Mum to stand trial for daughters’ murders

A Queensland mother accused of killing her two daughters by leaving them locked in a car parked in soaring temperatures has wept as she was committed to stand trial for their murders.

Toddlers Darcey-Helen, two, and Chloe-Ann, one, were found dead in a black station wagon parked in the front yard of their Logan home, south of Brisbane, in November 2019.

Their mother, Kerri-Ann Conley, is charged with two counts of murder under a new definition in Queensland which includes reckless indifference to human life.

She is the first person to be charged under the expanded definition, which came into law in March 2019.

A barefoot and emotional Conley struggled to hold back tears as she faced a committal hearing in Beenleigh Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

At times she refused to look at witnesses, instead focusing on a supporter in the court gallery.

Police will allege Conley put her two young daughters in the car around 6.30am before going back inside her home that day.

The girls remained in the station wagon as temperatures soared to 31 degrees and were not discovered until after 1pm – more than seven hours later.

A panicked Conley reportedly put her daughters in a cold bath as paramedics were called, but they could not be revived.

The girls were declared dead at the scene showing signs of being exposed to extreme heat.

Darcey-Helen’s father, Peter Jackson, gave evidence at the hearing that both girls were scheduled to visit the weekend they died.

He tried to phone some 18 times and sent repeated text messages to ask where they were but could not raise Conley on the morning of the tragedy, the hearing was told.

She finally returned his calls just before 1.30pm, around the same time paramedics had been called.

Police prosecutor Tim Wise said police had collected more than 140 statements to be tendered as evidence.

Magistrate Michael O’Driscoll ordered Conley to stand trial as the tearful accused declined to enter a plea.

She blew a kiss to her supporter in the gallery as she was returned to custody.

© AAP 2021

NSW records double-digit spike in new COVID-19 cases

New South Wales has recorded 12 new local cases of COVID-19 today, including two which were already announced yesterday.

NSW Health said five cases were recorded in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, while an additional seven locally acquired cases came in after the 8pm cut-off.

Premier Gladys Berejeklian said all of the cases, bar one, are directly linked to existing cases.

The one exception is a student at Saint Charles Catholic Primary School at Waverley and the school is in the process of notifying parents,” Premier Berejeklian said.

“I urge parents to wait for instructions from the school because we are keen to make sure that students and parents have access to testing and we want to make sure there isn’t a rush with all parents descending on the school at the same time.”

Authorities are now also asking anyone who was at Westfield Bondi Junction (including the car park) at any time between 12 June and 18 June to get tested for COVID-19.

It comes after it was revealed one of today’s new cases, a woman in her 20s, contracted the virus through “fleeting contact” at the shopping centre.

“Only people with symptoms and those who have been to specific exposure venues at the listed times need to test and isolate,” NSW Health said.

As a result of the spike in cases, the NSW Government has extended the mandatory wearing of face masks for another week, with all of Greater Sydney now included.

“The NSW Government will be extending the existing mask-wearing provisions for an additional week,” the Premier said.

“It will now continue to be mandatory for another week. We will extend it to all of Greater Sydney.”

There are now 21 cases linked to the Bondi cluster.

One new local COVID-19 case in Qld, travel restrictions with Vic to lift

Queensland has recorded one new local case of COVID-19, linked to a flight attendant in Brisbane.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Tuesday the case dined at the Portuguese restaurant in Ellen Grove at the same time as the woman on Saturday.

The man, aged in his 60’s, has been in quarantine since finding out about the positive case on Sunday.

Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeanette Young, said contact tracing was underway.

“We are just confirming with him whether or not he went out and about on that Sunday morning,” Dr Young said.

“All of the 36 people who attended the restaurant during the timeframe when the lady from Portugal are in home quarantine, so we will continue to assess them and test them going forward for the 14 days.”

Further investigations into the transmission of the virus have revealed a staff member at the Four Points quarantine hotel in Brisbane may be the missing link.

Dr Young said the worker escorted the original positive case, a man from Mongolia, from his room to an ambulance and then swabbed the flight attendant from Portugal in her room.

“So, we are thinking – but we really need to do further investigation – that through a transmission process, that staff member has transferred the virus from the gentleman,” Dr Young said.

Both the man from Mongolia and the staff member were fully vaccinated.

The Premier said the discovery showed there is always a risk with hotel quarantine.

“Once again, we need to be very careful about what is happening in hotel quarantine.

