ICAC: Former NSW minister Ian Macdonald to be prosecuted over Doyles Creek mine licence-GUILTY gets 10 years


Ex-NSW mining minister Ian Macdonald charged over lucrative coal deal. No more $1800 dinners for you in jail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wipe that bloody smile off your face McDonald, there will be no happy meals in jail when they finish with you (well apart from the I’m dying, have 34 cancers, amnesia and dementia and so on, which will be a disgraceful defence to those that suffer from those diseases

Long time waiting for this, with more crooks to come, including the outrageously corrupt and greedy Obeid Tribe


Update 02/06/2017

Ian Macdonald jailed for 10 years for misconduct in public office

Updated 5 minutes ago

Former NSW Labor minister Ian Macdonald is sentenced to 10 years’ jail over the decision to grant a mining licence to a company run by former union boss John Maitland, who will spend four years behind bars.

In March, Macdonald was found guilty of misconduct in a public office.

Maitland, once the head of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), was found guilty of being an accessory.

The decision to grant the licence was made in 2008, when Macdonald was the NSW minister for Primary Industries and Mineral Resources in the Iemma Labor government.

Macdonald was given a non-parole period of seven years, while Maitland was sentenced to six years in prison, and will not be eligible for parole until 2021.

Macdonald clasped his hands and folded his arms at times during the three-hour sentencing hearing in Sydney, and appeared composed when Justice Christine Adamson eventually announced his punishment.

In sentencing, Justice Adamson described Macdonald as “devious” and said he had betrayed the people of NSW.

“The coal resources of New South Wales, which should have been used for the benefit of the whole society, were squandered by the criminal conduct of the very person who was trusted to safeguard them,” she said.

She said Macdonald had a misplaced sense of entitlement and that both men did not have good prospects of rehabilitation and had shown no remorse for their crimes.

During the trial, Macdonald’s lawyers argued he granted the Hunter Valley mining licence to Maitland’s company, Doyles Creek Mining, because of the merits of the proposal, not because they were “mates”.

However, the Crown alleged during the trial the decision by Macdonald to give the licence to Maitland lost the state tens of millions of dollars at a time of “budget constraints”.

The charges in court followed an Independent Commission Against Corruption finding against Macdonald in 2013.

Macdonald will also be stripped of his parliamentary pension, after the Berejiklian Government yesterday passed legislation to stop payments to former politicians who are convicted of serious offences after they leave office.

More to come.


Former NSW Labor minister Ian Macdonald jailed for up to 10 years over coal deal

  • Michaela Whitbourn

Former NSW Labor minister Ian Macdonald will join his one-time political ally Eddie Obeid in prison after the Supreme Court jailed him for a maximum of 10 years for criminal misconduct for giving a lucrative coal exploration licence to a former union boss.

Macdonald, 68, is the second Labor figure to be jailed after explosive corruption inquiries that kicked off in November 2012.

Ian Macdonald found guilty

Ian Macdonald is a former NSW Labor resources minister who has been at the centre of one of the state’s largest and most complex inquires into corruption.

In a scathing judgment on Friday, Justice Christine Adamson said Macdonald knew giving a multimillion-dollar coal exploration licence to a company chaired by his political associate John Maitland “looked bad and was bad”.

He had engaged in a “desperate attempt to justify the unjustifiable” and “sought to cloak his misconduct” in the “apparently worthy” venture of a training mine to promote mining safety.

John Maitland is escorted to a prison truck after his sentencing hearing last FridayJohn Maitland is escorted to a prison truck after his sentencing hearing last Friday

John Maitland is escorted to a prison truck after his sentencing hearing last Friday. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Justice Adamson said the deal with Doyles Creek Mining was deliberately announced on Christmas Eve 2008 so that it would “pass unnoticed”.

“The people of NSW were betrayed by Mr Macdonald’s conduct,” Justice Adamson said.

In a detailed judgment lasting more than three hours, she said Macdonald was “devious” and had a “misplaced sense of entitlement”.

While the Crown had argued Macdonald was motivated to benefit his “mate” as an act of friendship or as political payback for supporting his preselection, Justice Adamson said no clear motive was established and she could not rule out a financial motive.

Former MP Ian McDonald sentenced to 10 years jail

Ian Macdonald is led into the Supreme Court on Friday to be sentenced.  Photo: Nick Moir

She sentenced Macdonald to 10 years in prison with a non-parole period of seven years, expiring on May 25, 2024.

