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Girlfriend stomper gets five years in jail

When Sydney man Trent Wainwright got angry at his 19-year-old girlfriend late one night, he threw her onto a concrete driveway, stomped repeatedly on her head and hurled a heavy terracotta pot at her.

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Wainwright had been out drinking with work mates on January 16, 2010, and returned to their Mortdale home intoxicated, and apparently paranoid about some text messages she’d received on her phone.

Their relationship was already volatile but Wainwright was a man prone to fits of spontaneous rage.

After the then 27-year-old was done with her she was unconscious, her head lying in a one-litre pool of her own blood.

Her jaw bone and both eye sockets were fractured, her teeth loose and she had lacerations to her face.

The damage left the young woman on a liquid diet for nearly six weeks and she still suffers from her injuries.

But as the man who inflicted them was sentenced to a minimum of five years in jail on Thursday, he didn’t show any signs of concern.

Wainwright repeatedly interrupted Judge Stephen Norrish as he handed the now 32-year-old a maximum sentence of eight years and one month, even requesting a bathroom break at one point.

Judge Norrish recounted how Wainwright had screamed at his girlfriend to “get out of the f***ing house”, before lifting her up under her armpits and throwing her out the door.

She lost balance and fell, hit her head on some concrete steps and lost consciousness, he told Downing Centre District Court.

Wainwright then stomped on her head “with considerable force”, before picking up a clay pot weighing nearly seven kilograms and throwing it against her head so ferociously it smashed.

Afterwards, the court heard, he said: “the f***in’ dumb bitch deserved it”.

“That’s incorrect, Your Honour,” Wainwright declared from the dock, prompting a glare from Judge Norrish, who ordered him to stop talking.

Wainwright told police he thought his drink had been spiked that night and his girlfriend had provoked him by coming at him with a knife.

This was dubious, Judge Norrish concluded, given no knife was found in or around the premises.

Throughout the protracted matter Wainwright, who’s been in custody for two and a half years, dismissed three legal teams and changed his plea on multiple occasions.

Judge Norrish acknowledged Wainwright had suffered a “disturbed childhood” and had a range of mental health conditions.

Regardless, he’d “caused serious injury to the victim when she was in no condition to defend herself”.

Wainwright will be eligible for parole in October 2016.


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I won’t back you any more, UEFA boss Platini tells Blatter

Blatter all but confirmed at FIFA’s annual Congress on Wednesday that he would run for a fifth term next year despite criticism that the game and organisation have been tarnished by accusations of corruption during his long reign.

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“I do not support him,” Platini, head of European soccer’s governing body, was quoted as saying by French sports newspaper L’Equipe on Thursday. “I have known him for a long time and I like him well but I am not in favour of him doing another term.”

The Frenchman, a former world class player, is seen as a likely opponent to Blatter and will announce in August a decision on whether he will run, he said.

“In the future I will not support him (Blatter) any more,” Platini said. “I have told him that. I think FIFA needs some fresh wind.”

Asked why he had withdrawn his support for Blatter now, Platini said: “In 2011 he asked for our support and told us it would be his last term.”

Asked when he would decide whether to run for the FIFA presidency, Platini added: “I will say it at the draw for the Champions League (on Aug. 28) in Monaco. National associations want me to say as soon as possible.”

At the Congress on Wednesday, Blatter made no reference to the allegations and investigation into corruption surrounding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and instead pressed his case to extend his tenure as president.

“My mission is not finished,” he told officials from FIFA’s 209 member associations at the close of the Congress, held in Sao Paulo on the eve of the opening game at the World Cup between hosts Brazil and Croatia.

“Congress, you will decide who will take this great institution forward, but I can tell you I am ready to accompany you in the future,” said Blatter, who has led FIFA for 16 years.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris)


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Ton up for Jones as Wales opt for experience

Prop Jones will represent his country for the 95th time to go with five appearances for the British & Irish Lions in an experienced Wales team named by coach Warren Gatland on Thursday.

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“A lot of this side have experienced playing over here before in big games and this week is no different, it’s going to be a brilliant occasion, the atmosphere will be electric and hopefully it will be a great test match,” Gatland said in a statement released by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).

