SLAIN hitman Hamad Assaad had many notorious acquaintances, including one-eyed Osman Haouchar who was detained last year after returning from the Syrian border where he told authorities he had been carrying out “humanitarian work”.
A Queensland Australia couple have each been given life in prison for the sadistic torture and murder of mother-of-four Tia Landers.
Drug supplier John Edward Harris and his partner Linda Eileen Appleton were sentenced in Brisbane’s Supreme Court on Friday after pleading guilty to murdering Ms Landers in a brutal and bloody encounter at their Brighton home in June 2014.
Harris will have to spend at least 27 years behind bars before being eligible for parole, while Appleton must serve at least 23 years.
Justice Jean Dalton ordered their parole eligibility to be set beyond the statutory 20-year minimum for the “sadistic” killing, where Ms Landers was cut with a machete, bashed, kicked, stomped, and then twice shot in the head.
“The offending involved a protracted, sadistic and brutal torturing of Ms Landers over a period of hours,” Justice Dalton said.
The motivation for the killing, she said, stemmed from Appleton’s suspicion Ms Landers was having an affair with Harris, and stealing her clothes and jewellery.
Justice Dalton said Appleton was so obsessed with the idea of revenge that she began plotting it from inside jail seven days before Ms Landers’ killing.
A letter of apology from the 43-year-old was given to the Landers family on Friday, but Justice Dalton said she had great difficulty reconciling it with the evidence.
Appleton and 44-year-old Harris, who at one point held hands in the dock during sentencing, initially pleaded not guilty to the murder but reversed their pleas after five days of evidence in their trial.
It followed guilty pleas to interfering with her corpse and depriving the liberty of two men, Jake McKenzie and Ryan Morgan.
During the trial, Mr McKenzie told the court a fight had escalated at the couple’s home after Appleton slashed open Ms Landers’ leg with a machete.
Harris eventually retrieved a gun and shot her in the head, but she was “still alive enough to say no” before being fired on a second time.
During sentencing, the court heard Harris had previously been jailed for manslaughter in a case with striking similarities to Ms Landers’ murder.
In that case, the victim’s body was also wrapped up and dumped in the Beerburrum forest.
In a powerful victim impact statement read out in court, Ms Landers’ mother Mary said it was difficult to convey how the brutal crime had affected her life.
“There are no words adequate to describe the pain, anger and despair that I have felt from her murder,” she wrote.
“I have lost my faith and trust in people. I have trouble finding joy in the simple pleasures of life.”
Outside court, Haley Matthews said no sentence for her cousin’s brutal killing would be enough for her family.
“While Harris and Appleton were handed life sentences … this in our opinion is not justice,” she said.
“The only people who have received life sentences today are those who loved Tia, especially her children.”
Lindholm is serving 25 years, Trabert 28 years and Ryan 31 years in prison for Mr Amey’s murder.
Court of Appeal Justices Mark Weinberg, Simon Whelan and Phillip Priest unanimously dismissed Lindholm’s right to challenge her sentence and refused Ryan and Torbert’s appeals.
The judges said in a joint decision that Lindholm’s sentence was comparable with other similar cases where people were motivated to kill because someone had taken legal action against them.
“It is difficult to overstate Lindholm’s moral culpability for this crime. She pleaded guilty but the [sentencing] judge found that she was not remorseful…” they said.
“In our view, the sentence imposed upon her was a merciful one in the circumstances.”
The judges said: “This was a truly terrible crime. Lindholm had tried to have Mr Amey killed for two years, including trying to persuade others to kill him for her.
“Trabert and Ryan callously, ruthlessly and violently carried out her wishes.”
Lindholm had continued to arrange for Mr Amey to be murdered even after she was given a community corrections order for breaking into his apartment.
The judges said the sentencing judge had given her prior criminal history “markedly favourable” treatment.
Lindholm’s lawyer, Scott Johns, had argued that her sentence was “unmistakably outside the range” available, and that the sentencing judge had not given enough weight to her guilty plea.
The judges dismissed Trabert and Ryan’s respective appeals, saying that while Lindholm “might well be seen as having greater moral culpability than them”, she had pleaded guilty, while they had maintained their innocence.
The two men were also “the ones who actually carried out the killing”.
They said there was not enough of a difference between their prison terms and Lindholm’s to warrant intervention.
Trabert and Ryan both argued that their sentences should be lowered because they had less responsibility for the murder than Lindholm.
Trabert’s lawyer had claimed his client’s motivation to kill was sex.
Ryan’s lawyer said he had entered into the arrangement at a later stage, thinking they were going to beat Mr Amey for mistreating Lindholm.
