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How a discarded Sprite bottle provided a major breakthrough in the Claremont killings investigation, & more in News in 5.

With AAP.

1. How a discarded Sprite bottle provided a major breakthrough in the Claremont killings investigation.

Fingerprints from a 1990 attack at a Hollywood Hospital matched the DNA of a Sprite bottle drunk by Claremont murder suspect Bradley Robert Edwards in 2016, a Perth court has heard.

The Telstra technician is accused of murdering secretary Sarah Spiers, 18, child care worker Jane Rimmer, 23, and lawyer Ciara Glennon, 27, after nights out in 1996 and 1997. They were all snatched from the streets of Claremont in Perth, one of the city’s most desirable suburbs.

Edwards is accused of abducting or luring them into his work car when they were intoxicated and alone before murdering them. A two-decade investigation has led to the Perth trials that began this week.

The Sprite bottle was obtained by undercover detectives after Edwards discarded the soft drink at a cinema where he watched a movie with his stepdaughter in 2016. It provided a major breakthrough for detectives leading to his arrest the same year, the second day of trial has been told.

Here’s how the accused Claremont serial killer was found. Post continues after video.

Video via 7News

Defence counsel Paul Yovich said in his brief opening remarks on Tuesday to the Western Australia Supreme Court that the defence case was simple: Edwards did not do it.

“We are not pointing the finger at any specific person, all we are saying is the nice, neat picture the state wants to present… is not the full picture.

“The proper approach in any case is to fit the case theory to the evidence, not to try to fit the evidence to the case theory.”

Yovich said the DNA and fibre evidence could have been contaminated, adding storing of materials in the 1990s was much less sophisticated.

Prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo addressed the court for almost two days, outlining Edwards’ prior violent conviction and his romantic relationship troubles, particularly his first marriage.

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He last month entered last-minute guilty pleas to five offences stemming from an attack on a sleeping 18-year-old woman in Huntingdale in 1988, and the abduction and rape of a teenager in a cemetery in 1995.

Barbagallo said his previous denials cast serious doubt on his credibility.

On Wednesday, the first witness will be called to testify.

2. A Sydney woman has been saved from facing the gallows in Malaysia.

Malaysia’s highest court has acquitted Sydney grandmother Maria Exposto, sentenced to hang for drug trafficking, after her lawyers argued she was the “perfect text book dummy” and victim of an online romance scam.

Exposto, 55, was convicted last year of trafficking more than one kilogram of crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice, discovered in a black backpack by customs officials at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in December, 2014.

The relief in the Federal Appeal Court of Malaysia on Tuesday was palpable amid heavy sighs from friends and family as the chief judge of Malaysia, Tengku Maimum Binti Tuan Mat, delivered the findings by a full bench of five judges.

In exonerating Exposto, she said it was proven she had no knowledge of the drugs and was an innocent carrier, adding: “This is not enough to hang someone.”

The acquittal was unanimous, and Exposto was immediately taken to the immigration office and was expected to board a flight for Australia once the paperwork was cleared.

Her son Hugo said his family was delighted with the decision and that they “had just tried to take it one day at a time and do everything we can” throughout the five year ordeal.

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Asked if his mother had ever lost her optimism, he said: “No, never.”

The mother of four was escorted into court shackled, wearing a purple blouse, short black hair and thick rimmed glasses. She sat motionless as defence lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah argued a lower court had erred in their findings and in sentencing her to hang.

He said Exposto was the “perfect text book dummy” and her case was the first of its type in Malaysia which held broader legal ramifications given the appalling “state of affairs of internet scams”.

“Her behaviour was totally consistent with innocence,” Shafee told the judges.

When told by customs officials at Kuala Lumpur airport that the lining of the bag she was carrying contained ice, Shafee told the court that Exposto’s response was “it can’t be”.

She thought they meant frozen water not crystal methamphetamine, also known as ice.

The defence had argued Exposto was the victim of an internet romance scam initiated by a man who identified himself as “Captain Daniel Smith,” a US soldier stationed in Afghanistan, a widower whose wife had died in a car accident, and the father of a teenage son.

“This effected her heart and she fell in love with him,” Shafee said.

He said the scam had lasted a couple of years and Exposto had even sent money to “Smith” before flying to Shanghai.

Once there they would meet and he asked her to help him lodge documents for his retirement from the military.

“She thought happiness was in front of her, once she lodged those documents. Then her life was turned upside down,” Shafee said.

“Smith” did not show up in China but an American who claimed to be his friend followed her in Shanghai and bought her breakfast.

She testified that he had asked her to take a black backpack, which Exposto believed contained only clothes, to Melbourne shortly before her scheduled departure.

Shafee noted that Exposto volunteered the bag for a search after a scan at KL airport revealed “something green” and after the drugs were discovered she spoke freely, without the advice from a lawyer or the Australian High Commission.

Outside court Shafee said expert testimony from cyberpsychologist Monica Whitty, now with the University of Melbourne, was key in the final verdict.

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“She is the world’s number one expert … on internet breaches and advises governments,” he said.

3. A NSW volunteer firefighter is seeking compensation over PTSD.

As a seasoned volunteer firefighter, Simon Andrews says he witnessed people with horrific injuries, attended suicide scenes and fought hundreds of fires.

