News in 5: Shock claims of killer dad's parents; Xmas terror plot foiled; Brexit deal backed.

-With AAP.

1. Parents of Chris Watts claim son was in ‘abusive’ relationship with wife he confessed to murdering.

The parents of Chris Watts have spoken out to claim their son was in an abusive relationship with wife Shan’ann Watts, who he pleaded guilty to murdering just a week ago.

Chris Watts, 33, confessed to murdering Shan’ann, who was about 15 weeks pregnant, and their two daughters, Celeste, 3, and Bella, 4, at their family home in August.

In an interview with Colorado TV station KMGH, Ronnie and Cindy Watts said their son was once easygoing and “normal”.

“He was normal, he didn’t have a temper, he was just easygoing like his dad. He’s not a monster,” Cindy said.

The couple claimed their son changed when he married Shan’ann, alleging they had an abusive relationship and Shan’ann had isolated Chris from his family.

“It was a very hard relationship,” Cindy told KMGH. “It was a very hard relationship with her as far as I’m concerned. I couldn’t do anything right.”

The Denver Post reported Cindy as saying her son was “railroaded” into his guilty plea.

“I know he confessed, but he was railroaded into it. I want him to take back the plea deal.”

Cindy believed the story Chris told his father, that he killed his wife after discovering that she had strangled their two daughters to death.

She said she believed Chris’ attorney’s were not acting in his best interests, and were only focused on saving him from a possible death penalty.

Shan’ann’s family released a statement to Denver7 calling Chris’ parents’ claims “hurtful and inaccurate”.

Chris was arrested on August 15 and charged with murdering Shan’ann, Bella and Celeste.

Watts was arrested on August 15, just hours before police announced they’d discovered the bodies of Shan’ann, Bella and Celeste on the grounds of the oil field where Chris worked. The girls had been submerged in crude oil vats, while their mother had been buried in a shallow grave nearby.

After speaking with his dad, Watts told authorities he flew into a rage after he saw that Shan’ann was “actively strangling” their youngest daughter. Their eldest was already “sprawled” and “blue”, he alleged.

But earlier this month Watts plead guilty to three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree murder where the victim was under 12 and the killer was in a position of trust, one count of unlawful termination of pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a dead body.

He is able to withdraw his guilty plea before sentencing on Monday, but only if he could show a fair and just reason.

2. Three Melbourne men found guilty of plotting a Christmas Day terror attack.


Hamza Abbas wasn’t just the “idiot brother” of a confessed terrorist, he was also in on a conspiracy to “wage violent jihad” in Melbourne on Christmas Day, a jury has decided.

The 23-year-old, his cousin Abdullah Chaarani, 27, and friend Ahmed Mohamed, 25, were found guilty in the Supreme Court on November 2 of acts in preparation for an attack targeting Federation Square, St Paul’s Cathedral and Flinders Street station in December 2016.

The verdict, made public on Wednesday after legal delays, followed seven days of deliberations in the jury room and eight weeks of evidence including from Hamza’s older brother Ibrahim Abbas, 24, who confessed his involvement to police and pleaded guilty earlier this year.

Mohamed and Chaarani laughed and chatted to each other between the individual verdicts. Both nodded slowly and looked indifferent as the guilty decision was given.

As they were removed from the dock, Mohamed gave his family a big, cheesy grin, while Hamza gave his a thumbs up.

Police left court carrying two machetes Chaarani and Ibrahim bought in preparation for the attack.

Ibrahim said they were for “chopping to kill” and to slice the necks of disbelievers of their radical Sunni Islam.

The group also had the makings for pipe bombs – sparkler dust, hundreds of match heads and chemicals including hydrogen peroxide – that were intended, as Ibrahim put it, to “wage violent jihad”.

They got the recipe from the infamous al-Qaeda magazine article “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom”.

Ibrahim revealed during the trial that he believed it was “fine for me to kill Australians” because Muslims have been killed in wars involving Australia.


