MH370's "lonely and sad" pilot spent a lot of time "pacing empty rooms" before doomed flight, & more in News in 5.

— With AAP.

1. MH370’s “lonely and sad” pilot spent a lot of time “pacing empty rooms” before doomed flight.

According to an aviation specialist, the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was piloted by a “lonely and sad” captain and Malaysian officials knew the pilot had “indications of trouble”.

In the July issue of The Atlantic, writer and aviation specialist William Langewiesche shares information on what happened to the missing Boeing 777, which was carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014. It is presumed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

A report released in July 2018 found the plane was likely steered off course deliberately by someone and flown for seven hours after communications were cut.

Langewiesche noted that captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who was reported to often be “lonely and sad” had multiple red flags. His wife had moved out and he “spent a lot of time pacing empty rooms”.

A fellow anonymous 777 captain said Zaharie was in a tough emotional state.

“Zaharie’s marriage was bad. In the past he slept with some of the flight attendants. And so what? We all do,” the pilot told the magazine. “You’re flying all over the world with these beautiful girls in the back. But his wife knew.”

Langewiesche noted the idea of “a pilot who runs amok” was hard to conceive, but it has happened before – with an EgyptAir flight in 1999 and Germanwings Flight 9525 in 2015.

Forensic examinations of the pilot’s simulator by the FBI also revealed Zaharie experimented with a flight profile that roughly matched what’s believed to have happened to MH370, which ended in “fuel exhaustion over the Indian Ocean”.

Dozens of pieces of debris that washed up on Africa’s east coast have shown the Boeing 777 went down somewhere in the Indian Ocean, but the main wreckage or black boxes have not been found.

Finding additional debris could be hard because the plane is believed to have gone into a “vicious spiral” before hitting the ocean and “disintegrated into confetti”.

Langewiesche said that instead of focusing on finding debris, he believed some of the key parts of the timeline of what happened could be revealed by what authorities in Malaysia know and are keeping from the public.

“Unless they are as incompetent as the air force and air traffic control, the Malaysian police know more than they have dared to say,” Langewiesche noted. “The riddle may not be deep.”

2. WhatsApp joins search for lost 18-year-old Belgian backpacker who went missing in Byron Bay.


Encrypted messaging service WhatsApp says it is working with authorities to help them locate missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez.

The 18-year-old’s distraught father had earlier pleaded for access to his son’s account believing it could hold the key to his whereabouts.

NSW Police admit they are “baffled” by the disappearance of the young man, who was last seen leaving the Cheeky Monkey’s bar in Byron Bay about 11pm on May 31 after earlier being captured on CCTV buying alcohol in a bottle shop.

His father Laurent Hayez arrived in the country last week and on Monday appeared at Tweed Heads police station to beg the public for help, saying his son was “in grave danger”.

“I promised Theo’s little brother that I would bring his brother home. Please, help me keep my promise to him,” Mr Hayez asked through his tears.

“If you have any information and if you do not want to deal with the cops, or if you are afraid to come forward, please make an anonymous call to Crime Stoppers.”

Theo used encrypted service Whatsapp the night he disappeared and Mr Hayez asked for help in obtaining access to the messages.

“We understand the politics about confidentiality and respect that – however, this is a question of providing assistance to a person in grave danger,” he said.

WhatsApp is providing information to law enforcement, but are limited in what data it can access from Theo’s encrypted conversations.

“WhatsApp cares deeply about the safety of our users and our hearts go out to Theo Hayez and his family,” a spokesman told AAP on Monday.

“We understand the important work being carried out by law enforcement and are assisting them in accordance with applicable law and our terms of service.”

WhatsApp is only able to access and disclose some information which can include a user’s name, last seen date, IP address and basic information but not the content of messages.


Theo had been preparing to return home after eight months travelling around Australia.

He was reported missing on June 6, when he failed to return to his hostel and couldn’t be contacted. His passport and other personal belongings had been left untouched in his room.

While homicide detectives are helping the investigation, along with Belgian authorities, Superintendent David Roptell said he held out hope that Theo was alive.

“We’re just not clear at this point,” he said.

“It appears to be out of character. He was intending to go home. It’s baffling as to what’s occurred, but we’re not ruling anything out.”

Mr Hayez thanked police, volunteers and the community for their help in looking for his son, as well as those who raised money to support the search.

He said any crowdsourced funds not used to find Theo will be donated to a charity in Australia and Belgium dedicated to finding missing people.

Supt Roptell said it was “heartbreaking” that investigators did not have any fresh leads to share with Theo’s family but promised not to leave any stone unturned.

