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September, 2019

Harris: Venue could be “white elephant”

The newly refurbished Maitland Sportsground will host a sell-out crowd of close to 7000 fans when the Newcastle Knights take on Parramatta in a trial next Saturday night.
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But Newcastle RL CEOMatt Harris has warned the venue could become a “white elephant” if Maitland Council does not make it financially viable for local sporting organisations to play there on a regular basis.

The Council and the Maitland Pickers club are currently in negotiations overthe lease of the facility and canteen rights with the costthreatening to force the Pickers to find an alternative home groundthis season.

At the same time, the Newcastle RL had hoped to play their All Stars game on March 3 at the venue but baulked at the cost with the game to now be played at St John Ovalin Charlestown

“There was a difference of around $1300 between the two venueswhich is a significant amount for us,” he said.

“We are disappointed because we saw it as a good opportunity to promote that event ata really good, new venue and at the same time, assist the Maitland club.

“But it was a dollar decision for us. The fees that they wanted were simply beyond us and we couldn’t justify the extra spend.”

Newcastle RL CEO Matt Harris

Harris said he hopes common sense prevails in on-going negotiations between the Council and the Pickers.

“I’ve been up there and had a look and it looks like a fantastic facility and both us [Newcastle RL]and the Maitland club were looking forward to playing there every second week,”he said.

“Everyone was excited but now everyone’s a bit deflated and nervous aboutwhat’s going to happen and if the Pickers will be able to afford to play there at all.

New Maitland Sportsground grandstand

“We haven’t been able to hold this event there and unless things change, it’s unlikely we will hold other events there. If Maitland aren’t there, I’m not sure who is going to be.

“Potentially, it could just sit there. It’s got white elephant written all over it so hopefully, common sense prevails and it can be resolved amicably.”

All Starsteams:

Newcastle Indigenous All Stars:

Simon Allen, Isaac Briggs, Randal Briggs, Scott Briggs,Brad Russell, Matt Simon, Andy Sumner, Adam Swadling [Macquarie], Josh Charles,Jacob Gagai, Jamie Ghoulmieh, Cody Robbins [Lakes], Steve Gordon [Central], Jordy Mitchell, Jade Porter, Mark Walker [Kurri],Warren Schillings, Brad Tighe, Ryan Walker[Wests],Lincoln Smith [Maitland].Development players:Aaron McGrady [Lakes], Ngangarra Barker [Maitland]. Coach: Ashley Gordon.

Newcastle All Stars:

Brad Murray, Cal Richardson, Shane Gray, TerenceSeuSeu [Central Newcastle],Alex Mammone,Chanel Mata’utia, Paul Carter [Cessnock], Michael Steele,Tyme Dow Nikau [Kurri],Dylan Hartin, Mathew Craig [Lakes United], Kyle Eather,Nathan Cantor [Macquarie], Adam Clydesdale, Dane Tilse [Maitland], Ben Roose, Brendon Simpson,Jake Lawrence [South Newcastle],Mao Uta,Sam Keenan [West Newcastle].Coach: Phil Williams.

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A murder most foul in a mystery gully near Merewether

Mysterious Name: How did Murdering Gully get its name? The truth is out there … somewhere. Image: Google Maps How did Murdering Gully get its name?
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Topics asked this question last week and received some very interesting responses.

The gully is between Glenrock Lagoon and Merewetherin the Burwood beach area.

John from Charlestown told Topics that the gully got its name from its steepness.

John said horses were used years ago to cart materialdown the gully to the sewage treatment works.

“The climb back out of the gully was so steep. It used to exhaust the horses,” John said.

“It was such a dreadful haul for the animals, up and down this steep gully.

“They called it Murdering Gully because it was a murderous climb.”

Former NBN news anchor Ray Dinneensaid it was actually known as “Murmuring Gully”.

This was because of the “subdued, continuous sound made by Flaggy Creek”.

“In fact, the word ‘murmur’is derived from the Greek word ‘mormorõ’, which means ‘of water’.

“However, some Novocastrians got a bit mixed up and began calling it Murdering Gully.

“And that is the name that has stuck.”

We’re not quite sure if Ray is pulling our leg.

Lenore Black(nee Upfold) thinks she knows for surehow the gully got its name.

“Two ladies were picking ferns overnear Glenrock Lagoon in 1933,” she said.

“They found thebody of a man under a clump of lantana bush.”

Lenore, 85, lives at Belmont North, but she lived at Merewether for many years.

She was born in 1932.

