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Spray cop found not guilty

ASSAULT COUNTS DISMISSED: Constable Luke Negri leaves the Burnie Magistrates Court yesterday. Picture: Kelly Slater.A BURNIE policeman who capsicum-sprayed a boy has been found not guilty of assault.
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Luke Charles Negri used the spray after the boy struck his partner in an incident at Shorewell Park in January 2011, Magistrate Robert Pearce was told yesterday.

_Negri had pleaded not guilty to two counts of common assault relating to the incident.

His lawyer, Jim Wilkinson, argued Negri had done what he was trained to do in a volatile situation.

He said Negri, 25, acted “within his powers and within his training”.

Mr Pearce heard conflicting evidence on whether the boy was sprayed once or twice, and also on whether the boy struck Negri’s police partner before the spraying.

The partner, Constable Joel Houston, told the Burnie Magistrates Court he was struck and Negri acted consistently with police training.

Witness Danny Grieve – who said he was schizophrenic and had bipolar – asserted mobile phone footage he took that was played in court showed Negri wanted to spray the boy.

“What he done was wrong.

“He was getting off on that.”

Negri agreed with prosecutor Steve Bender grabbing the boy or using or threatening to use his baton had also been options.

However, he said he had not wanted to use his baton on a boy, believing there was more likelihood of injury than with the spray.

He said he was concerned using “unarmed tactics” in such a volatile situation could cause the situation to “escalate severely”

“It wasn’t appropriate … we could have been set upon at any time.”

The two police said they were being abused and shouted at by a group of people as they attempted to confiscate a motorbike that Mr Grieve had been riding without a helmet and unregistered.

The boy came in and tried to stop them, taking the bike before striking Const Houston to the neck, the court heard.

Mr Grieve told the hearing he didn’t see the boy strike the officer.

“He didn’t assault nobody.”

He said everyone was calm until the spray was used.

He alleged police later told him they would lay charges against him if he made a statement against them.

“They’ll beat you down and think of something to charge you for after you’re arrested.”

Mr Pearce dismissed both assault counts.

He said he was not satisfied the first spraying was outside the range of reasonable responses.

He did not find the assault related to the second alleged spraying proven.

He said no second use of the spray was apparent from the film and he found evidence from the prosecution witnesses who alleged it unsatisfactory.

Technical evidence also did not support it.

Negri had legal advice not to speak about the outcome, but was visibly relieved afterwards.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.


Ashley Detention Centre detainee on the run

AN 18-YEAR-OLD Ashley Detention Centre detainee escaped staff custody today.
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The teen, who cannot be named, was visiting the Launceston General Hospital for treatment of a medical condition when he made an escape.

Police said he was being escorted back to the vehicle at which point he fled on foot through the car park about 11am.

He was last seen heading west on Cleveland St towards Wellington St.

He was handcuffed, wearing navy blue shorts and a blue t-shirt.

He was also in possession of a blue and black flannelette shirt that was covering his handcuffs.

He is described as being 180cm tall, slim build and brown hair.

Police ask members of the public not to approach him, although he isn’t considered dangerous.

Those with information should contact police on 131 444 or CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.


Students on Cloud 9 over centre’s opening

Watching Isaac Troughton, 17, prepare for lunch are (from left) Sid Sidebottom MHR, Marist Regional College principal Susan Chen and Archbishop Doyle.THERE were plenty of smiles on the faces of students who are using the new Cradle Coast Trade Training Centre.
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Yesterday Federal Member for Braddon Sid Sidebottom was only too pleased to be opening the facility that includes Cloud 9 cafe and restaurant, bakery kitchen and commercial kitchen at Marist Regional College in Burnie.

“On behalf of the Federal Government, particularly Minister Peter Garrett, we’ve been very pleased to be able to partner with Marist Regional College and those who have made this happen,” he said

The site where the centre sits was once home for the Marist brothers. Now it has a new lease of life, thanks to $1.6million in funding, including $1.47million from the Federal Government. Another $138,000 from Marist has been used to buy the small cooking equipment.

The new centre gives access to vocational training for students from high schools along the Coast, not only Marist. The training will provide them with the skills to work within a range of industries including hospitality, tourism and business.

Mr Sidebottom said to have a competency that was nationally recognised when leaving school and to continue into the workforce would benefit the nation.

“To be able to use those skills however you want to and have a productive nation is absolutely crucial, so I thank all of those people involved in making this happen and congratulate the students who have taken up the courses,” he said.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.


Closure to cost five jobs

IT IS believed five workers at the Woolworths distribution centre in Devonport will be jobless when the centre closes on May 6.
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Yesterday The Advocate was told six workers from the centre were transferred to the new $100million distribution centre that is operational in Launceston and one to BWS, while the remaining five workers had opted for a redundancy.

The doors closed at the Hobart distribution centre last Saturday as part of the centralisation of the centre in Launceston, with 29 workers taking redundancy and eight transferred elsewhere.

“About three years ago we announced that Statewide Independent Wholesalers, of whom we are a partner, were building a new state-of-the-art distribution centre in Launceston,” Woolworths spokesperson Clare Buchanan said.

The new depot will employ more than 100 people.

Ms Buchanan said Woolworths had worked hard to look at all redeployment opportunities, not just within Tasmania but nationally.

“We also gave people the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks working in a store environment to see if it suited them.”

National Union of Workers organiser Jill Batt said jobs were hard to come by in Tasmania and there was always a roll-on effect to the community with decisions like this.

“Fortunately workers have received their redundancy entitlements, but the question for many of those workers is `where will I find work now?”‘ she said.

Ms Batt said while some workers had chosen to move to Launceston to work at the new site, for many with families, homes and other commitments, it was not an option.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.


The little country school that’s big on taking its fair to new heights

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: Moriarty Primary School pupils surrounded with items for their school fair are (clockwise, from top) Alex Rouse, 12, Becky Hyatt, 9, and Chase Redpath, 8. Picture: Jason Hollister.NOT every school has helicopter joy rides at its fair, but Moriarty Primary School does.
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On Sunday, the little country school with 82 pupils will hold its fair between 10am and 2pm.

The helicopter rides cost $45 and give participants the thrill of flying over picturesque farmland.

The Moriarty fair is held in the middle of a rural landscape that could be described as horticultural heaven.

There will be discount tulips bulbs to buy and fresh produce picked direct from neighbouring farms.

The usual home-baked cakes and sweets will be sold on stalls.

It’s the place to come for Mother’s Day gifts such as homemade cards, origami flowers, candles and gift packs.

Acting principal Julie Argent said a keen group of parents supported the fair and made it happen.

“It’s a great day out,” she said.

The fair will offer everything and more for the bravest of thrill-seeking adults down to the most timid fair-goers, and everything in between.

“There are the traditional Moriarty fair favourites like splat-the-rat, pony rides, cream teas, white elephant, mousetrap minefield, vegetable animal and a range of foods to tempt your appetites.

“If you need your kids to sleep well on Sunday night then a day at our fair will be guaranteed to do the trick.”

Moriarty was one of the schools previously threatened by State Government closures, but the school’s parents and pupils wasted little time worrying about the future. Instead, they are getting on with it.

“The feeling at the school at the moment is that Moriarty is invincible,” Mrs Argent said.

“We’re doing what we do best and we aim to make the most of every day.

“Coming here from other schools that didn’t have less than 500 children, I can say at Moriarty they do not take anything for granted.

“Everyone is working to ensure these kids get the very best opportunities.”

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.