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Nicholas Baxter is accused of murdering six-week-old baby Matthew in November 2011

NICHOLAS Baxter has been convicted of killing his six-week-old baby Matthew.

Baxter, an ex-army corporal, had pleaded not guilty to murdering his son, by shaking or striking him on November 3, 2011.

The jury of eight women and four men found him not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

They took 11 hours of deliberations before reaching the verdict in Townsville Supreme Court.

Baxter was supported by his wife Tenae, her family and his extended family during the lengthy six-week trial.

Ms Baxter gasped, said “No, no, no” then cried after the verdict was read out. Baxter did not show emotion.

During the trial, the jury heard from 40 prosecution witnesses and 19 defence witnesses.

Baxter will be sentenced at 10am tomorrow.

BY THE NUMBERS

• It took six years for Nicholas Baxter to face trial after his son’s death.

• The jury heard from 40 prosecution witnesses

• Matthew died at 43 days old.

 

Ex-cop Louis Mahony thought he’d got away with staging wife Lainie Coldwell’s murder

The scene at the Charleville house where Louis Mahony (inset) claimed his partner of 18 years fell from a ladder in 2009. Picture: Jamie Hanson

EVEN on the day he was arrested for murder, cocky ex-cop Louis Mahony was so confident he’d get off, he told officers they would soon be shouting him drinks to apologise.

For six years Mahony thought he had fooled the world after ruthlessly disposing of an inconvenient wife.

He’d staged the scene to make it appear that Lainie Coldwell, his defacto wife of 18 years, had fallen from a ladder at their Charleville home on August 23, 2009.

It convinced the country cops, who didn’t realise they were staring at the murder weapon – a bloody antique iron lying among rocks where Lainie supposedly fell and struck her head.

Mahony thought his dreams were in reach – he had Lainie’s multimillion-dollar life insurance policies to cash in.

Lainie Coldwell with husband Louis Mahony and their young daughter, who was three when her mother was murdered.

He was also free to pursue the foreign women on 457 visas at the local abattoir, where he worked after leaving his former career as a Northern Territory police officer.

The flies in the ointment were detectives from the state’s homicide squad, brought in to reinvestigate the case years after Lainie’s supposed freak accident.

“He said to me, ‘Renee, one day when this is all over, you are going to buy me a beer and apologise for what you’ve done to me’,” Detective Renee Hoile recalls of the day she arrested Mahony in December 2015.

Mahony’s prediction was proved spectacularly wrong last week, when he was convicted of killing Lainie, the mother of his young daughter.

With the 43-year-old sentenced to life imprisonment, the inside story of his downfall can now be told by the detectives who brought him to justice.

Detective Acting Sergeant Renee Hoile and Detective Inspector Damien Hansen, who broke the case open. Picture: Jamie Hanson

They revealed how a calculating and “narcissistic” Mahony initially researched car crashes and poisons before deciding to stage a fatal fall. He spent the day of his wife’s funeral planning a romantic getaway with a lover.

It’s hard to escape comparisons with Queensland’s other egotistical wife-killer, Gerard Baden-Clay, who murdered wife Allison in 2012 and thought he could escape justice.

In both cases, the accused was involved with other women and stood to benefit from large insurance payouts. And in both, the women standing in the way of a life of ease and fortune ended up dead.

Interestingly, insurers were the first to raise the alarm about Mahony. About two weeks after Lainie died, they contacted Charleville police to report they had more than a passing interest in the case.

Two life insurance policies worth a whopping $2.25 million had been taken out in Lainie’s name in the two months before her death. Suspicions were so grave, the company refused to pay out the policies.

The blood-stained antique iron that Mahony used to kill his wife.

Mahony arrives at court in Charleville for his committal hearing.

The blood-stained antique iron that Mahony used to kill his wife.

In 2009, it had been Mahony who made the triple-0 call, saying he found Lainie unconscious in a puddle of blood at the base of a large gum tree. She must have fallen taking down party lights in the tree, he said.

Lainie, 36, was flown to the Royal Brisbane Hospital, with Mahony by her side. Her family made the agonising decision to turn off her life support system and donate her organs.

At the scene, a rusted and bloodied antique iron lying among rocks at the base of the tree was photographed but not collected. It has not been found since. It is now believed Mahony used the iron to deliver a fatal blow to the back of his wife’s head.

In a tragic series of failings, a lone detective in Charleville made little headway before moving away, leaving the case to stagnate.

Local sergeant Gerard Thornton always had his suspicions and tried to pursue the investigation between other duties before calling in Brisbane-based homicide detectives in early 2013.

The case had an unusual complication. Because Lainie’s organs were donated, an autopsy had not been conducted. So, Detective Hoile and colleague Karen Murray set about contacting the medical specialists brought in from hospitals around the southeast to work on the organ donation process.

