Daily News Roundup

June 5, 2019

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4

Jailed Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his historical child sex abuse convictions has begun at the Supreme Court of Victoria in front of a packed court room with the Cardinal wearingn his clerical collar, which he did not wear when he was sentenced.

Three judges will rule on the appeal after the hearing, which is set down for two days.

The courtroom was full as the hearing got underway.

Some of Pell’s relatives and supporters were in attendance, as well as abuse survivor advocates and reporters.

Pell is serving a six-year jail term for sexually abusing two choirboys when he was archbishop of Melbourne.

Last December, a jury found him guilty of abusing the boys at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral after a Sunday mass in 1996, and abusing one of the boys a second time several months later.

The former senior Vatican official pleaded not guilty at trial, but was convicted of one count of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and four counts of committing an indecent act with a child.

Pell is first requesting leave to appeal — that is, permission for his appeal to be considered.

But his application for leave to appeal and the appeal itself are being argued at the same time, which is the Court of Appeal’s usual practice to avoid separate hearings and save time.

The three judges could hand down a decision during the two-day hearing, or could instead reserve their decision for a future date.

If they do rule that the guilty verdicts are unreasonable, Pell will be acquitted and immediately released from jail.

But if the judges find that the guilty verdicts were reasonable and instead accept the second or third grounds of his appeal, a new trial could be ordered.

The three judges have undertaken a significant amount of research before today’s hearings, including a tour of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson said at the start of the hearing.

Pell has indicated he will not seek a reduction to the six-year sentence if the appeal against the guilty verdict fails.

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The Darwin gunman killed four men with a shotgun at different locations across the Darwin CBD before calling the Police Duty Superintendant, according to reports coming out of the Northern Territory.

Police reported that the alleged killer, Ben Hoffman, was known to police and was wearing  an electronic monitoring bracelet as he allegedly carried out the attacks. It’s not known if this helped police track and arrest him.

He had recently served “more than a year” in prison, Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said

Commissioner Kershaw said the first emergency call from the public came in from Finniss Street, near the Darwin CBD at 5.45pm.

It’s then believed the alleged gunman, moved in a vehicle across six other locations across the city.

Police and the tactical response group apprehended him on the outskirts of the Darwin CBD, about an hour after the first triple-0 call came in.

In addition to killing the men he wounded a woman.

Commissioner Kershaw said it was unknown if or how the victims were linked to Mr Hoffmann, but more information would be released later.

“He is an individual who is well known to police and has a number of interactions, adverse, with the police force,” said Commissioner Kershaw

He said he believed the incident was not linked to terrorism, saying the shooter acted alone.

Witnesses told the ABC the Mr Hoffmann allegedly walked into the Palms Motel asking for someone called “Alex”.

“He was asleep, heard all the banging and opened the door and the guy was there with his gun, and he just said ‘where’s Alex?’ and he said ‘I don’t know where he is’,” one witness said.

“And he [the gunman] said, ‘no worries,’ and turned around and started shooting the place up again.”

Police are yet to comment on the identity of “Alex”.

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Thousands of people have protested in central London against US President Donald Trump’s pomp-laden state visit to Britain, but numbers were well down on the tens of thousands who gathered to oppose his visit last year, according to news reports out of Britain.

Protesters shouted, banged drums and waved placards at what organisers called a “Carnival of Resistance” in Trafalgar Square on Tuesday while Prime Minister Theresa May held talks with Trump a short distance away at her Downing Street residence.

The leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, addressed the rally, calling it “the living embodiment of what a democratic society was all about”.

Among Britons, Trump is one of the least-liked foreign leaders, with just 21 per cent of people surveyed by YouGov having a positive opinion of him. Among women, that figure fell to 14 per cent.

The protest’s tone was set by a large statue of Trump sitting on a golden lavatory with his trousers around his ankles. People held placards that read “Keep your tiny hands off our Queen”, “Lock him in the tower” and “Free Melania!”

Linda Coplestone, 64, a retired teacher from London, said she was protesting inaction by Trump on climate change.

“We have ruined the planet,” she said. “He has a powerful voice and could do something about it. He chooses not to.”

Often with creativity and humour, the protesters rallied around issues ranging from restrictions on women’s reproductive rights to fears that US businesses would carve up Britain’s ailing but cherished health service.

One woman carried a sign carrying the Shakespearean insult, “I bite my thumb at thee!” Elsewhere, a man sold toilet rolls featuring Trump’s face for three pounds a piece.

There were pockets of support. A few men wearing red caps with “Make America Great Again” walked among the crowd. Trump supporters said the protests were an insult to the leader of the United Kingdom’s most powerful ally.

A giant inflatable blimp depicting Trump as a sneering baby in a nappy flew outside the British parliament, remaining airborne as the president held talks with May.

Trump and his wife Melania arrived on Monday for a three-day state visit that included a banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace on Monday evening.

The protesters have been largely kept away from Trump, with roads closed around Buckingham Palace and Downing Street.

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