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Caught hiding in the cupboard

HIDING: The long-arm of the law opened the cupboard and found Joshua William Drage hiding.A Telarah man was found hiding in a bedroom cupboard when police executed a warrant for his arrest on Monday.
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Joshua William Drage appeared in custody after failing to attend court on June 25 charged with failing to comply, resisting an officer and offensive language.

In his absence Drage, 29, had been fined $100 for failing to comply and $100 for offensive language that he used outside Maitland Probation and Parole on April 13.

Some of the charges had not been dealt with in court on June 25 but were heard at Maitland Local Court yesterday.

The court heard a plain clothes detective had attempted to get past Drage who had blocked the entrance to Probation and Parole.

The detective identified himself and asked Drage, who smelled strongly of wine and was holding a Coke bottle containing wine, to move on.

Other police arrived and Drage was given several warnings to move on but said: “You f——— c—— can’t make me do anything. You c—— wanna bash me, well you can f—- off all of youse. I’m not f——— going anywhere until you c—— f—- off.”

He was arrested and spat and swore as he was escorted to Maitland police station.

Three hours after his release, about 8.45pm, police found Drage drunk and yelling outside the police station. He was granted bail at 6pm that day with strict conditions not to drink alcohol.

When police asked him where he had been drinking Drage said: “Wherever I like you c—— can’t tell me what to do.”

Police used capsicum spray to subdue Drage and he was arrested for breaching bail.

Warrants for remaining charges of resisting police were issued when Drage did not appear in court on June 25. A week later police found him hiding in a cupboard at his mother’s Capper Street home.

In court yesterday Drage pleaded guilty to the remaining charges but was refused bail. The matter was adjourned to Monday.

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Thou shalt not . . . cover up

Former Maitland school principal Mike Stanwell. Mike Stanwell has spent almost 30 years doggedly fighting to expose the tragedy of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese.
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Largely, his efforts have fallen on deaf ears. But with calls for a national royal commission into abuse of children in the care of the Catholic Church, the former Maitland school principal has once again decided to take a stand.

“The Catholic Church is never going to be credible in Australia until there is an open, transparent look at what has gone on,” Mr Stanwell said.

“And there needs to be a royal commission to make people come out, tell the truth and take a stance.”

The Australian Lawyers Alliance has called for a royal commission following an ABC Four Corners report on the issue.

The alliance states that too many lives have been lost or irreparably damaged by paedophile Catholic priests and the church has been more concerned about protecting its own.

To that, Mr Stanwell – a self-described casualty of the abuse – agrees with all his heart.

In 1986, aged 30, Mr Stanwell took on the role of principal at St Joseph’s Primary School, Merriwa.

Denis McAlinden – later found to be a notorious paedophile – was the parish priest.

During this time Mr Stanwell witnessed McAlinden touching a little girl in church while she was sitting on his knee.

Mr Stanwell took his concerns to Bishop Leo Clarke, despite warnings from friends he could lose his job.

“We used to have morning assemblies and I told them [the children] that they weren’t to go to down to the church and they weren’t to approach Father McAlinden in the playground,” Mr Stanwell said.

When Mr Stanwell heard of another incident of abuse by McAlinden, he further pursued his concerns.

“I knew I was on the right track to start with so I went straight back down to see the bishop.”

Mr Stanwell said other principals across the diocese urged him to push

for the issue to be aired in State Parliament.

“I wasn’t sure what to do, so I went and spoke to the [the church] and I told [them] what had happened.”

Mr Stanwell said he was told it was better “not to bring scandal on the church”.

“[The church] was aware of McAlinden’s instances in the past which, I suppose, was surprising to me and if they weren’t going to do something about it then I was really getting a bit worried about it at this stage,” he said. “Because I had been and spoken to the church, I left it at that.

“If [it] had been suggested to me that I could have taken it to the police, I would have. I thought I was going about it the right way.”

Eventually McAlinden was moved from Merriwa to another parish in Newcastle, but he was not defrocked until 1995.

During this time he continued to work throughout the diocese and in parishes in Western Australia and Papua New Guinea.

He was charged with offences in WA but was too ill to be extradited to NSW. He died in 2005.

Mr Stanwell also moved on from Merriwa, but his battle with the Catholic Church was to worsen.

“And it was then I realised that while there was paedophilia in the church, the church would cover it up,” he said.

