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Australian News

Sydney bushfire causes evacuations, halts Big Brother production


An out of control bushfire caused evacuations on Sydney’s northern beaches on Saturday – and forced production crews to flee the Big Brother house.

The fire at North Head, near Manly, started as a hazard reduction burn before turning into an emergency when flames were blown past containment lines.

The blaze sent smoke billowing across Sydney Harbour, leaving a haze hanging over the city.

NSW Fire and Rescue said about 200 people were forced to evacuate from locations close to the fire in the national park, including the historic Quarantine Station.

That included the 50-strong production team from Big Brother – including host Sonia Kruger – which is working on the 2021 edition of the reality show.

“Due to the impact of a prescribed hazard reduction burn at North Head, the Big Brother crew onsite were safely evacuated,” a spokesperson for production company Endemol Shine Australia said.

“Filming is yet to commence and production will resume when it is safe to do so.”

Text messages sent to staff show filming was meant to begin on Saturday, when contestants were expected to arrive on site.

On Sunday the Rural Fire Service said the fire was “pretty much contained” after a night of backburning and rain.

It had burned through about 10ha of the national park by the time it was brought under control.



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Local News - Victoria

Brother, mother were ‘most evilest people’, alleged killer told police


He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder.

Mr Cohrs, a former deputy mayor of the NSW Shire of Wentworth, was refused bail in the Supreme Court in Melbourne on Monday after last week arguing it was difficult to prepare for his trials while in custody.

He does not have a lawyer and has previously said his assets were frozen, which has prevented him hiring his preferred South Australian lawyers.

Justice Paul Coghlan refused bail in a short hearing on Monday morning. In written reasons released soon after, the judge said exceptional circumstances were not made out and even if they were, there was a risk Mr Cohrs could contact prosecution witnesses if released.

Justice Coghlan wrote that Mr Cohrs was locked in a financial dispute with his brother and mother over a family business.

Police say Mr Cohrs arrived at the Rufus property at 9.55am and found his brother there with a real estate agent. Police allege Mr Cohrs shot his brother twice with a shotgun and while assuring the agent he wouldn’t harm him, said Raymond Cohrs “deserved it” and had been “killing” his family.

Bette Schulz was shot and killed in her home in Red Cliffs.

Bette Schulz was shot and killed in her home in Red Cliffs.

Police allege Paul Cohrs then asked his brother what it was like to feel pain and shot him in the chest and head. He then handcuffed the agent inside a shearing shed.

Mr Cohrs then drove to Red Cliffs, where his mother was caring for her great-grandson (Paul Cohrs’ grandson).

Police allege Mr Cohrs told his mother to take the boy to another room and then shot her in the chest.

Police allege that as he drove back to Rufus, Mr Cohrs reported the shootings to family members, local police and left a message with his solicitor, in which he said, “I don’t believe that I’ll live the rest of the day out.”

Ray Cohrs, who was allegedly shot and killed by his brother Paul Cohrs.

Ray Cohrs, who was allegedly shot and killed by his brother Paul Cohrs.

At the property, Mr Cohrs released the agent and told him he intended to take his own life.

About 3.30pm, police saw Mr Cohrs in scrub with the shotgun and say that he had shot himself in the chest. As officers applied first aid he said, “I can’t believe I’m not dead.”

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He also told them, “I just shot my brother and my mum … they are the most evilest people in the world.”

A date for Mr Cohrs’ trial has not been set.

Justice Coghlan accepted Mr Cohrs had health problems and that it would be difficult preparing for his trial while in custody.

The judge last week urged the accused man to consider hiring a lawyer.

For help in a crisis call 000. If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.

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Test cricketer’s brother admits to fake terror plot


The brother of Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja has described himself as a “coward” as he apologised for fabricating a fake terror plot to sabotage a romantic rival.

Usman Khawaja on Friday described his eldest brother Arsalan as beloved by everyone including his national teammates and his parent’s favourite son as the 40-year-old gets set to learn his fate in the coming months.

Khawaja is awaiting sentencing having pleaded guilty to four charges including perverting the course of justice.

Khawaja openly wept in the NSW District Court on Friday as he detailed how he made several false complaints about two men during 2017 and 2018 in order to get the attention of two women.

Khawaja is facing a maximum of 10 years jail.

He gave evidence at his sentence hearing in Sydney’s Downing Centre on Friday, telling the court that he did not want the two men deported or arrested.