Gatland also named two uncapped players in his match-day squad with Scarlets scrumhalf Gareth Davies and Ospreys’ flyhalf Matthew Morgan listed as replacements.

Mike Phillips and Dan Biggar continue their half-back partnership, as do Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies in the midfield. George North and Alex Cuthbert line-up on the wings, with Liam Williams starting at fullback. In the pack, Adam Jones is joined in the front-row by Gethin Jenkins, who will be making a record 106th appearance for Wales, and Ken Owens.

Luke Charteris will partner captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row with Aaron Shingler joining Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau in the back-row.

The tourists put in a slick performance in defeating South African provincial side Eastern Province Kings 34-12 in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday and Gatland admitted to being pleased with preparations.

“We started the tour well on Tuesday against EP Kings but it’s important we go out on Saturday and perform to the level we know we can,” he said.

“A test series in South Africa is always a tough challenge, but we are excited by it and looking forward to getting out there on Saturday.

“As coaches, we have been impressed in training over the last couple of weeks and there were a couple of tough calls to make but it’s great guys like Gareth and Matthew have a chance after putting their hands up.”

Hooker Matthew Rees, who this past season received treatment for testicular cancer, features on the bench.

Team:

Wales: 15-Liam Williams, 14-Alex Cuthbert, 13-Jonathan Davies, 12-Jamie Roberts, 11-George North, 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Mike Phillips, 8-Taulupe Faletau, 7-Aaron Shingler, 6-Dan Lydiate, 5-Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4-Luke Charteris, 3-Adam Jones, 2-Ken Owens, 1-Gethin Jenkins

Replacements: 16-Matthew Rees, 17-Paul James, 18-Samson Lee, 19-Ian Evans, 20-Josh Turnbull, 21-Gareth Davies , 22-James Hook, 23-Matthew Morgan

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by John O’Brien)


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Baden-Clay trial hears of woman’s cry

A woman’s cry rang out in the Baden-Clays’ suburban Brisbane street the night Allison Baden-Clay vanished, a court has heard.

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Neighbours have told the murder trial of Gerard Baden-Clay they heard a yell or screams coming from the direction of the couple’s house on the night of April 19, 2012.

Baden-Clay, a former real estate agent, reported his 43-year-old wife missing from their Brookfield home in Brisbane’s west the next morning.

He is standing trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court charged with her murder.

“I can’t describe it as a scream, it was more of a startled, cut-short exclamation,” said Kim Tzvetkoff, who lived across the road from the couple.

His wife Julie said she heard “a sharp yell out, like an urgent yell out”.

“I believe it came from the area of the Baden’s house,” she told the court.

Several streets away, Fiona White said she heard two high-pitched screams, like “someone falling off a cliff”, about the date of the woman’s disappearance.

Another local woman told the court she heard an argument, a scream, a “loud thud” and the screech of car tyres that night.

Under cross examination she agreed she didn’t tell police when they doorknocked her house 10 days later, and didn’t report it until May 30.

And a man who lived 500 metres from the bridge above where Allison Baden-Clay’s body was found said he heard two heavy thuds “like a sandbag” being thrown on the ground, then a car door shutting that night.

Meanwhile, Gerard Baden-Clay’s father told the trial that although he was very close to his son, Gerard and Allison had been a “private” couple.

Nigel Baden-Clay’s first statement in the witness box was to correct the prosecutor’s pronunciation of his son’s given name.

Mr Baden-Clay told the court he found out about Allison’s depression well after she married his son, and that sometimes when he visited them the house would be in semi-darkness, with Allison lying on the couch.

He said his son phoned him on the morning of April 20, 2012.

“Gerard said to me, dad, I don’t want to alarm you but have you seen Allison?” he said.

“She hasn’t come back from her walk yet and I’m a bit worried about it.”

According to Mr Baden-Clay, his son sounded “anxious but trying to be calm” and the older man went straight over to mind the children while his son looked for his wife.

Allison Baden-Clay’s body was found 10 days later on a creek bank in nearby Anstead.

Baden-Clay, 43, has pleaded not guilty to murder.

He again shed tears during Thursday’s proceedings when a distressing video recording of his youngest daughter being interviewed by police the day her mother went missing was played to the jury.