They confirmed that Lainie’s only significant injury was a single blow to the back of her head.

Lainie had supposedly fallen at least five metres from a ladder propped on the tray of Mahony’s ute.

“There were no ribs broken, no other organs injured,” said Detective Inspector Damien Hansen, who manages the homicide squad.

Photographs from the scene showed blood had inexplicably seeped onto the flat of the iron, which had been face down on rocks at the tree’s base. Strands of Lainie’s blonde hair were clearly visible amid blood on the underside.

As part of the original investigation, police had seized and held Mahony’s laptop. When computer expert James Morris, a civilian from the Queensland Police electronic evidence examination unit, inspected the computer, he struck gold.

Crime scene photo of the ladder balanced on the back of Mahony’s ute

Tributes at the base of the tree near where Lainie’s body was found.

Before Lainie’s death, Mahony had Googled terms including poisoning, car crashes, head injuries and forensic science. After her death, he was back online organising his love life.

“He’s searching Gold Coast limousines and Dracula’s Restaurant, and the Marriott Hotel on the Gold Coast. That’s leading up to the funeral and on the day of her funeral,” Detective Hoile says.

For a cop with an intimate understanding of police procedures, Mahony made plenty of mistakes.

In his triple-0 call, he twice said Lainie was face down.

“That’s not possible if the injury is to the back of the head,” Detective Hoile says.

Call records to insurers showed that before his wife’s death, Mahony had asked whether they would pay out if someone died in a car crash but wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. And compromising videos of Mahony and a Korean co-worker were found on his laptop.

Lainie was aware of Mahony’s affairs and made it known that she was leaving him and taking their daughter, Dakota, then three.

Three years after he murdered his wife – while still a free man – Mahony remarried a wealthy divorcee. She continued to raise Dakota when Mahony was arrested in 2015, and she stood by him through his trial.

To this day, Detective Hoile is struck by Mahony’s lack of remorse in robbing Dakota of a mother.

“There was never a time in my discussions with him where he ever displayed emotion when he was talking about her. If there was any emotion, it was about him,” she said.

www.clublibido.com.au

IT’S a haunting photograph.

A little boy sits in the gutter dressed in an oversized blue forensics suit. He is barefoot and rests his head on one hand as he listens intently to the stranger sitting next to him.

The stranger — a Gold Coast detective — has just arrived at Upper Coomera, a quiet ordinary suburb that has suddenly become a major crime scene.

It was inside the child’s home the horror unfolded. His mother Renee Kuch, 39, and father Corey Croft, 37, had been stabbed to death more than 24 hours earlier by Ms Kuch’s ex-partner Christopher Carter, a former soldier.

Carter had gained custody of the pair’s two children, now aged 16 and 19, in 2015 and she began a relationship and had another child with Mr Croft.

The 39-year-old was found not guilty of murder or manslaughter this week by a Brisbane Supreme Court jury, the jury clearly believing his account that he killed the pair out of self-defence.

The young boy is comforted outside his home after both his parents were killed. Photo: Glenn Hampson

When he left their home that night, on January 20 2015, the only person still alive inside was the couple’s five-year-old son who had been asleep in his room when his parents were killed.

The boy woke to an unimaginable scene. His parents were dead. There was so much blood he is now traumatised by the colour red. He picked the knife from near his mum’s body and put it in the sink.

He then waited for help. But no one came.

PRAYERS FOR A ‘GUILTY’ VERDICT

The little boy’s grandmother Jo-Anne Kuch is angry.

She couldn’t sit through every day of the trial and wasn’t up to being there when it all came to an end late Thursday afternoon.

Her partner was in court to hear the jury foreman deliver the not guilty verdicts for the murders of her daughter and her partner.

“I couldn’t be there. I would have had a heart attack,” Ms Kuch told news.com.au from her Gold Coast home.

The things she heard during the trial devastated her. The trial process made her angry.

“I’m shattered, I’m so upset and angry. I felt like killing someone last night… It’s an injustice, an injustice in the legal system. It’s quite simple.”

Her partner Rod left the court when the verdicts were read. The two slipped out before the media frenzy that surrounded Mr Carter — who was about to walk out of court, a free man, for the first time in two years.

“It’s just horrendous, absolutely horrendous and heartbreaking.”

Ms Kuch and her family have endured a living hell in the two years since the stabbings.

“We’ve waited two years. It’s affected all of our lives, especially [the boy]. As I said to you, he’s developed ADHD, separation anxiety, he locks all the doors and windows at night.”

She is angry things were said in court about her daughter that she was unable to defend herself. The jury was told of binge drinking and affairs — accusations Ms Kuch rejects.

‘WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE COME AND HELP ME’

Ms Kuch is shattered most about the impact the killings are having on her grandson. He turned eight a week before the trial began.

