Motel ‘last sizeable site’ in the east

An aerial view of the Novocastrian Motor Inn, which is for sale.THE Novocastrian Motor Inn in Parnell Place has hit the market, having been described by agents as the last significant development opportunity in Newcastle East.

Adam Leacy and Chris Chapman, of Colliers International Newcastle, have listed the 47-room motel with three street frontages for expressions of interest, which close on September 4.

The 1106-square-metre property at 21 Parnell Place has been a motel for more than 30 years and includes five levels of accommodation, three function rooms, a commercial kitchen and restaurant, secure basement parking and a three-bedroom penthouse manager’s residence commanding 360-degree ocean, city and harbour views.

Mr Leacy described the property’s location as “five star”.

“Standing on this property you have views in every direction,” Mr Leacy said.

“There are no large-scale sites available in the east end as it stands currently.

“It would be very rare that you could get seven or eight terrace owners to combine forces and go to the market to offer a 1000-square-metre footprint.”

Mr Leacy said he had already received strong interest from prospective buyers interested in the unique property, which he said offered a range of potential uses.

This includes as a redevelopment, boutique hotel and adaptive re-use as residential apartments.

The property’s annual outgoings are $39,476.44.

‘Affordable’ entry point

A WALLSEND property that has housed a real estate office for 81 years has been listed for sale.

The two-storey building at 103 Nelson Street was constructed in 1889 and has had a varied life, originally comprising a residence at the rear and upstairs and also operating as a book store.

It was home to estate agents and builders JT Bishop and Sons for 46 years, housed Reg Clarke Real Estate for 28 years and has been occupied by Street Real Estate since 2008.

Dane Crawford, of Colliers International Newcastle, has listed the 175-square-metre property as a going concern for offers over $340,000.

“This building is steeped in history and is a great investment option at an affordable entry point,” Mr Crawford said.

The property is centrally located in the heart of Wallsend’s commercial centre, close to shops, cafes, bus stops, banks and the post office.

It has five on-site car-parking spaces, two street frontages and is zoned B2 Local Centre. It attracts a net rental of about $31,393.80 per year.

Be part of Wallsend renewal

A WALLSEND development site overlooking parkland offers prospective buyers the chance to play a role in the suburb’s urban renewal.

Simon Boyle and Darren Bender, of Robinson Property, have listed the 4861-square-metre site at 2C John Street for $995,000.

The property is at the end of a cul-de-sac overlooking Federal Park and two-thirds of it is leased to Daracon on an ongoing basis.

Mr Boyle said the site was rezoned on June 26 from light industrial to a mix of E2 environmental conservation and R3 medium density residential.

“This property is ideal for buyers looking to secure a key site overlooking the park and develop now, taking advantage of the new zoning and position among a larger and connected area that has been rezoned,” Mr Boyle said.

“Wallsend is changing – the recent introduction of Bunnings and McDonalds; Wallsend Diggers is extending; a new Andrew Nash medical centre has opened in Cowper Street; and there are apartments planned for Council Street.”

Suite handy to TAFE

A GROUND-floor commercial suite in Islington just metres from the TAFE Tighes Hill campus is available for sale or lease.

John Parnham, of Ray White Commercial Newcastle, has listed the 93-square-metre property at 220 Maitland Road, opposite Islington Park, for $350,000 plus GST if applicable.

It is also available for lease for $24,000 per annum, plus outgoings and GST.

Mr Parnham said the property was underneath three levels of residential apartments and comprised 82 square metres of internal floor space and 11 square metres of store room space.

It has its own internal amenities and two undercover, off-street car spaces.

Mr Parnham said the property has never been occupied, but has waste and ventilation pipes and could accommodate a cafe, op shop, office or other retail space.

“The whole precinct has really changed,” Mr Parnham said.

“This is a very desirable place to be.

“It’s the main thoroughfare into the city and has plenty of street parking available.”

Keeli Dutton murder: David Robert Francis Murray sentenced to 25 years’ jail

‘It was just a matter of time before that bloke did something really bad’: Keeli’s brother Darren, left, with her family outside the Supreme Court. Photo: Dallas KilponenShine A Light on domestic violence

“There can be no more serious breach of an apprehended violence order than to kill the person it’s designed to protect,” the judge declared.

But that, she said, was exactly what David Robert Francis Murray did.

