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Local News - Victoria

Brett Sutton tells hotel inquiry he did not know security guards had a key role


“My team and I did not have oversight in relation to infection prevention and control personnel and processes in place at each hotel,” he said.

Professor Sutton’s deputy, Annaliese van Diemen, said in her evidence that “everybody has responsibility in some way, shape or form”, prompting a query from Arthur Moses, QC, the counsel for security guard company Unified: “Are you trying to blame others?”

Former deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen.

Former deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen.Credit:The Age

Dr van Diemen had earlier warned that the hotel quarantine program was being run as a “logistics or compliance exercise” rather than a health program, meaning she “lost the opportunity” to know if infection control measures, including the use of protective gear, were adhered to in the hotels.

Private security guards, many working as casual subcontractors at the Rydges on Swanston hotel in Carlton and the CBD’s Stamford Plaza, spread the virus from returned travellers into the wider community. Professor Sutton told the inquiry that, “with the benefit of hindsight”, the use of such an insecure workforce was unfortunate.

“I can see that using a highly casualised workforce, generally from a lower socio-economic background, where that means that poor leave provisions, limit how one can care for and financially support one’s family if unwell,” he said.

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Many of the staff guarding the hotels combined multiple jobs “across different industries to maintain an adequate income, creating transmission risk”, Professor Sutton said. Guards also often came from relatively larger families and larger networks of friends, “which creates additional transmission risks should they become unwell”.

The evidence came as Premier Daniel Andrews, who set up the $3 million inquiry, once again declined to comment on accusations that he lied to Parliament by saying in August that soldiers working in hotel quarantine in other states had not been offered to Victoria. Mr Andrews will appear before the inquiry next week.

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos was also quizzed in State Parliament on Wednesday about whether she was aware of the offer by Canberra to deploy the army in quarantine hotels.

“I was not aware of any offers of Australian Defence Force support when hotel quarantine was established,” she said. “I’ve not been involved in approving the structures or the operational plan of this program.”

Professor Sutton told the inquiry that there had been instances where security staff in hotels did not appear to trust the information provided to them about infection control. “In particular about how to wear PPE gear, and the use of hand sanitiser, in particular … concerns about using an alcohol-based sanitiser”.

This hand sanitiser concern was also included in notes from the manager of Your Nursing Agency, the company employed to supply nursing staff to quarantine hotels. In mid-June, the company’s manager noted that security guards had informed the agency “they were concerned about using hand sanitiser because it is against their religion”.

The same notes said the registered nurse working at one hotel “raised a complaint of a lack of infection control awareness and [the] sense that security were disinterested in use of PPE”.

The nurse reported “security staff had masks under their noses, were not removing gloves and even going to the bathroom with gloves on”. The nurse told the nursing agency that “something needs to be done with security to keep everyone safe”.

The inquiry heard that an email sent by Deputy Public Health Commander Dr Finn Romanes, a former deputy chief health officer, warned on April 9 of “a lack of a unified plan for this program”. This warning, made just two weeks after the hotel program began, said there was “considerable risk” that unless issues were addressed there would be a risk to the health and safety of detainees.

Dr Romanes requested an urgent governance review of the program and said it needed a clear leader and direct line of accountability. Professor Sutton said he backed Dr Romanes’ email. “Dr Romanes was acting on behalf of me,” he said.

It also emerged at the inquiry that the deputy state controller Chris Eagle – who was coordinating information between the agencies involved in hotel quarantine – was warned the day after the hotels program began that there needed to be a proper police presence.

The Department of Jobs Precincts and Region’s executive director of Priority Projects, Claire Febey, warned Mr Eagle after a highly agitated guest quarantining at the Crown Metropole left his room and went to the ground floor foyer for a cigarette that better security was needed.

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“We strongly recommend that private security is not adequate given they have no powers to exercise. Can you please escalate our request for a permanent police presence at each hotel,” she wrote.

Chief Commissioner Shane Patton and his predecessor, Graham Ashton, will appear before the inquiry on Thursday.