“It’s not hard to kill a person with a machete. It just takes one slice to the neck,” he said in his police interview.

The plot was foiled on December 22, 2016 by police who had been listening to their preparations and watching as they carried out reconnaissance at Federation Square.

During his arrest, Chaarani asked police to “make me a martyr”, officers revealed.

In Hamza’s defence, lawyer Felicity Gerry QC argued he was a “fishbrain” and the “idiot brother” who could not be trusted to know details of the plot.

Hamza joined in December 2016, but plans between Ibrahim, Mohamed and Chaarani had been on foot since at least October.

Mohamed and Chaarani had tried in 2015 to go overseas and fight with Islamic State.

Chaarani said he wanted to “follow the same path” as Hamza and Ibrahim’s cousin Nabil Abbas who, it was revealed during the trial, had died fighting with the terrorist organisation.

Hamza, Mohamed and Chaarani will face a plea hearing before being sentenced.

3. Six-week-old foal stolen from an outer Melbourne stable found dead.

A valuable foal stolen from a racing stable in outer Melbourne has been found dead by its owners.

The six-week old foal called Holly was discovered missing from the stable in Carrum Downs on Monday.

Holly was in a paddock with a brood mare and receiving veterinary treatment which required her to wear splint boots.

Investigators found the splint boots in the paddock and believe the foal was carried to a waiting vehicle.

But on Wednesday the owners found the foal dead on their property.


Police say investigations are ongoing.

4. Bali Nine’s Renae Lawrence faces being arrested when she lands back in Australia.

Bali Nine drug smuggler Renae Lawrence is reportedly set to be arrested when she lands in Sydney next week after she spent more than 13 years behind bars in Indonesia.

The Daily Telegraph reports that police will arrest the 41-year-old over an alleged high speed chase in a stolen car on the NSW Central Coast in March 2005.

Lawrence was due to face court over the pursuit one month later but she was arrested with 2.2kg of heroin strapped to her back and legs at Bali’s airport, along with eight other Australians attempting to smuggle the drug.

She’s set to finally face court over the car chase when she flies back to Sydney after she is released from an Indonesian prison on Wednesday, having served 12 years of a 20-year sentence.

“A 41-year-old woman has two outstanding warrants for offences including steal motor vehicle, drive unlicensed, speeding and fail to comply with police directions,” a police spokesman told the newspaper.

5. Senior ministers have backed British PM Theresa May on her Brexit deal.


British Prime Minister Theresa May has won the backing of her senior ministers for a draft European Union divorce deal, freeing her to tackle the much more perilous struggle of getting parliament to approve the agreement.

More than two years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in a referendum, May told reporters outside her Downing Street residence that she had won over her divided cabinet, which includes some senior Brexiteers.

“The collective decision of cabinet was that the government should agree the draft withdrawal agreement and the outline political declaration,” May said outside her Downing Street residence after a five-hour cabinet meeting.

“I firmly believe that the draft withdrawal agreement is the best that could be negotiated,” May said as protesters shouted anti-Brexit slogans from the end of the street.

“I firmly believe with my head and my heart that this is a decision in the best interests of the entire United Kingdom”

It was not immediately clear whether any ministers had resigned over the deal, which May hopes will satisfy both Brexit voters and EU supporters by ensuring close ties with the bloc after Britain leaves on March 29.

But May now faces the ordeal of trying to push her deal through a vote in the British parliament, where opponents lined up to castigate the agreement, even before reading it.

It is not yet clear when parliament might vote on a deal. To get it approved, May needs the votes of about 320 of parliament’s 650 MPs.

Brexit supporters in May’s Conservative Party, which has been riven by a schism over Europe for three decades, said she had surrendered to the EU and that they would vote down the deal.

The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party which props up May’s government, said it would not back any deal that treated the British province differently from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called it a “botched deal”.

Before May’s statement, the BBC’s political editor said anger among Brexit-supporting Conservative lawmakers in her party was so high that it was likely they would call on Thursday for a vote of no confidence in her leadership of the party.