Daily News Roundup

November 17, 2021

 

WEDNESDAY, November 17

Police have seized a car that once belonged to William Tyrrell’s foster grandmother from a home 375km south as the search for the missing boy’s body continues, reports news.com.au.

The vehicle, a silver Mazda hatchback, was seized from a home in Gymea, in the Sutherland Shire, under a coronial order on November 9.

It is being held in a secure facility where forensic examinations and analysis is underway – a process detectives say will take “several weeks”.

News.com.au reports it understands the car belonged to William’s foster grandmother at the time he went missing. She died in March, aged 88.

The person who had ownership of the car at the time it was seized is not believed to be related to the disappearance of the three-year-old in 2014.

News.com.au understands police are investigating whether the vehicle was used to move William’s body after his death.

Strike force detectives seized a Mazda from a home at Gymea under a Coronial Order last Tuesday.

NSW Police also released new images of the forensic examinations taking place at William’s foster grandmother’s home in Kendall, where he was last seen.

Authorities remained at the house on Tuesday night and are understood to have kept guard overnight as detectives continue their hunt to solve the mystery of what happened to the little boy.

Forensic examinations by Strike Force Rosann are expected to continue on Wednesday, with officers continuing to focus their attention on an area below the second-storey balcony, where detectives are probing a theory the boy may have fallen to his death.

William Tyrrell disappeared from Kendall, New South Wales, on 12 September 2014.

The suspect, who cannot be named for legal reasons, recently had a child removed from her custody and had an apprehended violence order taken out against her, news.com.au said.

It is understood the woman had previously been spoken to by police but was never pursued as part of the investigation.

In new footage released overnight, a number of officers appear to be using metal detectors in the garden and removing plants and other debris.

A cadaver dog had earlier been used to comb through the garden bed.

Officers returned to the property on Tuesday and remained overnight.

The vision comes from Strike Force Rosann, who have been working under the premise that his disappearance was a result of human intervention.

Late night images reveal investigators continuing the search in the garden overnight, focusing on a specific area where police had earlier dug and sprayed luminol, a substance that shows traces of blood.

In the pictures, investigators can be seen combing through the garden and the outside walls of the home with a bright blue light, which would illuminate if blood was apparent.

Video reveals police spraying more of the area and scanning photographs of items with the chemical.

Police have also been scanning an area of bushland about one kilometre from the house.

Forensic examinations are taking place in Kendall. 

Shortly before 10.30am on September 12, 2014, William, then aged three, was playing in the yard of his grandmother’s home in Kendall, when he disappeared and in the last few days, authorities have returned to the premises.

At the time, hundreds of residents and emergency service workers and volunteers searched homes, forests, creeks and paddocks throughout the rural township, but William could not be located.

“The Strike Force Rosann team returned to Kendall with local detectives and specialist forensic officers to have another look at the residence where William was last seen, as well as other areas nearby,” Det Ch Insp Laidlaw said last week.

“Further information has since come to light, as part of our ongoing review of the materials gathered by investigators since the moment William went missing seven years ago.

“As our team continues to conduct inquiries and explore all avenues of investigation, our focus has been identifying if anything has been missed, or if there are any details – no matter how small – that need to be clarified.

“Police remain committed to finding out what happened to William, but our most important job here is to bring him home for both families.”

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Victoria has recorded 996 new COVID-19 cases and nine deaths.

There are now 14,260 active cases of the virus in Victoria, and 433 people have died during the current Delta outbreak.

The new cases were detected from 72,010 test results received yesterday.

There are 357 people in hospital with COVID-19, of whom 58 are in intensive care and 35 are on a ventilator. 

The health department said another 65 people were in the ICU, but had been cleared of COVID-19.

There were 6,692 doses of vaccine given at state-run centres yesterday, as well as more vaccinations at GP clinics and other venues.

*Pfizer has signed a deal with a UN-backed group to allow other manufacturers to make its experimental COVID-19 pill, a move that could make the treatment available to more than half of the world’s population.