In mid-2018 he created handwritten entries in a notepad belonging to a University of NSW colleague Mohamed Kamer Nizamdeen, which were then handed to campus security.

In the false entries were various reference to ISIS, jihad and carrying out terrorist acts.

“Get bomb and weapon training in Sri Lanka,” read one entry.

“Keep recruiting for ISIS and Jamal,” said another.

They also alluded to attacking Australian politicians and landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House.

Arsalan Khawaja told the court on Friday that he fabricated the notes and lied in a police interview despite describing Mr Nizamdeen as a friend and a “top bloke”.

He also denied that it was his intention for Mr Nizamdeen to be arrested and charged with terrorism offences.

He said he wanted for Mr Nizamdeen to be preoccupied with the accusations so he could get closer to Shakeela Shahid, a young woman who also worked at the University of NSW campus.

Under cross examination he said he thought he would be investigated by campus police and maybe receive a few phone calls.

“I didn’t want him arrested, that was not my goal,” Arsalan told the court.

“Kamer was a good friend of mine.”

Mr Nizamdeen was arrested by counter-terrorism police and spent four weeks in jail before being granted bail, before his charges were dropped in October 2018.

Through a stream of tears, Arsalan apologised for lying to police and for hurting his victims, describing himself as a “coward”.

“I lacked the courage to come forward, I didn’t want him arrested,” Arsalan told the court.

Appearing via audiovisual link from interstate, Usman Khawaja gave evidence that his brother was a “model citizen” until he suffered a deterioration in his mental state several years ago which led to him making several false accusations to authorities.

He said growing up that he was his parent’s favourite child, had studied IT and obtained a master’s degree and worked at IBM where he was given a national defence clearance.

“Mr brother was beloved by everyone,” Usman said of Arsalan.

“My friends loved him. My teammates loved him. Whether it was state teammates or Australian teammates, They all knew him on a first-name basis, they all used to ask me how he was going.

“He genuinely cared about people and how they were going.”



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Olivia Muranga’s brother defends border chaos teens


The brother of one of the three Queensland women who recently tested positive to coronavirus sparking a huge spike in testing in the state has said the attention on the trio is motivated by race.

Diana Lasu, 21, and Olivia Muranga, 19, each face one count of providing false or misleading information, as well as the more serious charge of fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. They’ve also both been hit with $4000 fines after a trip to Melbourne.

Another 21-year-old, who police allege travelled with the other two, faces the same charges.

Police allege the trio all travelled to Victoria and deliberately provided misleading documents at the Queensland border.

Ms Muranga’s brother Eddie told A Current Affair on Thursday his sister struggled for days with coronavirus after arriving home from Victoria on July 21.

“You need to think about this … think about my sister … she couldn’t even breathe, some days she couldn’t even breathe out of her airways,” he said.

Eddie said his sister and the other two women hadn’t spread coronavirus deliberately.

“It’s not something that we sat down and thought about yeah, it’s a f**king mistake,” he said.

“I reckon if someone else did this yeah, that wasn’t of colour, you’d be f**king protecting them. You wouldn’t be doing all of this s**t.

“Just because we’re f**king black, you all want to run all the way to the media, talking all of this s**t bro.”

It comes as footage of Muranga ordering a cocktail at a Brisbane bar in the hours after she had a test for coronavirus was also aired by the show.

Arif Mendes, who owns the restaurant told ACA: “People say we’re in this together … well clearly not for some people, that’s disappointing.”

“Two cocktails hardly seems worth all this pain.”

RELATED Follow live coronavirus Queensland updates

RELATED: Follow live coronavirus Victoria updates

POLICE TRACK WOMEN USING MOBILE DATA

All three women are currently in quarantine under police guard and will appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on September 28.

It was announced on Wednesday that the two women had tested positive for coronavirus but had been going about their business in the community for eight days instead of quarantining.

They had flown back into Brisbane on July 21 after holidaying in Melbourne, a declared hotspot, but allegedly lied on their border declaration forms.

A 22-year-old woman, who is a sister of one of the pair, has also tested positive in Queensland’s first case of community transmission since May.

Police were forced to use mobile phone data and bank transactions from the group to ensure they got a full picture of their movements around Brisbane and Logan, the Courier Mail reported.

Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young said in a press conference on Thursday one of the women had not been co-operating in an initial decision that may have cost contact tracers hours of valuable time.

“Unfortunately the second confirmed case has not wanted to let us know where she has been,” Dr Young said.

“I don’t know where that second case has been.