Dr van Diemen said that, before the hotels program began in March, health officials considered quarantining returned travellers at home using electronic surveillance to keep them secure.

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Caller tells of moment man shot by police


A man allegedly armed with a “six-inch knife” has been shot by police at a shopping centre in Melbourne’s outer east.

Police were called to Lilydale Marketplace in Hutchinson St about 8.30am on Tuesday after reports of a man armed with a weapon.

“A police firearm was discharged and the man received an injury to the upper body,” a spokesman said.

A woman called 3AW radio just after 9am on Tuesday morning before multiple gunshots were heard ringing out over the call.

Caller Pauline said three police officers had their guns drawn outside Lilydale Marketplace and were yelling at the man to put the knife down.

She said police also had pepper spray drawn.

She said the man was wandering around the street allegedly holding a knife but did not appear to be waving it.

She said he refused to put the weapon down and after about five minutes two or three shots could be heard coming from the carpark of the shopping centre near the Caltex service station.

“Oh s**t they’re shooting,” a distressed Pauline said just seconds after gunshots could be heard in the background of her call.

“They’ve just shot. I can’t see if they’ve shot him … there’s just been three or four rounds … a lot of police are scurrying around now, not in any particular formation.”

Pauline mentioned an ambulance had moved in and officers had started to set up police tape when the call finished.

One local business owner, who did not want to be named, said the man looked calm as he interacted with police.

“There was a guy near the chemist and the medical centre with a knife, he seemed calm, lighting up cigarette after cigarette,” he told NCA Newswire.

The witness said the knife looked about six inches long.

He said it went on for about 15 to 20 minutes before the man walked over past the service station towards the high school.

“He was holding the knife up, it looked like he was waving it around, whether or not he was pointing it at himself, I’m not sure,” he said.

“The cops kept backing up, saying put the knife down, put the knife down.

“He started walking back towards the marketplace. At that point you could hear the police voices really getting raised, he went behind the service station and we couldn’t see him, but at that point we heard what sounded like three pops.

“That’s when the ambulance came in.

“He seemed quite calm, just had the knife the whole time and police were keeping their distance, it didn’t look like he was lunging at them in any way but in that last moment of 15 to 20 seconds I’m not sure what happened, that’s when we lost visual.

“To me he didn’t show any aggression towards the police, what he was saying I don’t know.”

Local cafe worker Vishal Vishal said a customer alerted him to the shooting just outside the shopping centre.

He said he saw an ambulance drive the man over to the school oval across the road where he was loaded into a helicopter and flown to hospital.

“There were three helicopters circling and heaps of police,” he said.

Ambulance Victoria said paramedics were called to the scene about 8.45am.

“A man, believed to be in a serious condition, is being treated for upper body injuries,” a spokesman said.

The man was put in an air ambulance, which left to transport him to hospital just after 10.15am.

Special operations police remain on scene with Hutchinson St blocked to traffic.



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Officer in charge tells hotels inquiry that police were ‘not required’


The lack of police presence in hotel quarantine has been a sticking point in the inquiry.

Some security companies who provided guards said having police in charge would have improved the program while a Health Department authorised officer told the inquiry on Friday that police responded so quickly to emergency calls anyway that it would not have made a difference.

The inquiry is investigating the quarantine program because outbreaks among a hotel worker and security guards at two hotels spread into the community and drove Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19.

Mr Tully accepted police would have made a difference given there would be more resources on site, but he didn’t see significant incidents occur inside the hotels or increased risk from the use of security guards that would have made a 24-hour-a day police presence necessary.

“This was at a time when police were required not only to undertake their normal role in protecting the community, but in unprecedented circumstances with the pandemic,” Mr Tully said.

There was “competing demand for very finite police resources,” he said.

“I mean, it goes without saying that in any operational environment the more resources that we have, they are certainly going to make a difference. It probably becomes a question of the efficient use of police resources in this circumstance.”

