Cassandra Sainsbury: Accused cocaine smuggler


So many questions on this one folks. I waited and hung back a few days to see what else was revealed to the public. Shame the way is being trickled out…

Not to sell papers or anything surely?

I personally feel she has been busted red handed and used a well-drilled script when caught.

Shame the family in OZ was NOT aware of it and spilled their guts as a family would do. Not smart though…Cheers Robbo

Please Make comment


ACCUSED Australian drug smuggler Cassie Sainsbury posted a series of cryptic social media comments in the lead-up to her ill-fated world trip, which culminated in her arrest at Colombia’s biggest airport last month.

It has already been reported that the 22-year-old Adelaide woman made a series of international

trips to and from Australia in the six months preceding her journey to South America, where authorities allegedly found almost 6kg of cocaine inside her suitcase on April 11.

But early this year an opportunity apparently arose that seemed too good for the former personal trainer to pass up.

In a strangely prophetic Instagram post, Ms Sainsbury appears to have been counting down the days until a life-changing event.

The now deleted January 10 post read: “50 days until I make the biggest move I’ve yet to do … 50 days until everything changes.”

She added the following hashtags: #newbeginnings #newyearnewme #2k17 #dreamjob #bondiliving #life #change #love #50daysleft #goodthingsarecoming.

On January 24, she wrote another post, which has also since been deleted, which read: “Moving interstate driving me cray cray! #save me! Not long before the big move now, super excited and can’t wait to leave so much baggage behind.”

Cassie Sainsbury pictured following her arrest at El Dorado International Airport on April 11. Picture: Supplied Source:AFP

Cassandra Sainsbury Instagram images. cassieleigh_p_t Source:Instagram

 

It is not clear when Ms Sainsbury departed from Australia or from which port but both Instagram posts contain hashtags indicating travel or relocation to Sydney, possibly around March 1 (when the 50 day count down ended).

Her social media trail places her in China later that month and in the US in early April.

On April 3, Ms Sainsbury instagrammed from Los Angeles airport, complaining about the temperature contrast between the two countries: “LAX — so busy yet, so organised. On another note. Going from China’s lovely 27 degree weather to LA’s 7 degree weather is killing me!”

She appears to have caught a connecting flight to Bogota from LA because authorities record her as having arrived in Colombia on the same day — April 3.

On April 8, she posted a photograph from Bogota along with the comment: “Can’t complain about an all expenses paid work trip, in which (sic) is mainly holiday very little work. It’s the simple things that are the true beauty in the world. Mother Nature has been putting on quite the show for me over here.”

This Jan 24 post mentions a move interstate.Source: Supplied

Cassie’s cryptic but prophetic January 10 Instagram post.Source: Supplied

 

Ms Sainsbury’s family has claimed she was on a working holiday to promote her personal training business — a claim which appears to be supported by Ms Sainsbury’s Instagram posts which are riddled with fitness-related hashtags.

But her fiance Scotty Broadbridge has told a completely different story, claiming she hadn’t done any personal training work for months and that her most recent job involved “helping to manage” a cleaning company.

“Although Cassie is a PT, she is not currently personal training and hasn’t been for 6 months. I don’t know why that was mentioned at all,” Mr Broadbridge wrote on Ms Sainsbury’s fundraising page before it was deactivated on Monday night after raising more than $4000.

“She helped manage a commercial cleaning business that had both national and international clients. Unfortunately it’s very easy for tourists to get targeted, especially in Colombia.”

Ms Sainsbury’s April 3 post from LAX.Source: Supplied

 

Ms Sainsbury’s April 3 post from LAX.Source:Supplied

 

Mr Broadbridge’s sister Jasmin also defended Ms Sainsbury on social media.

“We’re all supposed to unite in times like this but I’ve been reading the most hateful and negative comments that people have been writing about someone who is a total stranger to them,” she wrote on Facebook.

“You can assume what you want, but Cassie is a beautiful and strong person and everyone who knows her, even just a little bit, knows that there is absolutely no way she is guilty.”

Ms Sainsbury was moments from arriving at Gate 32 at Colombia’s El Dorado International Airport when narcotics police swooped on a tip-off from the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

Her luggage tags show she had successfully checked in to board Flight AV120 from Bogota to London’s Heathrow Airport, flying with Avianca Airways, Colombia’s national airline since 1919.

Cassie Sainsbury, 22, and her fiancee Scotty Broadbridge. Picture: Facebook Source: Facebook

 

Police allegedly found 5.8kg of cocaine wrapped in black plastic and stuffed into 15 boxes of headphones that she claimed to have bought on the cheap from a man she befriended who had been acting as her translator in the Colombian capital.

Ms Sainsbury told her mother Lisa Evans that she packed the headphones into her suitcase without checking them and had no knowledge of the hidden contraband.

“I can’t believe this has happened to an innocent young woman,” her grandmother Barbara Johns said.

“Anyone who knows Cassie, knows she did not do this. It can happen to anyone.”

Ms Sainsbury is currently awaiting trial in Bogota’s most notorious women’s prison, El Buen Pastor (which means “The Good Shepherd”), on drug trafficking charges and faces up to 25 years if convicted.

However that sentence is likely to be reduced to six years if she pleads guilty and four years if she agrees to identify others involved. The latter option puts Ms Sainsbury between a rock and a hard place, given that spilling the beans on alleged drug syndicate members could see her labelled a snitch, thereby endangering her life inside jail.

Accused drug mule’s fiance and lawyer address the media

Cassie Sainsbury’s fiance Scott Boradbridge says he will support the accused Adelaide drug mule

THE fiance of accused Adelaide drug mule Cassie Sainsbury has told a packed media conference he believes she is innocent and had no involvement with the drug trade.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Scott Broadbridge said he had “no doubt that Cassie is innocent of these charges and I will support her no matter how long this takes”.

But her Adelaide lawyer, Steven Kenny, who was hired by Ms Sainsbury in a phone call, said her court date could be two to three years away if her case went to trial.

“It won’t be speedy, that’s the advice I’ve had from Colombia,” he said.

Mr Broadbridge, who kept his head down as he read from a prepared statement, said he and “Cass” were engaged and he intended to marry her.

“I know that there are many unanswered questions in this case and I intend to work with the lawyers to get to the bottom of them,” he said.

Calling her “the delight of his life” he said he knew she was not a drug smuggler.

“I know that she is not involved in the drug trade, I know that she was not deliberately taking drugs or carrying drugs anywhere,” he said.

Mr Kenny, who defended former detainee David Hicks and was the first lawyer to visit Guantánamo Bay, said he had great faith in the Colombian legal system, which carried the presumption of innocence, and he asked the media to not prejudge his new client’s guilt or innocence.

“I would like to think Cassie’s defence will be run in a court in Colombia, not in the Adelaide media,” he said.

Scott Broadbridge, fiance of Cassie Sainsbury, with Adelaide lawyer Steven Kenny. Picture: Greg Higgs

Mr Broadbridge said he hoped to fly to Colombia to visit her soon, and to prove her innocence.

Mr Kenny could not answer questions about which cleaning company Ms Sainsbury worked for, who bought her ticket out of Colombia in Hong Kong or how long she had been travelling, and said detailed questions such as this would be followed up through her Colombian legal team.

He said the first thing he could do from Adelaide was to make sure she had good defence in Colombia. Mr Kenny accepted the job pro bono because he had legal friends in Colombia and felt he could help.

“We are working with them and taking what we think are appropriate steps,” he said.

The aspiring model and fitness trainer was arrested at an airport in Colombia with 5.8kg of cocaine in her luggage. Despite the evidence against her, Mr Broadbridge said he loved her and believed in her and was doing everything to try to get her out.

Ingrid Hernandes, Bogota hotel manager discusses Cassandra Sainsbury stay

Ms Sainsbury, 22, is being held in Bogota’s El Buen Pastor women’s jail after she was busted with the cocaine — which was hidden inside packages of headphones — in her luggage as she was about to fly out of Colombia.

Mr Broadbridge said that despite the collapse of her gym, personal trainer Ms Sainsbury was debt-free when she jetted overseas on the ill-fated trip.

“There absolutely were no debts. She ran a business and it didn’t work out. She’s just an ordinary girl with aspirations,” he said.

“I’m just scared for her and don’t want to jeopardise anything as it’s early stages. We’re worried for her future, she’s not doing great.”

But his decision to “break his silence” drew criticism from members of Ms Sainsbury’s family, who have been told not to comment by her Colombian lawyer. Mr Kenny said some of the reporting in the media could damage Ms Sainsbury’s case and that he and Mr Broadbridge were having discussions with Ms Sainbury’s family.

Mr Kenny said he was asked by Ms Sainsbury in a brief phone call to act for her and he had no argument with Sydney lawyer, Jay Williams, who had until now been her only Australian lawyer.

“Jay is a barrister, he’s not a solicitor, and he is not in Adelaide which I think is why Scott came to see me,” he said.

Asked about her state of mind, he said it was a short call but that Ms Sainsbury was “a young woman in a foreign jail, in a foreign country, you can draw your own conclusions from that.”

She was being visited regularly by Australian consular officials who were reporting back to the family on her welfare.

Cassie Sainsbury with the 5.8kg of cocaine she is accused of smuggling out of Columbia. Photo: Columbia Antinarcotics Police.

Sister Khala Sainsbury said the truth would come out soon.

“It has gone too far,” she said of rumours coming out of Yorketown, on Yorke Peninsula.

The allegations first emerged when a woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Advertiser Ms Sainsbury left the Yorke Peninsula owing several people money.

Others have backed the claims.

But the landlord of the Yorketown gym previously used by Ms Sainsbury, and the father of her ex-boyfriend, say she had no debts with them.

On Thursday, Nick Paphitis said Ms Sainsbury had paid all her rent before she moved to Adelaide.

Claims she owed ex-boyfriend Luke Tape money borrowed to help set up Yorke’s Gym were rejected by his father, Richard.

Cassie Sainsbury: What we know so far

 

It comes as her Bogota lawyer Orlando Herran said Australian diplomats were trying to convince Colombian authorities to let Ms Sainsbury serve her almost certain jail sentence at home.

She is being advised to accept the charges against her in order to reduce her sentence after she was caught with the drugs.

Mr Herran said diplomats were working on a deal that would see her move from El Buen Pastor women’s jail to one in Australia, but only after a conviction was recorded.

Ms Sainsbury posted a series of cryptic social media comments in the lead-up to her ill-fated world trip, which culminated in her arrest at Colombia’s biggest airport last month.

It has already been reported that the Adelaide woman made a series of international trips to and from Australia in the six months preceding her journey to South America.

But early this year, an opportunity apparently arose that seemed too good for the former personal trainer to pass up.

Cassandra Sainsbury with her fiance Scott Broadbridge. Picture: Facebook

In a strangely prophetic Instagram post, Ms Sainsbury appears to have been counting down the days until a life-changing event.

The now deleted January 10 post read: “50 days until I make the biggest move I’ve yet to do … 50 days until everything changes.”

She added the following hashtags: #newbeginnings #newyearnewme #2k17 #dreamjob #bondiliving #life #change #love #50daysleft #goodthingsarecoming.

On January 24, she wrote another post, which has also since been deleted, which read: “Moving interstate driving me cray cray! #save me! Not long before the big move now, super excited and can’t wait to leave so much baggage behind.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said Australian consular staff were continuing to provide assistance to Ms Sainsbury, but did not have an embassy in Bogota and the assistance was being organised “from outside Colombia”.

update

How Cassandra Sainsbury’s ticket reportedly got her caught

Cassandra Sainsbury’s father wants his daughter to come home
Charis Chang and Sarah Blake in Bogota

THE father of accused Aussie drug smuggler Cassandra Sainsbury has broken his silence, three weeks after his daughter landed in a Colombian prison.

 

Stuart Sainsbury told Nine News he is standing by the 22-year-old because “a father’s love is unconditional and never stops, regardless of what happens”.

He said he does not believe she is “a drug mule”.

“I don’t believe she was a drug mule, she’s just my kid. What parent thinks their kid is a drug mule? I just love her and I can’t change what’s happened. I just have to be here when she comes home.”

Earlier, he told reporters “I don’t want to be tied up in all this,” the Mail Online reported.

“Listen, whatever is going on has nothing to do with me, and I have nothing to say about it,” he said from his home in Yorketown, South Australia.

“You can ring my lawyer if you don’t understand me. It’s got nothing to do with me.”

He told the Adelaide Advertiser that his “love doesn’t change no matter what (your children) do” and said no Australian officials had been in touch with him.

The comments follow revelations that Cassie was caught because the US Drug Enforcement Agency alerted Colombian authorities to their suspicions about her plane ticket, reports suggest.

Ms Sainsbury, 22, was arrested at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota on April 12 after a tip-off about the 5.8kg of cocaine allegedly hidden inside what she thought were 18 boxes of headphones in her suitcase.

The South Australian is now being held in a women’s jail in Colombia and is reportedly struggling to adjust to her new life inside prison.

An American woman who walked free from El Buen Pastor prison on Tuesday after serving a 17 month sentence, told Newscorp she had helped support Cassie, along with another woman inside the jail.

“Because she is so young there are a lot of people trying to take advantage of her,” said the woman, who did not wish to be named.

Stuart Sainsbury, the father of accused Aussie drug smuggler, Cassandra. Picture: FacebookSource:Facebook

“Not only that, when she was at the police station they took most of her stuff — all of her clothes, her money.”

The woman said Cassie was receiving some support from Australian consular staff but was told she would only receive a visit every few months.

“She’s just wearing a sweater and pants and a top, the same ones. I offered her something but she said no thank you.”

Meanwhile it has emerged that Ms Sainsbury may have been arrested after a tip-off from US authorities.

“We found her because of an alert from the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency),” Bogota airport’s narcotics chief, Commander Rodrigo Soler, told News Corp Australia Network.

He said she had cleared security, checked her bag and was minutes away from boarding her flight when the alert came up.

“The alert said check this person so we pulled her aside and we searched her luggage and we arrested her. We asked ‘is this your bag, did you pack this?’. She said ‘yes’.”

Soler told The Australian Ms Sainsbury’s ticket, which was bought at the last minute by an unknown party in Hong Kong for a trip from Australia to Bogota via London, was one of several red flags that caused North American agencies to alert Colombian police.

The Adelaide woman’s family insists she is innocent and was set up by a Colombian man she met after arriving in the South American country on April 3 during a working holiday.

They say she bought the headphones from him to give as gifts to family and friends at her upcoming wedding.

A photo released by Colombia's National Police press shows Australian Cassandra Sainsbury in handcuffs after she was arrested at the international airport in Bogota, Colombia. Picture: Colombia's National Police via AP

A photo released by Colombia’s National Police press shows Australian Cassandra Sainsbury in handcuffs after she was arrested at the international airport in Bogota, Colombia. Picture: Colombia’s National Police via APSource:AP

An expert on the South American drug trade says there was no way the former fitness trainer would have the connections to sell almost $2 million worth of cocaine, and someone must have been waiting to receive it in Australia.

Rusty Young, wrote the book Marching Powder and is about to release a book Colombiano after living in Colombia for eight years. He said the South Australian woman’s story didn’t add up.

“Her version of events is not consistent with the way drug rings operate,” Mr Young told news.com.au yesterday.

“If you were planting $1 million worth of drugs in someone’s baggage, how were you intending to recover the drugs back in Australia?”

Ms Sainsbury’s sister Khala posted on a fundraising page that the 22-year-old was detained for drug trafficking at the airport in Bogota “waiting to depart back to Australia”. But it’s since been reported that Cassie may have intended to continue on her working holiday to make presentations in London, France and Hong Kong.

Her sister said she was not due back in Australia until Easter Saturday, April 15.

It’s unclear where the drugs were ultimately headed but Mr Young believes if they were being shipped to Australia, someone would have been waiting for them to come in.

“There’s no way a 22-year-old could have the connections to distribute and sell almost 6kg of cocaine,” he said.

“There must have been someone in Australia to receive those drugs.”

Mr Young also dismissed fears that Ms Sainsbury could be targeted by cartels while imprisoned in Colombia.

“That’s absolute nonsense,” he said. “Cartels don’t run drug mules through airports, they run tonnes of cocaine. There’s no professional Colombian organisation behind this.”

Despite concerns about Ms Sainsbury’s safety, Mr Young said he thought she would be physically safe in the overcrowded El Buen Pastor women’s jail.

“They would have put her in the foreign section with foreign inmates,” he said.

Australian diplomatic staff have also reportedly delivered her a mattress and blanket to use in her cell.

Mr Young said he also thought Ms Sainsbury would get a fair trial in Colombia, although justice would be slow.

Even if she plead guilty, Mr Young said it would probably still take six to nine months for her to go through the justice system. A trial would probably take three years just to reach a verdict and would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Mr Young said his thoughts were with Ms Sainsbury and her family.

“They are in for a long and difficult journey,” he said.

A handout photo made available by the press office of the Colombian Anti-narcotics Police, on 01 May 2017 shows Australian citizen Cassandra Sainsbury during her detention with 5.8 kilos of cocaine at the International Airport the Dorado, in Bogota, Colombia, on 11 April 2017. Picture: EPA/Col Anti-narcotics Police

A handout photo made available by the press office of the Colombian Anti-narcotics Police, on 01 May 2017 shows Australian citizen Cassandra Sainsbury during her detention with 5.8 kilos of cocaine at the International Airport the Dorado, in Bogota, Colombia, on 11 April 2017. Picture: EPA/Col Anti-narcotics PoliceSource:AAP

Ms Sainsbury’s family has previously said the 22-year-old travelled to Colombia on April 3 for a working holiday. It’s unclear what visa she was travelling on and what job she was doing overseas.

There is no working holiday maker visa arrangement between Australia and Colombia, and working visas require Australians to prove they have a skill set Colombians don’t possess.

“The most common work visa would be for English teachers,” Mr Young said.

But Australians can enter Colombia for 90 days as a visitor without a visa.

It has also emerged that Ms Sainsbury was reportedly arrested following a tip-off from international drug agencies and her travel plans had raised suspicions, anti narco trafficking control, Colonel Rodrigo Soler, told The Australian.

The South Australian was arrested minutes before she was due to fly back to Australia from El Dorado International Airport in Bogota.

Colombian police have released a photo of the young Aussie in handcuffs standing in front of a table lined with 18 packages, which Ms Sainsbury thought were headphones she bought as wedding gifts and presents for her friends and family.

Jorge Mendoza, the ports and airports director for Colombia’s anti-narcotic police, says he doubted Ms Sainsbury didn’t know the drugs were hidden inside the packages.

“She could possibly be a drug mule,” Mendoza told ABC radio through an interpreter on Tuesday.

“In going through security we found she had 18 packets inside her luggage, which even before opening it we found covered in plastic.

“Her explanation is not credible. Everyone we catch says they didn’t know it was in their luggage.”

Lieutenant Colonel Jorge Triana, head of the anti-narcotics police at Bogota’s international airport was also sceptical about the Australian’s innocence.

He said Ms Sainsbury’s claims that she was deceived are probably untrue and in any case don’t excuse her actions.

“Everyone who is caught says exactly the same thing,” said Lt Colonel Triana, who added that many foreigners are lured by false promises of fast fortunes.”

As tourism to Colombia has boomed over the past decade, the country’s drug cartels are increasingly recruiting foreigners to smuggle cocaine out of the country. Police have arrested 19 foreign drug mules this year alone, Lt Colonel Triana said.

The Adelaide woman’s family insists she is innocent and was set up by a Colombian man she met after arriving in the South American country on April 3 during a working holiday.

But public comments made by her family about her case may have unwittingly put the 22-year-old in danger, The Australian has reported.

Senior Australian lawyers familiar with the case told the paper that if the cartels found out what Ms Sainsbury’s mother had been saying, she could be in danger inside the notorious El Buen Pastor jail where she is being held.

El Buen Pastor prison for women in Bogota, Colombia. Source: Roger Triana

El Buen Pastor prison for women in Bogota, Colombia. Source: Roger TrianaSource:Supplied

El Buen Pastor is Bogota’s biggest women’s prison, and inmates live in overcrowded and filthy conditions alongside violent criminals, their children and babies and corrupt guards who steal food brought to prisoners by their families.

On Monday, Ms Sainsbury’s mother Lisa Evans told KIIS that her daughter was facing a potential jail sentence of between 18 to 25 years, but if she pleaded guilty this would be reduced.

She said the minimum sentence was six years but this could be reduced to four if Ms Sainsbury provided information about the man who gave her the drugs.

Ms Evans said Cassie had trusted the man who gave her the drugs, and he had been acting as her translator in Colombia.

“He had been helping her all week, taking her around and showing her places, and just being a nice guy,” Ms Evans said.

It is understood lawyers in Australia have now advised the family not to make any further public comments and to take down an online fundraising campaign on FundRazr.

