Party people

From left; Zoe Brindley and Pia Lukaitis at Stokehouse City opening, Alfred Place. Photo: Shaney Balcombe
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From left; Bridget McCall and Nicholas Van Messner at Stokehouse City opening, Alfred Place. Photo: Shaney Balcombe

From left; Kat Angelidis and Harrison Craig at Edge of tommorrow premiere, Village, Crown. Photo: Shaney Balcombe

From left; Kiani Trisna and Anna McEvoy at Eat Street, Sofitel, Melbourne on Collins. Photo: Shaney Balcombe

From left; Georgia Sinclair at Stokehouse City opening, Alfred Place. Photo: Shaney Balcombe

From left; Felipe Bueno and David Keen at Edge of tommorrow premiere, Village, Crown. Photo: Shaney Balcombe

The Sun Herald launched the new ‘S’, at The Penthouse, The Ivy, Sydney. Emma Lung. May 28th, 2014. Photo: Brianne Makin

Lara Dawson and Daisy Dumas, The Sun Herald launched the new ‘S’, at The Penthouse, The Ivy, Sydney. Photo: Brianne Makin

AMonique and Tim Blackwel, The Sun Herald launched the new ‘S’, at The Penthouse, The Ivy, Sydney. Photo: Brianne Makin

Tim Cahill, The Star ?Sharing the thrill of Vivid Sydney.

Lewis Grant and Simone Holtznagel, The Star ? Sharing the thrill of Vivid Sydney. Photo: Ken Leanfore

Michelle Milliken, Siobhan Dunn and Kate Gildea, Gourmet Traveller Hotel Awards 2014, Surry Hills, Sydney. Photo: Paul Lovelace

Stephen Howard and Marie Gallien, Gourmet Traveller Hotel Awards 2014, Surry Hills, Sydney. Photo: Paul Lovelace

Catriona Rowntree, Gourmet Traveller Hotel Awards 2014, Surry Hills, Sydney. Photo: Paul Lovelace

Hannah Saul, ModelCo Summer Tanning Collection 2014 North Bondi Fish. Photo: dlrphoto

Tully Smyth, ModelCo Summer Tanning Collection 2014 North Bondi Fish. Photo: Darren Leigh Roberts

Anthea Meredith and Eliza Humble, Royal Dragon Vodka launch.

Tim Dorma and Jade Albany, Royal Dragon Vodka launch.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Accused damned by bad behaviour: the case for Robert Hughes’ appeal

Robert Hughes leaves court in Sydney prior to his conviction for child sex offences. His lawyer will appeal his convictions.Damning evidence of ingrained predatory behaviour – or unfair character assassination? That’s the heart of the contentious legal strategy of introducing evidence of a pattern of incidents, or ”signature” bad behaviour, that has been a feature of both the recent prosecution of Robert Hughes in Australia and the Rolf Harris trial in Britain, both on child sex offences.
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And it’s a practice that Hughes’ lawyer, Greg Walsh, will appeal all the way to the High Court. He believes most of the ”tendency evidence” heard at the trial, and which ultimately proved devastating to Hughes’ defence case, should never have been admitted.

This involved a number of witnesses who said they were subject to Hughes’ predatory behaviour – but weren’t in themselves seeking to prosecute their claims. They were called to tell their stories to establish that Hughes had a tendency to behave in a sexually inappropriate and disturbing fashion.

Greg Walsh said there were, in fact, twice as many tendency evidence witnesses as actual complainants (four). Speaking from Honolulu by phone yesterday, Walsh said that if he failed at the Court of Criminal Appeal in New South Wales, he intends to take Hughes’ case to the High Court – which has a much higher threshold for admissibility of tendency evidence than the states, including Victoria and NSW, which operate under the Uniform Evidence acts.

On May 16, when he sent Hughes to jail for a minimum of six years, Judge Peter Zahra said the tendency evidence witnesses had satisfied him that Hughes’ sexual malfeasance was not isolated instances, but spanned ”some 20 years from 1984 to 2004”.

These weren’t simply character witnesses and the question of a defendant’s character generally cannot be raised in a criminal trial unless the accused has raised it first – along the lines of ”there’s no way I could be guilty because I’m such a great citizen”.

Under the Uniform Evidence Act (legislated by the Commonwealth in 1995, and by Victoria in 2008), tendency evidence goes to prove not simply that the accused is a bad egg, but that he or she ”has or had a tendency (whether because of the person’s character or otherwise) to act in a particular way”.