“He’s OK at the moment. He wasn’t himself last weekend. We wanted to make a happy day at the park, he went swimming and on a boogie board but I could just tell he was affected.”

He lives with Ms Kuch’s sister and they are doing their best to give him a normal life, but they worry the emotional scars — not to mention what he saw and heard that night — will return to haunt him.

Ms Kuch can barely bring herself to look at the picture of him sitting in the gutter. His clothes had been replaced with the forensic suit given to him by officers who arrived within minutes of the 000 call.

More than 24 hours after the stabbings, Ms Kuch’s sister — with whom the boy now lives — went to the house after calls went unanswered.

She found the bodies and rescued the boy from the home.

Renne Kuch’s son and her mother Jo-Anne Kuch. Picture: Facebook

“He said after, ‘Why didn’t someone come and help me.’ It’s just horrendous,” she said, detailing for the first time what the boy went through.

“He couldn’t get out of the house because Corey was [dead] at the front door. He thought they were playing tricks on him,” she sobbed.

He thinks he can remember shouting that night, but has never said what he saw or heard inside the home. But Ms Kuch said he recently remembered “seeing a man”.

The family has managed to keep the trial away from him so far. But they know he will one day learn the truth.

He saw a psychologist regularly who was helping him cope with the horror he’d seen. He hates the colour red because that’s all he saw when he woke up, but had made good progress recently.

“My sister got him into sport and everything he touches turns to gold. He’s a good runner, he plays soccer — he just tries everything. It’s just a sham that Renee and Corey aren’t here to see him grow up.”

INSIDE THE HOME

This trial was no whodunnit, no mystery. Mr Carter never denied stabbing the couple. The central question the jury members had to grapple with was whether prosecutors could prove he had the intention to murder them.

Ms Kuch was stabbed at least 10 times. The fatal blow was to her neck and was so severe it severed her spinal cord. Her partner had five stab wounds, all in the neck and head.

The trial heard Carter was made aware Croft had forced a 10-year-old girl to shower with him and that he was a convicted paedophile who had raped a child in South Australia.

Ms Kuch told news.com.au she “condemns paedophiles” but insists her daughter wasn’t aware of Mr Croft’s past until she was expecting his child.

“Renee didn’t know about his past. She had the child, but you still don’t kill paedophiles, you don’t have that right. [Corey] was a great father to [the boy] and he and Renee had a good relationship. Sometimes it wasn’t, but that’s just a normal relationship.”

During his closing address on Wednesday, Crown prosector Glen Cash QC argued Carter intended to kill Croft and Renee Kuch.

Former soldier Christopher Carter leaves the Brisbane Supreme Court after being found not guilty. Picture: AAP

Christopher Carter said he was acting in self defence.

“The intent was one he developed in the course of the interactions, not that he came there to kill,” he said.

But Mr Carter’s barrister David Brustman QC argued it was not murder but an “unforeseeable” event that was the result of years of tension and hostility between Mr Carter and Renee Kuch.

Mr Carter gave evidence at trial and told the jury he went to the home just to talk to his wife.

The Crown alleged he went there, a former soldier who knew how to kill, to commit murder.

After a heated argument at the doorway, the court heard Ms Kuch appeared with a knife and the two wrestled over it. He stabbed her several times, and then said he was attacked by Mr Croft.

“I was stabbing Corey. As we moved back into what was the doorway, Corey fell to the ground.

“I didn’t know where Renee had gone through that period. I’ve just stood up and started moving to the back of the house,” Carter said.

Corey Croft was a convicted child sex offender..

Police outside the couple’s home. Picture: Annette Dew

It was then he said Ms Kuch attacked him again

“I was in a state of shock, I couldn’t believe what happened. I stabbed her. I didn’t mean to do it. I pushed her down off me. The way she fell to the ground … it was essentially like she was unconscious and I’ve seen a pool of blood was coming from her head.”

He admitted he placed the knife in her hand.

“The only thing I remember thinking in my head was: ‘It’s your knife, you can have it back.’”

A MOTHER’S LOVE

Ms Kuch couldn’t listen to the graphic evidence. Few parents could. Each time the details of her daughter’s injuries were spoken in court, she broke down in tears.

She wants her daughter remembered in a different way to what she says are mistruths from the court case.

“She was a beautiful, caring mother who loved her children. She was well liked at work, she would do anything for anyone.”

She worked in aged care, but at one stage dreamt of a career in the police force. “She didn’t pass the physical though because of her asthma.”

Not guilty…Christopher Carter.

Police found Renee Kuch and Corey Croft’s bodies inside their home. Picture: Annette Dew

Now the trial was over Ms Kuch told news.com.au she could finally go ahead with plan to scatter her ashes. She has a spot in mind, a part of the Queensland coast that is special to the family.

