Wednesday’s news in 5 minutes.

Video via Channel 9

1. Woman held another woman captive for two years and ‘tried to impregnate her with her boyfriend’s sperm’.

A Florida woman has pleaded guilty to keeping a Mexican woman captive for two years and trying to impregnate her with her boyfriend’s sperm, News 6 WKMG reports.

Esthela Clark, 47, pleaded guilty to a single count on forced labour when she appeared in federal court on Monday. She will be sentenced next month, and could face up to 20 years in prison.

According to court documents, Clark paid ‘coyotes’ US$3,000 to smuggle the 26-year-old victim – who has not been named – across the Mexican border in 2012.

The victim was then promised US$4,000 if she served as a surrogate for Clark and her boyfriend, under the premise the procedure would be overseen by medical professionals and that she would be able to return to her family after giving birth.

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Instead, the woman was forced into manual labour, and was allegedly subjected to physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Clark.

It is alleged Clark attempted to impregnate the woman up to three times a day using syringes filled with her boyfriend’s sperm, which she had collected from used condoms. When she did not fall pregnant, the woman was forced to “have sex with two complete strangers through threats of force and coercion”, court documents said.

Throughout her ordeal, which lasted for two years, the woman lost almost 30kg after being fed a restricted diet of only beans. She was finally rescued when someone saw her “washing cars in very cold weather with insufficient clothing”.

Clark was indicted in 2015 on charges of bringing in and harbouring aliens, sex trafficking of children, forced labor and furthering slave traffic.

2. One injured in wall collapse during Cyclone Debbie as massive cleanup begins.

The army has been called in to clean up the disaster zone in Queensland after the category four storm lashed the state with winds of up to 260 km/h.

At 3am on Wednesday morning, Cyclone Debbie was downgraded out of the cyclone category to a tropical low by the Bureau of Meteorology, however a severe weather warning is still in place as the storm moves south-west into Queensland and is expected to wreak havoc for the rest of the week.

One man, believed to be aged in his 60s, was badly injured when a wall collapsed on him in his home during the storm.

As the massive clean-up beings, Queensland’s tourism chief fears images of Cyclone Debbie’s destruction will lead to a significant drop-off in tourists visiting the entire state.

Daniel Gschwind has warned there’s a strong chance travellers will cancel their bookings, not only to the cyclone-ravaged north, but across the state.

“When the images of disasters, strong winds, uprooted trees go around the world and around Australia, some people incorrectly assume that all of Queensland is shut,” the Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive told AAP.

“We don’t want a second wave of damage of people unnecessarily cancelling their holidays.”

Debbie, which hit the mainland north of Airlie Beach at midday on Tuesday, brought Bowen, Airlie Beach, Proserpine, the Whitsundays and other far north communities to a standstill as everyone bunkered down for the category four cyclone.

Mr Gschwind said the Whitsunday region, which includes Hayman and Hamilton islands, generates about $2 million a day in tourism and about $700 million a year, and a disaster of this magnitude would have a significant impact.

He said it was important to get the message out that most parts of Queensland were open for business.

Cyclone Debbie is the most severe storm to hit Queensland since Cyclone Yasi in 2011, which was estimated to have cost the state $400 million in tourism dollars.

Highlighting the destructive winds, Daydream Island Resort said there was significant damage to the resort’s jetty and pontoon, and extensive damage to vegetation across the island, with many trees uprooted.

The roof of a spa and a boardwalk section had been lifted away by the wind but no guests or staff had been injured.

“Whilst conditions are still dangerous outside, we aren’t able to ascertain the full extent of damage,” the hotel said in a statement.

3. Outrage as ‘monster’ jailed for murdering Melbourne schoolgirl plans to appeal conviction using Legal Aid.

A “monster” jailed for life for killing Melbourne schoolgirl Masa Vukotic and raping a woman at a Christian bookshop is planning to appeal his rape conviction, AAP reports.

Sean Price, 32, pleaded guilty to murder, rape, robbery and attempted theft after a crime spree in March 2015.

He killed the 17-year-old schoolgirl while she was on her evening walk, and told police he then raped a woman because he knew he was going to jail forever.

Price has now applied to Victorian Legal Aid for funding to appeal the conviction.

VLA says everyone is entitled to apply for legal assistance and Mr Price’s application will be assessed the same as that of any other Victorian.

“The Attorney-General is prohibited from interfering in any decision about an individual, and the views and attitudes about applicants are similarly not relevant under our system of justice,” a VLA spokesman said in a statement.

“Sometimes those applications are granted and sometimes they are not. Our obligation is to assess those applications with fairness and impartiality.”

Premier Daniel Andrews said Price is in jail “exactly where he should be” but the government would not intervene in the legal aid process.

“There is a process and it’s not for politicians to trample on that process, or to seek to run it,” Mr Andrews said on Tuesday.

“I think that an independent legal aid assessment process is very important.”

Price’s application has outraged the Victims of Crime Commission, which says the victims’ human rights are being ignored.

“He’s been charged, tried, convicted and sentenced all on the public purse. Surely you only get one go, don’t you?” Victims of Crime commissioner Greg Davies said.

“Almost everyone forgets the victims but they’re taxpayers too, and he wants taxpayers’ money.”

The state opposition called Price a “monster” and called on the premier intervene.

4. Teen student whose teacher allegedly called him “his bitch” during sexual relationship gives evidence.

The former pupil of a man accused of calling the male student “his bitch” while having sex with him is expected to continue giving evidence at the teacher’s trial in Sydney.

The teacher, 39-year-old Cameron White, is on trial over his alleged sexual relationships with the male student and two female students across three Sydney high school campuses from 2007, AAP reports.

The male student, then 14, told the NSW District Court on Tuesday he had a “major crush” on his geography teacher and was ecstatic when the teacher started messaging him online.

The male former student on Tuesday said the pair first had sex in the back seat of White’s car after meeting at a spot near the teenager’s house. It would subsequently become a regular occurrence.

“I couldn’t actually believe it was happening because, as I mentioned before, I had a major crush on him for so long,” the former student told the court.

As they continued to meet, White became rough during sex and asked the student if he could call him “his bitch”, the former student said.

Later the student moved to another school but he said he would continue to meet with White until he was 18, including at the teacher’s Sutherland apartment.

White has pleaded not guilty to one count of aggravated indecency, and multiple counts of aggravated sexual intercourse and sexual intercourse with a person under care.

The trial is expected to continue today.

5. Sydney beachgoers oblivious as shark shares ocean pool with swimmers.

Swimmers at a popular Sydney beach were shocked to learn they had been sharing the water with a dusky whaler shark, the Manly Daily reports.

The dusky whaler – reported to be between 80 and 90cm long – was spotted in a Palm Beach swimming pool around 2.30pm yesterday, while people were still in the water.

“My initial response was obviously it wasn’t very hungry because it had ample opportunity,” Jennifer Hill, who had been swimming the pool for over an hour, said.

“It was a beautiful experience. Everybody who swam in the pool this morning didn’t know…except one person.”

The shark was rescued from the pool, and beachgoers were assured the juvenile creature posed no risk to humans.

It is not known how the shark ended up in the pool, but experts believe high tides might be to blame.

6. Adelaide teenager charged with child sex offences.

A 17-year-old South Australian boy has been charged for child sex offences after he was found with aggravated child exploitation material.

Police say the children in the images are under 14.

The teen has been charged for producing, disseminating and possessing the material, AAP reports.

He was was refused bail and will appear in the Adelaide Youth Court at a later date.

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