The inquiry heard Mr Tully was informed a decision had been made that police would provide a support role for private security before the program started on March 29.

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No one was named as the decision-maker in the inquiry but Mr Tully said it did not come from one of the police officers he reported to.

Mr Tully said in the two days before the program began, the force’s role morphed from maintaining a presence during the transition of passengers from the airport, supporting private security in patrols of hotels and responding to requests for police assistance.

Over the 109 days of hotel quarantine, which ran from March 29 until mid-July, there were 131 calls for police assistance, he said.

Only five of them were deemed priority one, or serious calls and two related to the same incident, he said.

“There was a very low number of significant locations,” he said.

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Lionel Messi tells Barcelona he wants to leave club immediately



Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wishes to leave the club immediately, deepening the turmoil within the Catalan side less than two weeks after their humiliating 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich.

A club source told Reuters Messi, who has spent his entire career at Barca, and is captain of the team, informed the club about his desire to leave by sending a burofax — a service used in Spain to urgently dispatch a document that requires proof to third parties.

A second source added that the burofax referred to a clause in the last contract the 33-year-old Argentine signed with the club that allowed him to leave for free, a clause that expired on June 10 this year.

Under the terms of the contract, which expires in 2021, the only way Messi can leave without the club’s consent is if a rival side pays his release clause of 700 million euros ($1.15 billion).

The second source said the player’s lawyers had informed the club that Messi wished to unilaterally rescind his contract in line with a clause in his contract.

“The club considers that the contract is fully binding until 30 June, 2021,” added the second source.

The Argentinian’s request to leave Barca comes a day after Spanish media reported that new coach Ronald Koeman told Messi’s close friend and strike partner, Luis Suarez, that he does not wish the Uruguayan to stay at the club.

Barca are in the midst of overhauling their squad following the 8-2 defeat by Bayern in the Champions League quarter-finals earlier this month, which condemned the club to a trophyless season for the first time in 12 years.

Messi, who has been named world player of the year a record six times, has grown increasingly unhappy in the last 12 months with how the club is being run.

In February, he lashed out at then sporting director Eric Abidal on social media and a couple of months later turned his anger on the club hierarchy for the way in which players were forced to take a pay cut to cope with the financial hit of the coronavirus pandemic.

After Barca surrendered the La Liga title to Real Madrid in July, Messi slammed the team as being “weak” and “vulnerable” during an uncharacteristically fiery post-match interview.

Former Barca captain Carles Puyol backed Messi’s wish to leave the club by writing on Twitter: “Respect and admiration, Leo. You have all my support, friend.”

Suarez replied with applause emojis.

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Business

Gold’s rally tells us the world economy is in trouble


In the US, where the virus is still raging and the economic recovery is stalling, this debate is growing louder. Investor expectations for annual inflation over the next decade, as measured by a bond-market metric known as breakevens, have moved higher the past four months after plunging in March. On Friday, they hit 1.5 per cent. And while that remains below pre-pandemic levels and below the Federal Reserve’s own 2 per cent target, it is almost a full percentage point higher than the 0.59 per cent yield that benchmark 10-year Treasury bonds pay.

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The main driver behind gold’s latest rally “has been real rates that continue to plummet and don’t show signs of easing anytime soon,” Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at Oanda, said by phone. Gold is also drawing investors “concerned that stagflation will win out and will likely warrant even further accommodation from the Fed.”

US bond markets have been a driving force behind the rush to gold, which is serving as an attractive hedge as yields on Treasuries that strip out the effects of inflation fall below zero. Investors are looking for safe havens that won’t lose value.

The mania for gold right now has trickled down to Main Street. Retail investors have helped put ETF holdings backed by gold on track for an 18th straight weekly gain, the longest streak since 2006. Meanwhile, gold posted its seventh weekly gain on Friday, and analysts don’t expect the increases to end anytime soon.