On November 25, 2013, while under an order that supposedly forbade him from stalking, threatening or intimidating his 41-year-old partner Keeli Dutton, Murray stabbed her seven times in the back and then let her bleed to death face down on the floor.

After the murder, which occurred in the home they were sharing in the south-west Sydney suburb of Miller, Murray wrapped her in a bed sheet and attempted to clean up the blood with bleach.

“Such conduct is brutal, cowardly and inexcusable, particularly in the home they shared,” Justice Monika Schmidt said in sentencing Murray to a maximum of 25 years’ jail, with a minimum of 19 years, in the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday.

“The tragic reality was that her death was an awful and lonely one. It is particularly terrible given that it happened at the hands of a loved one.”

The court heard that, the day after the murder, Murray admitted what he had done to the other man who shared the Miller flat, Daryl Cribb.

“I’ve knocked her, I’ve f—-n knocked her, I f—-n’ stabbed her seven times in the back and let her bleed to f—-n’ death,” he told Mr Cribb.

But when police arrived later that day after Mr Cribb called triple-0, Murray said he had not seen his partner for days.

When police found her body in the flat Murray blamed Mr Cribb, declaring  “it’s strange that he’s done that and then I get the blame”.

Mr Murray eventually pleaded guilty to the murder on the day his murder trial was due to start last month.

In addition to being under an AVO, Murray was on a good behaviour bond for the latest in a series of violent offences.

He spent a combined total of 17 years in jail for these offences which included multiple serious assaults and stalking with intent to intimidate.

It is the latest in a series of domestic violence murders in which the male killer was under an apprehended violence order taken out in an attempt to protect his female partner.

On July 2 Christopher Cullen was sentenced to a minimum of 22 years six months jail for cutting his wife Comrie’s throat in a southern Sydney carpark while under an interim AVO.

Speaking outside court on Thursday, Ms Dutton’s brother Darren Dutton said more needed to be done to protect women at risk from violent male partners.

“An AVO means you can’t be anywhere near them  – if it doesn’t do that then it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on,” he said.

“It was just a matter of time before that bloke did something really bad like this. When an AVO gets taken out they need to look at that stuff, the history.”

With time served Murray will be eligible for parole on November 25, 2032.

If Mullah Mohammad Omar is dead, who will lead the Taliban now?

An FBI wanted poster for Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar. Photo: FBIPaul McGeough: Are the Taliban becoming yesterday’s men?

Even before word of Mullah Mohammad Omar’s death, questions about who actually controls the Taliban existed.

Though the Taliban’s leadership structure is purposely oblique, Akhtar Mohammad Mansour has long been seen as the insurgency’s second-in-command. Whatever Omar’s current status may be, Mansour has been making more day-to-day decisions and had more non-symbolic power than anyone else in the movement.

More importantly, he has maintained working relations with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), something that separates him from the “Taliban Five”, the former Guantanamo Bay detainees released in a prisoner exchange and currently residing in Doha, Qatar.

Mansour was born and raised in the poppy-rich river valley of Band-e-Timor, the very same area of central Kandahar province where Omar first mobilised what was to become the Taliban and from which a disproportionate number of the Taliban’s leadership has traditionally hailed.

Like many Afghans, Mansour grew up in Pakistan during the Communist and Mujahideen governments of the 1980s and early 1990s, earning a degree from Darul Uloom Haqqania, a religious seminary outside Peshawar known as “Jihad U”  due to the number of extremists it matriculated over the years.

By 1993, Mansour had moved south to the Pakistani province of Balochistan, which borders Kandahar and where a good deal of the Taliban’s leadership-in-exile has long resided. Mansour played an early key role in linking Omar to Pakistan’s ISI, a connection that sustains the movement to this day. When the Taliban took control of Kandahar in 1994, Mansour was made minister of civil aviation. Residents of his native Kandahar recount stories, perhaps apocryphal, of Mansour transporting opium in Taliban helicopters from the fields of Band-e-Timor to smugglers’ dens along Afghanistan’s southern border.

When the Taliban collapsed in 2001, Mansour fled back to Balochistan after briefly serving as one of Mullah Omar’s representatives in last-minute talks with the CIA.

While other Taliban leaders have been imprisoned or put under house arrest by Pakistani authorities, Mansour remains a favoured son in large part because he has remained in step with ISI policy. He is also one of the individuals to have benefited from the US surge in 2010-11. As one analyst from Kandahar notes in an interview: “More than anyone else, Mansour has benefited from the leadership vacuum that opened up after the US started to take a lot of the Taliban commanders out . . . Mansour remained safe in Pakistan and he was able to expand his network and powerbase, even though he had never really been a military commander per se.”

