Daily News Roundup

December 6, 2019


A Newcastle teenager is fighting for his life in a Bali hospital after almost drowning in a concrete sewerage drain after a motor scooter accident..

A special ABC report says Lawson Rankin, 18, was holidaying in Bali to celebrate the end of the Higher School Certificate when the accident happened on November 30.

The report said Lawson had recently graduated from St Francis Xavier’s College and, like many other young Australians, was with a group of friends for Schoolies celebrations.

On the night of Saturday November 30, Lawson was riding with friends on scooters when one of his friends, who was a passenger, had his phone snatched out of his hand.

Lawson sped up to try to catch the thief and a short time later Lawson’s friends noticed his scooter lodged deep inside a concrete drain.

His friends shone a light into the drain and found Lawson unconscious, his helmet split, face down, drowning in the drain.

They pulled him out, performing CPR before locals called an ambulance.

Lawson remains in a critical condition in hospital, with a brain haemorrhage, 20 stitches in his head and an infection from the water that got into his lungs.

In a statement Lawson’s family has praised the actions of his friends.

“We are eternally grateful for the heroic actions of these young men,” they said.

“This is the most devastating thing a parent can go through, to see our beautiful son in this state in a foreign country is extremely horrific.

“We need to bring him home.”

Despite having travel insurance, Lawson did not hold an international licence required to ride a motorbike and that means he is not covered for medical expenses.

A crowdfunding campaign has been established with medical bills already at $30,000.

Just over $100,000 has already been raised.

“The bills are already over $30,000 for a few days in an international hospital and he may not be able to travel for weeks, so this will continue to rise,” the family said.

“Once there is a clearance to get him on a plane, it’s expected a medivac flight to Sydney and transfers to Newcastle could be more than $100,000.

“Once home, Lawson is likely to have a long journey of rehabilitation also.”

Student coordinator at St Francis Xavier High School Kim Scully said Lawson’s friends, who were with him at the time, were devastated but the school was rallying behind them.

“We’ve got an end-of-year mass this morning and certainly Lawson will be mentioned and thought of there,” she said.

“The boys are devastated.

“The two boys who assisted, resuscitating Lawson, are pretty traumatised.

“I think everyone is standing by quietly, praying, and sending all our love to them.”

Lawson’s father and brother are already with him in Bali.

His mother Therese is flying out to be with him today.


The Victorian Court of Appeal has increased the jail time handed Melbourne man Borce Ristevski for the 2016 manslaughter of his wife Karen, from nine to 13 years.

Karen Rivstevski’s body was found in a nature park in Macedon, north of Melbourne in January 2017, eight months after she disappeared from their Avondale Heights home.

Borce Ristevski, 55, was originally sentenced to nine years in prison (with a non parole period of six years) after pleading guilty to manslaughter just before his murder trial was due to begin earlier this year.

He must now serve a non-parole period of 10 years.

During the appeal hearing in November, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) argued the original sentence was “manifestly inadequate”, pointing to Ristevski’s ongoing secrecy over what he did to his wife and how he had misled investigators and his own family.

The Court of Appeal decision was a majority ruling — with two justices supporting a new jail term of 13 years and the third saying a 12-year jail term was suitable.

“As Mr Ristevski had not shown one scintilla of remorse, Justice [Simon] Whelan and I could not take remorse into account as a mitigating factor,” Chief Justice Anne Ferguson told the court.

Justice Ferguson called it an “atypical” case because there was no evidence of earlier domestic violence or discord.

“There was no apparent reason for, or context to, what Mr Ristevski did,” she said.

“Mr Whelan and I observed Mr Ristevski did not simply maintain his right to silence but took immediate, positive steps to avoid his crime being discovered.

“This included concealing his wife’s body and engaging in an elaborate course of deception.

“Ms Ristevski should have been safe in her own home.”

Rivstevksi has never disclosed how or why he killed his wife of 27 years and forensic scientists were unable to pinpoint a cause of death because Ms Ristevski’s body was in such a bad state of decomposition when it was found.

During an appeal hearing on November 15, the DPP argued the nine-year maximum sentence and the six-year non-parole period were “wholly outside the range” for manslaughter.


A world measles crisis last year killed more than 140,000 people, most of them children under the age of five, according to World Health Organisation figures.

In figures described by its director general as “an outrage”, the WHO said most of the 2018 measles deaths were in children under five years old who had not been vaccinated.

“The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable children,” said the WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Measles infected nearly 10 million people last year as devastating outbreaks of the viral disease hit every region of the world, said the WHO report.

The picture for 2019 is even worse, the WHO said, with provisional data up to November showing a three-fold increase compared with the same period in 2018.

News agencies report that the United States has already reported its highest number of measles cases in 25 years in 2019, while Albania, the Czech Republic, Greece and Great Britain lost their WHO “measles-free” status in 2018 after suffering large outbreaks.

An ongoing outbreak of measles in Samoa has infected more than 4,200 people and killed more than 60.

Globally, measles vaccination rates have stagnated for almost a decade, the WHO said.

It and the UNICEF children’s fund say that in 2018, around 86 per cent of children got a first dose of measles vaccine through their country’s routine vaccination services, and fewer than 70 per cent got the second dose recommended to fully protect them from measles infection.

In some wealthier nations, vaccination rates have been hit by some parents shunning them for what they say are religious or philosophical reasons or mistrust of authority.

The WHO data showed there were an estimated 9,769,400 cases of measles and 142,300 related deaths globally in 2018. This compares to 7,585,900 cases and 124,000 deaths in 2017.

In 2018, measles hit hardest in Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine, the WHO said, with these five nations accounting for nearly half of global cases.

Robert Linkins, a specialist at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said: “Without improving measles vaccine coverage we’re going to continue to see these needless deaths. We must turn this trend around.”

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