news

Two people are missing from the Canadian highway where Australian Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese were murdered last week, & more in News in 5.

With AAP.

1. Two people are missing from the Canadian highway where Australian Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese were murdered last week.

Public concern is growing in Canada as police confirmed two teenagers were missing near the area Australian Lucas Fowler and his American girlfriend Chynna Deese were murdered.

Canadian authorities are asking the public to “remain vigilant” after the highway murder of Fowler, 23, and Deese, 24, the discovery of another body near a burned out pick-up truck and the disappearance of two teenagers – all which took place in remote, northern British Columbia over the last week.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police have repeatedly fended off speculation a serial killer was on the loose and have not publicly linked the incidents, but on Sunday acknowledged “There are growing community concerns about the ongoing homicide investigations in northern BC”.

lucas flower chynna deese van
Lucas Fowler and Chynna Deese's van. Image: AAP.

"At this time, investigators are sharing information and police would like to ensure awareness around both investigations," RCMP spokesperson Dawn Roberts said.

"The RCMP would ask the public to continue to take any general safety precautions and remain vigilant at this time.

"We also remind travellers to share your plans with family and friends, establish check-in times and notify someone if your plans change."

Fowler, the son of a senior NSW police officer, and his North Carolina girlfriend Deese were shot dead after their blue 1986 Chevrolet van broke down on the side of the Alaska Highway 20km south of Liard Hot Springs a week ago.

Suspicions were raised when another body was found on Friday near a burning red and grey Dodge pick-up truck that had a distinctive sleeping camper attached, approximately 470km away from where Fowler and Deese were found.

The Dodge was driven by 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky from Port Alberni, British Columbia, and police have confirmed the body was not either of them. It has not yet been identified.

ADVERTISEMENT

The RMCP said McLeod and Schmegelsky "have not been in contact with their family for the last few days".

The teenagers were travelling through BC to visit Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory to look for work and the RCMP said it "is not clear why they returned to BC and what their travel plans may be".

"Kam and Bryer have periodically connected with family and friends over the past week and it is possible that they are now in an area without cell coverage," Ms Roberts said.

"However, we have found their vehicle and have not been able to locate either of them at this time."

They said it was unclear how the dead male near the Dodge might be connected with the vehicle fire or the two missing teens.

In the case of Fowler and Deese's murders, police are investigating a lead given to them by road worker Alandra Hull, who told the Nine Network she saw Fowler and Deese on the highway the night before they were found dead talking to a bearded man who "kind of looked frustrated or something".

Canadian couple Curtis and Sandra Broughton were among the last to see the young pair alive, when they saw them sat beside their broken down van and stopped to offer help.

Curtis Broughton, a mechanic, told AAP he spoke to Fowler but the young Australian seemed to know how to fix the van so the Broughtons left.

Fowler is the son of NSW Police Chief Inspector Stephen Fowler, who has flown to Canada with other family members and two NSW homicide detectives.

Fowler and Deese met backpacking in Croatia two years ago, fell in love and embarked on a Canadian road trip in the old Chevrolet.

ADVERTISEMENT

Though many have speculated about a serial killer on the loose, Deese's family do not believe that is the case. They do, however, fear the killer may strike again.

"I don't think it's a serial killer," her father, Dwayne, told the Charlotte Observer. "I think of someone who has been convicted of violent crimes before, someone on drugs.

"That fits the profile better. What worries us is that person is still on the loose and they have a head start.

"This is going to happen again. There needs to be some kind of a warning system in place for tourists."

2. The first person charged under Western Australia's revenge porn laws has been spared jail time.

The first person charged under Western Australia's revenge porn laws has been spared an immediate prison term.

Mitchell Joseph Brindley, 25, admitted creating five Instagram accounts in his ex-girlfriend's name and posting 10 nude photographs of her in April, just days after the laws came into effect.

Defence counsel Terry Dobson told Fremantle Magistrates Court on Monday the pair met at age 16, began a tumultuous intimate relationship in November and Brindley was angered by text messages she sent to friends labelling him a "basket case".

That came after he attempted to take his own life because of their relationship difficulties, but she'd initially stood by him, Mr Dobson said.

Brindley chose to lash out.

"He thought he would do it in a non-violent way, but the mental harm is just as significant," the lawyer said.

"And herein lies the problem of the social media nastiness."

Magistrate Dean Potter said Brindley had committed a type of image-based sexual abuse known as "relationship retribution" and would have been handed jail time if the offending had been in the other three more serious categories.

ADVERTISEMENT

These include "sextortion", which involves threatening to share intimate images to coerce more intimate acts or money from a victim.

The magistrate said the complainant now suffered trust issues.

"Her privacy, her personality, her self-esteem have been greatly impacted," he said.

Brindley pleaded guilty last month to distributing an intimate image of another without consent, which carries a maximum jail term of three years and/or a fine of up to $18,000.

The police prosecutor had called for time behind bars, saying it was important to deter the community from such offending, which was a gross breach of trust and had humiliated the victim.

Brindley bowed his head in apparent relief when he was instead sentenced to a 12-month intensive supervision order.

He will be case managed by a Corrective Services officer who will determine whether he must undergo counselling or engage in programs.

