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Donald Trump facing jail after guilty verdict

<p>Former US president Donald Trump is facing the possibility of jail time after being found guilty on all 34 counts of a hush money trial in New York. </p> <p>Trump was found to be unanimously guilty by the jury on Thursday afternoon, making him the first former US President with a criminal conviction.</p> <p>In the New York courtroom, he was accused of 34 counts of fraud by falsifying business records to cover up payments of $200,000 ($US130,000) to adult star Stormy Daniels.</p> <p>It was reported that Mr Trump wanted to buy her silence about an alleged extramarital sexual encounter which was in danger of becoming public knowledge in the run up to the 2016 US Presidential election.</p> <p>While paying hush money to cover up a potentially damning story isn't illegal, Trump's falsifying of business records to bury the payments is a criminal offence in the state of New York. </p> <p>Mr Trump, 77, denied a sexual encounter with Ms Daniels took place and denied all the charges.</p> <p>After the guilty verdict was handed down, Trump spoke to reporters outside the courtroom, saying the trial was “rigged” and a “disgrace”.</p> <p>“This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who is corrupt,” he said.</p> <p>“The real verdict is going to be November 5 by the people and they know what happened here and everybody knows what happened here.”</p> <p>He insisted “we didn’t do anything wrong”.</p> <p>“I’m a very innocent man and it’s OK, I’m fighting for our country, I’m fighting for our Constitution,” he said.</p> <p>A sentencing hearing has been set for July 11th, just four days before the Republican National Convention, when the party will officially nominate him for President ahead of the election in November.</p> <p>He faces a minimum of probation and a maximum of up to four years in prison.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-46607c99-7fff-4305-1a14-3fd4a2e9d2b3"><em>Image credits: Justin Lane/UPI/Shutterstock Editorial</em> </span></p>

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"Last chance, Mr Banducci": Woolies CEO threatened with jail time

<p>Outgoing Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci has been threatened with jail time for refusing to answer questions about price gouging at a fiery Senate enquiry. </p> <p>The parliamentary probe into supermarket prices has seen Banducci be grilled by senators about how the supermarket raked in record-breaking profits during the ongoing cost of living crisis. </p> <p>During the enquiry on Tuesday, Banducci was repeatedly warned by committee chair and Greens senator Nick McKim about giving evasive answers when asked about his company's return on equity.</p> <p>Banducci repeatedly told the committee that return on equity was not his focus, and Woolworths is instead more interested in return on investment, refusing the question and prompting a 15-minute adjournment. </p> <p>When the enquiry resumed, a similar exchange occurred, leading to another warning for the Woolworths chief executive.</p> <p>"Last chance, Mr Banducci," McKim said.</p> <p>"Do you accept that return on equity is an accepted measure of the financial profitability of a company?"</p> <p>When Banducci replied that "we measure return on investment", the committee was suspended.</p> <p>Its return immediately saw another round of the same questions and answers, with McKim warning Banducci about the consequences of not answering questions clearly.</p> <p>"It is open to the Senate to hold you in contempt, and that carries potential sanctions including up to six months imprisonment for you," he said after saying the Woolworths boss could simply say he didn't know the answer and take the question on notice.</p> <p>"That's why this is a critical matter so I'd just ask you to address your mind with absolute clarity, please, to the question I am asking."</p> <p>"I put it to you the reason you don't want to focus on return on equity is because you don't like the story that it's telling, which is that you are basically profiteering and making off with massive profits at the expense of farmers at the expense of your workers and at the expense of Australian shoppers who you are price gouging," Greens senator McKim said.</p> <p>The enquiry is still ongoing, with Coles counterpart Leah Weckert set to address the same Senate committee later on Tuesday as the government continues to probe allegations of price gouging.</p> <p><em>Image Credits: ABC - Four Corners</em></p>

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Do parolees really ‘walk free’? Busting common myths about parole