“I remember people talking about it [the apparent murder] later on,” she said.

“Itwas a badly decomposed body that could not be identified. It was taken to the city morgue.”

Early Birds Bill Gregson and Jeanne Walls at the old Newcastle Park Royal.

The Newcastle Parkroyal was once in Newcastle West, where the Travelodge now stands.

The hotel used to run a monthlybreakfast for women in the 1980s called the Early Birds Club.

About 100 working women regularly attended thebreakfast.

It was a forerunner of the women’s organisations that exist today in the business world.

Jeanne Walls was amarketing manager for the hotel chain at the time.

Jeanne Walls (nee Raschke) and Peter Burgess, who was Newcastle’s first concierge.

She joked that the “Early Birds” name wouldn’t go down too well these days.

“You wouldn’t get away with it now,” she said.

“If I said that now, my daughter would say ‘mum, that’s terribly inappropriate’.”

But back then, Jeanne said the club gave women “a sense of self”.

A 35-year reunion of the club will be held at Newcastle Travelodge on Saturday.

Contact Julie Vallender for bookings or more information on 0409 714 691.

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Thurston nervous ahead of NRL comeback

Jonathan Thurston admits he’s nervous ahead of his long-awaited NRL comeback.The nerves are already starting to kick in for Johnathan Thurston.
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But the North Queensland co-captain says his troublesome shoulder won’t be the cause of any anxiety in his long awaited NRL comeback this weekend.

Thurston admits to butterflies ahead of his first game in eight months after getting the all-clear from a specialist for Saturday night’s trial against Wests Tigers in Cairns.

It will kick-start his 17th and final NRL season.

Co-captain Matt Scott (knee) will also return for his first game since round two last year.

Thurston, who sustained the injury to his shoulder in Queensland’s State of Origin game two win last June, says he’s confident it’s up for the challenge.

“I am excited but a little bit nervous at the same time after coming back from a major injury but I have done all the work so in my own mind I know I will be right,” the veteran playmaker said on Friday.

Thurston backed his shoulder to stand up to the rigours of a Tigers pack boasting new faces Russell Packer, Ben Matulino and Chris McQueen after a testing contact session with the Cowboys forwards.

“I did a fair amount of contact with the bigger boys and the shoulder has pulled up fine from that,” he said.

“Everything I have been asked to do (by medical staff) I have been able to do it so that has given me the confidence to go out there tomorrow night and be able to play.

“It’s been a long journey, it’s been a tough journey but there is light at the end of the tunnel now.”

Both Thurston and Test prop Scott are expected to get up to 30 minutes on the field on Saturday night in their comeback matches.

Scott said it was hard to tell who was more excited, himself or Thurston.

“Probably both equally I would say. We have both spent a fair bit of time out,” he said.

Scott almost made a surprise comeback in last year’s grand final against Melbourne when he was included in the Cowboys’ extended squad but was cut ahead of kick-off.

The return has been “a long time coming”, Scott said.

“I am at the stage where I just want to get the first game out of the way, tick that box off.”

Australian Associated Press

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Man linked to Pullen murder denied parole

Timothy Pullen’s parents Gary and Leanne outside the Brisbane Magistrates Court.A man who disposed of murdered man Timothy Pullen’s body but claimed his burnt remains had been washed away has been refused parole for failing to cooperate sufficiently to find them.
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Stephen Renwick is serving a five-year jail sentence for disposing of the corpse near Collinsville, west of Airlie Beach, after Mr Pullen was killed over a $30,000 drug debt in April 2012.

Under Queensland’s new No Body, No Parole laws, killers and accessories are to be kept behind bars unless they disclosed the locations of their victims.

“The board is not satisfied (Renwick) has cooperated satisfactorily in the investigation of the offence to identity the victim’s location,” Parole Board Queensland said in its judgment published on Friday afternoon.

During a hearing in January, Renwick’s barrister Josh Fenton told the board Mr Pullen’s body was reduced to ash in a 90-minute fire that was fuelled with diesel.

Any microscopic remains of Mr Pullen’s burnt body would have been washed away by Cyclone Debbie, the board heard.

However, they came to a different conclusion.

“There is no evidence of rainfall, or the effect of Cyclone Debbie, at the location identified,” the parole board found.

This wasn’t the first story Renwick had told investigators.

After initially being charged with murder, he claimed Mr Pullen’s body had been wrapped in a blanket and dumped in a paddock.

He pleaded guilty in June 2016 to the lesser charge of accessory after manslaughter with the promise he would reveal the location of Mr Pullen’s remains.

