Robert Downey Jr posts 'perfect' message to wife for 10th wedding anniversary

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Dyson Heydon not stepping aside from unions royal commission

Full Socceroos coverage
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Days before Lachie and mates died, brother pleaded on Facebook for drivers to slow down

Full Socceroos coverage
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Ban Greens from voting on development proposals: property lobby

Full Socceroos coverage
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Charges dismissed against woman arrested during terror raids after magistrate finds police acted illegally

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Socceroos: Milicic has fond memories of WA and backs Perth match

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To truly be Australia’s team, a team has to play all over the country.

The Baggy Greens play in all mainland states during a five Test series in their own backyard, but their travel diary is matched by few others.

The Socceroos are arguably the only team aside from the cricketers that really can claim to be representing a sport that is popular throughout the entire nation. But they are acutely aware that they need to appear more often outside of their eastern seaboard strongholds in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Hence their first trip to Western Australia in a decade this week when they take on Bangladesh in a World Cup qualifier at Perth Glory’s neat, trim, 20,000 capacity nib Stadium on Thursday evenng.

Its a good move; the Western Australians, along with fans in Adelaide, missed out during the Asian Cup, and, according to FFA officials, have responded well. Over 17,000 tickets have been sold and the remainder are expected to go in the next few days, ensuring a sell out and a hostile environment for the visiting Bangladeshis.

Socceroo assistant coach Ante Milicic has fond memories of Perth from his time as a player. Although the ex international striker spent the bulk of his career in his native Sydney, along with spells in Brisbane and Newcastle as well as in Europe,  Milicic made quite a splash in WA on his brief visits there.

He scored the only goal of the game _ and won the Marston Medal for best on ground _ when Sydney Olympic defeated Perth Glory in the 2002 NSL Grand Final, and recalls a match seven years before that when the nascent Glory took on Italian side Sampdoria in an exhibition game.

“Myself and Kimon Taliadoros (ex Socceroo frontman and now Football Federation Victoria  president)  got called up as guest players for that match. I was staying in the same hotel as Sampdoria, and got all kitted out with the gear after, ” he reminisced at a training session the national team coaches hosted with several WA youngsters at the match venue on Sunday afternoon.

“Its a great opportunity for the Perth public to come out. We really want to get around the whole country. We didn’t have the chance during the Asian Cup, but the opportutnity now is for  the whole country to see the squad, the way its developing and coming forward with the young players.

“The pitch and the surface is great. This is what you need at international level. The pitch and the facilities, the grandstand here is great and the crowd will be close to the pitch. These are the kind of venues that the Socceroos enjoy playing at.”

Milicic said there had been no overnight reports of injuries, and that while Austalia would go into the game against Bangladesh as hot favourites, they certainly would not underestimate their opponents.

“We respect every opponent and Bangladesh is no different. We have chosen a full strength side from everyone who is available. We have done our homework, we know what to expect. “

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Tony Abbott to sack ministers for backgrounding? Not bloody likely!

Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos. Photo: Cole BennettsSinodinos slams ‘political sabotage’
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The call from a respected senior Liberal, Arthur Sinodinos, ostensibly for Tony Abbott to sack cabinet ministers for backgrounding against Joe Hockey and Abbott himself, seems extraordinarily decisive, as far as it goes. But let’s be honest, it is not going anywhere.

Plainly, this a rhetorical rather than a literal call for the Prime Minister to use his most severe rebuke.

The call by press release is in fact a symptom masquerading as a remedy, and is itself, part of the gathering symphony of dysfunction now drowning out the government’s official message of “jobs, growth, and community safety”.

It barely requires stating. The very essence of backgrounding is that it is anonymous. It is both unnamed, and unprovable. A minister suspected of backgrounding would never admit to it, and a journalist/beneficiary of said leaks would never give up their source. The wiley Sinodinos knows this, and thus knows that no ministers could or will be sacked. Even more, the ex-chief of staff for John Howard knows that in the fractious condition the government and its leadership now find themselves, the percussive dismissal of a senior minister or ministers for alleged “disloyalty” would almost certainly prompt a crisis of its own resulting in internal collapse.

Frankly put, Sinodinos knows Abbott is in no position to sack anyone.

Which is not to say there isn’t some frustration evident in Sinodinos’s words, given his Liberal Party is fighting a do-or-die byelection in the WA seat of Canning.

Party loyalists are concerned that talk of losing, or, of the serious ramifications of a violent anti-government swing, increases the danger of self-fulifilling prophesies.

Yet politics being what it is, Canberra watchers are caught somewhere between bemused and befuddled by the Sinodinos snipe.

