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Not guilty plea over Kurri Kurri assault

A teenager will spend a month in custody after he allegedly attacked a husband and wife who tried to stop him desecrating Kurri Kurri War Memorial on Wednesday night.
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Dillan Francis Smith, of Abermain Street, Pelaw Main, was refused bail in Maitland Local Court where he pleaded guilty to malicious damage but not guilty to six other charges, including committing an indecent act on a war memorial and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Court documents said a couple saw Smith smash a hole through the front door of a Lang Street business with a fire extinguisher about 11pm.

Smith, 18, walked across the road into Rotary Park where he hit the

cenotaph with the fire extinguisher, police said.

When the man, 45, and his wife, 40, confronted Smith he allegedly fired the extinguisher at them and ran off.

The couple ran across the street to the Coles supermarket and banged on the windows urging staff to contact police.

Unable to enter the locked store, the couple was approached by four men, including Smith, who allegedly punched the 40-year-old man in the head.

All four set upon the man who fell to the ground. His wife tried to stop the attack and grabbed Smith ripping off his shirt, but she was pushed to the ground, the court heard.

Smith allegedly kicked the man in the head more than once breaking his glasses. The assault went on for several minutes before Smith and his associates ran off, it was alleged.

Police found Smith, shirtless, standing near Lang Street about half an hour later. When they gave him the shirt, provided by the woman who ripped it off during the alleged assault, Smith told police: “Uh I thought I’d lost my shirt, thanks.”

He was arrested and taken to Maitland police station where police found cannabis and a screwdriver on him. In court on Thursday, the police prosecutor described the assault as a “sickening attack”.

Magistrate Darryl Pearce added: “The victims were doing nothing more than having a community-minded spirit to cease the destruction to this war memorial.”

Smith will return to court on August 20. He is scheduled to be sentenced for an unrelated affray charge at Kurri Kurri Local Court the following day.

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Maitland historians pay tribute to our Anzacs

Thornton Public School students Tom Green and Harry Schiemer, both 12, are two of the students who will be heading to the Australian War memorial in Canberra to research Anzac soldiers. The name Alexander James Read doesn’t yet mean a lot to the children of Maitland.
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As a soldier of World War I, Private Read’s name is displayed on the Woodville School of Arts Honour Roll and on panel 30 of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

And that’s all the young ones know.

But Private Read’s story – along with those of many more other young soldiers – are about to be explored and revealed as part of a project linking schoolchildren with the men of World War I.

Maitland military historians John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher have researched the war experiences of more than 120 soldiers as part of the project, launched this week at Thornton Public School.

“We’ve put together a profile of soldiers and written their stories in first person and each student will research a particular soldier and visit their names at the war memorial,” Mr Gillam said.

“This is the first time we have done anything like this but we are hoping to roll it out to other schools across the region because the history component of what we’re doing is very valuable.”

Private Read was born in Woodville in 1882 and lied about his age to join the army.

He stood 170cm tall, weighed 66.6 kilos and had a set of upper false teeth. He trained in Egypt, helped to bury 200 bodies and on June 3, 1915, he died of pneumonia aboard a hospital ship.

Private Read was buried at sea that same day.

“I think a lot of children think Anzac soldiers are 10 feet tall and physically very strong but the reality is that they were young men and when they died there were people left behind to mourn them,” Mr Gillam said.

“And we want to tell their stories.”

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68yo Erina man’s 150km/h ride

A 68-year-old man who was clocked riding his motorcycle 70km/h over the limit has been ordered off the road for three months.
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Erina man, Robert Sydney Hall, of Thames Drive, told the magistrate Darryl Pearce he could not explain why he was driving 150km/h in an 80km/h zone.

“I was not concentrating as much as I should have been,” Hall said.

Police clocked Hall speeding on Maitland Vale Road, Maitland Vale, about 10.50am on October 23.

Hall faced court on Thursday after completing the Traffic Offenders Program.

“I really don’t know why [I was driving that fast],” he told the court.

“I am ashamed of what I did; it is not normally the way I drive,” he said.

Hall pleaded guilty to exceeding the speed limit by more than 30km/h.

He was disqualified for three months and fined $600.

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Kurri Kurri man organised theft of ex-girlfriend’s car

Fifty-one cars were stolen from the Kurri Kurri and Cessnock areas three weeks before a 32-year-old man orchestrated the theft of his ex-girlfriend’s hatchback, Kurri Kurri Local Court has heard.
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Police were targeting the high rate of thefts in the region when a Kurri Kurri woman reported that she had seen thieves take her car on March 15.

