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Vixens hit hard in pocket for refusing to fly to Perth



The Melbourne Vixens have accepted a costly punishment for refusing to travel to Perth last season to play the Fever.

The Melbourne Vixens have called for Super Netball’s “protocols” to be reviewed after begrudgingly accepting sanctions of more than $80,000 in fines and match costs for their failure to travel to Perth last season to play West Coast Fever.

The punishment comes after the completion of a Netball Australia investigation into why June’s round eight game between the teams had to be rescheduled.

The Vixens refused to travel to Perth after three of their players were denied entry to Western Australia after having visited Byron Bay, a Covid-19 “red zone”.

The Fever claimed the Vixens could have replaced the three “compromised” players but decided not to.

“This is not in the best interests of the competition and devastating for our club, members, sponsors and fans,” the Fever said in a statement at the time.

The investigation – completed by the competition’s compliance manager – found that the Vixens had breached Super Netball’s team participation agreement by not travelling to Perth to play the match.

The Vixens have been fined $50,000 – half of which is suspended for two years – and ordered to pay $31,702.92 for the costs to replay the match at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena on July 22.

Netball Victoria, who own and operate the Vixens, have accepted the fine despite their unhappiness with the investigation.

“We are disappointed with the outcome considering the evidence we supplied throughout the review,” Vixens and Netball Victoria CEO Rosie King said.

“We are also disappointed that other options initially presented by the league – such as to delay the game for 24 hours to enable the entire team to travel, or to relocate the game to South Australia or Queensland – were not explored or supported, nor was the league’s ‘Covid-19 decision making process’ enacted which would have provided a framework for teams to follow in such circumstances.

“We understand, however, that the environment in which everyone was working in was extraordinarily difficult with the clock ticking and decisions being made under pressure-cooker conditions.

“The wellbeing and safety of our athletes and staff will always be our priority.

“We hope that the league’s protocols are likewise reviewed as part of a continual improvement exercise.”

Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan said while Covid-19 had presented “unique challenges” for the Super Netball competition and that the Vixens had not deliberately attempted to “disrupt the competition”, rule breaches would not be tolerated.

“Netball Australia recognises that clearer processes and protocols are required for the 2022 Super Netball season,” Ryan added.

Originally published as Vixens punished for their refusal to travel to Perth to play the Fever




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WA: Police suspect alleged abduction of Cleo Smith was opportunistic



As the desperate search for Cleo Smith enters day 17, the lead detective on the case has revealed some new details.

Detectives believe it is “more than likely” that four-year-old Cleo Smith was abducted in an “opportunistic type event”.

Cleo disappeared from the family tent at the Quobba Blowholes campground, in Macleod near Carnarvon in Western Australia’s north, on October 16.

As the search for the young girl entered day 17 on Tuesday, lead investigator Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde said it was likely Cleo was targeted in a short period.

“It’s more than likely an opportunistic type event,” he told 6PR radio.

“We know they got there … on the Friday night. It was getting dark and so there would have been limited opportunity for people to observe Cleo at that time.”

Cleo woke up at 1.30am, was given some water and went back to sleep, then her mother Ellie Smith realised she was missing about 6am.

Superintendent Wilde said police were examining how someone could take Cleo from the tent without attracting attention.

“That’s what we’re trying to resolve, that’s what were trying to understand,” he said.

“We’re doing a lot of work forensically … we’ve had over 1000 calls to Crime Stoppers.”

Superintendent Wilde said police confirmed Cleo was at the campsite via video footage on a parent’s phone that had a geolocation tag, as well as audio of her voice on CCTV at a nearby shack.

“We’ve got that CCTV but there’s also some video footage that we’ve retrieved off the parent’s phone that puts the fact that the family was there and Cleo was at the campsite,” he said.

“We’ve got some independent forensic material that corroborates that fact.”

Superintendent Wilde also said police had spoken to more than 110 people at the campsite but still wanted “less than a handful” of others to provide information.

“We still believe there may be a couple more that haven’t come forward for various reasons — they may have been camping further away,” he said.