Mr Stanwell’s experiences culminated in him preparing a 200-page document, with the help of a canon lawyer, and sending it to the Vatican.

“It went to Rome and they said it was outside the statute of limitations so they didn’t even read it,” Mr Stanwell said.

In the years that followed, Mr Stanwell made attempts on his own life, has spent time in mental health units and sought the help of counsellors and psychiatrists. Not only did he lose his career, he also lost his marriage.

And while he remains a practising Catholic, he believes the church cannot move forward or regain its credibility until the abuse of power is exposed.

“We know what’s gone on and I hope that somewhere down the line the church will say it has done wrong and will apologise for that and make sure it never happens again,” Mr Stanwell said.

“The only way this will happen is with a royal commission, otherwise the church will just keep on telling lies.

“I believe in people and the good things that they do and that there are good priests and they’ve got great

ability to heal people’s spirit and touch people’s spirit in time of great need.”

Bishop Leo Clarke died in 2006.

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Nearly Dun

LONG FUTURE: Cameron Archer on Dunmore Bridge, which is getting a multi-million dollar upgrade. A multi-million dollar project to upgrade one of the state’s most historic bridges is on track to be completed and opened to traffic in late October.
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The NSW government is funding the upgrade to the structural capacity of Dunmore Bridge to reduce further maintenance costs.

Work on the bridge is progressing well with prefabrication of two of the three timber trusses almost complete. It is expected all three will be finished by the end of the month.

More than $3 million has been allocated for the work, which started last year.

Built in 1899, Dunmore Bridge is an example of an Allan Truss road bridge and is one of only three remaining in the state.

“These bridges are really important because of their influence on the landscape and how we see the river within the landscape. They are also a link between the horse and buddy days and modern transport,” historian and principal of Tocal Agricultural College Cameron Archer said.

“This bridge was built before the motor car was even invented, so it’s a credit to those who designed the bridge and it’s also a credit that Roads and Maritime Services saw fit to conserve and rebuild it and make it last another 100 years.”

Dunmore Bridge will be closed in September and reopened to traffic in late October.

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Beautiful Girls enter a new era

BEAUTIFUL BEGINNINGS: Mat. McHugh, centre, is leaving behind his stage name The Beautiful Girls and stepping into the spotlight to perform under his own name.Mat. McHugh is answering, once and for all, a question that has followed him for a decade.
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Who are The Beautiful Girls?

The announcement of a “farewell tour” on the trio’s 10th anniversary has left many fans assuming the folk-rock group are disappearing into the sunset.

But The Beautiful Girls has always been a stage name for McHugh – and he’s not going anywhere.

“People think the band is splitting up, but for me I don’t think it can split up,” McHugh says.

“The Beautiful Girls has always been a name that I have put my music out under.

“Even from the start, I had the name written on demos and then roped in a couple of mates to flesh out the sound.

“Without ruining any mystique, [The Beautiful Girls] has always been a singer-songwriter project from the get-go – but just called The Beautiful Girls.

“John Butler and these guys go out under their own names, but [the solo songwriting process] is exactly the same.”

Article continues after video for the classic track from The Beautiful Girls, Periscopes.



Since emerging from the roots music scene in Sydney in 2001, McHugh’s trio have toured the world extensively.

They have released three EPs and four full-length records, the most recent being 2010’s Spooks.

As an outlet for McHugh’s music the band have evolved with every record to include elements of surf folk, dub rock and reggae.

But in 2009, the musician released a debut record under his own name called Seperatista, and earlier this year put out a second solo album called Love Come Save Me.

Releasing music as Mat. McHugh is a clear step into the spotlight.

“I felt the time was right for me to start using my own name,” McHugh says.

“For me, that’s what [the farwell tour] is, rather than ‘splitting up’.

“Splitting up suggests animosity – I’m not sick of the guys [bassist Paulie B and drummer Bruce Braybrooke].

“I love them to death and we’ll probably continue together in some way, shape or form.

“It’s more about taking ownership of my songs and my music under my own name.”

McHugh’s decision to shed his moniker begs the question – why didn’t he record under his own name from the outset?

“That is the $64,000 question, isn’t it?” McHugh chuckles.

“The truth of it is, when I grew up I was a surfer so my peers listened to punk rock bands, noisy electric guitar bands and grunge.

“On the side I played acoustic guitar my whole life.

