1. The woman found dead after a buck’s party has been named as 20-year-old Natasha Rowley.
— The Australian (@australian) July 26, 2017
The woman who was found dead in a Melbourne hotel room after a buck’s party has been named as 20-year-old Natasha Rowley, The Australian reports.
Just four months before her death, Natasha had officially become a solider with the Australian Army.
The 20-year-old, from Perth, was found dead in the shower of the apartment where a group of men were staying on July 16. She was wearing shorts, a long-sleeved top and runners.
Three days after her death, police confirmed they had identified the woman, but her name has only just been released to the public. Police are yet to reveal the cause of her death, but it is not considered suspicious.
Four men – aged in their 20s and 30s – who had been visiting Melbourne from NSW and the ACT to attend the party were questioned by police and released without charge after her death.
It’s believed the group of men met Natasha at the King St nightclub Inflation before heading back to The Oaks on Market serviced apartments around 3am.
Paramedics were called to the building at 8am.
The Australian reports authorities are still waiting for the results of toxicology tests, and are treating the death as a potential case of misadventure.
Natasha’s two older sisters posted tributes to their sister on social media.
“I’ll never forget your sweet smile, my beautiful sister. I love you, Natasha,” 21-year-old Alannah Rowley wrote on Instagram.
“Gone but never forgotten,” her other sister, Bryanna, wrote on Facebook.
2. Accused rapist regrets calling video of alleged bottle assault the ‘funniest thing he’s ever seen’.
— Nine News Queensland (@9NewsQueensland) July 24, 2017
One of three men accused of raping an unconscious teenager with a glass bottle at an Australia Day party isn’t an “idiot” and wouldn’t have shared footage if it was anything more than boys “mucking around”, a court has heard.
Bailey Hayes-Gordon, Jacob Watson and Nicholas Jackson have pleaded not guilty in the Brisbane District Court to one count each of rape in relation to the alleged assault of a 19-year-old in 2015, AAP reports.
Barrister David Funch, acting for Hayes-Gordon, told the jury on Wednesday his client was an “intelligent fellow” and his sharing a video of the incident in a Facebook conversation actually backed up his client’s account.
“If Bailey had actually thought that they had done something wrong … why would he post a video online?” Mr Funch posed.
“He’s not an idiot. That is entirely consistent with his version that they were just mucking around.”
Mr Funch said the video also aligned with evidence that the boys had a brotherly dynamic and often teased each other.
“And that’s what this video is all consistent with – consistent with drunken teenage idiots,” he said.
It came after Hayes-Gordon took to the witness box to deny prosecution allegations he penetrated the complainant with a bottle and only changed his story after being charged with the offence.
He was questioned by Crown prosecutor Caroline Marco about the Facebook messages, including the remark: “(The complainant) passed out so we stuck a bottle up his arse and he just took it … Funniest thing I’ve ever seen, legit.”
But the 21-year-old said these were over-exaggerations.
“Initially I thought it was funny, but after seeing how serious this incident was … he’s my mate, I shouldn’t have done that,” he said.
He said he believed the bottle did not actually penetrate the complainant’s anus and said there was “no uproar” afterwards to suggest he had been injured.
The prosecution alleges Jackson rolled the teenager over and restrained him by his feet, Watson took video footage on his phone and Hayes-Gordon – as the principal offender – inserted the bottle.
The trial continues.
3. Accused drug smuggler Cassie Sainsbury arrives at Colombian court to present plea deal.
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) July 26, 2017
Adelaide woman Cassie Sainsbury has arrived at a Colombian court to see if a judge will accept a plea deal she has made on her drug smuggling charges.
Sainsbury is accused of attempting to smuggle 5.8 kilograms of cocaine, inside 18 separate packages, through Bogota’s international airport in April.
Details of the deal, which will slash her jail sentence, are expected to revealed when she appears before the judge early on Thursday morning Australian time.
Sainsbury made no comment to waiting media as police pushed her into the court around 5am on Thursday Sydney time, AAP reports.
New Corp says court authorities have confirmed a deal has been done, but depends on whether or not the court is willing to accept it.
She faces a maximum sentence of 20 years, but the plea deal could cut that to as little as three years, News Corp says.
Sainsbury’s sister has told 7 News in Adelaide the plea deal was the best outcome they could have hoped for.
But Kahla Sainsbury said her sister’s life would never be the same, even after just a few years in prison.
“I don’t think there’s be much she can do when she comes back home. It’s going to be hard for her to get a job. It’s going to be hard for her to do anything,” she said.
“Because she’s going to be labelled as ‘Cocaine Cassie’.”
4. Anti-vaxxers ‘trick’ a Queensland school into screening a documentary about their beliefs.
— Gold Coast Bulletin (@GCBulletin) July 26, 2017
Anti-vaxxers have enraged the Queensland premier after screening a film about their beliefs at a Gold Coast school allegedly under the pretence of holding a seminar about organic vegetables.