“We are keen for those persons to come forward so we can speak to them. It may be that they witnessed something that may assist us.”

Superintendent Wilde said police were looking at all angles, including people close to the family, but again stressed Ms Smith and Cleo’s stepfather Jake Gliddon were not suspects.

“We keep an open mind with things, but certainly there’s no evidence to suggest that they are suspects or had any involvement in Cleo’s disappearance,” he said.

“We cast the net far and wide, and we look at all of those possibilities … certainly people close to the family (and) all of the people that were in the vicinity.”

He said it was a painstaking process to go through everything.

Acting Police Commissioner Col Blanch told ABC radio that the working theory was that Cleo was likely still in WA.

“We’ve tracked down people that we didn’t know, we’ve found them and we have eliminated them, and that’s our focus at the moment — eliminate as many people as possible,” he said.

Mr Blanch said the forensic work included mapping every inch of the area, using drones and satellite technology.

“Now we’re in a stage where we need to forensically go over that ground inch by inch to see what disturbances might be in nearby areas for any sort of evidence that might give an inkling as to what happened,” he said.

“It could be tyre tracks, it could be the sleeping bag — it could be anything.”

He said police were scouring through a heap of data, including phone tower evidence.

Police said on Monday that they were leaving “no stone unturned”, revealing officers had collected more than 50 cubic metres of rubbish from roadside bins as far north as Minilya and as far south as Geraldton.

A major focus of the police investigation has been centred on a mystery vehicle seen by two people turning right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Hwy, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo disappeared.

Police have repeatedly indicated the person may not be a suspect but may have relevant information.

A $1m reward has been offered by the state government for information that solves Cleo’s disappearance.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Originally published as Police suspect the alleged abduction of Cleo Smith was opportunistic




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Willetton Senior High School: Boy, 14, arrested after alleged stabbing



The frantic search for a 14-year-old boy, who allegedly stabbed a teacher at a top public school, has come to an end with the teen now in custody.

A teenage boy has been arrested after a teacher was allegedly stabbed at one of Perth’s top public schools on Monday.

The alleged incident triggered a lockdown at Willetton Senior High School, in the city’s southern suburbs, before police launched a major search for a 14-year-old boy.

“A 14-year-old student has been located and taken into custody in the Willetton area this evening, following an incident that occurred at Willetton Senior High School earlier today,” WA Police said in a statement on Monday night.

“Further information regarding this incident will be released tomorrow.”

A St John Ambulance spokeswoman said the woman, aged in her 50s, was taken to Fiona Stanley Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

She was in a stable condition and was expected to make a full recovery.

A police spokesman said the teacher suffered a “minor wound” as a result of allegedly being assaulted by a student.

“The student has left the school grounds and we’re now attempting to find the student,” police said earlier on Monday afternoon.

It was believed the alleged incident did not happen in a classroom setting and the victim was the school’s Year 8 co-ordinator.

Education Department director general Lisa Rodgers said students and staff were instructed to remain in their classrooms as a precaution.

“School staff acted immediately to ensure students were kept away from the situation,” she said.

“At no time were any students in danger.

“We send our best wishes to the teacher involved and will be offering her support and to any others affected by this incident.”

The State School Teachers’ Union of WA said it was “deeply disturbed” by the incident.

“Every teacher should be able to go to work confident that they will be safe from harm,” president Pat Byrne said.

“The union will liaise closely with the Department of Education to ensure all staff at the school get every support they need during this traumatic time.

“Through its Safety is Our Priority campaign, the SSTUWA has worked unceasingly to improve safety standards at schools.

“This incident is a reminder of the dangers teachers face and the need for constant improvements around safety in schools.”

Originally published as Teenage boy arrested after teacher stabbed at Willetton Senior High School in Perth




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Residential property prices keep climbing as investors push out would-be first home buyers



Australian housing prices keep creeping higher, pushing more would-be first home buyers off the property ladder and fuelling rate hike talk.

Australian residential property prices keep creeping higher, but experts believe the peak of the current cycle is not far off, with the Reserve Bank tipped to increase interest rates sooner than flagged.