No blind adherent of the current leadership, nor particularly of Abbott’s uber-powerful chief of staff Peta Credlin, Sinodinos is widely thought to be a supporter of the popular alternative to Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull.

Turnbull in turn would be the big winner of a change of leadership – a change that is more likely, not less, if Canning goes bad.

All of which has some conspiracy-minded theorists wondering what Sinodinos is doing. On the face of it, he is strafing leakers. Yet he knows they will not be identified and then ejected.

Which leaves us contemplating the sub-surface meanings. First, that any public attack on “backgrounding” inevitably draws attention to that backgrounding and thus kicks the story along for another day at least. Even assuming this was not his primary purpose, it is an outcome of which the experienced Sinodinos would have been well aware.

Second, that pro-Turnbull forces are worried that in a final desperate play, Credlin might advocate throwing Hockey overboard, to forestall her own removal, and they want to expose that option and thus kill it off.

Or third, that previous assumptions of allegiances within the NSW Liberal caucus, are out of date and that Turnbull may have lost supporters, such as Sinodinos himself, to the up-and-coming Scott Morrison.

Either way, it is a curious contribution.

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China stockmarket: why fears of a collapse are overblown

A total collapse of the Chinese property market is unlikely, says Gavekal’s China research director Andrew Baston.China’s allegedly imminent recession has become a popular topic recently after the plunges of its equity markets and the devaluation of the renminbi currency sent tremors through the international investor community, but a leading economic researcher says most of these fears are overblown.
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While there are many legitimate concerns about China’s inevitable slowdown, Gavekal’s China research director Andrew Baston says, fears China is teetering on the verge economic collapse are misguided.

“Such fears are exaggerated; China’s economy is not collapsing. But it is slowing,” Mr Baston said in a research note.

The note details how investors are rightfully concerned about the rising domestic debt, the government’s recent failures to steer the economy coupled with the slow down in investment as well as in heavy industry and commodity sectors, but ultimately concluded an economic collapse was unlikely.

With construction stagnating and investment at its weakest in 10 years, Mr Baston said Beijing deploying looser monetary policies would have limited impact so the slowdown was inevitable.

But this looser monetary policy will be hard to implement because the level of domestic debt is so high.

“With total debt at 250% of GDP, China today is far more leveraged than in 2009 when Beijing last launched a major monetary expansion. Today, such a debt-fueled stimulus program is out of the question, given the high starting point. As things stand, the combination of very high total debt plus deteriorating economic growth will push up the level of bad debt,” Mr Baston said.

However there were four commonly discussed issues where Mr Baston said fears of economic fragility are excessive. 1. Renminbi devaluation is not part of a currency war

The incident that caused the tides of concern to begin to rise was the devaluation of the renminbi in early August.

The renminbi fell 3 per cent after the People’s Bank of China lowered its trading midpoint and investors are concerned it could have another 5 per cent or so to fall.

This sparked concerns the PBoC was not just preparing for lower domestic growth but potentially positioning for a currency war that would slash billions from global budgets, particularly throughout Asia and commodity driven economies such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

However, Mr Baston said the fear the devaluation would launch a foreign debt crisis were overblown.

“China is well insulated from the sort of foreign currency debt crisis that has struck other emerging markets in recent decades,” Mr Baston said. 2. Market volatility won’t trigger a broader meltdown

The Shanghai stock market experienced significant plunges last week that brought the total value lost since the volatility began in June to almost 45 per cent.

While investors and economics remain riveted by the market’s tumultuous trading, Mr Baston said the sell-offs impact on the broader economy would be limited, as equities make up no more than 5 per cent of household wealth.

“Although a continued slump from current levels would generate plenty of hyperbolic headlines about a crashing China, even a further sell-off would have a limited spillover effect on the real economy,” Mr Baston said, adding the Chinese banking system had little exposure to the stock market volatility.

“So, although wealth management products linked to the stock market may sustain big losses, and while it is possible some brokers could fail, it is highly unlikely that a further slump in equities will trigger a systemic crisis.” 3. Deep collapse of property prices unlikely

While Chinese household equity exposure may be low, property investment is far more common and the local appetite for property has pushed prices to dizzying heights.

Mr Baston said the widely held view that the Chinese property market would collapse under the weight of an enormous speculative bubble fuelling high prices was out of step with the two key drivers of the housing price rise: expanding urban population and rising incomes, both of which are set to continue.

“That does not mean everything in the garden is rosey: these fundamentals indicate that housing demand is close to its peak, and that the sector has gone from being a growth driver to a drag on growth, a shift with huge knock-on effects for the rest of the economy,” Mr Baston said.

“But the maturation and decline of housing demand is a very different thing from the unwinding of a massive speculative bubble.”

