Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wrongly taken girl denied visit with dying dad

There seems to be no limit to DOCS evil

A FIVE-year-old girl wrongly removed from her parents was denied a visit with her dying father, even after the Ombudsman ruled DOCS bungled the case. In a horror start to her life, the girl has suffered from cancer, lost her father and spent more than two years separated from her family because of decisions that should not have been made.

DOCS will be forced to pay compensation to the family of the Sydney girl, who had never been abused or neglected.

Community Services Minister Linda Burney was notified of the case in September and this month did not override her department's decision to prevent the girl from travelling to Taiwan for her father's funeral. Yesterday she said the case was before the court until February and that it was "inappropriate for me to intervene."

Deputy Ombudsman Steve Kinmond found the girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was removed after a DOCS case worker made "significant errors in her interpretation" of an interview with the girl's teenage sister.

DOCS wrongly and repeatedly told the Children's Court the teenager had claimed her brother had sexually abused her and that their mother had failed to act. Police were notified of the claims and never pursued action against the boy.

Mr Kinmond found the teenage girl's statements were "misconstrued when given to [the mother] and the Children's Court."

Errors repeated to government departments and in affidavits led to the mother being tagged as "non protective of children, unwilling to believe [her eldest daughter] and dishonest".

After her children were removed the mother admitted to disciplining her teenage daughter with a bamboo cane, leading to a conviction for assault.

Mr Kinmond found the errors were crucial in the removal of the woman's youngest child who had been diagnosed with a neuroblastoma and treated with chemotherapy when four months old.

His report was handed to DOCS on March 30 but just weeks later when the girl's father was dying of cancer, DOCS refused to let the girl's mother take her to Taiwan for his funeral. "DOCS has a hard job. I understand many children need to be removed. That was not the case here; it has been a total miscarriage of justice," Opposition Community Services spokeswoman Pru Goward said.

DOCS has offered an "unconditional apology" to the mother and wrote "it is clear information wrongly summarised from an interview was relied upon in court."


Woman locked out of hospital while about to give birth

It was a preterm, too, which should have had expert attention throughout

A SYDNEY mother was forced to give birth in a hospital carpark after staff at the delivery unit failed to respond quickly enough.

Padstow’s Melissa Synnerdahl gave birth to daughter Destiney in the front seat of her car at Canterbury Hospital carpark after staff failed to respond to pleas by her husband to gain entry.

Scott Hicks was forced to deliver their 2.5kg baby, which was three weeks premature, in her Commodore on Wednesday at 10.30pm. But it was only after the 25-year-old woman gave birth that doctors came to her aid.

A Sydney South West Area Health Service spokesman said Canterbury Hospital has apologised to the family. “While the switchboard and birthing unit entry bell were working well, a temporary breakdown in communication caused a delay in attending the mother’s birth,” he said. “The hospital is reviewing the circumstances of the incident and putting additional measures in place to ensure it is avoided in the future.”

But Mr Hicks said doctors didn’t apologise for not coming to their aid instead telling them after the birth “they were busy with another emergency delivery”.


What DOES she believe in? (If anything)

JULIA Gillard has spent her first media conference in Adelaide defending herself against damaging internal leaks that she opposed the paid parental leave scheme.

But she has attempted to make a virtue of the fact, teling a media conference in Adelaide she closely scrutinised the policies because of their $50 million cost to taxpayers. "I looked at them from every angle, I held them up to the light, I asked every question," she said. "I wanted to make sure that they were affordable."

Ms Gillard admitted she was "angry" at a leak, to Channel Nine journalist Laurie Oakes, that she opposed the pension rise and paid parental leave in cabinet.....

She denied she'd argued against the pension rise because older voters did not support Labor, saying she had never put politics above policy.

Ms Gillard said she was not the kind of prime minister that would sign off on $50 billion worth of expenditure without asking questions. "I'm not a soft touch," she said....

Ms Gillard refused to discuss what happened in Cabinet but described the pride she took in both signature measures - measures she has heavily promoted since becoming Prime Minister.

"I was very proud to be a member of the Labor team that delivered these two historic achievements - delivering a better deal for pensioners and supporting parents to spend more time with their babies," she said. "Pensioners and families deserve more support, and this government has acted to give them that support."