The campaign has raised more than $4000 for Ms Sainsbury and remains active, although many of the posts express scepticism about Cassie’s story.

Cassandra Sainsbury was arrested on drug charges in Colombia.

Cassandra Sainsbury was arrested on drug charges in Colombia.Source:Instagram

Colombia is the world’s largest producer of cocaine and its police among the best-trained to detect and stop drug smuggling thanks in part to billions of dollars in US anti-narcotics aid that has strengthened law enforcement.

— With AP/AAP


Cassie Sainsbury Faces Up To 25 Years For 5.8kg Cocaine Haul

The Adelaide personal trainer says she was set up by a man she had just met.

01/05/2017 10:22 AM AEST | Updated 01/05/2017 2:30 PM AEST

GoFundMe

An Adelaide based personal trainer and volunteer firefighter is facing up to 25 years in a Colombian prison after 5.8 kilograms of cocaine was found in her suitcase.

Cassandra Sainsbury was arrested for drug trafficking offences at El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá when she went to catch her flight back to Australia following an eight-day working holiday in Colombia on April 11.

But her family say she is “naive” and had been set up by a man she had met who gave her what she believed was a package of headphones.

Sainsbury’s sister, Khala, told the media that a man she met while travelling offered to bulk buy the headphones cheaply for her, which she wanted as gifts for her bridal party at her upcoming wedding to fiance Scott Broadbridge.

Anyone that knows her would say she is a kind, loving, happy kind of girl.”

“Cassie, being young, said she’d do it. And it came to her already packaged and sealed so she put it straight in her suitcase not thinking,” Khala said. “She’s very naive.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed to HuffPost Australia that they are assisting an Australian woman arrested in Colombia, but declined to give further details “due to our privacy obligations”.

Colombia is the world’s largest cocaine producer, providing more than half of the world’s illicit supply — 487 tons annually. Profits from the drug amount to around 1 per cent of the nation’s GDP and provide livelihoods for around 65,000 farming families in remote areas, according to UN estimates.

But the Government has cracked down on the drug trade in recent years in an attempt to clean up its image, with heavy penalties for those caught trafficking. The maximum penalty for trafficking cocaine is 25 years.

The Adelaide woman’s mother, Lisa Evans, told KIIS FM that Sainsbury is innocent, but is considering pleading guilty to reduce her sentence.

Facebook
Cassie Sainsbury with her fiance and “love of her life” Scott Broadbridge. The couple were preparing to wed early next year.

“If she pleads guilty the minimum is six years,” Evans said.

“If Cassie gives information about the person that gave her the package it may come down to four.”

Evans reportedly told Channel Nine’s Today Show she could not believe someone could do this to her daughter.

“Cassie is just, ‘I didn’t do it mum, you have got to get me out’ and crying hysterically,” Evans said.

Sainsbury has been denied bail and is currently in the notorious El Buen Pastor women’s prison, where she is sharing a cell with up to 250 women in squalid conditions. She is due to face trial in two months’ time, her family says.

The 22-year-old’s sister has set up a fundraising page to raise money towards Cassie’s legal costs.

“Cassie would never do anything like what she has been accused off,” Khala wrote on the page.

“Anyone that knows her would say she is a kind, loving, happy kind of girl. She would help anyone out in need.”

But the page has drawn criticism from some posters, who accused the family “begging” for money

After four days, the campaign had only raised $2,610 towards its $15,000 goal.


Cassandra Sainsbury: Accused cocaine smuggler ‘would have known drugs were in her bag’

03/05/17

An Australian woman used unsophisticated methods to try to conceal 18 packets of cocaine in her luggage and her family’s claims she was set up are not believable, Colombian drug authorities say.

Key points:

  • Colombian drug police say Australian woman would have known the drugs were in the bag
  • Cocaine in headphones “not really a very sophisticated mode of concealment”
  • Cassandra Sainsbury faces up to 20 years in jail

Adelaide’s Cassandra Sainsbury, 22, was arrested minutes before boarding a flight at Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport with 5.8 kilograms of cocaine wrapped in plastics bags and packed within boxes of headphones.

Family of the former personal trainer said she was an unwitting drug mule and the headphones were bought as gifts for bridal party guests.

Colonel Jorge Mendoza, the head of ports and airports for the Colombian drug enforcement police department, dismissed the family’s version of events, saying she would have known the narcotics were in her bags.

“There was not really a very sophisticated mode of concealment,” he said.

“The drugs were wrapped in bags, 18 packets as I said previously, inside her suitcase.

“So, it is difficult to say that she did not know that the substance was inside her suitcase.”

Ms Sainsbury’s sister Khala said the 22-year-old was in Colombia for a working holiday and the headphones were purchased from a contact.

Colonel Mendoza has previously said the arrest came as the result of a tip-off and was indistinguishable from a growing number of drug cases involving foreigners.

Colonel Mendoza has said he was confident the seizure would lead to jail time and depending on the quality of the drugs, the maximum penalty could be 20 years’ imprisonment.

A Colombian lawyer advised the family she plead guilty to reduce the sentence to a possible six years.

Ms Sainsbury’s family has raised thousands of dollars online to fund her legal defence and support her.

Ms Sainsbury has been transferred to the Colombian capital’s notorious El Buen Pastor women’s prison.

Joanna Adams, the daughter of a lawyer who has given legal advice to Ms Sainsbury, has told the ABC’s AM program her father said the Australian “has her up and downs”.

“Some days she’s good and some days she’s very bad,” Ms Adams said.

The 22-year-old was preparing to board a flight to London on her way back to Australia when she was arrested.

AP/ABC


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R v Obeid Judgement Dec 15 2016


austlii.edu.au

R v Obeid (No 12) [2016] NSWSC 1815 (15 December 2016)

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Last Updated: 15 December 2016

Supreme Court

New South Wales

JUDGMENT

  1. HIS HONOUR: In Australian Communist Party v The Commonwealth,[1] Dixon J warned that democratic “[f]orms of government may need protection from dangers likely to arise from within the institutions to be protected”.[2] This case provides an illustration of such a danger.
  2. On 6 June 2016 the offender, Edward Moses Obeid, was arraigned in this Court on an indictment that charged him with one count of the common law offence of wilful misconduct in public office. He pleaded not guilty. A jury was empanelled and the trial proceeded.
  3. On Tuesday 28 June 2016 the jury returned a verdict of guilty. I recorded a conviction. The proceedings were adjourned until 12 August 2016 for submissions on sentence. The sentence proceedings were later adjourned to 6 October 2016 on Mr Obeid’s application due to his ill health. They were further adjourned to 1 December 2016 on the application of the Crown.
  4. In DPP v Marks [2005] VSCA 277 at [35], Nettle JA (as his Honour then was) identified the object of the offence of wilful misconduct in public office as ensuring a public official does not “abuse intentionally the trust reposed in him” or her. In this case, the essence of the criminality alleged against Mr Obeid was that he intentionally abused the public trust reposed in him as a Member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales by using his position to make representations to a senior officer of the Maritime Authority of NSW, Mr Stephen Dunn, to advance the financial interests of himself or at least his family
  5. Now that Mr Obeid has been convicted, the Crown contends that no sentence other than full time imprisonment should be imposed. On behalf of Mr Obeid it is contended that the Court can and should impose a sentence that falls short of that sanction, especially when regard is had to his personal circumstances including his age, ill health and prior good conduct.
  6. To address these submissions and determine the appropriate sentence it is first necessary to set out the background to the commission of the offence by Mr Obeid, describe the conduct he engaged in, determine what the jury necessarily found by its verdict, identify the relevant principles that apply to the sentencing exercise and outline the subjective case put forward on Mr Obeid’s behalf.

Background

  1. To the extent that the following description of the background to the offence refers to established facts, they were either agreed at the trial or at least not in issue.
  2. Mr Obeid was elected to the Legislative Council in 1991.[3] He retired from Parliament in 2011.[4] From April 1999 to April 2003 he was the Minister for Fisheries.[5]
  3. In the period leading up to the Sydney Olympics, the public body responsible for wharves 1 to 5 at Circular Quay, being the Waterways Authority, entered into new leases for the businesses situated on those wharves. The term of each lease was approximately five years and they were all due to expire on or about 31 August 2005. They did not include options for renewal.[6]
  4. During 2005, the Waterways Authority was renamed the “NSW Maritime Authority” (the “Maritime Authority”).[7] At all relevant times, Ministerial responsibility for the Waterways Authority, and then the Maritime Authority, rested with the Minister for Ports and Waterways. Until August 2005, Michael Costa was the responsible Minister. From August 2005 to February 2006, Eric Roozendaal was the Minister. From February 2006 until November 2009, Joseph Tripodi was the Minister for Ports and Waterways.[8]
  5. In or about late 2002, Circular Quay Restaurants Pty Ltd (“CQR”) purchased two businesses operating under leases at the Circular Quay wharves, namely the Café Sorrentino on Wharf 4 and the Quay Eatery on Wharf 5, for $1 million each.[9] It also purchased another business in the vicinity of the wharves known as the Arc Cafe[10] for $400,000.00,[11] however it need not be mentioned further.
  6. CQR took assignments of the leases for Café Sorrentino and Quay Eatery on the same terms and conditions as the existing tenants, including the expiry date in August 2005.[12] Mr Obeid’s brotherinlaw, Mr John Abood, was the sole Director and shareholder of CQR. It was an agreed fact that “via a series of trusts 90% of the interest in the business[es] flowed to the Obeid Family Trust No. 2”.[13] This was a discretionary trust, the potential beneficiaries of which were members of the Obeid family, including Mr Obeid and his wife, Judith.[14] Further, there was evidence at the trial that $1.398 million of the funds for the purchase of the businesses came from a mortgage of the home that Mr Obeid and his wife resided in and which his wife owned. A ledger entry from the family business records that, six days prior to the purchase of the businesses, $3.4 million was received from that mortgage of which $1.398 million was distributed to CQR and just over $1.557 million was distributed to, or at least on behalf of, Mr Obeid.[15]
  7. Although Mr Abood was the Director and shareholder of CQR, the acquisition of the businesses and its financing was arranged by Mr Obeid’s sons, principally Damien Obeid.[16] Mr Abood managed the businesses on a daytoday basis.[17] For that he was paid a salary and provided with a motor vehicle.[18] Damien Obeid was responsible for the collection of the cash takings of the businesses and payment of its invoices.[19] Damien Obeid arranged for the cash takings to be delivered to Sam Achie, the financial controller, and Paul Maroon, a bookkeeper. They both worked at the offices of Obeid Corporation at Birkenhead Point.[20]
  8. In his evidence, Damien Obeid denied that from the time his father entered Parliament he played any role in the family businesses or that he discussed the family businesses with his father.[21] He specifically denied discussing with his father “anything at all about how the businesses [at Circular Quay] were going, what the lease problems were, or anything like that”.[22] However, Damien Obeid understood that his father was aware that he and his brothers had invested in the businesses at Circular Quay.[23]
  9. Damien Obeid said that, shortly after the businesses were acquired, he requested that Paul Maroon set aside approximately $1000 to $1200 per week from the cash takings of CQR for delivery to Judith Obeid.[24] Damien Obeid stated that this was merely a continuation of an arrangement for the provision of cash to her from one family business or another which was always accounted for as a payment by Obeid Corporation.[25]
  10. There was also evidence capable of suggesting that Mr Obeid received his own cash payments from CQR’s takings from sometime in 2007. Tendered at the trial were a series of spreadsheets prepared by Mr Maroon.[26] The spreadsheets each had a file name referable to a particular date or week in the period August 2007 to October 2011. The spreadsheets included entries referable to the distribution of CQR’s cash takings. The entries in the spreadsheets juxtaposed amounts of cash with references to Judith Obeid, Mr Obeid or both of them. On their face, those spreadsheets suggested that regular cash payments were made to Mr Obeid over and above the amounts paid to Judith Obeid. In addition, there were other electronic documents prepared by Mr Maroon which contained references to payments to “mum and dad”[27] or “EO and JO”.[28]
  11. Mr Maroon’s oral evidence had its difficulties in that his memory has been significantly affected by medication he takes for epilepsy.[29] As a consequence, the jury was instructed that it should exercise caution in determining whether to accept his evidence and attach weight to it.[30] Mr Maroon said that the entries in the spreadsheets reflected instructions he received that were recorded on approximately the same day they were given to him, “usually” by Damien Obeid.[31] He said the spreadsheet entries recorded instructions to prepare envelopes with an amount of cash in them which he provided to Damien Obeid or one of his brothers.[32] Sometimes the envelope was marked up to reflect the instruction.[33] However, Mr Maroon agreed that he did not remember the circumstances of any particular entry,[34] that he never saw what happened to the envelopes of cash he gave to Damien Obeid,[35] and that he never saw Mr Obeid Senior receive any cash from CQR’s businesses.[36] Mr Maroon accepted that it was “possible” that the references to “mum and dad” in his spreadsheets could have been a reference “to the household expenses of the Obeid family”.[37]
  12. Mr Damien Obeid repeatedly denied asking Mr Maroon to set aside money for his father out of CQR’s takings or ever instructing Mr Maroon to write “Dad” on any envelope or that ever he provided any money to his father.[38] He stated that, while he and his family were living with his parents from 2006 to the “end of 2008 or perhaps even early 2009”,[39] there was an increase in the amount of cash payments of “up to $2000” per week.[40] This appears to roughly correspond with the total of the amounts referred to in the spreadsheets listed against Mr Obeid and his wife in that period.
  13. For each of the lessees of the businesses at the wharves, the insecurity of their tenure was a cause of considerable concern. This was particularly the case for CQR in that, if the leases were not renewed, then it was likely that the funds outlayed to purchase the businesses would not be recovered.
  14. In August 2004, five representatives of the lessees at the wharves wrote to the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (“SHFA”) which was managing the properties for the Maritime Authority, expressing their concern about the security of their tenure and seeking a response to their request to renew their leases.[41] Mr Abood was one of the signatories to the letter. On 2 September 2004, SHFA responded stating that all lease agreements would be offered for competitive tender upon their expiry and that the tendering process would commence “early in the new year.”[42]
  15. Mr Abood said that around this time he had meetings with other tenants about the issue. Damien Obeid recommended they speak to his cousin, Dennis Jabour, who had experience in property management. Mr Jabour in turn suggested they retain Mr Paul Scanlan, a professional negotiator with legal qualifications and experience in retail tenancies. Ultimately, Mr Scanlan was retained to act on behalf of three separate tenants, including CQR.[43] Mr Scanlan was instructed to lobby the Maritime Authority on their behalf[44] in order to achieve either a renewal of their leases or at least agreement to direct negotiations over lease renewals.[45]
  16. From late 2004 to early 2008, Mr Scanlan did as he was instructed. He wrote a number of letters on behalf of the lessees to SHFA and the Maritime Authority. He made numerous telephone calls and attended many meetings with Maritime Authority staff. In July 2006 he secured a meeting with Minister Tripodi. Throughout this time Mr Scanlan emphasised the unfairness to the lessees in requiring them to compete in an open tender and that doing so was detrimental for the Maritime Authority in that it meant that the tenants were reluctant to invest in the upkeep of their premises.
  17. Despite his efforts, until the middle of 2007 Mr Scanlan was unsuccessful in obtaining any change in the Maritime Authority’s position. However, even though by early 2005 preparations for an open tender process were well advanced, the Maritime Authority did not proceed to competitive tender for the leases. Instead the leases were extended for six months from August 2005 and thereafter they became monthtomonth tenancies.[46] A ten per cent increase in rent was applied during the holding over period.[47]
  18. The former Chief Executive Officer of the Maritime Authority, Christopher Oxenbould, explained that this delay was the result of internal government disagreements concerning the Maritime Authority’s commercial leasing policy (the “CLP”) and its approach to the Circular Quay precinct. There were differing views within the Maritime Authority and between the differing Ministers from time to time as to whether the CLP should provide that, upon the expiry of a lease of Maritime Authority property, a new lease should be the subject of a market based tender on the one hand or existing tenants should be allowed the opportunity to first negotiate a renewed lease on the other. In relation to Circular Quay, Mr Oxenbould stated that within the Maritime Property division of the Maritime Authority there was a “very strong belief” that the process of renewal for the Circular Quay leases was a special case compared with those addressed in the proposed CLP and should only be renewed by a process of competitive tender.[48]
  19. Mr Oxenbould stated that around mid-2007, the fate of the proposed CLP and the Circular Quay leases became linked.[49] It was around this time that Mr Obeid made the “representations” the subject of the charge against him which I will now describe.

The Representations

  1. Mr Patrick Low was appointed to a senior policy position within the Maritime Authority in November 2006.[50] He assumed responsibility for the finalisation of the CLP. In his evidence, Mr Low said that he did not draw any distinction between retail leases at Circular Quay and other retail leases of Maritime Authority property.[51] On 7 August 2007, Mr Low circulated Version 9 of the draft CLP.[52] It contemplated retail leases of Maritime Authority property being offered on a competitive basis, including on their expiry.[53]
  2. On 15 August 2007, Mr Stephen Dunn took up an appointment as Deputy Chief Executive of the Maritime Authority.[54] On 21 August 2007, he was appointed to the additional position of General Manager of the Maritime Property Division.[55] Mr Dunn was the Director General of Fisheries from late 1999 to 2004, which included the period when Mr Obeid was the Minister for Fisheries.[56] Mr Dunn said that he and Mr Obeid came to know each other well during this period but they did not socialise although Mr Dunn regarded Mr Obeid as a mentor.[57] After he ceased work at the Department of Fisheries, Mr Dunn worked overseas for two years. When he returned he and Mr Obeid met infrequently for coffee.[58] Mr Dunn said that, in the period immediately before he was appointed, Mr Obeid contacted him and that Mr Obeid either was or became aware that Mr Dunn was about to commence in a senior position with the Maritime Authority.[59]
  3. During the morning of 17 August 2007, Mr Obeid telephoned Mr Dunn. Mr Dunn returned his call. Mr Dunn said that to his recollection Mr Obeid said that “he was unhappy about the way the group of tenants at Circular Quay had been treated by the Maritime Authority” and asked Mr Dunn to “meet with a barrister that represented them, Mr Paul Scanlan”. Mr Dunn also recalled that Mr Obeid “made some very disparaging remarks” about the Maritime Authority and the way they treated the tenants.[60] He recalled that Mr Obeid said that the leaseholders at Circular Quay “were bullied by Maritime Authority staff and that they were not treated fairly in their dealing with Maritime Authority staff”.[61] Mr Dunn recalled that Mr Obeid was “agitated” and used “quite strong language” to convey his feelings about the “behaviour of the Maritime Property staff about the way they treated stakeholders”.[62] In cross examination, Mr Dunn agreed that Mr Obeid did not advocate any outcome other than him meeting with Mr Scanlan and did not expand upon the tenants’ grievances.[63]
  4. At no time during that or any other conversation did Mr Obeid indicate to Mr Dunn that he or his family had any direct or indirect financial interest in the Circular Quay leases.[64] Instead, Mr Dunn said that he knew Mr Obeid was a Member of the Legislative Council and believed “very much that [Mr Obeid] was calling on behalf of constituents”.[65]
  5. The telephone records indicate that there were five further telephone conversations between Mr Dunn and Mr Obeid after the call on 17 August 2007, being calls on 21 August 2007, 27 August 2007, the evening of 28 August 2007, 3 September 2007[66] and 11 September 2007.[67] Mr Dunn had no specific recollection of those conversations but he accepted that with the conversation on 21 August 2007 there was nothing to discuss other than the Circular Quay leases[68] and that with the telephone call on 28 August 2007 it was likely they had discussed Mr Dunn’s meeting with Mr Scanlan earlier that day.[69] He recalled that in the telephone calls on 5 and 11 September 2007, Mr Obeid was seeking “updates”.[70]
  6. As noted, on or about 28 August 2007, Mr Dunn met Mr Scanlan.[71] Mr Low said he also attended[72] but neither Mr Dunn nor Mr Scanlan could recall him being present at the meeting.[73] Around this time, Mr Dunn and Mr Low met to discuss Version 9 of the draft CLP. Mr Low recalled Mr Dunn directing that it be changed from requiring open tenders of leases to instead having a “benchmark of lease renewals on commercial terms”.[74] Mr Dunn did not accept that he directed such changes but instead said he was “encouraging Mr Low [that] this was a suitable policy response”.[75] Both recalled that Mr Low obtained the approval of the Minister and Mr Oxenbould for the changes.[76]
  7. On or about 4 September 2007, Version 10 of the draft CLP was produced.[77] This version now provided that retail leases would be “offered via direct negotiations” with existing tenants in the first instance.[78] On the same date Mr Dunn wrote to Mr Scanlan advising that the Maritime Authority was reviewing its lease policy and that no further increases in rent would be sought during the holdover period.[79]
  8. Two further versions of the draft CLP were produced but the approach to renewals of existing retail leases did not change from Version 10.[80] The final CLP was approved by cabinet on 26 November 2007.[81] Negotiations over a new lease commenced with Mr Scanlan on 29 November 2007.[82] A new lease for CQR’s businesses was signed in 2008. However, the businesses ultimately failed sometime around 2012[83] and the leases were terminated.

