William Tyrrell's grandmother initially suspected a neighbour could be involved in his disappearance, & more in news in 5.

1. William Tyrrell’s grandmother initially suspected a neighbour could be involved in his disappearance.

The foster grandmother of missing NSW toddler William Tyrrell initially told police one of her neighbours may have had something to do with his disappearance because he kept odd hours and lived alone.

William’s family “seemed in good health and everyone was happy” when they arrived at the then 81-year-old’s home at Kendall on the state’s mid-north coast on September 11 in 2014, the grandmother told police at the time.

The next morning the family awoke and William’s foster father left to visit a nearby town while the three-year-old, his sister, and foster mother stayed at home with the grandmother.

“William was dressed in a ‘Spiderman’ costume and he was full of beans,” the grandmother told police a few days later according to a statement released by the NSW Coroners Court on Tuesday.

“He was jumping out of his skin with energy.”

After playing on the rear verandah, William ran around the right side of the house toward the front of the property.

“That’s the last time I saw William,” she said.

The woman describes the harrowing first moments of the search in which her daughter, William’s foster mother, was calling out for the young boy.

Police arrived to search the house and surrounding area and the scene descended into “pandemonium”, the foster grandmother stated at the time.

“I can’t think of anyone who would want to harm William,” she said, noting local police officer Wendy Hudson first asked the question.


“I suggested (a neighbour) across the road (as he keeps odd hours and lives alone).

“Wendy assures me that she has checked him out thoroughly.”

The neighbour was investigated and ruled out as a suspect, according to police sources.

The foster grandmother, in the same police statement, said she was also concerned William might have made his way to nearby Batar Creek Road which had “lots of traffic moving back and forth”.

Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame is conducting an inquest into William’s disappearance.

The first hearing in March hinted evidence will likely show William did not wander into the rugged bushland around the Benaroon Drive home and was possibly abducted.

The inquest is scheduled to resume on August 5.

Listen to The Quicky debrief on the truth about William Tyrrell’s parents, and what happened after the three-year-old’s disappearance. Post continues below.

2. “Only now do you realise how serious rape is.” Australian cricketer Alex Hepburn jailed for 5 years for UK rape.


An Australian cricketer who treated a “dozing” woman whom he raped in his teammate’s bedroom like a “piece of meat” has been jailed in the UK for five years.

Alex Hepburn, 23, was convicted after an attack he carried out during the first night of a sexual conquest “game” he helped to set up on a WhatsApp group.

The former Worcestershire county all-rounder was said by the prosecution to have been “fired up” by the contest to sleep with the most women, before carrying out the rape at his flat in Portland Street, Worcester, on April 1, 2017.

Jailing Hepburn at Hereford Crown Court on Tuesday, sentencing judge Jim Tindal told the “immature” cricketer he and a former teammate Joe Clarke had agreed to a “pathetic sexist game to collect as many sexual encounters as possible”, following a similar stunt the previous year.


In remarks about the WhatsApp chat group, the judge said: “You probably thought it was laddish behaviour at the time.

“In truth it was foul sexism.

“It demeaned women and trivialised rape – a word you personally threw around lightly.

“Only now do you realise how serious rape is.”

That night, Clarke had “done nothing wrong”, having consensual sex with the woman, leaving her sleeping while he, feeling unwell, passed out in the nearby bathroom.

It was when Hepburn got home, “alone, drunk and frustrated”, that he “saw a chance” and attacked the woman, the judge said.

Judge Tindal told Hepburn he had “arrogantly” believed his victim would consent.

Addressing the cricketer, he said: “You thought you were God’s gift to women.

“You did see her at that moment as a piece of meat, not a woman entitled to respect.

“Sex is something people do together, with that particular person at that particular time.

“Sex is never something a man does to a woman, arrogantly assuming consent – in a relationship, let alone as you did.


“As she said, in evidence, ‘that is rape’ – that is what you did.

“In that moment you scarred both your lives forever.”

A jury had found Hepburn guilty of oral rape at a retrial earlier this month but cleared him of a further count of rape relating to the same victim.

The four-day trial at Worcester Crown Court heard the woman wrongly thought she was having sex with Hepburn’s then county teammate Clarke after meeting him at a nightclub.

She told jurors she had consensual sex with England Lions batsman Clarke.

Hepburn told jurors he had drunk the equivalent of 20 bottles of beer before he found the woman alone on a mattress at the flat he shared with Clarke.

Claiming he reasonably believed the woman had consented, Hepburn told jurors she had rolled over in bed, kissed him, and instigated “normal” consensual sex.

The judge praised the victim’s impact statement, describing it as “one of most articulate and powerful descriptions of rape I have ever read”.

In it, the woman Hepburn attacked described her ordeal as “evil” and a “heinous crime”.

Describing the impact on her physical and emotional health, she now suffered panic attacks, anxiety, and “violent anger outbursts”, and had struggled to hold down a steady job. She added she was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.


Hepburn’s barrister, Michelle Heeley QC, said her client had expressed “true remorse”, had never set out to hurt anyone, and had received “death threats” following his conviction.

She added her client had been “very young and immature, at the time”, and “living a life – he accepts a privileged life – and to an extent, he abused that privilege.

“He has lost everything: his career, his good character and ultimately his liberty and how he comes back from that is a very difficult question,” Ms Heeley said.

3. A mother allegedly stabbed a “gentle and caring” teacher at Byron Bay school.


A mother has been charged after allegedly stabbing a “gentle and caring” teacher with scissors at a primary school in Byron Bay.

The woman, 31, is accused of stabbing 28-year-old teacher Zane Vockler in the face and arm at Byron Bay Public School at about 7am on Tuesday.

