Sex killer back behind bars

SYDNEY – Sex killer Trent Jennings, caught in a northern New South Wales beachside town after five days on the run, is behind bars after a court denied his bid to return to a psychiatric hospital.
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Jennings was caught sleeping in an allegedly stolen car in Byron Bay on Wednesday after going missing from Morisset Psychiatric Hospital near Newcastle.

The 26-year-old did not appear in Lismore Local Court yesterday to face charges of detaining a person for advantage, car theft, robbery and gaining a financial benefit by deception.

The charges relate to an incident in Sydney’s south on December 29, while Jennings was on day leave from the hospital where he had been committed in 2005 for killing his gay lover during a drug-fuelled sex romp.

Jennings’s Legal Aid solicitor, Rita Mula, asked the court yesterday for her client to be returned to the Morisset hospital to undergo psychiatric assessment. But registrar Mark Bromhead refused the application, saying it was now a police matter and Jennings could not go back into the mental health system at this stage.

Earlier yesterday, the NSW chief psychiatrist rejected calls for jail security to be called whenever mental ward inmates failed to return from day release.

NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson has called for Corrective Services to be put in charge of monitoring day-release inmates.

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Geigeron mounts surprise comeback

PADDOCK BLUES: Veteran Geigeron will trial for trainer Steve Hodge at Broadmeadow today. – Picture by Jenny EvansA STABLE at Broadmeadow racecourse truly is home sweet home for the veteran Geigeron.
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The 11-year old just did not take to the quiet lifestyle that came with retirement.

He has shown clearly that he prefers the hustle and bustle of a stable environment.

Geigeron had a distinguished career.

But it was decided after he finished fourth of seven at Taree in an Open over 1250metres on August 22, 2010, that his racing days were over.

Today he starts on an unexpected comeback.

He runs in the opening trial at 8.30am at Newcastle over 1200m on the course proper.

If he shows to trainer Steve Hodge that he is still up to it and wants to race then Geigeron will return to racing.

That will be a far cry from what Hodge saw when he visited Geigeron during his days of retirement.

Hodge said owners Barry and Linda Pont asked him to have a look at him because they were concerned he was not doing too well in the paddock.

‘‘He was sulking and just moping about and he was wasting away,’’ Hodge said.

‘‘It was clear he wasn’t happy so I told the Ponts I would take him back to where he was used to.’’

That meant going home to Hodge’s stables at Broadmeadow racecourse precinct.

Geigeron had lived in the same stall since he first went into work as a two-year-old.

It was from this base that he proved himself as more than just a handy performer.

From 67 starts he won 13 races and was placed another 19 times for $360,000 in prizemoney.

Hodge took him to Sydney to show his wares. He won on five occasions in 2004 and 2005.

But it was in the bush where he excelled being the country cups king of his time.

His last win was in the Inverell Cup in June 2010 – the second time he had won that race.

He also won the Moree Cup, the Denman Cup at Muswellbrook and the Spring Cup at Quirindi in 2009.

‘‘When we got him home there was no thought of him racing again but just to feed him up,’’ Hodge said.

‘‘My apprentice, Alex Stokes, came to me one day and said she was amazed how good the old horse looked.

‘‘He was having a good time so we just started to work him a bit, bringing him along slowly with a lot swimming.’’

Geigeron really has taken to his old routine.

‘‘He is loving it,’’ Hodge said.

‘‘So he is now up to the stage where he can trial.

‘‘But what happens from here is up to Geigeron.

‘‘If he shows he is keen in the trial then I will just keep him going and maybe he will race again.

‘‘I mean John McNair has Mustard still racing and he is 14.

‘‘But if at any stage Geigeron shows that racing may harm him then I will stop.

‘‘He can just hang around the stables for as long at it makes him happy.’’

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New stage of career awaits Cashion at NIDA

Charlotte Cashion, of Pipers River, has been accepted into NIDA. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGSA LAST minute application to the National Institute of Dramatic Art has marked a promising career start for Charlotte Cashion.
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After taking to the stage just four years ago and applying to the institute on the final day of acceptance, the Pipers River 21-year-old has proved she has a natural talent.

At the end of the month she will join 14 others from across the country to undertake a three-year theatre course at Australia’s most prestigious theatre institute.

But becoming an actress wasn’t always Cashion’s intention.

“I went to college wanting to be a nurse,” she said yesterday.