The Jury’s Verdict

  1. To properly characterise Mr Obeid’s offending, it is necessary to explain the elements of the offence of wilful misconduct in public office and the directions given to the jury in order to determine what the jury necessarily found in returning a guilty verdict. In addition, it is the sentencing judge’s function to make such further findings of fact as may be necessary for sentencing provided that they are consistent with the jury’s verdict. If any such findings are adverse to the offender, they must be proven beyond reasonable doubt but otherwise they are to be made on the balance of probabilities (see R v Olbrich [1999] HCA 54; 199 CLR 270 (“Olbrich”) at [27] per Gleeson CJ, Gaudron, Hayne and Callinan JJ).
  2. In Obeid v R [2015] NSWCCA 309 at [133] to [142], Bathurst CJ, Beazley P and Leeming JA accepted the formulation of the five elements of the offence of wilful misconduct in public office enunciated in R v Quach [2010] VSCA 106; 201 A Crim R 522 (“Quach”) at [46]. In Mr Obeid’s case it was accepted that one of those elements, namely, that the relevant misconduct was undertaken “without reasonable excuse or justification”, did not arise as no evidence or submissions put forward were capable of raising any such excuse or justification that was not necessarily excluded by a finding that he wilfully misconducted himself.[84] Accordingly, the jury was instructed that it had to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of the remaining four elements stated in Quach adapted to the case against Mr Obeid,[85] being first that he was a public officer, second that in making representations to Mr Dunn Mr Obeid acted “in the course of or connected to his public office”, third that in so acting he wilfully misconducted himself and fourth that his conduct in making representations was misconduct that was serious and merited criminal punishment. I will deal with each element in turn.
  3. In relation to the first element, the jury was instructed that as a matter of law a Member of the Legislative Council is a public officer: Obeid v R [2015] NSWCCA 309 at [119] to [123].[86]
  4. In relation to the second element, the jury was instructed that the functions and responsibilities of a Member of the Legislative Council include “scrutinising the actions of the executive government” and “communicat[ing] with the executive government about matters affecting the State by, for example, making representations, suggestions or even protesting to a Minister or departments about their policies and practices”[87] (see Horne v Barber [1920] HCA 33; 27 CLR 494 at 500 to 501 per Isaacs J; R v Boston [1923] HCA 59; 33 CLR 386; “Boston” at 402 to 403 per Isaacs and Rich JJ; R v Obeid (No 2) [2015] NSWSC 1380 at [105]). In this case, the nature and circumstances of the conversation between Mr Dunn and Mr Obeid and the absence of any disclosure by Mr Obeid that he or his family had any interest in the leases clearly suggested that, objectively considered, Mr Obeid’s conduct was undertaken in the course of or connected to his public office. The jury so concluded.
  5. In relation to the third element, namely, that Mr Obeid wilfully misconducted himself, the jury was instructed that it had to be satisfied of three matters beyond reasonable doubt, namely, that: Mr Obeid engaged in the conduct identified in the indictment, that such conduct was misconduct that is a breach of the duties and obligations attached to his office as a Member of the Legislative Council and that the misconduct was “wilful”.[88]
  6. The relevant conduct alleged against Mr Obeid in the indictment was that while he held office as a Member of the Legislative Council he made representations to Mr Dunn, “with the intention of securing an outcome from the … Maritime Authority favourable to [CQR] in respect of its tenancies of properties at Circular Quay, knowing at the time he made the representations that he had a commercial and/or beneficial and/or family and/or personal interest in the said tenancies which he did not disclose to Stephen Paul Dunn.”[89]
  7. The jury was instructed that this aspect of the indictment raised four matters of fact, each of which it had to be satisfied of beyond reasonable doubt, namely, that Mr Obeid had an interest in the tenancies, that he knew that such an interest existed, that he did not disclose any such interest to Mr Dunn and that he made representations to Mr Dunn with the “intention of securing an outcome” favourable to CQR.[90]
  8. In relation to Mr Obeid and his family’s interest in the tenancies I have already referred to the agreed fact that Mr Obeid and his family had an interest via the trust arrangement ([12]). I have also referred to the evidence concerning the mortgage of his residence that was owned by his wife which was used to finance part of the acquisition of the businesses ([12]), the evidence of weekly cash payments made to Mr Obeid’s wife ([15]) and the evidence of the further cash payments that the Crown contended were made to Mr Obeid directly ([16] to [18]). It follows from the jury’s verdict that it was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Obeid had an “interest” of the kind referred to in the indictment. The indirect interest via a trust was agreed and the evidence of the mortgage and cash payments to Judith Obeid was undisputed. I consider it follows that the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of those three matters. To the extent that there may be some uncertainty in this respect I record that I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of those matters.
  9. However, it does not necessarily follow from its verdict that the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Obeid personally received the cash payments described as payments to “EO” or “Dad” or the like in Mr Maroon’s spreadsheets. Given that Mr Maroon never stated that he provided them to Mr Obeid Senior personally, and his concession that the reference to “Mum or Dad” in his spreadsheet could have been a reference to payments to the household expenses of the Obeid family, I am not satisfied of that matter beyond reasonable doubt. However, it was not disputed that the payments described as being for “EO” or “Dad” or the like in Mr Maroon’s spreadsheets represented actual cash amounts that were delivered to Mr Obeid’s household and, if not given to him, then they were at least given to his wife Judith. Damien Obeid agreed that the amount of cash payments increased from around 2006. Accordingly, I consider it follows that the jury was satisfied of at least that fact. To the extent that there may be some uncertainty in this respect I am also satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of that fact.
  10. As for Mr Obeid’s knowledge of his and his family’s interest, it follows from the verdict that the jury was satisfied of that as well. In particular, it is overwhelmingly likely that Mr Obeid was aware of the substantial financial outlay his family made to purchase the businesses, especially when he received part of the proceeds of the same mortgage that was used to finance the purchase (see [12]). It is also overwhelmingly likely that Mr Obeid was aware of which business was being used to provide cash to his household. Further, while Damien Obeid gave evidence that he did not discuss the family’s businesses with his father, I am satisfied the jury rejected that aspect of his evidence and was satisfied of the contrary beyond reasonable doubt. To the extent there may be any uncertainty in this respect, I am also satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of that matter. The exquisite timing of Mr Obeid’s telephone contact with Mr Dunn demonstrates that he was very familiar with the position of his family businesses and the threat they faced.
  11. In relation to the absence of disclosure by Mr Obeid to Mr Dunn of his interest in the tenancies, Mr Dunn’s uncontested evidence was that Mr Obeid made no such disclosure in any way (see [29]).91[91]t follows from its verdict that the jury was satisfied of that matter.
  12. In relation to that part of the indictment that alleged that Mr Obeid made representations to Mr Dunn with the “intention of securing an outcome” favourable to CQR I have already described Mr Dunn’s uncontested evidence of his discussions with Mr Obeid. The jury clearly accepted that evidence. At the trial, there was no real contest that Mr Obeid made “representations” to Mr Dunn. However, there was a contest about the content and effect of those representations and then in turn, Mr Obeid’s motives, intentions and state of mind in making them.
  13. At the trial it was contended on behalf of Mr Obeid that the request he made of Mr Dunn was relatively innocuous in that he did not urge any outcome on Mr Dunn and did not expand upon the tenants’ grievances. In contrast, in his final address, the Crown Prosecutor effectively submitted that Mr Obeid’s intervention was a careful and nuanced act designed to prime Mr Dunn to be receptive to Mr Scanlan’s arguments. The Crown submitted that Mr Obeid chose Mr Dunn because he was someone with whom he had an existing relationship and he knew was influential. The Crown submitted that Mr Obeid did more than simply ring Mr Dunn and ask him to meet Mr Scanlan. The Crown submitted that Mr Obeid conveyed to Mr Dunn in clear terms his strong disapproval with the way the Maritime Authority was treating the tenants at Circular Quay. The Crown submitted that by not mentioning his interest in the tenancies Mr Obeid duped Mr Dunn into believing that he was asking him to meet with Mr Scanlan on behalf of arm’s length constituents who had a genuine grievance with the Maritime Authority. I consider that it follows from the jury’s verdict that the jury accepted what the Crown submitted was Mr Obeid’s motives and intentions in contacting Mr Dunn. To the extent that there may be some uncertainty in this respect I am satisfied of those matters beyond reasonable doubt.
  14. At this point, it is important to note a specific direction given to the jury about this part of the indictment; ie that part that refers to Mr Obeid having an “intention of securing an outcome” favourable to CQR. At the trial, Mr Tripodi, gave evidence that he had served on a parliamentary committee with Mr Obeid from 1996 to 1998.[92] Mr Tripodi said that he recalled that Mr Obeid had instanced the Circular Quay lessees as examples of government tenants who had been mistreated and referred to other government departments “where they did have a right of renewal and he felt that was good policy”.[93] There was also an agreed fact that Mr Obeid and Mr Tripodi had discussions on that topic after Mr Tripodi became Minister for Ports and Waterways.[94]
  15. Thus, on behalf of Mr Obeid it was submitted to the jury that he had a long held view about unfair government treatment of tenants, including those at Circular Quay. It was also submitted that that matter, and the supposedly innocuous nature of his intervention, negated any suggestion that Mr Obeid intervened to promote his or his family’s financial interests and instead suggested he intervened because he believed the Maritime Authority was mistreating the Circular Quay tenants.[95] A submission to similar effect was made on behalf of Mr Obeid at the sentencing hearing.[96]
  16. This aspect of Mr Obeid’s case raised a possibility that the jury might conclude that, or be left with a doubt about whether, Mr Obeid made representations to Mr Dunn having both an intention to secure a favourable outcome for CQR and a belief that it was part of his duty to his constituents to point out unfair treatment by the Maritime Authority. Over the objection of the Crown,[97] I directed the jury that it had to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the conduct of Mr Obeid “in making the representations to Mr Dunn was undertaken with the intention of benefitting [CQR], that is for the purpose of promoting Mr Obeid’s pecuniary interests or those of his family or those close to him and that it was not undertaken because he in any way genuinely believed it was in the public interest or the interests of the electorate or even part of the electorate”.[98] I directed the jury that if it were not so satisfied then Mr Obeid had to be acquitted.[99]
  17. It follows from its verdict that the jury rejected the reasonable possibility that Mr Obeid was even partly motivated to speak to Mr Dunn by a genuine belief that doing so was in the public interest, the interests of the electorate or even the interests of part of the electorate. Instead, the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Obeid was solely motivated to benefit CQR and through it himself or his family. That aspect of the jury’s finding is especially significant to an assessment of Mr Obeid’s criminality.
  18. The next matter the jury was required to consider in relation to the third element was whether the Crown had proven beyond reasonable doubt that the conduct that Mr Obeid engaged in was misconduct, that is, a breach of the duties and obligations of his office as a Member of the Legislative Council.[100] In that respect, the jury was instructed that parliamentarians are required to “act with fidelity and single mindedness for the welfare of the community” (Boston at 400 per Isaacs and Rich JJ)[101] and, in particular, that parliamentarians “must act only according to what they believe to be in the public interest and the interests of the electorate and must not use their position for the purpose of promoting their own pecuniary interests or those of their family or entities close to them”.[102] Clearly, the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of that matter. It follows inexorably from the finding that Mr Obeid’s intervention was solely motivated to benefit CQR and through it himself or at least his family.
  19. The final aspect of the third element that the jury was satisfied of beyond reasonable doubt was that Mr Obeid’s misconduct was “wilful”. In this respect, the jury was instructed that, for the misconduct to be wilful, Mr Obeid must either have known that he was obliged not to use his position in that way, or he knew that it was possible that he was obliged not to use his position in that way but chose to do so anyway (R v Obeid (No 11) [2016] NSWSC 974).[103] The jury’s verdict does not resolve whether the misconduct was intentional or reckless. I record that I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it was intentional. As at 2007, Mr Obeid had been a Member of Parliament for 16 years and had previously been a Minister for three years. In those circumstances, I consider it inconceivable that he would not have known that he could not use his position as a parliamentarian to further his or his family’s financial interests.
  20. The fourth element of the offence was that Mr Obeid’s misconduct was serious and merited criminal punishment having regard to the responsibilities of the office and the officeholder, the importance of the public objects which they serve and the nature and extent of the departure from those objects.[104] In relation to this issue the jury was instructed that this crime is not established by an error or a mistake but instead the misconduct “must be worthy of condemnation and punishment.”[105] This element of the crime posed what is often described as a “classic jury question”, namely, a question the answer to which requires a normative assessment undertaken by reference to community standards. The fact that a jury determined that Mr Obeid’s conduct was worthy of condemnation and punishment does not foreclose the adoption of any particular sentencing option. However, as I will explain, it is a significant matter to consider in sentencing Mr Obeid (see [69]).
  21. Before concluding this analysis of the jury’s verdict, it is necessary to note four matters that arise out of the written submissions filed on behalf of Mr Obeid.
  22. First, it was not part of the Crown case that Mr Dunn acted improperly and there was no evidence adduced to suggest that he did. Mr Dunn’s undisputed evidence was that he would have met with Mr Scanlan irrespective of Mr Obeid’s intervention[106] and that the position he took in relation to the CLP was based on his own assessment.[107] In particular, he concluded that the level of stakeholder opposition to a competitive process was very strong[108] and that a change in the culture of the Maritime Property Division and its approach to Circular Quay tenants was necessary.[109]
  23. The written submissions filed on behalf of Mr Obeid contended that his representations to Mr Dunn ultimately had no effect on the decision reached by the Maritime Authority to offer new leases to CQR.[110] The Crown did not contend to the contrary and I accept that. However, that matter cannot be taken too far. There is no evidence from which it can be concluded that Mr Obeid was aware of Mr Dunn’s attitude to the Circular Quay leases prior to making his telephone call. On the evidence adduced at the trial it was only sheer chance that, in speaking to Mr Dunn, Mr Obeid was pushing on an open door.
  24. Second, the written submissions filed on behalf of Mr Obeid contend that he did not receive any financial benefit as a result of his offending conduct because he had only a potential interest in CQR’s businesses[111] and because the businesses ultimately went broke and the leases were terminated.[112] The finding that I have just made means that ultimately Mr Obeid’s representations to Mr Dunn did not confer any financial advantage on him or any member of his family. However, as I have explained, the effect of the jury’s verdict is that it found that he was solely motivated to lobby Mr Dunn to benefit either himself or his family. Given the closeness of the various family interests it makes no difference to any assessment of Mr Obeid’s criminality whether he sought to profit personally, benefit his wife, protect his sons’ investment or pursue all three.
  25. Third, the written submissions filed on behalf of Mr Obeid incorrectly contend that the essence of Mr Obeid’s criminality was his failure to disclose his interest in the leases to Mr Dunn.[113] Mr Obeid’s offence was not some omission to tell Mr Dunn of his or his family’s interest in CQR. The proper performance of his duty as a parliamentarian required that he not communicate with Mr Dunn for the purpose of advancing his or his family’s pecuniary interests. Nothing in this judgment should be taken as accepting that it was permissible for a parliamentarian such as Mr Obeid to lobby Mr Dunn to advance his or his family’s financial interests provided he disclose his or their interest. Whether parliamentarians can act in that manner without misconducting themselves was not an issue requiring resolution in this proceeding. In addition, I note that in this case Mr Dunn stated that, if Mr Obeid had disclosed his or his family’s interests in the Circular Quay leases, it would have affected the process of decision making[114] in that there would have been “a very high level of transparency” in respect of the decision making process and “[m]ore records or full records would have needed to be maintained about that potential conflict of interest.”[115]
  26. Fourth, Mr Obeid did not give evidence at his trial or at the sentence hearing. Instead, a report from a psychologist, Dr Christopher Lennings, was tendered which included his explanation for the offence.[116] This means of adducing such evidence is problematic in that the offender’s version cannot be tested (R v Qutami [2001] NSWCCA 353 at [58] to [59] per Smart AJ with whom Spigelman CJ agreed). Dr Lennings’ report recounts Mr Obeid stating that for a long period he had an interest in what he regarded as the mistreatment of traders at Circular Quay which prompted him to contact Mr Dunn and that his sons’ interest in the businesses at the Quay was only “coincidental”.[117] It follows from what I have stated that I must reject this explanation as it is completely inconsistent with the jury’s verdict.