CoreLogic data released on Monday showed national dwelling values inched up 1.5 per cent in October, down from a peak monthly growth rate of 2.8 per cent in March.

That’s a touch higher than predicted by CommSec (about 1.3 per cent) and AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver (1.4 per cent).

The rise brings the national price growth rate over the past 12 months to a whopping 21.6 per cent.

But CoreLogic reiterated what it had been saying for months – the red-hot property market is slowly losing momentum.

That may be cold comfort for already priced out, would-be first home buyers.

“Housing prices continue to outpace wages by a ratio of about 12:1,” CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless said.

“This is one of the reasons why first home buyers are becoming a progressively smaller component of housing demand.”

Other reasons are the end of stimulus measures such as HomeBuilder, more supply on the market – with new listings surging by 47 per cent since hitting a low in September – and, from Monday, the tightening of mortgage assessments in a bid to slow new lending at high debt-to-income ratios.

Inflation data last week was higher than expected, with the most significant price rise being for new homes bought by owner-occupiers.

Economists say pressure is accordingly building on the RBA to up the cash rate from its historic low of 0.1 per cent.

The central bank holds its monthly meeting on Tuesday and every word in the statement that follows will be combed for even the slightest shift in its thinking.

“We now expect the first rate hike in a year’s time,” Mr Oliver said in his latest market update.

“The RBA won’t rush into a rate hike because it wants to see that ‘inflation is sustainably within the target range’.”

The RBA has repeatedly said a hike was unlikely before 2024.

“However, with the economy recovering, we believe that the conditions for the start of rate hikes will now be in place by late 2022, so we expect the first hike to be in November 2022, taking the cash rate to 0.25 per cent, followed by a 0.25 per cent hike in December 2022, taking the cash rate to 0.5 per cent by the end of next year,” Mr Oliver said.

Many other economists are tipping an RBA move in early 2023.

Meanwhile, as housing continues to become less and less affordable, CoreLogic expects demand will skew towards higher density sectors of the market, especially in Sydney, where the gap between the median house and unit value is now close to $500,000.

“With investors becoming a larger component of new housing finance, we may see more demand flowing into medium to high density properties,” Mr Lawless said.

“Investor demand across the unit sector could be bolstered as overseas borders open, which is likely to have a positive impact on rental demand, especially across inner city unit precincts.”

Australia’s apartment markets have generally recorded a lower rate of growth compared to houses, CoreLogic says.

Also on Monday, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed the continuation of a trend seen over recent months – investor mortgage commitments rising as owner-occupier new loan commitments fell.

MEDIAN VALUES AROUND AUSTRALIA:

Sydney: $1.071m (up 25.3 per cent over 12 months)

Canberra: $864,909 (up 25.5 per cent)

Melbourne: $780,303 (up 16.37 per cent)

Hobart: $678,170 (up 28.06 per cent)

Brisbane: $642,097 (up 22.3 per cent)

Adelaide: $543,265 (up 20.07 per cent)

Perth: $526,625 (up 16.37 per cent)

Darwin: $490,236 (up 19.28 per cent)

Originally published as Residential property prices keep climbing as investors push out would-be first home buyers




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Cleo Smith: Mystery driver still unidentified in investigation into missing girl



Detectives investigating the disappearance of Cleo Smith are growing more concerned about a mystery driver.

Police are yet to identify the driver of a vehicle seen in the middle of the night near the campsite where four-year-old Cleo Smith vanished almost two weeks ago.

Lead investigator Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde also confirmed police did not have any suspects “at this stage” in the mysterious case.

Police suspect Cleo was abducted from the family tent at the Blowholes campground in Macleod, near Carnarvon in Western Australia’s north, on October 16, and have been collecting CCTV and dashcam footage ever since in a bid to find her.

For the past week, detectives have been keen to find the driver of a vehicle seen by two people turning right off Blowholes Rd onto North West Coastal Hwy, heading towards Carnarvon, between 3am and 3.30am the day Cleo disappeared.

Police have repeatedly indicated the person may not be a suspect but may have relevant information.