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/monique-moffa-1380936">Monique Moffa</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alyssa-sigamoney-1375881">Alyssa Sigamoney</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/greg-stratton-161122">Greg Stratton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jarryd-bartle-441602">Jarryd Bartle</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michele-ruyters-18446">Michele Ruyters</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p>Parole is a hot topic in politics and in the media at the moment, fuelled by several high-profile parole applications.</p> <p>Recently, <a href="https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/no-parole-for-convicted-baby-killer-keli-lane/xoykrtvxe?cid=testtwitter">Keli Lane’s</a> attempt to be released on parole after years in jail for the murder of her baby daughter was unsuccessful. <a href="https://www.heraldsun.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts-victoria/how-frankston-serial-killer-paul-denyer-will-apply-for-bail/news-story/4613d1b3fced1f4aeaa9c4e08e8b81e0">Paul Denyer</a>, known as the “Frankston Serial Killer” for murdering three women in the 90s was also denied parole.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Snowtown accomplice <a href="https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts-sa/bodies-in-the-barrels-helper-mark-haydon-released-on-parole/news-story/fdfbbbe7b59267d8009c6910249de585">Mark Haydon</a> was granted parole with strict conditions, but is <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-01/snowtown-accomplice-mark-haydon-still-in-custody-after-parole/103653934">yet to be</a> released.</p> <p>Some media coverage of such well-known cases is littered with myths about what parole is, how it’s granted and what it looks like. Here’s what the evidence says about three of the most common misconceptions.</p> <h2>Myth 1: people on parole walk free</h2> <p>Parole is the conditional release of an incarcerated person (parolee) by a parole board authority, after they have served their non-parole period (minimum sentence) in jail. This isn’t always reflected in headlines.</p> <p><a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/snowtown-murders-bodies-in-barrels-murders-mark-haydon-release-south-australia/f4b62a72-ec3d-4238-94d2-64697fbcdef3">Some coverage</a> suggests people on parole are released early and “walk free” without conditions. This is not true.</p> <p>According to the <a href="https://www.adultparoleboard.vic.gov.au/what-parole/purpose-and-benefits">Adult Parole Board of Victoria</a>: "Parole provides incarcerated people with a structured, supported and supervised transition so that they can adjust from prison back into the community, rather than returning straight to the community at the end of their sentence without supervision or support."</p> <p>Parole comes with strict conditions and requirements, such as curfews, drug and alcohol testing, electronic monitoring, program participation, to name a few.</p> <p>People with experience of parole highlight its punitivism and continued extension of surveillance.</p> <h2>Myth 2: most parolees reoffend</h2> <p>Another myth is that the likelihood all parolees reoffend is high. Research over a number of years has consistently found parole reduces reoffending.</p> <p>For example, <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0004865815585393?journalCode=anja">a 2016 study in New South Wales</a> found at the 12 month mark, a group of parolees reoffended 22% less than an unsupervised cohort.</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au/Publications/CJB/2022-Report-Effect-of-parole-supervision-on-recidivism-CJB245.pdf">2022 study</a> by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found parole was especially successful in reducing serious recidivism rates among incarcerated people considered to be at a high risk of reoffending.</p> <p>More recently in Victoria, <a href="https://www.adultparoleboard.vic.gov.au/system/files/inline-files/Adult%20Parole%20Board%20Annual%20Report%202022-23_0.pdf">the Adult Parole Board</a> found over 2022–23, no parolees were convicted of committing serious offences while on parole.</p> <p>In contrast, unstructured and unconditional release increases the risk of returning to prison.</p> <h2>Myth 3: parole is easy to get</h2> <p>While the number of parolees reoffending has dropped, so too has the total number of people who are exiting prison on parole.</p> <p>Over a decade ago, Victoria underwent significant parole reforms, largely prompted by high-profile incidents and campaigns. In just five years following Jill Meagher’s tragic death in 2012, the Victorian government passed <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10345329.2018.1556285">13 laws reshaping parole</a>.</p> <p>The result is the number of people on parole in Victoria has halved since 2012, despite incarceration numbers remaining steady.</p> <p><iframe id="maNRy" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/maNRy/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>These reforms have made it more difficult for people convicted of serious offences to get parole, as well as preventing individuals or specific groups from being eligible for parole (such as police killers, <a href="https://theconversation.com/no-body-no-parole-laws-could-be-disastrous-for-the-wrongfully-convicted-191083">“no body, no parole” prisoners</a>, and certain high-profile murderers).</p> <p>Similar laws can be found in other states. For example, no body, no parole was introduced in all other Australian states and territories, except for Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.</p> <p>As a consequence, more people are being released at the end of their full sentence. This can be detrimental not only for the incarcerated person but the wider community, because they are not receiving the reintegration support parole provides.</p> <p>Aside from restricted access due to political intervention, parole is facing a new crisis, which has nothing to do with eligibility or suitability.</p> <p>Last year, 40% of Victorian parole applications were denied, often due to reasons <a href="https://www.adultparoleboard.vic.gov.au/system/files/inline-files/Adult%20Parole%20Board%20Annual%20Report%202022-23_0.pdf">unrelated to suitability</a>.</p> <p>Housing scarcity played a significant role, with 59% of rejections (or 235 applications) citing a lack of suitable accommodation as one of the reasons parole was denied. This is playing out <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-08-11/women-on-bail-parole-increased-risk-of-homelessness-qld/102717002">across the country</a>.</p> <p>Parole is vulnerable to community and media hype, and political knee-jerk reactions in response to high profile incidents involving a person on parole. Because of the actions of a few, parole as a process has been restricted for many.</p> <p>While the wider community are active in advocacy efforts to restrict parole from certain people or groups (for example, this petition for <a href="https://www.change.org/p/lyns-law-no-body-no-parole">Lyn’s Law in NSW</a>), public efforts to restrict parole seem at odds with its purposes.</p> <p>Despite this, research suggests when the public are educated about the purposes and intent of parole, they are more likely to be <a href="https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3125829">supportive of it</a>.</p> <p>The susceptibility of parole to media and community influence results in frequent, impactful changes affecting individuals inside and outside prisons. Headlines such as “walking free” have the potential to mislead the public on the purpose and structure of parole. Coverage should portray parole beyond mere early termination of a sentence by accurately reflecting its purpose and impact.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/226607/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/monique-moffa-1380936">Monique Moffa</a>, Lecturer, Criminology &amp; Justice, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alyssa-sigamoney-1375881">Alyssa Sigamoney</a>, Associate Lecturer in Criminology and Justice Studies, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/greg-stratton-161122">Greg Stratton</a>, Lecturer - Criminology and Justice Studies, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jarryd-bartle-441602">Jarryd Bartle</a>, Associate Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michele-ruyters-18446">Michele Ruyters</a>, Associate Dean, Criminology and Justice Studies, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/do-parolees-really-walk-free-busting-common-myths-about-parole-226607">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Cricket star jailed for eight years

<p>Sandeep Lamichhane, Nepal's highest-profile cricketer and a well-known figure in international T20 leagues, has been sentenced to eight years in prison by a court in Nepal.</p> <p>The 23-year-old leg spinner, who has played for both the Hobart Hurricanes and the <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Melbourne Stars </span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">in the Big Bash League (BBL), was convicted of raping an 18-year-old woman in an incident that occurred on August 21, 2022.</span></p> <p>After the Kathmandu district court found Lamichhane guilty of rape last month, the sentence was officially announced on Wednesday. Lamichhane's lawyer stated that they would launch a higher court appeal, expressing dissatisfaction with the court's decision.</p> <p>Saroj Ghimire, Lamichhane's legal representative, told Reuters, "We are not convinced about the decision of the court ... The court has whimsically declared Sandeep to be a convict. Sandeep will go to the higher court for justice."</p> <p>The court not only sentenced Lamichhane to eight years in prison but also imposed a fine and ordered him to pay compensation of approximately $5,630 to the victim, whose identity remains confidential. The legal repercussions are severe, signalling a significant downfall for the cricketer who was once the face of Nepali cricket.</p> <p>Lamichhane's cricket career, which took him to prestigious T20 leagues in Australia, India, Pakistan and the West Indies, has come to a screeching halt. The leg spinner, who had been suspended as Nepal's captain and taken into custody after an arrest warrant was issued, was released on bail during the court proceedings.</p> <p>The victim reported the sexual assault in August 2022, leading to Lamichhane's arrest – but despite the legal proceedings, the cricketer was permitted to continue playing matches, causing controversy and drawing criticism from various quarters.</p> <p>Lamichhane's return to the cricket field in February last year was met with cheers from fans, but it also ignited anger among Nepalis who disavowed the national team due to his involvement. During an international tournament in Dubai, Scotland's cricketers refused to shake hands with Lamichhane</p> <p>Lamichhane's fall from grace serves as a stark reminder of the importance of accountability, even for high-profile individuals in the world of sports. The legal battle may continue with the planned higher court appeal, but the conviction and sentencing mark a significant chapter in the downfall of a once-celebrated cricketer.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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Groom faces serious jail time after $89 million "wedding of the century"