Approach to Sentencing

  1. In R v Obeid (No 2) [2015] NSWSC 1380 at [1] I observed that, even though the Parliament of New South Wales has enacted detailed statutory regimes for the detection, investigation and prevention of corrupt conduct by public officials,[118] for reasons best known to itself, the Parliament has not enacted legislation specifying whether and, if so, what improper or corrupt conduct by its own members constitutes a crime. Instead, Parliament left that topic to the vagaries and uncertainties of the common law.
  2. Since that statement, some of the uncertainties surrounding the application of the common law offence of wilful misconduct in public office to a parliamentarian have been resolved by the Court of Criminal Appeal’s judgment in Obeid v R [2015] NSWCCA 309. Further, in relation to sentencing, the provisions of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) (“Sentencing Act”) apply to common law offences as well as statutory offences. Five aspects of that legislation are of particular relevance to the sentencing of Mr Obied, namely:
    • the identification of the purposes of sentencing (s 3A);
    • the prohibition on a Court sentencing an offender to imprisonment unless, having considered the alternatives, it is satisfied that no other form of punishment is appropriate (s 5(1));
    • the power, in some circumstances, to impose home detention or an intensive correction order on a person sentenced to a term of imprisonment (ss 6 and 7);
    • the specification of aggravating, mitigating and other factors in sentencing (s 21A); and
    • the power of the Court to alter the minimum ratio between a non-parole period and the balance of a sentence if “special circumstances” are found (s 44(2)).
  3. Nevertheless, the absence of a statutory regime governing the conduct of parliamentarians means that resort must be had, at least in part, to the common law to ascertain the relevant principles to be applied in sentencing a parliamentarian who has been convicted of wilful misconduct in public office. In particular, as wilful misconduct in public office is a common law offence there is no specified maximum penalty. This is a significant omission because, in sentencing for offences created by statute, the maximum penalty is a crucial component of the sentencing process because “[t]he maximum penalty for a statutory offence serves as an indication of the relative seriousness of the offence” and “[a]n increase in the maximum penalty for an offence is an indication that sentences for that offence should be increased” (Muldrock v The Queen [2011] HCA 39; 244 CLR 120 at [31]).
  4. Instead, in sentencing for common law offences, the Courts adopt an analogous or corresponding statutory offence as a “reference point” for the imposition of a penalty (R v Hokin, Burton and Peisely [1922] NSWStRp 19; (1922) 22 SR (NSW) 280 at 291; Jaturawong v Regina [2011] NSWCCA 168; “Jaturawong; at [5]; Blackstock v Regina [2013] NSWCCA 172; “Blackstock”; at [8]). However, the adoption of the maximum penalty for a corresponding statutory provision as a reference point does not “fetter the discretion” to impose a sentence “which remains at large” and can be greater than that maximum (Blackstock at [11]).
  5. In Jaturawong at [6], Beazley JA (as her Honour then was and with whom Hall and Harrison JJ agreed) identified the relevant statutory analogue to the charge of misconduct in public office in that case as the offences of corruptly receiving commissions and other corrupt practices provided for in Pt 4A of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). The maximum penalty for those offences was seven years imprisonment. In Jaturawong the principal offender was the manager of a Motor Registry who received regular payments to improperly allow applicants to obtain learner permits or drivers licences (at [14] to [18]). In Blackstock, the Court of Criminal Appeal also relied on the maximum of seven years imprisonment for the offences in Part 4A of the Crimes Act as a reference point (at [9]). The offender in Blackstock was a project officer employed by RailCorp who included a business in which he secretly held an interest on a list of possible contractors for consideration by his superiors (at [26]) and then “played a part in the allocation of work” to the business (at [28]).
  6. Neither of Jaturawong nor Blackstock hold that in all cases of misconduct in public office the relevant statutory analogue are those offences set out in Pt 4A of the Crimes Act. Instead, it was only found to be the appropriate analogue in those cases. As the decisions in R v Pieper [2014] NSWDC 242 and R v Purcell [2010] NSWDC 98 discussed below illustrate, the breadth of circumstances that could constitute the offence of misconduct in public office mean that other statutory analogues may be appropriate in a given case.
  7. In this case I am satisfied that the offences found in Pt 4A of the Crimes Act are the relevant analogue. Section 249B(1) of the Crimes Act effectively criminalises most forms of bribery by making it an offence for an agent to receive or solicit a benefit as an inducement or reward for doing something or not doing something in relation to the affairs or business of the agent’s principal. This provision is directed at an agent who receives or solicits a corrupt reward to breach their duty to their principal. Mr Obeid’s offending is broadly analogous to this because his conduct involved him breaching his duty to the public by using his position to further his or his family’s financial interests. There is no difference in substance between a parliamentarian receiving a bribe to advance the private interests of a third party and a parliamentarian using their position to advance their own pecuniary interests.
  8. Nevertheless, accepting that the offences found in Pt 4A, especially s 249B, are the relevant analogue, a comparison of the elements of the crime of wilful misconduct in public office with the offence of corruptly receiving a commission or reward in s 249B(1) reveals two differences of significance.
  9. The first is that the class of persons caught by the offence of wilful misconduct in public office generally occupy a more senior position than those caught by s 249B(1). With the latter, the persons subject to the offence are those who satisfy the definition of “agent” in s 249A, which includes “any person employed by, or acting for or on behalf of, any other person” (sub-s (a)). With wilful misconduct in public office the concept of “public office” is broad but it does not extend to all persons employed by or acting on behalf of the State (Ex parte Kearney [1917] NSW St Rp 68; 17 SR (NSW) 578).
  10. The second is that, as already noted, it is an element of wilful misconduct in public office that the relevant misconduct was serious and merited criminal punishment. There is no equivalent element for any of the offences found in Pt 4A of the Crimes Act.
  11. Each of these differences bear out the justification for the Court not being limited by the maximum penalty for the relevant statutory analogue, in this case seven years imprisonment.
  12. Another matter of significance to the sentencing exercise is the consideration of sentences in other cases both in terms of comparing sentencing outcomes and discerning what are the “unifying principles which those sentences both reveal and reflect” (see Barbaro v The Queen; Zirilli v The Queen [2014] HCA 2; (2014) 253 CLR 58 at [41]). The difficulty is that there is not a significant cohort of sentences for the offence of wiful misconduct in public office and none concern a parliamentarian. Thus, in Jansen v Regina [2013] NSWCCA 301 (“Jansen”) at [64] to [65] Campbell J noted the breadth of circumstances that could give rise to the offence of wilful misconduct in public office and that the available cohort of such cases was so small that they “are not capable of providing useful material that may establish a [sentencing pattern]”. This is borne out by the sentencing statistics compiled by the Judicial Commission of New South Wales which only disclose ten sentences imposed for the offence since 2009, seven of which involved full time custody and the balance of which involved the imposition of an Intensive Corrections Order.
  13. Nevertheless, the parties placed before the Court the results of their research concerning sentences for wilful misconduct in public office and for other offences committed by or concerning parliamentarians. Out of deference to the parties’ efforts I will briefly describe some of the cases referred to.
  14. I have already outlined some of the facts of Jaturawong and Blackstock. In Jaturawong the principal offender had pleaded guilty to wilful misconduct in public office and a number of charges under s 249B of the Crimes Act which yielded a 20 per cent discount (at [9]). He was sentenced to two years six months imprisonment with a nonparole period of 12 months for the misconduct charge (at [11]). The principal offender did not appeal. Instead, the appeal in Jaturawong concerned the sentence imposed on an accessory before the fact, which was upheld on parity grounds. In Blackstock the applicant received a discount of 25 per cent on account of their plea of guilty (at [47]). He was sentenced to four years imprisonment with a nonparole period of three years (at [3]). His appeal was dismissed. Campbell J observed that the sentence was “within the range available” to the sentencing judge (at [68]).
  15. In Jansen a police officer who pleaded guilty to accessing police intelligence and other sensitive information and disseminating it was sentenced to a nonparole period of two years and additional terms of two and half years (at [4]). A number of other charges were included on a Form 1 under s 33 of the Sentencing Act and he was sentenced for various summary offences pursuant to s 166 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW) (at [3]).
  16. In Hughes v R [2014] NSWCCA 15, the unsuccessful applicant for leave to appeal against sentence was a police officer who accessed a police database and created false intelligence reports. She pleaded guilty to two counts of wilful misconduct in public office, and two offences of giving false evidence to the Police Integrity Commission. For the first of the misconduct offences she received a fixed term of seven months imprisonment and for the second she received a total sentence of 18 months imprisonment with a nonparole period of nine months (at [5]).
  17. In R v Pieper [2014] NSWDC 242, the offender pleaded guilty to six counts of misconduct in public office and received a number of individual sentences totalling four years and nine months with an effective non-parole period of three years. The offender was the general manager of a County Council (at [9]) who orchestrated various frauds that resulted in his misappropriating over $350,000 (at [35]). Letherbarrow DCJ identified the relevant statutory analogue as larceny by a servant, the maximum penalty for which was ten years imprisonment (at [4]).
  18. In R v Purcell [2010] NSWDC 98, the offender was a police superintendent who persistently and deliberately disobeyed a direction from a superior officer concerning what the offender could say to members of the press about certain sexual assaults committed in the local area under his command (at [7]). Berman DCJ identified the relevant statutory analogue as an offence under s 201 of the Police Act 1990 (NSW) which carries a maximum penalty of a fine (at [17]). The offender was fined $2000 (at [38]).
  19. The written submissions filed on behalf Mr Obeid also referred to various sentencing decisions of interstate courts for wilful misconduct in public office. I have considered those authorities. None of them concern a parliamentarian, nor do they reveal any materially different outcome to the decisions of the courts of this State. The small number of them only confirms the infrequency with which sentences are imposed for this offence.
  20. These cases illustrate the variety of public officials who can commit the offence of wilful misconduct in public office and the variety of circumstances that can constitute the crime. These cases also illustrate that matters such as the period of the offending, the planning involved, its motivation and the direct loss occasioned or profit derived are all matters that bear upon an assessment of the level of criminality involved. However, the essence of the offence concerns a breach of trust in the form of a deliberate or reckless breach of a duty owed by a public official to the public (see DPP v Marks supra at [4]; HKSAR v Wong Kwong Shun Paul [2009] 4 HKLRD 840 at [44] per Yeung JA; Question of Law Reserved (No 2 of 1996) [1996] SASC 5674; 1996 67 SASR 63 at 66 per Doyle CJ). It must follow that a very significant matter to any assessment of the level of criminality involved is the nature of the duty that is owed and the extent of the breach. The more senior the public official the greater the level of public trust in their position and the more onerous the duty that is imposed. Under this State’s constitutional arrangements, and leaving aside the third arm of government, only Ministers occupy a more senior position than that occupied by parliamentarians.
  21. In its written submissions the Crown identified five cases involving offences either committed by or concerning parliamentarians, including Ministers. In this State the most notorious is Jackson & Hakim v R (1988) 33 A Crim R 413 (“Jackson”) in which the then Minister for Corrective Services was convicted of conspiracy for receiving bribes to effect the early release of prisoners on parole. Following a successful Crown appeal Jackson was resentenced to imprisonment for 10 years with a nonparole period of five years. In R v Rouse (Court of Criminal Appeal (Tas), 19 October 1990, unreported), (“Rouse”) a Crown appeal against the sentence of three years imprisonment imposed on a prominent businessman was dismissed. The offender had pleaded guilty to offering a bribe to a member of the Tasmanian Parliament to cross the floor. In R v Nuttall; ex parte Attorney-General (Qld) [2011] QCA 120; 209 A Crim R 538 (“Nuttall”) a Crown appeal against the sentence imposed upon a Queensland Cabinet Minister convicted of receiving secret commissions to plan and promote projects of his associates, was upheld. The offender was resentenced to imprisonment for a term of seven years, which ran concurrently with terms of imprisonment imposed for perjury offences.
  22. In R v Phillip Hans Field HC Auckland CRI-2007-092-18132, 6 October 2009 (“Field”) a member of the New Zealand Parliament was sentenced to concurrent sentences of four years imprisonment on each of eleven counts of bribery and corruption (at [89]). In his capacity as a parliamentarian, the offender had proffered advice and assistance to various trades people while accepting benefits from them in the form of work done on his properties (at [5]). In R v Bruneau, 1963 CarswellOnt 22; [1964] 1CCC 97; [1964] 1 OR 263, 42 CR 93 (“Bruneau”) a member of the Canadian Parliament who receive a corrupt payment to use his influence to have the Federal Government purchase the payer of the bribe’s property was resentenced to imprisonment for five years following a successful Crown appeal against the imposition of a suspended sentence.
  23. None of these cases concerning parliamentarians (including Ministers) establish some form of range of sentences relevant to this case. They involve different offences with different maximum penalties and, with one exception, concern different jurisdictions. Nevertheless, despite their differences a number of common propositions emerge.
  24. First, with the exception of Rouse, all these cases emphasise the onerous duty imposed on either parliamentarians or Ministers and the strictness which departures from that duty will be dealt with (Jackson at 436 per Lee J with whom Finlay J agreed; Nuttall at [49] per Muir JA with whom Fraser and Chesterman JJA agreed; Bruneau at [25] per McLennan JA).
  25. Second, while in some of the cases issues such as whether loss or damage was occasioned by the offending or a profit was made were relevant, in all the cases the Courts emphasised that the real damage caused by the offending conduct was to the institutions of government and public confidence in them (Jackson at 435 per Lee J with whom Finlay J agreed; Nuttall at [52] per Muir JA with whom Fraser and Chesterman JJA agreed; Rouse BC900030 at 8 per Cox J with whom Underwood and Wright JJ agreed; Field at [44] per Hansen J; Bruneau at [25] per McLennan JA).
  26. Third, in each case the necessity for the sentence to reflect considerations of general deterrence and denunciation predominated over other sentencing considerations (Jackson at 436 per Lee J with whom Finlay J agreed; Nuttall at [73] with whom Fraser and Chesterman JJA agreed; Rouse BC900030 at 9 per Cox J with whom Underwood and Wright JJ agreed; Field at [45] per Hansen J; Bruneau at [26] per McLennan JA).
  27. Fourth, in each case the prior good character of the offender was afforded less weight in the sentencing process than it would for other offences (Jackson at 436 per Lee J with whom Finlay JA agree; Nuttall at [58] per Muir JA with whom Fraser and Chesterman JJA agreed; Rouse BC900030 at 9 per Cox J with whom Underwood and Wright JJ agreed; Field at [85] per Hansen J; Bruneau at [25] per McLennan JA).
  28. All of these propositions are apposite to Mr Obeid’s case.
  29. At this point it is appropriate to address the competing submissions concerning the relative seriousness of Mr Obeid’s offending. I have already described Mr Obeid’s conduct and the state of mind that accompanied it. It is to be remembered that his offending conduct comprised a single phone call to Mr Dunn, although it was accompanied by follow up calls. As was submitted on behalf of Mr Obeid, he did not expressly advocate any outcome to Mr Dunn although the effect of his intervention was that the position Mr Scanlan was advocating should be strongly considered. Further, in the end result Mr Obeid’s intervention did not cause a change in the CLP. Relying on these and other matters it was submitted on behalf of Mr Obeid that his offending was “at the very bottom of the scale of objective seriousness for an offence of its kind.”[119] I disagree. For the reasons I have just explained, what must be at the forefront of any consideration of seriousness is the nature of the duty owed by Mr Obeid as a parliamentarian and the extent of the departure from that duty. The onerous nature of the former has been addressed. The relatively limited nature of Mr Obeid’s intervention in the process of renewing CQR’s leases bears on the latter but so does the finding of the jury that Mr Obeid intervened solely to benefit CQR, and through it, himself or his family.
  30. It can be accepted that Mr Obeid’s conduct was in the middle to lower end of the range of corrupt conduct by a parliamentarian that may amount to the crime of wilful misconduct in public office. However, that is not the proper inquiry. Instead, the relevant assessment is that, in the range of misconduct that might be engaged in by public officials which can constitute the offence of wilful misconduct in public office, Mr Obeid’s conduct was a very serious example of the offence because of the onerous nature of the duty owed by him as a parliamentarian compared to other such officials and the extent of his departure from it.

Mr Obeid’s Subjective Case

  1. The report of Dr Lennings referred to earlier also recounted aspects of Mr Obeid’s personal history. Unlike his account of the offence this was not controversial and was generally consistent with the other material that was tendered. Dr Lennings’ report reveals the following. Mr Obeid was born in Lebanon in 1943. He migrated to Australia with his family when he was six years old. His father was a clothes salesman but tragically died when Mr Obeid was nine years old.[120] After experiencing financial hardship, Mr Obeid and other members of his family returned to Lebanon in 1956 where he completed his schooling.[121] He returned to Australia six years later. He married his wife Judith in 1965. He and his wife had ten children over the next decade. One has since passed away. Mr Obeid studied commerce part time while working in a glass factory. He worked in an accounting firm and then with a building company.[122] Mr Obeid achieved financial success from a printing and newspaper business which he sold in 1986, as well from property development.[123] As already noted, in 1991 he was elected to Parliament as a Member of the Legislative Council and he retired in 2011 having been a Minister for four years from 1999.
  2. Prior to his election to Parliament Mr Obeid achieved a prominent position in the Lebanese and wider community. During the 1980s he served on the Board of Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, was a part time Commissioner of the Ethnic Affairs Commission, served on the Board of Governors of the Law Foundation of New South Wales and was Vice President of the Ethnic Press Association of Australia.[124] In 1990 he led a delegation to Iraq which secured the release of some hostages held by the Iraqi regime just prior to the first Gulf War.[125]
  3. There was tendered at the sentence hearing a number of testimonial statements concerning the significant support that Mr Obeid has provided to his Church and the work it performs, [126] including from his parish priest[127] and Archbishop.[128] A similar letter of support was provided by the President of the Supreme Islamic Shiite Council of Australia.[129]
  4. A number of other testimonials referred to his work for other community organisations as well as various acts of kindness he has performed for persons and organisations in need over the years. This included his support for various charities in Australian and Lebanon,[130] support for sporting clubs,[131] his funding of the rebuilding of a church in Lebanon,[132] assisting a neighbour who was the subject of a home invasion,[133] providing support for Lebanese community organisations[134] and his efforts to assist Lebanese refugees seeking to resettle in Australia.[135] Numerous friends and acquaintances of Mr Obeid testify to his generous nature and the position of leadership in the community that he occupied.[136]
  5. This material, and the absence of any prior convictions, means that Mr Obeid is to be considered of prior good character and that is a mitigating factor in sentencing (Sentencing Act; s 21A(3)(f)). However, consistent with what I have already observed (at [82]), in cases of corruption including wilful misconduct in public office where the need for general deterrence is especially strong, prior good character is to be afforded less weight than it otherwise would (R v Rivkin (2004) 59 NSWLR 284; [2004] NSWCCA 7 at [410] and R v Williams [2005] NSWSC 315; (2005) 152 A Crim R 548, at [60] per Wood CJ at CL; Blackstock at [67] per Campbell J with whom Macfarlan JA and Barr AJ agreed).

Family

  1. Mr Obeid has been married for over 50 years. He has nine children and 33 grandchildren. Many members of his family provided testamentary material in support of Mr Obeid, including three of his grandchildren,[137] various nieces and nephews,[138] some of his sons and daughters in law,[139] and some of his children.[140] They all referred to Mr Obeid’s devotion to his family and his support for them. While this material undoubtedly arouses sympathy, it is of no real assistance to Mr Obeid. There is no doubt that the members of Mr Obeid’s family are exceptionally close. However, it was Mr Obeid’s actions in prioritising the interests of his family over his obligation to the public that led to his offending in the first place. A parliamentarian cannot use their position to afford generosity to their family or associates in any form.
  2. A number of the testimonials from family members also referred to the effect on them of the adverse publicity that Mr Obeid has received over the years and their distress at the prospect that he may be incarcerated. For example, one of Mr Obeid’s grandsons recounted having to defend his grandfather in the schoolyard and the classroom.[141] Dr Lennings also interviewed Judith Obeid and his report confirms the severe distress that she has suffered from the adverse publicity her husband has attracted and the prospect that he may be incarcerated.[142] At the sentencing hearing a statement from Judith Obeid was tendered. In that statement Mrs Obeid describes her long and successful marriage. She states how hard her husband has worked for their family and how supportive he has been towards her.
  3. Clearly, Mrs Obeid’s family is her life. I accept that any decision to incarcerate Mr Obeid will cause significant distress to Judith Obeid. Dr Lennings opines that in turn Mr Obeid will be distressed by his wife’s suffering.[143] This too can be accepted. I address below the relevance of the impact of adverse publicity. Leaving that aside, the occasioning of hardship to the family of an offender from their imprisonment is only taken into account, at least in a substantial way, in “exceptional circumstances” (see Hay v R [2013] NSWCCA 22 at [49]). The hardship that would be occasioned to Mr Obeid’s family, including Judith Obeid, if he was imprisoned does not meet that description. Otherwise, it can be accepted that Mr Obeid’s reaction to the harm that his own conduct has caused to his family can be considered in the synthesis of the various factors affecting the determination of the appropriate sentence.

Media Reporting

  1. The written submissions lodged on behalf of Mr Obeid contend that he has suffered a form of extra curial punishment from extensive media coverage which, it was submitted, had humiliated him and, as noted, affected members of his family. [144] In support of that submission there was tendered at the sentence hearing two volumes of press clippings concerning Mr Obeid’s trial, which included online reports.[145] All the reports published prior to the jury’s verdict reported on the trial in a manner consistent with the media’s obligations. The reports published after the verdict concern such matters as Mr Obeid’s career, commentary on the verdict, coverage of civil proceedings initiated by Mr Obeid, the adjournments of the sentence hearing, a proposal floated by senior politicians to seek legislative change to remove Mr Obeid’s right to a parliamentary pension[146] and some unsolicited advice to the Court on the appropriate sentence. Some of the reporting on the jury’s verdict and its aftermath was somewhat unrestrained (eg “Obeid a disgrace”,[147] “…Fast Eddie, the Labor godfather”[148] and “The Cancer that ate Labor”)[149]. However, generally all the reports were concerned with the subject matter of corruption and politics, which is selfevidently a topic of legitimate public debate.
  2. A recent example whereby a sentence was mitigated on account of extensive publicity was R v Wran [2016] NSWSC 1015 (“Wran”), where articles were published that made allegations about the offender’s “criminality, sexual conduct and reputation that [had] no basis in fact but from which she [had] no ability to defend herself” (at [76]). It was also found in Wran that material that was published represented a gross invasion of the offender’s privacy in that her “private correspondence [had] been extracted for prurient consumption” and transcripts of her telephone conversations with her mother were made available to the public (Wran at [76]). In those circumstances, Harrison J concluded that the sentence imposed should take account of these publications as they increased “the risk of custodial retribution”, damaged the offender’s reputation and impeded her “recovery from her ongoing mental health and drug related problems” (Wran at [79]).
  3. Wran is an example of a case where extra curial punishment was occasioned by the publication of humiliating material obtained as a result of criminal charges being laid that was either unrelated to the offending in question or where the level of publicity for the material was disproportionate to any relevance it had to the offence in question. The offender in Wran was not a public figure and her offending did not involve the abuse of any public position.
  4. In this case the offender is a public figure, the offending did involve the abuse of a public position and the media reports that have been tendered do not sensationalise facts that are either irrelevant or trivial to the offending conduct. Instead, they are concerned with an issue of public importance, namely, political corruption. In those circumstances it seems incongruous that the consequential public humiliation should mitigate the sentence. Nevertheless, there is a body of authority to suggest that it can. In Ryan v The Queen [2001] HCA 21; (2001) 206 CLR 267 (“Ryan”) at [177], Callinan J observed that “the crime of a person occupying an office of some prominence will often attract much greater vilification, adverse publicity, public humiliation, and personal, social and family stress than a crime by a person not so circumstanced” and that those consequences “should not be ignored by the sentencing court”. Kirby J stated a similar view (at [123]) but McHugh J was of the contrary opinion (at [53]).
  5. This difference of opinion was adverted to by the Court of Criminal Appeal in Kenny v R [2010] NSWCCA 6 (“Kenny”) at [18] to [22] per Basten JA and Einfeld v R [2010] NSWCCA 87 (“Einfeld”) at [99] per Basten JA. In the end result, the principle binding this Court at first instance appears to be that such publicity will only be considered where “it reaches such proportion as to have a physical or psychological effect on the offender” (Duncan v R [2012] NSWCCA 78 at [28] per Basten JA citing Kenny at [49] per Howie J; see also Nuttall at [65]). At first instance, in Einfeld the relevant publicity was found to have that effect (R v Einfeld [2009] NSWSC 119 at [161] per James J).
  6. Dr Lennings’ report describes Mr Obeid as stating that his reputation has been destroyed,[150] but neither it nor the testimonial material describes the adverse publicity that Mr Obeid has received, much less that which relates to this case, as having had any direct physical or psychological effect on him. Instead, it has had an effect on his family. It follows that it is only in the relatively limited sense that Mr Obeid is affected by their suffering from the consequences of his offending that this can be considered.
  7. It was also submitted that the potential loss of Mr Obeid’s parliamentary pension can be taken into account. The loss of financial benefits such as superannuation can be considered in determining sentence (Ryan at [54] per McHugh J). Accordingly, I can and will afford this some weight but not much given that the only evidence suggesting this may occur are the press reports to which I have referred.