“Then my mother suggested that I do drama.

“I tried it and fell in love with it – I knew then that’s what my ultimate direction was.”

Cashion’s first staring role was as Ms Darbus in Launceston College’s 2007 production of High School Musical.

She has since appeared in numerous Launceston College shows and productions with Mudlark Theatre and Encore Theatre Company.

The NIDA audition marked a first for Cashion and the acceptance letter she received mid-December was something she never expected.

“I came back to Tassie after living in Melbourne working in bars for a year, and applied on the day the applications closed,” she said.

“It was something I always wanted to do but I didn’t have the confidence.

“It’s just crazy, I never thought that I would get this far – I’m still trying to come to terms with it.”

Cashion performed three monologues at her audition: one taken from The Seed, by Kate Mulvany, the second, Act 3 Scene 2 from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and the third, a monologue from Three Sisters, by Anton Chekhov.

Cashion’s former drama teacher Liz Bennett said from the very first day she met Cashion, she knew she would go far. “I remember about three weeks in, we were doing an Australian drama unit and Nicole (another Launceston College drama teacher) and I looked at each other and went: that is the most talented student we’ve seen,” Ms Bennett said. “Charlie could be the next Cate Blanchett.”

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The Hunter’s GP shortage

MOST Hunter residents will know from first-hand experience how difficult it can be to get an early appointment with a general practitioner.
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Many practices have closed their books to new clients and even existing clients of long standing can wait days or weeks to see their preferred doctor.

It’s a problem that seems certain to get worse, for reasons that have been well-recognised for a number of years.

In a nutshell, the average age of the Hunter’s general practice workforce is rising. As older GPs retire they are not being replaced by a sufficient number of new doctors able to pick up the full workload. This trend is exacerbated by the fact that many new GPs only work part-time and may take extended periods of leave for family reasons.

The population is growing too, making it even harder to match community needs with GP numbers.

And although Australians like to boast about the safety net provided by Medicare rebates, the reality is that the mismatch between supply and demand for doctors means the gap between the rebates and actual charges at the surgery is growing.

This means that, in effect, many Hunter people are slipping back to the predicament so common before Medicare where a visit to a doctor means economic sacrifice in some other important part of the household budget.

Hunter doctors have an established record of designing and lobbying for improved service delivery models.

Co-operative after-hours clinics, for example, have shown their worth to both doctors and patients, spreading the load of anti-social shifts and ensuring better availability of care outside regular business hours.

Even so, the Hunter Valley Research Foundation has reported that rising medical costs mean one in five residents either put off seeing a doctor, delay some other necessary household purchase, travel a long distance to find one of the handful of remaining bulk-billing practices or borrow money to pay for care.

Given the Hunter’s socio-economic status and high rate of welfare dependency, this shouldn’t be surprising.

It is, however, very troubling and demands more creative thinking by doctors and governments to find solutions, before significant portions of the population become unable to access good-quality primary medical care.

History on show

NEWCASTLE’S amazing history is too often unsung. Most Hunter children learn more at school about the causes of European wars or the doings of the ancient Egyptians than they do about their own city’s remarkable place in the making of Australia.

It is gratifying that popular television history presenter Tony Robinson – having researched the city’s past – is set to bring some of his discoveries to light for the benefit of a wide audience.

As anybody who has spent even a short time investigating Novocastrian history will agree, the film-maker has an extensive menu of fascinating stories to choose from.

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UNSUNG HERO: A driving force for the needy

CONNECTING: Aub Hewston has been delivering for Meals on Wheels for almost 20 years and enjoys a laugh and a chat along the way.AUB Hewston is a quiet achiever who shies away from the limelight and gets about his work with unwavering enthusiasm.
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The 86-year-old from Gateshead has been working with Charlestown Meals on Wheels for the best part of the last two decades and doesn’t look like stopping any time soon.

Mr Hewston may be the driver who delivers meals, but his role is much more than that.

He regularly chats and jokes with those he delivers meals to.

‘‘I work there probably about once or twice a week,’’ he said.

‘‘To me it’s satisfying, if you’re in a position to help people it’s worth it.

‘‘Meeting new people and making friends is all part of it.’’

Mr Hewston speaks fondly of his workmates, describing them as ‘‘characters’’ who are ‘‘a great bunch of people’’.

It is clear he loves what he does and won’t be stopping any time soon.