Oakes quoted Government sources as telling him Ms Gillard argued in Cabinet the idea that paid parental leave was a political winner was "misconstrued". People over child-bearing age and stay-at-home mums would resent it, she was quoted as saying.

On pensions, Ms Gillard was said to have questioned the size of the $14 billion increase. While not opposing it, she was reported to have observed that elderly voters did not support Labor.

Under the Government's scheme, eligible parents are entitled to 18 weeks of parental leave paid at the federal minimum wage from January 1.

Mr Abbott said the claims showed voters could not be certain whether Ms Gillard was telling the truth. "(That) shows she is a very smooth talker, but you can never be sure whether she believes what she says," Mr Abbott said.


False rape claim exposed in Sydney

These are a dime a dozen in Britain but are much less common in Australia. These "her word against his" prosecutions should never proceed in the first place. Females are quite good at lying and often do. When they are caught out they should face the same jail sentence that the man would have got

A MAN'S business and reputation are tainted, a young woman's HSC and mental health are in tatters and prosecutors have been ordered to pay more than $30,000 in legal costs for a bungled rape investigation on Sydney's northern beaches.

But it could have been worse still, if not for the trove of secrets stored in one of the world's most popular mobile phones. In what may be the first time an iPhone's elephantine memory has saved someone accused of a serious crime, deleted data retrieved by a leading surveillance expert appears to have led to the dropping of five rape charges against a Sydney man.

Robert*, in his 60s, was a property manager to the rich and famous and a dog breeder. Jessica* was the 18-year-old daughter of a friend, who never knew her father and dreamed of working with animals.

Their friendship blossomed as they spent mornings training his prize German shepherds. He gave her a $20,000 dog. For three months, they had sex repeatedly en route to dog shows and at a Whale Beach mansion where Elle Macpherson has stayed.

In August last year she accused him of rape. It was - and remains - a case of his word against hers.

Robert lost a job with the Catholic Church, from which he had earned more than $100,000 over the past three years, and was told he could no longer worship there.

The investigating officer, Detective Senior Constable Karen Hennessy, seized the $20,000 dog, saying it was relevant to the investigation.

The only thing standing between Robert and five sentences of up to 14 years were the messages from her on his iPhone, which he had deleted to conceal the relationship. Robert's lawyer, John Gooley from Collins & Thompson solicitors, commissioned Gary Coulthart, a former covert operations policeman and ICAC surveillance expert, to plumb the depths of Robert's iPhone.

Mr Coulthart retrieved more than 300 deleted texts and phone calls from the alleged victim, some of which appeared to undermine the allegations. Prosecutors later withdrew the charges and have been ordered to pay $30,056 of Robert's legal costs.

"Without the ability of Coulthart to drag the content out, a man's life may have been ruined," Mr Gooley said. "[iPhone evidence is] a bit like DNA. It can work both ways."

From a cohort of about 20 people in Australia with the equipment and know-how to do this sort of forensic work, Mr Coulthart said it was the first case he had seen in which an iPhone investigation commissioned by a defence lawyer has led to charges being dropped.

"Usually [when] you get engaged by the defence and they say, 'This person says they didn't do it', you find evidence that they have done it," he said.

Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhones since 2007 but few users know how much information they collect. The keyboard logging cache means an expert can retrieve anything typed on it for up to 12 months. Its internal mapping and "geotags" attached to photos indicate where a user has been.

An iPhone has up to 32 gigabytes of data that can be "imaged" or decoded with the right equipment, Mr Coulthart said, even if it has been deleted.

Robert wants police to investigate Jessica for causing a false investigation and is considering civil action against the police and the church. "It's put huge pressure on my home life and on my business," he said. "I had to go through the denigration of being charged and I've never been in trouble in my life."

Jessica did not want to comment.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said it withdrew the charges because the victim did not want to proceed and that "the brief of evidence had not been given to the ODPP at the time this matter was withdrawn".

A police spokeswoman said that, for operational reasons, it was inappropriate to comment except to say that the alleged victim had told police she did not wish to pursue the matter.


No comments: