April, 2019

Brumbies to appeal length of Speight’s ban

The Brumbies will appeal winger Henry Speight’s five-week ban, which their chief executive has labelled a “cruel and unusual punishment”.

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The Fijian flyer was suspended after being found guilty of a dangerous lifting tackle on Stormers centre Juan de Jongh in last weekend’s Super Rugby qualifying win in Cape Town.

The sanction means he will miss Saturday’s semi-final against the Hurricanes in Wellington and the final if they win.

He’ll also miss the first two Tests of the Rugby Championship against South Africa and Argentina.

While the Brumbies are resigned to not having Speight for the remainder of the their finals campaign, they want to help get him back a Wallabies jumper as soon as possible.

Following a meeting with lawyer Peter McGrath, CEO Michael Jones told Fairfax Media on Thursday he decided to challenge the severity of the penalty and some of SANZAR’s findings.

“Even though there’s a statement that we’re trying to discourage this, why is he the guy who seems to have been singled out for what’s a particularly cruel and unusual punishment?” Jones told the Canberra Times.

“We’re going to appeal two things – the application of what is viewed as a lifting tackle and whether that’s the right rule, and also in relation to the harshness of the suspension.

“That was our defence right from the start (that it wasn’t a lifting tackle) and whilst we presented a lot of evidence to that case, it was still deemed that, yes, it’s a lifting tackle.”

Injured lock Sam Carter said the suspension was pretty tough on “one of the nicest bloke you’ll ever meet”.

“SANZAR have tried to clamp down on the tip tackle and putting players into dangerous positions, so I guess they really had no choice,” Carter told AAP.

“(But) there was definitely no intention there by Henry to put him in a compromising position – it was just an unfortunate thing that happened.

“It’s a hard position to be in because, even though you’re fully fit and ready to go, you’re not allowed to play in two of the biggest games of the year because of suspension.”

Lausii Taliauli has been named as Speight’s replacement on the wing in the only change to the side that beat the Stormers last week.

Taliauli has scored one try since making his Super Rugby debut earlier this year.

Bayley appeals his 43-year jail sentence

Violent serial rapist Adrian Bayley is appealing convictions for two rapes he committed before he murdered Jill Meagher, hoping for release before he likely dies behind bars.

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Bayley’s defence team on Thursday lodged three appeals with the Victorian Court of Appeal over two convictions and a recent ruling which increased his non-parole period to 43 years.

That meant Bayley would not be released from prison until he is at least 86 years old, and would probably die in jail.

It’s unclear on what grounds Bayley is appealing – his lawyer, Saul Holt SC, could not be reached for comment – or whether the applications will be accepted by the court.

But the 35-year non-parole period Bayley received after raping and murdering Brunswick woman Jill Meagher was extended to a minimum of 43 years in May, after he was sentenced for the violent rapes of three more women.

In 2014 and earlier this year he was found guilty of raping an 18-year-old woman in St Kilda in 2000, and a 25-year-old woman and a Dutch backpacker in 2012, months before he strangled Ms Meagher in 2013.

Those verdicts meant Bayley has been convicted of raping 10 women.

His minimum sentence is the longest imposed in Victoria in at least the past decade.

Bayley’s appeals were lodged without help from Legal Aid, with Premier Daniel Andrews saying Bayley will not receive any taxpayer-funded advice because of changes to the service’s guidelines.

“I think every Victorian can be confident that none of their money will be spent on this person’s appeal,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Man jailed for Qld nightclub stabbing

Queensland bikie associate James Peter Arapeta Holt liked to carry a knife wherever he went.

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In 2011 and 2012, the 24-year-old was in trouble for carrying one in public.

In 2013, when a fight broke out at a Fortitude Valley nightclub, he wasted no time in drawing his pocket knife and viciously attacking two men, the Brisbane Supreme Court heard on Thursday.

The former Bandidos associate was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years’ jail for his September 1, 2013 attack, which left 29-year-old victim Leo Salesa with seven knife wounds on his upper body, including a 15cm gash under his armpit.

Mr Salesa lost so much blood he would have died without surgery, while his friend Geoffrey Talavave was in intensive care for weeks with a chest cavity wound.

Crown prosecutor Phil McCarthy said a fight broke out between Holt’s Bandidos friends, and Mr Salesa and Mr Talavave, at the venue Hot Gossip in the early hours of the morning.

