Driver committed for trial in Newcastle

Rhys James McGrorey-Clark was to be committed for trial in the Newcastle District Court on Thursday but the matter has been adjourned until next month.
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McGrorey-Clark of Medowie pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving occasioning death.

He was on a date with his girlfriend in August last year when his Daewoo sedan crashed through a timber railing on the single-lane Clarence Town Bridge on the Williams River at 8.30pm.

McGrorey-Clark was able to free himself from the crash, but the girl, who cannot be named, died.

The matter will next be mentioned on August 9.

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Water clue to mall redesign

McGregor Coxall, designs for the Parramatta CBD, which embraces the Parramatta River.Water has been a key element in previous architectural plans for the redesign of the Maitland Heritage Mall.
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McGregor Coxall, appointed to the project by Maitland City Council, had previously completed designs for the Taree waterfront and for the Parramatta CBD, that embraces the Parramatta River.

MCC general manager David Evans said their work with McGregor Coxall was only beginning.

“Fundamentally their success was based on their tender bid, the experience of the consortium of specialists working for them, the relevance of their previous work and the value proposition of their bid,” he said.

“McGregor Coxall was selected as a result of a robust and competitive tender process.”

The company’s Parramatta design was part of a $100 million Parramatta council plan to revitalise its CBD.

The project analysed key development sites, heritage items, open space, water and cultural assets as a basis for building a new city brand and waterfront.

The design turned the city toward the river and proposed four new vibrant mixed-use river quarters.

At Taree, McGregor Coxall drew up plans that encompassed the Manning River and remnant cultural heritage sites along the 20 hectare site.

The $3m project is still in its infancy but involves three precincts.

One will be a mixed-use zone with a retail and commercial heart, together with residential dwellings.

The second precinct will be a residential village within scenic existing landscape elements of the creek and the river. And the third precinct will be a working waterfront-commercial marina.

Mr Evans said while Maitland residents were keen to know what the Heritage Mall might look like, it might take some time.

“We will now have an engagement meeting with McGregor Coxall in which we will sit down as consultant and principal for the first time and discuss the project in detail,” he said.

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MasterChef winner Andy sets sights on culinary path

Andy Allen (right) shares the joy of his MasterChef win with his sister Philippa and parents Peter and Maree.MasterChef’s gain is the Maitland Mustangs loss as fledgling celebrity chef Andy Allen trades hoops for
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hollandaise in his new role as the dude food specialist.

As Allen rapidly gains popularity following Wednesday’s MasterChef win, his duties as basketballer with the Mustangs will be forced to take a back seat.

Click the image below for more pics of Andy in action in the kitchen and on the basketball court

“I would say we’ve lost him for a while and he definitely won’t make our finals, but this is fantastic news,” Mustangs general manager Chris Heath said.

“Andy is a great bloke who really deserves this success. He’s the sort of guy who would do anything for you, he’s outgoing and he’s going to make a great chef.”

Heath said Allen, 24, of East Maitland, was one of the team’s top players.

“Andy won’t be with us for the finals, but he won’t be a stranger,” he said.

Allen, also an apprentice electrician, said he was over the moon with the win.

“I bet you no one would have picked me at the start to win – let alone two weeks ago. I’m so happy that I know my life will involve food,” Allen said following the nail-biting final.

“I am overwhelmed.

“I never thought this would happen. It just goes to show what you can do if you put your mind to something you love.

“For me, the most important thing is to keep learning and whatever I do next that’s my priority.

“Now that I’ve realised how

quickly I can take on skills and learn more, I just want to push myself to find out how far I can go.

“I’m a quick learner; any technique that was thrown at me I had to master. There was no time in the competition that I really knew what I was doing. I’m so happy with my progress.”

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Welcome home Mitch

Dianne Conroy with her son Mitch Thomas at home in East Maitland on Thursday.Mitch Thomas is home.
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Six months and two weeks after Mitch swung off a rope into the river at Lorn and was dragged out a quadriplegic,

the teenager was taken by ambulance from Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital to his home in East Maitland.

When the Mercury visited the 18-year-old in the hospital’s spinal unit last week, he was desperately homesick.

“I’ve had enough of Sydney and hospital,” Mitch said, his voice laboured after months of breathing with the help

of a tracheostomy tube, his once-strong young body wasted.

But Thursday was a different story as he and his mother, invalid pensioner Dianne Conroy who has remained by his hospital bedside since the January Black Friday accident, contemplated the first day of the rest of their lives.

“He’s so skinny. I want to feed him up on all the food he loves – sausages, mash and gravy, and mornay – and then, in a few months’ time, hopefully he can begin rehabilitation,” Ms Conroy said.

“I have my boy home.”

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Sentence review postponed once again

Tom Biviano.Six months on from his appeal win Beau Lawton, the man who left a Maitland father permanently disabled after a king hit, has failed to gain legal representation for his resentencing.
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In February, the Court of Criminal Appeal allowed Lawton to withdraw his guilty plea to recklessly causing grievous bodily harm because of changes to the law and the definition of reckless.

Lawton, 22, was sentenced to six years prison in 2011 after he punched Tom Biviano, who had tried to break up a street brawl in Ken Tubman Drive in Maitland on October 31, 2009.

Mr Biviano fell to the ground unconscious and is now permanently disabled and in the full-time care of his mother.

Lawton, of Rutherford, was 19 at the time.

He has since pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

Wearing a white shirt and tie, Lawton appeared in Newcastle District Court on Thursday supported by family members.

In court, the crown prosecutor said the matter had been going on forever and a day, and requested it be finalised.

The judge, Peter Maiden, asked Lawton why it had taken so long for him to get legal aid, to which Lawton replied that he’d been working in Queensland.