Baden-Clay cried in the dock on Wednesday when similar recordings of his two other daughters were shown.

The trial continues.


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Flight MH370 families get compo payouts

Malaysia Airlines’ insurer has begun paying the families of passengers who were aboard Flight MH370 $US50,000 ($A54,100) each in initial compensation three months after the jet disappeared, a government official says.

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So far six Malaysian and one Chinese family have received the advance payment, to which all the families of the 239 passengers and crew onboard are entitled, said Malaysian deputy foreign minister Hamzah Zainudin on Thursday.

Talks with 40 more Chinese families are underway to ascertain they are the rightful claimants, said Hamzah, who heads a committee to support the missing passengers’ next-of-kin.

The Boeing 777 inexplicably disappeared on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with no sign of wreckage found despite an extensive search off western Australia.

Full payment to the families — who can claim up to more than three times the amount of the initial payout — would be made later, Hamzah said.

The government was not yet prepared to declare the plane lost, he added.

“When we talk about the full payment, we have to wait until we announce the issue on the tragedy MH370 is over … whether the plane is found, whether we announce the plane is lost,” he said.

Passengers’ families can claim up to about $US175,000 ($A189,340) under International Civil Aviation Organisation rules, regardless of fault, in a plane crash.

Malaysia Airlines’ insurer, a consortium led by Germany’s Allianz, is making the payments.

Malaysia and Australia have promised they will not give up looking for the plane in a vast deep-sea area in the southern Indian Ocean where the jet is believed to have crashed, based on satellite data.

But angry relatives of some of those on board have accused Malaysia and its national carrier of reacting too slowly and covering up information. Two-thirds of the passengers were Chinese.

A handful of families on Sunday launched an online campaign to raise $US5 million ($A5.41 million) to reward a “whistleblower” who comes forward with information to help find the plane.

So far, they have raised more than $US25,000 ($A27,050).

“The government has been very transparent from day one,” said Hamzah on Thursday.

The next phase of the hunt will see authorities comb a 60,000 square-kilometre search zone based on the plane’s last satellite communication.


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ISIS militants advance through Iraq

Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit, in the central north of Iraq, is the latest to fall under militants’ hands, as they continue their advance towards the capital.

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The lightning-fast offensive has sent alarm bells ringing in the West, with the United States reportedly considering air strikes against the group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

 

The group, which has been fighting the regime of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, wants to create a Sunni Islamic state that straddles the Iraqi-Syrian border.

 

The highway from Kirkuk to Tikrit, in Iraq’s north, is now a graveyard of military vehicles.

 

Army tanks and armoured cars lie burning and ruined, though whether they were destroyed in battle or abandoned in the rush to escape the militants’ onslaught is not known.

 

Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s home town and 140 kilometres northwest of Baghdad, is the second provincial capital to fall to the militants in two days.

 

A local police officer says all of Tikrit is now in the hands of ISIS, also known as ISIL, and now they have their sights set on the capital.

 

A US-based monitoring group says it’s translated an audio statement released on the ISIS Twitter feed.

 

“Do not relent against your enemy”, the statement reportedly says. “The battle is not yet raging, but it will rage in Baghdad. Put on your belts and get ready.”

 

In a televised address, Iraq’s Prime Minister, Nuri Al-Maliki, vowed that Iraq’s armed forces would be able to push the militants out.

 

But privately, Iraqi officials have reportedly asked US President Barack Obama consider air strikes.

 

Publicly, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says America wants to help Iraq defeat the militants.

 

“They have an ideology that is little to do with Iraqi domestic politics. It has to do with the taking of territory and terrorising the Iraqi people and so there is more that can be done. The Security reiterated the United States commitment to working with the Iraqi government and leaders across Iraq to support a unified approach against ISIL’s continued aggression.”

 

The militants began their offensive on Monday, capturing large swathes of northern and north-central Iraq, including the major city of Mosul.

 

Up to half-a-million people have fled their homes.

 

Almost 50 Turkish citizens – some truck drivers, some staff from the Turkish consulate in Mosul – have been kidnapped.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister says staff had been advised to evacuate the consulate but they’d stayed, convinced it was the safest place to be.

