The Guardian 2024-02-22 10:30:53


TV presenter Jesse Baird and partner Luke Davies missing after blood found at home and in skip bin

TV presenter Jesse Baird and partner Luke Davies missing after blood found at home and in skip bin

NSW police searching for former Channel 10 presenter, 26, and Qantas flight attendant, 29, after blood discovered at Paddington property and on personal possessions in Cronulla bin

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New South Wales police are investigating the suspicious disappearance of the former Network Ten presenter Jesse Baird and his partner, Luke Davies, from Sydney’s eastern suburbs after bloody items were found in a skip bin.

Police said Baird, 26, and 29-year-old Davies, who works as a flight attendant for Qantas, were last seen in Paddington on Monday.

A crime scene was established at Baird’s home in Brown Street in Paddington on Wednesday afternoon and police then attended Davies’ home in Waterloo.

“We do believe from the crime scene at Paddington and from property that was located at Cronulla that there has been some sort of incident that has more than likely occurred at the Paddington address, and that has given us grave concerns for one, possibly both, their safety,” Det Supt Jodi Radmore told reporters on Thursday.

Bloody possessions belonging to both men were found in a skip in Cronulla before midday on Wednesday.

Police subsequently found blood when searching Baird’s Paddington home, and found furniture had been moved. Radmore said the amount of blood suggested someone had suffered a significant or major wound.

Police said it was too early to tell whether either man had met with foul play.

Detectives said neighbours reported hearing a verbal argument at the Paddington property on Monday morning – the day both men were last seen.

According to a report by Network Ten, Baird was last active on social media late on Tuesday night.

“If any of their friends know their whereabouts, please contact us so we can speak to that person or to them,” Radmore said.

“If Jesse is seeing this, we’d ask him to contact us, as well as anyone that might know the whereabouts of Jesse.”

Asked whether there was a third person of interest in the disappearance, Radmore said all lines of inquiries were open in the investigation.

Two cars were seized from Baird’s Paddington home and a third was also located, according to police. A phone had been found. Police said credit cards had been discovered in the skip.

Baird began working at Network Ten in January 2017 before finishing up in January this year, according to his LinkedIn profile.

It is understood Qantas, where Davies works, is providing support to his colleagues.

“Our thoughts are with family, friends and colleagues of our crew member at this very difficult time,” a spokesperson for the airline said.

Police are appealing for the public to contact either Waverley police or Crime Stoppers if they have information about either man’s whereabouts.

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Thousands urged to evacuate as out-of-control blaze bears down

Victoria fires: thousands urged to evacuate as out-of-control blaze bears down

An emergency warning has been issued for 28 communities west of Ballarat, with conditions not expected to ease until about midnight

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Thousands of people in 28 communities are being urged to evacuate a large fire zone as an out-of-control blaze bears down on them in Victoria.

An emergency warning has been issued for the communities west of Ballarat with concerns about a wind change is expected to sweep the area between 6pm and 7.30pm.

Residents in another nine townships nearby have also been advised to leave.

Conditions are not expected to ease until about midnight, Victorian Country Fire Authority chief officer, Jason Heffernan, told reporters on Thursday afternoon.

He said 1,000 firefighters were attempting to control the fire along Bayindeen-Rocky Road that ignited in bushland and “rapidly took off”.

No properties have yet been reported as damaged.

“I’m here to tell communities the fire situation will get worse before it gets better,” Heffernan said.

The Western Highway was closed in both directions between Ballarat and Ararat, with diversions set up using the Sunraysia Highway and Pyrenees Highway via Avoca.

People in the fire area have been urged to head east towards Ballarat, where a relief centre has been set up at a sports reserve in the suburb of Wendouree with another centre open at Ararat.

Victorian premier, Jacinta Allan, said spot fires had started hundreds of metres ahead of the fire front and urged people to stay on top of emergency alerts.

“This is a fire situation that is continuing to evolve very quickly and there will be ongoing updates both to the broader Victorian community but particularly, too, to people in the local area as this fire continues to move,” she said.

V/Line services on the Ararat Line and 11 bus routes have been suspended but no school closures are expected on Friday.

At a snap press conference on Thursday afternoon, Allan said the out-of-control fire was cause for “grave concern”.

“With hot winds and predicted thunderstorms this evening with the wind change, it’s going to continue to be a difficult few hours ahead,” she said

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She said about 1,000 firefighters were on the ground – supported by 24 aircraft and 100 vehicles – battling the blaze, while 16,000 emergency alerts had been sent to mobile phones and landlines in the affected area.