“That’s where my brother’s ashes were spread. A lot of Renee’s friends will be there, they’re all married now with children.”

The date she has set is not going to be Renee’s birthday, but January 20. It will be three years since she was killed.

“That’s when we are going to do it; that’s when she was taken from us.”

www.ozrural.com.au     www.clublibido.com.au

THE father of Justine Damond, the Australian woman killed by a police officer in Minnesota, has called for justice for his daughter.

“We only ask that the light of justice shine down on the circumstances of her death,” an emotional John Ruszczyk said outside his family home in Freshwater on Sydney’s northern beaches this afternoon.

The bookshop owner and his family paid tribute to the former vet, with his family supporting him as he faced the media.

“We thought yesterday was our worst nightmare. But we awoke to the ugly truth, and it hurt even more.

“We went down to Freshy beach this morning, and saw the darkness change to light.” he said.

Ruszczyk paid tribute to his daughter, saying she touched many lives.

“Justine our daughter was so special to us, and to so many others,” he said. “Justine was a beacon to all of us,” he added.

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Maryan Herffernan and John Ruszczyk (front), father of Justine Damond, with brother Jason Ruszczyk and Katarina Ruszczyk. Picture: Dylan Robinson

According to the Star Tribune, officer Mohamed Noor violated his department’s rules on the use of bodycams.

The Minneapolis Police Department’s Policy and Procedure manual says that any use of force requires the camera’s activation. If things change quickly and the officer is too busy, he or she should activate the camera “as soon as it is safe to do so”.

The cameras record a 30-second video buffer, a so-called “lookback” that allows officers to capture whatever happened in the half-minute before it’s activated.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is investigating the actions of Noor, who shot Justine Ruszczyk Damond, 40, on Saturday night.

The BCA said in a statement that it will be the Police Department’s job to determine whether the officers officially violated the department’s body camera policy.

Ms Damond’s distraught fiance made an emotional appeal, saying his family is “utterly devastated”.

Don Damond, 50, said the family were “desperate for information” about her shooting — in which he also referred to as a “homicide.”

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner, after conducting an autopsy on Ms Damond, has issued a statement saying the fatal police shooting was a homicide. She died from a gunshot wound to her abdomen.

Police say officers were responding to a call about a possible assault late on Saturday when Ms Damond was killed. Authorities have released no details about what led to the shooting.

But a history of complaints made against the police officer who shot Ms Damond, including one incident which he is being sued for, has also emerged.

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A BRISBANE man used his knowledge as a former police officer to plot the murders of his wife and two children in a frenzied stabbing attack at their family home.

The man in his 40s, who cannot be named to protect the identities of the victims, has pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to three charges of attempted murder.

This afternoon he was sentenced to life in prison.

Justice Peter Flanagan said there were only two to three precedent cases for life sentences on attempted murder charges in Queensland.

But he said the horrific nature of the man’s attempted killing spree warranted a severe sentence.

“All three victims carry with them to this day the terrible scars of that night,” the judge said.

The man was a police officer for 17 years before resigning in 2008.

Photo: Police arrested the man at a home at Carina Brisbane Qld on February 2, 2014. (ABC TV)

He will be eligible for parole after serving 15 years.

Previously, the court heard harrowing details of his rampage through the family home on February 2, 2014.

Crown prosecutor Dejana Kovac said the man hatched the plan in response to his wife discovering he had had multiple affairs with prostitutes.

“He was in fact spending money on his sexual activities … and even (pawned his wife’s) engagement ring to fund prostitutes,” Ms Kovac said.

He plotted the murder of his family for about a week beforehand, deciding 6am was the best time to coincide with shift changes at the police station.

He selected two knives from the kitchen and crept into his wife’s bedroom first — because “he knew she would be the hardest person to kill”.

Ms Kovac said he “savagely attacked her”, targeting her thighs and neck “hoping to hit an artery”.

“ … She was defenceless from his brutal attack,” she said.

The man thought he’d done enough to kill her judging by the bloodshed.

The woman’s screams woke their young son, which Ms Kovac said upset the man “because he was hoping he would kill his son while he was asleep”.

He approached the child as he sat with a blanket around him in the living room and stabbed him twice in the neck.

The child replied: “That hurt, don’t do it again”.

By now the couple’s daughter had woken and witnessed the attack on her little brother.

She tried desperately to escape, but her father chased her through the house.

“She fought back, begged him to stop … ,” Ms Kovac said.

The child pleaded: “I thought you loved me” as she suffered up to 40 stab wounds.

The attack came to an end when the man’s wife managed to phone Triple 0.

The family miraculously somehow survived, although they have significant physical and emotional scars.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, the man’s wife described her bodily scarring as a “road map” of an attack that could never be erased.

She said she’d continued to have severe nightmares of her daughter pleading with her father not to kill her.