Annastacia Palaszczuk is demanding answers as to how the documentary came to be shown at Miami State School on Tuesday night after organisers told school officials they were running a seminar on organic vegetables, AAP reports.
She said the organisation made “misrepresentations” to the school, and she would be speaking with Education Minister Kate Jones on Wednesday to get to the bottom of the matter.
“My initial advice is there has been some misrepresentation from that organisation to the school in question where they conveyed to the principal that they were to be conveying information about organic produce,” the premier told reporters on the Gold Coast on Wednesday.
“I don’t think they were very clear in their purpose and I don’t think they should have been allowed to present in such a manner.”
The organisers of the film have previously gone to extreme lengths to keep the location of screenings a secret in an effort to keep them from being shut down, amid strong opposition to the film from Australian health professionals.
The film claims to expose a “link” between vaccinations and autism, although it claims it isn’t anti-vaccinations.
Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said he was “concerned” the film had been shown at a school, and denounced its content.
“Anyone who knows the history of vaccination, anyone who saw what happened in the ’50s with polio would realise the huge public health benefits that widespread vaccination has delivered,” Mr Nicholls said.
“I simply urge everyone to ignore this quackery and pseudoscience.”
5. Reach Out launch free website to support young people with mental illness.
— ReachOut.com (@ReachOut_AUS) July 26, 2017
Ashleigh Holder intended to die but ended up in hospital. Recovery has been a long journey.
Ms Holder, now an ambassador for youth mental health project Reach Out, said she didn’t recognise she had a problem with anxiety back in 2011, and didn’t even know what anxiety was.
“Anxiety impacted my ability to attend uni, go to my part-time job and spend time with family and friends,” she said at the launch of the Reach Out mobile-first platform for youth mental health in Melbourne on Wednesday, AAP reports.
“This led me to make the conscious decision that my only option was to take my own life, and I was hospitalised.”
A team of doctors and mental health professionals helped her on the journey to recovery – but it was the times those experts weren’t available when she discovered Reach Out.
The website connects young people to free help and early intervention.
“Many young people experiencing a mental health issue have to wait before they can speak to professionals who play such a vital role in recovery,” Ms Holder said.
“I experienced such a sense of relief being able to access information and support at Reach Out.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, who has spoken publicly about his family’s mental health struggles, praised Ms Holder for her courage in sharing her story.
He said youth mental health is top of the government’s agenda.
“I had a one-on-one dinner with the prime minister last week and one of the things we talked about, above all else, was youth mental health,” Mr Hunt said at the launch.
“Mr Turnbull is passionate about it, and if there’s one thing we can achieve on our watch in the health space, there is no thing more important than extending services and providing support.”
The new Reach Out site allows young people to check boxes about how they’re feeling – like angry or anxious – and it will tailor articles and videos specific to their needs.
They can also join a forum and chat to other young people.
The site is part funded by a Telstra shareholder donation program and the federal government, and is currently accessed by 1.58 million people each year.
6. More than 12,000 people evacuation after wildfires tear through the south of France.
— The Independent (@Independent) July 26, 2017
Backed by planes dropping water and fire retardant, more than 1,000 firefighters battled wildfires that billowed smoke into the sky over France’s southern Cote d’Azur coast and forced the evacuation of 12,000 people.
Large swaths of Mediterranean forest have been left bare and blackened after three days of fires, AAP reports.
About 250 trailer homes, a hangar, an atelier and several vehicles were burned in the blazes but no one so far has been injured, according to the prefect of the Var region.
Residents and tourists were evacuated early Wednesday after a ferocious fire whipped by strong Mistral winds spread from La Londe-Les-Maures to around the picturesque hilltop town of Bormes-Les-Mimosas.
About 60 people were evacuated by boat from nearby Cap Benat.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe was travelling to Bormes on Wednesday night to fly over the devastated region and meet with firefighters and evacuees staying in gyms and other public spaces, while dozens spent Tuesday night on the nearby La Lavandou beach.
Further south of the French mainland, flames ate through 2,000 hectares (4,950 acres) of forest on the northern end of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, in what was the largest blaze in France.
Fires were also blazing across parts of bone-dry Portugal and Italy.
As thick black smoke billowed above the crests of hills, Col. Eric Martin of the Var firefighting unit told BFM-TV that French crews were trying to contain the flames that had run through 1,300 hectares around Bormes. Four planes and a fire-fighting aircraft dropped water and retardants on the blazes.
The airport in Toulon, a city 30 kilometres from La Londe, was briefly closed on Wednesday, as well the Fort de Bregancon, which sits on a rock off the coast of Bormes.
The wildfires began raging along France’s Mediterranean coast on Monday, forcing smaller, scattered evacuations as flames reached a corner of Saint-Tropez.
Further east, another 400 firefighters were battling a blaze in Artigues that burned up to 1,700 hectares of forest.
France asked the European Union for more firefighting planes and Italy provided one on Tuesday.
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