If it’s said an accused person had done a certain kind of crime several times, with a particular method and set of behaviours, then it can be argued he has a system or a signature that matches the evidence.

”If you know a person has a signature way of committing a crime, that might elevate a pathetically weak case into one that a jury will accept,” says Peter J. Morrissey, a senior counsel in criminal matters and chairman of the Criminal Bar Association of Victoria.

At the Hughes trial, where the accused was facing multiple charges from multiple complainants, further supported by tendency witnesses, the signature was established when many witnesses told similar stories of Hughes exposing himself. The jury came to believe this was his signature behaviour because they’d heard it so many times from so many people. It probably became almost impossible not to believe he did it.

Rolf Harris, being prosecuted using similar strategies in Britain, kicked an own goal in admitting he had a dark side, while he steadfastly denied that he has a signature pattern of groping. But will the jury have made up its mind?

Says Morrissey: ”Tendency reasoning is viewed as potentially seductive. It leads to the identification of an accused or a witness as being of bad character and likely to commit the offence. And that reasoning is unfair. The concern is it becomes a trial about character and not the facts.”

Morrissey says it becomes an open question as to whether a pattern has been identified ”or is it a pattern that’s artificially produced by advocates”.

But Associate Professor John Anderson of the University of Newcastle Law School, and a former senior solicitor/advocate in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions NSW, says ”the courts have said there is no necessity for the events to be strikingly similar”.

It depends which court you’re talking about – and what threshold test is applied to admissibility.

Under the Uniform Rule of Evidence acts (applicable in NSW, Tasmania, the ACT, NT and Victoria) a judge has to decide whether the evidence has probative value that substantially outweighs the risk of the jury being prejudiced. Probative value is the extent to which this evidence affects the probabilities of guilt or innocence. Anderson says this is a ”tough ask for the judges”.

Morrissey concurs. ”The judge has a heavy burden because he doesn’t know how the evidence will affect the jury. Will the jury be able to handle the evidence and give the person a fair trial or the witness a fair hearing?”

Associate Professor David Hamer from the University of Sydney’s Law School has researched the applications tendency evidence and notes: ”There is no way of resolving the risk. If you let the evidence in, it will prejudice the jury. If you exclude, you deprive the jury of evidence that gives them a honest picture of things. A balance has to be achieved.”

Greg Walsh argues that the Crown throughout Australia, particularly in states subject to the Uniform Rule of Evidence, is frequently applying a ”dangerously low threshold test” and admitting tendency evidence that has little genuine probative value, particularly in sex abuse cases. He cited instances where such evidence offered little more than innuendo – such as when the accused sent a complainant a birthday card – rather than demonstrating a relevant pattern of predatory behaviour.

”I have no doubt there will be increasing numbers of miscarriages of justice because of the way tendency evidence is being applied,” he said. ”Because juries, in my opinion, are finding tendency evidence confusing and what I think happens is they use tendency evidence to say, ‘He did it’.”

Melbourne defence lawyer George Balot believes that since the introduction of the evidence act in Victoria, ”defence lawyers [are] frequently choosing not to challenge the admission of highly prejudicial evidence because there is a prevalent view that it is almost impossible to resist such admission into evidence”.

There is a good reason why Greg Walsh hopes to reach the High Court: in 2006, in a landmark decision, the court ordered Queenslander Daniel Phillips to be retried on multiple counts of rape and sexual assault he had committed as a teenager.

Phillips’ initial trial had featured multiple complainants, cross-admissibility and accumulated tendency evidence – and ended with him sent to jail for 12 years. He appealed to the Queensland Court of Appeal on the basis of evidence admissibility and lost.

But the High Court, says Hamer, ”upheld the appeal because it found the tendency evidence lacked sufficient probative value … [Phillips] was released on bail and soon after raped a 16-year-old girl.”

Caught red-handed, he pleaded guilty. Hamer later wrote a paper that criticised the High Court’s decision for setting ”a very bad precedent”, for the ”pernicious effect it is likely to have on sexual assault prosecutions”.

As a PR exercise, muddling up Robert Hughes with Daniel Phillips is unlikely to figure in Greg Walsh’s public agitations. And legally, the Hughes appeal won’t have the benefit of being heard under common law, which has a much more stringent admissibility test for tendency evidence than Rule of Evidence Law. It all comes down to the weird luck that Phillips was originally tried in Queensland under common law, because the rule of evidence act hasn’t been adopted there. Hughes was tried in NSW, where the act was first legislated, in 1995.