Langi Kal Kal Prison is located near the fire and its emergency response plan has been activated, emergency minister, Jaclyn Symes, said.

She said prisoners with health conditions exacerbated by smoke had been moved and the facility’s general manager would work with authorities over the health of prisoners and staff.

More than 2,100 customers were left without power due to the conditions and a further 600 are still without electricity after storms last week, the state government said on Thursday evening.

29 students from schools in Beaufort and 31 patients from the town’s hospital have been taken to Ballarat.

Heffernan urged anyone driving in Melbourne to give way to fire trucks heading towards the blaze.

A week after bushfires and storms razed properties and left half a million homes and businesses in the dark, parts of the state recorded temperatures of more than 40C through Thursday. Storms are expected to bring 80km/h winds and dry lightning in the afternoon.

Extreme fire warnings have been also issued in South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, where emergency services have been fighting blazes since early summer.

A watch and act warning is in place for a bushfire in central Tasmania, with emergency services urging those nearby to prepare to leave.

Last week, bushfires in the Grampians national park destroyed 46 properties and razed more than 6,000 hectares (14,800 acres) of bush and farmland.

In the east, wind gusts of up to 130km/h levelled major power lines and transmission infrastructure, cutting power to 530,000 homes and businesses and leaving 37 homes uninhabitable.

While fire risks across the country are expected to decline over the coming days, the Bureau of Meteorology expected severe storms to hit south-eastern New South Wales with damaging hail and winds on Friday.

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Former Brazil footballer sentenced to four and a half years in jail over sexual assault

Dani Alves sentenced to four and a half years in jail over sexual assault

Court in Barcelona finds former Brazil player guilty of sexually assaulting a young woman at a nightclub in 2022

The former Brazil footballer Dani Alves was found guilty of sexually assaulting a young woman and sentenced to four years, six months in prison on Thursday.

The ruling by three-judge panel in a Barcelona court followed a three-day trial this month. Alves, 40, denied any wrongdoing during the trial. He can appeal against the decision.

The court found Alves sexually assaulted his victim early in the morning of 31 December 2022, when she said he raped her in a bathroom of an upmarket Barcelona nightclub.

State prosecutors had sought a nine-year prison sentence for Alves while the lawyers representing his accuser wanted 12 years. His defence asked for his acquittal, or if found guilty a one-year sentence plus €50,000 (£43,000) compensation for the victim.

Alves has been in jail since being detained on 20 January. His requests for bail were denied because the court considered him a flight risk. Brazil does not extradite its citizens when they are sentenced in other countries.

The victim told state prosecutors she danced with Alves and willingly entered the nightclub bathroom, but that later when she wanted to leave he would not let her. She said he slapped her, insulted her and forced her to have sexual relations against her will.

Alves modified his defence during the investigative phase while in custody, first denying any sexual contact with her before admitting to sexual relations that he said were consensual. He said he had been trying to save his marriage by not admitting to the encounter initially. During the trial, his defence focused on trying to show that Alves was drunk when he met the woman.

The conviction shatters Alves’s legacy as one of football’s most successful players. Alves won dozens of titles with elite clubs including Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. He also helped Brazil win two Copa Américas and an Olympic gold medal. He played at his third World Cup, the only major title he has not won, in 2022. He played for Barcelona from 2008-16 and briefly rejoined the club in 2022. He still has a residence near the city.

He was with the Mexican club Pumas when arrested. Pumas terminated his contract immediately.

The Alves case was the first high-profile sex crime since Spain overhauled its legislation in 2022 to make consent, or the lack thereof, central to defining a sex crime in response to an upswell of protests after a gang-rape case during the San Fermín bull-running festival in Pamplona in 2016.

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Second accidental leak in four months ‘regrettable’, finance department says

Second accidental data leak in four months ‘regrettable’, Australian finance department says

Incident comes as data shows government sector breaches mostly caused by human error, not criminal acts

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The finance department has accidentally shared confidential commercial information for the second time as new data reveals the number of human errors behind government data breaches.

The department has confirmed that last week it emailed 236 suppliers, and that the email included “embedded information with some third-party confidential information”.

The shadow finance minister, Jane Hume, said the breach would damage confidence in the procurement process, especially coming after a similar breach in November last year.