As late as 2012, Mansour was seen as a hardliner among Taliban leaders, opposing any talks with Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s government. From about 2013 onward, his position appears to have changed, putting him directly at odds with Abdul Qayyum Zakir, a Taliban military leader from northern Helmand who has for years commanded arguably the largest organised insurgent force inside Afghanistan.

Throughout 2014, Mansour and Zakir bickered over the direction of the movement, with Zakir adopting a hard line and eventually being sacked, only to be reinstated. By early 2015, however, the two were reportedly at odds again.

Mansour’s moderation could be read as a clear indicator that Pakistan’s calculus has changed. The fact that the first and second rounds of peace talks will be held in the Pakistani resort town of Murree also plays to Mansour – and Pakistan’s – strength, particularly as regards the Doha-based leadership.

Yet far more than al-Qaeda, and perhaps even more than Islamic State, the various competing interests inside the Taliban have remained nominally united due to the belief that Omar is the commander of the faithful, a title that traditionally belongs to Islam’s caliphs.

Mansour may have important friends in Pakistan but he lacks this status, and on the eve of negotiations, the Taliban seem closer than ever to splitting wide open.

Foreign Policy

Jacki Weaver gets to keep her Aussie accent in Last Cab To Darwin

Jacki Weaver and Michael Caton in Last Cab To Darwin. Photo: SuppliedMore on Last Cab to Darwin Movie session timesFull movies coverage

Americans are sometimes surprised when they meet Jacki Weaver. Having seen her in a slew of recent American films, they’re not expecting an Australian accent.

“They’re surprised about the way I speak,” she says. “I’ve been asked if I was putting it on, as if I was trying to sound like Chris Hemsworth.”

At the same time, some of the Australian crew on her latest outing teased her about losing her accent. Last Cab To Darwin, directed by Jeremy Sims, is  “the first film I’ve done in about 12 where I’ve used an Australian accent”, she says, almost as if she can’t quite believe it. “Some of the crew were teasing me, saying that I’ve lost it, that I needed to stop talking American.”

Last Cab To Darwin is a comedy-drama about euthanasia, a good-natured road movie with an unpredictable destination; it is written by Reg Cribb, adapted from his play of the same name, which was based on a true story. Its central character, Rex, lovingly portrayed by Michael Caton, is an outback taxi driver, a man of routine and ritual who has never left his home town of Broken Hill.

He learns that he has cancer, and also discovers that legislation pending in the Northern Territory might give him the opportunity to end his life on his own terms. Rather than share any of this information with his close friends or his partner, Polly (Ningali Lawford-Wolf) – with whom he has a singular, memorable relationship –  Rex says nothing. He decides to hit the road in his cab, determined to make his way to Darwin. The office of a crusading medical practitioner, Dr Farmer (Weaver), is his intended destination. Along the way, he takes a couple of passengers on board, including an engaging, enigmatic young Indigenous man (Mark Coles Smith) and an adventurous British backpacker (Emma Hamilton).

Weaver was determined to be involved, having been in the original play, also directed by Sims. “I’m very attached to it in a sentimental sort of way. I thought, if they’re going to make a film of Last Cab I really want to be a part of it.” She was involved with the first theatrical production more than a dozen years ago, before her performance in 2010’s Animal Kingdom earned her an Oscar nomination and launched a new phase of her career.

“I was in the first table read,” she recalls, “and Jeremy made me play 16 characters that first time, because he didn’t have enough girls. Then when we toured the play, and we went to about 30 venues, including Darwin, I played nine different characters.” One of the few she didn’t tackle was the one she plays in the film. In the original theatre production, the doctor was a male character: Cribb and Sims rewrote the film role for her.

She remembers the play as an intense, joyful experience – touring a work that combined a dark subject matter with plenty of laughter.

“It’s poignant, but it’s also rambunctious and hilarious in parts, and that’s always my favourite kind of story, because it’s the most authentic reflection of what life is. You know, how you laugh one minute, and cry the next.”

Dr Farmer is an interesting presence in the film; in some ways she’s not so much a character, more a goal or destination, a set of possibilities. We learn little about her motivation, her past or her present.