In the last six months, the Chinese government have lowered interest rates and relaxing regulations that operated as restrictions to property purchasing to support continued buying and still has plenty of room for further cuts or policy changes. 4. Unemployment surge to be limited

A slowing economy is rarely good news for unemployment numbers and there are widespread concerns unemployment in China could trigger tranches of newly unemployed workers, which would cause a significant blow to already weak consumer demand.

But Mr Baston said the fact the major slowdowns had occurred in state-owned enterprises, such as heavy industrial and commodity management sectors, meant a record waves of redundancies were unlikely as these companies had far less flexibility to cut jobs.

“Even in the private sector, firms have balked at making mass lay-offs, with mining companies choosing instead to reduce working hours and award employees more holiday.”

Mr Baston said while work hours and wages had declined, unemployment would remain relatively stable.

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Robert Downey Jr posts ‘perfect’ message to wife for 10th wedding anniversary

Robert Downey Jr couldn’t rate his marriage to producer Susan any more highly.
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In a cute message to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary, the actor gave his score in a photo posted to Instagram.

“A perfect 10. Happy Anniversary, Mrs. Downey,” the caption said.   A perfect 10. Happy Anniversary, Mrs. Downey.A photo posted by Robert Downey, Jr. (@robertdowneyjr) on Aug 27, 2015 at 2:00pm PDT

Downey Jr is not the only one who thinks it is a perfect pairing.

Sherlock Holmes director Guy Ritchie has called it the most “perfectly symbiotic” marriage in Hollywood.

“The reason I call them perfectly symbiotic, it’s that they each represent the other side of each other’s coin,” Ritchie has said. “There’s no clashing over the same space, although they’re always looking in the same direction. It’s a very rare thing they have.”

Downey Jr, 50, met his future wife, 41-year-old Susan, on the set of Gothika in 2003.

It wasn’t love at first sight for Susan, who was producing the film. In fact, she found him “interesting but weird”.

“We were up in Montreal prepping for Gothika, and we had lunch with the director and Halle Berry,” Susan recalled of their first encounter.

“Everybody else ordered Japanese, but Robert told us how oatmeal was the ‘superfood’. He brought his own packets of oatmeal to have at lunch. And he had this box of various herbs and stuff. And then he started doing these yoga moves. I mean, he was interesting but weird.”

The Iron Man actor was interesting and very interested and had to ask her out three times before she said yes.

Within three months, he proposed marriage, despite the fact that he wasn’t yet divorced from model-singer Deborah Falconer, whom he wed in 1992 and with whom he has a son, Indigo, 21.

Eventually Susan relented but insisted on a two-year engagement.

The couple married in August 2005, in the Hamptons.

They have two children, son, Exton, 3, and one-year-old daughter Avri.

“I was very focused, driven, rigid, work-oriented,” Susan has said of her life before Downey. “I didn’t care about having a family or making a home. I didn’t think about kids. It’s not that I didn’t want those things, I just didn’t think about them. And then I had someone who came in as a tornado, this creative, beautiful ball of insane energy and passion. And it completely opened me up.”

Downey Jr credits their relationship with helping him to overcome a decades-long substance abuse problem.

He has called their time together his “Great Transition”. “She is the font of all good things,” he says.

Fairfax Media

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Dyson Heydon not stepping aside from unions royal commission

Dyson Heydon outside the royal commission in Sydney. Photo: Anna KuceraTHE ACTU is considering its legal options after the embattled Dyson Heydon refused to remove himself from the helm of the royal commission into trade union corruption.
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And as unions consider another legal challenge, Labor has also seized on the decision, confirming it will seek to have Mr Heydon removed by way of a petition to the governor-general in the Senate next Monday.

After his own ruling on his own fate was delayed for almost a week, the former High Court justice on Monday took just five minutes to deliver a comprehensive rejection of claims of bias brought by unions, stemming from his acceptance to appear at a Liberal Party fundraiser.

‘‘I have considered all the submissions. In my opinion, the applications must be dismissed,’’ Mr Heydon said on Monday.

He then adjourned the commission until 10am on Tuesday.

In a 67-page explanation, Mr Heydon effectively ruled there was no ‘‘rational basis’’ for concluding apprehended bias.

‘‘The mere fact that a person agrees to deliver a speech at a particular forum does not rationally establish that the person is sympathetic to, or endorses the views of, the organiser of that forum,’’ Mr Heydon wrote.

Mr Heydon, who had claimed he was not aware the function was a fundraiser, had initially been expected to reveal his decision last Tuesday, which he then put off until last Friday, and then until Monday.

But he maintained that even if had known it was a fundraiser, applications brought by the ACTU, CFMEU and AWU ‘‘did not show that a fair-minded lay observer might conclude the commissioner, a highly experienced lawyer and former judge, would not be able to put out of his mind any extraneous or irrelevant matters and deal with the issues impartially’’.