 

He says there’ll be harsh retaliation if any of the Turkish citizens are harmed.

 

The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, has echoed Turkey’s comments, and called for international support for Iraq.

 

“No such terrorist attack on diplomatic officers and civilians can be justified under any circumstances, under any reason.”

 

ISIS is one of several Sunni militant groups taking advantage of a political vacuum in Iraq.

 

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says perhaps this offensive will force a political compromise.

 

“I hope this incident really will lead all Iraqi leaders to come together to face this serious, mortal threat to the country. And it could be an inducement to all of them to think about the greater interest and to resolve the problems to form a new government on the basis of a national unity government, of a partnership government, to work together.”

 


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New-look England and wizened Italy face jungle test

The contrasting qualities of youth and experience will compete to tame Manaus’s punishing jungle humidity as a fresh-faced England, largely unburdened by past failures, play a wizened Italy, with a squad still imbued with their 2006 World Cup success.

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England, whose qualifying campaign was underpinned by Hodgson’s natural caution, look set to put their faith in a pack of attacking youngsters with only a handful of caps between them but with energy in abundance and plenty of hard running in the tank.

Italy, by contrast, still revolve around midfield metronome Andrea Pirlo, a veteran of their final victory over France eight years ago, to set the tempo for a possession game where the ball is jealously guarded and energy conserved rather than expended.

Pirlo is one of three current Italy players with World Cup winners’ medals along with 36-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and 30-year-old midfielder Daniele De Rossi.

Italy’s legacy of success, having reached the final in two of their last four major tournaments as well as a semi-final appearance at last year’s Confederations Cup, contrasts strikingly with England’s record of persistently flattering to deceive.

Yet one advantage of England’s new-look side is there will be no hangover from 2010 where they exited the World Cup in a 4-1 last-16 defeat to Germany.

Captain Steven Gerrard, right back Glen Johnson and striker Wayne Rooney are the only likely starters on Saturday to have survived that dismal performance.

With Hodgson dropping hints that he could include Liverpool’s 19-year-old trickster Raheem Sterling in a forward line that is set to feature relative international novices Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana, England are looking to the future rather than the past.

The fact that expectation levels are at a low ebb could also work in favour of a side that retains enormous attacking potential.

“It’s probably the best squad I’ve been involved in so it’s great to be a part of. I am looking forward to this tournament and the future with England because it certainly looks bright,” Rooney told reporters earlier this week.

England lost to Italy on penalties in the quarter-finals of the European Championship two years ago and the Italians are strongly favoured to emerge from a tough group that also includes Uruguay and Costa Rica.

There is no lack of confidence in the camp with open talk of another run to the final.

“We can win the World Cup,” said Pirlo earlier in the week. “I always play to win and I won’t be satisfied by just getting out of the group stage or into the quarter-finals.”

“This Italy team has everything it needs to go all the way.”

Perhaps the difference between England and Italy is that none of Hodgson’s men could utter that prediction without it being greeted by laughter.

(Writing by Toby Davis in Recife, Brazil; editing by Nigel Hunt)


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Pinehurst U.S. Open starts under overcast skies

Little-known American Daniel Berger struck the first shot on the par-four opening hole while Swede Henrik Norlander began proceedings at the par-five 10th to launch the third U.

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S. Open to be played on Pinehurst’s fabled No. 2 Course.

World number one Adam Scott was among the late starters, set to tee off with fellow Masters champions Bubba Watson and Charl Schwartzel from the first at 1:25 p.m. (1725 GMT) in one of the most eye-catching trios of the day.

Australian Scott, who will be seeking his second major title after clinching his first at last year’s Masters, is among the favourites at Pinehurst after winning four times in his last 17 starts worldwide.

U.S. Open fans have several mouth-watering groupings to watch in the early morning, among them Swedish world number two Henrik Stenson, fifth-ranked American Matt Kuchar and England’s former world number one Lee Westwood, who will start at 7.29 a.m. (1129 GMT) from the first.

Next off on that hole are three former U.S. Open champions with American Webb Simpson (2012) and Northern Irishmen Rory McIlroy (2011) and Graeme McDowell (2010) having been drawn together.

