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'Give us our boys back.' Friend shares emotional photo after backpackers go missing at Shelly Beach, & more in News in 5.

– With AAP.

1. Friend shares emotional photo after backpackers go missing at Shelly Beach.


A friend of missing backpackers Hugo Palmer, 20, and Erwan Ferrieux, 21, who haven’t been seen since passers-by discovered their belongings at Shelly Beach on Monday morning, has shared a stark photo as the search for the young men continues.

Caraa Blackburn posted the image to her Instagram story late on Thursday night.

The photo of Shelley Beach was accompanied by the text, ‘Give us our boys back you monster’.

Image via Instagram.

The rental car of the young men was found in a nearby car park with a number of other belongings - including travel documents - still inside.

One local claims to have seen towels and gear belonging to Mr Palmer and Mr Ferrieux on the sand late on Sunday afternoon, raising questions about when the pair arrived at the beach.

A ground and water search involving police divers, Marine Rescue, SES and others resumed on Wednesday morning but was scaled back in the afternoon.

A small-scale search continued on Thursday and will continue again on Friday.

Authorities now have little hope of finding the men alive.

Mamamia’s daily news podcast The Quicky will get you up to speed on what you need to know today....

On Wednesday, Police Inspector Peter Neville said a family member of one of the men had arrived in Australia and was being "realistic" about the chances of finding the pair alive.

Palmer's aunt Lorraine Tilling said her nephew had been having an absolute ball during his "trip of a lifetime".

“He kept sending us the most fantastic pictures, Australia is beautiful and we were so excited for him," Ms Tilling told the Daily Mail.

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"This is just a living nightmare for us, it’s a really hard time...He’s our little star and we just want him back safely."

Two female friends of Mr Palmer and Mr Ferrieux had planned to travel from Sydney to meet the two men.

Instead, they arrived in Port Macquarie on Wednesday to watch as the search continued.

One of these friends, Caraa Blackburn, shared a photo of Shelly Beach to her Instagram story on Wednesday night with the caption: "Give us back our boys you monster".

Mr Palmer, an Englishman, and Mr Ferrieux, a Frenchman, have been close friends for years, according to their Facebook pages.

They both appear to have attended Sackville School, south of London.

NSW Police have been communicating with both the British and French consulates.

2. Peter Tork from The Monkees dies age 77.

Peter Tork, a musician most famous for his time with the band The Monkees in the 1960s, has died aged 77.

His social media sites were updated to announce the death, though no cause was named.

Tork was reported to have a rare form of cancer in 2009, though he appeared to have recovered.

The Monkees were created for television - a sort of Americanised version of The Beatles - but their songs resonated beyond the show, which ran between 1966 and 1968.

The group toured several times after the show ended, on the strength of songs such as I'm a Believer, Last Train to Clarksville, and Daydream Believer.

Tork, born in 1942, was the keyboardist and bass guitarist for the band.

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3. “Beyond disgraceful”: A triple murderer and cop killer has been granted parole.

NSW triple murderer and cop killer Berwyn Rees is expected to walk free after almost 40 years behind bars in a parole decision that the police union has branded "a complete disgrace and offensive".

The State Parole Authority on Thursday confirmed its intention to grant parole to Rees who killed three men in the 1970s and 1980s including a serving police officer.

The now 69-year-old will be subject to strict lifelong conditions upon his release in March, a spokeswoman said in a statement.

However, Corrections Minister David Elliott has sought legal advice about appealing in the Supreme Court.

The Police Association of NSW called the decision a disgrace and said it was offensive to both the victims' families and every police officer across the state.

"This man murdered three people in cold blood, including a police officer who was simply trying to do his job," state president Tony King said in a statement.

"This is beyond disgraceful. The horrific killer should still be behind bars, he should not be given a second chance."

Rees was sentenced in 1981 to concurrent life sentences, with 27 years' non-parole, for the three murders.

He first walked into a Sydney gun shop in 1977 and shot manager Raymond James and customer Christopher Greenfield in the back of the head at close range, according to an online petition said to be run by the daughter of a victim.

He fled with guns and ammunition.

Three years later, Rees fatally shot Sergeant Keith Haydon when the police officer went to investigate his target practice in the bush.

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"I cannot understand how they can even consider letting this man free," Tracy James's change.org petition states.

"He has destroyed so many families."