Weaver says she had things she wanted to bring to the character, some tangible, some part of her private preparation. “I wanted to make her sympathetic, because in the play Reg and Jeremy were a little harsh on that character, I thought. They didn’t give him enough empathy and tenderness. I think she had to be a little less tough than the male doctor was.”

At the same time, she felt she needed to respect the character’s single-minded focus. “I think it’s clear that she’s zealous, she’s been written that way,” and in pursuit of this, she’s lost touch with some of the qualities of tenderness.

Weaver came up with a back story for her. “It wasn’t in the text, it was something I invented. You always do that as an actor, I think, but it doesn’t have to be something you share with the audience. Sometimes it’s good for an audience to make their own assumptions, because if you spell everything out for them you might as well just get them to watch a soap opera. It’s good to have ambiguity and make people use their imagination.”

Thinking about the character she was playing, she says, “I wondered about her sexuality, I think that’s an interesting thing to ponder,” although there’s nothing in the film to give us any indication.

“I think she probably comes from a medical family, and I think that maybe she’d seen a lot of suffering in her time, maybe by having parents who were doctors or nurses. But I think people who believe in euthanasia come from all sorts of backgrounds, and quite often it’s because they have seen their own relatives suffer. And as one gets older, one gets very firm ideas about it. I know what I feel about it,” although, she adds quickly, “I don’t think this is the time to get political.”

Since her tour de force role in Animal Kingdom, Weaver has been in no danger of being typecast. Her next Oscar-nominated role, as Bradley Cooper’s mother in Silver Linings Playbook, couldn’t have been more different from Animal Kingdom’s monster matriarch; since then, she’s been in movies by Woody Allen (Magic In The Moonlight), Park Chan-wook (Stoker) and Marjane Satrapi (The Voices), as well as TV.

She’s recently finished another role that’s allowed her to keep her Australian accent, in a film written and directed by Ivan Sen (Mystery Road). It’s called Goldstone, and its cast includes Aaron Pedersen, David Gulpilil and David Wenham as well as Hong Kong actress Cheng Pei-pei (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).

“We lived in those little shipping container things in far-west Queensland, in the middle of nowhere, and I just loved making it,” she says. She’s not sure how much detail she can go into about the film. “I can’t give too much away, because it’s a mystery thriller, but I play a tough old broad who lives in the outback: she’s mayor of this tiny mining town and runs the place like she owns it,” she says.

Back in the US, she has just finished shooting a TV series called Blunt Talk, which stars Patrick Stewart as Walter Blunt, a British newscaster who moves to Los Angeles to host a nightly TV show.  “I play his Emmy-award winning producer, who’s also his close confidante. I’m happily married to Ed Begley Jr, but I’m having an affair with a 24-year-old.” She laughs. “I’m a bit apprehensive about how his parents are going to react.”

Last Cab To Darwin opens on August 6.

First Seal steps out with a host of stars at Randwick barrier trials on Friday

Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing

John Thompson has several spring options for First Seal, which include the Epsom, Cox Plate and Myer Classic, and she will be one of many stars to use Randwick barrier trials as a starting point on Friday morning.

“We haven’t really got a target for her as yet, we could go to Sydney or Melbourne,” Thompson said. “It will be good to see her back on the track and she is around 80 per cent for this first trial.

“Like a lot of these spring horses, it is a matter [of] just getting them back and working out the best path. I would say her first run will be in Sydney and then there is plenty of options around the mile trip.”

First Seal won the Flight Stakes but was runner-up in the Spring Champion Stakes, Coolmore Classic and Vinery Stakes, the latter two in photos. She faces a trial which includes unbeaten Golden Slipper winner Vancouver, Doncaster winner Kermedec and multiple group 1 heroine Cosmic Endeavour.

“It is a good opportunity to get these good horses out against each other and they will get the use of the Kensington track, which is good,” Thompson said.

There are three heats on the Kensington track featuring group performers and Thompson’s French import Auvray will face Pornichet and The Offer in the opening heat. The third heat of the morning has Sweynesse, English and Temple Of Boom.

Several of the returning stars were named as nominees for the NSW racehorse of the year awards, which will be presented on August 20.

The two-year-old category will be fought out by Pride Of Dubai and Vancouver, with Odyssey Moon the other nomination. First Seal is up against Brazen Beau, Hallowed Crown and Winx for the three-year-old award.