Chicago: Six people were killed and 31 others were wounded in shootings in Chicago over the weekend as the number of murders this year climbed to nearly 200 above the same period last year.
Six people were shot in just one hour between 4am and 5am on Sunday – an average of one person shot every 10 minutes, according to according to data compiled by the Chicago Tribune.
Is Chicago the Murder capital of the USA.?
Chicago: 37 people shot in one weekend
Last weekend in Chicago, 6 people were killed and 31 others were wounded in shootings, as gun violence continues to soar in the US city.
The hour ended with the city’s most recent homicide. At 5am on Sunday, 29-year-old Jason Balboa was found with several gunshot wounds near 28th Street and Pulaski Road in Little Village. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and pronounced dead a few hours later.
The last shooting on the weekend was reported around 7.45pm on Sunday when a 16-year-old boy was wounded in the Gresham neighbourhood.
Extended overnight periods without gun violence have been relatively rare since last winter, say police.
It’s ‘normal’ weekends like this one – combined with mass shootings like at those in Florida and Dallas – that prompted the American Medical Association earlier this year to call gun violence a “public health crisis”
The AMA, which lobbies on behalf of doctors, urged that Congress fund research into the problem.
Its president, Dr Steven Stack, called gun violence crisis “unrivalled in any other developed country.”
“With approximately 30,000 men, women and children dying each year at the barrel of a gun in elementary schools, movie theatres, workplaces, houses of worship and on live television, the United States faces a public health crisis of gun violence,” he said.
In some parts of Chicago, gun violence is the norm. So far this year, there have been at least 614 murders in the city, with at least 3,560 people wounded as a result of gun shots.
This time last year, there were 416 homicides and at least 2,495 people shot.
Quetta: At least 59 people were killed and 117 critically wounded when gunmen stormed a Pakistani police training academy in the south-western city of Quetta, government officials said on Tuesday.
Some 200 trainees were stationed at the facility when the attack occurred late on Monday, officials said, and some were taken hostage during the attack, which lasted five hours.
Many dead at Pakistan police academy
Dozens of police cadets are dead and scores more wounded after gunmen stormed in on a police academy in the city of Quetta.
Most of the dead were police cadets.
Mir Sarfraz Bugti, home minister of Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, had confirmed early on Tuesday that five to six gunmen had attacked a dormitory inside the training facility while cadets rested and slept.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but one of the top military commanders in Baluchistan, General Sher Afgun, told media that calls intercepted between the attackers and their handlers suggested they were from the sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
“We came to know from the communication intercepts that there were three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan,” General Afgun told media, adding that the al-Alami cell of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was behind the attack.
Baluchistan, particularly against minority Hazara Shiites. It was unclear what motive the group would have in attacking the police academy, a home ministry official said.
Police, military and paramilitary personnel arrived at the training centre within 20 minutes of the attack and launched an operation which last around five hours, the home ministry said.
A Reuters photographer at the scene said authorities carried out the body of a teenage boy who they said was one of the attackers and had been shot dead by security forces.
The bomber struck as a crowd of mostly lawyers and journalists crammed into the emergency ward of the hospital to accompany the body of a prominent lawyer who had been shot and killed in the city earlier that day.
Monday night’s attack also appeared well coordinated, with senior law enforcement agencies saying that assailants had fired at the police training centre from five different points.
The attackers then entered the centre’s hostel, where around 200 to 250 police recruits were resting, security officials said. At least three explosions were reported at the scene by local media
Quetta has long been regarded as a base for the Afghan Taliban, whose leadership has regularly held meetings there in the past.
The Afghan Taliban’s new leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, openly taught and preached at a mosque outside Quetta for 15 years, until May this year. Akhundzada’s predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, was killed by a US drone strike while travelling to Quetta from the Pakistan-Iran border.
Baluchistan province is no stranger to violence, with separatist fighters launching regular attacks on security forces for nearly a decade and the military striking back.
Militants, particularly sectarian groups, have also launched a campaign of suicide bombings and assassinations of minority Shiites.
“Extremely huge” bribes involved in handing out procurement contracts
The former manager of a Chinese state-owned coal-mining firm has been found guilty of accepting bribes and given a death sentence.
From 2005 to 2011 Yu Tieyi was in charge of supplies to Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Holding Group Co Ltd, during which time he was accused of taking bribes in exchange for handing out bloated procurement contracts, according to a Monday report from Xinhua. In delivering the guilty verdict, the court in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang granted Yu Tieyi “leniency” for good behaviour, by giving him a two-year reprieve before the sentence is carried out.
