Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Famous trial lawyer gets a man off the hook

Argued that being present when an offence is being committed is not itself an offence.  The judge agreed

Terracini is aging but he has still got it

Terracini and his hat

"Mr Brown you are free to go".  With those words from Justice David Davies, Brian Mcgarvie Brown, stood up in the NSW Supreme Court dock and tried to walk down to the cells.

Instead, after hugging his former co-accused Michael and Wade Basanovic​, he was ushered to the courtroom door and walked outside a free man.

On Tuesday Justice Davies directed a jury of seven women and five men to find Mr Brown not guilty of the murder of senior Hells Angels member Zeljko "Steve" Mitrovic, who was shot at his transport business in Wetherill Park on the afternoon of January 15, 2013.

The jury was also directed to find him not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to one of Mr Mitrovic's employees.

The judge told the jury: "Yesterday, when you were out in the jury room for a rather long period, counsel addressed me in relation to the accused, Brian Brown.

"As a result of those addresses and my deliberations on them, I have determined there is in fact no evidence upon which you could properly convict Brian Brown."

In a statement to Fairfax Media, Mr Brown said that he was extremely happy and grateful to be found not guilty.

"I have always maintained that I had nothing to do with it and I've spent two-and-a-half years protesting my innocence.

"It's been a difficult period for me but hopefully I can get my life back together and put it all behind me."

Mr Brown was accused of being in a "joint criminal enterprise" with Michael Basanovic, 49, and his son Wade, 24, in the shooting of Mr Mitrovic.

At the beginning of the trial, Mr Brown's barrister, Winston Terracini, SC, said his client was not accused of shooting or harming anyone.

"Mere presence while a criminal offence is taking place is not enough to make you a part of a joint criminal enterprise," Mr Terracini told the jury.

The court was told Mr Brown and Michael Basanovic were part of the Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle gang until 2011. There was no evidence Wade Basanovic was involved with the gang.

The Basanovics remain on trial, and both have pleaded not guilty to murder and causing grievous bodily harm.


Censor Mark Latham?

See a magazine on the supermarket shelves that you consider offensive? Have it banned! Stumble upon a columnist whose words infuriate you? Start a petition to have them sacked!

It’s airbrushing on a whole new scale: the removal of anything to which we may personally object.

Neither of the two most recent casualties of this overenthusiastic approach to real-life Photoshopping are particularly sympathetic fixtures: Zoo Weekly and Mark Latham.

The former, a lad’s magazine of questionable editorial merit, has been pulled from the shelves at Coles after an activist group garnered 40,000 signatures on a petition calling on the major supermarkets to remove it from public view.

Meanwhile would-be PM turned professional troll Latham, a man with the dubious honour of possessing a view of women so toxic he makes the demeaning Zoo Weekly look positively enlightened, has parted ways with the Australian Financial Review.

While attention had more recently turned to the venomous nature of messages posted on a Twitter account linked to him, his regular columns have long been the source of outrage, with his repeated attacks against a number of female journalists inciting petitions demanding his dismissal.

Would the world be better off without the misogynistic ramblings of Latham or the exploitative bikini-babe pages of Zoo Weekly? In this columnist’s opinion, the answer is a firm yes.

But it’s not up to me to determine their fate — and nor should it be. As an individual consumer, I have the right to exercise my choice, and to that end I made a decision several months ago to stop reading Latham’s bile.

What greater injury could a person inflict on such a shameless attention-seeker than to ignore them? While the loss of his column is being celebrated by many, ultimately all that has been achieved is his elevation to martyrdom.

While headlines yesterday were predicting the “end to Mark Latham’s media career”, I fear his long-term prospects will be far more ominous. Instead of obscurity, the all-too-easily manipulated mob has delivered him infamy.

Earlier this year I implored those who hyperventilated on social media or started circulating a petition with each new column to simply ignore him. Without the hysteria that surrounded each pathetic new instalment, Latham would have remained nothing more than a little-read columnist in a little-read newspaper.

“Left to his own devices, he is nothing more than a washed-up, embittered has-been,” I observed.

