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14 years after she was left at a hospital, "Baby Jessica" has been reunited with her birth mother, & more in News in 5.

1. 14 years after she was left at a hospital, “Baby Jessica” has been reunited with her birth mother.

Just eight hours after Jessica was born in 2005, her mother left her at Liverpool Hospital. It sparked national headlines and appeals from police for the mother to come forward, but for 14 years, she didn’t.

In April, 14-year-old Jessica Boatwright made a public appeal for her birth mother to come forward on A Current Affair, which captured viewers hearts and most importantly, prompted the woman who gave birth to her to come forward.

“It’s not her fault, whether it was any external reasons, or any other reasons, it’s not her fault,” Jessica told A Current Affair at the time.

“I want to give her a big hug. I want her to know not to feel terrible or feel guilty in any way.”

Baby Jessica is reunited with her birth mother on A Current Affair. Post continues after video. 

The mother, who did not wish to be named, cried as she told A Current Affair of the guilt she felt “every single day”.

“At that time [in 2005], I feel scared, I feel I don’t know what to do,” she told the program.

Not long after moving to Australia at the age of 18, Jessica’s mother discovered she was pregnant. She hid her pregnancy, explaining her pregnancy weight gain as being from overeating.

She gave birth at home, silently, with her family just a room away.

“I’m giving birth, no one know, because I didn’t scream,” she said. “I remember I didn’t scream, I just can’t hold it and the baby just come out.”

She used scissors to cut the umbilical cord of baby Jessica, who was also silent.

“Jessica even not crying, nothing at all, she’s just quiet and I put her in the bed, cover in a blanket and just keep her warm and just hug her, sit there and hug her and look at her,” the mother said.

“I’m thinking, ‘she’s just so beautiful’. She’s just a gift to give to me. In another way, I don’t know what to do.”

After her family had gone to bed, she snuck out of the house with her baby and walked to the local police station, but no one was there, so she hitched a ride with a driver who took her to Liverpool Hospital in western Sydney.

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She was captured on CCTV comforting baby Jessica in the waiting room at 1.37am, but after nurses took Jessica and allowed the mother to rest she made the decision to leave.

“I didn’t even have to say goodbye to her,” she said. “It’s pretty hard for me to decide to walk out from the hospital that day.”

She has cried over her choice every single day, she said.

“People see me outside happy, but inside me is crying every day, I’m wondering where my baby is.”

For five months, police, hospital staff and the media appealed to try and find Jessica’s mother and encouraged her to come forward but she never did. Jessica was adopted at five months old, and has had a positive childhood.

Jessica’s birth mother heard her daughter’s appeal in April and felt compelled to get in touch.

“I heard the word she said – she forgives me, she loves me, no matter who I am,” the mother said.

“That’s what made me stand up and say, ‘okay, you’re my baby, I’m your mum’.”

Police reopened the 14-year-old case and confirmed the match with DNA testing.

Jessica told the show finding her birth mum was a “miracle”.

2. Tasmanian Government to ‘carefully consider’ their sex abuse laws.

The Tasmanian government is open to changing laws that prevent sexual abuse survivors from sharing their stories but any alterations must be “very carefully” considered.

Hobart woman Grace Tame, who was repeatedly raped by her high school teacher nine years ago, was on Monday granted a Supreme Court order allowing her to speak publicly about her abuse.

Grace Tame was repeatedly raped by her high school teacher nine years ago. Image: ABC.
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She is campaigning for law reform in Tasmania under the #LetHerSpeak movement, which has gained international attention.

The island state and the Northern Territory are the only jurisdictions in Australia where sexual assault victims can't self-identify in the media, unless a court grants an exemption order.

The state government in April began a review into section 194k of the Evidence Act 2001, which has received more than 50 submissions.

"We would expect to make changes there," senior Liberal minister Michael Ferguson told reporters on Monday.

"While the government doesn't have any opposition to people wanting to be able to tell their story, we do need to understand if one person tells their story it might actually lead to other victims being directly identified as well.