“Our hotels were not meant to be the last line of defence for this type of infectious disease.

“I think we are going to continue to see this across Australia, and it is a real concern because, as we have seen, it gets out into the community and that means that we are doing all of the contact tracing and following up with that.

Meanwhile, border restrictions with Greater Melbourne will be lifted at 1am on Friday.

“That is great news for people there,” Premier Palaszczuk said.

“I know there is a lot of people that would have had their holidays booked to Queensland, so Doctor Young is comfortable with the
way Victoria is at.”

Officials are continuing to keep a close eye on the unfolding situation in NSW as the cluster in Sydney’s eastern suburbs continues to grow.,

“If you are from Queensland, it is probably best not to travel to NSW at this time,” the Premier said.

WATCH: Police hunt three men over alleged kidnapping of cricketer Stuart MacGill

Police investigating the alleged kidnapping of former Test cricketer Stuart MacGill have released images of three men they believe may be able to help with inquiries.

MacGill was allegedly forced into a car outside his home on Sydney’s Lower North Shore in April and driven to a property in Bringelly.

He was allegedly assaulted and threatened at gunpoint before being released about an hour later and dumped in Belmore.

Four men, including the brother of MacGill’s partner have been charged over the incident.

Police are now searching for three more men as part of the investigation.

Footage has been released showing two of the men entering a Bunnings store hours before the kidnapping where it’s believed they purchased items used during the incident.

The first man depicted in the CCTV is described as being of Pacific Islander/Maori appearance, aged between 20 and 25, about 180cm–190cm tall, with a solid build, brown eyes, dark shaved hair in a ponytail and a tattoo on his right hand.

The second man depicted in the CCTV is described as being Pacific Islander/Maori appearance, aged between 20 and 25, about 175cm–185cm tall, with a solid build, brown eyes, short dark hair and stubble.

IMAGE: NSW Police

A COMFIT image of a third man has also been released.

He is described as being of Middle Eastern appearance, aged 25-35, of solid build, with short dark coloured thinning hair and a brown and red coloured beard.

The man was seen driving a white Toyota Camry with a rideshare sticker on the rear and is believed to frequent the Ryde area.

IMAGE: NSW Police

It comes as MacGill spoke publicly for the first time about the ordeal in an interview with A Current Affair, insisting he was innocently caught up in the situation.

“I know that I have done nothing wrong, Maria has done nothing wrong. If people choose to think something contrary to what’s been presented by both myself and the police, then that’s up to them,” MacGill said.

WATCH: CCTV footage released as part of investigations by Strike Force Cain – 

 

Barnaby Joyce sworn in as Nationals leader, Deputy PM

LATEST @ 8.30 AM | Barnaby Joyce is now officially the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and leader of the Nationals party.

The 54-year-old signed the oath of office at a swearing-in ceremony at Government House on Tuesday morning.

He was supported by his partner Vikki Campion and two young sons.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison watched on via video conference from The Lodge, where he remains in quarantine after recently returning from overseas.

Barnaby returns to the position three years after he resigned following harassment claims.

It comes after he toppled former Nationals leader Michael McCormack at a snap party room spill yesterday.

EARLIER @ 7.00 AM | Barnaby Joyce is just hours away from being sworn in as leader of the Nationals party and Deputy Prime Minister – for the second time.

It comes after the 54-year-old won a snap leadership spill against former Nationals leader Michael McCormack in Canberra yesterday.

Mr Joyce will take and sign the oath of office at a swearing-in ceremony at Government House this morning.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is still stuck in quarantine at The Lodge and will therefore attend via video conference.

The move comes three years after Barnaby Joyce resigned as Nationals leader and Deputy PM after sustained pressure over his relationship with a former staffer.

Nationals Senator Matt Canavan, who moved the spill motion during yesterday’s party room meeting, said he believes Barnaby is the perfect person to lead the party.

“He may not look it, but he is still a young, spring chicken,” he told TODAY.

“This game takes a bit of a toll on you physically and what have you, but he hasn’t been in politics all that long in the scheme of things.

“I do think what this country needs is experienced leaders. You know, Barnaby was elected only in the mid-thousand, not — mid-2000s.

“He is is part of a great team in the National Party but we have a very loud voice leading us now and can only mean good things for the people we represent out in the bush, but all Australians who want to see this country put first, want to see our industries and jobs come back to Australia. Barnaby will be a voice for them.”

David Littleproud will remain on as deputy leader of the party.