A short time later police pulled over Scott Edward Goodman on a Tarro street, but he denied any involvement.

The court heard Goodman, of Hughes Close, Kurri Kurri, had planned to steal a car from Pelaw Main with two other people that night.

Goodman parked near the car and two accomplices broke in but abandoned the attempt when they heard voices from inside a nearby house.

The three left and Goodman suggested they steal a similar car belonging to his ex-girlfriend.

They went to an Alexandra Street property in Kurri Kurri where Goodman again parked a short distance from the car and this time three accomplices broke in, forced the engine and drove away to do burnouts and handbrake turns at a nearby oval.

Goodman followed them to bushland behind Pelaw Main but when the driver of the stolen car saw a police vehicle, the three fled the car and Goodman headed back to Tarro where police stopped him.

The court heard Goodman was charged with two counts of take and drive a conveyance, resist an officer and later, intimidate a witness after he threatened to harm the younger people involved in the theft.

He pleaded guilty to all offences in court yesterday after returning from the Forum Sentencing Program.

Magistrate Darryl Pearce sentenced Goodman to nine months’ suspended jail for the thefts and witness threats and fined him $400 for resisting an officer.

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it’s a hat-trick for East Maitland’s Old George

The Old George and Dragon Restaurant owner Jenni Nichols with head chef Gavin Forman. East Maitland’s Old George and Dragon Restaurant has been named best European restaurant for the third consecutive year, in time to celebrate its 30th anniversary in fine dining.
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The Hunter and Central Coast Restaurant and Catering Awards for Excellence are hailed as the Oscars of the restaurant world, so it is no surprise that Old George and Dragon owner Jennifer Nichols was thrilled to bring home the

coveted award for each of the three years she has owned the historic Melbourne Street inn.

“It has been a tough time in the restaurant game for the past 12 months so this is a celebration for us. We love what we do and we love to fly the flag for Maitland,” Ms Nichols said.

Ms Nichols said the win comes down to “knowing who we are” and the genius of head chef Gavin Forman.

“There were only two finalists in this category and we were judged on an 80-point criteria – from the moment a booking is made, to the bathrooms, and food and water at the table.

“We never waiver from our standards. Consistency is a key element in our food, service and atmosphere.”

Service and atmosphere can be attributed to the dedication and passion of Old George and Dragon waiter, John Allen of Largs, Ms Nichols said.

“Old John has been with me for three years and then five years (at the restaurant) before that. The service he provides is amazing,” she said. “He can’t not be a waiter. He loves the place and he is so proud of this award.

“He has the uncanny ability to relate to all people and he has the skill to make everyone feel welcome, along with his attention to detail and his wine knowledge.

“John can adapt to any situation with a sense of humour and he can handle anything. He has been asked to go along to other restaurants to pass on his training and polish.”

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Largs toddler centimetres from death

LUCKY BOY: Lisa Parkinson with her son Tallis and the broken window of their Largs home. A matter of centimetres is all that separated baby Tallis Parkinson and likely death as he slept in his cot at Largs.
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About 2am on Thursday a rock smashed through the

bedroom window, showering the five-month-old in glass.

The quarry rock, half a house brick in size, ricocheted off the headboard of the bed and into the cot landing on the baby.

“We’re lucky it didn’t hit him directly because it would have killed him,” grandfather Peter Parkinson said.

“It’s a cowardly act.”

The force of the impact cracked the cot.

Police investigated the scene and took the rock to the station as evidence.

The boy’s father, Justin Parkinson, had moved the young family in with his parents Peter and Cindy while they saved for a house.

Anika and Kayanna, sisters to Tallis, were asleep in the next room, also at the front of the house on Dunmore Road.

“[Tallis] had fine shards of glass all through his hair and he was screaming,” his mum Lisa Parkinson said.

A search of the area failed to find the perpetrator.

“They couldn’t have thrown it from the road, it had to have been right outside the window,” Peter said.

“I can only think we are the wrong target of someone’s revenge.”

Cindy was at work across the road at Whiddon Lodge

retirement village at the time of the attack .

“[Tallis is] one lucky boy,” she said.