“Companies and individuals impacted by this gross incompetence may exercise their rights against the commonwealth, potentially costing taxpayers millions,” she said.

On Thursday, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner released the latest data breach statistics, showing the federal government is back in the top five sectors hit by breaches for the first time in three years. The data shows the government takes longer to identify and respond to breaches than other sectors, and that while usually criminal acts are behind breaches, in government agencies it is more likely to be human error.

The finance department said in its statement it has tried to call all suppliers to ask them to delete the email and attachments.

It said “no third-party confidential information would have been accessed or viewed by a person who simply opened the email or its attachments”.

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The finance department secretary, Jenny Wilkinson, has directed there be an independent review of that breach and the November 2023 release. It will be conducted by the former commonwealth ombudsman Michael Manthorpe.

“The review will consider the circumstances that led to the unauthorised disclosure of the information, as well as the department’s systems and processes,” the department said in a statement.

“The potential disclosure of this third-party confidential information is regrettable, and finance apologises for the oversight.”

In November 2023, a department officer uploaded confidential pricing information from hundreds of firms to the wrong place within AusTender. The information was then sent out as part of a request for quotes from government departments, making it potentially available to 22 service providers.

The providers were then asked to guarantee confidentiality and monitored to ensure they had not used the information to gain a commercial advantage.

In the latest breach, the Australian reported that supplier and service provider names and price scales for major firms including Deloitte, KPMG, Minter Ellison and Boston Consulting Group were included on a hidden tab on a spreadsheet.

David Pocock, a independent senator for the ACT, said the “repeated and even worse failure of process from the Department of Finance is deeply concerning”.

He said it was “very damaging for smaller firms who are now at a serious disadvantage with 236 suppliers having received their pricing details”.

“The government needs to immediately spell out what additional steps it is putting in place to ensure this mistake isn’t made a third time and get on with the serious procurement reform that is long overdue.”

According to the OAIC data, health sector providers had the most breaches in the six months to December 2023, with 104. The finance sector was next with 49, followed by insurance (45), retail (39) and government (38).

Overall two-thirds of the data breaches were from malicious or criminal attacks including cybersecurity incidents, just under a third were from human error (with information being sent to the wrong person the most common error), while 3% were from a system fault.

But that trend was reversed in the government, where 12 breaches were malicious or criminal and 26 were from human error.

The government also took longer to identify breaches, with 37% of breaches identified within 10 days, compared with 75% for health service providers. And it took longer to report breaches, with 45% reported within 30 days, compared with 86% for the health sector.

“These statistics suggest Australian government agencies should check they have effective systems for detecting, assessing, responding to and notifying data breaches,” the OAIC said.

“Such systems are fundamental to an agency’s ability to meet the NDB (notifiable data breaches) scheme’s requirements.”

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North Melbourne sack Tarryn Thomas after 18-game ban for threatening a woman by direct message

North Melbourne sack Tarryn Thomas after AFL hands player 18-game ban

  • Lengthy ban issued for several conduct breaches
  • Breaches include threatening of a woman by direct message

Australian rules footballer Tarryn Thomas has been cut by North Melbourne after he was handed an 18-match suspension by the AFL for several conduct breaches including threatening a woman by direct message.

The ban is the longest handed out by the AFL for a non-drugs infringement, and underlines the code’s stance around violence against women.

North Melbourne president Sonja Hood said the club worked with the 23-year-old out of a “duty of care” for its player following previous allegations, but he was “now out of chances”.

“It was a complex and difficult situation but we were all united in our determination to get the best outcomes for Tarryn and those around him,” she said.

“Tarryn came back to the club midway through last year pledging to be better. We are all bitterly disappointed that he has relapsed.”

The AFL confirmed the suspension stems from a complaint made in January regarding “multiple acts of misconduct including threatening a woman via direct messages multiple times”.

The suspension is the culmination of repeated behavioural issues over the past year. Thomas was defended by Kangaroos coach Alastair Clarkson last February, after the midfielder initially spent time away from the club.

“You come in at 17-18 years of age and somewhere along the way, just the wheels fall off for a period of time,” Clarkson said at the time. “To be fair, everyone has issues in their life.”

But weeks later, Thomas was stood down when more allegations emerged of Thomas’s inappropriate behaviour towards women.

He returned to the senior team in May and played 12 matches over the course of the season, but more allegations were raised early in 2024, and the 23-year-old trained for the last time with the club in January.

