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William Tyrrell's foster father tells inquest of his frantic search, & more in News in 5.

With AAP

1. William Tyrrell’s foster father tells inquest why toddler can’t have wandered far from his backyard.


William Tyrrell’s foster father says he held out hope in the days after he returned home from a business meeting in 2014 and his wife asked: “Is William with you?”

“Why would he be with me?” he replied.

The man, who cannot be identified, gave evidence at the NSW Coroners Court on day three of the inquest into the three-year-old’s disappearance and suspected death on the NSW mid north coast.

He was in Kendall with his wife and their two foster children, visiting the woman’s mother, when William vanished while wearing his Spiderman costume on September 12.

The man said he drove to nearby Lakewood about 9am for a strong internet connection for a conference call and planned to be home about 10.30am.

He sent a text to his wife about that time to say he’d be home in five minutes.

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The last known photograph of William Tyrrell. Image supplied.

The foster mother called police at 10.56am to report the missing boy, estimating he'd been gone since 10.30am.

Counsel assisting the coroner, Gerard Craddock SC, on Wednesday asked why he didn't stop and talk to his wife about where she'd searched before he sprung into action.

"I had assumed in the time that I got home, if she couldn't find him, that she'd already actually done the immediate area including inside and outside the house," the man said.

"I knew it would probably be best for me to start to branch out."

He searched through lantana bushes, under houses, leapt over boundary fences, looked through sheds, trees and bushes.

"Everything, everywhere he might have gone," he said.

"There was method to my madness, if I can say that, searching the immediate areas where I knew he could potentially travel in a period of time."

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The foster father joined the extensive police and State Emergency Service search for four days after William's disappearance on the Friday morning.

He told the court that William had asthma and could get wheezy "if he’s under walking stress or a lot of activity". He said William was not allergic to plants.

Come nightfall, he began to worry about food and shelter for William, "if he was lost".

When asked by Mr Craddock if he believed William would be found over the weekend, the foster father replied: "I had hope. I had hope."

Port Macquarie SES coordinator Paul Burg on Wednesday testified people from Coffs Harbour to Newcastle travelled to the area to assist, searching parts of bushland thick with "impenetrable" lantana.

"A missing child will get people from anywhere to come," he said.

Leading Senior Constable Tim Williams said his investigation included consideration of a three-year-old's "lost person behaviour" such as wandering off during fantasy play or to see if his foster father had arrived home.

William's foster mother has previously testified her immediate thought when the boy fell silent while playing around the home was that he'd been snatched.

Mr Craddock on Monday said he expected the evidence would establish William was taken.

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. Theresa May says she'll quit to save Brexit deal.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says she will quit if her twice-defeated EU divorce deal passes at the third attempt, in a last-ditch bid to persuade rebels in her Conservative Party to back her.

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May told a meeting of Conservative MPs she would stand down if her divorce plan finally got through a bitterly divided parliament, to ensure a smooth path for a new leader to begin the next step of negotiating the future relationship with the European Union.

"I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party," May said on Wednesday.

"I know there is a desire for a new approach - and new leadership - in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations - and I won't stand in the way of that."

May's announcement is the latest dramatic turn in the United Kingdom's three-year Brexit crisis, but it is still remains uncertain how, when or even if it will leave the European Union.

Many of the Conservative rebels who want a cleaner break from the EU than May's deal would deliver had made it clear that they would only consider supporting her agreement if she gave a firm commitment and date for her resignation.

May, a vicar's daughter, had already promised to step down before the next election, due in 2022. By agreeing to go sooner, she increases the chances of her EU deal passing before the new April 12 deadline.

"I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party," May told the party meeting, according to extracts released by her office.

"I ask everyone in this room to back the deal so we can complete our historic duty - to deliver on the decision of the British people and leave the European Union with a smooth and orderly exit."

The government is now expected to bring the deal back to parliament for a third vote on Friday.

"It was inevitable and I just feel she's made the right decision. She has actually read the mood of the party, which was a surprise," Conservative MP Pauline Latham said.

May's deal means Britain will leave the EU single market and customs union as well as EU political bodies.

But it requires some EU rules to apply unless ways can be found in the future to ensure no border is rebuilt between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

Many Conservative rebels have objected to this so-called Irish backstop, saying it risks binding Britain to the EU for years. But given the choice between the backstop and no Brexit at all, more should come round.

Some of the party's most influential dissenters had already indicated they would back her deal, agreed after two years of talks with the EU, saying it was the least worst option.

May's deal was defeated in parliament by 149 votes on March 12 and by 230 votes on Jan. 15.

While May was telling her MPs of her intention to quit in a parliament committee room, MPs in the main chamber debated eight Brexit options ranging from leaving abruptly with no deal to revoking the divorce papers or holding a new referendum.

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Several options on the table would see much closer alignments with the EU than May has been willing to consider, including staying in the common market or a customs union.

They will vote at 7pm on a ballot paper for as many proposals as they wish. Results will be announced after 9pm local time (8am AEDT Thursday).

3. Scott Morrison refuses to confirm how he'll preference One Nation, despite their efforts to weaken gun laws.

One Nation sought millions of dollars from American lobbyists in return for influencing Australia's gun laws, but Scott Morrison is waiting for final nominations before deciding if the party will be last on the Liberals' preference list.