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Six tenders for Maitland mall project

Maitland Heritage Mall.The look and feel of a revitalised Maitland Heritage Mall will, in part, be determined next week with the appointment of an urban designer.
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Maitland City Council invited six firms with national and international experience to tender for the project and councillors will select the best applicant for the job on Tuesday night.

“It’s a crucial point in terms of where to from here,” council’s strategic projects executive manager Wayne Cone said. The decision follows the third meeting of the Vibrant River City (VRC) reference panel.

With the news the project is about to hit the ground, the panel members split into groups to discuss one-way traffic circulation options for the mall.

Mr Cone said council officers had taken the information on board and would help the councillors make a decision.

The panel’s focus then turned to developing the appeal and diversity of the city centre, considering what types of activities could be offered to attract people in the future.

Mr Cone said the discussion focused on the type of activities and facilities that might appeal to teenagers, parents of toddlers, business people and visiting retirees.

Free Wi-Fi along the length of High Street; a focus on heritage buildings, stories and interpretative signage; a playground; a variety of restaurants and space for “hanging out” were all put forward as appealing to these groups.

The VRC Reference Panel will meet again on August 17, by which stage it is anticipated an urban designer will have been appointed to lead the mall project.

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Support group for clergy abuse sufferers to call Maitland home

STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: Bob O’Toole says Maitland is a troubled site when it comes to clergy abuse. Photo:Marina Neil Maitland has become the primary target of a new support network to help those affected by clergy abuse.
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The Clergy Abused Network has been formed by a group of concerned Hunter residents to spread the

message of support as the city struggles with the aftermath of systemic abuse.

“This has arisen from a group of people who are concerned about this issue,” network member Bob O’Toole said.

“My experience is that a lot of people are reluctant to go to a religious-based help centre so we wanted to create a non-denominational service to provide a forum for people who need assistance.”

Mr O’Toole was abused by a Marist Brother in the Newcastle area when he was a boy.

The Morpeth man has worked through his pain and is determined to help others.

“Maitland is a troubled site when it comes to clergy abuse and we want to let people know that we are available if they need some support,” he said.

“We know there are people here in Maitland who are hurting and maybe we will be inundated with callers, I just don’t know.

“But I do believe this network is a step in the right direction.”

Mr O’Toole said the network has been founded on safety, trust, respect, empathy, understanding, confidentiality, compassion and collaboration.

The network also advocates for justice and accountability.

“Our members have lived with the aftermath of abuse by clergy and have learned how to survive,” he said.

“But this network is independent of any church because if some people, who have been abused, see anything with a cross on it they will run the other way.”

The network has also called for improved responses from churches to people and communities that have been adversely affected by abuse from priests, teachers and lay workers in religious contexts.

“We just want to let people know that we are available if they need some support and we have the resources to do that,” Mr O’Toole said “Our aim is to listen and respond with empathy.”

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Maitland’s Andy sizzles on MasterChef

Andy Allen.The secret is out and mum’s no longer the word.
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A women’s magazine revealed this week that AndyAllen had made it into the top five, which includes Julia, Mindy, Ben and Audra.



The final five was not supposed to be revealed on Masterchef until next Sunday night.

But Maitland is buzzing with talk about Allen’s success and the Mercury has been collecting information from around the city.

The hunky young Allen, who is an electrician and Mustangs basketballer, developed a passion for food and cooking while living at home with his parents.

Allen has returned from a MasterChef stint in Italy and all the while has gained the admiration of women (and some men if Twitter is anything to go by) who are swooning and drooling as he heats up the MasterChef kitchen on Channel 10.

The show continues to be a huge ratings winner.

Allen is the son of East Maitland couple Peter and Maree Allen, who have been sworn to secrecy, and despite their son’s success, have refused to confirm or deny Mercury requests on their son’s progress.

Allen has been a steady favourite on MasterChef with his cooking style and has fans lining up to meet him.

But he remains single and modest about his success.

The Allen family is proud of their son’s achievements and are as close as always with their son.

Meanwhile dad Peter, a primary school teacher, confirmed he has booked his son for an appearance at Bolwarra Public School when the MasterChef series is complete.

Students and parents are already excited about Allen’s guest spot. It is all part of the school’s health and lifestyle program to encourage children to grow their own food and cook with it.

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Lochinvar camera: What the people said

Jim Calton John Passfield
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Jeff Jackson

Mel Enright

Roger Whitney

THE Mercury asked five people at Lochinvar yesterday if they thought the local speed camera was preventing accidents or simply filling state coffers.



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