Asked on Friday whether police were growing more concerned about the car given so much time has passed without the person coming forward, Superintendent Wilde said: “It’s a priority for us to identify who was in that vehicle so we’d like that person to come forward … we haven’t identified that vehicle yet and we’d like to do so.”

Superintendent Wilde also provided a timeline of that fateful day, starting with the call from Cleo’s distressed mother Ellie Smith at 6.23am.

The key times included:

  • Just before 6.30am the first car with two officers was sent to the scene under priority two, with lights and sirens going, arriving at 7.10am;
  • 6.41am a second vehicle was sent, followed by a third at 7.44am;
  • 7.26am a protected forensic area was set up at the scene;
  • 7.33am police requested a drone operator attend;
  • 8am some family and friends arrived to help with the search. Meanwhile, detectives visited the family home, then went to the Blowholes and began stopping vehicles close to the search area;
  • 8.09am a local company helicopter arrived to help with the search;
  • 8.11am SES team requested and they arrived just over an hour later;
  • 8.24am Inspector Jon Munday arranged to leave Geraldton to take command in Carnarvon. Police air wing and volunteer search and rescue were also contacted;
  • 8.34am police set up a roadblock at the Blowholes;
  • 9.30am detectives sat with Ms Smith and remained with her all day; and
  • 11am homicide detectives were deployed.

Asked why police did not lock down the campsite immediately when officers arrived at the scene, Superintendent Wilde said: “Obviously, the first police getting there had to establish what’s actually taken place.”

He further added: “It’s a large area … they did a great job by establishing a protective forensic area, containing the tent and all the evidence that may be contained within that immediately, so the first officers at the scene did a really good and thorough job.”

Asked why the marine search was called off early, he said police relied on experts regarding the terrain and water conditions.

A $1m reward has been offered by the state government for information that solves the girl’s mystery disappearance.

Superintendent Wilde previously revealed there had been more than 200 possible sightings of Cleo reported to police since she vanished but all had proved “unfruitful”.

He said on Friday that Cleo’s sleeping bag also remained missing despite some calls from the public.

Ms Smith and Cleo’s stepfather Jake Gliddon have vehemently denied having any involvement in her disappearance.

Police have also repeatedly said they are not suspects, nor is Cleo’s father.

But that has not stopped some internet trolls from accusing them.

“That’s terrible,” Superintendent Wilde said when asked about the online abuse on Friday.

“They have been very helpful. We’re doing everything we can to find out what happened to Cleo.

“They’re holding up, but I just ask all members of the public, it’s not helpful for anyone to publish anything online.”

Forensic officers have searched the family home three times and collected evidence in bags.

They have also returned to the campsite to collect ashes from old camp fires.

A GoFundMe page to support the search efforts and Cleo’s family has raised more than $85,000.

“We are thinking of you and beautiful Cleo all the way from London, England,” one donor wrote.

“We pray and wish her home soon safe and well xx from one mummy to another.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Originally published as Police continue to search for mystery driver during the probe into the disappearance of Cleo Smith




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WA: Protests after policeman found not guilty of murdering Aboriginal woman JC



The officer who shot dead an Aboriginal woman intends to remain a policeman, it has been revealed, as protesters demanded judicial reform.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this article contains images of a person who has died.

Red handprints have been daubed on the steps of Parliament House in Perth during a protest over a policeman being cleared of murdering an Aboriginal woman who he shot dead during a stand-off.

More than 100 people gathered in the city to honour JC, whose full name is not used for cultural reasons, while another 200 protesters rallied in Geraldton where she died in September 2019.

The constable who shot the 29-year-old was last week cleared of all criminal wrongdoing.

Police Commissioner Chris Dawson told reporters the officer, whose name has been suppressed by the Supreme Court, had indicated he wanted to remain with the force.

“I have spoken to the officer and his wife shortly after … the jury acquitted him,” he said.

“We’ll work our way through an assessment there in terms of any retraining and/or how we can actually proceed.