He said many distinguished judges had delivered legal lectures to organisations with political affiliations ‘‘without qualms on their part and without being subject to any reasonable criticism’’.

There was no factual basis to support the argument that a fair-minded observer might believe Mr Heydon had intended to raise funds or assist in the raising of funds, or to generate support for the Liberal Party.

The decision was immediately slammed by the unions, with ACTU secretary Dave Oliver saying the commission was ‘‘terminally tarnished’’.

The unions had argued Mr Heydon’s acceptance of an invitation to speak at the Sir Garfield Barwick Address – a Liberal Party fundraiser – from which he subsequently withdrew, gave at least a perception of political bias.

‘‘Any recommendation out of this can’t be taken seriously in respect of looking at it for the political nature of this commission,’’ Mr Oliver told reporters outside the commission HQ in Sydney.

There was no lawyer for the ACTU at the commission when Mr Heydon announced his decision.

‘‘Commissioner Heydon has sat in judgment on himself and found in his own favour,’’ Mr Oliver later said in a statement.

‘‘What we are left with now is a multi-million dollar royal commission that is tainted everything that has happened until now, and everything that will happen in the future is stained by these events.’’

But Attorney-General George Brandis, who recommended Mr Heydon for the post, said the suggestion there was anything irregular about the fact Mr Heydon made the ruling himself ‘‘is entirely ignorant’’.

‘‘I recommended Dyson Heydon who I know by reputation because I knew that he was a person of absolutely unimpeachable personal integrity, and a black-letter lawyer virtually in a class of his own in this country,’’ Senator Brandis said.

He rejected the notion that Mr Heydon was biased, describing him as a ‘‘man who has no politics’’.

Labor said, however, it will pursue Mr Heydon.

‘‘We’re certainly going to be taking forward in the Senate next Monday … a petition to the governor-general to remove Dyson Heydon from this office,’’ Mr Dreyfus said.

‘‘Tony Abbott has failed to act to remove Dyson Heydon from Tony Abbott’s own royal commission. It’s now left for the parliament to act.AAP

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Days before Lachie and mates died, brother pleaded on Facebook for drivers to slow down

Joshua Michael Young died in his father’s arms following a motorcycle crash in Picton on Sunday. Photo: Facebook
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Joshua Michael Young died in his father’s arms following a motorcycle crash in Picton on Sunday. Photo: Facebook

Three Northern Beaches men in their 20s were killed when their Mitsubishi SUV crashed on the Bells Line of Road at Bilpin. Lachie Burleigh, 17, was one of the men killed as they drove home from a psychedelic dance music festival, Psyfari, in the Blue Mountains. Photo: Facebook Photo: Facebook

Lachie Burleigh, 17, was one of three men killed in a car crash at Bilpin on Sunday. Photo: Facebook

Joshua Michael Young died in his father’s arms following a motorcycle crash in Picton on Sunday. Photo: Facebook

Joshua Michael Young died in his father’s arms following a motorcycle crash in Picton on Sunday. Photo: Facebook

Motorcycle crash victim Joshua Michael Young with his father, who witnessed the accident. Photo: Facebook

Luke Shanahan died in the crash that also claimed the lives of two of his friends. Photo: Supplied

The brother of a teenager killed with two friends in a car crash had begged drivers to slow down just four days before the accident.

Lachie Burleigh, 17, was one of the three young Northern Beaches men killed as they drove home from a psychedelic dance music festival, Psyfari, in the Blue Mountains on Sunday afternoon.

It is believed their car, driven by a P-plater, spun out of control and veered onto the wrong side of the Bells Line of Road at Bilpin around 3.30pm.

They collided with an oncoming Subaru sedan carrying a couple in their 80s, who escaped with minor injuries. The young driver in Lachie’s car survived with non-life-threatening injuries but their friends, Ben Sawyer and Luke Shanahan, also died.

Only four days earlier, Lachie’s older brother, Jayden, who lived in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, had posted this plea on Facebook: “To all you northern rivers rev head road Reverends … Please slow down! Your selfish mind in your powerfully driven ego chariot is not wanted on these roads … Especially in slippery lightning & thunder times!”

The crash was the latest in a disturbing spike in the state’s road toll. So far this year, 235 people have been killed, 26 more than at the same time last year.

It prompted a widespread crackdown by police, who conducted Operation Saturation on roads and at hot spots over the weekend.

However, nine people died in seven crashes after the operation began on Thursday.

Just half an hour before the Bilpin crash, motorcyclist Joshua Michael Young was killed when his motorcycle smashed into an oncoming Mazda sedan on Barkers Lodge Road, Picton.