The international influence on Australia comes through in the miler, middle-distance and stayer awards with Royal Descent, which is up against He’s Your Man and Real Impact for the miler award, the only Australian bred in the three categories.

The sprinters award looks strong as usual with Chautauqua, Terravista, Sweet Idea and Catkins nominated.

The awards are decided on a points system and have led to some controversy in the past.

The night will be a celebration of NSW racing with the George Moore Medal to be awarded to Hugh Bowman, the Theo Green award given to champion apprentice Winona Costin and Chris Waller to accept his fifth TJ Smith Award for being the leading trainer.

The ultimate racing guide with the latest information on fields, form, tips, market fluctuations and odds, available on mobile, tablet and desktop.

John Sargent has black type plans for Centre Pivot after cobalt tests are clear

Wizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing

Centre Pivot, which appears in the Sam Kavanagh charges as one of the horses he allegedly administered cobalt to, has been cleared to return to the races for new trainer John Sargent at Rosehill on Saturday.

Sargent believes Centre Pivot, which has won five of his 12 starts including four of his past five before a spell when under the care of Kavanagh, has the potential to go on with the job and win in black-type company.

But first he had to have the son of More Than Ready cleared to race by stewards.

“He went to Randwick a couple of weeks ago and was tested for cobalt and it came back clear,” Sargent said. “I can’t see any effects of it. He has bad feet, which we have to be careful with, but that is something we can manage.”

Kavanagh will next week face 24 charges relating to cobalt, race-day treatments and one of conduct prejudicial to the interests of racing.

Sargent is more concerned with getting Centre Pivot back to the races and although 1300 metres is short of his best he expects him to race well.

“He is in a nice space to go back to the races and we are looking at some good races for him down the track,” Sargent said. “He is going to get better over a mile and more.

“He has shown me enough already to say we can target certain races with a bit of confidence.”

Sargent will decide if his other interesting runner, Kiwi Eletist, will start in the final race on Saturday after he was delayed in Auckland for an extra day earlier in the week.

He joins the Sargent team from Glen Old after winning his past two on heavy tracks at home.

“There isn’t that much left for him in New Zealand at this time of year and Glen asked me to take him over and see if he can measure up here,” Sargent said.

“He has been winning weaker races in New Zealand and with that delay in getting over here we might wait another week.

“He handles wet tracks, so it is the right time of year for him to be out here.”

It has been a big week for Sargent after Omerous, which was runner-up in the Tulloch Stakes before running off when set to challenge in the Australian Derby, was sold to Hong Kong for a seven-figure sum.

“The money was too good to be turning down. It is disappointing to see him go because he is a nice horse but that’s racing,” Sargent said.

The top end of Sargent’s spring team will be part of an exceptional group of barrier trials at Randwick on Friday. Australian Oaks winner Gust Of Wind will start her road towards the first Tuesday in November, while Thunder Lady and Kirramosa, which has only had four starts since winning the VRC Oaks in 2014, will also have hit outs.

“Gust Of Wind is a stayer and the Melbourne Cup is the perfect race for her. This is the starting point and we just want to see her have a nice trial. There is a long way to go with her,” Sargent said.

“Thunder Lady will probably go to the Metropolitan and then we will look at Melbourne. She was up there with the best fillies of last year and looks a little stronger.

“Kirramosa is looking pretty good and she has a real sprint in the her legs. I’m thinking of a race like the Epsom for her before Melbourne.”

The ultimate racing guide with the latest information on fields, form, tips, market fluctuations and odds, available on mobile, tablet and desktop.

Sydney Kings handed three-game homestand to tip off NBL season

Returning star: Josh Childress. Photo: Daniel MunozThe Sydney Kings will begin their NBL campaign with three home games.

In the NBL draw released on Thursday, the Kings have been scheduled to start their season against the Taipans on October 10 at the Kingdome and Townsville in a Thursday night clash four days later. Their homestand ends on the Saturday against NSW rivals, the rebadged Illawarra Hawks.

Their first road game is against New Zealand on Wednesday, October 21.Sydney will farewell their Kingdome, the Sydney Entertainment Centre, on December 13 when they host the Perth Wildcats in what will be a watershed moment for the franchise.

They will play the rest of the season at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre, including the first NBL game of 2016.

Sydney will field an impressive line-up this season with star import Josh Childress returning for a second season, joined by Boston Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton and former Kings centre Julian Khazzouh, who has come home after a stint in Lebanon.

