news

Wednesday's news in 5 minutes.

1. Woman jailed for life after dressing as a witch to ‘terrorise and abuse’ her 7-year-old granddaughter.

Oklahoma woman Geneva Robinson, 51, has been sentenced to life in prison after she ‘dressed like a witch while severely abusing her seven-year-old granddaughter’, PEOPLE magazine reports.

The court heard that Robinson assaulted her granddaughter for more than a year by burning her with cigarettes, beating her with a rolling pin and smacking her in the face, in what prosecutors described as a “house of horrors”.

Court documents detailed that Robinson would also assume a persona called ‘Nelda the Witch’, painting her skin green and wearing all black during the abuse.

A video played in court shows ‘Nelda’ grabbing the little girl by her throat and being told she was going to get eaten by the evil witch.

The seven-year-old girl was also deprived of food, and was forced to sleep outside with dogs and wasn’t allowed to go to school. The girl told detectives she was pinched with pliers, tied up with a dog leash and sometimes suspended from the ceiling.

In a letter read in court, the girl – who is now nine years old – told Robinson she loved and forgave her.

“You’re the best grandmother I ever had,” she wrote.

Robinson and her co-defendant, her 33-year-old boyfriend Joshua Granger, pleaded guilty to child abuse and neglect charges when their trial began two months ago.

Last week, the 51-year-old was handed three life sentences, while Granger will spend 30 years behind bars for his role in the girl’s abuse.

2. Mum and stepdad guilty of 3-year-old’s murder after they beat him to death for ‘looking like his father’.

ADVERTISEMENT

Three-year-old Joseph had his head slammed in a cupboard, eyes covered with duct tape and naked body shut in a freezing esky in the weeks before he died, AAP reports.

On Tuesday, the toddler’s mother and stepfather, who have long claimed he was fatally tripped by a rope tied to the family’s dogs, were found guilty of his 2014 murder in NSW.

“We got the right judgment,” an emotional uncle told reporters after Justice Peter Johnson expressed his condolences to Joseph’s extended family in court.

“(There’s) no winners today. A little boy won’t be coming back.”

It took the jury two-and-a-half days of deliberating to convict the pair, who had assumed custody from Joseph’s grandparents about seven weeks before he was found in cardiac arrest at the family’s Oberon home.

The boy’s 42-year-old mother, who cannot be named, had talked of “pummelling” his head in and killing him because he looked like his father, the trial heard.

“I did it and I want to die,” the trial heard Joseph’s mother say in a police-recorded conversation with her then-partner.

Joseph died in hospital three days after being treated by paramedics.

The crown alleged his mother likely inflicted the fatal injury but the stepfather was complicit because he must have known she could have and wanted to kill the boy.

Joseph’s adult half-brother told the trial the boy started talking like a baby after moving in with his mother.

Duct tape was wrapped around the boy’s eyes and head because the mother could not stand him staring at her, the trial heard.

“I have never heard a person scream like that,” said the half-brother, who recalled Joseph’s stepfather holding the esky lid down for more than five minutes.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I went outside because I couldn’t take it any more.”

The killers did not react as the verdicts were handed down. They are due to face a sentence hearing on August 11.

3. NSW health minister hits out at “irresponsible” parents after measles outbreak.

NSW’s health minister has hit out at parents who refuse to vaccinate their children as the state grapples with a worsening measles outbreak in western Sydney.

“Parents who have children that they have failed to immunise really are being … quite irresponsible,” Brad Hazzard said in Sydney on Tuesday.

“(Our) short message to parents, to grandparents and carers is, get your children immunised, you could save their lives.”

The minister’s warning comes as the number of locally acquired measles cases in western Sydney rose to 16 over the long weekend after an infected man turned up to a Blue Mountains hospital on Good Friday.

In total, there have been 22 cases of measles in NSW residents in 2017.

The latest victim, who was isolated and is now recovering well, contracted the virus in Quakers Hill and spent time in Lawson, Strathfield and Leichhardt, NSW Health says.

The western Sydney outbreak was initially sparked by a traveller returning from Indonesia.