The former race car mechanic and delivery driver says he can no longer work after developing chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, related alcohol abuse and various other mental issues due to his time in the NSW Rural Fire Service between 1997 and 2014.

The 48-year-old’s claim for compensation is being contested in the Supreme Court in Sydney after the NSW government denied it was negligent in its care of Mr Andrews.

A hearing is due to begin on Wednesday.

If successful, the state may be forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars – potentially millions – to cover Mr Andrews’ medical and domestic care and lost earning capacity.

Mr Andrews says, in documents before the court, he spent 17 years as an RFS volunteer service at fire brigades in Illawong and Austral on Sydney’s outskirts.

Between 2004 and 2011, he says he was called out for more than 500 fires and explosions, 104 motor vehicle accidents and 58 hazardous conditions.

In 2007, he attended the scene of a car crash in Kemps Creek where the driver survived with horrific injuries.

Weeks later, he was there as a body was removed from a car involved in a two-car collision in the same suburb.

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That same year, Mr Andrews – who ran a water bottle delivery service by day – attended scenes where people suffered life-threatening burns or died.

One of his final jobs was tackling a one-kilometre grass fire at the shooting facility built for the Sydney Olympics.

“When (Mr Andrews) got home that day, he realised that he just could not attend another fire,” his statement of claim reads.

After critical incidents, the RFS took no action to screen or otherwise assess him for possible PTSD or refer him to a doctor, he claims.

The government agrees Mr Andrews was never subject to screening, psychometric assessment or a diagnostic interview, and he was never formally screened for possible PTSD following critical incidents or when he enrolled at the RFS.

But NSW rebuffed a claim they never provided him with information necessary to detect the early signs of PTSD.

It says Mr Andrews was provided with documents on critical incident support services on multiple occasions.

It denies any negligence, including that it failed to take adequate care for the safety of Mr Andrews or the unemployed man’s claim that an RFS welfare coordinator failed to refer him for psychiatric or psychological assessment.

In its defence, NSW also does not admit Mr Andrews suffers chronic PTSD or related alcohol abuse or that he’d suffered a loss of earning capacity.

Mr Andrews claims his annual medical costs are almost $15,000 and he’s lost the capacity to earn $78,000 in annual wages.

He’s also stated he intends to engage paid domestic carers for 14 hours a week at a cost of about $25,000 per year.

His lawyers says psychologist Sam Bornstein assessed Mr Andrews in 2016 as “unemployable” due to his level of impairment.

Mr Andrews is expected to be cross-examined when the hearing begins on Wednesday.

4. Former prime minister Kevin Rudd warns of the return of ‘Hansonism’ and the ‘yellow peril’.

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Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has blasted the coalition’s management of the China relationship as self-serving, and warned against a return of the “yellow peril”.

Mr Rudd acknowledged managing relations with China had always been difficult, but said recent Liberal policy has been driven by party politics.

He said the Liberals had attacked him as a “Manchurian candidate”, and did all they could during his time as prime minister to break decades of bipartisanship on China policy.

Malcolm Turnbull then used a hard-line assault on the Chinese government to consolidate his position when his leadership was under threat.

Mr Rudd said Mr Turnbull’s 2017 declaration in Mandarin that he will stand up for Australians was seemingly about foreign interference but, in reality, motivated by domestic and internal politics.

“It was this statement … that brings us into the current period,” he said.

Mr Rudd was in Canberra on Tuesday to launch Peter Hartcher’s essay, Red Flag: Waking Up to China’s Challenge.

Looking to the future, he called for vigilance against real, rather than imagined, threats to Australia’s democracy, constitutions and infrastructure.

But he warned it would be easy for that to translate into racial profiling.

“I will be the first to the barricades if the most recent national security legislation becomes a political vehicle for Hansonism and a return to the days of the yellow peril,” he said.

“This approach … should be given effect as a legal and administrative process under Australian law, not as a populist witch hunt.”

He urged the government to develop and regularly update a clear and consistent China strategy.

“It would be negligent for Australia not to have our own,” he said.

“It should be crystal clear about our national objectives in relation to China, just as it should be clear in its understanding of what China’s objectives are in relation to Australia.”

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5. Koala Hospital Port Macquarie made the difficult decision to put rescued koala, Ellenborough Lewis, to sleep on Tuesday.

A koala that was saved from a NSW bushfire by a woman using the shirt off her own back has been put down in a koala hospital due to his extensive burns.

Video footage of Toni Doherty saving the koala from the Long Flat bushfire near Port Macquarie went viral a week ago.

The injured marsupial was taken to the Koala Hospital Port Macquarie where his burns were treated and he was named Ellenborough Lewis after Ms Doherty’s grandchild.

But the hospital on Tuesday delivered some bad news for all of those following the koala’s progress.

“Today we made the decision to put Ellenborough Lewis to sleep,” the hospital said on Facebook.

“We placed him under general anaesthesia this morning to assess his burns injuries and change the bandages.

“We recently posted that ‘Burns injuries can get worse before they get better’.

“In Ellenborough Lewis’ case, the burns did get worse, and unfortunately would not have gotten better.”

The koala had suffered burns to his hands, feet, arms and the inside of his legs.

The animal hospital a few days ago stated it didn’t keep koalas alive if that meant them suffering too much pain and discomfort.

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