His father, who was riding behind him on the winding, scenic road, witnessed the crash and cradled his dying son in his arms, according to a witness.

Craig Sheahan, who was one of the first on the scene, said he was out for a motorcycle ride on Sunday afternoon and had chosen to take a shorter ride through Appin and Picton instead of to Port Botany.

After stopping for a drink and a rest in Picton, he said he had travelled only 800 metres along Barkers Lodge Road when he came across the accident and stopped to help.

“The rider was lying on the road and in a bad way,” Mr Sheahan said in a Facebook post, adding that “his father was there cradling his son”.

“It was hectic as we waited for the emergency services to arrive.

“Things got worse, the rider was in need of CPR, I commenced, it seemed like an eternity till the ambulance arrived.

“I don’t think it was going to end well for the rider and my ride home afterwards was very different, lots of time to think about things.”

Mr Young, from the Campbelltown area, was aged in his 20s.

He was a keen motorcycle rider, car enthusiast, competitive rider, traveller and artist who sold his work under the name Losu.

He posted regularly in the Sydney Ducatista club for Ducati enthusiasts and enjoyed frequent weekend rides with his father.

Police said officers from Camden would prepare a report for the coroner. The male driver of the Mazda sedan that collided with Mr Young was not injured.

Police are continuing to investigate the Bilpin triple fatality that killed three passengers in a Mitsubishi SUV.

Friends of Lachlan, who lived at Mona Vale, have flooded social media with tributes.

“I can’t believe this has happened, from dancing with you only hours ago to hearing that one of my closest mates and brothers has had an accident,” one friend posted online.

“I will never forget your happy vibes and constant smile.”

His brother, Jayden, posted: “My little bro man, thank you for giving me that special strength. It’s just really hard for me right now trying to fathom turning this into a reality.”

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Ban Greens from voting on development proposals: property lobby

Chris Johnson, chief executive of the Urban Taskforce. Photo: David QuickCouncillors opposing new property developments should not be able to vote on development applications, the lobby group for big property developers says.
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Local Government Minister Paul Toole last week said the government would amend legislation that allowed councillors to determine development conditions around projects in which they had a pecuniary interest.

The amendments would come just three years after the Coalition government introduced laws allowing councillors to vote on planning controls that could affect their developments.

They follow a call by Labor leader Luke Foley for developers and estate agents to be banned from acting as councillors, made after the furore over Auburn deputy mayor Salim Mehajer’s wedding.

The chief executive of the Urban Taskforce, Chris Johnson, said he agreed that councillors should not be able to vote on matters in which they had an interest. But Mr Johnson went further, saying councillors opposed to property development also had an interest and should be barred from voting.

“Quite a lot of councillors have been elected by action groups that are against development,” Mr Johnson said.

“My position is that they have therefore been elected on a particular platform which makes them not independent about assessing the project, but which gives them a fairly strong bias.”

Asked if under his proposal all Greens councillors would not be able to vote on projects, Mr Johnson said: “I think it would.

“I think this is the issue, those councillors that have a negative attitude to growth and change and greater densities cannot assess a project with absolute independence.”

Mr Johnson said that rather than councillors approving projects, projects should be assessed by independent panels.

Leichhardt Greens mayor Rochelle Porteous said the party’s mayors and councillors had supported many developments across the city.

“Urban consolidation is an important part of development generally,” Cr Porteous said. “We are certainly supportive of appropriate development in appropriate locations in urban areas,” she said.

Marrickville Greens councillor Max Phillips said Mr Johnson’s proposal was “ridiculous.”

“Standing up for the community and enforcing development controls against developers always trying to squeeze more and more in is not anti-growth but acting in the public interest,” Cr Phillips said.

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Charges dismissed against woman arrested during terror raids after magistrate finds police acted illegally

A man detained by police during a raid kneels on the ground in Sydney on September 18, 2014. Photo: Reuters TV Police are seen inside a house during a raid in Sydney, in this still image taken from a police handout video on September 18, 2014. Photo: Reuters TV
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Members of the NSW and Federal police acted unlawfully when they arrested and searched a Muslim-Australian woman during last year’s pre-dawn counter terrorism raids, a magistrate has found.

The 24-year-old woman, who cannot be named, was charged with assaulting and intimidating police in the execution of their duties after heavily armed officers ordered her out of bed in the early hours of September 18 last year during the largest counter terrorism raids in Australia’s history.

The woman was then taken outside onto the nature strip of her home before police called in a white female police officer to search her as numerous male police looked on.

The female officer, Senior Constable Stacey Gwyn, told Parramatta local court that, as she approached her, the young woman yelled “Don’t you touch me, you dogs, you have no right to search me!”