Outside court, Mr Dobson apologised to the victim on his client's behalf, describing the offending as "moments of madness, silliness".

"He's well aware of the hurt and the harm that his actions have caused," the lawyer told reporters.

"Hopefully this will send a message to the wider community."

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

3. A Sydney teacher has been cleared of sex charges brought against him by three girls aged between 11 and 12.

Simon William Phillips. Image: Twitter.

A former Sydney teacher says he has no plans to return to the classroom after being cleared of sexually assaulting students.

Simon William Phillips, 52, wept as he was found innocent on Monday of 12 counts of aggravated indecent assault he was alleged to have committed against three girls aged between 11 and 12 in 2017.

ADVERTISEMENT

Burwood Local Court was told the allegations included the father of two putting his arms around students' shoulders and brushing up against their breasts, smacking or slapping them on the bottom and in one instance, pressing his erection against the back of one young girl.

Magistrate Daniel Reiss dismissed each of the charges, saying there remained a reasonable doubt Mr Phillips committed the crimes.

He noted that he employed unusual teaching methods including shaking students by the hand when school finished for the day and holding both their hands as he spoke to them to ensure he had their attention.

He did not deny putting his arms around students' shoulders - only that it was done in a sexual manner.

"There's a fine line between trying to be an impressive big buddy to a student and adopting grooming behaviour," Mr Reiss said.

However he said there was room for mistake in the allegations, noting where Phillips was alleged to have pressed his erection against a student that "it could be something else that pressed against her back".

Phillips earlier told the court there was no such thing as personal space in the classroom but Mr Reiss on Monday dismissed this as "ridiculous" saying children's personal space should be respected.

Despite this comment, the magistrate was not persuaded on the balance of probabilities the teacher had committed the alleged crimes.

He noted Phillips was adamant in his denials and unshaken during cross-examination.

The court heard students who would have been in a position to witness the alleged behaviour did not see it, nor did any other teacher or a student-teacher present in the classroom on the days it was said to have happened.

While the prosecution's child witnesses "presented well and appeared honest and forthright" Mr Reiss said there were "a number of areas of contradiction and weakness" as well as inconsistencies in the evidence given.

Speaking outside of court, Phillips said the charges had taken an "incredible toll" on his life.

"As you would expect, to be accused of these horrendous charges impacts greatly on my personal career, my private life but we've been very fortunate to have excellent representation and excellent support from hundreds and hundreds of people," he told reporters.

Phillips said at this stage he has "no plans" to return to teaching.

A number of his friends and family in court as the charges were dismissed erupted in applause, some crying with relief.

4. A WA man has been charged with murdering his six-week-old son.

ADVERTISEMENT

A West Australian man accused of fatally assaulting his baby has had his charge upgraded to murder.

Nathaniel MacRae was six weeks old when brought to Narrogin Regional Hospital, in the state's Wheatbelt region, with serious injuries in October 2017.

He was transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth but later released.

In March last year, Michael Ashley MacRae was charged with aggravated grievous bodily harm but in September, one-year-old Nathaniel died at his Golden Bay home.

MacRae faced WA Supreme Court on Monday where his charge was upgraded to murder and he had his bail revoked.

He will next face court for a bail hearing on August 6.

Tentative trial dates have also been set for April next year.

5. A man was fatally shot by Qld police after threatening officers with a sword during a domestic disturbance call.

Women and children fled a house moments before a male occupant armed with a samurai sword charged police and was shot dead during a siege southwest of Brisbane.

ADVERTISEMENT

The 41-year-old man, believed to be the children's father, was shot about 7.45am on Monday outside the house on Cassowary Street in Doolandella.

Deeply distressed relatives of the dead man were turned away from the crime scene after talking to police.

A cousin of the man was clearly in shock as he spoke with police before declining to speak to media.

Nearby neighbours were less tolerant, shouting abuse at media in the area.

Inspector Tim Partrige said the armed man had barricaded himself in the home with four children, all aged under 10, and two women when police were called to attend a "disturbance" at about 5.20am.

After a tense two-hour stand-off, police successfully negotiated the release of the women and children, who ran from the home and were assessed by paramedics.

"Immediately following their release a male person has run at police officers," Insp Partrige said.

"He was fatally shot outside the front of the premises."

Insp Partrige said multiple shots were fired by an experienced officer.

The officer who fired the fatal shots is stressed but comfortable and had no option but to open fire, he said.

"It's traumatic for everybody involved. It is never the intention of police to resolve in this manner but, unfortunately, circumstances dictate you have no other option," he said.

The relationships between those in the home have not been confirmed, but it's believed the man and one of the women are the parents of the four children.

It is believed the man lived at the home.

Amit Chand visited the street on Monday morning in the middle of the police investigation after receive a text from his brother.

His parents live close to the scene of the shooting and he was shocked by the incident.

"They only recently moved in, I think they were an Asian couple," Mr Chand said.

He said he often saw the four children playing outside the home.

"This is the first time I've seen it anything like this in this street, it's a bit of a shock."

Police have blocked off the quiet cul-de-sac.

The Ethical Standards Command is investigating the appropriateness of the police response with oversight by the Crime and Corruption Commission.

Anyone needing support is urged to contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

00:00 / ???