If in fact the Hughes appeal was being heard under common law – that is, under the same rules as Phillips – victory would be pretty much assured. That’s because under common law tendency evidence is ruled inadmissible ”if there is a rational view of the evidence consistent with innocence”.

What exactly does this mean? Apparently the High Court is still working it out.

Stephen Odgers, SC, specialises in criminal appeals. He is also Adjunct Professor, faculty of law, University of Sydney and author of Uniform Evidence Law in Victoria 2e.

He says: ”It’s an extraordinarily demanding threshold. This evidence had to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt on its own even before it is let in. The High Court has spent some years qualifying that … There is still some uncertainty of what the High Court test means.”

For Greg Walsh and his client, the question is still open. Says David Hamer from the University of Sydney Law School: ”The question is whether the High Court of Australia would take a more open approach to admissibility under Uniform Evidence Law, or whether they’d attempt to import the more stringent approach of the common law.’’

It’s worth noting the High Court ran an earlier test case where a murderer was convicted on tendency evidence that was purely circumstantial. We can’t tell you the man’s name or what he did. It’s a compelling story. It will be told again soon when he faces trial on another old murder case. Tendency evidence will no doubt play a vital role in his trial. And many people will be thankful for that.

An earlier version of this story implied that the High Court would rule on tendency evidence admissibility in a Robert Hughes appeal under the common law. In fact, it would be heard under the Uniform Rule of Evidence Law. 

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Allergy and asthma – is lack of fibre the culprit?

There’s a new story emerging about the value of eating fibre rich foods and it’s got nothing to do with constipation. Instead  it’s about allergy, asthma and autoimmune disease and how lack of fibre in the western diet may be a culprit.
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The link between fibre and these diseases, all of them related to problems with our immune system, is the microbes living in our gut. This is a part of the body that has more to do with immunity than most of us realise – it’s home to millions of immune cells as well as trillions of bacteria. There’s a growing recognition that this colony of  gut bugs,  or the  microbiome as it’s called,  affects our health for better or worse depending on which bacteria are in residence,  says Professor Charles Mackay of Monash Unversity’s Department of Immunology.

“Less fibre, more processed food and the weight gain that can result from this has altered the mix of microbes in the gut,” he explains. “This can affect our immune system and may be driving the rise in allergy, asthma and autoimmune disease in industrialised countries.”

One clue to the connection between fibre and the immune system comes from rural Africa where problems like allergy and asthma are rare, diets are higher in fibre – and people tend to have a different mix of gut microbes.  A study comparing the gut bacteria of African children from Burkina Faso with those of European children from Italy, for instance, found the African children had a more diverse bunch of microbes than the Italian children.  Importantly, the Africans had more of the bacteria that digest fibre to produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) –  substances that help keep both the gut and the immune system healthy, says Mackay.

Besides having an anti-inflammatory effect  these SCFAs help keep  the gut lining in good shape, preventing  gut permeability or  ‘leaky gut’, a problem where the gut lining becomes weakened,  allowing things like   bacteria and waste to pass through into the bloodstream.   There’s some evidence linking a leaky gut to Type 1 diabetes, says Mackay who’s soon to take up an Australian Diabetes Council funded chair of Diabetes at the Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney.

“It could be that bacteria or products of bacteria pass through the gut lining and stimulate the immune system in a way that causes it to attack the wrong target,” he says. “Although for someone to develop an autoimmune disease like Type 1 diabetes you generally have to have a genetic predisposition as well as an environmental trigger. It may be that a leaky gut is the environmental trigger,” he says.

Google ‘leaky gut’ and you’ll find claims that it’s behind a range of health problems from chronic fatigue to autism  -and  all because we’re eating grains. But research into gut permeability and autoimmune disease is still at the early stages, says Mackay.

“I think there’s some scientific basis for a possible effect of grains on the gut lining for some people but I don’t think that this means all of us – there are plenty of healthy people who eat grains,” he says.

So what should we eat to encourage the right mix of microbes we can count on to produce SCFAs? Although you’ll find advice on the internet to get your SCFAs from butter, Mackay’s advice is to eat a wide range of fibre rich plant foods.

