AS we wind down after Christmas and into the new year, we take a look back at some of the biggest news stories which shaped 2014.
SCHAPELLE CORBY RELEASED FROM BALI JAIL
FROM prison to paradise – Former Gold Coast woman Schapelle Corby checks into a luxury spa and resort after walking free on parole from her Balinese jail cell. She’s whisked away in a prison van amid an international media frenzy.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
LUKE BATTY KILLED BY ESTRANGED FATHER
AUSTRALIA grieved after 11-year-old Luke Batty was stabbed to death by his estranged 54-year-old father Greg Anderson in front of horrified onlookers at a cricket training session southeast of Melbourne, Victoria. Anderson was shot by police at the scene and later died in hospital. He had a history of mental illness and was the subject of an Apprehended Violence Order. Luke’s mother Rosie has since became an advocate for domestic violence issues.
WOMEN BRUTALLY BASH ELDERLY MAN ON GOLD COAST BUS
TWO young women aged 17 and 21 are charged with the savage assault of an elderly man on a Gold Coast bus. The pair were filmed kicking, punching and spitting on their partially blind 77-year-old victim in a sickening racial attack. The duo handed themselves into police a few days later after footage of the incident went viral when it was uploaded to social media.
MH370: MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT MH370 DISAPPEARS, 239 PEOPLE LOST
THE world was shocked to hear that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 had quite literally disappeared without a trace, carrying 239 passengers and crew an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. It’s last position is thought to have been over the Indian Ocean. To this day, many questions remain unanswered. The search continues.
DANIEL MORCOMBE’S KILLER FOUND GUILTY, SENTENCED TO LIFE
CONVICTED child killer Brett Peter Cowan is found guilty of abducting, assaulting and murdering 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe in 2003. A Supreme Court jury delivered their verdict after just seven hours of deliberation. He was sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 20 years for murder, three-and-a-half years for indecent assault, and two years for interfering with a corpse – all to be served concurrently.
BUS DRIVER RIPPED FROM SEAT AND ATTACKED ON ROADSIDE
A 63-YEAR-OLD bus driver was left bruised and bloodied after he was ripped from his seat and viciously bashed by a 20-year-old passenger at a Southport bus stop. Following intense public pressure, the 20-year-old thug handed himself into police two days later.
FLASH FLOODING GRIPS PARTS OF THE GOLD COAST
THE heaviest rainfall to hit the Gold Coast in twelve months leads to flash flooding and rapid river rises across the city. A staggering 380mm of rain was recorded at Upper Springbrook in the Gold Coast hinterland. Caravans setup for a camping expo at Mudgeeraba were inundated with rising floodwater.
MAN DIES IN CAVILL MALL SHOOTING
A 38-YEAR-OLD man shoots himself dead in front of horrified staff at the Australian Shooting Academy in Cavill Mall. It’s the first incident of its kind at the range since it opened more than 15 years ago.
EIGHT INJURED IN FREAK HOSPITAL CRASH
A GROUP of elderly women are among eight injured after an out of control car being driven by an elderly man smashed through the front lobby of the new Gold Coast University Hospital.
CHLOE CAMPBELL, 3, FOUND ALIVE
IT was the story that captivated a nation. Three-year-old Chloe Campbell was found alive and well three days after she was abducted from the living room of her family home at Childers, south of Bundaberg in an alleged act of revenge against her father. Chloe was dumped at the local showgrounds opposite her house by her captors about 1am on Saturday April 12.
HUMAN BONE FOUND IN THE GOLD COAST SEAWAY
A RECREATIONAL diver makes a grisly discovery after finding what is later confirmed to be a human leg bone in waters at the Gold Coast Seaway.
ELISHA NEAVE’S DEATH
COURAGEOUS Gold Coast mother Elisha Neave loses her battle with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. The 35-year-old was described as an ‘inspiration’ and an ‘angel’. The story of her family’s long and tragic history of cancer made headlines around the world.
FATHER HOLDS SON HOSTAGE IN MARATHON CURRUMBIN SIEGE
A FATHER who held his teenage son hostage inside their besieged Currumbin unit for a marathon 13-hours is charged with a range of offences, including three counts of serious assault police.
OFFICER STOOD DOWN OVER DANGEROUS POLICE PURSUIT
A GOLD COAST police officer involved in a near fatal pursuit in Bundall which left an 18-year-old girl fighting for her life in hospital and badly injured an elderly couple is stood down from official duty.
HIGHLAND PARK GUNMAN SHOT DEAD BY SECURITY GUARD
A FATHER of five armed with a 9mm pistol is shot dead by a security guard as he ambushed a cash delivery van outside the Highland Park Tavern.
FUEL FRENZY AS HUNDREDS QUEUE FOR CHEAP PETROL
FOR the first time since the 1980s, motorists filled their cars for just .60c a litre on the Gold Coast as part of the global launch of a revolutionary new fuel savings program. Hundreds queued through the back streets of Southport for hours to get their hands on the country’s cheapest fuel.
MARATHON 36-HOUR WHALE RESCUE
IN spectacular scenes, a juvenile humpback whale beached at Palm Beach is finally freed following a marathon 36-hour rescue mission.
MH17: MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT MH17 SHOT DOWN, 298 PEOPLE KILLED
THIRTY-EIGHT Australian citizens and residents – including one Gold Coast woman – were among the 298 people killed hen Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot out of the sky over rebel held territory in eastern Ukraine. It remains unclear who exactly fired the missile.
GOLD COAST LIGHT RAIL LAUNCH
THE billion-dollar light rail system was launched on the Gold Coast and, despite repeated education and warnings, many motorists still found themselves stuck on tracks or in the path of moving trams. More than 70,000 passengers rode ‘The G:’ on its first day, marking a new era of transport for the city.