“We’ve also continued to engage with the family of the deceased, JC. We will continue to walk with Aboriginal people. I’m well aware that emotions are running high.

“My appeal is for leaders in the community to stand strongly and to stand sensibly against anyone committing any unlawful acts.”

The trial heard JC was suffering poor mental health when she took a kitchen knife from her relatives’ home and wandered through the streets of Rangeway holding it.

Eight officers rushed to the scene, but only one fired his gun at the mother-of-one.

The constable testified that he acted in self-defence, saying JC had turned towards him and raised the knife before he pulled the trigger.

He was the first WA police officer to face a murder charge for a death in custody in 93 years.

The jury was shown footage of JC being shot while surrounded by the police vehicles.

After deliberating for about three hours, the jury acquitted the officer of both murder and manslaughter.

On Thursday, protesters including actor and television personality Ernie Dingo called for reform of the justice system to protect indigenous people in custody.

After covering their hands in red dye, may people placed them on the steps of parliament.

As police tried to stop the protesters, Mr Dingo stepped in and spoke with the officers.

He then directed fellow protesters back down the stairs.

Protesters held signs and waved the Aboriginal flag during the rally.

Hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died since the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody in 1991, but no police or corrections officer has been convicted.

Before the rallies, Premier Mark McGowan said he understood the “angst and frustration” people were feeling.

“We just ask people to be law-abiding and peaceful, and do their protests in a way that doesn’t intimidate or threaten anyone else,” he said.

“It’s obviously a very highly charged situation – we just ask people to protest in a way that is respectful of others.”

Originally published as Protests after policeman found not guilty of murdering Aboriginal woman JC




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Cricket news; Marnus Labuschagne made 136 on a big day for Queensland



Facing over 200 balls wasn’t enough for Test star Marnus Labuschagne who wants to pile on runs before the Ashes.

Test star Marnus Labuschagne still wanted more after he made Tasmania pay for a dropped catch by posting his 19th first-class century and first for the season for Queensland in Townsville.

Labuschagne hadn’t passed 50 in four innings for the Bulls so far this season, across one Sheffield Shield match and two-one day games, in a slow burn to his Ashes preparation, with two singles figures scores among his output.

But he did face a mammoth 179 balls for a hard-fought 45 against South Australia in a drawn game in Adelaide, in a sign the batting-machine was going through his gears and he worked up to full steam against Tassie on day one of their Shield clash.

Dropped by Tigers skipper Beau Webster when he was on just 22, Labuschagne was at his shot-making best, pounding 15 fours and a six in his score of 136.

“I’d much rather still be out there batting. I’m disappointed getting out to that second new ball, ” he said after stumps.

“I’m always asking myself ways to get better, 130s are a good score and you’re not complaining about that but you want to make it into a big 180-plus score.

“They’re the sort of knocks that really put your team on the front foot (and) I certainly want to be making big scores.

“Obviously I missed out the first two games with a really big score, but I was able to spend some time (in the middle) and really found some rhythm out there.

“As a cricketer I don’t think anyone is really satisfied ever, it’s just one of those games.”

His Queensland captain, Usman Khawaja, fresh off what he called his best ever Shield century in Adelaide last week, continued his push for an Ashes call-up, with a half-century of his own.

Khawaja was 63 not out at stumps, guiding Queensland to a dominant 3-311 at stumps on day one after former Test opener Joe Burns also made 72.

Labuschagne had logged scores of 32, eight and 45 in the Bulls‘ first two games of their Shield title defence, while he was out for six in a one-dayer against South Australia.

It was a reduced output for a man who averages 60.8 in the Test arena,and an output that wasn’t going to last long.

Unlike most of his fellow Test batsman, Labuschagne will have three Shield matches under his belt before the opening Ashes Test at the gabba on December 8.

Former Australian one-day bowler Gurinder Sandhu was called up for his maiden Shield game for Queensland, to face his former side.

The 28-year-old, who played two ODIs for Australia in 2015, is playing for this third state have also represented NSW and Tasmania before shifting to Brisbane.

Fast bowler Connor Sully was also included for his Shield debut having played his first one-day game for Queensland already this season.