"Think school friends, think siblings, brothers and sisters. We have to take this very carefully, and we will."

The state's Labor opposition backs reform to make it easier for survivors to speak publicly about abuse.

Ms Tame told The Mercury newspaper she wants to help educate parents about the warning signs of grooming.

"If telling my story can help even one boy or girl out there and prevent them from being abused, then this fight has all been worth it," she said after winning a two-year legal battle to reveal her name.

Ms Tame was aged 15 when she was abused by her then-58-year-old maths teacher Nicolaas Ockert Bester at St Michaels' Collegiate School over several months at the school, a hotel and friend's house.

He was convicted in 2011 of maintaining a relationship with a young person and sentenced to two years and 10 months in jail.

Bester was released on parole after serving 19 months.

The judge ruled his behaviour was a grave breach of trust of a vulnerable child.

3. "She did it to herself". Sydney man denies he burned his wife to death.

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A Sydney woman rang triple zero and said "my husband nearly killed me" minutes before a neighbour saw her in her driveway completely on fire, a jury has been told.

But the husband, Kulwinder Singh, immediately told responding police "she did it to herself", saying he had rushed downstairs to find his wife ablaze after hearing a scream

The 41-year-old has pleaded not guilty in the NSW Supreme Court to murdering Parwinder Kaur in December 2013 at their Rouse Hill home.

Opening the Crown case on Monday, prosecutor Chris Maxwell QC said the fire was fuelled by petrol subsequently discovered in the remains of her clothes when scientifically tested.

Although only Ms Kaur's fingerprints were found on the petrol container and the cigarette lighter, Mr Maxwell said the evidence would show Singh was responsible for her death.

He said Singh may have doused his wife with petrol and then lit it.

The alternatives were that by "some act or words he placed her in fear and forced her" to douse herself with petrol before he lit it, or forced her to light it after he doused her, or forced her to do both.

But defence barrister Margaret Cunneen SC said her client was in no way responsible for starting the fire which killed his wife.

A neighbour had heard a "piercing scream" before seeing Ms Kaur on fire and her husband "quite close to her" in the driveway, Mr Maxwell said.

Emergency services responded to the neighbour's triple-zero call made at 2.17 pm. That was 12 minutes after Ms Kaur's call which was played to the jury.

"Ms Kaur is speaking in a relatively soft low voice," the prosecutor said.

After giving her address she said "my husband nearly killed me" before the operator asked: "What did he do to you?" But there was no answer and the call was terminated.

"The Crown points to this call as a desperate cry for help from Ms Kaur."

Mr Maxwell alleged the burning took place in the context of an eight-year relationship during which Singh had been abusive and controlling towards his wife.

She had a job picking and packing mushrooms, but her wages went into a bank account in her husband's name, to which she did not have access.

"Ms Kaur had become determined she would leave the accused, Mr Singh, that she wanted a divorce and she was not going to contribute all her money anymore," the prosecutor said.

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Ms Cunneen noted neither Singh's fingerprints nor his DNA was on the petrol container or the lighter.

"The defence is that the deceased did this to herself," she said.

"(She) put petrol on her body and lit herself, not necessarily to kill herself ladies and gentlemen, but for her own reasons, to set fire to herself perhaps hoping to be rescued."

She noted Ms Kaur ended a phone call with her brother less than 30 seconds before she rang triple zero, yet she said nothing to him about any violence or attempt to kill her.

The trial continues before Justice Natalie Adams.

4. Israel Folau removed his social media profiles in pre-court fight.

wallabies 2019 israel folau
Israel Folau. Images: Getty.

Israel Folau has reactivated his Twitter and Instagram accounts shortly after removing them, a day before his legal stoush against Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs gets underway in Melbourne.

The former Wallabies player wants $10 million in damages and his contract reinstated after he was sacked for a social media post in April about people who will go to hell unless they repent for their sins.

