Phone in Cessnock jail cell exposes law

Arrested: Police with one of six men arrested on serious drugs charges. Riad Taha was named as the drug syndicate’s mastermind.A SUCCESSFULappeal by a drug syndicate ringleader in Cessnock Jail has exposed a worrying gap in how NSW law can respondto security breaches by some of the state’s most serious criminals.
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Riad Taha, 30, was behind a $600,000 syndicate that planned to sell methamphetamine, known as ice,cocaine and firearms into the community until its memberswere arrested and charged in 2015. He was sentenced to eight years in jail.

But Taha beat the system in April after a NSW District Court judge was forced to grant his appeal against an extra three months in jailafter Taha was convicted of a security breach. He was charged after he was found with a mobile phone, SIM card and charger in his Cessnock Jail cell during a random search in January.

The decision waspublished online on Tuesday.

NSW District Court Judge Andrew Colefax said he had to acceptTaha’s argument aLocal Court magistrate had no power to add the three months to his longer sentence for the drugs offences because of a section of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act.

The effect of the section meansthere is“effectively no punishment available” to the Local Court whereprisoners serving jail sentences of more than five years arecharged with security breaches, similar to the mobile phone breach, while in jail, Judge Colefax said.

“This seems to me to be a highly unsatisfactory situation because the more serious offenders face no real disincentive to engage in serious breaches of security in the correctional context,” the judge said.

“There is no disincentive for them to have possession of (at least) mobile phones which is a serious breachof correctional security.”

Taha was to have served an additional three months in jail to start on January 10, 2020, which Judge Colefax said “might be thoughtto constitute considerable leniency” given the seriousness of the security breach.

“As it is, and as the Crown has conceded, I have no alternative but to allow the appeal on the state of the current law,” Judge Colefax said.

“The appeal is, with regret, allowed.”

The judge referred the matter to Attorney General Mark Speakman and Corrective Services Minister David Elliott.

Good Samaritans change a tyre and preserve a life

BLESSED: Grant Hopper believes his wife Emma wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for the help of two strangers. Mrs Hopper said “they were like guardian angels”. Picture: Sam Norris Two unknown men who helped changed a flat tyre at Salt Ash are said to have saved Emma Hopper’s life.
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The Tanilba Bay grandmother had woken with a bad headache and vomiting on June 11, and was soon on the road to hospital with her husband, Grant Hopper.

Despite his caution their blue Volkswagen struck a pothole on Lemon Tree Passage Road which forced Mr Hopper to pull into the service station at Pauls Corner.

“The doctors told me later that day that if we had been 10 minutes later, it would have been a very different outcome,” he said.

In the service station car park Mr Hopper noticed two men in the late 20s or early 30s.

“These two men were looking at us, they had four-wheel-drive utes with bikes on the back,” Mr Hopper said.

“I asked, ‘would you mind helping me’?

“It would have taken me half an hour but it only took him five minutes.”

Mrs Hopper had recently undergone radiation therapy for an in-operable brain tumor at the base of her brain, near the carotid artery and optic nerve.

A second tumour had also been removed from behind her nose and little did they know there had been a complication that had led to bacterial meningitis.

“We jumped the queue at the John Hunter, they put her straight into a bed,” Mr Hopper said.

“She was delirious, she didn’t know her own name.”

Mrs Hopper would spend the next 11 days in hospital on broad spectrum antibiotics where Mr Hopper remained at her side.

“It was only later I thought, ‘I wish I could tell them, what he had done, changing the tyre,” Mr Hopper said.

“It all happened so quick we didn’t even exchange names.”

Another two weeks has past since Mrs Hopper returned home with regular nurse home-visits.

Being immunocompromised, she often wears a face mask and the couple keeps anti-bacterial hand wash close to hand.

It’s given Mrs Hopper further opportunity to reflect on the events of that morning.

Between his distress and her fever their best guess is they set out between 7am and 9am on June 11.

“I don’t remember anything of that morning, I was throwing up in the car,” she said.

“But he’s saved my life, they were like guardian angels.

“I’m also thankful for my darling husband, without him, I wouldn’t be here either.”

The couple has five children between the ages 22 and 37, as well as three grandchildren.

Mrs Hopper was first diagnosed with meningioma in 2002 when they lived in Tamworth.