The verdict stated the amount of Yu’s bribes was “extremely huge” and the state had suffered “a great loss,” both warranting the most severe penalty — death sentence without reprieve.
However, the court showed leniency because Yu had behaved well during investigation, reported the crimes of his accomplice, and returned most of the bribes.
The Chinese government under President Xi Jinping has cracked down on deep-rooted corruption since 2013 – with dozens of senior officials investigated or jailed. Known by its Orwellian title, the “Central Discipline Inspection Commission” has netted a number of big fish, including Jiang Jiemin, the former chairman of China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) who in September 2014 came under investigation. Oilprice.com named a number of other prominent oil industry figures swept up by the state that year, including:
Bo Qiliang, PetroChina vice president in charge of CNPC’s overseas business, detained on or around May 13;
Zhang Benquan, general manager of CNPC’s Iran subsidiary, detained in April;
Yan Cunzhang, general manager of PetroChina’s foreign cooperation department, detained in April;
Li Hualin, former CNPC deputy general manager, reportedly a target of a Communist Party corruption probe;
Wang Daofu, former PetroChina chief geologist, under investigation along with Ran Xinquan, former general manager at PetroChina subsidiary Changqing Oilfield Co.;
Sun Weidong, former deputy manager of PetroChina subsidiary Yumen Oilfield Co., under investigation;
Yang Guoling, assistant general manager and senior accountant at Yumen Oilfield Co., indicted for corruption.
In March of this year the deputy general manager of Chinese coal conglomerate Kailuan Group came under investigation for “serious violations of discipline”, Reuters said.
This upstart Filipino newcomer to the world stage has become a monster of his own mind & it has gone to his head.
He thinks he is at the same level as the world powers. The clown that is Rodrigo Duterte. Drunk on power. SAD CASE.
‘He says’ Please do not bring up the fact that I am encouraging my people to murder their friends & fellow citizens because they enjoy their pot or whatever.I have the right to do that because I am the BOSS.. Does not this person answer to the parliament of his country before setting forth on his murderous rampage of his citizens at will ?.
It seems he uses this descriptive rhetoric because he has been haunted by the fact that women in his country are deserting his homeland for westerners who can provide a better life than men like he can? Does he call them whores?
He is offering murder, abuse & dictatorial control. THIS IS YOUR LEADER & YOUR LIFE NOW PHILIPPINES .
Enjoy his tenure. He has indicated he is the leader of a nation of whores.Long live his short reign.
His time will come & the sooner the better.Enjoy it while you can Rodrigo Duterte
Obama is the leader of a great nation of multicultural peoples.
What is Rodrigo Duterte…?Has he a life or just an attitude??
Mr Duterte said he regretted that his comments “came across as a personal attack” on Mr Obama, after the White House cancelled a scheduled meeting.
The Philippines leader has been roundly criticised outside his country for a “war on drugs” that has killed about 2,400 people since he took office two months ago.
The White House had earlier said Mr Obama would not pull any punches on his concerns about human rights abuses in the Philippines when meeting Mr Duterte.
“Who is he to confront me?” Mr Duterte had told journalists ahead of the ASEAN summit in Laos.
“You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum.”
The Philippines Government moved to soothe tensions between the nations after the meeting was cancelled.
“President Duterte explained that the press reports that President Obama would ‘lecture’ him on extrajudicial killings led to his strong comments, which in turn elicited concern,” the Government said in a statement.
“He regrets that his remarks to the press have caused much controversy.”
In a separate statement, Mr Duterte said he remained committed to Manila’s alliance with the United States.
“Our primary intention is to chart an independent foreign policy while promoting ties with all nations, especially the US with which we have had a longstanding partnership,” he said.
Two ex police officers get life sentences after court finds them guilty of executing Jamie Gao.
As grey-haired killers Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara waited to learn their fate for murder, each of them took turns in shutting their eyes for several minutes at a time.
But the former policemen, 75 and 57 respectively, were wide-eyed and standing when they were given a life sentence for the “heinous” and “audacious” murder of university student and drug dealer Jamie Gao, 20.
Rogerson, McNamara trial: What happened in unit 803?
The trial of Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara over the murder of Jamie Gao heard three accounts of the university student’s death in a Sydney storage unit.
On Friday Justice Geoffrey Bellew found the pair had been “overwhelmed by greed” when they killed Mr Gao to steal 2.78 kilograms of ice.
He also said the pair had “a complete disregard for the life of another human being” when they murdered Mr Gao inside a southern Sydney storage unit in May 2014.
“The joint criminal enterprise to which each offender was a party was extensive in its planning, brutal in its execution, and callous in its aftermath,” Justice Bellew said during his sentencing remarks before the NSW Supreme Court on Friday.