<p>A groom whose viral $89 million wedding was dubbed the "wedding of the century" is now facing a possible life sentence in prison. </p> <p>Jacob LaGrone, 29, and wife, car dealership heiress Madelaine Brockway, took social media by storm last month after videos of their lavish, five-day wedding in France went viral on TikTok. </p> <p>The wedding which featured an overnight stay at the Palace of Versailles, rehearsal dinner at the Paris Opera House, and a performance by Maroon 5 at the Texan couple's reception, was nothing short of amazing. </p> <p>Now, instead of going on their honeymoon, the groom could be facing life in prison, after getting arrested for allegedly shooting at three police officers in an incident on March 14.</p> <p>The Nashville native was indicted eight months ago on three counts of aggravated assault on a public servant, which is a first-degree felony in Texas, that, if convicted, could see him face a sentence from less than five years to life in prison. </p> <p>According to city officials, officers responded to multiple disturbance calls about a gun being discharged at a home – and when the three officers arrived, "they were fired upon” by LaGrone.</p> <p>An indictment obtained by <em>The Washington Post</em>, said that LaGrone "did intentionally and knowingly threaten imminent bodily injury" to the officers and “did use or exhibit a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault, namely, a firearm”.</p> <p>The indictment did not specify where the incident took place, and no further details were given regarding the disturbance calls.</p> <p><em>The Dallas Morning News </em>reported that the Tarrant County District Attorney offered LaGrone a plea deal of 25-years in jail . </p> <p>Neither LaGrone nor his wife have publicly addressed the charges, and both have since made their social media accounts private. </p> <p><em>Images: Instagram/ News.com.au</em></p> <p> </p>

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"Impossibly sad": P-plater jailed over fatal crash

<p>A southwest Sydney community is reeling after Tyrell Edwards was sentenced for causing the deaths of five children in a fiery crash last year. </p> <p>Edwards, 20, was driving recklessly at speeds of 147km/h in the suburb of Buxton when he crashed into two trees and struck five teenagers. </p> <p>Lily Van De Putte, Gabby McLennan, Summer Williams, all aged 14, Tyrese Bechard, 15, and Antonio Desisto, 16, were all killed in the devastating incident. </p> <p>Appearing in Campbelltown District Court on his 20th birthday, Edwards sentenced to 12 years in prison, and will be eligible for parole in seven years, after pleading guilty to five counts of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning death at a speed more than 45km/h over the limit.</p> <p>The judge described the deaths of the five victims as “tragic and impossibly sad”. </p> <p>“The loss of these five young people diminishes us all,” he said. </p> <p>“Their deaths were completely avoidable and responsibility for them lies squarely at the feet of the offender.”</p> <p>Gasps were heard in the courtroom as the sentence was read, with families of the victims sharing their disappointment at the sentencing. </p> <p>Speaking outside court on Friday, family members of three of the teenagers hit out at the “unfair” sentence. </p> <p>Samantha McLennan said her heart “dropped” as she heard the ruling, while Exavan Desisto said he was “speechless”.</p> <p>“I knew the outcome wouldn’t be spectacular but to hear it was a big shock,” he said. “The justice system absolutely stinks.”</p> <p>John Van De Putte said he expected the sentence to be low, but felt it did not match the crime. </p> <p>“There’s five lives lost. Seven years in jail,” he said. “You’d get more if you killed someone with a baseball bat</p> <p>Mr Van De Putte had previously told the court there was “no excuse” for Edwards, a licensed driver, to have driven so recklessly and endangered the lives of his underage passengers. </p> <p>“No matter what you get, it will not bring back the five lives,” he told the 20-year-old.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

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Young woman jailed for 7 years for swapping price tags at supermarket

<p>A Russian court has convicted an artist to seven years in jail  for swapping supermarket price tags with antiwar messages. </p> <p>Sasha Skochilenko, 33, was arrested in St Petersburg and charged with spreading misinformation about the military when she replaced price tags with ones against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.</p> <p>"The Russian army bombed an arts schools in Mariupol. Some 400 people were hiding in it from the shelling," one read. </p> <p>"Russian conscripts are being sent to Ukraine. Lives of our children are the price of this war," the other said. </p> <p>Her arrest is part of the latest crackdown on free speech, and she was arrested after a customer at the supermarket found the slogans and reported her to authorities. </p> <p>Skochilenko's arrest comes one month after authorities adopted a law that criminalises any public expression about the war that deviates from the official Kremlin line.</p> <p>The legislation is used to crackdown on opposition politicians, human rights activists and ordinary citizens that are critical of the Kremlin. </p> <p>The 33-year-old has not denied replacing the price tags but has rejected the accusation of knowingly spreading false information. </p> <p>She also claimed that she didn't want to criticise the military but wanted to stop the fighting. </p> <p>"She is a very empathetic, peace-loving person. To her, in general, the word 'war' is the most terrible thing imaginable, as is the suffering of people," her lawyer Yana Nepovinnova told <em>The Associated Press</em> last week. </p> <p>"She is a very empathetic, peace-loving person. To her, in general, the word 'war' is the most terrible thing imaginable, as is the suffering of people," Nepovinnova added. </p> <p>According to the Russian independent news site Mediazona, Skochilenko said that the case against her was "weird and ridiculous" in her final statement in court and that even the officials where she was detained at  "open their eyes widely and exclaim: 'Is this really what people are being imprisoned for now?'"</p> <p>While addressing the judge in a courtroom full of supporters, Skochilenko also reportedly said that: "Everyone sees and knows that it's not a terrorist you're trying. You're not trying an extremist. You're not trying a political activist, either. You're trying a pacifist."</p> <p>Mediazona also reported that her supporters applauded her and chanted her name when she was led away after the verdict. </p> <p>Nearly 750 people have face criminal charges for their antiwar stances, and over 8100 had petty charges for discrediting the army, which is punishable by a fine or short time in jail.</p> <p><em>Images: BBC News</em></p> <p> </p>

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MasterChef finalist jailed for 24 years