3. Victorian man arrested over missing woman Shae Francis’ death.

A man arrested in Victoria has been charged over the death of a woman who vanished after visiting a relative at a Queensland hospital.

Shae Francis, 35, was last seen at the Hervey Bay hospital last October but wasn’t reported missing until March.


A 44-year-old man was arrested in Bendigo on Friday.

He will be extradited to Queensland on charges of manslaughter, interfering with a corpse, and stealing.

Police say the arrest is the culmination of a protracted investigation.

The man appeared in Bendigo Magistrates Court on Monday and will appear in a Brisbane court on Wednesday.

4. Two brothers charged over bashing of Transit Assistant Commissioner Chris O’Neill in Melbourne.

Two brothers have been charged over the “abhorrent” bashing of an off-duty senior police officer near a Melbourne train station.

Monday’s arrests came after Transit and Public Safety Command Assistant Commissioner Chris O’Neill, 60, was left with injuries including bleeding on the brain.

The man responsible for safety on Victoria’s public transport did not identify himself as a police officer when the verbal and physical argument began on the grounds of St Kevin’s College in Toorak on Saturday evening.

Mr O’Neill was attending a private function before the brothers allegedly attacked him. They had earlier been thrown off the train at Heyington station, next to the school.

The pair, aged 18 and 20, are charged with offences including intentionally and recklessly causing serious injury after being arrested at Malvern East.

They have been remanded in custody to face the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Mr O’Neill suffered two broken ribs, kidney damage, and severe cuts and bruises in the bashing and was released from hospital on Monday.


“He has been seen by a neurosurgeon as he has some bleeding on the brain but he will make a full recovery and will return to duty sooner rather than later,” Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill earlier told reporters.

“This was a despicable act and this behaviour is abhorrent.”

Mr Hill also said witness accounts of the alleged offenders before Mr O’Neill was attacked “suggest they were either alcohol or drug affected”.

“They were certainly affected to the extent they were urinating and vomiting on the train.”

Police Minister Lisa Neville said she had been in contact with Mr O’Neill after the “cowardly attack”.

“It is completely unacceptable that anyone should be attacked or assaulted just for going about their day,” she said.

Opposition leader Michael O’Brien said Mr O’Neill and Victorians deserved better, accusing the government of dropping the ball on safety on public transport.

“What does it say about Melbourne when the man who’s in charge of safety on our public transport system isn’t safe himself?,” he told reporters.

5. Aged care respite lacking in remote Western Australia.

A woman from a remote Aboriginal community in Western Australia’s Kimberley region has called for better aged care respite services, saying family responsibilities leave her constantly exhausted.

Bidyadanga resident Madeleine Jadai told an aged care royal commission hearing in Broome on Monday that her 62-year-old sister Betty, a dementia sufferer, could no longer look after herself following the death of their mother.


“Her spirit went really down,” Ms Jadai said.

“I look after Betty now for her safety and wellbeing.”

Betty would wander off and get angry, and while other community members tried to help, they didn’t understand dementia well.

Ms Jadai also looks after the children of her other sister, who died in a car accident a few years ago, as well as her own children and grandchildren.

“Being a carer takes up all my time,” she said.

“Looking after so many people means I’m really tired all the time. There are other things that I would like to do but I can’t.”

She told the hearing she only gets a break when her sister visits the local community care centre.

She tried to get respite care, 190km away in Broome, “but I’m told that it is full”.

“Having more access to respite care would make a big difference to me.”

Ms Jadai said she once had to take Betty on a more than 1000km journey to a desert funeral because she could not secure respite care, and her sister got sick on the trip.

Faye Dean, community care supervisor at Bidyadanga Community Care Centre, agreed more respite services were needed.

The hearing was told several times indigenous people didn’t like having to move away from their country to get care.

“A lot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have an innate attachment to the land that they’re living in,” University of Western Australia geriatric medicine expert Leon Flicker said.

“Moving off-country is a big deal for them.”

The royal commission also heard indigenous elders in residential care had an unmet desire for traditional food.

But such connections with culture and country were paramount, residential aged care nurse and Noongar woman Yvonne Grosser said.

“It’s one (part) of their healing. What you see at any nursing home … people are quite sad,” Ms Grosser said.

“You can see that their heart is sad and if they had it in country, they’d be happiest.”

Another witness told the hearing aged care residents on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait wanted local fresh fish but due to food safety rules, they only had frozen fish delivered.

Professor Flicker said it seemed “churlish” goanna was not served because it was considered unsafe.

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