Thursday's news in 5 minutes.

1. A woman was allegedly kept as a slave for eight years by a Melbourne couple.

A Melbourne couple has been charged with keeping a woman as a slave for eight years, between July 2007 and July 2015, AAP reports.

Melbourne Magistrates’ Court heard the woman, who has not been named, was scalded with hot water during the time she was held captive, and is still vulnerable two years after she was rescued.

She will be able to give her evidence against them via video recording, with prosecutors arguing she had experienced “physical and mental trauma”.


Magistrate Jacinta Dwyer granted the application for her to be spared appearing at the five-day committal hearing to give evidence.

“This is a case clearly where the complainant is a vulnerable adult,” crown prosecutor Krista Breckweg said.

“She remains physically unwell.”

The defence opposed the application and raised a number of issues, including the manner in which police questioned the alleged victim, arguing it was prejudicial.

The committal hearing had been due to occur in May but has been held off until December while the defence sorts out funding issues.

Kumuthini Kannan, 49 and her husband, 52-year-old Kandasamy Kannan, of Mount Waverley, have each been charged with possessing a slave and one count of exercising ownership over a slave. Both deny the allegations.

If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison.

2. “I’ll be gone before they arrive”: A former NSW policeman’s tragic last phone call before he took his own life.


Moments before a traumatised former NSW policeman took his own life he made a triple-zero call requesting his death be investigated by a coroner.

“I understand this is being recorded and that’s exactly what I want,” Ashley Bryant said in the 2013 phone call, which was played at the inquest into his death at the NSW Coroner’s Court on Wednesday.

“I suffer from PTSD, I can no longer live with the pain of it, and I want this to go to the coroner.”

The former detective sergeant fell to his death in December 2013 at Minyon Falls in the Border National Park after battling for several years with a multitude of mental health problems brought on by exposure to traumatic events at work.

Asked by the operator if he could wait for police to arrive at the national park he replied: “No, I’ll be gone before they arrive, thank you.” He then hung up.

Police soon arrived at the falls in northern NSW to find Mr Bryant’s body.


Counsel assisting the coroner Ian Bourke told the inquest that Mr Bryant had suffered from PTSD, alcoholism and anxiety for several years and was medically discharged from the police in 2012.

The inquest will examine whether NSW Police should change the way it screens officers for mental health problems and whether they and their families need better support.

Mr Bryant once told his wife he hadn’t initially disclosed his mental health problems to police because he was scared of losing his job, Mr Bourke said.

Detective Inspector Matthew Kehoe testified he’d not known of his friend’s alcohol problems for several years but there’d been a “strong culture of abuse of alcohol” in NSW Police when he began his career.

Officers were inclined to hide the fact they were struggling as they didn’t want to feel they were letting anyone down by leaving work or seeking help.

“Police are very good at hiding things from people.”


Jason Bryant, also a former policeman, testified that his brother had not been troubled by alcohol before he joined the force.

NSW Police commissioner Mick Fuller on Wednesday acknowledged PTSD was a “real problem”.

The commissioner said the force had done an enormous amount of work to deal with the issue but admitted “we have a way to go”.


If you or someone you know needs help you can call Lifeline on 131 114, the Black Dog Institute on 9382 2991, or Beyondblue 1300 224 636.

3. Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to restrict gas exports to lower the cost for Australians.

The Federal Government is set to announce new powers that will allow it to impose export controls on gas companies to guarantee domestic supply.

The export restrictions will be decided based on advice from the market operator and regulator about Australia’s forecast needs.


Exporters who take more from the Australian market than they put in will be forced to explain how they will fill the shortfall of domestic gas.

Mr Turnbull has said the government would not prescribe how exporters respond, “giving companies considerable flexibility in finding commercial solutions”.

Mr Turnbull said the “targeted, temporary” restrictions are expected to apply only to east coast exporters and would comply with Australia’s international obligations.

Consultation with industry will take place before the regulations take effect on July 1.