Tasmania may have rued the decision to rest veteran seamer Peter Siddle, to man age the 36-year-old’s workload, after his match winning five-wicket haul in the second innings guided the Tigers to victory over WA last weekend.

Originally published as A score of 136 for Marnus Labuschagne wasn’t enough as he eyes off big runs going in to the Ashes




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Cleo Smith disappearance: Bounty hunters join search for missing girl



A new group has joined the search for missing four-year-old Cleo Smith as her heartbroken mother pleads for her baby to come home.

“Bounty hunters” have joined the search for Cleo Smith in the hope of securing the $1m reward for information that brings the missing four-year-old home.

West Australian Police have said they welcome assistance from anyone who can help find Cleo, who vanished 10 days ago from her family’s tent at the Blowholes Campground on the remote coast north of Carnarvon.

After a frantic and extensive search of the water and rugged terrain around the campsite, police now believe Cleo was likely abducted while her mother Ellie Smith, stepfather Jake Gliddon and younger sister Isla were asleep.

A grief-stricken Ms Smith has said she last saw Cleo at 1.30am on Saturday, October 16 when her daughter woke to ask for a drink of water.

On Monday, she issued another heartbroken plea on social media for Cleo to come home, asking: “Where are you, baby?”

On Instagram, Ms Smith wrote “we all need her home” and described her as the “best big sister ever”.

Mr Gliddon also shared an image of the missing poster in his first post on Instagram since Cleo vanished.

Police have said the entrance to the tent nearest to where Cleo was sleeping was found unzipped at a height the young girl could not have reached.

Her sleeping bag was also reported missing.

Deputy police commissioner Col Blanch said on Monday that the official search in the vicinity of the campground had concluded.

He was asked by a reporter whether people searching for Cleo to claim the financial reward were a help or a hindrance to police.

“We do welcome anyone who can help find Cleo. I will ask that people not put themselves in danger or at risk in doing so,” Mr Blanch said.

“We would ask everyone (in the area) to check their sheds, their cars, their old cars, locations that might be abandoned — that’s something that I would encourage.”

In a significant development in the investigation, detectives revealed on Sunday that they had been tipped off about a car seen leaving the area shortly after Cleo was snatched from her family’s tent.

Mr Blanch said on Monday that officers were still trying to track that car down.

The top priority for police was for every person at the campsite on that Saturday morning to come forward to investigators, he said.

Mr Blanch said there had already been an enormous amount of public assistance to police, particularly from locals in Cleo’s hometown of Carnarvon.

“A significant amount of Crime Stoppers reports have been flooding in ever since the $1m reward has come out,” he said.

“I’d say it’s not just because of the reward — the public, particularly in Carnarvon, have really put in a monumental effort to ask for help on the investigation of the disappearance of Cleo.”

Premier Mark McGowan last week announced the WA government would offer the reward and on Monday said he was hoping for a “good outcome” in the case.

“If you’ve got her in your custody, please just give her back to her family,” he said.

Perth MP Patrick Gorman also issued a passionate appeal to the public for information in federal parliament.

“Police do not know where she is … Carnarvon is some 900km north of Perth, but Cleo could now be anywhere,” he said on Monday.

“Wherever you are in Australia, if you know anything, please come forward.”

A candlelight vigil for Cleo was held in her hometown on Sunday night, which Carnarvon Shire President Eddie Smith said was very well attended by members of the close-knit community.

“We look after our own. They’re pretty stoic but this one is hurting. Everyone’s pulling together and trying to help each other as much as possible,” he told NCA NewsWire.

“I’m quite proud of our town and the way they’ve hung in there together.

“If anybody sees or hears anything, please tell the police.”

Police previously said they had spoken to about 20 registered sex offenders who live in the Carnarvon area.

On Monday, it was revealed the missing dangerous sex offenders register — a public database of offenders whose location is unknown to police — was temporarily shut down over the weekend.

A “server error” believed to be linked to a technical issue meant the register was inaccessible on the WA government website, but it was back online by Monday afternoon.

