Ayden Devereux jailed for filming gang rape of intellectually impaired teenager

A man who filmed the “revolting” gang rape of a semi-conscious, intellectually impaired 16-year-old girl has been sentenced to at least five years in prison.
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Ayden Devereux, 26, was at a house party at St Clair in Sydney’s west on May 22, 2015, when a young girl arrived with a man she had met a few days before.

A court heard the teenager was nervous and felt awkward before going to the party, because she didn’t know anyone there.

The girl, who cannot be named, was plied with alcohol and cannabis then taken to a small bedroom and stripped naked once she was intoxicated.

Five men stood around her while she was assaulted for at least 17 minutes.

In a judgment on Wednesday, District Court judge Christopher Hoy said the girl was raped by the men “sometimes simultaneously, sometimes consecutively”, while others stood in a line adjacent to the bed.

Some of the men made crude comments, including that they would have sex with her “jail style”.

One of the men said “Date rape, brother”, and there was laughter as he joked about DNA.

From behind a GoPro camera one metre away, Devereux encouraged some of the men to get involved, urging one: “Let’s go, get up.”

“Let’s go old school,” he added, referring to raping the woman vaginally. “Bro, she’ll do us one by one.”

At stages in the video, the victim can be heard saying she is tired and wants to go to sleep. As one of the men rapes her, she says she is scared. At other times, she is almost motionless.

In August, three of the men – Tristan Carlyle-Watson, 26, Kurt Stevenson, 26, and Andrew Waters, 25 – were found guilty of aggravated sexual assault in company. They are due to be sentenced this month.

Another man, ML, who was a minor at the time of the rape, was sentenced in June to five-and-a-half years in jail with a non-parole period of three years.

Frank Kordis, who owned the GoPro and hosted the party, pleaded guilty to concealing a serious offence and was given a $3000 fine and a two-year good behaviour bond.

Mr Hoy said the girl’s verbal skills were equivalent to that of an eight-and-a-half-year-old, while her non-verbal skills were that of a seven-year-old, which put her in the bottom 0.4 per cent of her peers in terms of intelligence.

There was no evidence Devereux knew of her mental impairment.

The next morning, the girl awoke naked and alone and was unable to find her clothes, underwear or mobile phone. She did not remember what had happened and made her own way home.

The “disgraceful” and “predatory” incident only came to light when some of the men involved were arrested over graffiti and the GoPro camera was seized.

Mr Hoy said Devereux knew “full well” he was participating in “vile and revolting behaviour”, and his commentary on the video suggested “increasing and ongoing enthusiasm”.

He said the girl was subjected to “unrelenting sexual abuse” as she became a “receptacle” for the men.

“Some of his apparent acquaintances were skulking around in that room oblivious to any sense of decency,” Mr Hoy said.

“[The victim] was subjected to what could only be described as a gang-rape.

“At no time did he assist the victim. At all times he operated the GoPro.”

Devereux pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault in company in June, days before his trial was due to start.

The court heard he decided to plead guilty after being shown the video he had filmed of the assault.

Devereux was sentenced to a maximum of seven years and six months in jail with a non-parole period of five years. His fiancee, supported by friends, cried in the public gallery.

He will be eligible for parole in October 2020.

Opposition leader mocks Allianz Stadium ‘death trap’ claims

Opposition Leader Luke Foley has ridiculed suggestions Allianz Stadium is a potential death trap, claiming the government’s push to knock down and rebuild the venue could jeopardise the 20-year commitment to stage NRL grand finals in Sydney.
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As revealed by Fairfax Media, Sports Minister Stuart Ayres is expected to ask cabinet for more than $2 billion to knock down and rebuild both Allianz and ANZ stadiums on Thursday. It’s hoped the move will finally provide clarity around funding in the protracted stadium war, although it’s unclear if there will be an official announcement or an indication of which venue will be done first.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has stated she is not wedded to the $1.6 billion figure originally pledged by predecessor Mike Baird, although it remains to be seen if the money required to rebuild both venues from the ground will be forthcoming.