“The group that I grew up around – my peers that played music – nobody would even consider [releasing] their music under their own name.

“Even if they wrote it themselves – it was just not the thing you do.

“Everyone would consider you a wanker.

“I also felt that [the moniker] was a protective mechanism.

“If people thought it sucked, it would be once-removed from me.

“I guess I didn’t feel confident enough.”

The trio’s upcoming tour is called An Evening With The Beautiful Girls and is divided in half.

The first is a stripped-back acoustic performance which will be followed by an electric set.

McHugh says he still “loves” his Beautiful Girls material and intends to continue to perform those songs.

“I don’t think a lot of these songs will ever stop getting played, because I still like them – I consider them all fair game,” McHugh says.

The Beautiful Girls have maintained a strong fanbase since they rode surf folk’s wave of mainstream popularity.

At the turn of the century Jack Johnson became a household name and Ben Harper struck a chord with a new generation of fans.

In Australia the same listeners embraced the gentle musings of Xavier Rudd, John Butler and The Beautiful Girls.

The pigeon-hole of comparisons to other artists, Johnson in particular, did not sit comfortably with McHugh.

The Beautiful Girls very quickly shifted musical direction.

The single I Thought About You from the 2007 record Ziggurats, with its electric riff, was a clear statement of intention.

But McHugh’s recent music is a return to the early sound of The Beautiful Girls.

He is writing acoustic songs that are straight to the point.

“I’m always interested in doing different things,” McHugh explains.

“My primary [reason] for releasing music as my own name has been to strip my music back to its essence.

“What suits me the best is playing simple acoustic music that is based around the melodies and the lyrics and a certain feeling.

“A lot of the decisions I made in The Beautiful Girls were somewhat reactionary, because we’d get lumped in with Jack Johnson so I’d try to do the opposite.

“But I’ve come to the point where I don’t care – if someone wants to compare me to Jack Johnson or Ben Harper that’s fine.

“You’re always going to get comparisons, but I’m just trying to express myself honestly in the most appropriate way.

“I’ll be interested in doing other projects, that might be like a heavier dub record, but I’ll just put it out under a different name, rather than calling it The Beautiful Girls.”

McHugh admits that changes in the direction of The Beautiful Girls have confused their fans, particularly in Japan.

Brazil has “bay far” been their biggest overseas fanbase, their music connecting with the surf culture there, but McHugh says the folkier material always had the most success.

“I feel like I was pushing my luck a lot of the time,” McHugh says of direction changes.

“Some of [The Beautiful Girls’ music] should have come out under a different name.

“It’s been a strange series of mini-cycles where we put out a record that was so different to the one before it.

“It took a year-and-a-half of touring for people to get used to it.

“By the time they were used to [our sound], I’d change it again.

“So we were always playing catch-up.

“It was interesting and fulfilling creatively, but I got to the end of that cycle and think [acoustic music] is what I’m most comfortable at.

“I really enjoy just sitting around playing the acoustic guitar and singing some mellow songs.

“I’m a mellow guy – that’s the truth of it.”

No matter what name he has released music under, McHugh has remained an independent artist.

It has always been his intention to remain independent and allow his popularity to grow organically through word of mouth.

“That’s the manifesto I still operate under,” McHugh says.

The worldwide popularity of his music can be attributed, in part, to his work ethic.

“I never had this plan to be a musician for my, in quotation marks, ‘career’ so as soon as my foot was in the door I thought ‘whatever I can do to not blow this, I’m going to do it’.

“We’d go out on the road and while everybody else was out partying and picking up girls, I was back at the hotel writing songs for the next record.

“I come from humble beginnings, so I didn’t want to blow the opportunity.”

# The Beautiful Girls are playing The Bar On The Hill, University of Newcastle, on Thursday, September 13.

The Mercury has two double passes to give away.

For your chance to win simply fill out the coupon in Thursday's Mercury and return it to the Mercury’s office by noon next Wednesday.

Follow Nick Milligan on Twitter: @NickMilligan_

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The name’s Alaca, and she’s doing well

DOING WELL: The orphaned joey the Mercury reported on last week.Remember this little lady? It’s the eastern grey joey that was rescued by Fiona Brennan at Lovedale last Wednesday and who featured on the front page of the following day’s Mercury.
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We thought it would be a good idea to get a report on her progress.