“I am worried about the second individual who had not been cooperative and has not shared where she has been.

“People should be very cautious … this is the time to go and get tested.”

However Queensland Police confirmed the woman had changed her mind by Thursday afternoon and was since co-operating with officers.

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said she was “bitterly disappointed” but police were now sure they had all members of the travelling party identified.

“They went to extraordinary lengths to be deceitful and deceptive and … that has what has put the community at risk,” she said.

Ms Carroll said the women would face court to send a message that “we will not tolerate this behaviour at our borders”.

On whether they should face potential jail time, she said “I think that the courts will hopefully look at this very, very seriously, as is the public.”

PARTY IN MELBOURNE APARTMENT

The case sparked a 300 per cent spike in testing in Queensland with long queues pictured as anxious residents rushed to get themselves checked.

On Wednesday Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said the three “knowingly and deliberately deceived us” by allegedly lying about being in Victoria.

“One of the first two women has been cooperative, the other has not,” he added. “We are still working with the third person (to ensure contact tracing).

“We know these three young women have all gone to Victoria where they have been exposed to COVID. They will all go towards the court, and charges will be formalised today.

“It’s astounding that they put themselves at risk.”

It’s also been reported the women allegedly hosted a party at a rental apartment in Melbourne that was shut down by police who handed out more than $30,000 in fines to up to 30 people on July 19 – when Melbourne was already into its second six-week lockdown.

It was revealed on Wednesday Ms Muranga, a cleaner at Parklands Christian College in Park Ridge, west of Brisbane, did not self-isolate on her return to Logan, instead working three days at the private school before being later diagnosed with the virus.

The school issued a warning to staff and students on Wednesday.

“The staff member was on site last week and then rang in sick and then that’s when the trace program started,” Principal Gary Cully told The Courier-Mail.

Ms Muranga was tested for coronavirus on Monday after feeling sick for days. She was notified her test was positive on Tuesday. A day later, Ms Lasu was tested, who soon found out she was positive for coronavirus too.

The infectious trio are in isolation at Brisbane’s Prince Alfred Hospital and at least 15 close contacts are in hotel quarantine.



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Australian News

Woman’s body found, brother arrested


A young woman’s brother has been arrested after her body was discovered six days after she was last seen.

Police found the 20-year-old Gabby Delaney at her home in Sydney’s west about 9pm last night.

Officers were called to house on Barlow Street, Cambridge Park, after concerns for her welfare.

Her 30-year-old brother was arrested in Westmead today after reportedly checking himself into hospital in the days after she died.

He has been taken to Parramatta Police Station where he is assisting police with their inquiries.

It’s understood he was living at the home.

Family in Western Australia reportedly raised concerns when they didn’t hear from Ms Delaney.

NSW Police Detective Inspector Jason Pietruszka said they were trying to establish a cause of death.

“The lady had not been seen since June 3 so we are dealing with a situation where further information is required to get an actual cause of death,” he said.

“We do believe unfortunately that it is foul play and it is being investigated as a homicide.

“It was quite a confronting scene.”

Forensic investigators have removed several items from the scene including a brown lounge chair.

Investigations are continuing.



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Local News - Victoria

Man stabbed his own brother over imagined plot with the family dog


A man stabbed his older brother in the chest and threatened to kill the family dog after being turned away from a Victorian psychiatric facility.

Corey Wood, 22, was told to return to the Warrnambool hospital the next day. Instead he went home and stabbed his brother with a 30-centimetre long blade before grabbing the dog by the throat and threatening to kill it.

“You’ve stabbed your brother and looks like he is going to die,” Wood’s mother told him after the attack on October 15, 2018.

Wood replied: “I hope he does”.

The brother was left blue, gasping for breath and going in and out of consciousness but survived after emergency surgery.



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Local News - Victoria

Court shown video of police shooting brother after decapitation threat


Dramatic footage of a man being shot by police after threatening to chop their heads off and saying he wanted to be a martyr has been shown in court.

Joel Clavell and his older brother Joshua were both shot after threatening police with a knife and hatchet at Barnawartha North, near Victoria’s border with NSW, in June 2019.

Joshua Clavell, left, and his teenage brother Joel were shot by police at the Victoria-NSW border in June.

Joshua Clavell, left, and his teenage brother Joel were shot by police at the Victoria-NSW border in June.Credit:Nine News

During the stand-off, Joel Clavell goaded counter-terror and uniform officers to shoot him, saying he wanted to become a martyr.