<p>Paul Douglas Frost, a <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">former finalist on MasterChef Australia, has been ordered to</span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> serve a minimum of 24 years in prison – up to a maximum of 32 years – for 43 sexual offences he against 11 children that he committed during his time working as a Sydney swim coach.</span></p> <p>It's been over four years since Frost's arrest, and now the verdict – delivered by Judge Sarah Huggett at Downing Centre District Court in Sydney – sees justice for his crimes that occurred over a period of ten years and involved children as young as ten years old.</p> <p>Judge Huggett made special mention of the “escalating gravity and brazenness” of Frost's crimes against his victims, the <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">youngest of whom was nine or 10 years old when the abuse began, while the oldest was molested until the age of 16.</span></p> <p>Huggett also made it clear in her ruling that Frost had shown no remorse for his actions, while dismissing character references that portrayed him as a protector of young people.</p> <p>“There is no evidence that would permit me to find on balance that he is contrite or remorseful,” she told the court. Frost appeared in court not in person, but via video link from Shortland Correctional Centre, and showed little to no reaction throughout Judge Huggett's sentencing.</p> <p>The majority of Frost’s crimes occurred at a swimming school in southwest Sydney, and testimonies from his victims outlined the depth of Frost’s manipulation, encouraging explicit discussions about sex and masturbation, which eventually led to inappropriate physical contact.</p> <p>The court was also told of Frost's tendency to coerce his victims into remaining silent after the assaults. Judge Huggett also said that Frost’s offences were “opportunistic, impulsive and spontaneous,” which helped him to create an environment that made the discussion of explicit matters appear normal to his victims.</p> <p>Judge Huggett said Frost, who was in his 20s when the crimes were comitted, “created opportunities for him to be alone” with the victims. “In addition to manipulating the victims, he manipulated the parents who trusted him with their children." </p> <p>Frost’s earliest possible release date is June 3, 2047. He is currently being held in protective custody following an assault in July at Shortland Correctional Centre.</p> <p><em>Images: Network 10</em></p>

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Aussie grandma and former Greens candidate jailed in Japan claims she was scammed

<p>Donna Nelson, a 57-year-old Perth grandmother, has found herself entangled in a nightmarish situation in a Japanese prison, accused of a crime she vehemently denies.</p> <p>Nelson, an Aboriginal health advocate and former Greens candidate, has been incarcerated for nearly a year without a trial date set, facing allegations of attempting to smuggle two kilograms of meth into Japan. However, her plight is not as straightforward as it may seem, and her family and legal team are tirelessly fighting to clear her name.</p> <p>The ordeal began on January 4, when Nelson was arrested at Narita Airport in Tokyo. Authorities claimed to have discovered drugs concealed within a false compartment in her luggage. According to the prosecution, a customs officer suspected her of acting suspiciously. But the narrative has taken a complex turn as Nelson's defence team unveiled a shocking revelation: she alleges she was deceived and manipulated by a Nigerian scammer who had groomed her for two years.</p> <p>Since her arrest, Nelson has been confined to Chibu prison, located an hour outside Tokyo. Her living conditions are appalling; she spends 23 hours a day isolated in her cell, showers are allowed only every three days, and communication with other inmates and visitors is strictly prohibited. This form of treatment is a reflection of Japan's infamous "hostage justice" strategy, aimed at coercing confessions from detainees.</p> <p>The only individuals granted access to Nelson are her lawyers, Australian embassy representatives, and a pastor. Legal representatives have identified a significant issue with translation throughout the case, and it could very well hinge on an inaccurate translation by the customs officer at the time of her arrest.</p> <p>Rie Nishida from Shinjuku International Law Firm, one of Nelson's lawyers, explained, "The main evidence from the prosecution is mainly a customs officer who said she acted suspiciously. There's a lot of mistranslation that's also the difficulty in this case."</p> <p>This mistranslation issue is not trivial; it extends to the messages exchanged between Nelson and the man she believed she had a romantic connection with, who ultimately turned out to be a scammer.</p> <p>Matthew Owens, another member of the legal team and a translator for the case, noted, "Some of them were completely wrongly translated, so we had to re-translate those messages and submit them back to the prosecutor."</p> <p>Nelson remains steadfast in her conviction that she is innocent of the accusations against her. Her lawyer,  Owens, relayed her message, saying, "Donna wants to say that she is going to be able to prove her innocence, she's 100 per cent confident of that, and she wants everyone in Australia and the world to know she is innocent."</p> <p>If found guilty, Nelson could face a harrowing 20-year sentence in a Japanese prison, a terrifying prospect for both her and her family. Her five daughters and grandchildren are distraught, but they are not giving up the fight to prove her innocence. They believe they have evidence to substantiate the claim that she was scammed and unjustly accused.</p> <p><em>Image: Australian Greens</em></p>

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How mistaken identity can lead to wrongful convictions