“My children will carry this trauma with them for the rest of their lives, lives that I hope will be long despite the attempted efforts of their father to cut them short,” the statement said.

“My children are now growing up with the stigma, shame and pain of having a parent who tried to murder them.

“The first time (my children) saw me after the crime I was still in hospital. I can never forget the shock and fear on their faces when they saw me … I had tubes and drains coming out of my neck and face, I was weak. “(My children) didn’t know if they could hug me because there wasn’t anywhere that they could see that wasn’t injured.

“My body is littered with scars, I remember counting the number of wounds I had after my stitches were removed. I was chilled by the number: 71.” A number I will never forget. That day was my 911 day.

www.policesearch.net

www.intelagencies.com

Walking through the streets of Neutral Bay on Sydney’s north shore, a humble and unassuming woman on the way to the convenience store she ran gave no hint of a darker side.

But inside her Yeo Street apartment, and in the presence of organised crime figures she did business for, Ping He assumed the role of the “godmother”.

This petite 52-year-old mother was at the helm of a lucrative money laundering ring, washing hundreds of thousands of dollars of drug proceeds offshore.

Her arrest was a major scalp in a lengthy NSW Organised Crime Squad investigation that shone a light on the scale of the illicit money laundering industry in Australia.

The intricacies of this investigation can now be detailed after He pleaded guilty last month to one outstanding charge.

Detectives put He – also known as “Angel” – – under surveillance in 2014 after learning of her extensive links to Asian organised crime figures.

He, who owned Danny’s Convenience Store in Neutral Bay, was part of a syndicate that laundered money from Australia to China and back again. Some of it would end up in the hands of Sydney-based Chinese nationals with gambling habits, court documents show.

The end game was to launder the proceeds of drug sales through numerous transactions with remitting agencies to mask the true source so it eventually appeared the money was from a legitimate source.

James Zhu, 48, who has been sentenced to five years jail from drug and money laundering offencesPhoto: NSW Police

Sometimes He, who charged maybe 1-2 per cent commission, would organise someone to travel to Melbourne with loads of cash to flush money through remitting agencies over the border.

The players in her syndicate referred to each other by titles like “Big head”, “team leader” and “godmother”.

In August, 2014, a surveillance device in He’s unit recorded convicted drug supplier James Zhu, 48, and another man counting $300,000 on a cash counting machine.

“I’m going to take my commission first, f**k how much should it be?” asked Zhu, who referred to himself as “the master”.

“$300,00, 2 per cent, $6000…do I take $6000?”

He replied: “Right, fine you take $6000, mine is $9000.”

A few days later, He was heard telling a courier how to split $250,000 into $50,000 lots and deposit it into one bank account via multiple remitters.

In May 2014, He used a remitter to move client He Ren’s drug sale proceeds from China to Australia. That money was directed to Chinese nationals in Australia who had deposited funds in He’s Chinese bank account.

“This transaction … showed the accused was using Ren’s drug-related funds to facilitate money transfers to other people who required funds moved from China to Australia for their own purpose,” a fact sheet tendered in court states.

He was also heard discussing drug prices with 52-year-old Ren, using terms like apples and oranges as code for ounces of methamphetamine.

Fearing Ren was on the police radar, Zhu urged He to stay away from him.

“Did you know how Ren made so much money,” Zhu told He in 2014.

“In the past it was me giving Ren f**king opportunities all the way along.”

Sweeping police raids resulted in the trio’s arrest and a swathe of charges.

He – the leader of the syndicate – was sentenced last month to five years’ jail, with a non-parole period of three years, for dealing with proceeds of crime.

She is due to be sentenced for participating in a criminal group charge in November.

www.money-au.com

A drug addict who bludgeoned his mother and a young relative to death as they attempted to escape his ice-fuelled rage has been jailed for at least 30 years.

Dressed in prison greens, Lance Rhodes, 36, did not appear to react as he was handed a maximum of 40 years in jail in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday.

He continued to stab her as she lay helpless on the ground. Rhodes then picked up a 28-kilogram concrete statue and repeatedly hit her on the head with it, smashing her skull.

Rhodes returned to the home, grabbed a young child relative by the neck of his shirt and stabbed him in the chest before bashing his head against a wall.

Justice Stephen Campbell said Rhodes was in the grip of an “ice-induced psychosis” when the “terrible events” of September 8, 2015 unfolded.

After consuming a cocktail of substances, Rhodes stabbed his mother Linda Adams, 63, in the back as she tried to run away from him after he grabbed a large knife from the kitchen of the Lalor Park home they shared.

The boy managed to escape, but Rhodes caught up with him outside and bludgeoned him to death with a stone.

“Die, just fucking die, I don’t care,” Rhodes was heard to say.