He also called the police “dogs” and “mutts”, saying he wanted them to drop their guns so he could chop their heads off.



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Brother of Kings Cross identity jailed for 30 years


The brother of Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim has been jailed for at least 18 years over a conspiracy to import drugs and tobacco into Australia.

Moustafa “Michael” Ibrahim was facing a maximum possible sentence of life in jail after pleading guilty to eight charges relating to illegal importing rackets.

He was sentenced today by District Court Judge Dina Yehia to 30 years in jail with a non-parole period of 18 years.

With time already served, Ibrahim will be eligible for release in August 2035.

More to come



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Local News - Victoria

Jail for brother who bashed top cop, sibling gets corrections order


The brothers had abused tennis players and train passengers before they were kicked off at Heyington station, where Mr O’Neill spotted them.

“His instincts and training told him that the two of you might be up to no good,” the judge said.

Chris O'Neill after the attack by the Stephens brothers.

Chris O’Neill after the attack by the Stephens brothers.Credit:AAP

The victim followed them to the school grounds, where Jay Stephens launched the attack.

“What are you looking at you old c—” and “you’re f—ed”, the then 20-year-old said before the assault.

The pair had been drinking alcohol during the day and the older brother took eight Xanax anti-anxiety pills before the assault.

The younger man was also in a “drunken state” and joined in the bashing after he saw his brother was fighting.

Mr O’Neill was left with broken ribs, bleeding on the brain and in the chest and spent two days in hospital.

Jay Stephens blamed the attack on the alcohol and drugs he’d taken because he was depressed about not seeing his young child.

But the judge said it was “no excuse” for his behaviour and the attack on the assistant commissioner.

He also had prior convictions in Queensland for violent offending.

Jay (left) and Isaiah Stephens in a photo on Facebook.

Jay (left) and Isaiah Stephens in a photo on Facebook.Credit:Facebook

The older brother was jailed for 20 months but has already served 336 days, leaving less than nine months left in prison.

However, the judge took into account both of the brothers’ “deprived and tragic” background including violence, neglect and drug use in the family home.

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Meanwhile, Isaiah Stephens had no prior criminal history, complied with his strict conditions while on bail, was remorseful and planned to improve his life.

He was ordered to serve a 2½-year community corrections orders.

“It’s, in a nutshell, to help you,” Judge Lacava told the 19-year-old.

The judge asked the young man to step out of the dock and addressed him directly about the sentence.

“A lot of people have put in a lot of work … please don’t let them down. I know you won’t.”

AAP

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Local News - Victoria

Marist Brother known as ‘The Rat’ gets more jail time for abusing boys


Another 28 months of Friday’s sentence was suspended.

He pleaded guilty earlier this month to the indecent assault of four boys and the physical assault of another.

McNamara was a sports teacher and headmaster at the school and he most often offended against boys after they’d been injured playing sports, County Court Judge Christopher Ryan said.

He massaged the boys’ injured muscles but then made them remove their underwear and rubbed around their genitals.

When a 13-year-old boy was injured during karate, McNamara had him remove his shirt so he could examine him, before putting his hands down the boy’s underwear.

When a teen misbehaved in class he punched the boy in the ribs and whispered “naughty boy” in his ear.

McNamara told another of the boys to “shut up” when he protested against the Marist Brother’s advances. McNamara forced down the boy’s pants when he refused to remove them.

Gerard McNamara outside court after a hearing in 2005.

Gerard McNamara outside court after a hearing in 2005. Credit:Michael Clayton-Jones

“Times were different and I don’t want to go into all the implications of that,” McNamara said in his police interview.

Judge Ryan said McNamara’s offending was abhorrent.

“It is plain you were notorious for this type of conduct among the pupils at St Paul’s College,” he said.

The victims were known and “ridiculed” for what they went through, he said.

McNamara kept his eyes closed as the details of his offending were read in court and when the sentence was handed down he picked up a small suitcase and followed guards from the room.

The Marist Brothers have already paid out more than $4 million to survivors of abuse by McNamara over this offending and civil cases are underway.

Laird MacDonald, a lawyer representing those survivors, said there had been complaints to the organisation about McNamara’s conduct as far back as 1959.

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He said McNamara’s offending was an “open secret” and his nickname was “The Rat”.

“Unfortunately it’s a situation where a religious order has perhaps cared more about the members than the people who they’re supposed to care about and educate,” he said.

McNamara remains a Marist Brother.

AAP

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