The committed Christian says he was dismissed on religious grounds over his April Instagram post, in which he paraphrased a Bible passage stating that "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" were destined for hell.

A spokesperson for Folau and the law firm representing him, Macpherson Kelley, were contacted on Monday afternoon after Folau deleted his social media accounts.

Lawyers for Folau, Rugby Australia and the NSW Waratahs will appear at the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne for a directions hearing before Chief Judge Will Alstergren on Tuesday.

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The matter will be video-linked live to Sydney.

Folau and Rugby Australia failed to reach an agreement at a Fair Work Commission mediation hearing in June, leaving the former star player claiming he had "no choice but to commence court action" after losing his multimillion-dollar contract.

More than 20,000 people have donated about $2.2 million to help fund Folau's legal fight through a campaign page set up by the Australian Christian Lobby.

The page replaced an earlier GoFundMe fundraiser, which the platform removed for breaching its service guidelines.

5. Hong Kong airport cancels all flights amid protests.


Hong Kong's airport has cancelled all flights, with authorities blaming protesters for the disruption of one of the world's busiest terminals.

At the same time a Chinese official in Beijing warned on Monday that signs of "terrorism" were emerging in the anti-government protests.

China's People's Armed Police also assembled in the neighbouring city of Shenzhen for exercises, the state-backed Global Times newspaper said, while Hong Kong Police made a show of demonstrating a powerful water cannon.

Some of the 5000 activists occupying the airport's arrivals hall for a fourth day went to the departure area and caused disruptions, Hong Kong police told a news conference, but declined to say if they would move to clear the demonstrators.

"Airport operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted ... all flights have been cancelled," the city's airport authority said.

"All passengers are advised to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible."

The increasingly violent protests have plunged the Chinese-ruled territory into its most serious crisis in decades, presenting Chinese leader Xi Jinping with one of his biggest popular challenges since he came to power in 2012.

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The protests began in opposition to a bill allowing extradition to the mainland but have widened to highlight other grievances, drawing broad support.

Over the weekend, as demonstrators threw up barricades across the city, police shot volleys of tear gas into crowded underground train stations for the first time, and fired bean-bag rounds at close range.

Scores of protesters were arrested, sometimes after being beaten with batons and bloodied by police. Police have arrested more than 600 people since the unrest began more than two months ago.

Tear gas was fired at the black-shirted crowds in districts on Hong Kong island, Kowloon and the New Territories, with one young female medic hospitalised after being shot in the right eye, triggering a protest by medical workers.

"Hong Kong's protesters have been frequently using extremely dangerous tools to attack the police in recent days, constituting serious crimes with sprouts of terrorism emerging," said Hong Kong and Macau Affairs office spokesman Yang Guang.

"Hong Kong has come to a critical juncture. All those who care about Hong Kong's future, must firmly come out and say no to all violent behaviour, say no to all violent people."

At the airport the mostly young protesters have chanted slogans "No rioters, only tyranny!" and "Liberate Hong Kong!" while politely approaching travellers with flyers describing their demands.

Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the "one country, two systems" arrangement enshrining some autonomy for Hong Kong when China took it back from Britain in 1997.

They are demanding the resignation of the city's leader, Carrie Lam, and an independent investigation into the handling of the protests.

Beijing says criminals and agitators are stirring violence, encouraged by "interfering" foreign powers.

China is also putting pressure on big companies, such as Cathay Pacific Airways, whose shares tumbled to close to a 10-year low on Monday, after it was told to suspend staff engaged in illegal protests.

Monday's escalation came after police put the water cannon through its paces, showing it had enough strength to force dummy targets back at distances of 30 to 40 metres, but drawing a rebuke from rights group Amnesty International.

"Water cannons are not a toy for the Hong Kong police to deploy as a sign of strength," Man-kei Tam, the group's Hong Kong director, said in a statement.

"These are powerful weapons that are inherently indiscriminate and have the potential of causing serious injury and even death."

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