the fish that never swam

Smug painted his grandparents on the four-storey former power station on the corner of Lonsdale and Spencer streets, Melbourne.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Davidson family suspected murder suicide

Yesterday one of the saddest cases ever was seen on the news.  The Davidson family were found dead in their home.

The bodies of Fernando Manrique 44, his wife Maria Claudia Lutz Pena and their two children Elisa 11 and Martin 10 were found deceased in their home in Sir Thomas Mitchell Drive in Davidson, a North Shore suburb of Sydney.

The pet dog was also found dead.  

Both children had non-verbal autism and were unable to speak. Mrs Manrique is believed to have spent many sleepless nights caring for her children who needed frequent therapy and doctor's appointments.

Principal of St Lucy's Primary School in Wahroonga said the mother had coffee with a group of school mothers on Friday and seemed perfectly fine.  But when she and the children did not turn up for school on Monday, he knew something was wrong.

Non verbal autism is described as having the ability to speak but not the language skills to express themselves in a meaningful way.

Today we learn that the family was gassed with a poison that was released from numerous gas bottles found throughout the house.

"There was a lot of planning that went into this" a police source said and early investigations suggest the deaths were the result of a murder suicide.

How long must we wait before science finds the reason for the growing epidemic of Autism?