The NRL has stated transforming ANZ Stadium into a world-class rectangular stadium must be the priority, with the commitment to staging grand finals in Sydney contingent on that being the case.

Fairfax Media revealed in July that the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust had raised concerns about the safety of Allianz Stadium with the government, prompting a renewed examination into the feasibility of a total rebuild of the venue. Speaking at a ceremony marking the official commencement of construction of the NSWRL’s centre of excellence at ANZ on Wednesday, Ayres said the prospect of the Allianz being shut down was a real one.

“The occupancy certificate is that we have until 2019 to correct a number of the occupancy safety and security issues in the stadium,” Ayres said. “That will require investment one way or the other. If we can’t meet those ???requirements it is highly unlikely a certifier will give us an occupancy certificate.”

Foley slammed the safety concerns as rubbish, labelling them part of a campaign to divert funds from ANZ.

“They have dropped stories to the papers saying people are going to die, yet they still play there the next Saturday,” Foley said.

“Do you think any government, if people were at risk of dying in a government-owned venue, would open it the next weekend for a footy game? It’s just rubbish.

“It’s just Ayres trying to sabotage the cabinet decision to prioritise the Olympic Stadium and send the dollars east.”

Construction on a new stadium at Parramatta, at a cost of $350 million, has already begun. Foley wants total stadia spending capped at $1.6 billion and the priority given to demolishing and rebuilding ANZ, with any remaining funds then channelled towards Allianz. The Labor leader feared a failure to prioritise the Olympic venue could see the NRL’s showpiece event go interstate.

“The grand final should be played in Sydney,” Foley said.

“We think the government is risking the future of grand finals in Sydney by taking so damn long to make a decision. It’s year seven of this government and we still don’t know what their stadium policy is. Yet again we’re told we may get one later this week. How many times have we heard that?”

The sequencing of the works will have ramifications for all stadia tenants. If Allianz and ANZ are out of commission at the same time, the SCG could again play host to a league grand final.

Some have dubbed Thursday D-day amid hopes an announcement will clarify the government’s strategy. However, the “D” could well stand for more delays as the government decides how much to commit to the projects.

“The Premier has said numerous times that she is not wedded to $1.6 billion,” Ayres said. “We want to get this right. We need to make sure that this once-in-a-lifetime investment delivers for NSW for the next 30 or 40 years. I am not going to be rushed into doing that unnecessarily. We are pretty close.”

David James’ family home, Killara, expected to sell for half originally listed price as he faces criminal charges

“Snapped up for a song”: Mansion price halves as owner faces charges ON BAIL: Former James Estate Wine boss David James has been charged with stalking and harassment.
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TweetFacebookFairfax Mediaexpressed surprise at the cut-price deal for Killara, one saying the property – that had sold signs out the front on Tuesday – had been “snapped up for a song”.

Another said it wasthe Hunter’s most contentious real estate deal of the year.

According to documents seen byFairfax Media, Mr Kentwell puta “conservative estimate of the selling price” for the property in July 2016between $7.5 million and $8.25 million.

In May, Todd Hadley, of MJD Valuers, put the price of the property at $7 million.

Killara

But the trophy home failed to sell at a public auction last week after bidding opened at $3 million and wentbetween two registered bidders before being suspended at $3.6 million.

When the property was first listed in early 2016 withCveta Kolarovski, of Robinson Property, who was working for McGrath Charlestownat the time, there was a failed offer of $9 million.

Asked about the current sale price, Mrs Kolarovski said“we had multiple parties interested at $7 millionand over, both national and international”.

The sale, done at the behest of court appointed receivers Ben O’Hearn, of O’Hearn Lawyers, and Bruce Heathcote, of Forsythes Business and Financial Advisors, punctuates the stunning downfall of one of the Hunter’s most prominent wine empires.

The receivers, who did not respond to repeated requests for comment, have Killara insured for $9.1 million.