“When interest rates are zero or near zero, then gold is an attractive medium to have because you don’t have to worry about not getting interest on your gold,” Mark Mobius, co-founder at Mobius Capital Partners, said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “I would be buying now and continue to buy.”

Analysts have been predicting huge upside for gold for several months. In April, Bank of America Corp. raised its 18-month gold-price target to $US3,000 an ounce.

Stimulus from central banks around the world are driving the price of gold higher.

Stimulus from central banks around the world are driving the price of gold higher. Credit:AP

“The global pandemic is providing a sustained boost to gold,” Francisco Blanch, BofA’s head of commodities and derivatives research, said Friday, citing impacts including falling real rates, growing inequality and declining productivity. “Moreover, as China’s GDP quickly converges to US levels helped by the widening gap in COVID-19 cases, a tectonic geopolitical shift could unfold, further supporting the case for our $US3,000 target over the next 18 months.”

Bank of America’s bold prediction was made after gold prices initially dropped in March as investors sought cash to cover losses on riskier assets. Prices quickly recovered after a surprise cut to the Fed’s benchmark rate and signs that the economic toll of the coronavirus would lead to massive stimulus efforts from global governments and central banks.

This isn’t the first time gold has gotten help from central bank stimulus programs. From December 2008 to June 2011, the Fed bought $US2.3 trillion ($3.2 trillion) of debt and held borrowing costs near zero per cent in a bid to shore up growth, helping send bullion to a record $US1,921.17 in September 2011.

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The crisis a decade ago was all about banks, said Afshin Nabavi, head of trading at Swiss refiner and dealer MKS PAMP Group, who now sees gold “pointing towards $US2,000.”

“This time, to be honest, I do not see the end of the tunnel,” he said, at least until US elections in November.

Bloomberg

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Australian News

Alleged rape victim tells court she was ‘violated’


A teenage girl has told a court how she cried and “froze” when a young man from Sydney’s east allegedly pinned her down and raped her.

Matthew Emanuel Goldman’s District Court trial on Thursday heard how he allegedly threatened to kill himself when the girl he is accused of raping, choking and assaulting attempted to cut contact with him.

The former private schoolboy from Maroubra has pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual intercourse without consent and three of assault, including one indecent assault, during three incidents in 2018.

He denies any sexual misconduct or physical mistreatment of the complainant.

Now 20, Mr Goldman was 18 at the time of the alleged offences and the complainant, who cannot be named, was 17.

The girl told the court on one occasion in late 2018, Mr Goldman allegedly pinned her down, asked “Do you want to have sex?” and forced himself on her despite her telling him “No”.

“He pushed me down … he tried to kiss me and I hid my face into my shoulder,” she said.

“He pulled my underwear to the side and put his penis into my vagina.

“He didn’t really care that I said no. He did it anyway.”

The girl said she was crying but “froze” because: “If I physically resisted I didn’t know what was going to happen to me.

“I was trying to disassociate from what was happening. I didn’t want to be there.”

Afterwards she “felt violated and unsafe”, the court heard.

She said the “strong” water polo player later threatened to die by suicide when she attempted to cut contact with him and sent a photo to her showing his feet “dangling of a cliff”.

“It made me feel really sad and at the time I felt guilty,” she said. “I now realise that hasn’t got anything to do with me.”

The trial before Judge Penny Hock previously heard allegations Mr Goldman non-consensually choked the girl during sex and raped her on two occasions.

The Crown alleges the complainant made it clear she was not consenting during the incidents.

Mr Goldman’s barrister Anthony Bellanto QC told the jury his client does not deny having sex with the girl, and choking her, but claims all acts were consensual.

The trial continues.



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Dylan Alcott tells Kurt Fearnley on One Plus One how sport open doors, and maybe saved his life


Dylan Alcott says he doesn’t know if he would “even be here at all” if it were not for the impact sport has had on his life.

Alcott, who has won multiple grand slam titles, two Paralympic gold medals and is considered the best quad singles tennis player in the world, opened up on his career and life with fellow Paralympic gold medallist Kurt Fearnley on One Plus One.