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hayley-cullen-423538">Hayley Cullen</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p>In March 1976, American Leonard Mack was convicted of sexual assault and holding two female victims at gunpoint. In September 2023, Mack’s wrongful conviction was finally overturned by a New York judge on his 72nd birthday with the help of the <a href="https://innocenceproject.org/news/hit-in-dna-database-proves-leonard-macks-innocence-after-47-years-of-wrongful-conviction/">Innocence Project</a>, an organisation that uses DNA evidence to prove factual innocence.</p> <p>Mack’s conviction took 47 years to overturn. He served seven-and-a-half of these years in a New York prison. His case is the <a href="https://innocenceproject.org/news/8-moving-moments-from-leonard-macks-historic-exoneration-after-47-years/">longest</a> in United States history to be overturned using DNA evidence.</p> <p>In June 2023, a similar historic moment occurred in Australia. Kathleen Folbigg was <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/jun/05/kathleen-folbigg-pardoned-after-20-years-in-jail-over-deaths-of-her-four-children">pardoned and released</a> after 20 years in prison for the murder and manslaughter of her four young children.</p> <p>Considered one of the <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/folbigg-release-would-make-chamberlain-case-pale-into-insignificance-20230307-p5cpya.html">worst miscarriages of justice</a> in Australian history, Folbigg’s release has sparked discussion over whether Australia needs a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/jun/12/not-a-rare-case-kathleen-folbigg-pardon-sparks-calls-for-new-body-to-review-possible-wrongful-convictions">formalised body</a> to deal with post-conviction appeals.</p> <p>Mack and Folbigg are only two individuals on different sides of the world who have spent decades fighting to prove their innocence.</p> <p>Many others are still fighting. The prevalence of wrongful convictions is hard to determine. The <a href="https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/about.aspx">National Registry of Exonerations</a> in the United States has recorded 3,396 exonerations nation-wide since 1989.</p> <p>But data on official exonerations fail to capture the many individuals whose convictions are yet to be overturned.</p> <p>Estimates of the prevalence of wrongful convictions in the United States range from <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/08874034221106747?casa_token=DL_gPkxNcI8AAAAA:uI-en9junmLXXScDGthXAuC9JcLsxp5OF1J4QB1WdA2L2cZRcwRuwtxVmIMiKYbYaSDj_ji4EdPSLA">0.5 to 5%</a>. The exact prevalence in Australia is less clear but we do know <a href="https://search.informit.org/doi/pdf/10.3316/informit.801706351305383?casa_token=cpZBfZmh944AAAAA%3Ax_zYUlnogLjuDWl81jc38vmeOovzw44M171rP7G3ibNnU35rvWS0yeIO_Ad0eBa54nE54KxaKzIb3w4">71 cases of wrongful convictions</a> have been identified in Australia between 1922 to 2015.</p> <p>Some have argued there could be <a href="https://search.informit.org/doi/pdf/10.3316/informit.308199161216493">350 convictions per year</a> of individuals who are factually innocent in Australia.</p> <p>A witness mistakenly identifying an innocent suspect is common in many wrongful conviction cases.</p> <p>Eyewitness misidentification is the leading contributing factor in wrongful convictions overturned by the <a href="https://innocenceproject.org/exonerations-data/">Innocence Project</a>, present in 64% of their successful cases.</p> <p>In Australia, <a href="https://search.informit.org/doi/pdf/10.3316/informit.801706351305383?casa_token=cpZBfZmh944AAAAA%3Ax_zYUlnogLjuDWl81jc38vmeOovzw44M171rP7G3ibNnU35rvWS0yeIO_Ad0eBa54nE54KxaKzIb3w4">6%</a> of recorded wrongful convictions involved an eyewitness error.</p> <p>This may be an underestimate given many applications to innocence initiatives in Australia alleging wrongful conviction, such as the <a href="https://bohii.net/">Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative</a>, report <a href="https://bohii.net/blog/positiononestablishingccrcas">eyewitness evidence</a> as a potential contributing factor.</p> <p>In Mack’s case, two victims misidentified him as the perpetrator. These identifications proved to be instrumental in his wrongful conviction. How did the two victims get it wrong?</p> <h2>How problematic procedures influence eyewitnesses</h2> <p>Eyewitness identification evidence relies on witnesses to accurately remember criminal perpetrators. Several factors affect eyewitness memory accuracy. Features of the crime can impact memory, such as whether it was light or dark, or whether the perpetrator wore a disguise.</p> <p>Memory can also be affected by characteristics of the witness at the time of the crime, such as their stress or intoxication levels.</p> <p>These factors are present at the time of the crime and cannot be changed. What is perhaps more crucial is that eyewitness memory can also be affected by the procedures law enforcement use to collect identification evidence.</p> <p>In <a href="https://innocenceproject.org/news/hit-in-dna-database-proves-leonard-macks-innocence-after-47-years-of-wrongful-conviction/">Mack’s case</a>, there were serious problems with the procedures used to get the identifications from the victims. One of the victims made three separate identifications of Mack. Witnesses should only complete one identification procedure for each suspect, because the first identification will bias future identification attempts.</p> <p>For two of the identifications the victim made, she was only shown Mack by himself surrounded by police. Showing a lone suspect without any other lineup members may <a href="https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-29406-3_2">increase mistaken identifications</a>, particularly when the context in which they are shown is highly suggestive.</p> <p>Seeing Mack in handcuffs and in the presence of police may have led the victim to identify him. Mack was the only person shown to the witness in these identification attempts, so the police officers organising the process knew he was the suspect.</p> <p>“Single-blind” administration of identification procedures – where the police officers organising the lineup know who the suspect is – increase the likelihood of <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2017-49224-002">mistaken identifications</a>.</p> <p>For the other identification this victim made, she picked Mack out of a photo lineup containing seven images. Mack’s photo was the only photo in the lineup that contained visible clothing and the year (1975) in the background. All members of a lineup must be matched and no one lineup member <a href="https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/lhb-lhb0000359.pdf">should stand out</a>, but Mack’s photo was distinct.</p> <p>With all these problematic practices combined, we can see how Mack was misidentified and convicted.</p> <p>In 2020, a team of eyewitness experts published <a href="https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/lhb-lhb0000359.pdf">nine evidence-based recommendations </a>for conducting identification procedures.</p> <p>These recommendations serve to reduce mistaken identifications and enhance accurate ones.</p> <p>The recommendations address the problematic practices in Mack’s case, but also include things like making sure there is sufficient evidence to place a suspect in a lineup, and giving appropriate instructions to witnesses during the procedure.</p> <p>Identification procedures should also be video recorded to identify any poor practices.</p> <p>While these recommendations will go a long way to reducing wrongful convictions resulting from faulty eyewitness identifications, they will only be effective if followed by police.</p> <p>The next step is ensuring these recommendations are embedded into everyday policing practice.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/214844/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hayley-cullen-423538"><em>Hayley Cullen</em></a><em>, Lecturer, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/macquarie-university-1174">Macquarie University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-mistaken-identity-can-lead-to-wrongful-convictions-214844">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Home and Away star jailed for violent assault

<p>Former <em>Home and Away</em> star Felix Dean has been jailed for a violent assault, in which he attacked three people, tried to steal a car and used a wine bottle as a weapon. </p> <p>The 26-year-old appeared in Sydney Downing Centre Local Court via video link on Monday where he pleaded guilty to assault with intention to rob, three counts of common assault, and breaching a previous court order.</p> <p>The court heard he was using drugs and “heavily intoxicated” when he approached a stranger for “unclear reasons” outside a restaurant in Newtown, in Sydney’s inner west, earlier this year. </p> <p>Dean, who shot to fame portraying the young character VJ Patterson on the hit show <em>Home and Away</em>, then became engaged in a violent altercation with two people on the street. </p> <p>Just a few weeks later, Dean then tried to steal a man’s luxury car while wielding a wine bottle as a weapon in the suburb of Botany. </p> <p>His lawyer Phoebe MacDougall told the court on Monday Dean didn’t dispute the facts of the offences, given he was under the influence when they occurred. </p> <p>“He largely doesn’t remember the events, given the drugs he was on at the time, being meth and alcohol,” she said.</p> <p>Ms MacDougall explained the former child actor had become addicted to illicit drugs following a traumatic event at school which “significantly altered his personality during his formative years”. </p> <p>In a statement provided to NCA NewsWire, Dean explained he “resorted to drugs to cope with strong emotions” following the disturbing occurrence at school. </p> <p>“Not only dealing with that, but I was also living on the streets, with the shame of knowing I was recognised because of my time as an actor on TV,” he said.</p> <p>Ms MacDougall said Dean was very encouraged by the prospect of engaging in rehabilitation and had tried to enrol himself in a custodial program.</p> <p>However, given the seriousness of Dean's criminal record, he was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment with a non-parole period of one year. </p> <p>“I want to apologise to the many people I have hurt and to my mother who has stood by me,” Dean continued in his statement.</p> <p>The former child actor maintained his time on hit soap opera<em> Home and Away</em> had been a “positive experience” but admitted he continues to struggle with the fallout of fame.</p> <p>“Ten years on, when even the character has been replaced by multiple actors, I am trying my best to overcome the challenges I have outside of the show,” he said.</p> <p>“I wish nothing more than to be afforded the opportunity to do so without the scrutiny of the public and the media.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Seven / Facebook</em></p>