But nothing was found during a search of the area Renwick pointed to that same month.

In September 2017, Renwick wanted to lead police on another search, this time claiming Mr Pullen’s body had been wrapped in plastic, covered in logs and burned.

At the parole hearing, Mr Fenton argued Renwick should be released as he had co-operated satisfactorily with authorities and done his best to recall where Mr Pullen was cremated.

The board ruled they did not believe Renwick was telling the truth and his cooperation until September “was incomplete to a significant extent”.

Friday’s decision comes more than six months after one of Mr Pullen’s killers, Benjamin Oakley, was controversially approved for release on parole just before the No Body, No Parole laws were passed.

Following the publication of the decision, Renwick’s lawyers said they were looking into the possibilities of appealing in the Supreme Court.

“Renwick has cooperated fully with the police and it is unfortunate that he seems to be in the middle of a political argument regarding these controversial new laws,” Nick Dore said.

Australian Associated Press

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Renshaw ton has Bulls on top, Vics stumble

Matthew Renshaw’s ton has helped Queensland to a strong Sheffield Shield position against Victoria.Australia’s Test squad had barely left the country, but former opener Matthew Renshaw made an immediate statement of intent with a century for Queensland on day one of their Sheffield Shield match against Victoria in Melbourne.
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Renshaw on Friday dominated a strong Bushrangers bowling attack, scoring 170 – his fifth first-class century.

The left-hander’s majestic 218-ball innings helped the Shield leaders to reach 4-333 at stumps, on a day’s play which contrasted markedly with a host of recent low scores in state cricket.

Renshaw hit Victoria’s bowlers all over the MCG in a knock that included four sixes, before he was eventually caught at slip off the bowling of Fawad Ahmed.

“I have been working on quite a few things over the past month-and-a-half,” said Renshaw. “To have them all come together this week has been really exciting.

“The Twenty20 cricket really helped me work on keeping my head as still as possible.

“The guys that do well there keep their head still, and I tried to apply that with red-ball cricket, and it really worked for me today.”

Renshaw endured a modest first part of the season, but shone last weekend as Queensland comfortably defeated Tasmania as the Shield resumed for the second half of the season.

The 21-year-old impressed by top-scoring with 56 against the Tigers, and added 32 in the second innings on a challenging Gabba wicket.

Despite his new-found form, Renshaw – who played 10 Tests for Australia before being dropped early last summer – would not be drawn on a possible national recall.

“It is just about trying to enjoy my cricket and win games for Queensland,” he said.

“We are a young group and a lot of us haven’t been involved in a Shield final or victory, so that is something we are really striving for.”

Queensland edged NSW out of top spot last weekend, and another win would move them closer to a berth in the Shield final with three more rounds remaining.

Second-last Victoria, struggling to keep their Shield title defence alive, continued to suffer after Renshaw’s dismissal with Sam Heazlett (63no) and Jack Wildermuth (42no) putting on a quickfire 75-run stand as the shadows lengthened.

Australian Associated Press

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Sam Ibrahim sentenced to nine years’ jail

Hassan “Sam” Ibrahim has been jailed for conspiracy to supply prohibited firearms in Sydney (file).Former bikie boss Hassan “Sam” Ibrahim will stay behind bars until at least 2021 for conspiring to supply prohibited firearms in Sydney in 2014.
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Ibrahim, 52, had pleaded guilty to the charge after being caught in a police sting, and sat quietly in the dock at the NSW District Court on Friday as he learned his fate.

Judge Anthony Blackmore sentenced Ibrahim to nine years’ jail, backdated to December 2014, with a non-parole period of six and a half years.

Ibrahim, the brother of Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim, was arrested in April 2014 with his sister Jazz Dior, her partner Elvis Mileski and former Rose Tattoo drummer Paul DeMarco.

Ibrahim is the last of the four to be sentenced, with Dior, 47 and Mileski, 46, both avoiding 18 months’ jail time in favour of intensive correction orders in the community while DeMarco, 59, was sentenced to at least six years in jail last year.

The four were arrested after raids in Sydney and the Illawarra uncovered 18 weapons, including an M1 military-grade assault rifle, a standard rifle, three pistols, two shotguns and 11 handguns.

In the months prior, Ibrahim planned for Mileski and Dior to obtain five Glocks so they could give them to DeMarco, who would, in turn, pass them on to a “buyer”, an undercover police officer.

In intercepted phone calls, Ibrahim told Mileski to make sure the guns were new and not “s*** ones”.