WOMAN PLUNGES TO HER DEATH FROM SURFERS PARADISE BALCONY
26-YEAR-OLD New Zealand woman Warriena Wright fell to her death from the 14th floor balcony of a Surfers Paradise apartment after meeting with a man she’d just met through online dating app Tinder. That man is soon identified as 28-year-old Gable Tostee and a week later, he is charged with her murder.
WORLD MOURNS ROBIN WILLIAMS’ SUDDEN DEATH
THE death of Robin Williams shocked the world with thousands of celebrities and even US President Barack Obama expressing their devastation and sadness while remembering the multi-talented actor who inspired and made them laugh.
FATHER MURDERS ENTIRE FAMILY ON NSW FARM
IT was the story that sent shockwaves right across Australia. The Hunt family – Kim, 41, and her three children 10-year-old Fletcher, eight-year-old Mia and Phoebe, six – are found shot dead at their farmhouse 80km west of Wagga Wagga in the NSW Riverina district. The body of Geoff Hunt, 44 (Kim’s husband and father of her three children) was found by police divers submerged in a lake on the family farm – he’d taken his own life after murdering his entire family.
GOLD COAST EBOLA SCARE
A 27-YEAR-OLD Gold Coast man was rushed to hospital over fears he may have contracted the deadly Ebola virus after returning from Africa. As news broke of the suspected case, people scrambled to cancel their Queensland holidays and check out of their Gold Coast accommodation early. After spending hours in isolation awaiting test results, the man was eventually cleared of the disease.
AUSTRALIA’S TERROR ALERT LEVEL RAISED TO HIGH
ALSO on September 11, Australia’s terrorist alert level was raised to high, meaning the risk of an attack is “likely”. It’s just one level below highest warning extreme, when an attack is “imminent”.
WOMAN KILLED, SIX INJURED IN HORROR SOUTHPORT CRASH
A 32-YEAR-OLD woman is killed and six others are injured in a horror crash that sent cars hurtling into buildings at Southport. In a scene of devastation, one car was impaled into a medical centre, another flipped and slammed into the front of a chemist on the opposite block.
AFP STAGE PRE-DAWN TERROR RAIDS IN SYDNEY
FIFTEEN people are detained and one man is charged with plotting a terrorist attack following simultaneous pre-dawn raids across Sydney and Brisbane. It’s the largest counter-terrorism operation in Australia’s history in which police claim foiled a plan to randomly kidnap someone in Martin Place, behead them and drape them with the Islamic State flag.
TERROR SUSPECT SHOT DEAD IN MELBOURNE
EIGHTEEN-year-old terror suspect Numan Haider is shot dead after stabbing two counter-terrorism officers outside a police station in the Melbourne suburb of Endeavour Hills. It’s alleged he’d made threats against Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
COOMERA MAN BASHED TO DEATH ON BACK PORCH
37-YEAR-OLD year-old Mark Emanuel Spencer is found beaten to death on the back porch of his Coomera home. A 33-year-old woman and 28-year-old man from Coombabah are later charged with his murder. It’s alleged the pair had met their victim through a sex advertisement on Craigslist.
MAN FOUND DEAD, BOUND & NAKED IN VARSITY LAKES UNIT
57-YEAR-OLD Gregory John Hudson is found dead, bound and naked on the floor of his friend’s Varsity Lakes townhouse just four days after arriving on the Gold Coast from Sydney. It’s alleged he was robbed and murdered after a kinky sex session with a prostitute. A 35-year-old woman and two men aged 24 and 37 are later each charged with manslaughter, enter with intent and robbery whilst armed and in company.
TWO HORSES DIE IN MELBOURNE CUP TRAGEDY
THE race that stops a nation turned into the race that shocked a nation this year with the death of two racehorses. Favourite Admire Rakti collapsed and died of a heart attack in his stall shortly after the race, while Araldo had to be put down after breaking a leg when spooked by a fan waving a flag soon after passing the post.
MAN SHOT DEAD BY POLICE AT SOUTHPORT
A 32-YEAR-OLD man is shot dead by police after he’d allegedly lunged at officers with a knife in the driveway of his Southport home.
PHILLIP HUGHES’ SHOCK DEATH ROCKS AUSTRALIA
THE sudden, tragic death of cricketer Phillip Hughes brought Australia to its knees. The 25-year-old batsman was critically injured when he was struck in the head by a ‘bouncer’ during a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He died two days later in hospital. The devastating news had an enormous effect on everyday Australians who went on to initiate the worldwide #putoutyourbats campaign on social media.
HOSTAGES KILLED IN TERRIFYING SYDNEY SIEGE
IN scenes never before seen in Australia, lone terrorist Man Haron Monis took 17 customers and staff hostage inside the Lindt Cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place armed with a shotgun and black Islamic flag. The 17-hour siege ended in the deaths of Monis and two hostages — Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson.
EIGHT KIDS MURDERED IN CAIRNS HOME
HORRIFIC news emerges of what will become one of Australia’s worst massacres where eight children aged between 18-months and 14-years are found stabbed to death inside a Cairns home. A 37-year-old woman and mother of seven of the dead children is later charged with eight counts of murder.
SURFERS PARADISE RINAL OUTRAGE
NEW open-air urinals installed on Cavill Avenue spark outrage on social media. Instead of scraping the highly controversial concept altogether, the Gold Coast City Council responded by halving operational times and installing privacy screens.
GUNMAN SPARKS 12-HOUR CHRISTMAS MORNING SIEGE
A CRAZED gunman is charged with attempted murder after opening fire twice during a tense 12-hour siege at Southport. Several families were forced to remain locked inside their homes on Christmas morning while police negotiated the man into surrendering without further incident.
*Photo credits available on individual news articles