As Senior Constable Gwyn began the search the woman allegedly screamed “you’ll be the first one in uniform to have your throat slit”.

When the officer tried to take the woman’s mobile phone, she allegedly said “you can’t have my phone … don’t you touch it, you whore … you’re a Christian, you will burn”.

As a male police officer physically restrained the woman so that Senior Constable Gwyn could continue the search, the 24-year-old woman allegedly punched him once in the face.

But when the matter came before Parramatta local court, it emerged that the woman was not named on the search warrant and was not shown paperwork accompanying the warrant as required by law.

While police had the authority to enter the premises, they did not have the authority to arrest, detain or search the woman without reasonable suspicion.

The woman’s barrister, Steven Boland, argued that his client had no involvement with terrorism or any other criminal offence and police had no reason to suspect otherwise.

“The degree of her wrongdoing at the time that the police demanded that she withdraw from her bedroom was to be asleep in her bed,” Mr Boland told the court.

On Monday, Magistrate Margaret McGlynn found that searching the woman was unlawful and that, thus, at the time of the alleged punch and intimidatory comments, the officers were not acting in the execution of their duties.

She found that, while the woman’s comments were “very offensive”, “religiously loaded” and “disproportionate” to the illegal actions by the police, the charges against her must be dismissed.

Speaking after the decision, the woman’s solicitor, Penelope Purcell, said her client was pleased with the decision.

“I can’t understand why they would bring charges at all against this woman in all those circumstances,” Ms Purcell said.

Fairfax Media understands that the 24-year-old woman is likely to seek an order that NSW Police pay her legal costs.

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Unanderra: train and car collide at level crossing

Emergency services at the scene in Unanderra where a car and train have collided. Picture: ADAM McLEANTrain and car accident at Unanderra: photosA man and woman had a ‘‘miraculous’’ escape after their car collided with a train at a Unanderra level crossing on Monday morning.
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The car was travelling south when it collided with the northbound commuter train at the level crossing on the Princes Highway, 400 metres south of the Nolan Street intersection.

The accident happened shortly before 8am.

After the impact, the train dragged the car for at least 20 metres after the collision.

Duty commander Fire and Rescue Illawarra Inspector John Hawes described the pair’s escape as ‘‘miraculous’’ given the damage to the car.

‘‘The car was impacted with the front of the train to the windscreen,’’ Insp Hawes said.

‘‘The steering column was squashed into the drivers seat.’’

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But he said neither the male driver or female passenger were injured, aside from suffering some shock.

At this stage it is unclear whether the driver and passenger were inside the car at the time of the collision.

Insp Hawes said there were about 40 people on the commuter train, and they also escaped injury.

Sydney Trains organised buses so the passengers could continue their journey.

Insp Hawes said it took about an hour to remove the cars, which was a write-off, from under the train.

‘‘We were under the guidance of Sydney Trains because we didn’t want to incur further damage to the train if it could be avoided,’’ Insp Hawes said.

After some ‘‘cutting and pushing’’ they were able to use a tow-truck to pull the car free.

The train was moved to a rail siding at Unanderra where Sydney Trains staff could further assess the damage.

The accident caused chaos for road and rail commuters.

The train had stopped across the road, blocking all four lanes of the Princes Highway for almost two hours.

Police had set up diversions to move motorists around the accident site.

The South Coast line was partially closed in both directions between Unanderra and Dapto.

Southbound passengers travelling beyond Unanderra had to change at Wollongong for a bus service.

Four bus services operating in the area were also affected, with five bus stops being missed as the buses were diverted along Nolan Street and Orange Grove Avenue.

Illawarra Mercury

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Sport in focus: August 31photos

Sport in focus | photos BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 29: Mohamed Farah of Great Britain celebrates after crossing the finish line to win gold in the Men’s 5000 metres final during day eight of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 29: Adam Sebastian Helcelet of the Czech Republic competes in the Men’s Decathlon Pole Vault during day eight of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 30: Tom Hickey of the Saints (c) compete for the ball against Sam Reid (L) and Adam Goodes of the Swans during the round 22 AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Sydney Swans at Etihad Stadium on August 30, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 24: Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica (C) beats Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands (L) and Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica to win gold in the Women’s 100 metres final during day three of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 24, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 30: Agnatius Paasi of the Titans takes on the defence during the round 25 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Cbus Super Stadium on August 30, 2015 on the Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND – AUGUST 30: Katharina Gallhuber of Austria competes in the Alpine Giant Slalom – FIS Australia New Zealand Cup during the Winter Games NZ at Coronet Peak on August 30, 2015 in Queenstown, New Zealand. (Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

