Friday, March 12, 2021

Compensation sought from cops over baseless prosecution

The power to prosecute can have big effects so must be used cautiously. This did not happen below

A lawyer for a North Queensland pilot said they are considering suing the Queensland Police for hundreds of thousands of dollars he claims his client has lost because of a botched trial.

Resolute Legal principal lawyer Michael Spearman said his client, Josh Hoch, deserved to be compensated for a “monumental loss” after his plane tampering trial was thrown out six days in because there wasn’t enough evidence.

Hoch was charged with 342 offences in January, 2017 following a multi-agency investigation into the alleged tampering of aircraft at Mount Isa Airport.

The investigation into nine of the plane tampering and associate sabotage charges reached Mount Isa District Court last week.

The process from the start of the investigation to the court date last week, took five years.

The trial, which was due to run for three weeks, came to an abrupt end on Monday when the Crown prosecution pulled the pin on their case due to a lack of evidence.

Justice John Henry said the evidence pinning Hoch to the alleged crimes was lacking. “There was no sighting of him in the relevant area at the relevant time to the exclusion of other possible contenders to say he must have done it,” Justice Henry said at court.

Mr Spearman said it was “abundantly clear” the matter should never have made it to court. “The passage of five years simply demonstrates that the charges were never a proper case for criminal prosecution,” he said.

Mr Spearman said his client had suffered “significant damage” to his work and personal life, had lost his career and business and was left hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Mr Spearman said he is researching the prospect of taking legal action against the Queensland Police Service to compensate his client. “After suffering such monumental loss on a case that should never have made it to court, who compensates Mr Hoch?” Mr Spearman said.

The initial charges arose in October, 2016, when another pilot reported damage to his plane for the second time in a year.

The other pilot, from Macquarie Pilot Centre, claimed three of his planes had been tampered with, by having a contaminant poured into the fuel tanks of the aircraft.

When the engines fired, the contaminant caused ¬catastrophic damage to the ¬aircraft, grounding the planes for months.


Thousands of women are expected to march on Parliament House to demand an inquiry into sexual assault allegations against Christian Porter

Since Porter has been found by police to have no case to answer, this is very arrogant

Thousands of women will take to the streets on Monday to protest the response to sexual assault allegations in federal politics.

Protests will take place in capital cities from 12pm on Monday to sync up with the women marching on parliament house in Canberra.

Dr Kate Ahmad and Dr Anita Hutchison will lead the protest to deliver a petition - signed by more than 80,000 people - demanding an inquiry into the conduct of attorney general Christian Porter.

Mr Porter was accused of sexually assaulting a woman when the pair were teenagers after a debating competition in 1988. The accuser has since died by suicide.

Mr Porter strenuously denied the allegations and Prime Minister Scott Morrison issued a subsequent statement which said that he believed his cabinet minister and would not be calling for an official inquiry.

Dr Ahmad said the treatment of women in politics has been 'traumatising'.

Weeks earlier, political staffer Brittany Higgins accused a former colleague of raping her in the office while she worked under defense minister Linda Reynolds.

Three other women subsequently came forward to make allegations against the same man, who was let go from his job over an alleged security breach on the night Ms Higgins alleges she was sexually assaulted.

'It has been an incredibly traumatising few weeks for women in Australia,' Dr Ahmad said.

'We've watched in despondency as Prime Minister Morrison minimised the experience of Brittany Higgins and then defended Attorney-General Christian Porter against an [alleged] serious crime which has not been investigated.

'Now, we call on Prime Minister Morrison to set up an independent inquiry to urgently investigate the allegations of rape against Christian Porter, so the people of Australia can be confident in his fitness to serve as the first law officer of the land.'

Organisers for the protest say they hope to address 'sexism, misogyny, dangerous workplace cultures and lack of equality in politics and the community at large'.

There is also a nationwide push for more thorough sex education in schools after a damning petition highlighted an epidemic of sexual abuse among teenagers.

Chanel Contos, the 22-year-old former private schoolgirl spearheading the petition, is urging schools to have a more holistic curriculum including enthusiastic consent, rape culture and sexual coercion.


Ship Forced to Wait 269 Days Finally Unloads Australian Coal in China

A ship that waited nine months is among a handful of vessels that China has let unload their cargoes of Australian coal, a reprieve for some of the seafarers and vessels caught by a trade war that at one point stranded more than 70 carriers and 1,400 mariners.

The Topas dropped anchor outside the northeast port of Jingtang in June of last year and finally discharged her cargo earlier this month, shipping data compiled by Bloomberg shows. The 269-day wait period includes a diversion the vessel made to South Korea, likely to relieve crew. Eight other vessels that waited upwards of 200 days have unloaded at Chinese ports since Feb. 10. Shipping data shows the Topas unloaded in Jingtang, China.

​Planned unladings are aimed at showing goodwill to nations with stranded seafarers and aren’t a loosening of China’s ban on Australian coal, a person familiar with the situation said last month before the ships began discharging. China’s general administration of customs didn’t respond to a faxed inquiry and it’s unclear if the cargoes are being cleared by authorities or held in storage


Campers locked out of iconic spots as traditional owners exercise native title right

Pent-up demand following COVID-19 biosecurity lockouts last year has meant thousands of travellers excited to hit the road on a dream trip to the Tip are counting down to Easter school holidays and the Peninsula Development Road being declared open.

However, despite being within state-managed national parks, camping spots such as Bathurst Heads, Janie Creek and Vrilya Point are not expected to open when the dry season arrives.

A Department of Environment and Science spokesman said the lockout was due to “local authority road closures”.

It’s understood traditional owner frustration with “people doing the wrong thing” has been behind the lockouts.

Long-term Bamaga resident and Cape York guide book author Tracy Sands said she had been in contact with Hope Vale, Mapoon and Northern Peninsula authorities.

“It comes back to a lack of respect and people doing stupid things,” she said. “I went up (to the Tip) last year and there was idiots fishing in the nude and the (travellers sticking) plaques at the top of the cliffs.

“People up here are the most amazing people but they can only take so much before they close things down.”

Ms Sands said though the state could control access to Cape national parks, native title claims on freehold land trumped state authority.

Pajinka traditional owner Michael Solomon was concerned about volumes of visitors using the Tip walking track car park without toilet facilities and a general “lack of respect” on land owned by the Gudang/Yadhaykenu Aboriginal Corporation.

“We want control, it’s respect,” he said. “They make new tracks and (go) fishing in the nude, there is a lot of issues up here, they cross the (Jardine) ferry and go anywhere.

“My concern is the toilet and when tourists come, they go into the bush, and littering.”

A proposal to charge access to camping spots on land north of the Jardine River was to be discussed at a meeting of traditional owners on Monday.

Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch feared the possible flow-on effects of closures on local business and demanded Cape York national parks be open for the Easter rush.

“The bloody state government needs to extract their digit and open the bloody national parks; it’s not just the campers that are going to miss out, and these are the people that have supported small business for so long,” he said.

“For longer and longer periods, they delay the opening of the parks and lock it down and don’t give a stuff.”

A DES spokesman said visitors doing the wrong thing could close parks “if their actions have degraded the environment or made park infrastructure unsafe”, however he wouldn’t comment on management of land by traditional owners.




1 comment:

Paul said...

We're I to make note of the mess left by indigenous folk around Cairns streets and parks I'm sure they would call me racist, but I don't call for mess-related apartheid. Maybe I should.