Beyond his many achievements in and out of the game, Alcott said the greatest gift sport has given him is introducing him to a wider, more social world.

“I hated myself. I hated my disability,” Alcott said.

“I got bullied because of my disability, I used to get called a cripple or a spastic everywhere I went. That stuff made it really hard for me — and I believed them. I believed I was less than them.

Alcott said that changed when he went to his first wheelchair tennis tournament, where he said his eyes were opened.

“When I first played tennis … I was 11 or 12 … and the craziest bit about that tennis tournament is that I had never seen someone in a wheelchair drive a car. They were all driving,” he said.

“That’s what I learned the most, the social aspect of sport. I could take away all the gold medals and everything, that was the biggest thing that sport has given me.

“Belonging into a community, but also being proud of who I was.”

A male quad wheelchair singles player pumps his fist as he celebrates winning a point at the Australian Open.
Dylan Alcott has won the Australian Open men’s quad wheelchair singles title six times.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

Alcott said that from a young age, sport gave his life purpose and a new set of goals — some of which he is still chasing.

“I’d never had a goal before. I was just sitting home eating Doritos not wanting to go to school.

“Sport just started me on a trajectory to where I am today.

“I don’t know what I’d be doing, or [whether I’d] even be here at all.”

Alcott’s one-man mission to increase representation

As one of Australia’s most recognisable and followed para-athletes, Alcott says he has a significant role to play in enhancing the representation of disabled people, both in and out of sport.

Alcott pointed to the fact that when he was growing up, there were no disabled people in the media for him to look up to.

Dylan Alcott is seen kissing the Logie as most popular new talent.
Alcott has made a successful move into the media, and Most Popular New Talent at the 2019 Logies.(AAP: Darren England)

“When I turned on the TV or the radio, and flicked to the newspaper, I never saw anyone like me. That’s what I struggled with the most,” he said.

“I loved Pat Rafter. I couldn’t be Pat Rafter. I watched Rove McManus and I couldn’t be Rove either. We were different, and there was nobody like us.

“I was like ‘eff that, I want to change that’ and I think that’s been one of my driving forces.”

And while he has enjoyed success and notoriety throughout much of his professional career, Alcott says he feels for those who came before him, who paved a trail without receiving the recognition.

“I feel bad that I’m playing on Rod Laver Arena and I’m on TV and the generations of Paralympians before me, no one knows who they are,” he said.

“That sucks. They should have been known. I fully appreciate that I’m the lucky one.”

‘What if I was not Dylan Alcott?’

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Dylan Alcott says the social aspect of sport changed his life

Alcott says his success should not mask the challenges he has faced and overcome, and admits the road ahead of him as both a para-athlete and a disabled person in Australia remains a long and difficult one.

“Being disabled sucks sometimes,” he said.

“I got discriminated [against] on a plane last year when they wouldn’t let me on because it was too windy. They got a security guard to escort me off.

“Even though we’re the lucky Paralympians and people might know [who we are], we’re also people with a disability who face that discrimination day-to-day as well.

“If it happens to us, imagine what’s happening to everyone else where they don’t have a voice. And that breaks my heart.”

Dylan Alcott at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro
Alcott represented Australia at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.(AAP: Jeff Crow)

Alcott and Fearnley both shared experiences of people who “look through” them when they realise they are in a wheelchair.

“When people come up to me and they speak to the person next to me, asking if I’m going to be OK and that person is a complete stranger,” Alcott said.

“Am I not a person with a soul and a voice?”

“What if I was not Dylan Alcott, if I was a 40-year-old woman with MS? A young kid with autism? Imagine how they get treated.

“That’s why I’m so passionate to try and change that. That’s why we do what we do.”



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Daniel Andrews’ wife tells Twitter her husband ‘does not stop’


Catherine Andrews has stepped in to defend her husband, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, amid the growing criticism of his handling of the coronavirus.