AFL general counsel, Stephen Meade, said Thomas’s actions were not of a standard that the game or the public expect.

“While we understand and are empathetic to the challenges Tarryn was facing in his personal life, there is no excuse for the behaviour or the hurt he caused a young woman, this is never OK,” he said.

“The fact that Tarryn chose to engage in behaviour over direct messages that was, and is, clearly inappropriate, even while he was undertaking education and being counselled for previous breaches contributed to the length of suspension imposed.”

AFL Players Association chief executive Paul Marsh said disrespectful behaviour towards women, in any form, is unacceptable.

“Tarryn has some challenges that he needs to address, and the AFLPA will provide him with access to tools that will assist him, while continuing to focus on his wellbeing.”

Hood praised the woman who reported Thomas’ behaviour, and said “she deserved better”.

“Out of respect for her privacy I won’t say anything about the woman who brought these allegations to the AFL other than to commend her bravery and the dignity with which she has handled herself throughout this process.”

The AFL confirmed Thomas will not be eligible to play with any club in the 2024 season, and must pass a behavioural change program before he will be allowed to register again.

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North Melbourne sack Tarryn Thomas after 18-game ban for threatening a woman by direct message

North Melbourne sack Tarryn Thomas after AFL hands player 18-game ban

  • Lengthy ban issued for several conduct breaches
  • Breaches include threatening of a woman by direct message

Australian rules footballer Tarryn Thomas has been cut by North Melbourne after he was handed an 18-match suspension by the AFL for several conduct breaches including threatening a woman by direct message.

The ban is the longest handed out by the AFL for a non-drugs infringement, and underlines the code’s stance around violence against women.

North Melbourne president Sonja Hood said the club worked with the 23-year-old out of a “duty of care” for its player following previous allegations, but he was “now out of chances”.

“It was a complex and difficult situation but we were all united in our determination to get the best outcomes for Tarryn and those around him,” she said.

“Tarryn came back to the club midway through last year pledging to be better. We are all bitterly disappointed that he has relapsed.”

The AFL confirmed the suspension stems from a complaint made in January regarding “multiple acts of misconduct including threatening a woman via direct messages multiple times”.

The suspension is the culmination of repeated behavioural issues over the past year. Thomas was defended by Kangaroos coach Alastair Clarkson last February, after the midfielder initially spent time away from the club.

“You come in at 17-18 years of age and somewhere along the way, just the wheels fall off for a period of time,” Clarkson said at the time. “To be fair, everyone has issues in their life.”

But weeks later, Thomas was stood down when more allegations emerged of Thomas’s inappropriate behaviour towards women.

He returned to the senior team in May and played 12 matches over the course of the season, but more allegations were raised early in 2024, and the 23-year-old trained for the last time with the club in January.

AFL general counsel, Stephen Meade, said Thomas’s actions were not of a standard that the game or the public expect.

“While we understand and are empathetic to the challenges Tarryn was facing in his personal life, there is no excuse for the behaviour or the hurt he caused a young woman, this is never OK,” he said.

“The fact that Tarryn chose to engage in behaviour over direct messages that was, and is, clearly inappropriate, even while he was undertaking education and being counselled for previous breaches contributed to the length of suspension imposed.”

AFL Players Association chief executive Paul Marsh said disrespectful behaviour towards women, in any form, is unacceptable.

“Tarryn has some challenges that he needs to address, and the AFLPA will provide him with access to tools that will assist him, while continuing to focus on his wellbeing.”

Hood praised the woman who reported Thomas’ behaviour, and said “she deserved better”.

“Out of respect for her privacy I won’t say anything about the woman who brought these allegations to the AFL other than to commend her bravery and the dignity with which she has handled herself throughout this process.”

The AFL confirmed Thomas will not be eligible to play with any club in the 2024 season, and must pass a behavioural change program before he will be allowed to register again.

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It may not be winning back many hearts, but Qantas is making serious money

Analysis

It may not be winning back many hearts, but Qantas is making serious money

Elias Visontay and Jonathan Barrett

The airline is flush with enough cash for a $400m share buy-back, a great transfer of wealth from customers to shareholders

It may be slightly less profitable and boast a friendlier CEO who says she does “a lot more listening than talking”, but Qantas remains an airline making serious money that could do much more to win back Australians’ hearts.

The $1.25bn pre-tax half yearly profit unveiled on Thursday, while down 13% on the same period last year, was still 40% higher than the last half-year trading period before the pandemic upended travel.