The news is good with the little joey, now named Alaca, doing very well with her Native Animal Trust Fund Wildlife Rescuer/Rehabilitator Fiona.

She was fortunate to not only survive the impact of the motor vehicle accident, but to only suffer a relatively minor injury to her front paw.

Sadly her mother received two fractured back legs and had to be euthanased.

This means little Alaca is now an orphan,

She will be in care for at least the next 12 months needing specialised joey milk formula and other supplements, and perhaps veterinary bills which is considerably costly to the carer and the Native Animal Trust Fund.

With this in mind, little Alaca needs a sponsor and donations to help with her costly rehabilitation and survival.

To help email [email protected]南京夜网.au

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Past wrongs must be righted

More and more evidence is emerging to suggest that the highest echelons of the Catholic Church were aware of paedophilia within its ranks.
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Some of the priests responsible have been brought to justice; the fate of others still, to this day, hang in the balance as the legal profession works its way through the sordid quagmire.

The Catholic Church, while being the most high profile religious institution to be caught up in allegations of paedophilia is, of course, not alone.

But it is the subject of calls for national royal commission into the abuse of children in its care.

The betrayal of trust – of parents who sent their children to school in the belief that they would receive the best possible education; of parents who allowed their sons to become alter boys; and of orphanages that were supposed to ensure the welfare of the abandoned – beggars belief.

This whole affair has been a blight on Australian society, every bit as significant and as tragic as the Stolen Generation.

It is a wrong that must be righted.

A national royal commission, cutting across the vagaries of some state and territory laws, and with sweeping terms of reference, is warranted and long overdue.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance believes the church need to adequately compensate abuse survivors and their families in order to “to ensure true healing mechanisms are put in place”.

But for some victims, no amount of monetary compensation will make up for past wrongs. For them, it is about bringing those responsible for the abuse to justice.

The unfortunate thing is that many of the offending priests – and other members of the church hierarchy – have long since died and will face neither a national royal commission nor the justice system,

But for those people who still hold the faith dear to their souls, there remains the hope that even the deceased have already had to face their Maker.

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Tributes flow for Patrick O’Rourke

VALE: Patrick O’Rourke.Tributes are expected to flow at the funeral of former Weston and Kurri Kurri cricketer Patrick O’Rourke tomorrow.
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O’Rourke, 28, was found dead in his family home at Weston last week. It is believed he had suffered an epileptic fit.

O’Rourke played junior cricket in the area and teamed up with his brothers Rob and Andrew for Weston’s first grade side in 2008-2009.

Kurri-Weston president Phil Bennett said it was a sad loss for the cricket community and wider community of the area.

“It’s no good at all and it was certainly a shock,” Bennett said.

“The boys [O’Rourke’s brothers Rob and Andrew] were down at the football [Kurri Kurri Bulldogs] on Saturday and it was very sad to only see the two of them there.”

Last season O’Rourke and his two siblings helped steer Stockton-Raymond Terrace to the Newcastle district second grade title.

Stockton-Raymond Terrace president described O’Rourke as a “much loved and respected member” of the club.

The service will be held at Holy Spirit Catholic Church at 10.30am.

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Post Officemake-over gets stamp of approval

THE scaffolding has finally disappeared to reveal the magnificent $1 million make-over of Goulburn’s iconic Post Office building.
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The restoration project should have been completed in July - weather permitted, said Australia Post media and communications manager, Mel Ward.

The Goulburn Post Office was built in 1880/81 by F. Horn. The architect was James Barnet.

The 1983 Goulburn Heritage Study described it as a “large Victorian Italianate style building” and an “outstanding landmark in Goulburn.”

The heritage-listed building in Auburn Street has been undergoing specialist maintenance and preservation works since April, funded by the Australia Post. Maintenance to the building includes the replacement of the roof tiles, restoration of the bell tower roof structure, the repainting of the building, restoration of Queen Victoria’s insignia and the repair of the clock and bell.

“The works were reviewed and approved by Heritage Architects to ensure that they reflect the design and colour schemes of the original building,” Ms Ward said.

Up to 40 tradespeople from different specialties have been working on the site at any one time, over the four-month period. Goulburn Mulwaree Mayor Geoff Kettle said the level of commitment from Australia Post to restore the heritage building was fantastic.

“It’s going to be finished well in time for the 150th anniversary in March, which is great,” he said.