Surgeons then removed the baseball-sized tumour that at the time was said to have been the biggest excision a patient had survived at the John Hunter Hospital.

An MRI in 2010 found the latest tumours. They moved to Tanilba Bay in May where they aim to make the most of life.

“It’s beautiful here,” Mrs Hopper said.

“We love it.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Shepherds Hill fix won’t reverse move

Shepherds Hill fix won’t reverse move DISREPAIR: Newcastle Marine Rescue’s Graham Silcock and Ron Calman at the damaged Shepherds Hill cottage. Picture: Marina Neil
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HISTORIC: The Shepherds Hill battery observation post. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DISREPAIR: The Shepherds Hill cottage with badly damaged roof after the April 2015 storm. Picture: Darren Pateman

SCENIC: The Shepherds Hill battery post and cliff-face. Picture: Peter Stoop

TweetFacebookTHE run-down Shepherds Hill cottage will be restored to its original condition, but its long-term tenant Marine Rescue Newcastle faces a move inland to Warabrook.

Newcastle council began renovations on Tuesdaytothe scenic,late-19th centuryKing Edward Park cottage thatwas badly damaged in theApril 2015 storm.

It will geta new roof,plumbing, cladding, posts and beams, and repairs to its wooden windows. The council will also, it said, demolish“unathorised extensions made by various tenants”.

“All works to be undertaken to restore the building will be overseen by a heritage architect,”Newcastle lord mayorNuatali Nelmes said.

“The future use of the cottage is yet to be determinedbut, whatever it is, it will become a community asset and focal point courtesy of its location at the top of King Edward Park on the Bathers Way.”

Marine Rescue Newcastle was forced out by the storm two years agoand has sinceoperatedfrom Kooragang Island in quarterson loan fromthe Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group.

While hopeful the cottage’srepairs will hasten areturn to Shepherds Hill, unit commander Ron Calman said the organisation’simmediate future involvesa less-than-ideal move to Warabrook.

The unit was due tostay on Kooragang onlyuntilJune and, while grateful for the use of the Warabrook Community Centre, Mr Calman said it will be a costly movethat takesthe coastal volunteer service further from the coast.

“People are possibly not aware of the traffic that’s out there [off Newcastle’s coast], particularly in the summertime, and here we areheaded inland,” Mr Calman said.

“It’s a positive sign that they’re doing the repairs, but Marine Rescue Newcastle doesn’t have any concrete information [about returning to Shepherds Hill] from the council.”

The council gained approval for the restoration when it lodged a conservation management plan, together with a separate heritage application,for the Shepherds Hill sitewith the state government last December.

Work vehicles will be confined to the site.

Shepherds Hill Defence Group, as the cottage, battery observation post and gun placement are collectively known,sits on Crown Land for which Newcastle City Council is the trust manager.

The military installment wasdesigned to defend Newcastle’s burgeoning coal port after the 1878 Royal Commission into Colonial Defences. It served as an integral command position untilthe end of World War Two.

The observation post is one of the only coastal defence sites in Australia manned simultaneously during the war by the Royal Australian Navy, Army and Royal Australia Air Force.

Help at hand for sufferers of depression

Revolutionary: Psychiatrist Dr Vasantha Bhanu Pothala demonstrates the Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation machine, used in therapy for treatment-resistant depression at Toronto Private. Picture: Simone De Peak.SUFFERERS oftreatment-resistant depression can now access a revolutionary therapy in the Hunter that promises long-lasting results with minimal risk.
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Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is used to treat severe depression. It is usually recommended only after medication and psychotherapy have failed. Upuntil now, Hunter patients have had to travel to Sydney to access it.Toronto Private Hospital has begun offering rTMS therapy.

Consultant psychiatrist Vasantha Bhanu Pothala said it “filled the gap” betweenmedication and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

“Thisnew treatment is a good alternative for those people who are not responding to medication, and who experience side effects from the medication,” Dr Pothala said.

“ECT is for severe cases oflife-threatening depression, but it needs to be done under anaesthesia, and there are a number of risks associated with it, which is why it’s not suitable for everyone.”

Help at hand for sufferers of depression Revolutionary: Anna Campbell, executive assistant at Toronto Private Hospital, sits in to help demonstrate the Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation machine used for treatment-resistant depression as psychiatrist Dr Vasantha Bhanu Pothala adjusts it. Picture: Simone De Peak.