It was enough to put a smile on the face of the new CEO, Vanessa Hudson, for what was her first financial announcement in the top job.

Shareholders will also be buoyed. While profit margins had taken a hit in part due to lowering air fares, the airline is flush with enough cash to announce a $400m share buy-back, representing a great transfer of wealth from customers to shareholders.

Hudson spoke of her focus in the first six months as chief – repairing Qantas’ relationship with the travelling public as well as its own workers.

Customer satisfaction markers had improved, including spending $230m on improvements including better call centre wait times thanks to extra staff. Fares are falling and Qantas is flying about as much as it was pre-Covid.

However, in terms of sweeteners for customers, much of what Qantas announced suggests an airline playing catch up.

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Onboard wifi, which customers have come to expect from airlines for much of the past decade, will be retrofitted to the airline’s existing fleet of international aircraft and turned on from the end of this year. It will be free, and with enough bandwidth for every passenger.

The wifi announcement itself is a reminder of another problem at Qantas – its ageing fleet. While it has taken delivery of a steady stream of new aircraft over the past year and announced new orders on Thursday, its fleet remains older than comparable airlines, with ramifications for efficiency and expansion plans.

An offer this week to earn double status credits or frequent flyer points on most bookings may have appealed to some, but it’s unclear how much Qantas’ efforts will woo average economy, price-conscious customers away from cheaper airlines.

In the competitive international market, there is little to capture travellers’ imagination.

Customers wanting to cash in on their loyalty through the airline’s toughest years continue to struggle to secure classic rewards seats.

A cursory search on Qantas’ website for a one way classic rewards economy trip from Sydney to London shows no availability in June, July or August for the most direct QF1 route. However, plenty of seats remain on sale for cash-paying customers during that busy European summer period.

Meanwhile, the much-hyped Project Sunrise, to fly non-stop from Sydney and Melbourne to cities including New York, London and Paris has been delayed again.

Delivery of the A350-1000 ultra long range aircraft needed for the premium flights is now only expected from mid-2026, not late-2025 as first hoped, the airline announced on Thursday.

From a financial perspective, the airline is in a healthy position.

Broker UBS noted that Qantas’s revenue and demand outlook appeared robust. Rating agency Moody’s said it expected Qantas to remain “well-positioned, even if the currently strong outlook for travel demand deteriorates”.

The results show that for all the reputational damage done, Qantas might still be profiting from its past few controversial years, which included constraining capacity and heavy cost cuts. This included a decision to outsource 1,700 ground handler jobs, which was later deemed illegal by the high court.

Future penalties, including any fallout from the competition regulator’s legal action over allegations Qantas advertised and sold tickets for thousands of flights that it had already cancelled in its internal systems, may start to nullify some of the recent financial gains. The watchdog has said it is hoping for at least $250m in fines.

In the meantime, Qantas has flown out of the pandemic faster than most of its rival airlines, with its share price much closer to its pre-pandemic highs than peers like Air New Zealand, which are still languishing.

To this end, Hudson seems to acknowledge there are many more levers Qantas can pull to win back customers’ affection, but it’s unclear if she feels she needs to.

“We know that it’s a journey. We know it will take time, but we are seeing the results,” Hudson said.

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Queensland to invest hundreds of millions in battery export industry that could employ thousands

Queensland to invest hundreds of millions in battery export industry that could employ thousands

Investment comes after research showing Australia is at risk of missing out on global renewables manufacturing boom

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Thousands of Queenslanders could soon be employed in a globally competitive grid-scale battery export industry, with the state committing hundreds of millions in backing for the sector.

Centre for Future Work director, Jim Stanford, said the state’s shift towards long-unfashionable “industry policy” was “absolutely the right direction” for the entire country, not just Queensland.

He said the policy was not 60s-style protection, but just “good economic and social policy”.

“If you want to build and maintain support for the energy transition, you have to show people that there’s an upside to it. And the upside is good, sustainable jobs. Otherwise, the false arguments that ‘if you protect the environment, you’re going to destroy employment’ will win the day,” he said.

The centre released research last year warning the country was at risk of missing out on a global manufacturing boom due to a lack of government investment in the sector – particularly after the multitrillion-dollar US Inflation Reduction Act.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in interest in active industry policy around the world, tied to the energy transition.”