Pfizer said it would grant a licence for the antiviral pill to the Geneva-based Medicines Patent Pool.

That will allow generic drug companies to produce the pill for use in 95 countries, covering about 53 per cent of the world’s population.

The experimental pill could be a promising new weapon in the fight against the pandemic, as it can be taken orally as an early at-home treatment to help prevent COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths.

In a clinical trial, it cut the chance of hospitalisation or death for adults at risk of severe disease by 89 per cent.

It could also become an important tool in countries and areas with limited access to vaccines, or with low vaccination rates.

The multi-nation deal excludes some large countries that have suffered devastating coronavirus outbreaks.

For example, while a Brazilian drug company can get a licence to make the pill for export to other countries, the medicine cannot be made generically for use in Brazil.

Still, health officials said the fact that the deal was struck even before Pfizer’s pill has been authorised anywhere, could help to end the pandemic quicker.

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Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are reuniting with other cast members from the blockbuster film franchise for a special 20th anniversary TV retrospective — but author JK Rowling won’t be joining them, reports Reuters.

Robbie Coltrane, who played Hagrid, Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), director Chris Columbus and other stars of the eight movies will join them for Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts on the movie set in London where the first film was made.

The special will be broadcast on January 1 on streaming platform HBO Max.

The retrospective will see the cast return to the original Hogwarts boarding school sets that were featured in the first film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which was released in November 2001.

The film franchise based on Rowling’s stories about an orphaned boy with magical powers took in some $US10.6 billion ($7.8 billion) at the global box office.

 The author has faced increased scrutiny in recent years for her views on sex, gender and trans issues, which some have labelled transphobic.

The special is one of several 20th anniversary events planned by Warner Bros. Another is a TV quiz contest for Potter fans hosted by Dame Helen Mirren and including cameo appearances by some of the cast and celebrity fans, including comedians Pete Davidson and Jay Leno.

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A taskforce investigating the experience of women in the justice system has been told sexual assault victims are being forced to wait days for forensic tests in Queensland hospitals and the criminal code “fails to uphold the human rights” of survivors.

Senior Queensland police officer Detective Senior Sergeant Edward Kinbacher, in a submission to the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce, said the Criminal Code (Consent and Mistake of Fact) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 did not require defendants to show they took positive steps to ascertain consent during sex.

The taskforce was established earlier this year to review how women a treated in the criminal justice system.

“The bill retains the mistake of fact excuse which defendants will be able to argue in situations where a person is asleep, heavily intoxicated or unconscious,” Senior Sergeant Kinbacher wrote.

“This leaves open the possibility that consent can be inferred from a lack of resistance, even though victims ‘freezing’ during an assault is a very common behavioural response.”

The letter was presented alongside a submission by a sexual assault support and advocacy group that detailed concerns around how sexual assault victims are received in emergency departments.

The Cairns Sexual Assault Forensic Integrated Response Network (SAFIR) group, which is made up of health professionals, social workers and those with a lived experience, wrote that hospitals were often not equipped with adequate staffing.

The group wrote that sexual assault nurse examiners and medical officers were a “voluntary” role and due to rostering they were not always available.

“Victims-survivors have been advised they must wait for very long periods (up to 36 hours) before a forensic examination can be made,” the submission read.

“They are requested not to shower or change their clothes until the examination is completed.

“Many victims-survivors attending emergency departments have eventually walked out, deciding not to continue with their case and relinquishing the opportunity for care, which is rightfully theirs.”

The submission said the Cairns Sexual Assaults Service was a considerable distance from the emergency department, which places a “significant burden” as victims are required to “retell their story” due to “disconnected care”.

“Victims-survivors reporting sexual assault in rural and remote regions outside Cairns will rarely encounter a nurse or doctor with sufficient training or experience to conduct the appropriate forensic examination,” the submission read.

“They will need to be transferred to Cairns for the examination, and often the person themselves has been made responsible for the travel, when either police or health services should be providing/paying for it.”

The group suggested an “integrated model of service delivery” as a solution to improve the experience of victims of sexual assault.