Medical Conditions

  1. A number of medical reports concerning Mr Obeid were tendered at the sentencing hearing. Those reports reveal that Mr Obeid underwent bypass surgery in 1995 and 2005 and had arterial stenting procedures in 1999 and again in 2015 following an episode of chest pain and breathlessness.[151] Mr Obeid has suffered from type 2 diabetes for years. He must ingest insulin with his meals and receives a longacting insulin injection daily.[152] According to his treating endocrinologist, Dr Kean, he “self manage[s] his diabetes currently without difficulty”.[153] Otherwise, Mr Obeid suffers from raised cholesterol, high blood pressure and colonic polyps that require periodic colonoscopies.[154] He has previously suffered from GuillainBarre Syndrome, which is a rapid-onset of muscle weakness caused by the immune system damaging the peripheral nervous system. It is presently stable.[155] Further, a thoracic physician reports that scans show that Mr Obeid has “asbestos related pulmonary disease” and bronchiectasis.[156]
  2. On 3 August 2016, Mr Obeid tripped at home and fell onto a coffee table which collapsed under him. He was taken to a hospital on the North shore of Sydney but discharged. The next day he attended his general practitioner, Dr Lahood, who commissioned an MRI scan and had him admitted to St Vincent’s Hospital.[157] He came under the care of Dr John O’Neill who concluded that he had suffered a mild stroke caused by an embolism and prescribed blood thinning medication.[158]
  3. Mr Obeid was referred to Dr David Rosen a consultant neurologist who examined him and reviewed his condition in light of the totality of the available material concerning all of his various medical conditions. He concluded that Mr Obeid has “ongoing post stroke symptoms and impairments that affect mainly his gait and balance”. He considered that there was some “permanent albeit relatively mild damage … to the right side of the brain” as seen on an MRI scan.[159] Dr Rosen estimated that Mr Obeid had a risk of a recurrent stroke from any cause “in the region of 5% per year.”[160]
  4. The Crown arranged for Mr Obeid to be reviewed by a consultant geriatrician and physician, Dr Tuly Rosenfeld. Dr Rosenfeld’s assessment of Mr Obeid’s neurological status was not relevantly different to that of Dr Rosen.[161] Dr Rosenfeld detected “[m]ild cognitive impairment”.[162]
  5. Overall, Dr Rosenfeld concluded that the various medical conditions from which Mr Obeid suffers are “stable and controlled” and there “is no clearly foreseeable expectation in the short to midterm that specific interventions will be required”. However, he accepts that there is a “need for regular monitoring and review, adjustment of specific therapies from time to time, blood investigations, diabetic dietary measures, physical therapy and exercise”.[163] Dr Rosen’s description of the type of care required by Mr Obeid is not relevantly different in that he considers that Mr Obeid “ideally” requires a “well coordinated management plan” that “takes into consideration each of Mr Obeid’s medical conditions” and medicinal requirements.[164]
  6. Two interrelated issues of fact were raised by the material concerning Mr Obeid’s medical condition, namely, the likely standard of care that he can expect to receive if he is incarcerated and his likely life expectancy if he is incarcerated compared with his life expectancy if he serves a sentence in the community.
  7. The Crown tendered a number of reports from “Justice Health”[165] being a statutory health corporation the functions of which include the provision of health services to offenders and persons in custody (Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 (NSW); s 236A). These reports address the various conditions affecting Mr Obeid and describe the medical services that will be available to him to address them if he is incarcerated. The reports state that Justice Health’s services include 24hour nursing in some metropolitan centres, regular medical officer and nursing clinics, a physiotherapy service at the major metropolitan correctional centres, a medical subacute unit within the Long Bay hospital, an aged care rehabilitation unit at Long Bay hospital and access to specialists at the Prince of Wales Hospital. [166] The reports indicate that, if Mr Obeid is incarcerated, Justice Health will request that he be accommodated in the metropolitan area at a facility that has full time nursing care and nearby access to specialists and emergency departments.[167]
  8. Dr Rosen considered it was unlikely that Mr Obeid would receive appropriate medical treatment in custody if he was incarcerated. He considered that there were “difficulties” with “managing chronic diseases with access to appropriate and timely care in the prison system”.[168] Dr Rosenfeld disagreed. He was formerly the Director of Geriatric Medicine and Senior Specialist in Geriatric Medicine at Prince of Wales Hospital which, as noted, interacts with Justice Health. Based on his knowledge of Justice Health, which he accepts has limitations, Dr Rosenfeld considers it “likely that Mr Obeid would be able to access appropriate and effective care within the Justice Health system”.[169]
  9. In his oral submissions, the Crown Prosecutor did not accept that Mr Obeid would receive a superior level of care if he remained in the community compared with what he would receive if he is incarcerated.[170] While that may be the case for some members of the population I do not accept that it is correct for Mr Obeid. As the events of August 2016 illustrate, Mr Obeid has an existing support network that includes an experienced general practitioner, a strongly supportive family and specialists familiar with his circumstances. The Crown Prosecutor’s written submissions contend that Mr Obeid’s present treatment regime is “wholly medication based”.[171] However, the nature of Mr Obeid’s ailments are such that he needs to be monitored. While there is obviously a form of supervision in custody, that is not the same as the level of family and medical support that Mr Obeid has in the community. Nevertheless, while I accept that Mr Obeid would receive a superior level of care in the community, the material tendered by the Crown on this issue at least satisfied me that he would receive an adequate level of care if he is incarcerated. As noted by Dr Rosenfeld, Mr Obeid’s present condition is “stable and controlled”.
  10. Leaving aside the possibility that he may be incarcerated, Dr Rosen and Dr Rosenfeld were in broad agreement as to Mr Obeid’s life expectancy in light of his various medical conditions. Dr Rosen estimated that it was between 76.6 years and 77.7 years[172] and Dr Rosenfeld estimated that it was 80.3 years.[173] However, Dr Rosen estimated that Mr Obeid’s life expectancy would reduce much further if he was incarcerated, specifically, by two years for every year he was in custody.[174] Dr Rosenfeld noted that this conclusion was based on a study of a cohort of New York prisoners who were released from prison after most of them committed violent or drug related crimes.[175] I do not accept that that study has any relevance to Mr Obeid’s circumstances and I do not accept Dr Rosen’s estimate of Mr Obeid’s life expectancy should he be incarcerated. Instead, I consider that it is within the range of 77 to 80 years that I have mentioned.
  11. On behalf of Mr Obeid it was submitted that his limited life expectancy was a matter that warranted grounds for leniency. It was otherwise submitted that custody would be onerous for someone of his age and with his ailments and that he would receive a far superior level of care in the community.
  12. The principles relevant to a submission that a penalty should be mitigated on account of health concerns and the relevance of the length of a sentence to a person’s life expectancy can be briefly stated as follows.
  13. First, in circumstances where illness is relevant to the determination of a sentence, its weight must be assessed in light of “all the circumstances of the case, and an appropriate balance has to be maintained between the criminality of the offender and any damage to health or shortening of life” (R v Achurch [2011] NSWCCA 186; 216 A Crim R 152, “Achurch” at [117] per Johnson J citing: R v Sopher (1993) 70 A Crim R 570 at 573; R v BJW [2000] NSWCCA 60; 112 A Crim R 1 at 6-8 [23][31]).
  14. Second, although the health of an offender is relevant to the type and length of any sanction imposed, generally it will only be a mitigating factor “when there is evidence to show that there is a serious risk that imprisonment will be a greater burden on an offender, by reason of ill health, or where there is a serious risk that imprisonment will have a grave adverse effect on the offender’s health” (R v Badanjak [2004] NSWCCA 395 at [9] per Wood CJ at CL with McClellan AJA and Smart AJ agreeing; R v Smith (1987) 44 SASR 587 at 589; Achurch at [118]).
  15. Third, the relative strictness that is applied to a consideration of whether some matter affecting the health of an offender operates as a substantial mitigating factor does not necessarily apply when such matters are considered in combination with other factors such as age in determining whether “special circumstances” are established for the purposes of s 44(2) of the Sentencing Act (see Griffiths v The Queen [1989] HCA 39; (1989) 167 CLR 372 at 379 per Brennan and Dawson JJ; R v Simpson [2001] NSWCCA 534; 53 NSWLR 704). However, double counting of matters affecting the length of the head sentence and matters that might constitute special circumstances must be avoided (R v Fidow [2004] NSWCCA 172 at [18] per Spigelman CJ (“Fidow”)).
  16. Fourth, an otherwise appropriate sentence of imprisonment should not be reduced on the basis that it is likely to extend to most of the offender’s remaining life expectancy (Goebel-McGregor v R [2006] NSWCCA 390 at [128] per James J, with whom Hidden and Hislop JJ agreed; Barton v R [2009] NSWCCA 164 at [22]).
  17. I have described the ailments affecting Mr Obeid and his treatment regime. They are not unusual for a person of his age. I accept that they may make any time he serves in custody more difficult and that it is unlikely that he would receive the same standard of care that he would receive in the community, although it will nevertheless be an adequate standard. However, I do not accept that the combination of his age, health and reduced life expectancy is a matter of any real significance to a determination of whether he should be incarcerated or not. If he is to be incarcerated those matters can be taken into account in the mix of factors relevant to a determination of the appropriate length of the sentence but not to any significant degree. I also accept that his age and health might, with other factors, constitute special circumstances, however as just stated they cannot be taken into account as both mitigating any head sentence and determining the existence of special circumstances (Fidow).

Delay

  1. On behalf of Mr Obeid, it was submitted that there was a significant delay on the part of the prosecuting authorities in commencing the prosecution in that the offence was committed in 2007, when Mr Obeid was 63, yet proceedings were only commenced against him in November 2014. It is an agreed fact that the relevant hearings of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (“ICAC”) into this matter commenced in October 2013, that the ICAC report was published in June 2014 and a brief of material was provided to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions during September and October 2014.
  2. This history does not indicate any undue delay between the commencement of the ICAC hearing and the commencement of the proceedings. In relation to the period between the commission of the offence in 2007 and the commencement of the ICAC hearing, there is nothing to indicate that any relevant investigative or prosecutorial body was on notice of the commission of an offence during that period. Corrupt conduct is notoriously difficult to detect, much less prosecute.
  3. The delay between the commission of an offence and the imposition of a sentence is potentially relevant in three respects. The first is that the “uncertain suspense in which a person may be left” for an extended period can be taken into account (Blanco v R [1999] NSWCCA 121 (“Blanco”) at [16]). In circumstances where it has not been shown that any relevant investigative or prosecutorial body was on notice of Mr Obeid’s conduct and delayed taking action, I do not accept that this aspect of delay has any relevance to his sentencing (cf Coles v R [2016] NSWCCA 32 at [17]). The second is that an offender may demonstrate progress towards rehabilitation in the intervening period (Blanco at [16]). Mr Obeid will be sentenced on the basis that there is no prospect of him offending again. The third is that a “sentence for a stale crime does call for a measure of understanding and flexibility of approach” (Blanco id). I do not accept that Mr Obeid’s offence is a “stale crime”.

Other Sentencing Factors

  1. Section 21A(2) of the Sentencing Act lists a series of aggravating factors the Court is to take into account in determining the appropriate sentence. These factors cannot be considered as aggravating the offence if they are elements of the offence. Section 21A(3) lists a series of mitigating factors.
  2. The only specific aggravating factor pointed to by the Crown is that the “the offence was committed for financial gain” (Sentencing Act, s 21A(2)(o)).[176] I have already explained the effect of the jury’s verdict in that respect and this has formed part of the assessment of the level of criminality involved in the commission of the offence. It cannot be considered as a further aggravating factor at this point.
  3. On behalf of Mr Obeid it was submitted that eight mitigating factors were established.[177] The first was that “the injury, emotional harm, loss or damage caused by the offence was not substantial” (s 21A(3)(a)). I have accepted that Mr Obeid’s representations to Mr Dunn had no effect on the ultimate decision to offer CQR new leases. In that respect, no loss or damage was occasioned. However, as I have explained, the crime of wilful misconduct in public office necessarily involves a violation of a public trust. When that involves a parliamentarian, damage is caused to the institutions of government, specifically Parliament.
  4. The second mitigating factor submitted on behalf of Mr Obeid was that the offence was not part of a planned or organised criminal activity (s 21A(3)(b)). I do not accept that this mitigating factor has been established. While the Crown did not prove that Mr Obeid had been planning to intervene in the lease renewal process for some time, it was not positively established that his actions were spontaneous.
  5. The third, fourth, fifth and sixth mitigating factors suggested on behalf of Mr Obeid were that the offender does not have any record (or any significant record) of previous convictions (s 21A(3)(e)), that the offender was a person of good character (s 21A(3)(f)), that the offender is unlikely to re-offend (s 21A(2)(g)) and that the offender has good prospects of rehabilitation, whether by reason of the offender’s age or otherwise (s 21A(3)(h). All these factors are established.
  6. The seventh mitigating factor is that remorse has been shown by the offender for the offence. Section 21A(3)(i) of the Sentencing Act provides that the remorse of an offender is a mitigating factor, but only if the offender has provided “evidence that he or she has accepted responsibility for his or her actions” (sub-s(i)) and “has acknowledged any injury, loss or damage caused by his or her actions or made reparation for such injury, loss or damage” (subs (ii)). Mr Obeid has done neither.
  7. The eighth and last mitigating factor relied on by Mr Obeid, was that he provided assistance to law enforcement authorities (s 21A(3)(m)). The written submissions filed on behalf of Mr Obeid referred to the cooperative and efficient manner in which the trial was conducted and contended that this amounted to “assistance provided to law enforcement authorities …. in proceedings relating to, the offence concerned” as referred to in s 23 of the Sentencing Act. This aspect of s 23 is directed to persons who give evidence or assistance to the prosecution or volunteer additional information concerning their own conduct and not to the cooperation by an accused in the conduct of their own trial as occurred here. However, the conduct of the trial by an accused can still be considered. Section 21A(3)(l) provides that the degree of pre-trial disclosure by the defence is a mitigating factor in sentencing. Section 22A(1) expands upon this by enabling a court to impose a lesser penalty than would otherwise be the case having regard to the degree to which the administration of justice has been facilitated by an offender’s defence, including by disclosures made prior to or during the trial. Any such lesser penalty must not be disproportionate to the nature and circumstances of the offence (s 22A(2)).
  8. I accept that the manner in which the trial was conducted by and on behalf of Mr Obeid warrants some leniency on this account. The cross examination of the Crown witnesses was concise. There were a number of admissions made and agreements reached over the contents of exhibits which shortened the length of the trial and made the identification of the real issues that the jury had to determine that much easier.

Conclusion

  1. Courts do not determine sentences by consulting opinion polls or surveying the views of the political commentariat. Instead, they undertake an objective assessment of the nature of the offending, determine the personal circumstances of the offender and then apply principles derived from statute and case law.
  2. To that end, I have described the conduct of Mr Obeid that constituted the crime of wilful misconduct in public office. As noted, even though it was effectively constituted by a single telephone call, his conduct was a very serious example of that offence given the nature of the duty owed by him as a parliamentarian and the extent of his departure from that duty. I have also canvassed the other considerations relevant to sentencing and in doing so described Mr Obeid’s career and personal circumstances. If Mr Obeid had not wilfully abused his position as a parliamentarian then his life and career would be a testament to the values of hard work, family and public service. Instead, his time in public life has produced a very different legacy.
  3. Section 3A of the Sentencing Act specifies the purposes of sentencing. These include specifically deterring the offender from committing similar offences (s 3A(b)), protecting the community from the offender (s 3A(c)) and promoting the rehabilitation of the offender (s 3A(d)). In Mr Obeid’s case there is no prospect of him committing any further offence and the community does not now need any protection from him.
  4. Section 3A also specifies that the purposes of sentencing include ensuring the offender is adequately punished for the offence (s 3A(a)), making the offender accountable for their actions (s 3A(e)), denouncing the conduct of the offender (s 3A(f)), recognising the harm done to the community by the offence (s 3A(g)) and deterring others from committing similar offences (s 3A(b)).
  5. The overwhelming majority of parliamentarians are not motivated by an intention to enrich themselves or their families. Instead, they act in what they believe to be the best interests of the electorate, cognisant that the most likely reward for their service is persistent criticism and ultimately electoral rejection. The continuity and relative strength of our parliamentary democracy is a product of their efforts and the maintenance of public confidence in their honesty. All the work of parliamentarians can be destroyed by the wilful misconduct of only some of their members. Corruption by elected representatives consumes democracies. It destroys public confidence in democratic institutions. It opens up consideration of alternative modes of government, especially those that offer an illusion of security and order.
  6. It follows that the need for general deterrence, denunciation and recognition of the harm done to the community are the dominant considerations in determining the appropriate sentence for a parliamentarian convicted of wilful misconduct in public office in these circumstances. Given the nature of the offending and notwithstanding Mr Obeid’s personal circumstances, I am satisfied that, having considered all possible alternatives, no penalty other than imprisonment is appropriate (Sentencing Act; s 5(1). I have also determined that such a sentence must be one that is served by full time imprisonment for a period that exceeds the length of the sentence that would otherwise enable consideration of the possibility of home detention or the imposition of an intensive correction order (Sentencing Act; s 6(1) and 7(1)). However, as adverted to (at [119]), the combination of Mr Obeid’s health and age justifies a finding of special circumstances and a variation of the maximum ratio between the balance of term and the nonparole period referred to in s 44(2) of the Sentencing Act.
  7. Edward Moses Obeid, I note that you have already been convicted of wilful misconduct in public office. You are now sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 5 years.
  8. Pursuant to s 44(1) and s 44(2) of the Sentencing Act and in light of the finding of special circumstances, I set a non-parole period of 3 years commencing on 15 December 2016, and an additional term of 2 years commencing on 15 December 2019 and ending on 14 December 2021.
  9. The sentence will be taken to have commenced on 15 December 2016. The offender will be eligible for release on parole on 15 December 2019 and the sentence will expire on 14 December 2021.