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Sitcom star jailed for 30 years

<p><em>That ‘70s Show</em> star Danny Masterson has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for raping two women who were in the Church of Scientology with him in 2003. </p> <p>Masterson, 47, who was found guilty of raping victims Jen B and N Trout in his Hollywood home in June, received his sentence on Thursday, California time. </p> <p>The actor remained silent in court as he received 15 years for each count, which will be served consecutively. </p> <p>“One way or another you will have to come to terms with your prior actions, and their consequences,” Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charlaine Olmedoe told Masterson,  according to the <em>New York Post</em>.</p> <p>The victims testified that they passed out after Materson gave them drinks, then he proceeded to violently rape them. </p> <p>Prosecutors claimed that Materson raped N Trout so violently that she threw up in her mouth. </p> <p>Prior to the sentencing, N Trout read out her victim statement, where she slammed the actor for his violent actions, but also forgave him and hoped that he would do better in prison. </p> <p>“You relish in hurting women. It is your addiction. It is without question your favourite thing to do,” she said, according to court reporter Meghann Cuniff.</p> <p>“Life is precious and fragile. Find your heart … Learn something. Read books. Listen to the brightness of nothing and get well. I forgive you." </p> <p>Jen B, on the other hand, reiterated the fact that there was no conspiracy to take down Materson or the Church of Scientology. </p> <p>This comes after the defence had previously argued that the sexual acts were consensual, accusing the women of co-ordinating their stories to discredit former Hollywood star.</p> <p>The victims also told the court that Scientology officials told them not to report the crime because Masterson was a high-ranking member of the church, and instead they were put through an ethics program. </p> <p>After an initial deadlock vote, the jury found Masterson guilty of two counts of rape, but could not reach a unanimous verdict on a third count alleging that the former star also assaulted his ex-girlfriend  Christina Bixler.</p> <p>However, he was not charged with any counts of drugging as there were no toxicology evidence to back up the women's statement, which will likely play a role in  Masterson’s plan to appeal the verdict.</p> <p>The Church of Scientology also released a statement, criticising the notion that they tried to silence the complaints, claiming that the women's testimony were “uniformly false”.</p> <p>“The Church has no policy prohibiting or discouraging members from reporting criminal conduct of anyone — Scientologists or not — to law enforcement,”</p> <p>“Quite the opposite, church policy explicitly demands Scientologists abide by all laws of the land.”</p> <p><em>Image: Lucy Nicholson - Pool/Getty Images</em></p>

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How a garden hose dispute between neighbours ended with a 30-year jail sentence

<p>An Aussie man has been sentenced to 30 years in jail after shooting two of his neighbours, in a months-long dispute that began over a disagreement over a garden hose. </p> <p>Rodney John Lee, a 74-year-old from Melbourne's south-east, was sentenced to 30 years behind bars in court on Monday, after showing little remorse for pulling out a shotgun and murdering Saumoto Gasio and Tibor Laszlo, who lived in the same unit block. </p> <p>The dispute between the neighbours began several months ago, with tensions escalating quickly in the lead up to the shooting, which occurred on January 13th 2022. </p> <p>Lee had accused one neighbour's grandson of being a drug dealer, and was angry others would turn off a hose he used to water a communal garden.</p> <p>On the day of the killings, Lee left the hose running and went inside his apartment, later screaming in anger when he realised that the water had been shut off.</p> <p>According to court documents, Lee yelled to his neighbours, "You turn the hose off again you bastards, I'll f***ing kill you."</p> <p>Later that night, Lee confronted residents in the garden when he got into an argument with Mr Gasio, who told him he would ignore demands about the hose because he was wasting water by leaving the hose running unattended.</p> <p>Lee then went back to his apartment and armed himself with his grandfather's shotgun, before he headed back to the group and from close range fired at Mr Gasio, who was sitting on a bench.</p> <p>Other residents of the building fled the scene looking for safety, while a badly injured Mr Gasio stumbled into a neighbour's unit. </p> <p>As neighbours tried to help Mr Gasio, Lee came through the door and fired the shotgun again, this time hitting Mr Laszlo.</p> <p>Both men died at the scene.</p> <p>Before handing down the sentencing, Justice James Elliott described the killer's actions as "senseless and brutally violent".</p> <p>"Nothing could justify the disproportionate, senseless and brutally violent way in which you responded," Justice Elliott said.</p> <div data-component="EmphasisedText"> <p>"You murdered two people in their places of residence, where they were entitled to feel safe, in the presence of other residents of the unit complex."</p> </div> <p>"Both victims were completely defenceless against you."</p> <p>Lee is likely to die in jail,  as h<span style="font-family: abcsans, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 16px;">e will be aged 97 by the time he is eligible for parole in early 2046.</span></p> <p class="paragraph_paragraph__3Hrfa" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; font-family: abcsans, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif;">"You'll almost certainly be imprisoned for the remainder of your life," Justice Elliott said.</p> <p class="paragraph_paragraph__3Hrfa" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: border-box; font-family: abcsans, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, 'Helvetica Neue', Arial, sans-serif;"><em>Image credits: ABC News</em></p>

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"Most dangerous spy in US history" dies in jail

<p>The USA’s most notorious FBI agent has been found dead in his top security prison cell at the age of 79. </p> <p>Prison officials confirmed the news of Robert Hanssen’s passing, more than 20 years after he received a life sentence for selling classified US material throughout the 1980s and 1990s. </p> <p>While no cause of death has been revealed, a statement from the Bureau of Prisons revealed that staff at the facility took life-saving measures after Hanssen was found unresponsive in his cell, to no avail. </p> <p>Hanssen - who is now regarded as one of the most dangerous spies in US history - sold thousands of documents in exchange for the diamonds and cash over the course of his deception. According to the FBI, by the time of his arrest, Hanssen had received the value of more than $1.4 million. </p> <p>He first launched his career with the FBI in 1976, and it was only a few years before he began spying for the Soviet Union, sending classified information - on everything from human resources to counterintelligence - to the Soviet Union and Russia under the alias ‘Ramon Garcia’. </p> <p>It is believed that he was able to cover for himself through his role in the FBI’s New York counterintelligence department, where he was tasked with tracking down his own kind - spies. </p> <p>“As a result of his assignments, Hanssen had direct and legitimate access to voluminous information about sensitive programs and operations,” the FBI explained at the time. “As the complaint alleges, Hanssen effectively used his training, expertise and experience as a counterintelligence Agent to avoid detection, to include keeping his identity and place of employment from his Russian handlers and avoiding all the customary ‘tradecraft’ and travel usually associated with espionage.”</p> <p>Neither the FBI or CIA caught on to the fact there was a mole working within the system for years, but did eventually secure “original Russian documentation of an American spy”, according to the FBI and Forbes. </p> <p>According to reports, not even Hanssen’s Russian handlers knew his true identity, and he was not at the top of any suspect list. By all appearances, he lived a frugal life among Washington’s conservative Catholics, with a wife and six children. </p> <p>But Hanssen was caught in suburban Virginia at a ‘dead drop’, and his arrest came in 2001. He pleaded guilty to 15 counts of espionage, and was consequently sentenced to life behind bars without parole for “espionage, conspiracy to commit espionage, and attempted espionage”.</p> <p>“I apologise for my behaviour,” Hanssen said during his sentencing. “I am shamed by it.</p> <p>“I have opened the door for calumny against my totally innocent wife and children. I’ve hurt so many deeply.”</p> <p><em>Images: FBI</em></p>