Mr James’ companies collapsed in 2013, leading to the sale of assets including James Estate Wines at Pokolbin. Police are still investigating how $5 million worth of ’s best wines vanished without a trace amid the wreckage of the liquidated Hunter wine empire.

Now the sale of Killara is under the spotlight afterMrs James allegedthe property hadbeen undervalued after she lost control of the sale process last year following court orders arising from a property settlement with Mr James.

When contacted byFairfax Mediaabout the sale process, Mrs James said she believes Killara had been “devalued” and buyers led to believe it was a “fire sale”.

Mrs James pointed to a casewhere confidential Supreme Court orders, detailing thesplit between Mr and Mrs James, were attached to the back of sale contractsand handed out to prospective buyers, including her neighbours.

Fairfax Mediaasked PRDnationwide aboutthe issueon Wednesday, but Mr Kentwell, who was engaged by the receivers, did not answer the question.

“Christie’s International Real Estate, PRDnationwide and the receivers ran an exhaustive and thorough national and international marketing campaign leading up to the auction,” he said.

“It was regrettable that the property did not sell at the auction. We have otherwise been requested not to make further comment given the matter is personal to the parties involved.”

Roy Gavin, who was the under-bidder at theauction, said hebelieveditwas a “fire sale”.

“I got an email saying there had been a massive price reduction, the price dropped about $1 million overnight, so I thought I might get it for a steal,” he said.

In June last year, the Supreme Court appointed Mr O’Hearn and Mr Heathcote as independent trustees to sell Killara and a Corlette property, both owned by Mrs James. The trustees were later appointed by the court as receivers in an effort to ensure Mrs James did not have to pay capital gains tax on the sale of Killara as it was her principal place of residence.

Mrs James said she had “never been in receivership” and now had no say in the sale of her home because the receivers were running the process.

Mrs James said she had “never been in receivership” andhad littlesay in the salesbecause the receivers were in charge.In April,the receivers’ bill and associated costs from the unhappy sale ventures, that saw Killara still on the market and Corlette soldlast year for $1.595 million, was hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This included $81,358 in fees for Mr Heathcote to March and $181,561 for Mr O’Hearn. It’s unknown what the additional costs and fees have been since. Mrs James described the process as a “nightmare”.

“The judge estimated it would cost about $30,000 for the sale of the properties,” she said. “But the whole process has left me on the verge of bankruptcy and the costs continue to grow.”

The mother of two said she could pen a book detailing the saga, which, among the background of all the legal battles, would include details of the toll it took on her family and personal life.

A war of words paper trail between warring lawyers reveals a complicated behind-the-scenes battle featuring allegations of mismanagement, questionable practices and harassment.

It’s a legal process generally reserved for those with deep pockets. But Mrs James said in this case she was being forced to pay for both sides with all costs and fees incurred by the receivers to come from the sale of Killara, her only remaining asset that has a significant mortgage.

She said the process was crippling her financially.

In another twist in the saga, it’s understood Mr James and his mother, Irene, made an eleventh-hour bid on Monday to secure the property for $4.5 million.

But the battle for Killara appears far from over afterthe mortgagee, AMP Bank,requested a valuation of the property on Wednesday. Any sale price must be approved by the Family Court.

Mr James did not respond to requests for comment.

Council approves 30,000-seat stadium in Sydney

The football rivalry in the city of Sydney has ramped up in derby week but not due to the Wanderers or Sky Blues.
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A bidding team for an A-League licence in the city’s south took a major step towards gaining entry for an expanded competition after receiving council approval to build a 30,000 capacity stadium, as well as a training centre in the Sutherland Shire.

Southern Expansion – a consortium looking to establish a football club representing Wollongong and the south of Sydney – were given the green light by Sutherland Shire Council on Monday for “in principle” support for the establishment of a professional football precinct in Loftus and an academy in Barden Ridge.

It includes eight full-sized pitches at the Ridge Sporting Complex to be used for potential W-League, A-League and National Youth League teams as well as its junior academies.