The pair were also given a minimum nine-year sentence for the supply of a prohibited narcotic drug
Upon hearing the life sentence handed down, Mr Gao’s family released a statement, saying the life sentence was everything they had hoped for.
“To have these two men, who took Jamie from us, sentenced to essentially die in jail, is absolutely fitting,” they said.
“The courts can’t lessen the term of Jamie’s death or the impact that his death, the investigation and ensuing trial has had on our family. Unfortunately, there is no opportunity for a lesser sentence for Jamie or for those of us left behind.”
During his sentencing remarks Justice Bellew noted Mr Gao had been killed by two former police officers.
“Aspects of their commission of these crimes reflect the fact the offenders put to use, for all the wrong reasons, knowledge and experience that they gained as a consequence of their investigation of criminal offences when they were members of the police force,” he said.
Upon learning his fate, an apparently emotionless Rogerson hobbled down the stairs in his prison greens with corrective service officers to the cells below the historic Darlinghurst court complex.
The joint criminal enterprise … was extensive in its planning, brutal in its execution and callous in its aftermath.
Justice Geoffrey Bellew
McNamara said to his teary family “be strong”: his daughter Jessica responded by blowing kisses.
During an 18-week trial, a jury heard how Rogerson and McNamara had spent months planning the murder of Mr Gao to steal 2.78 kilograms of the drug ice from him.
Mr Gao was shot dead and stuffed into a silver surfboard bag then dumped at sea. His body was found floating off the shore of Cronulla several days later.
“The disposal of the deceased’s body at sea was both cruel and insensitive. It was done solely for the purpose of the offenders endeavouring to ensure that the deceased would never be found, rendering it all the more difficult for any responsibility to ever be attributed to either of them,” Justice Bellew said.
During the sentencing hearing the court heard how on the day of the murder, Mr Gao was captured on CCTV footage going into unit 803 at Padstow Rent-a-Space, with McNamara.
A little more than three minutes later, Rogerson walked into the shed.
At some point, Mr Gao was shot dead although Rogerson and McNamara blamed one another.
Rogerson told the court that McNamara told him there had been a struggle, and that Mr Gao had shot himself twice in the chest.
But McNamara said he was by himself with Mr Gao inside the shed when Rogerson opened the door and demanded the victim hand over the “gear”.
Mr Gao pulled out a combat-style knife and, simultaneously, Rogerson produced a gun and fired two shots.
McNamara said Rogerson then aimed the gun at his head and threatened to kill him and his daughters if he did not help dispose of the body.
Justice Bellew rejected both of their accounts but said he could not find beyond reasonable doubt who had pulled the trigger.
“The deceased was executed in cold blood, just as the offenders had planned. Clearly, one of them shot the deceased. There is an obvious suspicion, arising from the evidence of the presence of gunshot residue on his clothing, that it was Rogerson who did so,” he said.
“Whilst I am satisfied that the deceased was shot by one of the offenders whilst in storage unit 803, I am unable to determine which offender was responsible.”
The jury accepted the pair were part of a joint criminal enterprise, finding them both guilty of murder and commercial supply of a prohibited drug in June.
Brittanee Drexel was raped in a gang “stash house”. Picture: Missing Brittanee Marie Drexel
A TEENAGER who vanished from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 2009 was repeatedly raped in a gang “stash house” for several days — then she was shot dead and fed to alligators when her disappearance generated too much media attention, the FBI said last week.
Fox News reports the shocking new details about the mysterious disappearance of 17-year-old Rochester, New York, native Brittanee Drexel came largely from a “jailhouse confession” that was subsequently substantiated by others with “titbits” and “second-hand information,” FBI Agent Gerrick Munoz testified in a federal court transcript obtained by The Post and Courier.
The inmate who gave the alleged bombshell confession, Taquan Brown, is serving a 25-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter in a different case.
Brown told authorities he was present during the final agonising moments of Drexel’s life, Munoz said.
Brown claimed to have seen Drexel when he visited a “stash house” — typically a place used to keep guns, drugs or money — in the McClellanville area, the general location where Drexel’s cellphone last pinged.
Munoz said Brown told officials he saw Da’Shaun Taylor, then 16 years old, and several other men “sexually abusing Brittanee Drexel.”
Brown then said he walked to the backyard of the house to give money to Taylor’s father, Shaun Taylor. But as Brown and Shaun Taylor talked, Drexel tried to make a break for it.
Her escape attempt was in vain, however, and one of the captors “pistol-whipped” Drexel and carried her back inside the house. Brown said he then heard two gunshots.