In keeping with tradition, tournament officials have placed defending U.S. Open champion Justin Rose of England in the same group as the British Open champion and the reigning U.S. Amateur winner.

Rose will tee off from the 10th hole at 7:51 a.m. along with American Phil Mickelson, a five-times major winner who is seeking his first U.S. Open crown after a record six runner-up finishes, and amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick.

In other high-profile trios, Spaniard Sergio Garcia will set off with Australian Jason Day and American Brandt Snedeker while three PGA Championship winners have been grouped together: last year’s champion Jason Dufner, fellow American Keegan Bradley (2011) and Germany’s Martin Kaymer (2010).

Three-times champion and world number four Tiger Woods is a notable absentee from Pinehurst as he continues to recover back surgery.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Martyn Herman)


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Aust women miss 10th water polo win in row

The Australian women’s water polo team fell a whisker shy of winning their tenth straight game, going down to Italy 11-10 on Thursday in their final group match at the FINA World League Super Finals in China.

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Leading by three with a quarter to play, Australia looked set to continue their winning streak that began against China at the Aquatic Super Series in Perth in January and included six wins at the World League Intercontinental Tournament in California last month and triumphs over Brazil and China in the past 48 hours in Kunshan.

Italy powered home on a wave of momentum with six goals in the final quarter to steal the win.

Despite the loss, Australia are just three victories away from a first World League title ahead of Friday night’s quarter-finals. They will learn their last-eight opponents later on Thursday.

The Italians opened the match by nailing three extra-man chances in the first term to lead 3-1 at quarter-time, Australia’s goal a penalty by prolific scorer Rowie Webster.

In the second stanza, Webster scored another, Glencora McGhie netted her first and, in the cage, Kelsey Wakefield stopped an Italian penalty shot to have the Stingers trailing only 3-4 at the main break.

Then came a stunning third-quarter Stingers blitz for the second straight night with goals to Ash Southern and Webster in extra-man, a second strike to McGhie and first goals to captain Bronwen Knox and centre-forward Jayde Appel. That gave them an 8-5 advantage and a seemingly insurmountable lead.

However, in the final quarter, Italy converted four extra-man opportunities to claim the win and top spot in the group.

The Australians will be buoyed by their ability to string together long-goal scoring runs but will also be keen to lower their expulsion count, minimising the opposition’s extra-player chances.


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Greece out to clip Colombia’s attacking wings

The Greeks, who also play Japan and Ivory Coast in the group, have long said their first game will be the most crucial one with Colombia, who finished second in the South American qualifiers after a superb campaign, seen as the team to beat.

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“We have it in our own hands to beat them,” said Greece’s versatile defender Giorgos Tzavellas. “Colombia will have to find a way to score against us and that will be very difficult and I hopeful we will win this game. This first game is extremely important.”

Greece, who 10 years ago staged a major upset by becoming European champions, have forged a reputation as a hard-working defensive team, conceding just four goals in their 10 qualifiers.

“They have a high quality attack but everyone of us is experienced. We will only play to win,” said Greece defender Kostas Manolas. “We are a good team and we will prove it on Saturday.”

Greece will need to be at their well-organised best with Colombia, despite the absence of talismanic striker Falcao for the tournament, having outstanding attacking options with Jackson Martinez or Carlos Bacca and a constantly changing system.

For 64-year-old Colombia coach Jose Pekerman any result other than victory would be a disappointment and he will be banking on his European mercenaries to deliver, with 15 of his 23 players plying their trade across the Atlantic.

“Colombia cannot simply change its playing style,” captain Mario Yepes told reporters. “Throughout the qualifiers we relied on possession of the ball and that is what makes us strong.”

That possession game includes attacking full-backs and the ability to launch rapid counter-attacks.

“Sometimes, in some games, it is normal that it does not work, but we will try to do it, ” said the defender nicknamed ‘Super Mario’, who plays for Italy’s Atalanta.

Yepes said Colombia would miss Falcao, injured defenders Aldo Ramirez and Luis Perea, along with midfielder Edwin Valencia, but their style would be the same whoever was on the pitch on Saturday.

“The idea is that Colombia plays the same way even though the names may change. We want to have the ball to play our flowing game.”

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Justin Palmer)


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