Ms Andrews shared a photo of the Premier on Twitter on Saturday night, showing him working at his desk

“This man does not stop,” she said.

“Thank you to everyone who is doing the right thing. We are in this together. #istandwithdan.”

RELATED: Follow our live coronavirus coverage

Mr Andrews stood firm against some public calls for him to resign last week

“People are calling for you to resign. Is that something you’re considering?” a reporter asked him during a press conference on Wednesday.

“No, I’m not considering that,” Mr Andrews responded.

“What I’m not just considering, but delivering, is the response to this pandemic and seeing this through. That’s what’s most important and it’s what I’m going to get done.”

RELATED: ‘Clear failure’: Truth about Victoria clusters

It was a rough week for the Premier, who two days later grew flustered at another press conference following an unexpected question from a reporter about his birthday.

A clearly unimpressed Mr Andrews scolded the journalist, who asked how he celebrated the day before Melbourne was sent back into stage three coronavirus lockdown, revealing he was at home with his family.

The reporter then asked if he was at home the whole time, to which he replied: “Yes.”

“Sorry, you want to ask me about the night of my birthday?” he said.

“I was at home having a very nice family dinner. Let me indicate to you when that occurred.

“It occurred after I had done a two-and-a-half hour cabinet meeting over Zoom and I think my plate might have been a bit cold. But we’re all doing all sorts of things, but I was pleased to be at home with my wife and my kids.

“Happy? Fine? Very good.”

Mr Andrews asked reporters if there were any other questions before adding he “got all flustered”.

“No? Very good. I’m going home now to them as well. Thanks,” he said as he cut off the press conference.

People following the event on social media threw their support behind Mr Andrews.

One woman labelled the question disgusting.

“Disgusting question from ‘journalist’ asking where @DanielAndrewsMP was on the night of his birthday,” she wrote.

“He answered the question and then she had the audacity to ask if he was sure. This is a man who has had very little time with his family over the last six or seven months.”

Dr Vyom Sharma said it was a s***ty question.

“Say what you want, but @DanielAndrewsMP is working very very hard I do not appreciate his ethic being imputed,” he wrote on Twitter.

Mr Andrews later tweeted that the journalist had phoned his office to apologise, calling for the pile-on against her to cease.

A second wave of infections has been linked to a catastrophic failure in Victoria’s mandatory hotel quarantine procedures.

Last week, Today host Karl Stefanovic accused the Victorian government of being responsible for a “catastrophic bungle” that allowed the virus to spread through the state.

“You managed the bushfires. You managed the start of COVID, you did an incredible job,” Stefanovic said.

“It’s difficult to recall a bigger political bungle than this. Your critics are calling for a change of leadership. Will you resign?”

Mr Andrews said he would not.

“No, Karl I’m about staying the course and getting the job done,” he said.

“Critics, that’s fine. That’s entirely a matter for them. Politics is a matter for them too. This is a pandemic and I’m getting on with the job I need to do. It’s not popular.

“They’re very, very difficult calls to be made.

“They have to be made to keep Victorians safe. We have to stay the course on this.”

Asked whether he thought the state had lost faith in him, he said: “I think every Victorian knows and understands this is real, serious and it’s not over. Pretending that it is will simply make a difficult situation into tragic set of circumstances. I think every Victorian knows that.”

He added: “I apologise for the inconvenience – the great challenge that many, many Victorian families are going to have to experience over these next six weeks. It’s not where we wanted to be. But we can’t go back. We can’t change those things that have got us to this point.”

Speaking on The Project last week, Mr Andrews similarly reinforced that his decision was “not about being popular”.

When Aly asked whether the Premier’s apology to Melburnians last week was “admitting fault”, Mr Andrews gave a firm response.

“The job that I do means that I am the leader of the state, and it is for me to accept responsibility for all of these things … I’ve never run away from that,” he said.

“These are not easy calls, but it is not about being popular. It is about doing what has to be done.”