However, the jewel in the crown of the proposal is a football-specific stadium to be built at a nearby site in Loftus that will seat between 25,000 and 30,000 supporters. It’s understood the funding for the stadium will largely be provided by Southern Expansion’s Hong Kong-listed investors, JiaYuan property group.

The group has reportedly pledged $300 million towards a privately owned football stadium for the A-League expansion group and councillors unanimously approved a feasibility study put forward to them at Monday night’s meeting.

The land in Loftus is used by TAFE and the University of Wollongong who must also approve Southern Expansion’s plans for the new stadium before construction can take place.

Southern Expansion are looking to gain entry to the A-League, but only once expansion is confirmed after the establishment of a new A-League operating model which would need to be agreed between Football Federation and club owners.

“The Shire is central to our region and is the best place for our facilities,” Southern Expansion chief executive Chris Gardiner said.

“The stadium site is on the main railway line, served by two stations, connecting our St George, Sutherland and Wollongong communities. We envisage our stadium as part of a major sport and education precinct. Our head of football Craig Foster returns this week from his visits to football training centres in Europe and we have the location now to build the training centre he wants for our club.”

Southern Expansion have been met with opposition from Sydney FC who boast a strong membership base between St George and Sutherland regions.

How long have you got left? Find out here

How much longer do you think you have left? Do you expect to be around for another 20, 50 or maybe even 100 years?
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New data could help you estimate how long someone of your vintage can expect to live.

Just type your sex and your date of birth into our interactive, and it will produce a date around which someone in your age group is statistically likely to die.

Give it a try … if you dare.

How did you go?

Keep in mind this result is purely based on the projected life duration for your age group, and does not weigh up the many otherfactors that will influence how long you actually live for.

This data is from the n Bureau of Statistics. whichpublishes this information every year based on mortality figures and current life expectancy projections.

This life table datais especially popular with insurance companies, who use it to help determine their premiums.

The good news is that this data shows life expectancies are continuing to climb in .

The figures show a newborn n girl will have a life expectancy of 84.6 years, while for boys it is 80.4.

Compare that with 20 years ago, when a newborn girl could expect to reach 81.1 and a boy could expect to live to 75.2.

But the data shows that life expectancy in varies significantly across states and territories.

The ACT has the highest life expectancy for both men (81.3 years) and women (85.2 years).

But those born in the Northern Territory have a life expectancy that is about five years lower than the national projections. A newborn boy there is expected to live to 75.6, while a woman is expected to reach 78.7.

The director of the Centre for Health Policy at the University of Melbourne, Philip Clarke, said improved life expectancy in the ACT was tied to better education levels and income of its inhabitants, while lower lifespans in the Northern Territory were connected to Indigenous disadvantage.

The data estimates that a 40-year-old n man is at the exact midpoint of his life, while 43-year-old woman is at the midpoint of hers.

And a man who has chosen to retire this year at age 67 can expect to enjoy another 18 years, while a woman the same age as him has 20.5 years still ahead of them.

Here is the breakdown for every 10 year increment.

It means that a 50-year-old man who thinks he is going through a midlife crisis could be more appropriately thought of as going through a ’60 per cent of life crisis’.

But if your prognosis seems a bit grim, you can take heart from the fact the bureau’s figures likely underestimate your actual life expectancy.

Professor Clarkesaid the data used current mortality rates to project the life expectancyand did not factor in any future improvements in lifespan. “If we extrapolate past trends, people can expect to live for longer,” he said.

But he said growing antibiotic resistance and increasing obesity rates could impact on future mortality rates and, by extension, life expectancy.

Schutt tunes up verbal barbs ahead of Ashes

n wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy will “bring the bitch back” for Sunday’s Ashes opener in Brisbane, and key quick Megan Schutt has vowed to play her part in an aggressive approach against England this summer.
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The visitors enter the Ashes with a swagger in their step after leapfrogging into the world’s No.1 ranking following their World Cup triumph in July where Schutt’s team was bundled out by India in the semi-finals.