Revolutionary: Anna Campbell, executive assistant at Toronto Private Hospital, sits in to help demonstrate the Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation machine used for treatment-resistant depression as psychiatrist Dr Vasantha Bhanu Pothala adjusts it. Picture: Simone De Peak.

Revolutionary: Psychiatrist Dr Vasantha Bhanu and Jason Thomas, CEO Toronto Private Hospital, looking at the Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation machine used for treatment-resistant depression. Picture by Simone De Peak.

Revolutionary: Psychiatrist Dr Vasantha Bhanu and Jason Thomas, CEO Toronto Private Hospital, looking at the Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation machine used for treatment-resistant depression. Picture by Simone De Peak.

TweetFacebook When the drugs don’t work for depression, this might.Dr Pothala said rTMS therapy worked by using a magnet to target and stimulate specific areas of the brain.

Hesaid alarge number of studies had shown it to be effective in activating the parts of the brain that help to ease the symptoms of depression.

“It ismuch more suitable for people who cannot take medication, or do not respond to medication, and it is a treatment we can use without anaesthesia, with minimal risks,” he said.

“We target very specific areas in the brain that deal with depression and we activate them, and that helps to repair the neuronsto help the brain to repair itself. The effects are long lasting.”

During the sessions, an electromagnetic coil placed on the forehead sends pulses to a targeted part of the brain to stimulate nerve cells that can influence depression.

The hospital is offering the therapyto inpatients attending its Depression Management Program at no extra cost. Patients need private hospital cover for mental health admissions, or be prepared to self-fund.

Toronto Private Hospital chief executive Jason Thomas said the technology would supplement the services already offered at their Woodlands Mental Health Unit.

Dark Ages decision

NASTY: Maitland’s Tyler Le Prince-Campbell is treated for a facial injury during Sunday’s loss to Central at St John Oval. Picture: Max Mason-HubersThe Newcastle Rugby League match review committee decision that Central youngster Justin Worley does not have a case to answer after a stray boot left Maitland player Tyle Le Prince-Campbell with a fractured cheekbone is frankly outof the Dark Ages.
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The match review committee deemed that the incident was an accident. It may have been accidental, but what about the penalty for a reckless or, at best, a careless act which caused a serious head injury to an opponent.

Every other football code in Australia has declared players’ heads a no-go contact zone, but the Newcastle Rugby League is caught in some time warp and completely missed all the studies and empirical evidence which has sounded alarm bells about the long-term risks of concussion and head injuries.

The AFL is so serious it successfully appealed against its match review committee’s leniency in the sentencing of Richmond player Bachar Houli for throwing an arm back andstriking Carlton’s Jed Lamb. His suspension was doubled from two to four weeks.

Worley kicked out with his leg while being tackled and struck Pickers winger Le Prince-Campbell in the face. Video footage shows Le Prince-Campbell had clearly moved off his opponent when struck.

It also shows another Central player using the same flaying kicking action in the very next tackle, seemingly in an attempt to draw a penalty for being held down in a tackle.

The contact to Le Prince-Campbell’s face may have been accidental, but the tactic of the tackled player vigorously kicking his legs about is not.

Quite simply it is reckless and every bit as dangerous as raised knees, shoulder charges and head-high tackles which National Rugby League authorities have vigorously attempted to stamp out.

Pickers coach Trevor Ott complained after the game that the referee at St John Oval had not deemed the incident worthy of a penalty, and Maitland lodged a complaint with the NRL on Monday morning.

Ott told Fairfax Mediathat he was disappointed with the outcome and Worley should at least have been warned to be more careful.

“Our player’s head was nearly a good two and a half feet off the ground when the incident happened,” he said.

“Intentional or not it needed to be looked at because the kid’s got a broken cheekbone. It’s obviously struck him with a fair bit of force.

“They’ve had a look at it. People obviously have different opinions on things. We have ours; they have theirs.

“That’s what they’ve come up with.

“There’s not much we can do about it.”

Tyler Le Prince-Campbell

If the Newcastle Rugby League does not make protecting players from head-high contact a priority it risks a mass exodus at junior and senior ranks.

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