“The levels of SCFAs produced from fibre are much greater than that derived from butter,” he says. “I don’t think there’s any substitute for the health benefits of dietary fibre.”

There’s also a scientific argument for using vinegar in dressings to add to vegetables, he adds. Vinegar’s main component is acetic acid which is also a short chain fatty acid.

Once we understand the ideal mix of microbes – how long would it take for a change of diet to improve the quality of our gut bacteria?

“We’re not sure – in humans and mice the microbiome can change very quickly and going on a bender of fast food for two weeks would change it,” Mackay says. “But we don’t know what happens then – does it go back to normal once you start eating differently?  We have ideas about which microbes are useful but we don’t understand yet what the ideal composition is.

“But when we do it has the potential to improve human health just by improving diet without spending money on developing drugs – It’s one of the most exciting developments in medical research in a long time. In the future, we’ll probably be monitoring the health of our gut microbiome and then correcting it if it’s unhealthy.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Nairo Quintana poised to become a “grand champion” after Giro d’Italia win –

Zoncolan: As Nairo Quintana raced towards overall victory in the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, Australian dual stage winner Michael Rogers barely drew breath before labelling the 24-year-old Colombian as a rider who could become a “grand champion” of the sport.
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Speaking after he won stage 20 of the Giro – 167km from Maniago to the summit of Monte Zoncolan – Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) said he was surprised by the strong finish  from Quintana who was poised to become Colombia’s first Giro champion.

“He certainly impressed me. To tell you the truth, after 10 days I didn’t see him as a winner,” Rogers said after soloing to his second stage win of the Giro.

In Saturday’s stage, Rogers finished 38 seconds clear of Italian Franco Pellizotti (Androni Giocattoli) and 49 secs ahead of another Italian Francesco Bongiorno (Bardiani) who Pellizotti passed near the end.

The overall favourites finished several minutes behind but Quintana’s 17th place at 4mins 45secs was enough for him to hold on to his overall lead and remain confident of doing so until the race finished in Trieste on Sunday.

Going into Sunday’s final stage – 172km from Gemona del Friuli to Trieste – Quintana’s lead was 3mins 7secs over Uran in second and 4mins and 4secs on Aru in third.

Meanwhile, Cadel Evans (BMC) was eighth overall at 12 minutes flat, after he dropped a place from seventh with 33rd place on the stage at 7mins 20secs.

Asked about Quintana, who finished second in last year’s Tour de France but has focused this season on the Giro – an event in which he hurt his hip in the stage six crash approach to the uphill finish at Montecassino and the flu in the second week, Rogers said:

“It just goes to show you these races are won in that last week, especially the Giro which is a very, very hard race; this Giro in particular.

“With stages like [Saturday’s 20th stage] for light guys who are real climbers or ‘scalatori’ …

“We saw the hill time trial and at this stage, it’s who has the legs and background and talent.”

Pressed on Quintana’s potential, Rogers said: “He still has to do the work at the end of the day, doesn’t he?

“He has even showed the potential to be a grand champion.”

Meanwhile, Rogers will now rest up following the Giro before preparing for the Tour de France that starts in Leeds in England on July 7 and in which the Canberran will be at the services of dual Tour winner, Alberto Contador of Spain.

“Between Roman  Kreuziger and myself, I think we can support Alberto in the mountains really well,” Rogers said.

“I think everyone is a little bit nervous about the cobblestones stages. But we have [Daniele] Bennati. We have [Sergio] Paulinho.

“We have a pretty good team, but we need to work hard, create opportunities and take them when they arrive.”

Rupert Guinness has been covering the Giro d’Italia as a guest of Eurosport. Eurosport have been covering every stage live, up to an including Sunday’s final and 21st, Gemona del Friuli to Trieste – 172km – from 10.30pm on Eurosport Channel 511, Foxtel.

*Times are subject to change

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Carter is king but Jonny was a genius

Jonny Wilkinson retired from rugby in the early hours of Sunday morning steering Toulon to their first French title in 22 years. Jonny says that he is a fraud. The rest of the world says he is a freak.
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Dan Carter can claim to be the finest number 10 of a generation, but Jonny can perhaps claim to be the greatest.

You may well wonder what the difference is, and it is this. Carter can do things on a rugby pitch that Wilkinson cannot do and never will do.

The great All Black is the better, the more complete rugby player. But Carter is short of pots, he has never even played in a World Cup semi-final, and his character does not set him apart like Wilkinson’s.