That loss was particularly painful for the tournament favourites who have been stewing on their failed World Cup campaign ever since, and the Aussies are set to unleash three months of pent-up disappointment on England this weekend.

Healy declared last week there would be plenty of chatter from behind the stumps while England was batting throughout the series, and Schutt was keen to chime in not only with the ball, but with her razor-sharp wit.

“I didn’t think you could use the word bitch in media so that was great, I had a good laugh and I was like ‘Why haven’t I done that before?’,” Schutt said. “I love it, I love when Midge [Healy] comes out with that attitude because when she’s chirping I’m glad to be on the same side of it.

“We’ve talked about, until recently, we’ve been the No.1 team in the world for a long time and I think personally we should have a good presence out there.

“I’m not necessarily a sledger in a sense, but I just like to say things that are probably going to get in their head, and get them thinking about the game. Every now and again make a sly comment with a bit of a devil eye, that’s kind of what I do best.

“I’ve got piercings all over my face and ears so it’s intimidating.

“It’s not an arrogance thing, it’s a confidence thing and saying ‘Hey we’ve turned up to play a game of cricket’. I know I’m going to try and be chirpy out there, it’s something that I do well so I might as well do it.”

and England play three one-day internationals starting on Sunday before a day-night Test at North Sydney Oval starting on November 9.

That’s where Schutt will come into her own brandishing her deadly in-swing bowling, using a pink ball which is expected to move around under lights.

“I’ve had a few bowling sessions with the pink ball down back in Adelaide and the ball was moving,” Schutt said. “It was awesome, it was great to have a ball that from the get-go has got a bit of a seam and it was a bit more of a pronounced seam, I felt like I could hold it really well.

“I was getting movement which was lovely, and that just creates a good contest between the bat and the ball and at the end of the day that’s what you want to see in a Test match.

“That’s going to be really important especially on a deck that’s not going to be able to give too much to the bowlers, so hopefully under lights that ball’s moving a bit for me.”

Master of dragons’ genetic code scoops nation’s top science prize

Professor Jenny Graves with bearded dragons she named Malcolm and Bill for the announcement she was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science at Parliament House Canberra on Wednesday 18 October 2017. Fedpol. Under embargo until 1700hrs Wednesday 18 October 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares SPECIALX KANGA SMH , NEWS , Kangaroo , Prof Jenny Graves with on of her subjects a pouched young Tammer Wallaby. Prof Graves is studing the kangaroo genome. Photograph taken on the 22nd of August 2002 by Andrew Taylor / jat
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Professor Jenny Graves may not be a mother of dragons, but she is the master of their genetic code.

She analyses bearded dragons’ genetic blueprint, or genome, and studies how, at higher temperatures, male eggs, with male genes, develop into females.

Having fewer males could decimate the species under climate change, but there is also a human dimension.

If environment can affect how dragon sex genes work, how does a pregnant human mother’s diet, for example, affect the way her unborn baby’s genes work?

Professor Graves’ curious expertise was rewarded on Wednesday with the $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.

She is the first solo woman to receive the nation’s top science prize.

Her accomplishments include mapping the genome of kangaroos and the platypus, and studying chromosomes of emus and Tasmanian devils.

Previous recipients include Wi-Fi inventor Dr John O’Sullivan, bionic ear creator Professor Graeme Clark and cervical cancer vaccine developer Professor Ian Frazer.

The University of Melbourne’s Professor Eric Reynolds won the $250,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation for his discovery of a protein in dairy milk that repairs and strengthens teeth.

He commercialised the finding into Recaldent products, such as sugar free chewing gum and toothpaste, that are used in 50 countries.

Professor John Dewar, vice-chancellor of La Trobe University in Melbourne, where Professor Graves is based, said: “Her global contribution to the understanding of evolutionary genetics and sex determination in humans is extraordinary.”

Professor Graves, who has been a geneticist for 46 years, is “thrilled to bits” with the prize. “It’s an endorsement of a lifetime working with n animals, and with a lot of very talented young people.”

She says her comparisons with the human genome “enable us to figure out how genes work and how they evolved”, and can translate to medical breakthroughs.