**********


[1] [1951] HCA 5; 83 CLR 1 (the “Communist Party Case”)
[2] At p 187
[3] Ex A, p 7 at [1]
[4] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [20]
[5] Ex A, p 7 at [1]
[6] Ex A, p 7 at [3] to [5]
[7] Ex A, p 127
[8] Ex A, pp 1 to 3
[9] Ex A, pp 37 to 38
[10] T 07/06/16 at 57.5
[11] T 07/07/16 at 101.45
[12] Ex A, pp 85 and 92
[13] Ex A, p 7 at [6]
[14] Ex A, p 7 at [6]
[15] Ex A, pp 24 and 35
[16] T 07/06/2016 at 102.41, 104.29, 109.4 and 110
[17] T 07/06/16 at 108.32
[18] T 07/06/2016 at 108
[19] T 08/06/2016 at 133.42
[20] T 07/06/16 at 100; T 08/06/16 at 133.11
[21] T 07/06/16 at 111
[22] T 08/06/16 at 139.21
[23] T 07/06/16 at 114.44
[24] T 08/06/16 at 134 to 135, esp 135.15
[25] T 08/06/16 at 134.40
[26] Ex C
[27] Ex A, pp 46a and 46c; Ex D
[28] Ex A, pp 48a and 48d
[29] T 14/06/16 at 360
[30] Summing up (“SU”), p 14
[31] T 15/06/16 at 432.49
[32] T 14/06/16 at 368.31 and 372
[33] T 14/06/16 at 373.15
[34] T 15/06/16 at 428.7
[35] T 14/06/16 at 372.47
[36] T 15/06/16 at 426.1
[37] T 15/06/16 at 427.40
[38] T 08/06/16 at 136.6 to 137
[39] T 08/06/16 at 139.37
[40] T 08/06/16 at 152:21
[41] Ex A, p 99
[42] Ex A, p 100
[43] T 15/06/16 at 439
[44] Ex A, p 104
[45] Ex A, pp 206 to 207
[46] T 15/06/16 at 449.20
[47] T 15/06/16 at 449.41
[48] T 09/6/2016 at 202.47 and 249.30
[49] T 09/06/16 at 254.38
[50] T 16/06/16 at 524.21
[51] T 16/06/16 at 529.37
[52] Ex A, p 223 and 249
[53] Ex A, p 240, clause 4.5
[54] Ex A, p 250
[55] Ex A, p 251
[56] T 17/06/16 at 574.13 and 574.39
[57] T 17/06/16 at 575.31
[58] T 17/06/16 at 575.20
[59] T 17/06/16 at 582
[60] T 17/06/16 at 583.25
[61] T 17/06/16 at 583.34
[62] T 20/06/16 at 627.15
[63] T 20/06/16 at 631 to 632
[64] T 17/06/16 at 583
[65] T 17/06/16 at 583.50
[66] Ex A, pp 15 to 17
[67] Ex A, p 10 at [40]; T 17/06/16 at 618.1
[68] T 17/06/16 at 594.13
[69] T 17/06/16 at 601.36
[70] T 17/06/16 at 617.29
[71] Ex A, p 9
[72] T 17/06/16 at 552.16
[73] T 17/06/16 at 599.28
[74] T 16/06/16 at 533.30
[75] T 17/06/16 at 616.33
[76] T 16/06/16 at 533.31; T 16/06/16 at 536.21; T 17/06/16 at 616.35
[77] Ex A, p 262
[78] Ex A, p 265, clause 4.5
[79] Ex A, p 261
[80] Ex A, pp 268 and 274
[81] Ex A, p 290
[82] Ex A, p 295
[83] T 08/06/16 at 129.40 and 168.27
[84] T 21/06/2016 at 711.44
[85] MFI 16
[86] SU, p 19
[87] SU, p 21
[88] SU, pp 25 to 26; MFI 16
[89] T 06/06/16 at 2
[90] SU, pp 26 to 27
[91] SU, p 41
[92] T 21/06/16 at 719.10
[93] T 20/06/16 at 651.5
[94] Ex A, p 8 at [15]
[95] see SU, p 60
[96] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [19] and [73]
[97] SU, p 62
[98] SU, p 61
[99] SU, p 61
[100] MFI 16; SU, p 63
[101] SU, p 64
[102] SU, p 65
[103] SU, pp 26 and 67
[104] SU, p 72
[105] SU, p 72
[106] T 20/06/16 at 629.4
[107] T 20/06/16 at 631 to 632
[108] T 20/06/16 at 633.37 to 41
[109] T 20/06/16 at 632 to 633
[110] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [61]
[111] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [24]
[112] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [65]
[113] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [13] to [15]
[114] T 17/06/16 at 584.42
[115] T 17/06/16 at 585.13
[116] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1
[117] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [7]
[118] Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 (NSW) and the Police Integrity Commission Act 1996.
[119] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [13]
[120] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [13]
[121] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [16]
[122] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [18]
[123] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [19]
[124] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 28
[125] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 17 and 22
[126] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 27 and 37
[127] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 16
[128] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 42
[129] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 47
[130] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 11, 18, 23, 39
[131] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 11, 13 and 48
[132] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 19
[133] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 9
[134] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 31, 49, 50 and 52
[135] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 20 and 36
[136] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 30, 35, 37, 38, 40, 43, 44, 45, 46 and 51
[137] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 8, 10 and 26
[138] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 14
[139] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 24, 33 and 29
[140] Ex 2 on sentence, tabs 34 and 21
[141] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 8
[142] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [33]
[143] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 1 at [32]
[144] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [92ff]
[145] Ex 1 on sentence
[146] Ex 1 on sentence, pp 223 to 225, 511 and 609
[147] Ex 1 on sentence, p 166
[148] Ex 1 on sentence, p 134
[149] Ex 1 on sentence, p 176
[150] At [31]
[151] Ex A on sentence, tab 1, p 5; Ex 2 on sentence, tab 4
[152] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 6
[153] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 6
[154] Ex A on sentence, tab 1, at 10; Ex 2, tab 5
[155] Ex A on sentence, tab 1, p 10
[156] Ex A on sentence, tab 7
[157] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 3
[158] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 2, p 6.10
[159] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 2, p 17.2
[160] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 2, p 18.1
[161] Ex A on sentence, tab 1, pp 7 and 9
[162] Ex A on sentence, tab 1, p 9.5
[163] Ex A on sentence, tab 1, p 10.8
[164] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 2, p 19.9
[165] Ex A on sentence at tabs 2 to 6
[166] Ex A on sentence at tab 6
[167] Ex A on sentence at tab 4
[168] Ex 2 at tab 2, p 19.6
[169] Ex A at tab 2, p 12
[170] T 01/12/2016 at 11.35
[171] At [56]
[172] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 2, p 18.10
[173] Ex A on sentence, tab 2, p 12.5
[174] Ex 2 on sentence, tab 2, p 19.1
[175] Ex A on sentence, tab 2, p 13
[176] Crown Submissions on Sentence at [39]
[177] Defence Outline of Submissions on Sentence at [111]


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Sydney crime figure Pasquale Barbaro shot dead, Joe Antoun’s death caught on video


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Nine people have been charged following the bloody execution of crime figure Pasquale Barbaro, after a series of police raids in Sydney.

Tuesday’s co-ordinated sting unfolded just after midday when heavily armed officers raided more than a dozen properties including four at Sydney’s Olympic Park.

A total of 13 search warrants were executed and nine men aged from 18-29 were charged.

“All those charged with substantive murder were charged in relation to Pasquale Barbaro,” Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

Barbaro was left for dead on a Sydney pavement. Image: Instagram
Nine people have now been charged over the 35-year-old’s death. Image: 7 News
Photo: NSW Police

Barbaro, 35, was shot dead on an Earlwood footpath two weeks ago.

Four of the nine men are facing murder charges and will appear in Sydney courts on Wednesday.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione launched Strike Force Osprey less than two weeks ago after a spate of bloody executions of notorious crime figures on Sydney’s streets.

“There is no end game. We will continue to target these individuals through methodical investigations and disruption strategies. There will be ongoing arrests. We will be protecting the State of NSW. We will be not tolerating any individual who has a total disregard for the community of this state and its laws,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Frank Mennilli said on Wednesday.

The other five men are facing criminal group charges and have court dates for December and January.

Photo: NSW Police
Photo: NSW Police
Photo: NSW Police

Officers from Strike Force Osprey worked with officers from Strike Force Raptor, which was set up in November last year investigating the activities of the Burwood Chapter of the Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.

Both forces were involved in Tuesday’s raids.

During the raid more than 40 mobile phones, 11 cars, a safe, cash, stolen NSW Police ID was seized and will now be examined by specialist forensic accountants from the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad.

Police from Strike Force Raptor also seized 20 long arms, 23 hand guns, 15 prohibited weapons, including ballistic vests and masks, silencers, a stun gun, and a homemade pipe gun; ammunition, methylamphetamine, and ecstasy, police said on Wednesday.

With eight shooting deaths over the past 17 months in Sydney, police have vowed to stamp out gangland warfare.

Just weeks before Mafia figure Barbaro was shot in Earlwood as he was getting into his Mercedes on November 14, hitman Hamad Assaad, 29, was shot in Georges Hall on October 25.

Pasquale Barbaro pictured with Brothers for Life leader Farhad Qaumi. Source: 7 News
The shooting scene. Source: 7 News

In April, gangland kingpin and convicted killer Walid Ahmad, 40, was killed in a spray of bullets on the rooftop car park of Bankstown Central shopping centre.

His murder is believed to be in retaliation for the fatal shooting of Safwan Charbaji outside a Condell Park panel beater several weeks earlier.

The month before that Michael Davey was shot dead in a driveway in a drive-by shooting in Kingswood. Believed to be a member of the Rebels motorcycle gang, Davey had escaped injury during a shooting at a shopping centre the previous year.

Police hunt for gangland killer

Police forensice teams establish a crime scene after Pasquale Barbar (inset) was killed. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Police forensics teams establish a crime scene after Pasquale Barbar (inset) was killed. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Police from the NSW Public Order and Riot squad arrive at the scene this morning. Picture: AAP

Police from the NSW Public Order and Riot squad arrive at the scene this morning. Picture: AAP

The crime scene in Earlwood. Picture: Bill Hearne.

The crime scene in Earlwood. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Pasquale Barbaro.

Pasquale Barbaro.


Who was Pasquale Barbaro?

Updated about 7 hours ago

Pasquale Timothy Barbaro was a notorious Sydney crime figure and part of a family with known links to the Calabrian mafia, from Italy.

The 35-year-old’s murder last night at Earlwood in Sydney’s inner west was one of several targeted shootings in Sydney this year.

The Barbaro family is well known to police and the criminal underworld.

His grandfather, who was also named Pasquale Barbaro, was murdered in a gangland hit in Brisbane in 1990 after turning police informant.

A cousin — another Pasquale Barbaro — was murdered in a hit in Melbourne in 2003 alongside notorious crime figure Jason Moran.

His uncle, yet another Pasquale Barbaro, is currently serving a 30-year sentence over a massive ecstasy bust — the world’s biggest — discovered in Melbourne in 2007.

Pasquale Timothy Barbaro — killed last night in Earlwood — survived a targeted shooting in Leichhardt in November last year.

Why was he targeted?

There are a number of theories.

Pasquale Timothy Barbaro was due to face the Sydney District Court in December over the production of the drug ice (crystal methamphetamine).

Crime journalist Keith Moor says there are suspicions Mr Barbaro may have been a police informant.

“The suspicion is he was probably killed for breaking the code of ‘omerta’ which is the code of silence,” Mr Moor said.

“The suggestion I’m getting is the dead Pasquale Barbaro was telling tales about the operations of the Calabrian mafia — as was his grandfather way back in the 1990’s.”

Equally, Mr Moor said the killing could be because of something unrelated to gang crime.

“He was involved in a number of criminal offences [including] drugs,” Mr Moor said.

“He’s obviously made some enemies [and there have been] attempts on his life in the past.

“It could boil down to something as simple as a domestic — there have been a number of Calabrian crime figures murdered because they’ve left their wives or slept with the wrong person,” he said.

One thing is clear according to NSW Police Superintendent David Johnson: Mr Barbaro was “clearly the intended victim” of last night’s Earlwood shooting.

Links to other shootings

There was a failed hit on Pasquale Timothy Barbaro‘s life in November last year.

Hamad Assaad, who was shot dead at his Georges Hall home just two weeks ago, was one of the major suspects in that attempted hit.

The Assaad shooting on October 25 has links to another targeted shooting in Bankstown in May.

Superintendent David Johnson said at a press conference today that police can’t comment on whether the murders are related.

“I can’t comment on the homicide investigations or strike forces as they are set up,” Mr Johnson said.

“I can’t say whether these matters are related because I don’t know the answer to that.”

The Calabrian Mafia in Australia

Crime journalist Keith Moor said the Barbaro family’s crime history stretches back decades in Australia.

“They’re going back way before the 1977 murder of Donald Mackay in Griffith,” Mr Moor said.

“The dead Barbaro from Sydney overnight… was literally born into the Calabrian mafia.

“It’s a trait that’s passed on from father to son,” he said.

Mr Moor said the Calabrian mafia is more active than people might realise in Australia.

“If anyone smoked a joint in the 60s, 70s, 80s — and lets face it a lot of people did — they were lining the pockets of the Calabrian mafia,” he said.

“They gradually got into the heroin trade… then they expanded to ecstasy.

“They basically recognised what the next big thing was in the drug market.”


Police found the man, 35-year-old Pasquale Barbaro, on an Earlwood footpath after being alerted to a shooting at about 9.40pm on Monday.

And a grey Audi Q7 found burned out in Sydney’s inner west could be the getaway car used in the execution-style shooting of a man linked to Sydney’s criminal underworld, say police.

Execution of standover man filmed

Meanwhile, the front door execution in 2013 of standover man Joe Antoun, a known associate of underworld figure George Alex, was captured on CCTV and played for a Sydney courtroom today – hours after Pasquale Barbaro was gunned down outside Alex’s home.

Mr Antoun was gunned down on the doorstep of his Strathfield home in Sydney’s inner west on December 16, 2013, in a contract killing allegedly arranged by Brothers 4 Life boss Farhad Quami and his brother Mumtaz.

Farhad, 34, and Mumtaz Quami, 31, have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Antoun, who worked as a debt collector.

In their trial, CCTV footage was played showing a hooded figure waiting for several minutes before pulling out a handgun and firing several times.

The Daily Telegraph reported Crown Prosecutor Ken McKay SC told their NSW Supreme Court trial before a judge alone Antoun was at home with his wife when a camera showed a man at their front door.

“(Mr Antoun’s wife) went to a window and looked out and saw a person and called out to that person, asking who it was. The person she heard say, ‘It’s Adam. I’ve got a package for Joe’,” Mr McKay said.

“At about this time, Joseph Antoun opened the front door. There was a wire security door which was still closed. As he opened the door, Mr Antoun was shot a number of times and died in his house, it seems very quickly after being.”

The court heard, according to The Daily Telegraph, that before Antoun’s death his former business partner Elias “Les” Elias had agreed to purchase Mimtaz Qaumi’s Erina Kebab House for $190,000.

Mr Elias is in the Philippines, according to a police witness, and declined to provide a statement for the trial.

The confronting CCTV footage was shown hours after Barbaro’s execution this morning outside Mr Alex’s Earlwood home.

CCTV of Joe Antoun shot at his Strathfield home

Police investigation

NSW Police believe it could be linked to the killing of Mr Barbaro. “That vehicle has been towed for forensic examination,” Superintendent David Johnson told reporters.

Supt Johsonn said the victim, who had been visiting someone in the street, had been “shot a number of times”.

Police are now appealing for witnesses to come forward so homicide investigators can piece together a chain of events that includes the Audi. Supt Johnson acknowledges some of the victim’s associates might not be keen to contact police.

“Given the sort of nefarious activities these people are engaged in, clearly it is in their best interests to come forward and speak to police,” he added. “These people [the shooters] are dangerous people.”

‘Targeted attack’

Early investigations suggest it was a targeted attack and Larkhall Street was cordoned off today as forensic teams examined the area.

Barbaro’s grandfather and cousin were both killed in gangland hits and there had been unconfirmed rumours Pasquale Barbaro was an informant for the NSW Crime Commission.

Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro and his coulsin Pat Barbaro

Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro and his cousin Pat Barbaro

Gabriela Pintos lives at the end of street and said she heard gunshots late at night.

“We heard the gunshots … another maybe four gunshots and a couple of minutes later there was someone screaming,” she told AAP.

Another resident told AAP he heard as a many as seven really loud bangs in two bursts and saw a car speed away.

“You knew straight away what it was … I looked out the front and saw a car speed off,” the man, who wanted to be identified as John, said. Witnesses also reported seeing a car with three or four men wearing hoodies parked nearby ahead of the shooting.

He ‘may have broken the mafia code’

Barbaro may have been gunned down in Sydney because he was talking to the authorities, according to a journalist who’s written a book on the Barbaro family.

Journalist Keith Moor says the latest Pasquale Barbaro to die might have been killed for the same reason his grandfather was – he may have been “telling tales outside of school and breaking the code”.

“There could be other motives but that is a line of inquiry the homicide squad in Sydney will be pursuing,” the author of Busted told ABC TV.

Moor believes Monday night’s shooting could be difficult to solve because traditionally the Calabrian mafia are reluctant to talk to authorities. “I’m presuming that none of the Barbaro family will be willing to help police,” he said.

“They’ll probably do their own investigation into what happened.” The journalist said the problem for police trying to crack down on the Barbaros was that, as soon as one was knocked down, another seemed to pop up. “That’s been going on for generations,” he said.

Asaad shooting

The death comes two weeks after another crime figure, Hamad Assaad, was shot dead outside his Georges Hall home.

Mr Assaad was a key suspect in the execution of standover man Walid Ahmad at a Bankstown shopping centre in April.

Infamous underworld figure Jason Moran and Past Barbaro were gunned down in Essendon in 2003.

Infamous underworld figure Jason Moran and Past Barbaro were gunned down in Essendon in 2003.

That killing was thought to be in retaliation for the shooting homicide of Safwan Charbaji outside a nearby panel beater two weeks earlier. Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro was gunned down in Brisbane in 1990 while his cousin Pat Barbaro was shot dead in a car park in Melbourne in 2003.

The Pasquale Barbaro sentenced in 2012 jail over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

The Pasquale Barbaro sentenced in 2012 jail over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

Another cousin, also called Pasquale, was involved in what was described as the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

Some 15 million pills were hidden inside tinned tomatoes and shipped by the Calabrian mafia from Italy to Melbourne.

– With AAP


Damning ABC Four Corners report into the mistreatment of teenage prisoners-Don Dale detention centre


Despicable, we have seen this overseas and thanked GOD it could never happen here. I think by the immediate actions of the Federal Government in calling and Royal Commission says a lot. Disgusting, if this is how my child might be treated if he committed crimes in NT, bloody hell, help us all! NO human deserves to be treated as a DOG or worse. NO matter what…(Robbo)

I am compiling all the videos so they can be seen together, folks. Appalling, never in my dreams did I think we treat anybody like this. ALL these kids are underage.No matter what they did or why they are there we as a society are not violent. I personally am not surprised the individuals shown reacted they way they did. It is a matter of survival! At least a dozen clips on the way stay tuned (Robbo)


NT Government counter-sues boys who were tear-gassed at Don Dale

29/07/16

The Northern Territory Government is counter-suing two boys who were tear-gassed by prison guards at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.

The boys, whose names have been suppressed by the Northern Territory Supreme Court, lodged papers in June this year seeking damages for alleged mistreatment at the hands of staff at the facility.

But the NT Government’s response, filed on July 4, is seeking damages for an escape attempt in which the two boys stole a car, before using it to ram a roller-door and re-enter the prison.

The Government claims the two boys escaped from Don Dale on May 31, 2015, causing $89,000 in damage.

It also claims the boys caused $74,025.60 damage when they rammed a roller door at the prison using a stolen car on June 1, 2015.

The NT Government is seeking damages with interest and legal costs.

Both boys, and four others who are not being counter-sued, are seeking damages for the now-infamous tear-gassing incident in the old Don Dale centre as well as a string of other claims.

The writs filed by the boys seek general, aggravated and exemplary damages to “deter and punish” the NT Government.

One of the prisoners suing is Dylan Voller, who was the prisoner strapped to a restraint chair for hours with a spit hood placed over his head.

Another is Jake Roper, who was the boy who got out of his cell in the behavioural management unit of the old Don Dale centre, which instigated the tear-gassing of all prisoners in the area.

Here is the whole video in one go.I do prey that in the interests of the publics right to know and to educate our country I do NOT get a strike.

John Elferink sacked from Corrections in wake of Four Corners report; Adam Giles alleges culture of cover-up

Updated 19 minutes ago

NT Chief Minister Adam Giles has sacked his Corrections Minister John Elferink in the wake of the damning ABC Four Corners report into the mistreatment of teenage prisoners, while alleging there has been a “culture of cover-up” within the Corrections system.

Key points:

  • John Elferink remains as Mental Health Minister, Attorney-General
  • Adam Giles alleges cover-up of video evidence
  • Staff seen in Four Corners report still in Corrections system

John Elferink, the minister responsible for young detainees in the Northern Territory, has been sacked in the wake of the damning ABC Four Corners report into the mistreatment of teenage prisoners.

At a press conference today, NT Chief Minister Adam Giles announced he had taken over the portfolios of Corrections and Justice from Mr Elferink.

“Can I start by saying that anybody who saw that footage on television last night on Four Corners would undoubtedly describe it as horrific footage. I sat and watched the footage and recognised horror through my eyes,” Mr Giles said.

He said the footage aired in the Four Corners report had been withheld from him, Mr Elferink and “many officials in government” — with him only seeing it for the first time “on television last night”.

“I think over time there has most certainly been a culture of cover-up within the Corrections system,” he said.

“I think there’s been a culture of cover-up going on for many a long year. The footage we saw last night [went] back to 2010 — and I predict this has gone on for a very long time.”

He said his government had been “working very hard to try and fix many of those issues”.

“What we’re changing is a culture of an organisation within the youth detention system and I think we’ve come a long way in that time. That’s not to discredit any of that terrible footage we saw on Four Corners last night. It was terrible footage but we’re seeking to improve the system,” Mr Giles said.

When asked if he personally was comfortable with children being strapped into restraint chairs, Mr Giles refused to answer definitively.

“We’re going to have a look at that as part of the royal commission. We will have a review into that. I can’t talk about individual cases,” he said.

“There are kids who are trying to deliberately cause cranial issues by bashing their head against the wall.

“Prison officers need the ability to be able to de-escalate issues when children are not in … a calm environment within themselves and at all times those kids’ wellbeing is being put at the best possible place.

“Having said that, there is certainly footage last night, particularly the footage dating back to 2010, 2012 and 2014 where I don’t think the standards have been upheld.”

Mr Giles said the Northern Territory community was “sick of youth crime … they have had a gutful”.

“They’ve had a gutful of cars getting smashed up, houses getting broken into, people being assaulted. There’s no doubt. And the majority of the community is saying let’s lock these kids up,” he said.