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It’s not the first foray into industry policy in the sunshine state in recent years. The government has previously sponsored programs to build trains, buses and now batteries at home. It also regularly spruiks the state’s nascent green hydrogen sector.

The premier, Steven Miles, announced plans to back the sector on Thursday, which he hopes will be worth $1.3bn by 2030, employing an estimated 9,100 workers.

At a press conference at a Queensland University of Technology battery facility, the manufacturing minister, Glenn Butcher, said: “We need to stop digging up our resources and sending them overseas. We need to be building these batteries here in Queensland.”

The state will spend about $570m over the next five years:

  • $275m to support industry to innovate and commercialise battery technologies, including a new Australian battery industrialisation centre.

  • $92.2m to drive battery investment and supply chain growth, including grants.

  • $202.5m to promote the local industry, including a new state government clearing house.

Miles said Australia could be competitive on price with lower-wage countries like China, partly because the sector was more technology-driven.

“But what we also have is that security of supply,” he said.

“Post-Covid, post the diplomatic challenges some countries have had with China and Russia and the Middle East, they know that they can sign long term contracts with Queensland manufacturers and know that we will deliver.”

Queensland has a large supply of a variety of critical minerals including vanadium, rare earth minerals, copper, lithium and more.

Stanford said it was time for the federal government to back the states.

“The Queensland government, for a sub-national government, is doing a lot here. And we’ve had the Victorian government and other state governments also trying to try to play an active role in industry policy, but we need the Commonwealth government there.”

The Queensland Conservation Council said as the state’s coal-fired fleet shut down, it would need to replace it with batteries and other renewables.

“It’s exciting to see that this strategy includes $275m for battery innovation. We know emerging technologies, such as vanadium and iron flow batteries, have unlimited cycle life and have a long duration of between 8 and 14 hours,” renewables campaigner Stephanie Gray said.

“Queensland has a natural clean energy advantage, but to secure new manufacturing opportunities we need policy certainty and bi-partisan support.”

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Two teenage boys sentenced over Brisbane stabbing attack on former Wallaby and family members

Two teenage boys sentenced over Brisbane stabbing attack on former Wallaby Toutai Kefu and family members

Youths given detention orders for role in violent home invasion that left former rugby international, his wife, son and daughter injured

Two teenage boys have been given detention orders after Wallabies star Toutai Kefu and three family members were stabbed in a violent home invasion.

The youths faced Brisbane children’s court on Thursday for sentencing after pleading guilty to seven charges committed when they were aged 13 and 15 including intentionally causing grievous bodily harm and unlawful wounding.

Judge Ian Dearden said the aftermath of the attacks was one of the worst he had seen in his long career.

“I cannot cope with looking at photographs [of the crime scene] … there is more blood there than I ever want to see in my life,” he said.

Kefu suffered critical wounds to his abdomen while trying to defend his family in the early morning attack at the inner-Brisbane suburb of Coorparoo on 16 August 2021.

His wife and 21-year-old son also suffered serious wounds and his 18-year-old daughter was injured while wrestling with the intruders.

Both youths did not enter the Kefu family home but were charged with violent offences as they knew their two older co-offenders had weapons and were prepared to use them.

The 13-year-old was on bail at the time for burglaries and car thefts and went on to commit 19 similar offences after the attack on the Kefu family.

The 15-year-old was on probation at the time of the home invasion.

Crown prosecutor Nathan Crane said the four co-offenders had decided, in their words, to go out “creeping” to find cars to steal and later use in street racing at the Gold Coast.

“They weren’t naive, there was a plan to creep,” Crane said.

Crane said the four teens had already taken part in a home burglary and car theft on the same early morning as the home invasion.

During that earlier burglary, they were confronted by a woman who grabbed on to the side mirror and told them to “get the fuck out of my car”.

“There was forewarning that they could be confronted by people who had homes entered,” Crane said.

While driving to the Kefu family’s home, the 15-year-old boy heard one of the other boys say “if someone wakes up, just stab them”.

Crane said both boys must have seen the large cane-cutting sickle carried by the other co-offenders and saw them use a knife to damage the interior of the car.

The 15-year-old’s barrister, Edwin Whitton, said the only evidence to support the serious violence charges was his client telling police he heard an older boy talk about stabbing.

“He was not aware of the horrors transpiring in the home,” he said.

Whitton said his client was from a disadvantaged background, was intoxicated at the time and his only intent was to steal cars.