The genetics of kangaroo milk, for example, “could give us information about how to nurture premature babies”.

Professor Graves’ research teams at La Trobe and at n National University in Canberra also identified 14 new human genes.

She famously predicted that the human Y chromosome, which makes men male, is degrading and will disappear in a few million years.

Professor Graves wasn’t interested in science at Adelaide’s Presbyterian Girls’ College until a class on breeding budgerigars in 1959 showed how mating a blue with a yellow budgie resulted in a green one. Green budgies’ offspring were either blue, green or yellow.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is fabulous’, and that led me into doing science at uni.”

After she returned to La Trobe in 1971, after studying for her PhD in cell biology at the University of California at Berkeley, a colleague persuaded her to study the genes of kangaroos.

He had said n animals were so unlike those overseas “that it’s like an independent experiment in evolution”.

Professor Graves said that to succeed in science “you have to have a few brains, but, really, perseverance pays”.

She hopes her prize inspires girls to pursue science. “It’s a really exciting career. Every day is different. Everything you do is ‘a world first’. It might be important or not important, but it’s always new and I love that.”

Former Kambala principal sues over emails that painted her as ‘tyrannical’

Former Kambala principal Debra Kelliher is suing the school and two of its teachers for up to $2 million in damages, claiming that emails circulated about her after her departure made her out to be a “tyrant”.
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Ms Kelliher, 60, resigned from the Rose Bay school in April after staff issued a vote of no confidence in her leadership, following claims that a significant number of staff had left as a result of changes she had brought to the school.

She is suing for defamation in the NSW Supreme Court over an email sent by head music teacher Mark Grandison to various parents, staff and former staff shortly after her resignation. Social sciences department head June Peake then forwarded it with the rest of the email chain to 200 staff.

Ms Kelliher says the email carried the defamatory imputations that she had waged a “vicious and tyrannical” campaign against the school, had acted unethically as principal and displayed a complete lack of interpersonal skills.

According to Ms Kelliher’s statement of claim lodged with the NSW Supreme Court, the email was also defamatory in making her out to be so incompetent that there had been a chronic loss of staff, which would likely lead to worsening academic results for the school.

Kambala has denied the emails were capable of being defamatory, and argue they were incapable of further harming her reputation in any case because she had already lost the confidence of parents and staff.

But Ms Kelliher says the school should have warned staff not to make adverse comments on her performance in accordance with her deed of release, and should have issued an apology or retraction after the email was sent.

She is claiming aggravated damages because she claims the imputations are untrue. The claims published in the email had made her unemployable as a principal, and she had already failed to obtain even an interview for comparable position, she says.

According to her statement of claim, the school was $12 million in debt when she became principal in 2014.

But she uncovered the fraudulent misappropriation of school funds by its former business manager Ian MacCulloch, who later pleaded guilty to defrauding the school of $400,000, the statement of claim says.

School records also showed that the former principal Margaret White had charged the school $650,000 in expenses over four years, including for personal items such as clothes, jewellery and hair and beauty appointments, Ms Kelliher alleges in her statement of claim.

Meanwhile staff leave practices were “irregular at best”, heads of department had “extremely light” teaching loads and staff enjoyed privileges such as travel with their spouses to international conferences that held little value for the school, there were gifts from the former principal and “extravagant” morning teas.

Department budgets were overspent, the physical assets of the school were run down and there was significant bullying and dysfunction among staff.

“Despite the school’s Anglican tradition, not only was there little real Christian practice, but there was open mocking of religion by staff members.”

But Ms Kelliher claims to have turned around the school’s financial position, retained its academic position, improved anxiety and suicidal ideation among the girls, rebuilt a relationship with the Old Girls’ Union and had overseen increased enrolments.

She alleges Mr Grandison was motivated by his personal dislike for her and his opposition to decisions she had made, such as refusing to buy a $300,000 Steinway piano when he sent the email.