The next time Brown said he saw Drexel, her body was being wrapped up and removed from the house.
Drexel’s body has never been found, but Munoz said “several witnesses” have told investigators she was dumped in an unspecified McClellanville pond teeming with alligators.
Drexel was last captured on video on April 25, 2009, leaving the Blue Water Hotel in Myrtle Beach, where she was staying against her parents’ permission.
A different inmate serving time at Georgetown County Jail told officials he was informed Da’Shaun Taylor picked Drexel up in Myrtle Beach and transported her to McClellanville.
Munoz said the FBI believes Taylor “showed her off, introduced her to some other friend that were there … they ended up tricking her out with some of their friends, offering her to them and getting a human trafficking situation.”
As the media spotlight grew ever brighter on the desperate efforts to find Drexel, the girl was “murdered and disposed of,” Munoz said.
Munoz’s testimony was part of a bond hearing for a federal charge against Da’Shaun Taylor, now 25, stemming from a 2011 robbery of a McDonald’s. Taylor had previously confessed to being the getaway driver for the holdup, co-operated with South Carolina authorities and completed probation. But prosecutors are now trying to bring federal charges and, if convicted of the new charges, Taylor could face a life sentence.
Taylor’s lawyer contended the federal charges are a naked attempt to “squeeze” Taylor for information on the Drexel case. Asked by Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker about “the real reason” for the charges and if they had to do with Drexel’s disappearance, Assistant US Attorney Winston Holliday said “that would be one” reason.
Taylor was released after posting $10,000 bail.
The FBI declined to discuss Munoz’s testimony or any aspect of the Drexel case with The Post and Courier.
The stolen vehicles had a common software that’s used by auto technicians and dealers.
The thieves reprogramed cars’ security so their own electronic keys would work to open them.
Two men jailed in Houston and accused of using pirated computer software to steal more than 100 vehicles may have exploited an electronic vulnerability to advance auto theft into high-tech crime.
Michael Arce, 24, and Jesse Zelaya, 22, focused on new Jeep and Dodge vehicles, which attract big money on the black market in Mexico, authorities said. The men allegedly used a laptop computer to reprogram the targeted vehicles’ electronic security so their own key worked.
The stolen vehicles had a common software that’s used by auto technicians and dealers, Houston police officer Jim Woods said.
“As you get more and more computers installed in vehicles — if somebody has that knowledge and that ability, they can turn around and figure out a way to manipulate the system,” he said.
Fiat Chrysler, which makes Jeeps and Dodges, and police are investigating how the thieves got access to a computerized database of codes used by dealers, locksmiths and independent auto repair shops to replace lost key fobs, said Berj Alexanian, a spokesman at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. He said the code database is national and includes vehicles in areas outside of Houston, although he wasn’t aware of similar thefts elsewhere.
“We’re looking at every and all solutions to make sure our customers can safely and without thinking park their vehicles,” Alexanian said Friday.
With more automotive tasks becoming computerized and more cars being linked to the internet, such thefts are likely to increase across the globe, said Yoni Heilbronn, a computer security expert.
The auto industry has worked hard in the past year to develop protections, but hackers with multiple motivations will always be looking for ways to get in, said Heilbronn, vice president of marketing for Argus Cyber Security, an Israeli company that works with automakers.
While increased computerization brings safety benefits, Heilbronn foresees more thefts, malicious software being installed that shuts down cars until a ransom is paid, and even attacks that disable many cars at a time. The industry, he said, has to install multiple layers of defense.
Automakers have been working together to develop best practices and to share information on cybersecurity threats. Companies, including Fiat Chrysler, have their own hacking teams and have offered bounties to outside hackers if they find vulnerabilities.
The Houston investigation began in late May with the theft of a Jeep Wrangler near downtown. Leads in that case had been exhausted when investigators received information from federal Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers about vehicles being stolen using a laptop. Arce and Zelaya then were identified as suspects.
The two men, who each have criminal records, were arrested last weekend driving a stolen Jeep Grand Cherokee after police had been concentrating on an area of Houston that had been hit previously by auto thieves. They also recovered electronic devices, keys and other tools believed used in the thefts, along with drugs, firearms and body armor.
In the Jeep Wrangler case caught on a surveillance video, the suspect got under the hood, cut wires to the horn to disable an alarm and then got inside the SUV. Once inside, he used the database and the vehicle identification number to program a new key fob for the Jeep.
Arce remained in jail without bond on charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle, felony possession of a weapon, and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. He was set for a court appearance Aug. 26.
Zelaya is being held on $500,000 bond on a charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle and was due in court Wednesday.