The 13-year-old’s barrister, Scott Carter, said the only appropriate sentence for his client was one of detention and the only question was for how long.

“I would propose two-and-a-half years … [the boy] is remorseful,” he said.

Dearden said the only difference between the two boys was their age given their similar levels of involvement and prior knowledge that violence could be used.

“You were both intoxicated, you both did not go inside the house,” he said.

Dearden said there had been a substantial benefit to the victims and the community from the boys pleading guilty.

Both boys were sentenced to detention orders of two years and six months with a 50% minimum to be served with no convictions recorded.

The 15-year-old was released with 464 days’ time served.

“I hope for both of you after committing these awful, ghastly and dreadful offences that you not reoffend, that you make your families proud,” Dearden said.

The two youths who entered the home and attacked the Kefu family are due to be sentenced in May.

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US president calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’ and says Trump remark on Navalny ‘astounds me’

Biden comments a disgrace says Kremlin after he calls Putin a ‘crazy SOB’

The US president, who is known for a tendency to go off script, made the comments at a San Francisco fundraiser

The Kremlin has accused Joe Biden of debasing himself and disgracing his country after the US president called Vladimir Putin a “crazy SOB” during a fundraiser in San Francisco.

Biden was talking about the climate crisis on Wednesday when he said: “We have a crazy SOB like Putin and others, and we always have to worry about nuclear conflict, but the existential threat to humanity is climate.”

Biden has previously called others a “son of a bitch”. In January 2022, he was caught on a hot mic using the same term of abuse about a Fox News White House reporter.

The Kremlin said that Biden’s comments were a “disgrace for the United States”.

“The use of such language against the head of another state by the president of the United States is unlikely to infringe on our president, President Putin,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “But it debases those who use such vocabulary.”

Peskov added the remarks were “probably some kind of attempt to look like a Hollywood cowboy.”

The US president has also previously called Putin a killer, a pure thug, a war criminal and a butcher. Shortly after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden said the Russian president “cannot stay in power”.

Biden’s comments came as the US said it was preparing “major sanctions” against Moscow in response to Alexei Navalny’s death.

Speaking to donors at a private San Francisco home on Wednesday as part of a three-day trip through California to raise money for his 2024 re-election campaign, Biden also said he was astounded by recent comments made by his likely Republican challenger.

Donald Trump compared the suspicious prison death of Russian opposition leader Navalny to his own legal troubles in the US. Trump was fined $350m after a New York judge found he lied for years about his wealth on financial statements in his companies. Trump said the ruling was a form of “communism or fascism”.

“Some of the things that this fellow’s been saying, like he’s comparing himself to Navalny and saying that – because our country’s become a communist country, he was persecuted, just like Navalny was persecuted. I don’t know where the hell this comes from,” Biden said.

“I mean, if I stood here 10, 15 years ago and said any of this, you’d all think I should be committed,” he said. “It astounds me.”

Biden has a tendency to go off script during election fundraisers and in recent months has made apparently unplanned remarks about the Chinese president, the Republican party and US ally Israel for its bombing of the Gaza Strip.

Biden’s verbal attacks against Putin have sharply intensified at the White House and on the campaign trail. Last week, the US president blamed Putin and “his thugs” for the death of opposition leader Navalny.

“We don’t know exactly what happened, but there is no doubt that the death of Nalvany was a consequence of something that Putin and his thugs did,” Biden said at the White House after Russian prison officials announced that Navalny had died.

The Kremlin has denied involvement in Navalny’s death and said western claims that Putin was responsible are unacceptable.

Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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Britain’s ‘deep state’ thwarted my plans, former British PM tells US hard-right summit

Britain’s ‘deep state’ thwarted my plans, Liz Truss tells US far-right summit

Former Conservative PM, whose tenure lasted 50 days, tells CPAC she fell victim to UK’s ‘establishment … its bureaucrats and lawyers’

Liz Truss, the former British prime minister, spoke at a far-right conference in America on Wednesday, styling herself as a populist who took on America’s equivalent of the “deep state” in her own country.

Truss was among the headline speakers at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference at the National Harbor in Maryland. CPAC is billed as the biggest annual gathering of conservatives in the US but has in recent years embraced Donald Trump’s brand of nativist-populism.

In Wednesday’s opening session, an “international summit”, the ex-PM sat side by side with Nigel Farage, former leader of the Brexit party, both with small union flags on the table in front of them.