The prime minister is under pressure to put Pauline Hanson's party last, with some moderate Liberal MPs already scathing of her anti-Islam views after the Christchurch mosque killings.

Revelations the party spoke to the National Rifle Association in the US was the latest in a long list of "many reasons not to vote for One Nation," Mr Morrison said on Tuesday.

But he is sticking with his decision to delay a call on federal election preferences on the Liberals' how-to-vote cards.

"I'm not interested in getting One Nation's preferences. I'm interested in getting their primary vote," he told reporters in Brisbane.

He said One Nation's attempts to get funding from the NRA - revealed in an Al Jazeera TV investigation - amounted to selling out Australians.

"We have reports that One Nation officials basically sought to sell Australia's gun laws to the highest bidders to a foreign buyer and I find that abhorrent," Mr Morrison said.

The prime minister said other extreme parties might need to be below One Nation, once the final list of candidates is known.

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"Tell me this: Fraser Anning runs a candidate in Queensland in every single seat, who goes last?" he asked.

Some Liberals want One Nation last on the ticket.

"I personally don't see why we would in any shape or form not put them last," Jobs Minister Kelly O'Dwyer said.

"You need to call it as you see it and you need to demonstrate leadership."

Social Services Minister Michael Keenan nominated a different target.

"The Greens are, I think, more dangerous than One Nation in many ways," Mr Keenan told Sky News.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is committed to putting One Nation last on Labor's how-to-vote cards.

"One Nation is a circus, they're a dangerous circus and they've been caught out and the government should not give them any support," Mr Shorten told reporters in Sydney.

"Mr Morrison needs to cut off the umbilical cord of legitimacy which the Liberal-Nationals are giving One Nation."

Former Nationals leader Tim Fischer, who was deputy prime minister during Senator Hanson's first rise to prominence, said One Nation was a "contaminated product" and the coalition parties should steer clear of it.

4. A report has found pro-gun Australians donate as much to politicians as their US counterparts.

Australian pro-gun advocates are spending as much per person on political donations as their powerful counterparts in America, according to a new report.

The National Rifle Association in the US spends far more overall than local equivalents such as the Shooting Industry Foundation Australia, research by the Australia Institute has found.

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One Nation members James Ashby and Steve Dickson were filmed discussing weakening Australia’s gun laws with funding from the NRA.
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But the two groups spent a similar amount on political donations per million people in their respective countries, the study commissioned by Gun Control Australia finds.

In the 2018 cycle, the NRA spent $2512 per million US residents, while in 2015/16 - the financial year before the previous Australian election - the SIFA spent $2562 per million Australians.

In total, pro-gun groups and businesses have donated $1.7 million to Australian political parties in the past eight years.

Bob Katter's Australian Party has been the biggest beneficiary, receiving $808,750, followed by the Shooters Party who received $699,834.

The donations and other political campaigns attract little attention because the Australian lobby keeps them low key, the report says.

Gun Control Australia president Sam Lee says the analysis shows an NRA-style gun lobby, including gun manufacturers and importers, is flourishing down under.

"It has deep pockets, extensive networks and parliamentary representation," she said.

5. Convicted Mexican drug lord El Chapo is seeking a new trial, claiming juror misconduct.

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Lawyers for Joaquin Guzman, the Mexican crime lord known as El Chapo, say his drug smuggling conviction should be set aside and a new trial ordered.

They say juror misconduct deprived him of his constitutional right to a fair trial.

In a filing with the federal court on Tuesday in Brooklyn, New York, the lawyers said a new trial was needed after an article in Vice News said several jurors ignored the trial judge's ban against following media coverage of the case during the 11-week trial.

"We look forward to vindicating his rights in a new trial," Eduardo Balarezo, a lawyer for Guzman, said in a statement.

Guzman, 61, was convicted on February 12 on all 10 counts he faced, after jurors heard evidence from more than 50 prosecution witnesses, offering an unprecedented look at the inner workings of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Prosecutors said Guzman trafficked tonnes of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine into the United States over two decades, amassing power in Mexico through murders and wars with rival cartels. He faces life in prison at a scheduled June 25 sentencing.

John Marzulli, a spokesman for US Attorney Richard Donoghue, whose office prosecuted Guzman, declined to comment.

The February 20 Vice News article was based on an interview with an unnamed juror, and said at least five fellow jurors violated Judge Brian Cogan's orders not to follow Guzman's case in the media or on Twitter.

Guzman's lawyers said this exposed jurors to a "flood" of prejudicial information not admitted at trial.

They said this included a New York Times article based on public court filings that said Guzman drugged and raped girls as young as 13, and published just two days before deliberations began. Guzman previously denied those accusations.

The Vice article also said jurors knew from Twitter that Cogan would ask if they had seen the Times article, and several lied when he asked. "We all denied it, obviously," the unnamed juror said, according to Vice.

"If a justice system's measure is how it treats the most reviled and unpopular, then ours may have failed Joaquin Guzman by denying him the fair trial before an untainted jury to which he's constitutionally entitled," Guzman's lawyers said.

The lawyers want a hearing to examine whether there was juror misconduct. This could require that jurors, who had been transported to and from court during the trial under tight security, be questioned themselves.

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