This was even though she had requested the school council to continue a full scholarship for his daughter when the finance committee had questioned it, her statement of claim says.

It also says Ms Peake was motivated by “malice and spite” in circulating the email chain to 200 staff members, because she had been officially warned not to speak disrespectfully about senior staff, use an inappropriate nickname for a staff member or belittle and upset her colleagues.

Kambala and the two teachers deny in their defence filed with the Supreme Court that Ms Kelliher had suffered injury to her reputation as a result of the emails being circulated, but to the extent that the defamatory meanings were carried they were substantially true.

According to the defence, a large number of parents had complained about Ms Kelliher in the month before her resignation and more than 80 staff recorded a vote of no confidence in her in March.

They were concerned about the systems she had implemented, the loss of staff and the effect on Kambala as an educational institution, the defence says.

The day after a meeting of 100 staff and council members on April 7, Ms Kelliher was forced to resign.

Mr Grandison and Ms Peake published the emails in the belief that they were true and they were responding to an “attack” in a Sydney Morning Herald article that said she had resigned in response to a “nasty campaign”, according to the defence.

They claim that the damage was mitigated because Ms Kelliher had a reputation for unethical and bullying conduct, causing a large number of staff to leave and mismanaging the school to such an extent its future academic performance was at stake.

Ms Kelliher said in a statement that she felt it necessary to sue over the email, which had been widely distributed.

“We will argue the statements are completely at odds with the evidence that exists regarding the school’s academic record and my performance as Principal of Kambala,” she said.

“To that end, I have been touched by the phone calls and emails I have received since I left the school and would like to take the opportunity to thank the staff, students and parents who continue to support me.”

The school’s legal representative did not return calls on Wednesday.

Newcastle’s WNBL bid put on hold for at least 12 months

NEWCASTLE’S hopes ofentering a team in the Women’s National Basketball League have been deferred for at least 12 months.
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Newcastle Basketball had been aiming for inclusion in the 2018-19 season, after receiving $5 million in state government funding last October to build a 2000-seat stadium capable of hosting national-league games.

But construction of the stadium, which is expected to take nine months, is still yet to start, after it was delayed by a land claim on the site made by the Awabakal Aboriginal Land Council.

Next WNBL season would be likely to start in early October, 2018.

OLYMPIAN: Suzy Batkovic

Meanwhile, Newcastle Basketball’s initial expression of interest with regards to next seasonhas not progressed into acompliant business plan.

In the circumstances, Basketball recently told Newcastle officials there was “no possibility” of entry in 2018-19 and to instead focus on making a successful bid for season 2019-20.

Basketball ’s priority for next season is to establish a team inBrisbane, increasing the league from eight teams to nine.

WNBL general manager Paul Maley told the Herald on Wednesday it was decided the best course of action was for Newcastle “to take the foot off the pedal” and accept that 2018-19 entry would be unattainable.

OLYMPIAN: Katie Ebzery

“In terms of the growth strategy, the Brisbane market is the No.1 priority,” Maley said.

“What that meant for Newcastle is that we wanted to let them know immediately that there is no possibility of entering next season. The earliest consideration would be for season 2019-20.

“We thought it was better to advise them that there was definitely no possibility for next year so that they don’t rush in and put a whole lot of time, effort and resources into producing a bid.”

Maley said that even if construction of the new stadium was under way, it was unlikely that Newcastle would have been considered for next season.

“It’s really more a matter of prioritising Brisbane,” he said.

“That as a strategic priority sits above everything else …that’s not to say we will have a team in Brisbane next year, because we will need to receive a successful bid.”

Maley said factors like population and location meant itwould “make sense” to eventually have a WNBL team based in Newcastle.

“We haven’t established a time line with Newcastle,” he said.

“We need to. But right now, all we have said is take your foot off the pedal for the time being.What we have to do is give them a time line so that they know what they have to work to.”

Newcastle Basketball general manager Neil Goffet said the governing body’sdecision“might be a blessing”, given that it was unclear whenconstruction would start on the stadium.