Judge Blackmore said that although the guns did not end up being supplied, it did not lessen the seriousness of the charges as they “could have caused immeasurable damage in the community”.

He cited the late Judge Robert Toner’s sentencing judgment for DeMarco, particularly the notion that Ibrahim was the “controlling mind” of the plot.

Judge Blackmore rejected claims the gun plot was linked to Ibrahim’s admitted drug use but said he should be given the opportunity to overcome his addiction.

“I recognise the offender needs drug rehabilitation,” he said.

Ibrahim will be eligible for parole in June 2021.

Australian Associated Press

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Roosters unsure of goal kicking duties

Sio Siua Taukeiaho could be the Roosters’ first choice goal kicker despite limited game time.Sio Siua Taukeiaho and Latrell Mitchell could share the Sydney Roosters’ kicking duties this NRL season as the Tricolours grapple with the loss of superboot Michael Gordon.
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Trent Robinson’s Roosters are widely considered one of the teams to beat in 2018 however one of the big question marks hanging over them is how they will fare following Gordon’s exit to the Gold Coast.

The Roosters were the masters of the clutch last year, winning an incredible 12 games by six points or less – an all-time competition record.

And many of those wins came off the boot of Gordon, who nailed 72 of 92 attempts.

“There were a few games there leading into the back end of the year where we were behind and a couple of Flash’s kicks were really important,” Roosters skipper Boyd Cordner told AAP.

“If he didn’t kick some of them, we would have went to golden point or we might have lost by two.

“It was a massive part of our game last year and it’s a massive part of rugby league. It’s huge.”

Without a recognised boot, kicking shapes as the Roosters’ Achilles heel.

Taukeiaho and Mitchell have both kicked irregularly throughout their careers but look set to take on the duties this year.

Taukeiaho boasts a strong career success rate of 77 per cent, though he is relatively inexperienced – 30 from 39 attempts.

He booted an impressive 16 from 18 for Tonga during their successful World Cup campaign last year and seems to be the frontrunner.

Mitchell has a career strike rate of 62 per cent (21 from 34) and has only kicked intermittently over his first two seasons of first-grade.

One obstacle for Taukeiaho to assume kicking duties is the fact he averaged 43.1 minutes last year and like all middle forwards he could spend fair chunks of game time on the bench.

Cordner said they could utilise a kick-sharing arrangement where Taukeiaho takes first priority and Mitchell takes over when he’s on the bench.

“Siua Taukeiaho and Latrell Mitchell are fighting it out right now for the goal-kicking duties,” Cordner said.

“Siua kicked for his country during the World Cup and he kicked really well, he’s kicked really well for the Roosters too.

“And Latrell’s been kicking awesome.”

“(A kick-sharing arrangement) could be a possibilty, for Siua to have first priority and then when he goes off for Latrell to take over.”

Australian Associated Press

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Vic man to stand trial over surgeon death

Melbourne surgeon Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann died after allegedly being punched outside a hospital.A man will stand trial for the death of a respected cardiothoracic surgeon, after a Melbourne magistrate heard the pair had a confrontation over a smoking ban.
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Joseph Esmaili, 23, denies killing Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann, who died on June 28, a month after being punched at Box Hill Hospital, where he worked.

Esmaili pleaded not guilty to five charges on day five of a committal hearing in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday, including unlawful killing and causing reckless and intentional injury.

During the hearing, defence lawyer John Desmond challenged whether Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann’s head injury was caused by the punch, by the impact of his head hitting the floor, or later while he was in hospital.

He also proposed Esmaili acted in self-defence in response to a “perceived threat”, claiming the surgeon “chest-bumped” his client.

Prosecutors allege the surgeon noticed a group, including Esmaili, smoking in a non-smoking area outside the hospital.

Esmaili then entered the hospital and had a confrontation with Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann, who told him smoking was banned, it is also claimed.

Next came the alleged punch.

Footage was played in the court on Friday capturing the fateful moment when Esmaili allegedly struck the surgeon in the hospital lift lobby.

Detective Leading Senior Constable David Price told the court Esmaili could be seen spitting at Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann before the punch.

However, Mr Desmond claimed that was “complete guesswork” and argued the surgeon did not subsequently wipe his face.

Const Price agreed the footage showed Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann pushing Esmaili away.

Magistrate Ross Maxted was satisfied a punch was made to Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann’s head, which caused his death, regardless of whether it was the injury from which he died.

Esmaili, who did not apply for bail, will next appear in the Supreme Court of Victoria on February 22.