In a statement issued by his lawyer immediately after the sentence, Macdonald said he intended to “appeal my conviction for these offences” and “strenuously” denied wrongdoing.

He said he was always motivated by a desire to further the public interest and “save miners’ lives”.

A jury found the former upper house MP guilty in March of two counts of misconduct in public office for awarding the licence to Doyles Creek Mining to benefit Maitland.

A former head of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, Maitland made $6 million from the deal and was found guilty as an accessory.

Justice Adamson said Maitland knew he and Doyles Creek Mining “were being given a gift”.

He was sentenced on Friday to a maximum of six years in prison with a non-parole period of four years, starting on May 25, 2021.

His daughter said outside court: “It is a very dark day when an innocent man has just been sent to prison.”

The Director of Public Prosecutions is taking steps to claw back his profit under proceeds of crime laws.

Obeid was found guilty in June last year of misconduct in public office over his family’s secret business dealings at Circular Quay.

He was jailed in December for a maximum of five years.

Justice Adamson said Obeid’s conduct in that case was “not nearly as serious” as the offending involved in Macdonald’s case.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption heard the Doyles Creek deal, famously toasted at an $1800 dinner at the upmarket Catalina restaurant in Rose Bay, was “a financial disaster for the people of NSW”.

“The state gained almost nothing for this disposition of hot property to Mr Maitland and his associates,” counsel assisting the ICAC, Peter Braham, SC, said in his opening address in March 2013.

Justice Adamson said Macdonald was involved in a “cynical” plan for Maitland to acquire letters of support for a “training mine” at Doyles Creek in the Hunter Valley from high-profile business and political figures.

She said the “ultimate audience” for the letters was neither Macdonald nor the mining department, which was unlikely to be taken in by the scheme.

The letters were designed to “forestall criticism” from the public once it became clear Macdonald had awarded a lucrative coal licence to a political associate without a competitive tender, Justice Adamson said.

The training mine was “little more than a device” to hide Macdonald’s real motivations to benefit Maitland.

Justice Adamson said Macdonald knew the state of NSW was “foregoing” a potentially significant additional financial contribution by failing to put the licence to tender.

The Supreme Court heard a BHP subsidiary paid $91 million in 2006 to explore for coal at Caroona in NSW while China Shenhua Energy Ltd paid $276 million in 2008 for its Watermark licence.

Doyles Creek Mining did not make such a payment.

Justice Adamson said Macdonald’s own department did not support the Doyles Creek plan and he did not take it to cabinet because “he did not want to subject the direct allocation to scrutiny”.

Macdonald had insisted the training mine proposal made the Doyles Creek deal unique and in the public interest.

But Crown prosecutor Michael McHugh, SC, told the jury Macdonald “misused his power” by placing the interests of Doyles Creek Mining, the company chaired by his “mate” Maitland, above the interests of the state.

Justice Adamson said the deal was not the result of “true friendship” and was not pay-back for a political debt but it was never acceptable for a minister to use their position to benefit their mates.

High-profile backers including broadcaster Alan Jones had courted controversy by rallying around Macdonald in character references submitted to the court to support his bid to avoid a jail sentence.

Macdonald and Obeid, along with Obeid’s middle son Moses, are now facing a trial over a $30 million coal deal involving the Obeid family’s rural property at Mount Penny in the Bylong Valley.

On Tuesday, the trio formally waived their right to a committal hearing to test the strength of the prosecution case and will proceed directly to trial.

They will enter their pleas in the District Court on June 9.

The NSW Court of Criminal Appeal will hear his three-day appeal against his conviction and sentence next week.

Update Thu 20 Nov 2014, 4:57pm

ICAC: Former NSW ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald to be prosecuted after corruption findings

Former New South Wales Labor ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald have been ordered to appear in court after prosecutors decided to act on the findings of the state’s corruption watchdog.

Mr Obeid is being prosecuted for alleged misconduct in public office relating to restaurant leases at Circular Quay in Sydney.

Mr Macdonald is being prosecuted for two alleged offences of misconduct in public office over the awarding of a mining licence.

In June, Mr Obeid was found to have acted corruptly by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which said he “misused his position as an MP” to lobby ministers and a senior public servant over the retail leases.

The commission heard Mr Obeid had a secret stake in cafes and restaurants in the area through his brother-in-law, and he failed to disclose the stake when he lobbied other Labor ministers not to put the leases to a competitive tender when they expired in 2005.