Police allege the two were “speaking on the premises before she approached him with what’s believed to be a pair of scissors”.

The teacher was initially taken to a local hospital before being transferred to Tweed Hospital in a stable condition for surgery.

A crime scene was established and the school temporarily locked down as police searched for the accused parent.

Officers arrested the mother at a home in nearby Suffolk Park about three hours later.

She was charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and entering enclosed lands without a lawful excuse and will face Tweed Heads Local Court on Wednesday.

Inspector Chad Deegenaars said it wasn’t a random attack.

“There was never any stage where students were at risk,” he told AAP.

“It seems to be very isolated and not an ongoing or common problem.”


One parent wrote on Facebook that her child saw a “pool of blood” near the school’s library.

Another local said it was sad to hear about the attack on the first day back at school after the holiday break.

“The most lovely teacher,” he wrote on Facebook.

“So undeserving of this. May his recovery and healing be swift.”

School newsletters reveal Mr Vockler is an active staff member. He’s helped organise parent volunteers for the school garden and played the guitar for visiting grandparents.

The NSW education department said strict security measures were put in place on Tuesday until it was safe for the school to begin operating normally again.

“Counselling has been made available to staff and students,” a spokesman told AAP in a statement.

The school faced another issue recently when a threatening comment about the principal was posted on social media, according to one local.

The threat came after a “concerned parent” launched a petition to pressure the principal to remove the school’s WiFi over fears it could “microwave kids”.

The petition attracted more than 250 signatures in a month.

4. Justine Damond death described as a “the perfect storm”.

justine ruszczyk mohamed noor
Justine Damond. Image: Facebook.

— With AP.

Was Australian life coach Justine Ruszczyk Damond murdered by a Minneapolis police officer, or was her shooting death a tragic case of walking into a "perfect storm" with horrendous circumstances?

That is what a jury of 10 men and two women have been left to decide after prosecutors and former officer Mohamed Noor's defence team delivered their closing addresses in a Minneapolis courtroom on Monday.

It was the end of three weeks of harrowing testimony.


"Regardless of your decision, Mr Noor is going to have to live with the fact that he took an innocent life," Noor's lawyer, Thomas Plunkett, told the jury.

Noor, a 33-year-old Somali-American, was charged with murder and manslaughter for firing a fatal bullet into the stomach of Ms Damond, a 40-year-old formerly of Sydney and US-Australian dual citizen.

Ms Damond was home alone on a July night in 2017 when she heard a woman's screams near an alley behind her house in one of Minneapolis' safest neighbourhoods and called 911, fearing a possible rape.

It was just before midnight and the alley was poorly lit.

Noor and his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, testified Ms Damond startled them when she approached their stationary squad car at the end of the alley.

Noor, from the front passenger seat of the vehicle, fired across Officer Harrity and out the open window, striking Ms Damond, who was barefoot and wearing a pink "Koala Australia" t-shirt and pyjama pants.

Noor, fearing an ambush, said he made the split-second decision because Officer Harrity had fear in his eyes, exclaimed "Oh Jesus!" and struggled to pull his gun out of its holster.

"Whatever Harrity said or did, it was not a command for the defendant to shoot and kill Ms Ruszczyk," Prosecutor Amy Sweasy told the jury.


Ms Sweasy attacked Noor's credibility and questioned his claim he and Officer Harrity heard a loud noise just before Ms Damond appeared.

She noted neither Noor nor Officer Harrity mentioned the bang at the scene, with Officer Harrity first talking about it three days later in an interview with an investigator, and pointed out Ms Damond's fingerprints were not found on the car.

"There is no conclusive proof she ever touched that car," Ms Sweasy said.

Mr Plunkett began his closing address with an element of drama.

The defence lawyer banged his lectern, shouted a profanity and yelled, "Pow!"

Mr Plunkett was recreating Noor's testimony that he heard a bang right before Ms Damond approached the squad car, followed by his partner swearing and struggling to pull out his gun.

Noor said he saw Ms Damond raise her right arm before he fired.

"It's the perfect storm," Mr Plunkett said.

Mr Plunkett urged jurors to look at the precise moment of the shooting, without the benefit of hindsight, and consider whether a reasonable officer would do the same thing when confronted by the same factors.

The jury will be sequestered until reaching a verdict, with deliberations resuming Tuesday.

Noor, who had been an officer for less than two years, was fired from the police force soon after the charges were filed last year.


5. Netflix is making a mini-series about the Thai cave rescue.

The story of the Thai soccer team who were trapped for more than two weeks will be told by Netflix.

Netflix says it has secured the rights to make a miniseries about the dramatic rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a cave in northern Thailand last year that captured international attention.

"The story combines so many unique local and universal themes which connected people from all walks of life, from all around the world," Erika North, Netflix's Director of International Originals, said on Tuesday.


"Thailand is a very important market for Netflix and we are looking forward to bringing this inspiring local, but globally resonant story... to life," she added.

The "Wild Boars" soccer team, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach became trapped on June 23 while exploring the cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai when a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.

A 17-day effort to rescue them gripped the world with experts from various countries, including Australia, volunteering to help.

Australian doctors and expert cave divers Richard Harris and Craig Challen were key players in the rescue.

"We look forward to working with all involved parties to ensure our story is told accurately," assistant coach Ekkapol "Ake" Chantapong said.

The miniseries will be directed by Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu and Nattawut "Baz" Poonpiriya.

Netflix and SK Global Entertainment secured the rights from the 13 Thamluang, a company established by the boys and their coach.

So far, two books about the rescue have been published while a feature film by British-Thai director Tom Waller, The Cave, wrapped up shooting in December, according to the Hollywood Reporter.