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News in 5: Woman's texts before 2012 disappearance; Girl slashed 20 times; Judges "bully".

-With AAP

1. Man charged with murder six years after disappearance of Leisl Smith.


A man is due to face court accused of murdering NSW woman Leisl Smith, who was last seen six years ago.

Ms Smith, then 23, left her Wallarah home on the state’s Central Coast on August 19, 2012.

Police searched extensively but failed to find any trace of her although more than a month after she vanished, her Honda Accord was found abandoned at nearby Tuggerah railway station.

CCTV camera captures Ms Smith parking her car at the railway station the day she disappeared. Footage shows her getting out of her car and walking away from the station. She did not board a train and never returned home.

Two days after she was last seen alive, Ms Smith’s father received a text message from her mobile phone.

“F*** you. I can’t do this and I’m not going to keep your secret any more,” it read.

Her father said he had no idea what she was talking about and immediately called her, but her phone has already been switched off.

The next day he received another text from her phone, saying: “I’m really sorry dad. Please don’t be angry.”

He has not received any other messages since.

In April 2013 detectives spoke to a then 42-year-old man before searching two properties 80kms away from each other at Wallarah and Brookfield, where they seized several items.

More properties were scoured bordering the Golden Highway at Merriwa in the far west of the Hunter region.

On the anniversary of Ms Smith’s disappearance this year, her mother made a desperate plea for information on Facebook.

“Today is the anniversary of my daughters disappearance… I am at Tuggerah station where she was last seen … any information should be given to crimestoppers or the Wyong police… please don’t hesitate to share this and don’t hesitate to share information… ty … Leisl’s mum xxx,” she said on the Find Leisl Smith Facebook page.

After ongoing investigations, a 48-year-old man was arrested on Thursday on the Gwydir Highway, west of Inverell, in northern NSW.

He was charged with murder and refused bail to appear in Inverell Local Court on Friday.

2. A teenage boy has been charged after a 12-year-old girl was slashed in the face 20 times.

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A teenage boy has been charged after a 12-year-old schoolgirl was slashed 20 times in the face during a vicious assault in suburban Brisbane.

The girl was attacked as she was walked through a pedestrian pathway under the Logan Motorway at Kingston about 7.40am on Thursday morning.

A 17-year-old boy has been charged with acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm following a manhunt that involved about 30 police officers.

Detective Acting Inspector Grant Ralston said the girl was walking alone to school when she was targeted “for no reason”.

“The male is believed to have had possession of some sort of cutting instrument, like a box cutter, and continually struck the young girl on the right side of the face causing extensive injuries,” he said.

“She fought as best she could and eventually after being struck approximately 20 times to the face, incredibly, she managed to pick herself up and run towards her school at Kingston.”

The girl was bleeding profusely and was taken to hospital where she underwent surgery.

She told police the attack only took 10 to 15 seconds.

“The young girl is very brave,” Insp Ralston said.

3. Nearly two-thirds of Victorian barristers say they’ve been bullied by judges.

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Victorian barristers have spoken out about the bad behaviour of the state’s judges and magistrates, with almost two-thirds of those participating in a survey revealing they have have been victims of judicial bullying.

Denigration and personal attacks were among the biggest concerns for the 850 barristers who responded to the Victorian Bar poll as part of an investigation into health and wellbeing at work.

One barrister reported the experience of bullying in long-running trials was “excruciating” while another said they wanted judges to treat barristers with the respect they themselves expected.

“Overall, the commonest form of judicial bullying is grossly discourteous and disrespectful behaviour from the bench, in public, in front of clients and other lawyers,” one reported.

Victorian Bar president Matt Collins QC said such findings were concerning.

One in four barristers reported experiencing denigration in forms including public humiliation and belittling comments, while one in 10 had endured eye-rolls, sarcasm and comments designed to embarrass them.

Five per cent felt magistrates or judges reached adverse conclusions before they’d even heard a case.

But the findings weren’t all negative. Ninety per cent of respondents reported a sense of achievement from their jobs while 80 per cent were satisfied with their roles.

Some of the more light-hearted responses included a call for courts to “bring back wigs” while another simply asked “less ego, more chocolate”.

The surveyed barristers make up 40 per cent of the state’s practising counsel.

4. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are back in Sydney to visit the city’s icons.

The purpose of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s whirlwind Australian tour will come back into focus with the duke officially marking the arrival of the Invictus Games in Sydney.

On day four of their visit Down Under, the royal couple will visit Bondi Beach where they will meet surfing group OneWave and take part in the group’s mental health awareness session Fluro Friday.

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The newly-pregnant couple will then meet the public gathered at the popular eastern Sydney beach.

They will later take part in a youth advocate program and will talk with students about social justice and youth empowerment.

Prince Harry will then take his trip to Sydney to new heights by climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

To officially welcome the Invictus Games to the city, the duke, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and athletes will scale the bridge to plant the Invictus flag.

The newlywed’s tour coincides with the Invictus Games in Sydney which runs from October 20-28.

The sporting event founded by Prince Harry in 2014 gives sick and injured service personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.

The couple arrived back in Sydney on Thursday evening after spending the day delighting eager fans in Melbourne.

The Duke and Duchess dabbled in some footy, got a taste of Australia’s native cuisine, took a tram ride with school children and visited a blustery bayside beach.

Friday is the couple’s second day in Sydney after a jam-packed Tuesday where they greeted fans at Sydney Opera House, watched a rehearsal from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Bangarra Dance Theatre, visited Taronga Zoo and attended a reception at Admiralty House.

5. Proposed new jail laws for WA’s “worst of the worst” killers.

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Western Australia’s “worst of the worst” mass murderers and serial killers will remain behind bars without consideration for parole for lengthy periods under proposed new laws.

The legislation introduced to parliament on Thursday would allow the state’s attorney-general to order parole authorities to suspend consideration of release for the most heinous of offenders for up to six years and extend it up to six more.

Currently, once a minimum jail term has been served, the Prisoners Review Board determines whether the offender can be granted parole, with reviews every three years.

Attorney-General John Quigley says the policy aims to reduce the trauma of the parole consideration process for families and friends of murder victims.

Mr Quigley said Kate Moir, who at 17 escaped after being held captive by serial killers David and Catherine Birnie, approached the government to reform parole laws after a long but so far unsuccessful push.

“We say if there’s no prospect of being released on parole, then why should the secondary victims be put through this process every three years?” Mr Quigley told reporters.

“These people are never able to put behind them the worst trauma of their lives.”

The government wants the legislation passed before Birnie and William Mitchell, who in 1993 murdered a woman and her three children in a drug-crazed axe attack in Greenough, have their parole reviewed next year.

Shadow Attorney-General Michael Mischin questioned whether the legislation only dealt with the easiest cases that the PRB and attorney-general would never release.

“The attorney-general currently has the power to reject any recommendation for parole for these sorts of cases,” he told reporters.

Murdoch University law professor Guy Hall said the PRB already contacted victims’ families to get their thoughts about parole review – even in cases like Birnie and Mitchell’s where there was no realistic possibility of release.

“There is an element of grandstanding here from the politicians but if we’re serious about saving the victims’ families from suffering each time parole is considered, then the victims of all murderers should only be contacted when parole is seriously being considered,” he said.

Prominent Perth lawyer Tom Percy said populist, vote-seeking politicians should leave such matters to the judiciary, which had a transparent process that could be subject to an appeal if necessary.

Birnie’s son Peter McLauchlan supports the planned legislation.

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