Ex-TV host O’Keefe charged with choking

Former Seven Network television host Andrew O’Keefe will spend the night behind bars after he was charged with choking and assaulting a woman.

The 50-year-old presenter was arrested early on Thursday after getting into an argument with the 38-year-old woman on Tuesday in a Sydney CBD unit, police say.

He was refused bail to appear in Central Local Court on Friday to face two charges of intentionally choking a person, three of common assault, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The former Deal or No Deal host is accused of “grabbing her by the throat, pushing her to the ground and punching her”, police said in a statement.

He allegedly then assaulted the woman for a second time by punching and kicking her again before she left the unit and reported the incident.

O’Keefe, a former lawyer and son of former NSW Supreme Court judge Barry O’Keefe, was a founding member of domestic violence charity, the White Ribbon Foundation, where he served as chairman in 2017.

The organisation – which went into liquidation in 2019 – said in a statement they were disappointed to hear of the allegations against O’Keefe, as with “many other distressing incidents of violence against women already this new year”.

“We were dismayed to hear news that Andrew O’Keefe, who was previously aligned with White Ribbon Australia, was arrested following the alleged assault of a woman in Sydney on Tuesday.”

The organisation had already distanced itself from the one-time ambassador last year and said it stands in solidarity with every victim and survivor or men’s violence against women.

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© AAP 2022

Police hunting men after wild duck decapitated in NSW

Police are appealing for help to identify two men after a wild duck was killed in the NSW Southern Highlands on the weekend.

Officers were alerted to reports of animal cruelty at a registered club car park on the Old Hume Highway at Mittagong last Saturday.

“Initial inquiries have led police to believe two men chased a flock of wild ducks in the car park, before one of the ducks was caught and decapitated by one of the men,” NSW Police said.

Investigations into the horrific act are continuing, with police today releasing images of two men who they believe may be able to assist with inquiries.

One man is described as being of Caucasian appearance, of medium build, and is seen wearing a fluorescent yellow and blue singlet, blue football shorts, a blue cap, thongs and sunglasses.

The second male is described as being of Caucasian appearance with a slim build, and is seen wearing a grey t-shirt, blue shorts, thongs and a blue cap.

Anyone with information is urged to come forward.

If you have information for Police, please contact NSW Police on 131 444 or provide information using their online form 24 hours per day. 

You can report also information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via nsw.crimestoppers.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.

Police reveal cause of schoolgirl Charlise Mutten’s death

A post mortem has revealed young schoolgirl Charlise Mutten died from a gunshot wound.

The body of the nine-year-old was discovered in a barrel by the Colo River northwest of Sydney last Tuesday after she was reported missing from a property at Mt Wilson the previous week.

The Gold Coast girl had been visiting her mother and her fiancee, Justin Stein.

Stein, 31, has been charged with Charlise’s murder and remains behind bars.

Homicide Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty, today described the alleged murder as an “unimaginable and egregious” act.

“I can confirm that the cause of death for Charlise was that she suffered a fatal gunshot wound, and that’s how she died,” he said.

Police believe Charlise was killed at the Mt Wilson property sometime between late Tuesday, January 11 and in the early hours of Wednesday, January 12.

It’s alleged her body was then placed into a barrel, which was found dumped in bushland about an hour away.

“The search for evidence is ongoing,” Detective Supt Doherty said.

“The inquiry and evidence and information we’ve received to date suggests the murder happened at Mount Wilson at the property”.

“I can now also disclose that plastic barrel was from that location, from the property as well, so it’s a high probability that the murder happened there”.

A small calibre firearm is believed to have been used in the alleged murder, which remains at large.

NSW Police have also confirmed that Charlise’s mother has been ruled out as a suspect in the investigation.

“The evidence and information we have is that we are treating her as a witness,” Detective Supt Doherty said.

“There’s no information or evidence at this stage that puts her at the property at the time of the murder”.

CCTV footage of a red ute and boat, belonging to Mr Stein, has since been released in the hopes the community may be able to help put all the pieces together.

“People may have remembered suspicious activity and it’s important to help investigators in this matter,” Detective Supt Doherty said.

“Remember we’re highly motivated because we’re working on behalf of Charlise.

“We’re trying to provide answers to her family and deliver justice on her behalf more importantly”.

WATCH:

If you have information for Police, please contact NSW Police on 131 444 or provide information using their online form 24 hours per day. 

You can report also information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via nsw.crimestoppers.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.

RATs for pupils in NSW back-to-school plan

School students and teachers in NSW will be given rapid antigen tests to slow the spread of COVID-19 when they return to classrooms next week.

The NSW government announced its long-awaited back-to-school plan on Sunday before term one begins.

As part of the plan, two rapid tests will be handed out to students and teachers each week across 3000 primary and secondary schools in NSW.

Schools will not be closed when there is a positive case, with no contact tracing for students and staff.

Previous settings such mandatory masks for teachers and students in secondary schools will remain, as well as a recommendation for them to be worn by pupils in Year 3 and above. Visits to schools will be limited and COVID-safe plans enacted for excursions.

“We want to ensure in NSW that closing schools is the last resort,” Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said four million RAT kits had already been distributed to school communities and a further two million will be delivered by Tuesday evening, ahead of students returning to classrooms on February 1.

Schools will contact parents about how and when to pick up the tests.

All students and staff are asked to use a rapid test before their first day back at school and continue to carry out surveillance tests twice a week for the first four weeks of term one.

“If you are testing negative, that is great. Come to school. If you happen to get a positive test, you need to let your principal know that you have tested positive to COVID,” Ms Mitchell said.

Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant urged parents not to send their children to school if they have symptoms.

“Instead, get them tested, and even if they have a negative test on the first day, please keep them home and do a repeat test. Only send them back if there is an alternate diagnosis,” Dr Chant said.

NSW added 20,324 new infections to its COVID-19 caseload on Saturday, along with 34 more virus-related deaths.

But the number of coronavirus patients in the state’s hospitals is slightly down, with 2712 in care. Of those, 189 are in ICUs, 15 fewer than for the previous 24 hours.

NSW Health’s “best-case scenario” predictions based on outbreaks in London and South Africa initially suggested a peak of 3158 people in hospital and 270 in ICU.

Authorities say just under 7000 of the latest cases were detected using rapid antigen tests and 13,620 of them were recorded in labs.

Some 93.9 per cent of all eligible people aged 16 or over in NSW are now double vaccinated, while almost a third (32.8 per cent) have also had a booster shot.

More than a quarter (26.5 per cent) of kids aged five to 11 have also had their first jab.

© AAP 2022

NSW records 46 deaths, 25,000 new COVID cases

New South Wales has recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic with 46 lives lost in the last 24 hours.

That surpasses the previous high of 36 recorded on Tuesday.

The state has seen a drop in cases with 25,168 positive tests overnight.

Of those, 10,015 were positive rapid antigen tests including 8,774 from the previous seven days.

There has been another slight drop in the number of hospital admissions with 2741 patients, down from 2781 yesterday.

The state has 209 people in ICU, down three from Thursday.

More to come.