Sydney’s western suburbs have some of the lowest rates of immunisation in Australia. In Parramatta and the surrounding suburbs, nearly a quarter of one-year-olds aren’t fully vaccinated.

That contrasts with the inner west suburbs of Newtown and Enmore, where four per cent are unprotected, data from the National Health Performance Authority shows.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mr Hazzard said the government was “looking at all opportunities” to increase the vaccination message in the region.

Measles is highly contagious and adults who haven’t received two doses of the vaccine should be particularly vigilant. Symptoms of the virus include fever, sore eyes and a cough followed three or four days later by a red, blotchy rash.

4. Starbucks joins unicorn trend by introducing colour and taste changing Frappuccino.

Starbucks is calling a limited-time beverage that changes colours and flavours with a stir of the straw a Unicorn Frappuccino.

The chain says the drink was inspired by the trend of unicorn-themed food online and starts out purple with a sweet and fruity taste, AAP reports.

It changes to pink and tart after it’s stirred to mix in a blue drizzle.

It will be available from April 19 to April 23 in the United States, Canada and Mexico, with a 340ml size containing 280 calories.

Earlier this month, Seattle-based Starbucks also introduced a Pink Drink made with coconut milk and topped with strawberries.

The company said it had previously been a customised drink that enjoyed “fandom online”.

5. Boy fighting for life after he was thrown from ride is the son of a carnival worker.

ADVERTISEMENT

The five-year-old son of a carnival worker is fighting for life after a horror accident in Victoria, which saw him flung from the fast-moving ride, AAP reports.

The boy is fighting for life after the horror accident in Rye, on the Mornington Peninsula, about 5pm on Monday.

It’s believed the Cha Cha ride may have been operating after hours and investigators are looking into whether the child was tall enough to be on it.

The boy was airlifted to the Royal Children’s Hospital with serious head and hand injuries, and remains in a critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Ride operator Wittingslow Amusements, confirming the victim is the son of one of its employees, said its priority was the family of the young boy.

“The injured boy is a son of one of our staff members and is now in the care of the Royal Children’s Hospital,” the company said in statement on Tuesday night.

“This has been a distressing situation for our small carnival community.”

Meanwhile WorkSafe has ensured the scene of the accident remains undisturbed and its investigation will resume on Wednesday into whether the ride’s height requirements had been met and if all safety procedures had been followed.

6. Police raids foil ‘imminent’ terror attack days before French election.

ADVERTISEMENT

A machine gun, two hand guns and three kilos of TATP explosive were among the weapons found at a flat in Marseille raided by police after they foiled an imminent attack ahead of the French election, according to the Paris prosecutor.

The two Frenchmen had met while sharing a cell in prison and were known to police as having turned to radical Islam, prosecutor Francois Molins said at a news conference on Tuesday.

He added that an Islamic State flag and jihadist propaganda had previously been found at the home of one of the men, while the other was thought to have had links to a Belgian jihadist cell, AAP reports.

The two men allegedly “intended to commit an attack on French soil in the very short term, which is to say in coming days,” Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said during a brief news conference earlier on Tuesday.

France votes on Sunday in the first round of its two-stage election. Extra safety measures are being put in place for the balloting after the extremist attacks in the country that have made security one of the major issues of the presidential campaign.

The men, both French, are “suspected of wanting to commit, in an imminent way, a violent action on the eve of the French presidential election”, the minister said.

Fekl gave no details about potential targets or motives.

The suspects, Mahiedine Merabet, 29 and Clement Baur, 23, were both detained under arrest warrants for terrorist criminal association, according to a police document obtained by The Associated Press.

President Francois Hollande hailed the “remarkable” arrests and the work of police.

Agents from the French domestic security agency, backed by elite police units, conducted the arrests. Searches are also underway, Fekl said.

France’s fight against homegrown and overseas Islamic extremism has been one of the main campaign topics for presidential candidates.

Candidates on the right have been especially vocal, seeking to appeal to voters traumatised by Islamic State group-inspired attacks that have killed at least 235 people in France since January 2015, by far the largest casualty rate of any Western country.

Do you have a story to share with Mamamia? Email us [email protected]

00:00 / ???