NBL general manager Jeremy Loeliger said the new-look draw featured a condensed schedule with more mid-week games.

“We are extremely confident that the NBL is going to deliver great results this summer. Expanding on the traditional schedule gives those already following our competition a tighter and more exciting timetable, while providing a frontline, elite sports option at a different time for new fans to come on board,” he said.

“This is set to be one of the most competitive seasons the NBL has seen in years, and we are going to produce consistent opportunities to watch live sports and see the superstar line-ups throughout the week.”

Reigning champions, New Zealand Breakers, will open the season away to the Adelaide 36ers.

Keepit To Yourself the latest ‘good horse’ for trainer Greg Lees

Another good one: Trainer Greg Lee is hoping Keepit To Yourself lives up to expectations. Photo: Simon Alekna Jim and Greg Lee have been training out of Randwick for nearly 50 years and things have certainly changed in that time but it remains “the only place [they] want to train”.

In that time the Lees have had their share of good horses. The best – Hayai – won a Caulfield Cup and a couple of Metropolitans and got them into their stables on course, where they still train.

“When [we] started out everyone was a horseman and there were stables all around the track and that’s how we started. Back then to be on course at Randwick was to be king,” Greg Lee said. “Hayai got us on course and we’re still there. Randwick is still Randwick and it is king to me.

“Back then Jim was the trainer because partnerships weren’t allowed. I just rode the work and helped out as did our brother David. Now we have both our names in the book and David has a couple of horses from the stables, as does Pat [Webster], it is something we will keep going until we die.”

There has always seemed to be a good horse coming through the Randwick stables when needed “to make up for the slow ones,” Lee added and the latest is Keepit To Yourself, which looks for some black type success in the Winter Challenge at Rosehill on Saturday.

He has put together three placings in a row, twice a runner-up at the midweek before running on late for third behind Foreign Prince at Canterbury last week. The fine weather has added to Lee’s confidence as Keepit To Yourself steps up in grade.

“It has been a good preparation for us because he is just better on firmer tracks,” Lee said. “His wins have come when he can get a real good footing and it makes a real difference to him.

“If you look at his last couple of runs, he has hit flat spots in his races when he has just gone backwards because he loses his confidence.”

He flashed home behind subsequent Saturday winner Forget at Warwick Farm on July 1 to the surprise of Rory Hutchings and his next to runs were similar.

“Rory said it was like he wanted to stop when he hit a bad patch [of ground] and then in the straight he just charged,” Lee said.

“If he gets firm going he can match what his brother [Keepin’ The Dream] did and win this sort of race. He has a good turn of foot when the ground is good, so we are hoping the track keeps improving.”

Keepin’ The Dream won a Scone Cup and a Hawkesbury Cup, and it is a height his little brother has not been able to live up to. The Lees have been able to book Tommy Berry to ride Keepit To Yourself, which is a $21 chance on Saturday.

“We have had a bit of luck with Tommy and he might be getting on [Keepit To Yourself] on the right day.” Lee said.

Former Comancheros president Mark Buddle arrested while trying to fly out of Australia

Arrested: Former Comancheros president Mark Buddle. The twin-engine Belair BE20 King Air aircraft privately chartered by Mr Buddle.

Supporters of former Comancheros president Mark Buddle outside Newcastle Court. Photo: Max Mason Hubers

It was meant to be a dream South Pacific getaway highlighted by a surprise marriage proposal.

But instead of a beach in Noumea, the former national president of the Comancheros bikie gang will spend at least the next five days in a Hunter jail cell after he was allegedly caught with more than $60,000 in cash on board a private aircraft trying to leave Australia.

Mark Douglas Buddle, 30, waved and blew kisses to his partner Melanie Ter Wisscha during a protracted bail application in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday.

The former bikie, who gave an address in South Yarra, was charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime and taking more than $10,000 out of Australia without reporting it.

But his solicitor, Avni Djemal, told the court his client had been given the money by a number of friends “as a sort of reward” for completing rehabilitation for alcohol and substance abuse issues. Mr Djemal said the money was for a trip away, where Mr Buddle was going to surprise his long-term partner by proposing.

He said Customs officers had found an engagement ring on board the aircraft.

After serving more than a year in custody for his role in a Melbourne strip club brawl in December 2011 – and with subsequent strict parole conditions concluding on Saturday – Mr Buddle boarded a privately chartered twin-engine BE20 King Air aircraft at Essendon Airport on Tuesday bound for New Caledonia, according to police facts tendered to court.