He has worked as a volunteer ever since his retirement from Caltex and has also helped out at the Mater Hospital.

He volunteered at the hospital as a driver, picking up patients from their homes and taking them to see a doctor.

He was a reassuring voice for many patients before and after their appointments.

He no longer works at the Mater but he still makes an effort to visit various hospitals and have a chat with patients.

‘‘Some of them I know, some of them I don’t,’’ Mr Hewston said.

‘‘I’ll go along if I hear someone [I know] has gone into hospital and if I see someone in a ward by themselves I’ll go have a chat to them.’’

Whether he shares a joke or just says ‘‘g’day’’ and pops his head around the corner, the gesture is much appreciated by the patients he visits.

Co-ordinator of Charlestown Meals on Wheels, Leanne Rodwell, said Mr Hewston was much-loved around the workplace.

‘‘He’s an extremely reliable man and one of the nicest gentlemen I’ve ever met,’’ she said.

‘‘He puts people before himself all the time and is very quiet about it, too.’’

Charlestown Meals on Wheels has about 170 volunteers who prepare, cook and deliver more than 10,000 meals every four months to more than 250 people.

Charlestown MP Andrew Cornwall spent a day working with Mr Hewston earlier in the month and was full of praise for the many workers at Meals on Wheels.

‘‘I saw that Meals and Wheels is more than serving food,’’ he said.

‘‘It is lending an ear and a joke between old friends, which is an invaluable part of people’s weekly routines.’’

Mr Hewston loves what he is doing and said that he had no need for any hobbies.

‘‘No, not really, I’ve made what I’m doing my hobby,’’ he said.

‘‘As long as I can get in that car I’ll keep on going.”

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Rhodes rides her way to victory

Alexis RhodesBALLARAT – Alexis Rhodes has marked another dramatic turning point in her cycling career with a commanding win on day one of the Australian road championships.
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Six months after season-ending surgery and two months after her professional team suddenly folded, the 27-year-old staged a daring solo break to win the women’s elite criterium title on the main street of Ballarat.

Also last night, Anthony Giacoppo again showed he was a rising star by winning his first Mars senior national title in the men’s elite criterium.

It was Rhodes’s fourth senior Australian title in the criterium and she is also defending champion for tomorrow’s road race at nearby Buninyong.

“I can never seem to get away from them, actually – they seem to follow me everywhere,” Rhodes joked of her latest criterium crown.

This was Rhodes’s first race since July’s operation to fix a blockage in the artery that supplies blood to her legs.

Fellow cyclists Stuart O’Grady and Travis Meyer have needed the same surgery.

“I had a lot of scar tissue there, so they had to open my stomach up, clean my artery out and make a little graft and sew it back together again,” she said.

Rhodes had returned to training when she found out via a text message in late November that the Garmin women’s team had folded.

After some frantic negotiations, she was able to join the new GreenEDGE-AIS women’s team.

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Gerrans wants early edge for Europe

MELBOURNE – Australian cycling star Simon Gerrans has double the motivation for a big result at Sunday’s national road race championships.
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Gerrans is a key rider in the event for new Australian professional team GreenEDGE, which has made no secret of its determination to take the prized national champion’s jersey into its first European season.

GreenEDGE has stacked the 163.2-kilometre race, entering 16 riders in the quality field of more than 150.

Gerrans finished third in the race last year and the hilly 10-kilometre circuit at Ballarat suits his strengths.

But the 31-year-old Victorian is also riding the Tour Down Under in Adelaide next month with ambitions for the Ardennes Classics.

The three classics in Belgium and The Netherlands are among road cycling’s biggest one-day races.

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Raymond Terrace p-plate driver allegedly caught speeding

A p-plate driver was allegedly caught travelling at 158 kilometres per hour in a 110km speed zone at Raymond Terrace yesterday.
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Police were conducting patrols on the Pacific Highway, when they detected the vehicle allegedly travelling above the speed limit around 2.30pm.

Police stopped the car and spoke to the 21-year-old driver before issuing him a fine for exceeding the speed limit by more than 45kmh. His drivers licence was immediately suspended.

Traffic Services Branch Operations Commander Superintendent Stuart Smith said the fine for exceeding the speed limit by more than 45kmh was $1915.

In another incident, shortly after 4pm, a 16-year-old male driver was stopped on the F3 at Berowra after police noticed the passenger was not wearing a seatbelt.