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Tourist jailed over nude stunt at Bali temple

<p>A German tourist could face time in jail after stripping naked and crashing a sacred dance performance at a temple in Bali. </p> <p>The backpacker, identified by police as 28-year-old Darja Tuschinski, casually strolled up to the stage with no clothes on while the dancers remained professional and calm. </p> <p>In the now-viral clip filmed earlier this week, the backpacker was filmed climbing the stairs and attempting to open a door into the temple, as a local man attempted to stop her. </p> <p>After barging the door open, she was then filmed then walking down and kneeling in front of the stage, where she appeared to pray in front of horrified onlookers. </p> <p>“The female foreigner went naked on the stage of Saraswati Ubud Temple owned by Tjokorda Ngurah Suyadnya AKA Cok Wah,” Bali Police spokesman Stefanus Satake Bayu Setianto told local media outlet <em><a title="coconuts.co" href="https://coconuts.co/bali/news/naked-german-woman-crashes-balinese-dance-show-at-ubud-temple/">Coconuts Bali</a></em>.</p> <p>The bizarre stunt sparked backlash online, with one local writing, “Why weren’t you immediately given clothes and secured first? There was someone who was performing the Balinese dance … We don’t need crazy caucasians, do we?”</p> <p>Another wrote, “Sad to see the behaviour of this one person.” </p> <p>A third pointed out the cultural clash, writing, “Caucasians who go to Asia usually feel the most spiritual freedom (and) enlightenment … But (their) life and mindset are not in accordance with traditional Asian spiritual and spiritual values, especially in Bali.”</p> <p>Local council chief Wayan Widana told another local media outlet, <em><a title="radarbali.jawapos.com" href="https://radarbali.jawapos.com/pariwisata/24/05/2023/dewa-ratu-viral-wanita-jerman-bugil-di-pentas-tari-polda-bali-telisik-begini-kata-camat-ubud/">Radar Bali</a></em>, that Tuschinski was known to suffer mental health issues and had been “brought to the Bangli Mental Institution.”</p> <p>In recent months, Indonesian officials have expressed their frustrations with unruly tourists.</p> <p>Ravindra Singh Shekhawat, who is the general manager for Bali operations at Melbourne-based tour company Intrepid Travel, told <a href="https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/incidents/crazy-caucasians-bali-community-slams-german-tourists-naked-act/news-story/035939942bb25f7e127ee419131031fb" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>news.com.au</em></a> earlier this year, “Recently there has been an increase in tourists not following the local laws and respecting local culture and traditions, including instances of tourists getting into heated arguments with local police for not wearing helmets or breaking traffic laws.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Twitter</em></p>

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Woman demands jail time for own mother

<p>A grieving Florida woman is demanding her own mother serve prison time after her two young children died less than a year apart while allegedly in their grandmother’s care, one in an accidental drowning and another as a result of being left unattended in a hot car.</p> <p>Court records show that the grandmother, Tracey Nix, 65, was arrested and charged in November 2022 for aggravated manslaughter and leaving a child unsupervised in a motor vehicle.</p> <p>The charges are in relation to the death of seven-month-old Uriel Schock on November 1 2022.</p> <p>“How do you forget a little girl,” Uriel’s father, Drew Schock, said in an emotional interview with local station WFTS.</p> <p>Authorities reported that Nix left the young child in her car outside her Wauchula home for several hours after returning from lunch. Nix claimed she “forgot” about the child being in the vehicle, according to court documents.</p> <p>Nix told authorities that her daughter, Kaila Schock, asked her to mind Uriel while she went to a hair appointment, the documents read.</p> <p>Nix said she went to a friend’s house that morning before leaving to pick up Uriel.</p> <p>She then drove to a restaurant for lunch, the documents state. The pair left the restaurant at about 1:40pm.</p> <p>Security footage saw Nix putting Uriel into the rear car seat before driving off, authorities said in the documents.</p> <p>Nix claimed she drove about 10 minutes back to her home, parked the car and went inside to talk to her dog and practise the piano.</p> <p>She told Hardee County Sheriff’s Office that it was not like “I was rushing in the house to do anything ... I just forgot,” according to court documents.</p> <p>The court filings said that Nix was waiting for her other grandchild to arrive, so they could go out to dinner.</p> <p>After 4:30pm, Nix took two cups of tea out to her car for her and her grandson before driving her vehicle to her backyard.</p> <p>According to authorities, Nix’s husband was in the backyard and the couple talked for about 10 minutes, the documents state.</p> <p>When the older grandchild arrived, Nix said it suddenly “came across her head” that Uriel was still in the car, court documents state.</p> <p>Nix’s husband pulled the baby from the car and performed CPR while someone called 911.</p> <p>Uriel was sadly pronounced dead at the scene. The sheriff’s office said temperatures that day reached approximately 32°C.</p> <p>Autopsies showed no sign of injury. The little girl’s death was ruled a homicide.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Melbourne mother to be jailed with baby