Originally published as Surprising new group joins search for Cleo Smith as her mother asks: ‘Where are you, baby?’




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WA cop who fatally shot young Aboriginal mother found not guilty of murder



A policeman who fatally shot a young Aboriginal mother in the middle of a suburban street has been found not guilty of murder.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this article contains images of a person who has died.

A policeman who fatally shot a young Aboriginal mother in the middle of a suburban street has been found not guilty of murder.

JC, whose full name is not used for cultural reasons, was killed on September 17, 2019 in the Geraldton suburb of Rangeway by an officer whose identity has been suppressed by the Supreme Court of Western Australia, where he had been on trial since October 5.

The court heard the 29-year-old woman was felled by a single shot to the abdomen, dying in hospital less than two hours after police were first called and told someone was walking around brandishing a knife.

Within moments, eight police officers swarmed to the scene in three marked vehicles with sirens blaring, while the accused was in the passenger seat of an unmarked police car.

Five of the officers remained in their vehicles, one got out to approach JC unarmed – believing he could talk her down – the accused ran out of his car, drawing his gun, and another officer also ran towards her pointing an unactivated Taser.

Just 33 seconds after one of the first two officers to arrive at the scene radioed in to say the armed offender was JC, she asked for an ambulance, saying “one shot fired”.

Prosecutor Amanda Forrester told the jury in her opening address that JC still had the knife in one hand as well as a small pair of scissors in the other when she – according to various accounts – either moved her arms, stepped toward police or didn’t move at all.

Defence counsel Linda Black argued JC was close enough to rush forward and stab her client or the unarmed officer, and while her feet did not move, she held the knife up, brandishing it and “needed to be taken down”.

Ms Black argued her client was “not some trigger happy constable” but an officer who followed his training, wanted to protect his colleague and was “brave enough to risk his own career, his own life”.

The court heard JC had been repeatedly told during the stand-off to put down the knife and was warned she would be Tasered if she did not.

JC had been struggling with life after prison, was greatly distressed she did not have custody of her young son, and had both mental health and substance abuse issues involving methylamphetamine, cannabis and alcohol.

She had threatened to take her own life on multiple occasions, was aggressive towards others and foreshadowed she would die on the day she was fatally shot, the court heard.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of the shooting, captured from a home 65m away.

Emotional supporters gathered outside court after the verdict, expressing their disappointment.

One of them was JC’s foster mother.

“Six years of age he was when he found out his mother died,” she said gesturing to JC’s young son, who stood alongside her with tears streaming down his face.

“Don’t ever ask for a welfare check on your family when they are in a mental health state.”

One woman told reporters: “I’m so tired … I just want white Australia to understand, to get more of our history and understand why our people are so sad and sorry”.

A man, who identified himself as an Aboriginal elder, said there was “no justice” for Indigenous deaths in custody.

“We will mount another big rally for this. Mark my words,” he said, referring to the chaos that erupted on Geraldton streets after news of JC’s death emerged.

Ms Black was heckled by JC’s supporters as she left court, flanked by police.

“Very sadly, a young lady lost her life and he (the officer) has had no opportunity to be able to express his sorrow for that – he would like to do that today, to say how sad he is,” she told reporters.

“My client was a serving officer who did his job and he did it to the best of his ability.”

As a small number of JC’s supporters gathered outside Geraldton courthouse, WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said he was aware that “emotions are running high” and urged people to remain calm and respect the jury’s decision.

He said the “tragedy” marked one of the “most difficult chapters in history” between Aboriginal people in WA and the police force.

“My thoughts are with all people involved in this case. I’m sorry that JC lost her life and I’ll once again express my condolences to her family,” he told reporters.

“Frankly, there are no winners in this case. This case demonstrates that each of us in the community are subject to the same judicial process.”

He said JC’s death would be examined at a coronial inquest.

It is believed to be the first time a police officer was charged with murder in the line of duty in almost 100 years in WA.

The officer was stood down while awaiting trial.

Originally published as Policeman who fatally shot young Aboriginal mother found not guilty of murder




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