That is not to criticise Carter. We like normal blokes in New Zealand and Carter is a normal bloke. Wilkinson is not. He is an extraordinary bloke. In an age of celebrity, Jonny has remained almost out of sight.

You may not know this, you may have been deafened by the noise of the special k’s, Kanye and Kardashian, but last November Jonny got married. The ceremony took place in a French town hall. There were two guests. One was Jonny’s mum.

Jonny is a bit of a weirdo, but in a lovely humble way. He likes a slice of Buddhism and says things like, “My time is not now. It has been and won’t be.”

Any other bloke would seize this day. Last weekend, a day shy of his 35th birthday, Wilkinson manoeuvred Toulon to a successive European title. Whatever he says, it was an extraordinary performance. He made one mistake, spilling a ball in contact, the rest was a perfect ten.

Of course it is the mistake that will torment Wilkinson. He said, “I’ve lived for 17 years where every weekend your life hangs in the balance. It might be nice that that’s no longer the case, waking up on a Saturday morning without that horrible feeling in your stomach and not having to worry about all the what ifs.”

Of course, Wilkinson’s life didn’t hang in the balance, except in his mind. He is obsessive. Earlier this season, before a match in Glasgow, Jonny went through his morning kicking routine in a supermarket car park because the practice pitches were closed. Wilkinson has always been haunted by imperfection.

He once said, “I’ve been searching for tranquillity in a world created by obsessive thoughts.”

Wilkinson’s utter absence of arrogance, of any conceit, means that many Scots, Welsh and French, traditionally bitter sporting enemies of blasted Albion, will stand alongside the English and applaud Jonny from the stage.

The applause started last weekend in Cardiff where many French and Welsh hands came together. Wilkinson is admired as man. He is the antidote to English arrogance.

The Toulon 10 hardly touched the ball for the first 20 minutes of the European final. He was a domestique, clearing bodies, cleaning up the rubbish. Then there was an inside ball to Carl Hayman. Who would have thought in 2005 that these two would stand shoulder to shoulder as teammates one day.

Then the magic play. Jonny gave an arm signal, just before he took the ball to the left of the ruck, on the openside. Misdirection. The deep defence and the front line drifted Jonny’s way. He switched the ball back right to Matt Giteau with perfect accuracy. The Aussie hooked a chip over the committed defence, Drew Mitchell beat the fullback to the ball and Giteau followed up to score.

Wilkinson, Giteau and Mitchell made a fool out of Alex Goode, England’s some time fullback, all game. They exposed how slow Goode is to change direction. They also exposed Owen Farrell, England’s first choice fly-half.

Toulon dummied a forward drive and then Wilkinson took the ball out the back. Farrell, so pleased to have read the play, went to bury Wilkinson. He got the hit in but Wilkinson got a perfect long pass in first. Dave Strettle then came up to bury Mitchell, who ducked under, and Toulon were through the over-committed defence for their second try.

This match was a celebration of Wilkinson. Farrell and Goode, missed the odd penalty kick, at goal or to touch, and a drop goal went wide. Every Wilkinson penalty to touch hit its mark. All four kicks at goal, two from the touchline and two from the 10 metre line, bisected the posts. They never looked like missing. And of course there was a drop goal off his right foot, supposedly the weaker.

That strength of mind, reading of the game, planning and two-footedness are why Carter has always rated Wilkinson so highly. Wilkinson is so revered in Toulon, despite having twice kicked France out of a World Cup semi-final, that the club want to retire his number 10 jersey, something that has never happened in rugby before. Jonny Ten they call him.

World Cup-winning teammate Will Greenwood wrote in the Telegraph, “Jonny Wilkinson is the kid who came into the England set-up and dragged a lot of us from the dark ages into the future. His levels of dedication and ability to physically and mentally crucify himself were a genuine shock. Respect was earned the hard way – by showing you would never back down or run away.”

Wilkinson says, “I have been given too much respect and others deserve it more. Some will realise soon I am a bit of a fraud. I have been part of great teams and others should get credit. In the end, I get paid well to fulfil my passion.”

It’s not false humility. Jonny actually believes it. While Yaya Toure rails because no one said happy birthday to him, Jonny has his cake and eats it, alone, in the corner, thinking about how he can help the team. It is why he is so respected by fan and player alike. Wilkinson will be missed in New Zealand this winter. He is still the best 10 in England.

Sunday Star Times

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.