<p>A Melbourne mother and her son will face up to at least 12 months behind bars after she stole almost $200,000 from Medicare while employed at a medical clinic.</p> <p>Sarah Ward, 31, made more than 1,600 false claims to Medicare, sometimes up to 80 a day, while working as a medical receptionist at the Melbourne Digestive Centre.</p> <p>It was not the first time the mother had committed fraud while working in the medical field.</p> <p>Ward had just completed a sentence for stealing $29,000 from Cabrini Hospital, where she worked for five years before being terminated.</p> <p>The County Court Judge Geoff Chettle sentenced Ward to two years, ordering her to serve at least 12 months in jail after she pleaded guilty to a single charge of obtaining a financial advantage by deception from a Commonwealth entity.</p> <p>The 31-year-old mother of two stole $181,121.75 from Medicare between March 2019 and April 2020.</p> <p>Out of the 1,609 false claims, her name was on 781 and her husband’s name was on 828, with refunds transferred into bank accounts for both of them.</p> <p>Her fraud was discovered when the clinic’s accountants tipped off authorities and Medicare.</p> <p>Ward told a psychologist she believes she was inadequately paid and wished to keep up with her affluent friends, wanting to buy better clothing for her children and a better car.</p> <p>Judge Chettle said Ward had wanted to keep up with the lifestyles she saw on social media.</p> <p>Ward believed if she was not able to accumulate the money to match the affluent lifestyles she so desired, then it would result in her experiencing recurrent rejection and would remain on the periphery of social groups, according to Chettle.</p> <p>Her offending involved planning and sophistication which was both repetitive and long-lasting.</p> <p>She obtained a hefty amount of funds, and breached the trust placed in her by her employees, Chettle said.</p> <p>Ward was fired by the clinic as soon as the offence was uncovered, she then went to work for a psychology practice who were unaware of her fraud.</p> <p>She has been on maternity leave since February 2022, but seems destined to lose that job once she’s behind bars, the judge said.</p> <p>The court was told Ward had repaid the money in full, taking $100,000 from a mortgage offset account and selling a $70,000 car. She also allegedly borrowed money from her mother.</p> <p>Ward has two children, aged one and three.</p> <p>The one-year-old will go into custody with her as part of a Corrections Victoria’s Living with Mum program.</p> <p>Former colleague Vanessa Whitelaw attended Ward’s court hearings to get closure after a traumatic period within what was described as a tight-knit workplace.</p> <p>Co-workers had wondered about Ward’s luxurious lifestyle, Whitelaw said.</p> <p>We thought it was very strange — she was very young, (with a) new family, mortgage, driving around in a $150,000 vehicle, Gucci scarves, fancy shoes,” she said.</p> <p>“But never in a million years did we think that this was going on behind the scenes.”</p> <p>We thought it was very strange — she was very young, (with a) new family, mortgage, driving around in a $150,000 vehicle, Gucci scarves, fancy shoes,” she said.</p> <p>“But never in a million years did we think that this was going on behind the scenes.”</p> <p><em>Image credit: Getty</em></p>

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"Jail them": Fury after baby forced to vape while family laughs

<p>WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT</p> <p>A disturbing video of an 11-month-old baby boy smoking a vape has surfaced online, sparking outrage among locals.</p> <p>In the footage, a mother from Kempsey on the NSW mid-north coast is shown watching on and smiling as the baby’s aunt places the vape into his mouth.</p> <p>In the background, other people, which are believed to be family, are seen laughing at the sinister act as the baby coughs and breathes out the smoke.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nMkThvua9M0" width="560" height="314" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p>Although the family seemed to be enjoying the baby’s distress, hundreds were furious by the footage when it surfaced online.</p> <p>“Who gives their kid a vape, grow up and be a better mother,” one person said.</p> <p>“How can you put the vape up to your own son’s mouth and watch him suck on it and laugh while he’s choking and coughing.”</p> <p>Angered viewers added they were “disgusted” by the family’s action.</p> <p>“It’s terrible, everyone can’t believe it. Why would you give a young baby, a vape?” a local said 7NEWS.</p> <p>"Disgusting... I can’t believe this,” another said.</p> <p>Experts say not only is the baby in the video at risk but other children could also be exposed if this kind of behaviour is normalised.</p> <p>“It is incredibly alarming to see that video of that poor child,” Paige Preston from the Lung Foundation told 7NEWS.</p> <p>“This is a massive concern because it does normalise vaping, it makes light of something that is incredibly dangerous to children and to adults.”</p> <p>Preston added that research shows e-cigarette use and vaping can lead to lung damage, both short and long-term.</p> <p>2GB radio host Ben Fordham also weighed in on the sinister act on his talk show, saying, “What is wrong with people? Your brains must be fried.”</p> <p>“Whoever is responsible should spend some time behind bars!” he added.</p> <p>Comments posted with the video suggest the 1-month-old boy has been taken to hospital.</p> <p>It’s not clear if he is suffering any symptoms or if he was just there for observation.</p> <p>Experts suggest parents should seek medical advice from the poisons hotline or the emergency room if they believe a child has ingested smoke from a vape.</p> <p>Police told 7News they are aware of the video, and there is an investigation underway.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Facebook</em></p>

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Russia finally frees Olympic basketballer

<p>Russia has freed WNBA star Brittney Griner in a dramatic high-level prisoner swap with the US for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.</p> <p>The swap was a major goal for President Joe Biden, but carried a hefty price. The deal, which was the second such exchange in eight months with Russia, procured the release of the most prominent American detained abroad.</p> <p>Brittney Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist whose months-long imprisonment on drug charges brought unprecedented attention to the population of wrongful detainees abroad.</p> <p>Biden's authorisation to release a Russian felon once nicknamed "the Merchant of Death" highlighted the escalating pressure that his government faced to bring Griner home. This follows the recent resolution of her criminal case.</p> <p>"Today my family is whole," Cherelle Griner said in a press conference at the White House. She also called for Paul Whelan's release.</p> <p>Biden says US has "not forgotten about Paul Whelan", will "never give up" trying to secure his release from Russia.</p> <p>"We've never forgotten about Brittney and we've not forgotten about Paul Whelan, who's been unjustly detained in Russia for years," the US President said.</p> <p>"This was not a choice of which American to bring home. We brought home Trevor Reed when we had a chance earlier this year. Sadly, for totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul's case differently than Brittney's, and while we have not yet succeeded in securing Paul's release, we are not giving up.”</p> <p>Russian and US officials had conveyed cautious optimism in recent weeks after months of strained negotiations. Biden announced in November that he was hopeful that Russia would engage in a deal now that the midterm elections were complete.</p> <p>The Biden administration was ultimately willing to exchange Viktor Bout if it meant Griner's freedom. The detention of one of the greatest players in WNBA history contributed to a swirl of unprecedented public attention for an individual detainee case — not to mention intense pressure on the White House.</p> <p>Griner's arrest in February made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad.</p> <p><em><span style="color: #323338; font-family: Roboto, Rubik, 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; font-size: 16px; background-color: #ffffff;">Images: Wikimedia / Twitter</span></em></p>

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