Covered in blood, Rhodes attempted to attack another woman, Annabelle Saludo , by getting into her car. He hit the windows, yelled “F—ing open up” and then ran after the car and tried to lift it as the woman attempted to escape.

When Senior Constable Steve Lewis arrived, Rhodes picked up a water meter cover and walked towards him, saying, “Let’s go”.

Ms Adams’ body was found only two metres from the front door of her neighbour’s home. The boy’s body was found near a tree in the yard of the home he had fled.

Justice Campbell said “doubtless this offending would never have occurred” but for Rhodes’ self-induced intoxication

.The child, who can not be named for legal reasons, who was killed.

The court heard that shortly before the killings, Rhodes had returned to his home and said, “We’re going to have some fun tonight”.

“They are in the house … they are in the house … don’t worry I’ll get rid of them,” he was later heard saying.

While Justice Campbell accepted that the attack commenced “impulsively”, he said Rhodes had persisted with it and it was “accompanied by determination”.

The court heard Rhodes had a troubled childhood and started using cannabis when he was a teenager before moving onto heroin, speed and ice.

Before the double murder, he had been consuming ice for nine months.

Rhodes told police he could not remember killing his mother and the child and repeatedly said he was unwell.

“I know I clicked it. I’m insane. I need real professional help,” Rhodes told police in an interview. “I was in a different world.

“Everything was spacey. It was like being in a dark cloud.”

A drug addict who bludgeoned his mother and a young relative to death as they attempted to escape his ice-fuelled rage has been jailed for at least 30 years.

Dressed in prison greens, Lance Rhodes, 36, did not appear to react as he was handed a maximum of 40 years in jail in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday.

In a lengthy on-air monologue, TODAY host Karl Stefanovic attacked the Daily Mail for its coverage of women on the program.

Justice Stephen Campbell said Rhodes was in the grip of an “ice-induced psychosis” when the “terrible events” of September 8, 2015 unfolded.

After consuming a cocktail of substances, Rhodes stabbed his mother Linda Adams, 63, in the back as she tried to run away from him after he grabbed a large knife from the kitchen of the Lalor Park home they shared.

He continued to stab her as she lay helpless on the ground. Rhodes then picked up a 28-kilogram concrete statue and repeatedly hit her on the head with it, smashing her skull.

Rhodes returned to the home, grabbed a young child relative by the neck of his shirt and stabbed him in the chest before bashing his head against a wall.

Lance Rhodes at the crime scene, on the night he was arrested.

Lance Rhodes at the crime scene, on the night he was arrestedPhoto: TNV

Covered in blood, Rhodes attempted to attack another woman, Annabelle Saludo , by getting into her car. He hit the windows, yelled “F—ing open up” and then ran after the car and tried to lift it as the woman attempted to escape.

When Senior Constable Steve Lewis arrived, Rhodes picked up a water meter cover and walked towards him, saying, “Let’s go”.

Ms Adams’ body was found only two metres from the front door of her neighbour’s home. The boy’s body was found near a tree in the yard of the home he had fled.

Justice Campbell said “doubtless this offending would never have occurred” but for Rhodes’ self-induced intoxication.

The court heard that shortly before the killings, Rhodes had returned to his home and said, “We’re going to have some fun tonight”.

“They are in the house … they are in the house … don’t worry I’ll get rid of them,” he was later heard saying.

While Justice Campbell accepted that the attack commenced “impulsively”, he said Rhodes had persisted with it and it was “accompanied by determination”.

The court heard Rhodes had a troubled childhood and started using cannabis when he was a teenager before moving onto heroin, speed and ice.

Before the double murder, he had been consuming ice for nine months.

Rhodes told police he could not remember killing his mother and the child and repeatedly said he was unwell.

“I know I clicked it. I’m insane. I need real professional help,” Rhodes told police in an interview. “I was in a different world.

“Everything was spacey. It was like being in a dark cloud.”

But Justice Campbell was sceptical that Rhodes had no memory of the events, saying his repeated concern to present himself as a paranoid schizophrenic was an attempt to provide justification for his behaviour.

Outside court, Ms Adams’ daughter Tina Rhodes said she loved her mother and the child.

“No matter how long the sentence is, it will not bring back two beautiful people we have lost,” she said.

Rhodes will be eligible for parole in 2045.

www.druglinks.info

Australian Taxation Office Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston will be charged in connection with an alleged $165 million tax fraud syndicate following what police have described as one of the biggest white collar fraud investigations in Australian history.

Mr Cranston has been issued a future court attendance notice for the charge of abusing his position as a public official. He is due to appear in Sydney’s Central Local Court on June 13.

His son, Adam Cranston, 30, and his daughter, Lauren Anne Cranston, 24, have also been charged following an eight-month investigation, codenamed Operation Elbrus.