Australian Associated Press

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Knights import Griffin plans a one-two combo with Levi

FRESH START: Slade Griffin won a premiership last season with Melbourne Storm but is excited about the new challenge awaiting him in Newcastle. Picture: Max Mason-HubersSLADE Griffin is confidentDanny Levi and himself can offer the Knights –and potentially the Kiwis –the best of both worlds.
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“Look, me and Danny are going to be a good one-two punch this year,” Griffin said.

“It’s not about who’s the better player and who starts. We both can play different ways in the team.

TRIED AND TESTED: Danny Levi made his debut for New Zealand at the World Cup. Picture: AAP

“If I start, maybe I can take a bit of the sting out of the game with my defensive style and he can come off the bench and provide a good running game.

“So I think we’re going to complement each other. We’re working well together in pre-season and I think we’re both going to make each other better.”

Griffin’s arrival at the Knights, after helping Melbourne win last season’s grand final, has created an intriguing situation that could well catch the attention of New Zealand selectors.

Levi is the incumbent Kiwi Test hooker, having worn the black-and-white four times at last year’s World Cup.

Yet in last week’s trial match against Melbourne, which the Knights won 26-22, Newcastle coach Nathan Brown preferred Griffin as his starting dummy-half, and Levi as his tag-team substitute.

If it works for Newcastle, perhaps it could work at international level.

“I’d love to play for the Kiwis,” said Griffin, who hails from Greymouth on the South Island.

“But I know there’s a lot to do before that happens. I’ve got to work really hard and play some good footyfor the Knights.”

The 94-kilogram utility forward they call “Nugget” is more experienced than his career tally of 25 NRL games would suggest.

He spent nine years with Melbourne and made his top-grade debut in 2013, only to endure the heartache of three knee reconstructions.

“I’m getting to the age where I need to test myself now,” he said.

“I loved my time down in Melbourne. I learned a lot and I got to play with some great players.

“But when the opportunity came to join Newcastle, I couldn’t have gone to a better club. It suits me on and off the field.

“The way we’re going to play our footy this year, it’s going to be eyes-up and not too structured, so I’m really excited about that.”

Last season he established himself as a regular on Melbourne’s bench, playing in 14 games culminating in the grand final, which he described as “a special moment”.

Playing against his former teammates in his first game for Newcastle was“a bit weird”, he admitted.

“I was really excited on the bus, driving to the stadium,” he said.

“Me and the boys were giving each other a few words, and a few facials, which was pretty funny.

“But now I’m wearing the blue and red, so I had a job to do and I tried to focus on that.”

SLADE GRIFFIN

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Vic ANZ manager jailed for $300k theft

An ANZ manager has been jailed for stealing more than $300,000 from the bank.Even though she was already a highly-paid senior manager at ANZ, Tracey Lee Cook embezzled more than $300,000 from the bank for “personal lifestyle reasons”, including buying a car and jet ski.
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The Melbourne mother-of-two will spend at least 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to making 14 fraudulent deposits to accounts in her husband’s name between December 2014 and July 2016.

The County Court of Victoria was told on Friday that Cook, 44, was in charge of a department dealing with dishonoured and missing cheques, overseeing a team of 162 staff nationally and that her stealing was “entirely for personal lifestyle reasons”.

Over 17 months, the mum of two teenage girls used her staff, who trustingly followed her requests without question, to make the fraudulent deposits.

When quizzed about a suspicious transfer of some $4000, Cook was able to bluff her way out. But when pulled up on a subsequent deposit of $29,000, she came clean.

Cook used the stolen $311,529 to buy a jet ski, a car for her husband, to make payments on her investment property, to pay for general household bills and to pay her husband’s tax obligations.

This was despite the couple already earning a combined income of more than $450,000 a year.

“You said your family was living a lie they did not have to live,” Judge Trevor Wraight said.

“You were in a trusted position as an employee and manager.”

Cook earlier pleaded guilty to four counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

She made full admissions during investigations by both police and the bank, becoming “distraught and crying” when questioned.

Two days after she was sacked, Cook repaid the money to ANZ – more than $262,000 once her long-service leave payment was deducted from the overall total.

Judge Wraight said her moral culpability was high, but the fact she repaid the money was of “considerable weight” in determining her sentence.

Cook attempted to avoid jail, arguing her family unit should not be broken up, particularly as her 17-year-old daughter was in her final year of school.

She was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment, and must serve at least 15 months before being eligible for parole.

Australian Associated Press

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