Other speakers included Steve Bannon, a former White House chief strategist associated with global far-right nationalist movements, and Richard Grenell, a former acting director of national intelligence under Trump. Officials from countries including Australia, Hungary and Japan also took part.

A moderator at the summit introduced Truss by saying after her election in Britain “there was a collective cheer in the conservative movement in the United States saying, wow, Margaret Thatcher is back!”

Not for the first time Truss, whose premiership lasted only 50 days, sought to portray herself as the victim of bureaucratic forces. “I ran for office in 2022 because Britain wasn’t growing, the state wasn’t delivering, [and] we needed to do more,” she said. “I wanted to cut taxes, reduce the administrative state, take back control as people talked about in the Brexit referendum. What I did face was a huge establishment backlash and a lot of it actually came from the state itself.”

She continued: “What has happened in Britain over the past 30 years is power that used to be in the hands of politicians has been moved to quangos and bureaucrats and lawyers so what you find is a democratically elected government actually unable to enact policies.”

Truss was interrupted and asked to explain the meaning of “quango”. She replied: “A quango is a quasi non-governmental organisation. In America you call it the administrative state or the deep state. But we have more than 500 of these quangos in Britain and they run everything.”

She went on to list the Environment Agency, Office for Budget Responsibility, Bank of England and Judicial Appointments Commission. “There’s a whole bunch of people – and I describe them as the economic establishment – who fundamentally don’t want the status quo to change because they’re doing quite fine out of it. They don’t really care about the prospects of the average person in Britain and they didn’t want things to change and they didn’t want that power taken away.”

Truss added: “So I think that’s the issue we now face as conservatives. It’s not enough just to will conservative policies and say we want to control our borders or we want to cut taxes or we want to reform our welfare system because we have a whole group of people now in Britain with a vested interest in the status quo who actually have a lot of power.”

“Now people are joining the civil service who are essentially activists,” Truss said. “They might be trans activists, they might be environmental extremists but they are now having a voice within the civil service in a way I don’t think was true 30 or 40 years ago. So we just have a wholly new problem and, frankly, a hundred political appointees doesn’t even touch the sides in terms of dealing with them.”

In an opinion piece published on the Fox News website, the former prime minister said agents of “the left” are active in the administrative state and “the deep state”.

“I saw this for myself first hand as they sabotaged my efforts in Britain to cut taxes, reduce the size of government and restore democratic accountability,” she wrote.

Truss took office after winning a Conservative party leadership contest to replace Boris Johnson. Her plan to spur economic growth with a mini-budget containing £45bn ($54bn) in unfunded tax cuts – including an income tax reduction for the highest earners – shook the financial markets and led to her swift demise.

Her remarks at CPAC were followed by Bannon, who at the same conference in 2017 vowed that then President Trump would wage an unending battle for “deconstruction of the administrative state”. On Wednesday Bannon said: “The administrative and deep state after President Trump wins, starting on the afternoon of the 20th of January, every day will be like Stalingrad. It will be a war to the knife.”

Bannon, a former executive chairman of Breitbart News, which he once described as “the platform of the ‘alt-right’”, a movement that has embraced racism and antisemitism, added: “If we want to save our country, we have to take down the administrative state. The prime minister has seen this up close and personal. You have to take down the administrative state.

“It’s an out of control fourth branch of government that our founders not only never envisioned, but would warn against. If they came back, they’d be furious. That internal fight is going to be absolutely vicious and we have to win it.”

Trump’s allies have been drawing up plans to “drain the swamp” in his second term by curtailing the independence of some federal agencies and ending government protections for tens of thousands of federal employees.

The Heritage Foundation is leading Project 2025, a coalition preparing for the next conservative presidential administration, and last year hosted speeches by leading Truss and fellow British Conservative Iain Duncan Smith.

The inaugural international summit was billed by CPAC as a chance to “bring together people from several continents around the world to share best practices and concrete solutions on how to fight the globalist takeover of sovereign nations”.

This year’s lineup of speakers on the main CPAC stage include Trump, Truss, Farage and Argentinian president Javier Milei, a libertarian known to fans as “the madman” and “the wig”. In past year the conference has heard from Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán and former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.

An advert for Truss’s book, Ten Years to Save the West, was prominently displayed at the CPAC venue, the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, along with a volume by Tucker Carlson, a former Fox News host who recently conducted a fawning interview with Russia autocrat Vladimir Putin.

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