World biggest scam of $165 million has engulfed most senior officers

 

It’s alleged Michael Cranston accessed restricted information on an ATO audit for his son, but police do not believe he knew about his son’s alleged fraud syndicate.

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Leanne Close said the syndicate appeared to use the money to fund a “lavish lifestyle”.

Among the items seized under proceeds of crime were 25 motor vehicles, including luxury cars and racing cars, 12 motorbikes, 18 residential properties, two aircraft, $1 million from a safe deposit box, firearms, jewellery, bottles of Grange wine and artworks.

ATO Second Commissioner Andrew Mills said two other ATO officers were also being investigated internally for potential code of conduct breaches. It’s believed they tried to look up information on the ATO’s audit at the behest of Michael Cranston.

The announcement came after nearly 300 police officers on Wednesday carried out raids across Sydney, Wollongong and the Southern Highlands, arresting nine people.

Adam Cranston, from Bondi, and Lauren Cranston, from Picton, are among six people alleged to be members of a tax fraud syndicate that netted $165 million.

One of the luxury cars seized by Australian Federal Police officers during Wednesday’s raids.

All six were charged with conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth for their alleged role in the syndicate, while two men were charged with money laundering offences.

One was charged in relation to an alleged extortion on the syndicate, which also resulted in additional charges against two people charged in relation to the syndicate.

Among those who appeared in court on Thursday are Daniel Rostankovski, 28, from Waterloo; Jason Cornell Onley, 47, from Vaucluse; Daniel Hausman, 47, from Woollahra; Christopher James Guillan, 46, from Sutherland; Dev Menon, 33, from Wahroonga and Devyn Hammon, 24, from Balgownie.

Police will allege in court that the syndicate members ran a legitimate payroll company, Plutus Payroll, and accepted money from legitimate clients to process payroll on their behalf.

“This money was transferred to seven sub-contracted companies known as Tier 2 companies, which then made payroll payments to individual workers or clients,” the federal police said in a statement.

The directors of those Tier 2 companies were known as straw directors, police say, and were essentially a front for the syndicate members, who retained effective control.

“As part of their contractual obligations to the legitimate payroll company’s clients, the Tier 2 companies are required to remit pay as you go (PAYG) withholding tax payments to the ATO on behalf of the clients,” police said.

“However, investigators found that only part of these tax obligations were paid. The remaining money was allegedly siphoned off by the syndicate members and channelled through a complex series of companies and trusts for their own personal gain.”

Michael Cranston is due to appear in court on June 13. 

Tax Office investigators, who helped the federal police during the investigation, estimate the amount of tax obligations not paid to the Tax Office to be $165 million.

Mr Mills described Michael Cranston as one of the organisation’s “long-serving senior officers” who had “quite an illustrious [career] up until this point”.

Mr Mills said he was confident the Tax Office’s systems had not been compromised nor breached and the accused employees were not able to obtain any information.

“The investigation has so far not revealed any evidence of actual intervention or influence on audit cases, or of money being refunded, or of tax liability being changed,” Mr Mills said.

“The information I have to date shows no compromise of the operations of our administration. Our systems, controls and procedures worked effectively and we have been able to successfully isolate and protect the investigation, working well with the Australian Federal Police over many months to build a picture of what has been happening.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull congratulated the federal police for the investigation and “taking the action that they have”.

“We have zero tolerance – zero tolerance – for this type of conspiracy, this type of fraud, this type of abuse of public office,” he said.

“People who break our laws – whether it is endeavouring to defraud the Commonwealth and the tax system, whether it is planning terror plots, whether it’s trafficking in drugs – our police, our agencies, will catch them. Catch them, prosecute them and bring the full weight of the law down to bear on them.

“It is a credit to the police that the matter has been identified and charges have been laid. We are ever vigilant. You cannot be ever complacent about any aspect of integrity in public life or in government. So we have a relentless pursuit of corruption, malpractice, abuse of office. The AFP have a very keen focus on it, I can assure you, as has been demonstrated.”

Mr Turnbull described the alleged fraud as “very, very much to be regretted”, particularly the alleged involvement of a senior Tax Office official.

“Nobody should imagine that they can escape our law-enforcement agencies,” he said.

“We have zero tolerance for people who seek to defraud the Commonwealth of its revenue.

“As I said earlier, ideally we prefer taxes to be lower, but taxes must be paid. They are compulsory.”

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An Australian fighter for Islamic State, thought to be disillusioned with the fanatics’ cause, reached out to Australian government

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In news that will make you sick in the stomach, an Australian baby has been murdered by Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East.

The Daily Telegraph reports it was a revenge execution after the baby’s Aussie father tried to flee the war zone and return home.

Intelligence agencies believe it was payback by Islamic State when it was discovered he was planning to leave.

A spokesman for Attorney-General George Brandis said the Government condemned “any parent who takes their family to the conflict zone”.“The government has consistently said going to the conflict zone puts yourself and others in danger,” the spokesman said.