 

Some staff from footage still with corrections

The Acting Commissioner of Corrections Mark Payne, who took over in 2015, admitted some staff seen in the Four Corners report were still working with NT Corrections.

“A number of the staff, particularly those who have become the subject of previous investigations, a number of those staff members are no longer with us in the organisation. They’ve either been terminated in their employment or have chosen to resign,” Mr Payne said.

“A number of staff members who may have been implicated to sustain charges, criminal or internal, remain with us.

“There were only two staff members identified in footage last night that still remain within the youth justice sphere.”

Asked if he held any concerns for the welfare of youth detainees, Mr Payne said he did not.

“I have no concern and, in fact, I should remind the public that we have the Children’s Commissioner and their staff come in to our facilities once a week,” he said.

“We have representatives and our elders visiting program coming into the facility.

“We invite people in tours of the facility so as I stated previously, when I came into the organisation I found certainly a different place and its certainly a different place today in 2016 to what was identified in the footage last night.”

Elferink office target of attack

Asked where the Mr Elferink was, Mr Giles answered: “I don’t know.”

“I imagine he’s are probably in his office. I’ve advised John that I am assuming the Corrections responsibility immediately and that occurred five minutes before I walked into this office,” he said.

Mr Giles said Mr Elferink would retain his other portfolios, including Health, Children and Families and Mental Health.

This morning, Mr Elferink’s Darwin electoral office was the target of a vandal graffiti attack with police attending the scene.

Mr Elferink is yet to speak publicly since the Four Corners report, in which he is featured offering ABC journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna a lift on his motorcycle to the Don Dale area where the so-called “riot” took place in 2014.

The ABC revealed the riot never happened and was concocted by prison authorities as an excuse for the use of tear-gassing of six boys.

The report has resulted in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today announcing a royal commission into the Northern Territory’s juvenile justice system.


Evidence of ‘torture’ of children held in Don Dale detention centre uncovered by Four Corners

Video: LANGUAGE WARNING: Watch the video obtained by Four Corners (ABC News)

Vision of the tear-gassing of six boys being held in isolation at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin in August 2014 has been obtained by Four Corners, exposing one of the darkest incidents in the history of juvenile justice in Australia.

The vision is part of an investigation featuring a chilling catalogue of footage revealing a pattern of abuse, deprivation and punishment of vulnerable children inside Northern Territory youth detention centres.

The tear-gassing incident was described as a “riot” at the time, with media reporting multiple boys had escaped their cells in the isolation wing of the prison, known as the Behavioural Management Unit (BMU), and threatened staff with weapons.

But CCTV vision and handy-cam recordings made by staff, obtained exclusively by Four Corners, show only one boy escaped his cell after it was left unlocked by a guard.

Former corrections commissioner Ken Middlebrook last year defended the officer’s actions in the wake of a damning report by the Northern Territory Children’s Commissioner.

“I am not in the business of overuse of force. There were two sprays from an aerosol in the area. Now it wasn’t overuse of gas,” Mr Middlebrook told the ABC at the time.

But CCTV vision from the incident shows 10 bursts of tear gas being sprayed into the enclosed area over the space of one-and-a-half-minutes.

All six boys were exposed to the tear gas, five while still locked in their cells.

Not all the children were misbehaving — two boys can be seen on CCTV calmly playing cards before being exposed to the fumes. Another can be seen repeatedly smashing the wall of his cell with a broken light fitting.

The 14-year-old boy who escaped his cell can be heard repeatedly asking how long he had been in isolation and requesting to talk to staff.

Instead of negotiating with the boy, prison staff can be heard laughing and mocking him, calling the boy “an idiot” and a “little f****r”.

Four Corners has managed to track down several of the boys who were tear gassed. They describe being highly distressed, afraid for their lives, and say that two years on they are now suffering from disturbing flashbacks and nightmares from the ordeal.

The CCTV vision also shows the children’s reactions as they are affected by the gas, running to the back of their cells, hiding behind sheets and mattresses, gasping for air, crying, and bending over toilets.

One boy is left in his cell and exposed to tear gas for eight minutes. He is seen lying face down on the floor with his hands behind his back, before being handcuffed by two prison officers wearing gas masks and dragged out of his cell.

‘Ticking time bomb’ of potentially unlawful solitary confinement

The use of tear gas at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in 2014 came after months of tension, repeated escapes and incidents at the centre, which was staffed with under-trained Youth Justice Officers, in what has been described as a “ticking time bomb” by former staff.

Three weeks before the tear-gassing incident, five boys had escaped from Don Dale.

When they were recaptured, they were placed in the isolation wing of the prison for between 15 and 17 days, in what were described by both children and staff as appalling and inhumane conditions.

They were kept locked in their cells for almost 24 hours a day with no running water, little natural light, and were denied access to school and educational material.

The boys being kept in isolation were accidentally discovered by a group of lawyers, including solicitor Jared Sharp, when they were taken on a tour of the facility in August 2014.

“We all sort of looked at each other in shock that there was kids in these cells, because there was signs of life in there but we didn’t know who was in there or what was happening, or how long they’d been there,” Mr Sharp told Four Corners.

“To what extreme is that, is to my view is torture. To my view that is treating kids in a way that is just entirely unacceptable,” he said.

Human Rights Lawyer Ruth Barson said the isolation of the children was a clear violation of the United Nations Convention against Torture.

“The UN’s expert on torture has said there are no circumstances that justify young people being held in solitary confinement, let alone prolonged solitary confinement,” Ms Barson told Four Corners.

“I think the NT and in particular Don Dale has a long way to go to ensure their practices are compliant with Australia’s obligation on the convention against torture and against the right of the child.”

Government says improvements made

In the days after the tear gassing, NT Corrections Minister John Elferink praised the actions of his staff and the prison security dog used on the night of the incident.

“I congratulate again, and place my support behind, the staff who made this decision. The staff worked hard, Fluffy the Alsatian worked hard and, as far as we are concerned, it was a problem that was solved quickly,” Mr Elferink told Parliament.

In the wake of the incident, the Don Dale centre was closed and the children were moved to the run-down, old Berrimah adult prison.

The NT Government commissioned an independent report into the incident by former Long Bay prison boss Michael Vita, which was released in January 2015.

Mr Elferink told Four Corners the Government had learned from the mistakes of the past.

“It was a system that needed improvement. It was a system that had fundamental problems, which is why I’ve worked so hard to improve it and it has been improved,” he said.

“That was a circumstance that clearly demonstrated to me that something had to be done, which is what the Vita Report was all about.

“Those circumstances have now been changed… we hope that they won’t be repeated.”

NT Children’s Commissioner Colleen Gwynne confirmed to Four Corners there are still ongoing issues with youth detention in the Northern Territory, with many of her 2015 report recommendations still not implemented.

“The response has not been as urgent as we would have liked. The issues raised in that report are extremely serious and I would like to see a more full response,” she said.

“[We need] some urgency and some dedicated resources thrown at this.”

Woman and baby boy in 20th-floor death plunge-Murder Suicide


Woman, child die falling from internal balcony from Docklands apartment

Police tape marks the scene where a woman and child died after a balcony fall in Melbourne’s CBD. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

Wes Hosking, Anthony Dowsley

A WOMAN and a four-month-old baby have died after an apparent fall from an apartment balcony in Melbourne’s CBD.

The pair were found just after 10.30am in an apartment building at the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets.

Family are at the scene with one yelling “oh no” when told of the news.

It is understood the woman, 31, plunged from a balcony high in the City Point building.

Police are with distraught family. The deaths are not being treated as suspicious.

The bodies of a woman and child were found just after 10.30am. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

The bodies of a woman and child were found just after 10.30am.

The exact circumstances of where the child was are unknown at this point.

It is believed the woman may have been residing above 20th floor.

Paramedics entered the building to attend to someone who may have become distressed about 1.30pm.

Later, a family could be seen talking with police and social workers in the foyer of the building just before 2pm.

A priest earlier entered the building to console family, and the coroner is on the scene.

A senior police officer has told media they will not be making any comment about the circumstances surrounding the tragedy, but police confirmed the ages of the pair in a statement.

“A 31-year-old woman and a 4-month-old child were located deceased at an apartment building in Docklands this morning,” a statement read.

The Melbourne CBD location where a mother and child have died in a horror fall.

The Melbourne CBD location where a mother and child have died in a horror fall.Source:Herald Sun

The pair are believed to have fallen from an internal apartment balcony. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

The pair are believed to have fallen from an internal apartment balcony.


A resident, Alex Champ, said he was unaware of the incident. He said families, children and travellers stayed in the high rise.

“You get all people and young ones (living here), he said. “There is an internal area where there is a drop.

“It’s just crazy to think it’s just a few floors above me.”

A small section of the east bound Bourke street lane has been reopened by police near where it meets Spencer St.

Police are working to identify the mother and child. Picture: Yuri Kouzmin

Police are working to identify the mother and child.

Police have been speaking to staff at the Chocolate Frog Cafe, which is in an older building which fronts the tall apartment complex behind it.

Earlier Victoria Police spokesman Alistair Parsons said: “Police are currently at an apartment building on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets in Docklands where a woman and a child were located.”

“The yet to be identified woman and child died at the scene,’’ he said.

“At this early stage it is believed they may have fallen from an internal balcony.”

The exact circumstances surrounding the incident were yet to be determined.

Police have cordoned off the area and are speaking to witnesses.

Paramedics were called to the area but could not assist the pair.

If you or anyone you know is struggling, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14

The pair died near the corner Spencer and Bourke Streets. Picture Yuri Kouzmin <br />

The pair died near the corner Spencer and Bourke Streets.

Originally published as Woman, baby die in balcony fall


Woman and baby boy in 20th-floor death plunge: ‘Gut-wrenching scream’ as woman, 31, jumps from balcony of her luxury Melbourne apartment holding 4-month-old ‘believed to be her son’

 

  • Woman and baby plunged to their deaths from a balcony in Melbourne
  • The four-month-old boy is believed to have been her son
  • The father ‘collapsed in shock’ when he arrived at the Docklands building
  • Emergency services were unable to revive the woman, 31, and baby
  • The pair’s identities are yet to be determined as investigations continue

Witnesses heard a ‘gut-wrenching’ scream as a woman, 31, and a four-month-old baby boy died in an apparent murder-suicide when they plunged to their deaths from a balcony in central Melbourne.

The woman was carrying the baby, believed to be her son, when she took her own life at the City Point apartment building on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets in Docklands.

Police confirmed they were not looking for anyone else in relation to the deaths and a report would be prepared for the coroner

Witnesses heard 'gut-wrenching' screams after a woman, 31, and a four-month-old baby died when they plunged to their deaths from a balcony in central Melbourne. Police speak to a witness

Witnesses heard ‘gut-wrenching’ screams after a woman, 31, and a four-month-old baby died when they plunged to their deaths from a balcony in central Melbourne. Police speak to a witness

They say the pair fell from a balcony inside the 35-storey building about 10.30am on Thursday and died at the scene.

Police have also said a damaged balcony was not the cause of the woman and baby’s fall.

Their bodies were discovered in a courtyard of the building, where apartments have sold for more than $400,000.

The 31-year-old woman lived on the 20th floor with the baby boy’s father who is said to be devastated, according to Herald Sun.

He collapsed in shock when he arrived at the scene and was taken to hospital, 7 News reported.

Police are looking to establish if she had leapt to her death from a sixth-floor balcony, according to the ABC.

She is believed to have been holding the baby at the time.

Witness Christine Harms told The Age she heard someone yell out, ‘Oh no, oh no’, after the incident.

‘A lady went into the alleyway and then there was some screaming,’ Ms Harms said.

‘It was gut-wrenching to hear.’

The woman was carrying the baby when she took her own at the City Point apartment building on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets in Docklands. Pictured are police at the scene

The woman was carrying the baby when she took her own at the City Point apartment building on the corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets in Docklands. Pictured are police at the scene

Police say the pair plummeted from a balcony inside the 35-storey building about 10.30am on Thursday and died at the scene

Police say the pair plummeted from a balcony inside the 35-storey building about 10.30am on Thursday and died at the scene

Relatives and friends visited the apartment block early on Thursday afternoon.

A man who knew the woman said they were left shocked by the incident, adding: ‘We don’t know what happened.’

A Victoria Police spokesperson said initial investigations led them to believe the pair fell from an ‘internal balcony’.

‘The exact circumstances surrounding the incident are yet to be determined,’ she said.

Police were unable to confirm the relationship between the woman and baby.

Paramedics were also called to the scene but they were unable to revive the pair, a Victoria Ambulance spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia.

More than a dozen uniformed and plain-clothed police and eight police cars closed off the scene – at one of Melbourne’s busiest intersections – with some taking bagged items out of the building.

Investigators started to leave shortly after 3pm and the footpath at the front of the building was reopened as police tape was removed.

Traffic detours were in place until about 1.30pm.

For confidential help, call Lifeline at 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

Pictured is an apartment inside the City Point building on Bourke Street

Pictured is an apartment inside the City Point building on Bourke Street

She reportedly lived on the 20th floor but police are looking into if she leapt to her death from a sixth-floor balcony. Above is an image of another apartment at City Point

She reportedly lived on the 20th floor but police are looking into if she leapt to her death from a sixth-floor balcony. Above is an image of another apartment at City Point

The foyer inside the City Point building, where apartments have sold for more than $400,000

The foyer inside the City Point building, where apartments have sold for more than $400,000

The family of the woman, who lived on the 20th floor, are said to be devastated by the tragedy. Pictured is the City Point apartment building

Online dating site victim conned out of $127k, Robyn Clare Pearce jailed for 14 months-Has form


Robyn Clare Pearce jailed for 14 months-Has form so why a shitty short sentence.What about repayment, no remorse she will get out after learning a few more scams in jail to get out there and  rip them off for more money more often. Get real

Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce walks from the Hobart Magistrate's Court.
Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce walks from the Hobart Magistrate’s Court.

Online dating site victim conned out of $127k, Hobart woman jailed for 14 months

A Hobart woman had been jailed for 14 months for conning $127,000 out of a New South Wales man she met through an online dating site.

Robyn Clare Pearce, 62 of Sandford, pleaded guilty to dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage.

Pearce met the 60-year-old retired public servant online in August 2007 and by October that year was spinning elaborate lies to get him to lend her money.

He did so on 122 occasions, lending a total of $127,000.

She gave him several reasons for needing money, including legal fees incurred pursuing her ex-husband for child maintenance, furnishing a flat and buying a car for her daughter and paying for her elderly mother’s medical treatment.

In truth, Pearce spent the money on gambling.

The court heard Pearce put $2 million through poker machines at Wrest Point Casino between July 2007 and December 2010.

By November 2008, her victim was selling assets to fund the loans to her.

Victim sold home after mortgage default threat

He extended his mortgage but the retiree was unable to keep up with the payments.

When his bank threatened to default on the mortgage, he sold his house and moved into a modest home in rural Victoria.

The court heard Pearce repeatedly promised she would move there to join him and would get a job to pay him back.

But Pearce’s physical and mental health meant she knew at the time she was making promises that she would never be able to keep.

Justice Helen Wood accepted that Pearce did not befriend the man with the intent to defraud him.

“I accept that the relationship the defendant had with the complainant was a friendship and she valued that,” Justice Wood said.

“She did not set out to prey on him.” I say absolute bullshit to that

History of similar offences

But Justice Wood said Pearce had taken advantage of her victim’s kind and generous nature and spun him elaborate lies repeatedly in order to convince him to lend her money.

Pearce had originally also been charged with defrauding a 92-year-old American man she met through a Christian dating site of about $122,000 between 2011 and 2015.

But that charge was dropped after her plea of guilty in the current case.

In 2012, she was jailed for convincing a Queensland man she met through a dating site to part with almost $80,000.

The court heard Pearce had previously also received suspended, or partly suspended sentences, for other dishonesty matters.

She was sentenced to 14 months’ jail for the latest offending, with Justice Wood noting Pearce’s anxiety and agoraphobia, and her poor physical health, would make the sentence more burdensome for her.

Pearce will not be eligible for parole until she has served seven months.


Online love fraudster Robyn Clare Pearce behind bars after fleecing lonely NSW man of $127,000

A GAMBLING-addicted Sandford woman has been jailed for defrauding a lonely pensioner of more than $120,000 in an online love scam.

Robyn Clare Pearce, 62, pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining a financial benefit by deception.

In the Supreme Court in Hobart this morning, Justice Helen Wood said Pearce met a 60-year-old New South Wales man through an internet dating site in August 2007.

Although the pair never met, they exchanged messages and Pearce asked the man for money to pay bills.

After he transferred $1500 to her account, she continued to make demands every few days for money for medical care, to buy a vehicle or furniture and to pay debts.

When he tried to refuse her demands, Pearce became insistent. In all she received $127,000 from the man.

A lonely NSW man targeted in an online dating scam was relieved of $127,000 by a Tasmanian woman, who has been jailed for fraud.

Justice Wood said as a result of Pearce’s actions, the man had been forced to sell his home and move to a more modest abode in rural Victoria — holding out hope that she would move to be with him.

He had been left in financial trouble, depressed and socially isolated by her actions and had trouble trusting people, the court heard.

Pearce had lost $200,000 after putting $2 million though the poker machines at Wrest Point Casino, Justice Wood said.

The judge noted Pearce has a long history of fraud offending and had breached three suspended sentenced by her actions.

She said the offending has taken advantage of the victim’s kind and generous nature and Pearce’s moral culpability was high, despite a number of mental and physical problems which made prison a tough environment for her.

She sentenced Pearce to 14 months in prison, with a seven month non-parole period.

Pearce was also accused of stealing $122,000 from a 91-year-old American man she met via a Christian dating website but those charges were discontinued by the Crown.


Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce pleads not guilty in Hobart court to alleged online dating fraud

A SANDFORD woman has pleaded not guilty to fraud offences relating to an alleged internet dating scam.

Robyn Clare Pearce, 61, appeared in the Hobart Magistrates Court this morning.

She is charged with dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage.

Police allege Ms Pearce defrauded tens of thousands of dollars from a 64-year-old New South Wales man between April 2011 and January this year.

Magistrate Simon Cooper granted Ms Pearce bail and ordered her to appear in the Supreme Court on June 9.


Woman admits internet ‘love fraud’

Updated 16 Oct 2012, 10:40am

Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce walks from the Hobart Magistrate's Court
Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce walks from the Hobart Magistrate’s Court

A Hobart court has ordered a woman to seek counselling after she convinced a Queensland man to give her nearly $80,000 over the internet.

Robyn Clare Pearce from Sandford in southern Tasmania admitted dishonestly acquiring money from a Queensland man she met through an internet dating site in 2007.

During a three-year phone and email relationship, Peace convinced the man to lend her nearly $80,000.

The Hobart Magistrates Court heard she made up a variety of reasons for borrowing the money but never paid it back.

She also got the man to falsely email that she had repaid some of the money.

Pearce was sentenced to 10 months’ jail for dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage relating to $22,600.

Eight months of her sentence was suspended, provided Peace is of good behaviour and undergoes psychological treatment.

She also has to pay back the money.


 

What happened to Melbourne woman Karen Ristevski


Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report at crimestoppersvic.com.au.


Police confirm body found at Mt Macedon is Karen Ristevski

Body in Vic bushland that of Karen Ristevski

THE eight-month search for a missing Melbourne mother has ended in tragedy, with police confirming a badly-decomposed body found in dense bushland is that of Karen Ristevski.

 

A passer-by made the grim discovery beside a dirt track in dense bushland at Mount Macedon, about 65km north of Melbourne, on Monday.

“Police can confirm the human remains found at Mount Macedon yesterday are that of missing Avondale Heights woman Karen Ristevski,” Victoria Police said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

Police were drawn to the search area after phone towers traced mobile phones to the region on the day Mrs Ristevski disappeared. The phones belonged to Mrs Ristevski and her husband.

Earlier on Tuesday, detectives visited the Ristevski family home in Avondale Heights.

The positive identification follows forensic testing carried out on the body found in bush 52km from the site where Ms Ristevski was last seen.

The news answers part of the question of what happened to Mrs Ristevski, but there are plenty more questions as homicide detectives and forensic police investigate.

Mrs Ristevski, 47, vanished nearly eight months ago and her remains were found less than 30km north of Toolern Vale, where a two-day search for Mrs Ristevski was centred two months ago.

Detectives visit the home of Karen Ristevski. Picture: Twitter/Channel 9

Detectives visit the home of Karen Ristevski. Picture: Twitter/Channel 9 Source:Twitter

Police are searching bushland near where Karen Ristevski went missing.

Police are searching bushland near where Karen Ristevski went missing. Source:Supplied

On December 19 and 20 last year, police drained dams and searched countryside south of the bushland where the body was found on Monday.