CCTV footage captured Holt rushing to the defence of Bandidos members Anthony Toumpas and Brett Pechey and stabbing Mr Salesa and Mr Talavave multiple times.

Frightened patrons fled the club as bottles were thrown and tables overturned.

Holt was restrained by security and was heard to say, “let me get these guys” before fleeing the scene.

Holt pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, and one of unlawful wounding with intent.

He also pleaded guilty to possessing a taser and enough methylamphetamine for distribution.

The attack had been out of character for the warehouse worker and father of three, said defence barrister Andrew Hoare, and Holt had shown “genuine remorse”.

Justice Debra Mullins found he hadn’t gone to the nightclub intending to use his knife, but said his “unwise” decision to carry it was his undoing.

“It was lucky that medical treatment was obtained for (Mr Salesa) so quickly,” she said.

Holt will be eligible for parole on March 11, 2018.

WA police yet to speak with siege accused

Police are yet to speak to a man accused of terrorising five hostages before being shot in the face by heavily-armed officers after a two-hour siege in a Perth home.

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Daniel Ashley, 26, remains in hospital in a critical but stable condition.

He faces serious charges including deprivation of liberty, assault and going armed to cause fear.

Police Minister Liza Harvey said she had been briefed on Wednesday’s siege, which prompted a 200 metre exclusion zone around the Mosman Park house.

It’s being investigated by the major crime squad and internal affairs unit.

“I thought the footage was terrifying and it was quite frightening for that community,” Ms Harvey told reporters on Thursday .

“There’s a lot of operational areas that I really don’t want to go into, but that’s what our police force are there for, that’s what we fund them for and thankfully, we ask them to do these jobs to protect the community, so they can bring order to circumstances like this.”

Ms Harvey declined to comment on where WA police are trained to aim when they have to shoot someone.

“I wouldn’t be able to go into detail with that,” she said.

“What I will say is that we have very rigorous training at the academy and we regularly put our police officers through retraining programs. They have firearms training every year.

“So I’m confident they have likely acted in those circumstances to the absolute best of their ability.”

She said the Tactical Response Group officers who shot Ashley – who was carrying a replica handgun – had received support for their trauma.

“This situation is every police officer’s nightmare,” she said.

“I think it’s important that we recall and remember five hostages were released unharmed.

“That’s a very good outcome.”

Ashley posted his intentions on Facebook before the siege, writing “Tonight I am going to die” and “I will be shot (by) police”.

Police say he knew one of the hostages and it has been suggested he was confronting his ex-girlfriend.

Aust to stay the course in Afghanistan

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews says Australia will “stay the course” in supporting Afghanistan, which faces going it alone against a resurgent Taliban as foreign troops withdraw.

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Mr Andrews, in Brussels for the meeting of NATO defence ministers meeting on Afghanistan, said Afghan defence minister-designate Mohammad Masoum Stankikzai personally had urged flexibility from nations including Australia about drawdown of their troops.

About 12,000 foreign troops, including 400 Australians, remain in Afghanistan in non-combat roles, training and assisting Afghan forces under the NATO Resolute Support Mission.

That mission ends at the end of 2016, raising concerns that Afghan forces will struggle as they confront insurgents without foreign support.

“Without anticipating any decision that might be taken by the government and the national security committee, our inclination is obviously to stay the course, given the very significant investment we have made in Afghanistan,” Mr Andrews told AAP from Brussels.

Australian involvement in Afghanistan has so far lasted 14 years.

Some 34,000 defence personnel have deployed there and 41 have died.

“Certainly our inclination is to stay the course to ensure that Afghanistan remains stable in the future,” he said.

Mr Andrews said he held a long meeting with minister Stankikzai ahead of the main meeting of NATO defence ministers and he was optimistic, despite a number of challenges.

That includes the insurgent attack on the country’s parliament this week.

“(The Afghan minister) said he believed that the next one or two fighting seasons would be significant in terms of being able to ensure the ongoing stability of the country,” Mr Andrews said.

Australia withdrew most combat forces from Afghanistan at the end of 2013, but a number remained to mentor and assist Afghan forces in Kabul and Kandahar.

In Kabul, Australian personnel mentor instructors at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, while in Kandahar, Australians mentor senior commanders in the ANA’s 205 Corps.