Thursday's news in 5 minutes.

1. Toddler suffers second-degree burns after walking barefoot on playground rubber matting.

A Townsville mum has issued a warning to fellow parents after her 15-month-old son suffered second degree burns after walking on hot rubber matting at a playground.

Jessica Mead said her son Jackson had been running barefoot on an oval before walking over to the playground.

“He raced out to the playground and started screaming. That ear piecing scream where your ‘mumtum’ sinks. He had no shoes on and the surface was boiling,” she wrote in a Facebook post on her blog’s page.

“Instead of moving, because after all he’s still only a little toddler, he just stood there screaming, it was like his feet were glued to the surface. I ran so fast to grab him, and I tipped water on his feet.”

The 29-year-old mum noticed the soles of Jackson’s feet had blistered immediately.

The next day, a GP confirmed Jackson was suffering from second-degree, superficial burns.

“Our doctor told us Jackson was the third child she had seen that week with similar burns, including another one from the same park and one from a day care where staff had apparently forgotten to put away a rubber mat before the kids went outside,” Jessica told The Courier Mail.

“Let this be a reminder to all parents to check the surfaces before kids play, and if I’m not already stating the obvious, hats and shoes aren’t negotiable in summer.” she wrote.

2. Final photo before 21-year-old woman drowned in New Zealand’s Waikato River.


Auckland student Rachael Louise De Jong was killed after being swept away when the floodgate on New Zealand’s Waikato River was opened.

Rachael was swimming with friends, who all managed to make it to the riverbank. Rachael’s body was later found downstream in a rock pool, reports.

Two German tourists – Katrin Taylor and Kevin Kiau – watched in horror as the tragedy unfolded before their eyes.

“We could see the water was rising further and that they were in danger of getting washed away,” Taylor said.

“There was still one girl left in the middle of the river. I’m not sure if she tried to jump, or the water was already too high, but she was gone pretty quick without making it to the safer rock, to the larger one.

“We thought they would have broken bones but they would come out alive. There was nothing we could have done. We could just stand there and watch helplessly and it was horrible.”

3. Melbourne woman in a coma after she was hit during a high-speed police pursuit.


A 42-year-old woman is in an induced coma after she was hit during an alleged police pursuit in Melbourne’s north, 9 News reports.

Danielle Reading’s car was T-boned by a ute driver who was out on bail. She suffered five broken ribs and a punctured lung. A CAT scan also revealed she has bleeding on the brain.

She will likely spend the next six weeks in hospital recovering from her injuries.

“I’ve squeezed her hand, but we’re not getting anything,” her mother, Jillian Reading, told 9 News.

“I don’t want any family to ever have to go through it because it’s so awful,” Danielle’s sister, Ashlee, said.

“She will pull through though, she’s too tough.”

The alleged driver, 31-year-old Robert Wilson, has been charged with a string of offences, including conduct endangering life, driving while disqualified and evading police.

4. Rolf Harris has been found not guilty on three indecent assault charges.


A London jury has found disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris not guilty on three counts of groping girls and women, 7 News reports.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on four other counts.

The 86-year-old was charged with six counts of indecent assault and one of sexual assault dating between 1971 and 2004. The seven complainants were aged between 13 and 42 when the assaults took place.

Harris appeared to sigh with relief as he listened to the not guilty verdicts.

The former TV and radio star’s lawyer, Daniel Berke, offered a brief statement on his behalf, thanking the jury for their verdict.

“Mr Harris is grateful for the care and attention the jury has given to his case and for the not-guilty verdicts returned. Given the uncertainty as to what will now happen, no further comment can be made,” Berke said.

The not-guilty verdicts could mean that Harris could walk free from jail within months. He is currently serving a five year and nine month jail term after he was found guilty of 12 counts of indecently assaulting four women and girls in 2014.

The 86-year-old is due to be released on parole in May or June.

5. Man charged with the murder of his partner who went missing seven years ago.

An 46-year-old man from Innisfail, Queensland, has been charged with the murder of his partner, who went missing seven years ago, 9 News reports.


Leann Maxine Lapham was last seen leaving room 17 of Innisfail’s Riverside Motel in April 2010. Lapham’s son was just three weeks old when she disappeared.

Police reopened the cold case three months ago due to a tip-off from the public.

The man has been charged with murder and interfering with a corpse and is due to appear in Innisfail Magistrates Court on Thursday.

Police are still appealing for further information as to the whereabouts of the woman’s remains. Anyone with information is urged to call local police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

6. Man’s incredible escape after being trapped in dam with his nose barely above the water.

A New South Wales man is lucky to be alive after he was pinned under a 3.5-tonne excavator in a dam on his property near Forster for two hours.

45-year-old Daniel Miller was trapped with his nose barely above the water before a neighbour eventually heard his cries for help, according to 7 News.

The Rural Fire Service pumped water from the dam so Miller could be released.

He was taken to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle for treatment of minor injuries, including potential hypothermia.

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