HOPEFUL: Neil Goffet

“We are working on our bid and we just have to make sure it’s so good that BA can’t refuse us entry into the 2019-20 season,” Goffet said.

“There needs to be a lot of community support, but it’s a great time to be involved with women’s sport in with so much of it now fully professional and televised, like the new Fox Sports deal for the WNBL.”

He was hopeful to have some clarity on the stadium time frame soon. It was reported in August that Awabakal was withdrawing its land-rights claim.

“We have been working closely with the Department of Premier and Cabinet and Minister Barilaro’s office to get the best outcome for Newcastle and the Hunter Region with regard to the stadium development,” he said.

“There are a few things in the pipeline that will hopefully come to fruition in the near future.”

Newcastle officials are hopeful home-grown Olympians Suzy Batkovic and Katie Ebzerywill be involved if and when the city secures entry into the WNBL.

Pulver hits back at latest senate inquiry claims

Outgoing ARU chief Bill Pulver has hit back at allegations raised in Monday night’s final senate inquiry hearing, which suggested former Melbourne Rebels owner Andrew Cox siphoned millions of dollars of grant money into non-rugby interests.
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It was ARU chairman Cameron Clyne’s turn to defend the culling of the Western Force when he faced questions in Canberra from senator Linda Reynolds, who alleged up to $6 million of Rebels funding provided by the national body was funnelled into Cox’s various companies.

The Force’s drawn-out axing from the Super Rugby competition in August led to two failed court appeals and a senate inquiry, which is expected to deliver a report in mid-November.

Pulver fell on his sword following the announcement the Force would be removed from the competition and will leave his post as chief executive as soon as a replacement is found.

Speaking to Fairfax Media on Wednesday after announcing a home three-Test series against Ireland to be played in June next year, Pulver rubbished the suggestions about the former Rebels owner.

“My understanding is that’s complete nonsense,” Pulver said.

“The funding relationship between the n Rugby Union and the Rebels was a confidential document.

“We review all their financials. He also had a business partner, he owned a majority of the entity and there was a minority shareholder.

“I am not aware of him siphoning money off into other businesses. Where that’s coming from I have no idea.”

West n mining magnate Andrew Forrest offered a reported $50 million to the ARU to keep the Western Force in the competition, but that was rejected.

Forrest announced in the aftermath of the Force’s demise that he planned on starting a rebel rugby competition involving teams from the Indo-Pacific region.

The ARU has developed a working party headed by deputy chairman Dr Brett Robinson that has been working with World Rugby to help facilitate the implementation of the new competition, but Pulver said there was still much to be done if the rebel league was to get off the ground by 2018.

“It’s a pretty rigorous process, n Rugby and World Rugby ultimately have to approve any international competition like that,” Pulver said.

“It’s a lot of work to set up an international competition like that so we’re working very closely with them. They’re also reaching out to other countries that might be involved and they’re also having meetings with World Rugby, so there’s a lot of engagement going on.

“It’s their time frame not ours. Our understanding is [Forrest] is keen to get the first version of this competition up and running next year, in which case there’s an awful lot to do.”

The ARU has appointed a recruitment firm to seek a replacement for Pulver, who hopes to leave his post by Christmas, and an interview process will begin in the coming weeks.

Pulver plans to take the year off once a new chief executive is appointed.

Ireland president Michael Higgins was in Sydney on Wednesday to announce the first three-Test series to be played between and their northern hemisphere rivals.

Brisbane will host the series opener on June 9, before games in Melbourne (June 16) and Sydney (June 23) as the Wallabies look to extend their unbeaten run against the Irish on n soil, which stretches back to 1979.

“There’s been a wonderful rivalry between our two teams in recent years and, in particular, the Irish team has performed superbly in the last couple of years,” Pulver said.

“We are neck and neck vying for that No.3 and No.4 position in the world. We’re sincerely looking forward to having a sea of green up and down the eastern seaboard June next year.”

Ireland have put together a submission to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, up against France and South Africa. is one of 39 voting bodies that will decide which bid is successful.