The government is moving to restrict exports after failing to get commitments from the industry that each east coast LNG exporter would put more gas into the domestic market than they took out.

“While good progress has been made, those requirements have not been met,” Mr Turnbull said.

“It is unacceptable for Australia to become the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, but not have enough domestic supply for Australian households and businesses.”

4. An 18-year-old woman allegedly killed her elderly grandfather with a frying pan in WA.


An 18-year-old Western Australian woman has been charged over the death of her 89-year-old grandfather, 7 News reports.

Police are alleging the man died from head injuries after an altercation with his granddaughter turned physical, with authorities claiming she “bashed him with a frying pan”.

Doctors were unable to save him when they arrived on the seen at the Esperance home.

Neighbours told 7 News that man had been living alone since his wife died a few years ago, until recently, when “two young ladies with a little kid” have been seen coming and going from the home.

The 18-year-old has been charged with grievous bodily harm, but her charge could be upgraded to murder.

5. A Sydney toddler has been rescued from a soft-toy vending machine.


A mother looking for her three-year-old son at a Sydney hotel on Anzac Day found him in the most unlikely of places – inside a soft-toy vending machines playing among the potential prizes.

The incident occurred at the Australian Hotel and Brewery at Rouse Hill on Tuesday afternoon as the drinks flowed and punters played two-up.

Firefighters worked for 20 minutes to extract the toddler who’d climbed up the chute the stuffed toys usually come out of, AAP reports.


Fire and Rescue NSW Riverstone station captain Dave Richards says when he arrived, the boy’s mother and other patrons were peering at the three-year-old trapped inside the machine.

She wasn’t too concerned because there was plenty of room and air for her son, Mr Richards said.

“He was happily playing with all the toys that were inside there.”

Firefighters used special door-opening equipment, usually reserved for gaining access to burning buildings, to rescue the toddler.

The three-year-old was then taken outside and given some water.

“All he wanted to do was play on our truck,” Mr Richards said.

“He was having a ball watching all the flashing lights and entertaining himself. He actually put my helmet on.”

That the toddler had managed to make his way up the chute was surprising, the captain admitted.

“There’s normally a piece of metal or timber that stops you reaching in and grabbing the toy,” Mr Richards said.

“He would have had to climb in a bit of a maze to actually get up there.”

The toddler didn’t get to keep a toy from the machine but was given a hand-knitted teddy bear, made by local seniors, which the fire station usually gives to children involved in fires.

6. United Airlines faces investigation after a giant rabbit died on an international flight.


United Airlines is reviewing its handling of a giant showcase rabbit that died after being shipped across the Atlantic from Britain on one of its flights, the latest in a growing list of customer complaints.

Distraught breeder Annette Edwards told The Associated Press by phone on Wednesday that a veterinarian had checked Simon – a 10-month-old, 3-foot-long continental rabbit – shortly before the animal was placed on a United flight from London’s Heathrow Airport to Chicago’s O’Hare.

Edwards said Simon is the offspring of Darius, which the Guinness World Records lists as the world’s longest rabbit.


United spokesman Charles Hobart said the rabbit was moving around in its crate and appeared healthy when taken off the plane in O’Hare, waiting to be put on another flight to Kansas City.

About a half-hour later, at the company-run pet facility, Simon seemed to be sleeping.

Shortly after that, a pet facility employee opened the cage and found the rabbit dead. He says the airline is reviewing its handling of the animal.

“We won’t know the cause of death, because we offered to perform a necropsy free of charge – that’s standard procedure – but the customer didn’t want us to perform a necropsy, and we understand,” he said.

Hobart said the airline offered compensation to the breeder but would not disclose the amount.

United had the second-highest level of animal deaths and injuries of any US airline last year, or 2.11 per 10,000 animals transported, according to the US Department of Transportation. Only Hawaiian Airlines was worse at 3.99.

United transported 109,149 animals last year, second only to Alaska Airlines with 112,281.

United is already working to repair its battered image after a passenger who refused to give up his seat on an overbooked flight was forcibly dragged from a plane at O’Hare Airport.

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