The Daily Mail reports there are currently more than 100 Australian terrorists fighting overseas for terrorist organisations.

Authorities would not confirm the baby’s age, gender or how child was killed.

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LIONEL Patea has been sentenced to life in prison for the brutal killing of his ex-girlfriend Tara Brown on a suburban Gold Coast street. Queensland Australia

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Earlier, the court heard Patea had ordered his aunt — the mother of singer Ricki-Lee Coulter — to deny Tara Brown access to their child in the days before he brutally killed his ex-girlfriend. A court has also heard Patea phoned the child’s daycare centre to ask one question before carrying out his brutal slaying.

Coulter’s mother, Loretta Sheerin, was babysitting Ms Brown’s young daughter in the days before she was killed.

A supporter of Tara Brown’s family holds a photo of the murdered woman outside court in Brisbane image www.crimefiles.net

A supporter of Tara Brown’s family holds a photo of the murdered woman outside court in Brisbane today. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

Patea has pleaded guilty to Ms Brown’s murder and will be sentenced in the Brisbane Supreme Court this afternoon.

The court was told during sentencing submissions this morning that Patea commanded his aunt, named in court as Ms Sheerin, not to let Ms Brown see their child while he was in Gladstone for work.

But Ms Sheerin allowed Ms Brown to stay the night and visit the child.

In the days following, Ms Brown applied for domestic violence and child custody orders and was living in a safe house away from the Gold Coast.

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On September 6, she returned to the Gold Coast to stay with a friend and was looking for a rental home to “get her life back in order”.

Interim custody orders with Patea were finalised soon after, and the court was told they were served on Patea’s lawyer on September 7.

About 8am the next the day, Patea phoned Aria’s childcare and asked if she would be attending today.

“It was confirmed that she was,” crown prosecutor Carl Heaton QC said.

Patea chased Ms Brown as she drove away from the daycare, ran her off the road and bashed her to death.

Justice Debra Mullins will hand down her sentence from 2.30pm.

Guilty plea in Tara Brown murder trial

EARLIER: Triple 0 call reveals horror of Tara’s death

LIONEL Patea has pleaded guilty to the murder of his former girlfriend Tara Brown.

Ms Brown, 24, died after Patea ran her off the road in a suburban Gold Coast street in September, 2015.

Tara Brown’s mother Natalie Hinton receives comfort by a supporter outside Brisbane Supreme Court.image www.crimefiles.net

Tara Brown’s mother Natalie Hinton receives comfort by a supporter outside Brisbane Supreme Court.

As she lay trapped in the car, Patea viciously beat her with a cast-iron water hydrant cover.

Ms Brown had just dropped their daughter, Aria, off at childcare when the shocking attack unfolded.

Patea entered guilty pleas to murder, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and unlawful use of a motor vehicle shortly after 10am this morning, before his trial was scheduled to start.

Gold Coast lawyer Campbell MacCallum made a statement outside court on behalf is his client.

In the statement, Patea said he accepted “full responsibility” for his actions.

“I do this with the full support of my family who have encouraged me in my decision to face up to my actions and provide closure for the Brown family,” Mr MacCallum read.

“I do not want to cause Tara’s family further pain.

“I accept without hesitation the punishment imposed upon me by the justice system.”

Earlier, in court, Ms Brown’s mother Natalie Hinton wept as Patea was brought into the dock wearing a navy suit, white shirt and black tie.

It is understood Ms Brown made a harrowing Triple 0 call before her death, which was to be a key piece of evidence in the trial.

The young mum suffered critical head injuries and died the next day in hospital.

Patea’s sentencing hearing has begun, with evidence heard of the brave witnesses who attempted to stop Patea’s brutal actions.

One man, who lived in a nearby home, had helped Patea to get into the car after he ran Ms Brown off the road, believing he was trying to help her. He couldn’t have imagined what would happen next.

Crown prosecutor Carl Heaton QC has told the court Patea began beating Ms Brown with the cover of a water hydrant

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Ms Brown was on the phone to Triple 0 at the time and the attack was recorded.

Mr Heaton said 16 “thumps” are heard on the audio, and then a female witness can be heard saying: “what the f**k are you doing”.

There are another 13 “thumps”, Mr Heaton said, “followed by silence”.

The female witness jumped on Patea’s back at one stage and later stood between him and Ms Brown as she lay trapped in the car and told him to “piss off”.

The male witness had tried to pull him from Ms Brown and phone police, to no avail.

Her death sent shockwaves through the nation, and that grief was compounded when just two days later a Karina Lock was murdered by her husband at the Helensvale McDonald’s.

The domestic violence murders sparked calls from the community for the State Government to act.


National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800 RESPECT.

In an emergency call triple-zero.

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