“You’ve got to arrange for legal aid or do it yourself, and for this matter, as little as I know about it, you don’t want to do it yourself,” Justice Maiden said.

The matter was adjourned to August 23 and Lawton’s bail was continued.

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Mitch teaches us a lesson on life

The story of Mitch Thomas, the East Maitland teenager left a quadriplegic following a terrible accident in the Hunter River at Lorn in January, has touched the lives of many Maitland residents.
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It was a terrible accident, but it was an accident that could have happened to any one of us or our loved ones who have ever ventured to the river to cool off on a hot summer’s afternoon.

Maitlanders are renowned for their generosity – just look at the city’s magnificent efforts during times of floods – but the outpouring of support for Mitch and his mother Dianne Conroy has been overwhelming.

In the six months since the accident more than $21,000 has been donated to the Mercury’s Pitch in for Mitch Appeal to help meet their ongoing expenses.

Mitch’s mum, Dianne Conroy is right when she says that it’s people, not the amount of money in your bank account, that determines whether you are rich or poor.

And she says the generosity shown by the people of Maitland makes Mitch and her both “filthy rich”.

It is stories such as this that make us realise how lucky we are to live in a city such as Maitland.

On behalf of all of Maitland, the management and staff of the Mercury wishes Mitch and Dianne all the best – and a pledge that we will stick by them in the long days ahead.

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Take a peek into the past at historic Tocal Homestead

Co-ordinator Sandy Earle enjoys dressing in old-fashioned clothing.Sandy Earle is partial to draping herself in the clothes of yesteryear.
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But this Sunday she won’t be alone.

More than 500 people are expected to gather at Tocal Homestead for the annual Peek Into The Past extravaganza.

And despite the event’s longevity (about 18 years), Ms Earle said interest shows no sign of waning.

“People keep coming back because they can’t see this stuff anywhere else,” Ms Earle, Peek Into The Past co-ordinator, said.

“It’s nostalgia and that’s the fabulous thing about it.” Grandparents come along and remember a time when kitchens had wood stoves and there were horse and carts, so for them it’s nostalgia.

“For parents it’s interesting and history, and for the kids it’s just brand new stuff. It’s intriguing that people can come to one event and see three different perspectives and everyone sees something that’s of interest, which is really nice.”

This year’s attractions will include the Hunter Valley Concours D’Elegance for horses and ponies in harness and will also showcase a range of artisans’ skills including spinning, quilting, felting, knitting, blacksmithing, sheep shearing and wood turning.

Gates will open at 10am on Sunday and close at 3pm. For more information phone 4939 8901.

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Maitland break-ins: Do you know this man?

CENTRAL Hunter police today released the name and photo of a man they want to speak to about a series of break-ins across the Maitland district.
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Officers believe Troy Hardes, 39, may be able to assist their investigation and hoped someone in the community would know his whereabouts.

The investigation relates to break-ins at homes in Tarro, Beresfield, East Maitland and Ashtonfield, in which cash and electrical goods were stolen.

Hardes is described as being of Caucasian appearance, 175cm tall, with a medium build and brown hair.

He also has two distinctive tattoos - a Southern Cross on his arm and an eagle on his chest.

Anyone with information should contact Central Hunter Local Area Command or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Our Andy’s a MasterChef

Maitland's Andy Allen is the 2012 MasterChef winner.Maitland’s Andy Allen is Australia’s new MasterChef.
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After a gruelling cook-off on Wednesday night, Allen proved his prowess in the kitchen and brought home the title from Australia’s most

popular television series.

Allen, 24, an electrician and Mustangs basketball player, is the son of Peter and Maree Allen of East Maitland, who looked on proudly from the sidelines as their son felt the heat inside MasterChef headquarters in Sydney.

* See Thursday's Mercury for Rebecca Berry's full report.

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Mudd’s passion rewarded

Maitland Magpies midfielder David Mudd is relishing his return to the playing field after two years out of the game through injury. David Mudd has been through the sporting equivalent of hell.
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Two knee re-constructions and a shoulder operation have seen the dynamic Maitland Magpies midfielder miss almost two years of football due to his injury torment.

Mudd returned to action on Sunday after coming on as a half-time substitute in Maitland’s 1-1 draw against Toronto-Awaba.

And the comeback couldn’t have come any sooner for the 25-year-old.

“The body was aching afterwards but it felt awesome being back out there with the guys,” Mudd said.

“It’s like a rush, some guys get a rush by jumping out of a plane, I get it by playing football.”

At one point Mudd wasn’t sure if he’d ever get to play football again and admitted to some despairing days in his rehabilitation.

“Yeah, it went through my head a fair bit (retirement). Once I left the specialist – that day after he said I needed another knee op – I remember distinctly crying on the phone to my mum saying ‘I’ve lost the sport I love’,’” Mudd said.

“The specialist said there’s not a real good rate of keeping your knees after this but my mum and dad were really supportive, as families tend to be.

“My girlfriend Kara said ‘if you love it go and do it’.

“I couldn’t wait to get back because there’s nothing worse than watching your mates

running around getting belted and not being able to help them.”

Mudd’s last game had been the 2010 semi-final loss to Azzurri F.C. and while the Magpies have again missed out on promotion to the State League, Mudd says his teammates are ready to add to their grand final win from 2009.

“I think with our full team we can beat anybody. Adamstown and Lambton have bought the players but when it comes to doing the hard yards to get the boys over the line I think we’ve got the desire, that will to win,” Mudd said.

Maitland travel to Thornton Park on Sunday to take on the Redbacks and will be hoping to continue the host’s disappointing 2012 campaign.

Thornton are yet to win a game this season and will be in for a tough afternoon against the high-flying Magpies who are still an outside chance of a top two finish.

Kick off is at 2.30pm.

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