The parole authority said it "took particular note of the offenders' prison performance, program participation to address offending behaviour and suitable post-release plans" in reaching its decision.

In addition to the standard parole conditions, Rees will have to participate in a violent offender program if directed, and he can't possess firearms or any prohibited weapons, contact victims or frequent certain local government areas.

Corrective Services NSW acting commissioner Rosemary Caruana said they would apply "the highest level of community supervision" to Rees, who will "remain under our watch for the rest of his life".

"He has significant health and mobility issues, and post-release plans include the support of disability services," she said in a statement.

4. Mother charged with murder after her toddler died of “catastrophic injuries”.

A mother accused of murdering her toddler allegedly beat and dragged the little boy around a Sydney home while trying to make him walk in the hours before his death, a court has heard.

The two-year-old spent part of his short life in foster care but was returned to his biological family before he suffered "catastrophic internal injuries" similar to falling from a building.

The confronting details emerged as the 27-year-old mother, who can't be identified for legal reasons, faced court for the first time six months after the child arrived unresponsive at Westmead Hospital on August 3.

The toddler could not be revived.

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A forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy found he had bruises all over his body, a torn ventricle in his heart, a torn oesophagus and "catastrophic internal injuries" consistent with "falling from a building" or being in a car crash, the court heard.

The magistrate noted the prosecution case wasn't weak but was largely circumstantial and featured a witness statement from an unnamed individual and the toddler's brother.

"(The mother) hit him with a belt, sandal and open hand 'a thousand times' trying to get him to walk," the magistrate read from the brother's statement.

"The deceased had trouble standing and was falling down. She was angry and dragging the deceased along."

The two-year-old's father was smoking in a bedroom in the house, the brother told police.

The woman, wearing a green corrective services shirt, sat silently, arms wrapped around herself, as the magistrate explained she could be sentenced to life behind bars.

The unnamed witness, the court heard, asked the woman about the boy's injuries after hearing an argument break out in which other adults demanded the child be taken to hospital.

The mother allegedly told the witness: "I'm in God's hands now."

Another woman, following the release of the post-mortem, claimed her family had fostered the toddler for about 18 months following his birth.

"He was the most happiest baby," she said in January.

"We do not know much, but it would be amazing just for some closure for our family if someone comes forward with some information."

The boy's mother and 34-year-old father were arrested by police at a unit in North Parramatta on Wednesday and charged, respectively, with murder and concealing an indictable offence.

The court heard the woman had no history of violence, would post $300,000 surety and would live under strict conditions with a friend if released - but the magistrate denied her bail.

The father didn't apply for bail and it was formally refused. He is expected to reappear via video link on March 7. The mother is expected to reappear in court on May 2.

5. A revised Brexit deal could be voted on very soon.

theresa-may-brexit-deal
A revised Brexit deal might not be far away. Image: Getty.
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British MPs could be given a vote on a revised Brexit deal as early as next week as talks with the European Union have been constructive, finance minister Philip Hammond says.

Unless Prime Minister Theresa May can get a Brexit deal approved by the British parliament, then she will have to decide whether to delay Brexit or thrust the world's fifth largest economy into chaos by leaving without a deal on March 29.

When asked by the BBC what would happen next week, Hammond said: "There may be an opportunity to bring a vote back to the House of Commons - there may be an opportunity, but that will depend on the progress that is made in the next few days."

Hammond said talks between May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday had been good and constructive.

"They were good and constructive talks yesterday," Hammond said, adding that the two sides were talking about giving some guarantees that the Irish border backstop could only be a "temporary arrangement".

"That is a word that hasn't been used before and I think that is significant," he said.

"Both sides have acknowledged that the political declaration could be expanded, for example, to address concerns that have been expressed in some parts of the House of Commons about workers rights."

On Wednesday May said progress was made in solving the impasse over backstop arrangements for the Irish border.

"I've underlined the need for us to see legally binding changes to the backstop that ensure that it cannot be indefinite. That's what is required... We've agreed that work to find a solution will continue at pace," May told international broadcasters after meeting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels.

"Time is of the essence, and it's in both out interests that when the UK leaves the EU, that it does so in an orderly way. So we've made progress."

Juncker and May agreed to speak again before the end of February.

The PM believes that gaining legally binding assurances the backstop will not extend indefinitely is the key to winning the support of MPs for her deal.

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