The man himself, of course, was incensed and promptly sought refuge with Alan Jones, where the two of them commiserated on air over my terribly unkind words. In turn this was followed up with an indignant column about yours truly. So far, so predictable.

Predictable too was the outrage that continued to follow Latham in the subsequent months, with those who clamoured for him to be silenced only serving to ensure his vitriol was given far more airtime than it ever deserved.

The martyrdom of Latham is a victory of arrogance over common sense. In seeking to airbrush him from the landscape, those wielding the Photoshopping tools have all but guaranteed his survival.


Adoption advocacy

A mere 89 children were adopted from 'out-of-home care' last year. At the same time, more than 30,000 children had been in care continuously for longer than two years.

This is a proxy figure for the number of children potentially available for adoption, were adoption not officially taboo within the child protection world. Many children in long-term care have been subjected to prolonged maltreatment at home and highly damaging instability while in care (multiple entries, exits, and reentries) as endless efforts are made to preserve and reunite dysfunctional families.

The taboo reflects the complex history of adoption, including the legacy of the Stolen Generations and discredited forced adoption practices. But the tragic lessons of these episodes have been learned. Modern adoptions are 'open', meaning adopted children can have contact with birth parents and knowledge of their family and cultural heritages so they do not grow up strangers unto themselves.

A promising sign is that the debate is changing due to the growing realisation that many children would be better off having a safe and permanent adopted family for life.

Diana Bryant, the Chief Justice of the Family Court, and Megan Mitchell, the National Children's Commissioner have both expressed support of greater use of adoption for some children in care.

But there is still a long way to go. Political leadership is needed to drive cultural change in child protection authorities, but politicians are wary of supporting adoption for fear of being accused of repeating past mistakes and 'stealing' children all over again.

On controversial issues such as adoption, politicians prefer to lead in the direction the public is already prepared to head. This is why it is crucial for organisations like the CIS, and adoption advocacy groups such as Adopt Change, to lead the debate and build community support for adoption.

Adoption from care will not become a standard part of Australian child protection, as it should be, until the idea that modern, open adoption is a socially acceptable practice is embedded in the hearts and minds of the Australian public.


Excelsia College - A new force in Christian higher education

A new force in Christian higher education has relocated to Macquarie Park as the College continues its expansion and moves towards its goal of becoming Australia’s first global Christian university.

The 5,000m2 purpose-built campus is located at 69-71 Waterloo Road, Macquarie Park – with large numbers of potential students expected to show for the Open Day on Saturday 29 August 2015.

The new campus is a five minute walk from Macquarie Park railway station, with numerous bus routes available to the area, is easily accessed by car and within walking distance of one of Sydney’s foremost shopping precincts – Macquarie Centre.  It is ideal for students across Sydney. Excelsia College (previously Wesley Institute) is in joint collaboration with Indiana Wesleyan University to create a new force in Christian higher education in Australia.

“The physical campus is a clear demonstration of our momentum.  We continue to offer postgraduate degrees in teacher education, counselling and music as well as Bachelor degrees in drama and music.  

“Over the coming years we plan to expand the course offerings to new fields of study including business, arts, communications and behavioural science, all taught within a Christian framework and environment,” said Vice Chancellor for Asia-Pacific, Professor Bridget Aitchison.

"Australia is an excellent site for a global Christian university for many reasons including high standards in higher education. Another reason was the growth in demand for Christian schooling and the lack of a Protestant Christian university to allow continued study within a broad Christian framework and environment.

“The level of enquiries and interest has been heart-warming,” said Professor Aitchison.

BACKGROUND:  Excelsia College (previously known as Wesley Institute) has a joint collaboration with Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU), which began in 2014 for the express purpose of achieving the goal to become Australia’s first global Christian university.

Wesley Institute has a 32 year history delivering on-campus and online degree programs.

IWU has 93 years of experience in Christ-centred higher education – currently it has 15,000 students in undergraduate and graduate degree courses, as well as innovative online courses.  

SOURCE (Press release)

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