“A court attendance notice was served on Mr Obeid this afternoon, following advice received from the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions,” ICAC said in a statement.

The court notice alleged Mr Obeid induced Stephen Dunn, a senior manager with the Maritime Authority of NSW, to “deal favourably” with Circular Quay Restaurants’ tenancies.

Mr Obeid fronted the media assembled outside his Hunters Hill home and said he would plead not guilty to the charges laid against him. Fraud from day 1, and the were ALL scared of him if you did not go past EO you got nothing back in the day in NSW parliment. Barely made a speech ever it at all, but was a POWER BROKER…WTF with the gutless party tribe (robbo)

“Those inquiries are nothing but sham inquiries that wanted to make ICAC look good,” he said.

He maintained his innocence and said he welcomed the prosecution.

“I have no concern whatsoever that in a court of law we’ll be able to fight the evidence, and I’m very confident,” Eddie Obeid said.

“I’m looking forward to telling the evidence we have. I’m innocent in every instance.”

ICAC’s Operation Acacia investigated Mr Macdonald’s decision to award the Doyles Creek mining licence in 2008, when he was resources minister.

The commission heard the then-Labor minister “gifted” the licence, in the Hunter Valley, to then-chairman of Doyles Creek Mining John Maitland without a competitive tender and against departmental advice.

The corruption watchdog recommended both Mr Macdonald and Mr Maitland be charged.

ICAC said a court attendance notice had been served on Mr Macdonald earlier today, after the DPP provided advice that Mr Macdonald should be prosecuted for two offences of misconduct in public office.

Mr Maitland was being prosecuted for being an accessory to misconduct in public office, ICAC said.

The action follows widespread criticism of a lack of prosecutions resulting from the commission’s corruption findings.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said it was “about time” Mr Macdonald was prosecuted.

“Ultimately, what you need to see is prosecutions,” he said.

“Those prosecutions coming forward is going to give great confidence to the community.

“That is exactly what they want to see – if someone does the wrong thing and if they abuse public office, if they act in their own interest, if they undertake corrupt activity, well, there are consequences and they need to face them.”

The notice alleged Mr Macdonald “did in the course of and connected to his public office wilfully misconduct himself by granting Doyles Creek Mining Pty Ltd consent to apply for an exploration licence under the Mining Act 1992, without reasonable cause or justification”.

He was also involved in misconduct “by granting to Doyles Creek Mining Pty Ltd Exploration Licence No. 7270 under the Mining Act 1992, without reasonable justification”, the court notice alleged.

A court attendance notice was also served on Mr Maitland for two counts of being an accessory before the fact to misconduct in public office “in relation to aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring the commission of the two offences by Mr Macdonald”.

Mr Macdonald has previously described the ICAC findings as “false” and “based on guess work and conjecture”.

Mr Maitland has also rejected the findings.

The matters are listed for mention at the Downing Centre Local Court on December 18.


 

Thu 20 Nov 2014, 12:34pm

Former New South Wales government minister Ian Macdonald has been ordered to appear in court after prosecutors decided to act on a corruption inquiry’s findings.

Mr Macdonald is being prosecuted for two alleged offences of misconduct in public office, after an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry relating to the awarding of a mining licence.

ICAC’s Operation Acacia investigated Mr Macdonald’s decision to award the Doyles Creek mining licence in 2008, when he was resources minister.

The commission heard the then-Labor minister “gifted” the licence, in the Hunter Valley, to then-chairman of Doyles Creek Mining John Maitland without a competitive tender and against departmental advice.

The corruption watchdog recommended both Mr Macdonald and Mr Maitland be charged.

ICAC said a court attendance notice had been served on Mr Macdonald earlier today, after the DPP provided advice that Mr Macdonald should be prosecuted for two offences of misconduct in public office.

Mr Maitland was being prosecuted for being an accessory to misconduct in public office, ICAC said.

NSW Premier Mike Baird said it was “about time” Mr Macdonald was prosecuted.

“Ultimately, what you need to see is prosecutions,” he said.

“Those prosecutions coming forward is going to give great confidence to the community.

“That is exactly what they want to see – if someone does the wrong thing and if they abuse public office, if they act in their own interest, if they undertake corrupt activity, well, there are consequences and they need to face them.”

The notice alleged Mr Macdonald “did in the course of and connected to his public office wilfully misconduct himself by granting Doyles Creek Mining Pty Ltd consent to apply for an exploration licence under the Mining Act 1992, without reasonable cause or justification”.

He was also involved in misconduct “by granting to Doyles Creek Mining Pty Ltd Exploration Licence No. 7270 under the Mining Act 1992, without reasonable justification”, the court notice alleged.

A court attendance notice was also served on Mr Maitland for two counts of being an accessory before the fact to misconduct in public office “in relation to aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring the commission of the two offences by Mr Macdonald”.

Mr Maitland is also being prosecuted for giving false evidence at ICAC.

The matters are listed for mention at the Downing Centre Local Court on December 18.

More on this story:

ICAC recommends cancellation of coal licences

ICAC finds Macdonald corrupt over Doyles Creek mine

Official advised against coal licence: ICAC

Coal licence a ‘goldmine’ for union boss: ICAC

 


  • Former Labor minister Ian Macdonald facing prosecution over Doyles Creek mine deal

    Date
    November 20, 2014 – 11:30AM

    Sydney Morning Herald State Political Editor

     Ian Macdonald facing prosecution over mining deal

    http://media.smh.com.au/news/nsw-news/ian-macdonald-facing-prosecution-over-mining-deal-6007934.html

    Former NSW Labor minister Ian Macdonald is the first person to be prosecuted after an ICAC inquiry into the Doyles Creek mine deal

    Former Labor minister Ian Macdonald is being prosecuted for misconduct in public office following a corruption inquiry into the issuing of lucrative mining licences at Doyles Creek in the Hunter Valley.

    In a statement, the Independent Commission Against Corruption announced a court attendance notice was served on Mr Macdonald on Thursday on the advice of the NSW director of public prosecutions.

    Last year the ICAC found Mr Macdonald acted corruptly as a minister in 2008 by granting a licence at Doyles Creek to a company then headed by former union official John Maitland.

    Former Labor Minister Ian Macdonald exits the ICAC hearing in February 2013.Former Labor Minister Ian Macdonald exits the ICAC hearing in February 2013. Photo: Nic Walker

    The company, Doyles Creek Mining, was later taken over by NuCoal Resources. Mr Maitland made millions of dollars from the deal.

    The ICAC found Mr Macdonald awarded the exploration licence – without tender and against departmental advice – to his “mate” Mr Maitland, a former national secretary of the Construction, Mining, Forestry and Energy Union.

    The court notice says that Mr Macdonald “did in the course of, and connected to his public office, wilfully misconduct himself” by granting Doyles Creek Mining consent to apply for exploration licences “without reasonable cause or justification”.

    The ICAC has also announced Mr Maitland is being prosecuted “for two counts of being an accessory before the fact to misconduct in public office, in relation to aiding, abetting, counselling and procuring the commission of the two offences by Mr Macdonald”.

    He is also being prosecuted for giving false and misleading evidence to the ICAC.

    The announcement represents the first time prosecutions have been launched against key players in a series of major corruption inquiries into the handling of coal licences held by the ICAC involving Mr Macdonald and former Labor minister Eddie Obeid.

    The ICAC has also indicated more prosecutions could flow from its inquiry into Doyles Creek, codenamed Operation Acacia.

    The businessmen who bankrolled Doyles Creek Mining, Craig Ransley and Andrew Poole, were also found to have acted corruptly by the ICAC last year.

    The ICAC found Mr Ransley, Mr Maitland and Mr Poole deliberately set out to ensure they did not face a public tender for the licence and made false statements to the government to obtain the exploration approval.

    “The Commission is awaiting advice from the DPP in relation to further briefs it has provided with respect to Operation Acacia,” the statement said on Thursday.

    The Doyles Creek licence has been “torn up” by the NSW government on the advice of the ICAC, prompting legal action by NuCoal which has flagged it is seeking compensation of “at least” $500 million.

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Child bride, 12, was married in her father’s house-here in Australia


This is just not on and is outrageous, a little girl only 12 years old married off to a 26-year-old. It is more common than we think and it HAS TO STOP NOW. This is criminal, and I do not care if you are a Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist or from Mars. This is AUSTRALIA and it is illegal in this country full stop. Protecting the children is paramount to anything else whether it be religious beliefs or so-called wishes of a child or parent! A bloody child wishing to get married, it’s ridiculous to entertain the thought

UPDATE 13/02/14

Father of 12-year-old child bride charged, but thinks has ‘done nothing wrong’

THE father of the 12-year-old girl at the centre of the Islamic marriage scandal appeared before a court yesterday charged with procuring his young daughter for sex.

The 61-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, “is of the belief he has done nothing wrong,” Raymond Terrace Local Court was told.

The court also heard the man had a disregard for NSW laws and believed his daughter was “in love” with her 26-year-old “husband”.

THE SHAME OF OUR CHILD BRIDE EPIDEMIC

MOSQUE SACKS IMAM WHO ‘MARRIED’ COUPLE

O’FARRELL WELCOMES ARREST OVER ‘MARRIAGE’

Magistrate Caleb Franklin rejected the man’s bail application yesterday, citing a strong prosecution case and the likelihood of a jail term if he was convicted.

Police charged the father with procuring a child for unlawful sexual activity and being an accessory before the fact to someone having sexual intercourse with a child.

“The defendant has a disregard for the laws of this state,” Mr Franklin said in denying the man bail.

The man’s Legal Aid solicitor said her client, an osteoarthritis sufferer, would find time in custody “very difficult”.

The court heard the man had co-operated with detectives in interviews but disputed much of the police facts including the allegations he facilitated the marriage.

His solicitor said her client claimed his daughter was a “very, very mature strong-willed woman” and he thought the man was about 18-19.

“He said ‘they’re in love and it’s a strong love’ and at this point he’s trying to be supportive of his children,” she said.

Charge sheets tendered in court allege the girl’s father procured her for sexual activity with her future “husband” from when the couple met at a Hunter Valley mosque in November last year until they were allegedly married on January 12.

Outside court, it emerged the girl wrote on a blog site her father told her to wear a hijab to school when she was 11.

“When I was 11 my Dad made the decision I should wear hijab to school,” she wrote.

“To be honest I didn’t want to wear hijab to school. I was afraid of what all the other kids would say or think about me. But when I went to school the next day it wasn’t that bad.”

Charges against the girl’s father followed the alleged wedding of the man’s then 12-year-old daughter in their family living room to a 26-year-old Lebanese man last month.

The girl’s “husband” is in custody charged with 25 counts of having sexual intercourse with a child.

Imam Riaz Tasawar from the Mayfield Mosque, who “married” the 12-year-old girl to the 26-year-old man.
Imam Riaz Tasawar from the Mayfield Mosque, who “married” the 12-year-old girl to the 26-year-old man.

The imam who allegedly performed the ceremony, Riaz Tasawar, 35, was charged with solemnising a marriage without authority and will face court in April.

UPDATE 11/02/14

Police have arrested and charged an imam accused of conducting the marriage of a 12-year-old girl in the Hunter Valley this year.

Detectives from the Child Abuse Squad arrested the 35-year-old Pakistan-born man outside Parramatta police station about 4.30pm on Monday afternoon, police said.

They charged him with solemnisation of a marriage by an unauthorised person.

Police will allege he agreed to conduct a ceremony after he was approached by a 26-year-old man, who was eager to marry the girl.

The 26-year-old, a Lebanese man who is living in Australia on a student visa, has   with 25 counts of having sexual intercourse with an underage child.

He is in custody and is expected to make an application for bail before Burwood Local Court on Wednesday.

It had been reported the imam had gone to ground.

“He was located outside the police station,” a police spokesman said.

“It wasn’t arrest by appointment or anything like that, just that we happened to find him outside the police station.”

The spokesman said the imam was not related to the girl.

The imam was released on strict conditional bail and is expected to appear before Parramatta Local Court on April 2.

The girl’s father needs his head read, he talks below, and then further down, how this crime was discovered.

THE Muslim convert father of the 12-year-old girl at the centre of a child sex case following her “marriage” to a 26-year-old foreigner confessed his unhappiness at their union, but said “it was not my decision” WTF ??? IS this father kidding himself? How could he allow this to happen

But the fifth-generation Australian man, who allowed the pair to be married by an imam in his Hunter Valley home on January 12, now says he fears she is going to “die” from a broken heart.

The man, 26, is behind bars tonight after being arrested by the Sex Crime Command's Child Abuse Squad after his marriage to a 12-year-old girl was discovered.
The man, 26, is behind bars tonight after being arrested by the Sex Crime Command’s Child Abuse Squad after his marriage to a 12-year-old girl was discovered.

He also addressed public outrage on the case following the 26-year-old Lebanese man’s arrest on Thursday, saying he might “cop a little bit of abuse off people but I will have to cope with that”.