“I hope that many other building owners in Auburn St take notice of their lead.”

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SPRUCE UP: The Goulburn Post Office is sporting a $1 million make-over.

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Scott Eveleigh’s chance meeting with Sir Elton John

DREAMING OF OVERSEAS: Young performer Scott Eveleigh who gained his big break playing the lead role in Billy Elliot. Picture by MARINA NEILMeeting Elton John was never high on Scott Eveleigh’s wish list. As a soccer-playing, karate-kicking kid, the world of star and stage was another world indeed.
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But one night a couple of years ago, the unthinkable happened.

Scott had finished a performance as Michael in the hit musical Billy Elliot and the great Sir Elton – who also wrote the music for the show – was in the audience.

“He came up to me after one of the shows, gave me a hug and said that when he was writing the musical he had an image of Michael and I portrayed that for him,” Scott said. “He was amazing.”

Now aged 17, Scott has finished playing Michael, has moved back home to Thornton and is busy performing any chance he gets.

“Going to Sydney for Billy Elliot has probably been the biggest achievement of my life so far,” Scott said. “I spent a year living there and performing twice a week and that was such an amazing experience.”

When Scott grew too old for the role, he came home and resumed his studies at the Hunter School of Performing Arts.

“I’m still a student there and I’ve just been doing some Hunter shows including The Boy From Oz (where Scott played a young Peter Allen), I played Peter Pan in Peter Pan and I played Aladdin in Aladdin,” he said. “I’ve been really busy, it’s been non-stop.”

Scott was eight and a student at Beresfield Public School when he discovered a love for dance.

“I was always into soccer but then I did a bit of public speaking and I went and saw the stage

show Tap Dogs and I just knew that’s what I wanted to do,” he said. “I think mum was a little reluctant at first but I gave up soccer, tried out drama and it’s been like that ever since . . . I’ve never looked back.”

Then along came Billy Elliot.

“It’s funny how I got the role,” Scott said. “My father called up the night before the last audition and said ‘my boy can dance’ and the casting agent decided to let me try out.”

Several months later, after a gruelling seven months of auditions, Scott – then 12 – got the part.

“I was very fortunate but the whole time I never thought I would get it. I just kept thinking if it happens, it happens, if not it would still have been a great experience.

“So in the end it was like a dream come true. I had done four shows with the Young People’s Theatre and here I was walking the red carpet with television reporters wanting to interview

me. It was the most amazing experience. But when it was time to go I was happy to leave because I was ready to come home. It was another boy’s turn to play Michael.”

Next stop for Scott is London or New York.

“As soon as I finish school I want to pack my bags and head off. I want to try out for some drama schools and get a bit more experience. I want to learn as much as I can and get as much life experience as I can. My aim is to travel doing shows here, shows there, television, movies whatever I can get into.”

Scott also has a burning desire to one day play the fictional transvestite mad scientist Dr Frank-n- Furter in the hit musical The Rocky Horror Show.

“The feeling I get when I perform is unexplainable,” he said. “But to see the smiles on the faces of those in the audience and to feel that raw emotion is just amazing.”

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Call for calm over dog fighting

A dog reported stolen was returned to its Raymond Terrace owner yesterday amid the hysteria of illegal dog fighting.
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Striker, a bull mastiff/great Dane cross was found only hours after he was stolen.

Media reports put two men at a Charles Street address before the alleged theft. The men were aged 20 to 30 and one wore highly fluorescent work clothing.

Port Stephens Local Area Command crime manager detective inspector Peter Mahon said social media was exploding with hearsay and urged people to calm down.

“There are a lot of rumours circulating at the moment,” he said. “This alleged dog fighting; we

have received no information that there is any illegal dog fighting in the Port Stephens LAC.”

A Raymond Terrace resident found Striker late Monday on Jacaranda Street and took the dog to a veterinarian clinic nearby to be checked for a microchip. He has since been returned to the owner.

Reports have circulated on the social media site Facebook of a white Hilux utility, seen at Williamtown last Friday, implicated in the attempted theft of dogs.

Whistleblowers spotted what appeared to be the same utility at Kurri Kurri that afternoon and at 2.45pm speeding out of Cessnock.

On Sunday, following the sightings, an attempted theft was reported to police at Warners Bay.

Items were taken from the laundry of Catherine Benge’s house; a committee member of animal welfare group So Cares.

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