Police found that the driver and his front-seat passenger only held learners permits. A passenger in the back of the car held a current NSW licence.

The boy was reported for being an unaccompanied learner driver, not displaying ‘L’ plates, and driving with an unrestrained passenger. His licence was suspended.

Police said both incidents were a reminder to stick to the speed limit and to wear a seat belt.

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Jail term for ex-cop unchanged

JAILED: Former policeman Michael Sills has had his appeal quashed.A FORMER police officer jailed for his role in the theft of $134,000 from Toronto RSL Club has failed in his bid to have his sentence reduced.
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Michael Sills was jailed for three years with a non-parole period of 18months earlier this year and will be eligible for parole next May.

The Court of Criminal Appeal rejected his appeal last week.

Sills was a bankrupt gambling addict when his sister, Merrissa Sills, hid inside the club until the early hours of August 10, 2008, then removed the cash from a safe.

The money was never recovered and the club was only partially insured.

Ms Sills was previously sentenced to three years’ jail. She claimed that she received only $20,000 from the heist while her brother took the rest.

Michael Sills claimed that he only received $3800 and pleaded guilty to assisting Ms Sills after the theft and receiving some of the cash.

Ms Sills had been a shift manager at the club until she lost her job several months before the theft.

She secreted herself in a part of the club closed to the public then emerged after the club had shut.

She broke into the count room and knew where to find the combination for the safe before opening it and removing the cash.

She then opened the front door and walked to her brother, who was waiting in a car.

Michael Sills, formerly of Bateau Bay and The Entrance, was a police officer who later worked as a civilian with the force before going on sick leave.

Justice Clifton Hoeben said that ‘‘in the circumstances of this case, the sentence was modest’’.

He said the sentence was necessary due to the nature of the crime.

‘‘Given the obvious planning involved and the significant sum of money taken, of which none has been recovered, I am of the opinion that no lesser sentence than that passed … is warranted,’’ Justice Hoeben said.

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Pup the top dog

Michael Clarke.Australian captain Michael Clarke is hoping his decision to call time on the standout innings of his career will pay dividends with an SCG Test win over India.
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Clarke scored a tremendous 329 not out – the highest Test score at the SCG – yesterday but surprised everyone in the iconic ground when he declared midway through the day with Australia on 4-659 in reply to India’s 191.

At stumps on day three the tourists were 2-114, still 354 runs in arrears with Gautam Gambhir (68) and Sachin Tendulkar (8) at the crease.

Clarke’s knock was the fourth-highest by an Australian in Tests but with Sir Donald Bradman and Mark Taylor’s 334 in sight, Matthew Hayden’s 380 and even Brian Lara’s world record 400 coming into consideration, his decision to declare baffled many.

Clarke, who ended the innings with Michael Hussey unbeaten on 150 after the pair put together a 334-run fifth-wicket partnership, said personal honours hadn’t come into his mind as he aims to put Australia into an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the four-Test series.

“If I managed to pass them before we got a 450-run lead then it would have been fantastic,” Clarke said of the records.

“I didn’t expect to score 300 in one innings so the fact I’ve done that, I’m just stoked with that. All the other records, well, I’m happy where I sit to be honest.

“It feels pretty good but I don’t think it’ll sink in properly until we win the Test match.”

Clarke and Hussey helped Australia post its largest team total since July 2009 when it made 6(dec)-674 against England in Cardiff.

It was also the first time since that Ashes Test that three or more batsmen have scored centuries for Australia, with Ricky Ponting making 134 on day 2.

It completed a remarkable turnaround for the hosts, who lost just 1-622 runs after Clarke joined Ponting at the crease when Australia was 3-37 on day 1. In the end, Clarke batted for 617 minutes, hammering 39 fours and one six, and he said mental application to stay at the crease was the toughest part of his mammoth knock.

“I’ve never batted that long in any form of the game, in any team in my career,” he said.

“Physically I felt pretty good . . . it’s just the mental application and concentration.”

Ben Hilfenhaus (2-37) rewarded his captain’s sacrifice when he removed Indian opener Virender Sehwag (4) before tea.

The Tasmanian came back after the break to snap an 82-run stand by bowling Rahul Dravid (29) just as the Indian veteran appeared to be settling in for one of his trademark marathon efforts.

The day could have finished on an even higher note but wicketkeeper Brad Haddin dropped a late chance when Gambhir edged a James Pattinson delivery.

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