WANAKA, NEW ZEALAND – AUGUST 27: Bobby Brown of the United States competes in the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup Slopestyle Qualification during the Winter Games NZ at Cardrona Alpine Resort on August 27, 2015 in Wanaka, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 24: Athletes compete in the Women’s 3000 metres steeplechase heats during day three of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 24, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 29: Yordani Garcia of Cuba falls next to Felipe Dos Santos of Brazil in the Men’s Decathlon 110 metres hurdles during day eight of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 30: A general view of play during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the West Coast Eagles at Adelaide Oval on August 30, 2015 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 29: Michael Firrito of the Kangaroos is tackled by Jake Stringer of the Bulldogs during the 2015 AFL round 22 match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne, Australia on August 29, 2015. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 28: Cindy Roleder of Germany celebrates after winning silver in the Women’s 100 metres hurdles final during day seven of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 28, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images for IAAF)

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 29: Jack Martin of the Suns is tackled during the round 22 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Port Adelaide Power at Metricon Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 27: Usain Bolt of Jamaica crosses the finish line to win gold ahead of second place Justin Gatlin of the United States (R) and Anaso Jobodwana of South Africa (L) in the Men’s 200 metres final during day six of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 27, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 29: Matej Toth of Slovakia celebrates after crossing the finish line to win gold in the Men’s 50km Race Walk during day eight of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 24: Raphael Marcel Holzdeppe of Germany celebrates after winning silver in the Men’s Pole Vault final during day three of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 24, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 28: Joel Baden of Australia competes in the Men’s High Jump qualification during day seven of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 28, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 29: Valentine Holmes of the Sharks is tackled during the round 25 NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Cronulla Sharks at Pirtek Stadium on August 29, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

BEIJING, CHINA – AUGUST 24: Ivan Gertlein of Russia competes in the Men’s Pole Vault final during day three of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at Beijing National Stadium on August 24, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)


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Michelle Carter researched ‘best way’ for Conrad Roy to die: court

Tragedy: Michelle Carter and her now deceased boyfriend Conrad Roy. Photo: FacebookRead the text messages between Carter and Roy
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A teenager on trial in the US for allegedly coaxing her boyfriend in a series of text messages to kill himself has been accused of helping him to research the “best way” to do so, according to court documents.

Michelle Carter, 18, is defending a charge of involuntary manslaughter following the death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, also 18, who was found dead in his car in a parking lot in Massachusetts in July last year.

Prosecutors in the New Bedford Juvenile Court claim that Ms Carter, who was 17 at the time, discussed with Mr Roy the best method to make his death “painless and quick”.

Among the hundreds of text messages the pair allegedly shared, Ms Carter is accused of going so far as to provide “back-up plans” should his initial choice not work.

An indictment issued by a Bristol County grand jury alleges that, between July 6 and July 12, Ms Carter assisted Mr Roy to take his life via dozens of messages.

She allegedly counselled him to overcome his doubts about suicide, and allegedly texted him comments such as “tonight is the night” and “you just have to do it”, according to court documents.

In one text she allegedly said to Mr Roy: “You said you were gonna do it. I don’t get like why you aren’t.”

Mr Roy responded: “I don’t get it either. I don’t know.”

In court last week, Ms Carter’s attorney, Joseph Cataldo, attempted to get the charge against his client dropped, claiming the Mr Roy had “brainwashed” Ms Carter, the Boston Herald reported.

Mr Cataldo argued that Ms Carter at first tried to discourage Mr Roy from killing himself and even suggested he join her at McLean Hospital, a psychiatric hospital where she had been receiving treatment.

Mr Roy had tried to get Ms Carter to take part in a Romeo and Juliet-style suicide the month before his death, Mr Cataldo said.

The lawyer said that Mr Roy told Ms Carter: “Let’s do a Romeo and Juliet. The two of us, together, kill ourselves.”

Mr Cataldo said that Ms Carter replied: “[Expletive] no. We are not dying.”

Eleven days before his death, Mr Roy again asked Ms Carter to kill herself with him, Mr Cataldo said, and she said no.

Eventually, Mr Cataldo said, “There’s a turn.

“He has, in fact, brainwashed her to the point where she’s now accepting his idea of, ‘This is my only option,’ ” Mr Cataldo said.

Ms Carter, who was on the phone to Mr Roy when he died, later told a friend she was talking to him while he killed himself and heard him cry in pain.

Prosecutors allege Ms Carter text messaged Mr Roy’s sister on the night of his death and acted as though she did not know what had happened.

“Do you know where your brother is?” she allegedly asked Mr Roy’s sister in a text.

A few days after Mr Roy’s death, Ms Carter told a friend via text message that she blamed herself.

“It’s my fault, I was talking to him while he killed himself. I heard him cry in pain. I should have known. I should have done something.”