Police estimated the chartered flight would cost between $50,000 and $60,000.

His partner, Ms Ter Wisscha, was on board, as was a fully licensed pilot. About 9.20am, the aircraft landed at Newcastle Airport to be refuelled and allow passengers to clear Customs.

Two Australian Border Force officers met aircraft VH ZMP on the tarmac and collected all passengers’ passports and departure cards, police said.

“All the departure cards had been completed with the declaration that they were not taking more than $10,000 in Australian or foreign currency out of Australia,” the police stated.

It was when the officers asked to inspect the passenger’s luggage that both Mr Buddle and Ms Ter Wisscha admitted there were “significant amounts of cash” in their bags, police stated.

Officers found bundles of cash in a bum bag allegedly belonging to Mr Buddle totalling $29,045. They also found $30,000 in cash in a black suitcase allegedly belonging to Ms Ter Wisscha.

As police were being called, Port Stephens police Detective Inspector George Radmore and Acting Superintendent Guy Flaherty were at the airport on another matter.

Police facts stated Mr Buddle approached police and said: “My wife filled out the cards, I only had 10 and she had the rest.”

Mr Buddle was later searched and handed over $1095 in a money clip and $145 in a wallet. He was arrested and taken to Raymond Terrace police station where he refused to take part in an interview, provide details about the source of the cash or divulge who organised and paid for the private charter flight.

He later told police he was self-employed and drove a fruit delivery truck for a friend – earning “thousands of dollars each week” – but was unable to identify the company in Melbourne he was driving for, police facts stated.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Maree Maynard opposed bail, labelling the accused an “unacceptable flight risk”. She said Mr Buddle had only been out of jail for a month and had no legitimate means by which he could have acquired $60,000 in cash.

Ms Maynard said Mr Buddle had limited ties in NSW and had a long history of failing to appear in court.

But Mr Djemal said Mr Buddle and his partner intended to live in NSW now his Victorian jail term was complete.

He said his client had completed strict parole conditions “without a blemish” and had not committed an offence since 2012.

He also said Ms Ter Wisscha had filled out the declaration forms and upon learning of her mistake sought to amend them. “He might have signed it, but whether he understood what he signed is a live issue as to his culpability and liability in this case,” Mr Djemal said.

“There is no doubt money was found, there is no issue there.

“But the money was left by numerous people as a sort of reward for his coming through rehab.

“It was for a trip away and there is no dispute an engagement ring was found.

“This was meant to be a surprise, he was going to propose to her.”

Magistrate Ian Cheetham adjourned the matter until Tuesday to make a judgment on bail. Until then, Mr Buddle was remanded in custody.

Ms Ter Wisscha was not arrested but was told she was likely to face similar charges.

The Newcastle Herald

Quadruplet calves born in Jervois

Four handfuls: Jervois dairy farmer Rupert Gazzola checks on his 12-hour-old quadruplet Illawarra-Murray Grey calves last week.Jervois has long been known for its ties to dairy farming but last week the small town witnessed a rarity in the industry.

On Wednesday afternoon, Rupert Gazzola’s 11-year-old Illawarra cow defied the odds and gave birth to four Illawarra-Murray Grey calves.

The quadruplets, two bulls and two heifers, were naturally conceived and born without any complications.

Mr Gazzola, an agricultural science student, said he had learned his cow had given birth, and that all four calves were alive and healthy, via a phone call while he was at university.

“I was pretty shocked when I heard to be honest, I didn’t believe it,” he said.

“There’s about a one in 700,000 chance that they are quads and a one in 11 million chance that they are all born alive.

“It’s pretty unusual.”

The dairy cow has conceived about six times previously, of which just one was a set a twins.

Mr Gazzola said twin calves were not as rare in the cow industry, but quadruplets were something both his parents and grandparents had never seen in their time as dairy farmers.

See your ad here

“My grandparents bought the farm in 1959 and they haven’t seen four before,” he said.

“None of them have had a cow or seen one with four calves.”

Mr Gazzola said the quadruplets would stay on the farm for the next year or so but probably wouldn’t join the 200-odd herd the family currently milks twice a day.

“They will be raised until they are about 18 to 20 months old and then they will be sold,” he said.

“They are all doing really well and are all healthy and strong.”