Wednesday's news in 5 minutes.

1. Queensland town mourns “vibrant and cheeky” two-year-old girl who drowned in a water tank.

The Queensland town of Longreach is in mourning after a two-year-old girl tragically drowned when she fell into a water tank at Camden Park Station, The Courier Mail reports.

Willow Walker died on Monday after falling into the tank at the tourist attraction, as her parents, Daniel and Brooke, were preparing dinner in a shed nearby.

Paramedics and police were called to the property just after 6pm and Willow was rushed to Longreach Hospital. She later died from her injuries.

Her death is not suspicious and is believed to be a tragic accident.

Tributes have begun to flow for the “vibrant and cheeky” toddler and her family, who are well-known in the community. Daniel is a fifth generation farmer and his grandfather served as the mayor of Longreach for 35 years.

Daniel is also a tour leader who gives visitors from across the world a ‘taste’ of life in Outback Australia.

“So very saddened to hear this tragic news,” friend Kat wrote on Facebook.

“I was only looking at those beautiful photos of her… and thought what a gorgeous little girl Willow is.”

“My heart aches for you and all your family,” Shara wrote.

“Miss Willow will be missed by all who were ever lucky to be blessed by her cheeky smile. My heart is shattered.”

Tracey described Willow as “a little angel who has left [an] imprint on so many lives”.

Willow also has an older brother, Harley.


2. Cardinal George Pell to make his first appearance in court over sexual abuse charges today.

Cardinal George Pell’s first appearance in court as the highest-ranking Catholic official to be charged with sexual abuse will last only a few minutes but attract global media coverage.

The third most powerful person in the Catholic Church is expected to be confronted with a massive contingent of Australian and international media when he arrives at court on Wednesday morning, AAP reports.

The 76-year-old has taken leave from his position as Vatican treasurer to return to Australia to fight historical sexual offence charges involving multiple complainants.

He will appear in person at the Melbourne Magistrates Court for a filing hearing that marks the first stage of what will be a lengthy legal process.

It is an administrative procedure to set the next dates for the court process and may take less than five minutes.

As Cardinal Pell was charged on summons, he could have asked for the magistrate’s permission to be excused from appearing in person and have his lawyer represent him.

The former Sydney and Melbourne archbishop and Ballarat priest has repeatedly denied the allegations and maintained he is innocent.

Cardinal Pell has said he is looking forward to finally having his day in court after a two-year investigation.

“News of these charges strengthens my resolve and court proceedings now offer me an opportunity to clear my name and then return to my work in Rome,” he said after being charged on June 29.

No special arrangements have been made for the court appearance despite Cardinal Pell’s high profile and the intense worldwide media attention.


The court will operate on a “business as usual” basis, with Cardinal Pell expected to line up and clear security screening as he enters the court building.

Victoria Police say they have been liaising with the court about appropriate arrangements for the day, but will not comment further.

Cardinal Pell’s matter is expected to be come before a magistrate at 10am (AEST).

3. Man desperately ran to neighbours for help after finding his girlfriend’s dead body in kitchen.

A man has been arrested following the discovery of a woman’s body with significant injuries in Melbourne, The Herald Sun reports.

A 75-year-old Richmond man was arrested by detectives early on Wednesday morning and is currently assisting police with their enquires.

The 49-year-old woman’s body was found in her home by her partner, who “desperately ran to his neighbour’s house for help” after finding her on the kitchen floor.

Police have not confirmed the circumstances of her death, but revealed she suffered “significant injuries”. It’s believed she had received serious knife wounds to her neck.

A friend of the victim had also arrived to check on the woman – who neighbours described as a “reclusive person” – when she failed to turn up to work.

One neighbour told The Herald Sun the woman “always had the window shutters and blinds closed”.

Another said they didn’t know the woman, but described the circumstances surrounding her death as “truly tragic”.


Anyone with information is being urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

4. A study has revealed that the sperm counts of Australian men have halved in 40 years.

Poor lifestyle choices linked to obesity have been blamed for the halving of sperm counts among Australian men.

An international study published in journal Human Reproduction Update has found sperm counts have dropped by more than 50 per cent in less than 40 years among men in North America, Europe and Australia, AAP reports.

Australian reproductive expert Kelton Tremellen, Professor of Reproductive Medicine at Flinders University, says the paper confirms pervious observations and should act as a “wake-up call” to men.

The most likely cause of this halving of sperm counts, he says, is obesity.

“Poor diet and lack of exercise, both endemic in the western world, has resulted in two-thirds of men being overweight or obese, and obesity is known to be a significant risk factor for both low testosterone levels and sperm count,” Prof Kelton said.

“By maintaining a healthy weight, plus eating plenty of good foods like fish, nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables, while avoiding high-fat and sugary foods, will help maintain both a healthy sperm count and good overall health,” he said.

Researchers from the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai conducted meta-analysis of 185 studies between 1973 and 2011.

They found a 52.4 per cent decline in sperm concentration and a 59.3 per cent decline in total sperm count among men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, who were not selected based on their fertility status.


No significant decline was seen in South America, Asia and Africa.

The authors say the findings warrant rigorous investigation.

“Given the importance of sperm counts for male fertility and human health, this study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world to investigate the causes of the sharp ongoing drop in sperm count, with the goal of prevention,” said lead author Dr Hagai Levine.

5. Search warrant says a woman ‘slapped’ police car before Justine Damond was killed.

A woman approached the back of a Minneapolis police car and “slapped” it shortly before Justine Damond was shot and killed by an officer, according to a search warrant.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension search warrant, obtained by Minnesota Public Radio, doesn’t specifically say that the woman was Damond, AAP reports.

However the warrant says, “upon police arrival, a female ‘slaps’ the back of the patrol squad … After that, it is unknown to BCA agents what exactly happened, but the female became deceased in the alley.”

Officer Mohamed Noor is on paid leave after he killed Damond, a 40-year-old spiritual teacher from Sydney’s northern beaches who was engaged to be married, on July 15 after she called 911 twice to report a possible rape.

Noor, who was in the passenger seat of a squad car, shot across his partner in the driver’s seat and hit Damond. His partner told authorities that he was startled by a loud noise shortly before Damond appeared at the police vehicle.


The search warrant did not say whether the slap was the loud noise Noor’s partner described, MPR reported.

State authorities are investigating potential criminal charges. Noor also faces an internal use of force investigation.

6. Man arrested after he ‘doused a woman in petrol and set her alight’.

A man has been charged after a Brisbane woman was allegedly doused in an accelerant and set on fire.

The 28-year-old woman was transported to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital for treatment of second-degree burns to her arms and chest following the alleged attack on Tuesday morning.

7 News reports she is recovering in intensive care after the attack, which took place while her flatmates were also in the home.

“I just walked outside and she was on fire,” one of the woman’s housemates told reporters.

A 27-year-old Wavell Heights man, who is known to the woman, was taken into custody and subsequently charged with one count each of attempted murder and enter with intent.

It’s alleged the man had only known the victim for about two weeks when he entered her home through an unlocked back door and doused her in a flammable liquid while she was in bed.

Police believe the man fled after the attack, but was later found at a Chermside address and was taken to hospital for a medical assessment.

He is due to face court this morning.

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