The case continues.

Fairfax Media

❏ Support is available for those who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800; beyondblue 1300 224 636.

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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The outside centres

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Frank Bunce. Photo: Jack Atley

Frank Bunce (New Zealand). Bunce was the Cal Ripken jnr of rugby, a midfield ironman who missed just a single match for the All Blacks during his 59-Test career from 1991-1997. He started in every match he was selected for and was part of the All Blacks side that fell to South Africa in the 1995 World Cup decider. Bunce was a tough customer with the ball and added plenty of starch in defence.

Jeremy Guscott. Photo: Reuters

Jeremy Guscott (England). Guscott oozed class in the English No.13 jersey, featuring in three World Cups as part of his 73-Test career. He was a free-striding outside back who could slip through a gap with his deceptive pace. It resulted in 31 tries, the last of which was an intercept against Tonga in his final World Cup appearance in 1999.

Brian O’Driscoll. Photo: Lawrence Smith

Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland). The Irishman has left records in his wake during a brilliant international career that has only been surpassed – in caps at least – by the great Richie McCaw. O’Driscoll appeared 141 times in the emerald green and considered trying to reach a fifth World Cup before eventually retiring. A gifted all-round athlete, there was little O’Driscoll couldn’t do on a rugby field and although he would never savour World Cup success, ended his playing days regarded as one of the great outside centres.

Philippe Sella (left). Photo: Reuters

Philippe Sella (France). Australian rugby fans might best remember French great Sella from his crunching king-hit on Wallaby lock Peter FitzSimons in 1990. But that moment of brutality was a far cry from his dangerous stylings in the back line, where he combined pace and beautiful hands throughout his 111-match career. His presence would help the French to five Five Nations crowns but he missed out in all three World Cups, with the closest shave coming in the final in 1987.

Conrad Smith. Photo: John Selkirk

Conrad Smith (New Zealand). Smith has been a picture of consistency in a settled All Blacks back line, combining brilliantly with Ma’a Nonu and being one of his country’s strongest contributors in the 2011 World Cup victory. He’s never been blessed with the greatest speed or silken skills, but has a natural grasp of the game and times his involvement to perfection. The 33-year-old won’t win games by being flashy but we doubt any of the current All Blacks would consider trading in one of their most dependable campaigners.

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The Gods of Rugby Heaven: The five-eighths

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Dan Carter. Photo: Getty Images

Dan Carter (New Zealand). Carter is a true golden boy of New Zealand rugby, with his boyish good looks well and truly matched by a game that many regard as peerless in terms of No.10s. He is the leading point-scorer in international rugby, with his radar boot the perfect complement for an all-rround game that has stood the test of time. A groin injury before the final pool game against Canada meant Carter missed the long-awaited 2011 World Cup victory. Few would be more deserved in the 2015 edition.

Grant Fox. Photo: Getty Images

Grant Fox (New Zealand). One try in 46 Tests for the All Blacks suggests that Fox wasn’t much of a threat with ball-in-hand. Put it on a mound of sand and it was a different story. Fox remains one of the greatest goal kickers the game has seen, with his deadly boot integral as New Zealand won the first World Cup in 1987. He finished his career with 645 points and was also regarded as an adept tactician and playmaker.

Stephen Larkham. Photo: Steve Christo

Stephen Larkham (Australia). The lanky five-eighth was a mainstay of the Wallabies throughout the late 90s and 2000s, an era that reaped plenty of rewards including the 1999 World Cup. His drop-goal in the semi-final that year against the Springboks has now become legend. It was his first in international rugby and he only booted two in a superb 102-Test career. Larkham’s former life as a fullback meant he could slice through gaps, while his ability to hit his outside men was pivotal to unleashing the Wallaby backline.

Michael Lynagh. Photo: Getty Images

Michael Lynagh (Australia). The former Wallaby captain combined his ability to conduct a backline with pin-point accuracy from the boot. Lynagh was capped 72 times for Australia in an 11-year career that would end in 1995 with 911 points on the board. The man known as ‘Noddy’ would reach the pinnacle in 1991 when he was vice-captain of the Wallaby side that won the World Cup.

Jonny Wilkinson. Photo: AP

Jonny Wilkinson (England). Very few players occupy the same World Cup rare air as England’s heroic match-winner. In 2003, he would fire the ultimate shot at arch-enemy Australia when he slotted a drop goal to win the final, elating one country while deflating another. He was a voracious point-scorer (1179) across his 91 caps for England although his latter career was curtailed through injury. He played on until the end of 2011, starting four of the five World Cup games before retiring at the end of the year. His kicking stance, hands clasped together, knees bent, became an iconic image for English rugby.

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