“She was crying like I have never heard before, they were telling her she couldn’t see (the man) today or tomorrow or possibly forever,’’ he said. “She’s being restrained against her will in foster care.

“There’s nothing I can do at the moment, I’ve got the feeling she might die because she’s so hurt by all of this.”

The pair met at a Hunter Valley mosque late last year after the 26-year-old came to Australia to study at a nearby university.

He approached the mosque about marrying the girl but the Newcastle Muslim Association president Bikash “Shahriar” Paul said he was turned away because it was illegal and “wrong”.

He then approached the girl’s father — who converted to Islam about 18 years ago following a battle with drugs, gambling and alcohol abuse — through an intermediary, who told him of the man’s intentions.

He initially refused but agreed to let him come to his house to meet his daughter.

He said it was almost over before it began when she found out he was 26, but she changed her mind.

“She was saying she wanted to get married, I said before there was going to be problems because he was from Lebanon,’’ the father said. “I told him to go back to Lebanon, not nastily.”

The girl’s father said his initial concerns were more religiously guided than the man’s or his daughter’s ages.

However, he said the only way they could be in any type of relationship, let alone in the same room un-chaperoned, under “my interpretation of the Koran” was if they were married.

“My daughter was not going to change her mind, I couldn’t talk her out of it,’’ he said.

“Him being 26 was not a big concern to me because I was not marrying him. I was not happy with it but it was not my decision.”

He said the couple moved to western Sydney after the marriage. He said they tried to enrol his daughter at a local high school but were told to go to Centrelink to ascertain her guardianship.

The father said a social worker at Centrelink raised the alarm before police and the Department of Community Services intervened.

The man was refused bail at Burwood Local Court on Friday after being charged by Child Abuse Squad detectives with 25 counts of sexual intercourse with a child.

Her father, who was interviewed and released without charge, said he knew people would ask how could he let his 12-year-old daughter live with an older man, let alone marry him, but he didn’t “want to stop her happiness”.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward said on Friday she was horrified by the case.

“In this country, little girls have rights and in particular they have the right to a childhood free from this kind of abuse,” she said

Alleged underage marriage uncovered when a 12-year-old child bride and husband, 26, tried to apply for spousal benefits

The Daily Telegraph
February 08, 2014

AN alleged under-age marriage was uncovered this week when a 12-year-old child bride and her 26-year-old husband tried to apply for spousal benefits, according to government sources.

Centrelink sources say the girl was removed from the home she shared with her 26-year-old “husband” hours after enquiring about what support would be available to a spousal visa holder on Wednesday morning.

Concerns also emerged after the man attempted to enrol the girl in a Western Sydney high school.

Newcastle Muslim Association president Bikash “Shahriar” Paul said the accused man was an “occasional” worshipper at a mosque in the Hunter Valley region north of Sydney, where he met the girl.

Mr Paul said he believed the man was originally from Lebanon but had moved to the Hunter Region to study computers at a nearby university about nine months ago.

It’s understood police will allege the marriage took place in a backyard in Sydney’s west on January 11.

After hearing reports about the charges yesterday morning on radio Mr Paul said he called the girl’s father who confirmed “it’s my girl”.

He said the girl’s father “was aware” of the marriage and that police had contacted him on Thursday but did not elaborate further.

The man was arrested by detectives from the Child Abuse Squad and charged with 25 counts of sexual intercourse with a child.

He was denied bail at Burwood court yesterday and will reappear next Wednesday.

Shocked residents in the western Sydney suburb where the couple lived expressed anger about the alleged offences.

One neighbour said before they moved in they had mistakenly gone to the wrong house for an inspection. She said she saw the girl wearing a pink hijab and her partner apologised for the intrusion.

A leading Islamic health services counsellor has warned that hundreds of children as young as eleven are being sent overseas to be married after being “shopped” on Facebook.

Ms Sharobeem, the Director of the Immigrant Women’s Health Services, said children were involved in illegal marriages both in Australia and overseas: “It’s far more prevalent and well-known than people think.”

Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward conceded the problem was more widespread than the case identified yesterday, saying her department had heard of “significant numbers of unlawful, unregistered marriages in NSW, particularly in south-west Sydney, western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.”

“In this country, little girls have rights and in particular they have the right to a childhood free from this kind of abuse,” she said.

The legal marrying age in Australia is 18 unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between 16 and 18.

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