It was a case that gripped Victoria from the moment Mrs Ristevski left her $1.1 million home in Avondale Heights, in Melbourne’s north west, on June 29, 2016, and disappeared without a trace.

Her husband, Borce Ristevski, said his wife went for a walk to “clear her head” after an argument over finances and reportedly told family she may have been snatched by a stranger.

As Missing Person Squad detectives collected hundreds of hours of footage, police theorised she had met with foul play.

It was revealed on Tuesday that a witness told police he saw a man with a shovel at the location where Mrs Ristevski’s body was found.

The witness allegedly joked “What did you do to the body?” to the man but was met with an expressionless face, the Herald Sun reports.

Local resident Ian Flannery told 9 News he “could not believe” the grisly find near a quiet cul-de-sac.

Forensics officers scour the scene. Picture: Kylie Else

Forensics officers scour the scene. Picture: Kylie Else Source: News Corp Australia

A woman’s body has been found in scrubland outside Mt Macedon. Picture: Mark Stewart

A woman’s body has been found in scrub-land outside Mt Macedon. Picture: Mark Stewart Source:News Corp Australia

A badly decomposed body has been found in the Macedon Regional Park. Picture: Kylie Else

A badly decomposed body has been found in the Macedon Regional Park. Picture: Kylie Else Source:News Corp Australia

A passer-by discovered the body on Monday afternoon. Picture: Kylie Else

A passer-by discovered the body on Monday afternoon. Picture: Kylie Else Source:News Corp Australia

Police sealed off an area of Macedon Regional Park. Picture: Kylie Else

Police sealed off an area of Macedon Regional Park. Picture: Kylie Else Source:News Corp Australia

“I’m a bit flummoxed. It’s very, very unusual,” he said.

Police conducted a line search at the scene on Monday and are keen to speak to anyone that may have seen any suspicious activity in that area.

“Missing Persons Squad detectives are appealing for anyone that may have been walking along the dirt track off Loch Road or anyone that may have seen any vehicles to contact them,” police said on Tuesday.

Investigators are also hoping to speak to anyone that may have been at Mount Macedon any time from June last year and took photos or any video footage in the area.

On Monday, Karen’s nephew, Chris Ristevski, was stunned when told by the Herald Sun of the discovery of the body.

“I’m shocked, I haven’t heard anything about this so I’m still trying to take it all in,” he said.

The remains were found less than 30km north of Toolern Vale, where a two-day search for Mrs Ristevski was centred two months ago.

The remains were found less than 30km north of Toolern. Picture Kylie Else

The remains were found less than 30km north of Toolern. Picture Kylie Else Source:News Corp Australia

Police vehicles in dense bushland at Mount Macedon bushland, where a body was found. Picture: Supplied

Police vehicles in dense bushland at Mount Macedon bushland, where a body was found. Picture: Supplied Source:Channel 7

 


update 22/12/16

Detectives have seized several items and said they are now confident they will find out what happened to missing Melbourne mother Karen Ristevski

The two-day search for Mrs Ristevski is over and officers left the Toolern Vale search area carrying evidence bags.

Detectives are also looking into whether one of her relatives may have visited a property near where the items were found.

Karen Ristevski, 47, vanished in June 29. Photo: 7 News
Detectives are looking into whether one of her relatives may have visited a property near where seized items were found. Photo: AAP

The 47-year-old mother has not been seen since she left her $1.1 million Avondale Heights home on June 29, after an argument with her husband, Borce.

There are concerns for her welfare as her disappearance is out-of-character and she has not used her bank accounts or phone since.

Police, firefighters and SES volunteers returned to the Gisborne and Toolern Vale search area again on Tuesday and scoured it metre by metre.

Borce Ristevski pictured with his wife Karen Ristevsi. Photo: Facebook
Multiple search and rescue teams – including the Missing Persons Squad and the Dog Squad with the assistance of a cadaver dog are being used in the search. Photo: 7 News

Dams were drained as a specialist cadaver dog joined the huge search team, which included Victoria Police’s mounted branch, the airwing and dog squad.

The seized bags contained items found in paddocks and bushland that could be linked to Mrs Ristevski’s disappearance.

A Victoria Police spokesman would not comment on what was taken from the site but confirmed the search had been completed.

Dams were drained as a specialist cadaver dog joined the huge search team, which included Victoria Police’s mounted branch. Photo: AAP
Karen Ristevski is pictured with her daughter Sarah and husband Borce. Photo: 7 News

The head of the missing persons unit, Detective Inspector Stephen Dennis, said the search was “the most significant we’ve conducted to date”.

“We are confident that we will find out what happened,” he said.

Det Insp Dennis said there has been ongoing discussions with various members of the family and Christmas would be “extremely tough” for Ms Ristevski’s family.

RELATED VIDEOS:

Play Video 1:42

Sniffer dogs used in search for missing mum Karen Ristevski

VIDEO Sniffer dogs used in search for missing mum Karen Ristevski. Source: 7 News

Play Video 0:29

Crucial new clues emerge about missing Melbourne mum Karen Ristevski


Update 21/07/16

Karen Ristevski at her Bella Bleu business at Watergardens Town Centre in Taylors Lakes. Picture: Kylie Else

A MELBOURNE woman who went missing three weeks ago was at risk of losing the family home.

The financial sufferings that surround Karen Ristevski’s mysterious disappearance have been revealed and the family has been in about $600,000 in debt for the past decade.

Mrs Ristevski had a fight with her husband Borce about their financial problems on June 29 and left her $1.1 million home in Avondale Heights, in Melbourne’s northwest, about 10am to clear her head.

The 47-year-old has not been seen since.

The Ristevski family owns the Bella Bleu boutique at the Watergardens Town Centre in Taylors Lakes in Melbourne’s northwest and another store in Broadmeadows in Melbourne’s north.

The Australian reports property records show a shopping centre lodged a caveat over the Ristevski family home earlier this year, believed to be due to unpaid rent.

A caveat is a document that can tag another person’s land and stop it from being sold or transferred into another name.

The Ristevskis’ home. Picture: Ellen Smith

The Ristevskis’ home. Picture: Ellen SmithSource:News Corp Australia

Mr Ristevski and his brother Vasko previously owned clothing manufacturer and wholesaler Blue Laser Jean Co, according the The Australian, and the company racked up $600,000 of unsecured debts after one of its major customers restructured.

Real estate group Vicinity and financial company Perpetual are believed to have lodged the caveat over the family home. The Australian understands Vicinity is the landlord at the Broadmeadows shopping centre where one of the Bella Bleu stores operates.

Victoria Police said investigations around Mrs Ristevski’s disappearance were ongoing and officers previously expressed grave concerns for the woman’s welfare.

Karen Ristevski’s daughter, Sarah, and husband, Borce. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/AAP

Karen Ristevski’s daughter, Sarah, and husband, Borce. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/AAPSource:AAP

Karen Ristevski went missing without a trace after going for a walk from her home on June 29.

Karen Ristevski went missing without a trace after going for a walk from her home on June 29.Source:Supplied

She hasn’t used her phone or accessed her bank accounts since she went missing.

Police were searching the Maribyrnong River last week, which snakes behind Ms Ristevski’s home.

There has been a wave of support on social media to find the popular dress shop owner.

“We’ve laughed together, dressed and undressed together, and shared our highs and lows,” friend Connie Johnson posted on the Love Your Sister Facebook page.

Police questioned Mr Ristevski earlier this month over the disappearance and he has been released pending further inquiries.

SES searching behind the Ristevski's house at Avondale Heights for missing Karen Ristevski. Picture: Hamish Blair

SES searching behind the Ristevski’s house at Avondale Heights for missing Karen Ristevski. Picture: Hamish BlairSource:News Corp Australia

Last week the family shut down a press conference after a Channel 7 reporter asked Mr Ristevski if he killed his wife.

Ms Ristevski’s aunt, Patricia, was upset by the question.

“That’s really not appropriate at the moment … honestly, I have to say, that is really inappropriate … this is about Karen, this is not about anything else, this is about finding Karen,” she said.

Ms Ristevski is 160cm tall, with a slim build and shoulder length brown hair.

She was last seen wearing a black jacket and jeans and is known to frequent Taylors Lakes.

Police say her disappearance is out of character.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report at crimestoppersvic.com.au.


Karen Ristevski: Police search riverbanks

Combing the banks of the Maribymong river, police and SES crews search for missing Melbourne mother Karen Ristevski. Courtesy Seven News Melbourne

Mr Ristevski, who was questioned by police and released without charge, was asked directly by a Channel 7 reporter in a press conference on Thursday if he had killed his wife.

Mr Ristevski, arm-in-arm with his wife’s visibly distressed 21-year-old daughter Sarah, did not answer, with Ms Ristevski’s aunt Patricia interjecting, saying Mr Ristevski was too distressed to speak.

Karen Ristevski's daughter Sarah, and husband Borce have appealed for help.
Karen Ristevski’s daughter Sarah, and husband  Borce have appealed for help.  Photo: Penny Stephens

“That’s really not appropriate at the moment … honestly, I have to say, that is really inappropriate…This is about Karen, this is not about anything else, this is about finding Karen,” she said.

The family then left immediately.

Before the exchange, which occurred near the banks of the Maribyrnong River where police are searching, Patricia pleaded with the public to come forward if they have any information.

“We’re hoping that today we will find something that will lead us to Karen,” she said.

Karen (centre) and Borce Ristevski with their daughter Sarah.
Karen (centre) and Borce Ristevski with their daughter Sarah. Photo: Supplied

“We have nothing so if you have something that you know, something that you have seen, you’ve heard something, someone has spoken to you about something, anything, please, we’re asking you to help us.

“It’s not possible for someone to just disappear, it’s not Karen, Karen would not leave us.”

The police and SES are searching Avondale Heights and along the Maribyrnong River for missing woman Karen Ristevski.
The police and SES are searching Avondale Heights and along the Maribyrnong River for missing woman Karen Ristevski.  Photo: Penny Stephens

She described the last 15 days as a “nightmare”.

She said she did not know anyone who would want to harm her niece.

Police have released photos of a handbag and purse like Karen Ristevski's in case someone finds them.
Police have released photos of a handbag and purse like Karen Ristevski’s in case someone finds them. Photo: Supplied

“If that was the case, we would already know something about that, it would be an ongoing thing,” she said.

Police and State Emergency Service volunteers are searching a 60 hectare area between Canning Reserve, off Canning Street, and Afton Street, which runs along the Maribyrnong River.

<br>

The family home, which backs onto the river, sits in between.

Inspector Stephen Dennis said police have “grave concerns” for Ms Ristevski’s welfare, with her phone still off and her bank account untouched.

He said she was last seen at her home.

“We can’t say what route she may have taken from the house, so it’s still up in the air for us at this stage,” he said.

Inspector Dennis said Ms Ristevski may have had a gold-coloured Coach handbag and purse with her. Earlier, police released a photo of the items in the hope someone may come across them.

SEARCH AREA

Ms Ristevski ran formal wear shop Bella Bleu in Taylors Lakes, which she owned with her husband.

Her daughter made an emotional plea for help to find her mother last week.

Sarah told radio station 3AW she had reached out to her mother’s friends on Facebook but to no avail.

“There’s no leads at all, no sightings, nothing,” she said.

“I’ve logged onto her Facebook and contacted all of her friends. No one has seen her.”

Ms Ristevski is described as 160cm tall, with a slim build and shoulder length brown hair.

She was last seen wearing a black jacket and jeans.

Anyone who sees Ms Ristevski is urged to contact triple zero or anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report to http://www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.


abc.net.au

Relatives plead for information about missing Melbourne woman

Updated Thu 14 Jul 2016, 1:56pm

The aunt of missing Melbourne woman Karen Ristevski has made an impassioned plea for information as police search the Maribrynong River for her niece’s belongings.

Ms Ristevski, 47, was last seen leaving her Avondale Heights home in Melbourne’s north-west on June 29 after having an argument with her husband about financial issues relating to their family-run business.

Her family said she had medical issues and it was out of character for her to be away for so long without contacting her husband and daughter.

About 20 SES crews joined police on dirt bikes to search the banks of the Maribyrnong River and water police were out on the water.

Officers were looking for Ms Ristevski’s handbag, a Coach brand gold bag, and her Coach brand wallet.

Ms Ristevski’s aunt, Patrice (who did not want her surname used) pleaded for help from the public.

“We have nothing, so if you have something that you know, something that you’ve seen, you’ve heard something, someone’s spoken to you about something, anything, please, we’re asking you to help us,” she said.

“Whatever you’ve got even just a suspicion it doesn’t matter. We have nothing.

“Somebody knows something out there. It’s not possible for someone to just disappear like this.”

Victoria Police Inspector Stephen Dennis said her disappearance was being treated as suspicious and they were still hopeful of finding her alive.

“There has been nothing from Karen to date,” he said.

“We have grave concerns for her welfare because she’s been gone for just over two weeks now,” he said.

“She maintains regular contact with her family and it’s out of character, from everything we’ve been told to this stage for her to just vanish.”

A reporter asked her husband Borce Ristevski, who was also present, if he murdered his wife.

Patricia said the question was inappropriate and the family walked away.

First posted about 7 hours agoThu 14 Jul 2016, 7:23am


Disappearance of Melbourne woman Karen Ristevski ‘highly irregular’, police say

Updated 2 Jul 2016, 2:22pm

Police in Melbourne are concerned for the welfare of a 47-year-old woman who has not been seen since Wednesday, calling the behaviour “highly irregular”.

Karen Ristevski of Avondale Heights, in Melbourne’s north-west, was last seen leaving her home on Wednesday morning, wearing a black blazer, jeans and carrying a silver handbag.

She works in retail at the Watergardens Shopping Centre but did not turn up for work at the family business.

Senior Constable Ante Sandric said Ms Risteveski has health problems but her family is worried because her disappearance is out of character.

“Our main concerns are that she hasn’t been seen since leaving her house at about 10:00am on Wednesday,” he said.

“Family haven’t been able to contact her and she hasn’t turned up to work and this is highly irregular.”

Ms Ristevski’s mobile phone is turned off and police said they had very few leads about her disappearance.

Ms Ristevski is described as being Caucasian, about 160cm tall, with a slim build and short brown hair.


Police believe missing Melbourne woman Karen Ristevski could have been murdered

THERE are still no answers into the mysterious disappearance of Karen Ristevski, but police now think she could be dead.

The Melbourne woman left her luxury home in Avondale Heights, in Melbourne’s northwest, about two weeks ago.

She had just had a fight with her husband Borce and she needed to get some fresh air.

They had been arguing about financial issues affecting the family business.

Since she walked out the door, nobody has heard from the woman.

Her husband and daughter are broken and hope is fading with no confirmed sightings.

The 47-year-old went missing about 10am on June 29 and concerns for her safety came after she didn’t show up to work at the Bella Bleu boutique at the Watergardens Town Centre in Taylors Lakes in Melbourne’s northwest.

Her daughter Sarah broke down following Ms Ristevski’s disappearance as she called for the public to help find her mother alongside her father.

“I just want my mum to come home,” she told media.

“It’s not like her to miss work as well.

“It’s not like her.”

It was not out of character for Ms Ristevski to leave the house to clear her head, but she always came home.

“That was the last thing she said to me: ‘I’m going to go and clear my head’,” Mr Ristevski told media.

“She has always walked back in the door after calming down.”

Earlier this week police questioned Mr Ristevski over his wife’s disappearance.

A Victoria Police spokesman told AAP on Tuesday they interviewed the man as part of an ongoing investigation into the woman’s disappearance. He was released pending further inquiries.

The couple’s luxury home and surrounding areas were also searched by police.

Police have grave concerns as the mother has not used her ATM card and her mobile phone is switched off and detectives from the Missing Persons Squad are now investigating the mysterious disappearance.

The Herald Sun reports Ms Ristevski’s brother-in-law, Vic Ristevski, made another call to the public to help find her on Tuesday.

“It’s terrible … we are all shocked,” he told media.

“If you are still alive talk to us.

“If you don’t want to talk to your husband, give me a call or my wife.”

He said the family was close and the missing woman was happy while celebrating her daughter’s 21st birthday just a few weeks ago.

“It’s not like her. I don’t talk to her much but when we get together she is happy. He (Borce) is feeling awful, he can hardly talk,” he said.

“It is heartbreaking. I can hardly sleep at night. I wake up at 2am … it’s a nightmare.”

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report at crimestoppersvic.com.au.


theage.com.au

 July 3 2016

The daughter of a missing Avondale Heights woman has pleaded for public help to find her

Alexandra Laskie

The daughter of missing Avondale Heights woman Karen Ristevski has made an emotional plea for public help to find her mother.

Sarah Ristevski, 21, told 3AW she had reached out to her mother’s friends on Facebook but to no avail.

Karen (centre) and Borce Ristevski with their daughter Sarah.
Karen (centre) and Borce Ristevski with their daughter Sarah. Photo: Supplied

“There’s no leads at all, no sightings, nothing,” she said. “I’ve logged onto her Facebook and contacted all of her friends. No one has seen her.”

Sarah said she was desperate for her mother to return home.

Ms Ristevski, 47, has been missing since Wednesday.

She was last seen at her home in Oakley Drive, Avondale Heights, about 10am.

Police are focusing their search on an area of parkland in Avondale Heights, near a walking track to the rear of her property, which backs onto the Maribyrnong River, where Ms Ristevski is known to walk regularly.

It has been reported she went for a walk to “clear her head” after an argument with her husband, Borce, over financial issues. The couple own Taylors Lakes formal wear business Bella Bleu.

Senior Constable Adam West said police have grave concerns for Ms Ristevski’s because her disappearance was out of character.

Her mobile phone is switched off and she has not used her debit card.

At the time Ms Ristevski went missing, she was wearing a black jacket and dark pants. She has shoulder-length dark hair, is about 160 centimetres tall and has a slim build.

Bikie taskforce Echo raid Seabrook home in Melbourne’s west


 an hour ago

Bikie taskforce Echo police are currently executing warrants on a home in Melbourne’s west. Picture: Nicole Garmston

A SENIOR Mongol bikie has been arrested and a 3D printer seized during a raid in Melbourne’s west this morning.

Echo Taskforce detectives arrested two men and a woman, all with links to the Mongols OMCG, after raids in Seabrook and Oakleigh South earlier today.

A man arrested at the Seabrook property. Picture: Nicole Garmston
A woman is arrested during raids at the property. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Homes in Mintaro Way in Seabrook and Fleming Court in Oakleigh South were raided at 6am.

Ammunition, 3D printers, equipment for manufacturing firearms and a small amount of drugs were seized from the Seabrook property.

A 26-year-old Seabrook man and a 27-year-old Seabrook woman were arrested.

An allegedly stolen motorbike was seized from the Oakleigh South property and a 29-year-old man was arrested.

Middleton was bailed last month after he was arrested for drug and violence offences.

He was released with conditions a magistrate described as the “strictest she’s ever set”.

The 26-year-old’s partner Renee Comeadow was also arrested.

Evidence gathered in relation to bikies. Picture: Nicole Garmston
Police leave the scene with evidence. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Middleton was granted bail last month by magistrate Margaret Harding, who said he needed to be reunited with his family after five months on remand.

Ms Harding had wanted Middleton to hand in his bikie colours as a condition of bail, but backed away after she was told other bikies could threaten Middleton’s family because that was a “sign of disrespect”.

Police seized his Mongols vest this morning.

A police officer carrying a Mongols jacket leaves the scene. Picture: Nicole Garmston
Visitor outside the property. (black top)  Picture: Nicole Garmston

Middleton had told the magistrate he would not wear the club’s colours while on bail.

Other conditions included a $300,000 surety, daily reporting to police, a strict curfew, non association with witnesses and bikies.

Middleton, a father of a two-year-old, also promised to stay out of parts of Port Melbourne and Werribee as a condition of release.

Middleton and his partner Comeadow turned up at Sunshine Hospital at 8.15pm on November 1 last year after the OMCG member was shot in the knee.

Police arrived and searched Comeadow’s car where they allegedly found around 500 grams worth of ecstasy, a rubber gun grip and 4.2mm ammunition cartridges.

Middleton was charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of ecstasy and possession of ammunition.

Detective Senior Constable Andrew Broad, a member of the Echo Taskforce, told Melbourne Magistrates’ Court at the time that a search carried out at the couple’s home in Seabrook also resulted in officers finding a gun and a “substantial” amount of drugs.

Comeadow was charged with possessing a commercial quantity of ecstasy and storing ammunition after police searched her car at the hospital.

The search of the couple’s home allegedly uncovered a handgun and more drugs, the court heard.

Defence lawyer Sarah Pratt, representing Comeadow last year, said: “There is no allegation Ms Comeadow is in an OMCG.”

Police spokeswoman Melissa Seach said: “The warrant is part of an ongoing Echo Taskforce investigation in relation to perverting the course of justice.”

david.hurley@news.com.au

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