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Man who bashed ‘vulnerable’ girlfriend tells family he’s sorry she died


It was open for the jury to find the injuries as a result of the assault were a “substantial and operative” cause of her death, the appeal court judges said.

Ms Wilms also had GHB in her system at the time of her death.

Police on the scene in Kew after Elizabeth Wilms' body was found.

Police on the scene in Kew after Elizabeth Wilms’ body was found.Credit:Wayne Talor

The jury could not have been satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Freeburn intended to kill or cause her really serious injury, they found.

The 29-year-old was found dead at Freeburn’s Kew apartment in July 2016 with more than 40 injuries to her body after her family couldn’t contact her.

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After the “prolonged” assault, he left a dying Ms Wilms in the apartment and went to another woman’s house.

Though Freeburn told the woman he was concerned about his girlfriend’s condition, he never sought help for her and left her “helpless” on the floor, they said.

The judges found a reasonable person in Freeburn’s position would have known his actions involved a high risk of death.

Ms Wilms had a mild intellectual disability and met Freeburn on a dating website.

She was described as “incredibly vulnerable” in the relationship, which was “short but abusive”, prosecutor Diana Piekusis QC told the court.

“It was a relationship punctuated not just with anger and aggression but also jealousy,” she said.

“It was clear Elizabeth Wilm’s death was a slow and an incredibly lonely one.”

Freeburn’s lawyer, Dermot Dann, QC, said the assault was not premeditated, his client previously offered to plead guilty to manslaughter, and had mental health issues.

He also said delay was also an issue and his client could not do courses because of the situation in prison.

The judges will re-sentence Freeburn at a later date.

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 beyondblue 1300 224 636.

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Dean Laidley could plead guilty, his lawyer tells court


When magistrate Kieran Gilligan set the new date of December 14, he asked if it should be set as a plea hearing.

Mr Stary replied “not yet”, but then said he was in talks with police about finalising the case.

“There’s just one discussion that we still need to have. But we’re envisaging that we will on that day, though, your honour,” Mr Stary said.

“But I expect everything to be resolved by that point.”

Police allege that between April 4 and May 2 Mr Laidley tried to contact the woman more than 100 times in phone calls, voice and text messages and emails, and that he also took photographs of her home and her car in an underground car park.

Police also allege that on April 4 Mr Laidley was verbally abusive and aggressive and called the woman a “slut” and a “c—” and also said, “I am going to ram you with the car when you leave.”

Mr Laidley was allegedly found in possession of 0.43 grams of a substance investigators believe is methamphetamine and was concealed in a bra Mr Laidley was wearing.

Photographs showing Mr Laidley wearing a woman’s wig and make-up while being interviewed by officers inside a police station are the subject of a separate investigation.

Four officers have been suspended, and could be charged, over the alleged leak and distribution of the photographs, which were shared on social media and published by some news outlets. Victoria Police declined to comment on Tuesday as the matter was still an active investigation.

On May 11, Mr Laidley was granted bail to stay at a rehabilitation clinic after the court heard he had problems with mental health, substance abuse and gender dysphoria.

Mr Stary said on Tuesday the former West Coast and Kangaroos player had undergone “intensive therapy and counselling” at the facility, and it was expected he would stay there for up to another two weeks. He would then likely spend two months in transitional housing.

Mr Gilligan varied bail so Mr Laidley could stay at the rehabilitation clinic and then move into the housing. The magistrate reiterated his warning from a month ago that Mr Laidley would have his bail revoked if he breached any court orders.

“I explained to him at the time that if he did commit any breaches the likelihood of getting bail again would be remote,” Mr Gilligan said.

Mr Stary replied, “He understands that well and truly, your honour.”

Police say Mr Laidley and the woman were involved in a financial dispute.

A group of high-profile AFL figures, including former coaches Denis Pagan, Guy McKenna and Mark Williams, have previously written character references for Mr Laidley, along with former North Melbourne teammates Wayne Schwass and Brent Harvey, and former club chairman James Brayshaw.

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