Friday, 29 February 2008

Sydney's Mardi Gras set to turn 30

The creative director of Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras says this year's anniversary parade will be led by people who took part in the first Mardi Gras parade 30 years ago.

Ten thousand people will march down Sydney's Oxford Street on Saturday night alongside 150 floats.

The leading float will commemorate the 1978 march, which took place when male homosexuality was still illegal and lead to scuffles with police and a number of arrests.

Graham Browning says it was important to mark the occasion.

"Normally we have quite a lavish lead float," he said.

"[But] this year it's not. It is all of our original '78ers marching, which is a very emotional float rather than just being a big whiz-bang affair.

"They will lead the parade and than throughout the parade we have little bits and pieces that lead up to our finale, which is our marching group".

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Penis-in-drawer murderer gets 18 years

A Sydney man who stabbed his ex-wife's lover to death and cut off the man's penis has been sentenced to a minimum 18 years in prison.

Gabor Ziha was found guilty of killing Barry Corbett and stabbing his ex-wife, Maria Corbett, at her Parramatta home in August 2006.

Ziha broke into his estranged wife's flat on the eve of their anniversary and attacked Mr Corbett with a kitchen knife, wounding him 30 times.

He also cut off Mr Corbett's penis and placed it in Mrs Corbett's bedside table.

In delivering his sentence, Supreme Court Justice Graham Barr said while Ziha's depression played a role in the attack, "he acted as an over-controlled, moralistic, jealous, indignant and angry man".

He said Ziha's intention was to punish Mr Corbett "by killing him for stealing another man's wife", and that mutilating the victim's genitals was to "teach Mrs Corbett a lesson for her adultery".

Supreme Court Justice Graham Barr said Ziha was rigid and obsessive on questions of sexual morals.

Ziha's sentence has been backdated and he will be eligible for release in 2024.

Mrs Corbett says she is happy with the result.

Ziha apologised to his ex-wife in court a week ago, after Mrs Corbett read her victim impact statement.

She said words could not describe the horror of seeing the man she loved murdered.

Mrs Corbett told the court of her depression and fear fo her life once Ziha was released. She said she was so traumatised, she still slept with a light on.

Ziha wept and said: "I'm so sorry, if I could offer my whole life to bring him back, I would offer that."

He said he had not realised how much his ex-wife loved Mr Corbett.

Pregnant killer mum jailed for two years

A pregnant mother of five from northern New South Wales has been sentenced to two years jail for breaching the conditions on her suspended sentence for manslaughter.

Twenty-five-year-old Lacey Lee Jukes pleaded guilty in the New South Wales Supreme Court in 2006 to the manslaughter of her mother's 35-year-old partner.

Jukes fatally stabbed Mack Hati during an alcohol-fuelled argument in the family kitchen in September 2003.

She was given a two year suspended sentence, but breached parole when she and her then boyfriend broke into her maternal grandmother's house and stole jewellery to buy amphetamines.

Tamworth Court sentenced her to 12 months periodic detention for break-and-enter and stealing.

But Jukes failed to comply with her the conditions of manslaughter sentence by failing to attend counselling sessions and continuing substance abuse.

Jukes is four months pregnant and has been sentenced to two years jail, with a non-parole period of one year.

Sex attack in plain view: paedophile jailed

A 32-year-old man has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years' jail for indecently assaulting two children, one of whom he attacked in plain view of other children.

Gustofohan Harris assaulted the girls, aged 11 and five, in separate incidents in 2005 and 2006.

In the first attack, the 11-year-old girl was grabbed by Harris while walking home from Clovelly Beach in eastern Sydney.

In the second incident, Harris sexually assaulted the five-year-old girl in plain view of other young children as she left her primary school in Annandale to retrieve a lost ball.

The sentencing judge described the second attack as particularly serious because Harris used the lost ball to lure the girl away from the school.

Harris's sentence included several charges of break-and-enter.

He will be eligible for parole in four-and-a-half years.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

8 years' jail for pushing woman off platform

A former police worker who pushed a woman in front of a train at Sydney's Circular Quay has been sentenced to a minimum of eight years in jail.

Suzanne Kiloh, a former worker at The Rocks police station, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on the 59-year-old Margaret Schestopalov in December 2006.

The District Court heard Kiloh was intoxicated at the time of the incident, and when Mrs Schestopalov told Kiloh to stop spitting and cover her mouth when coughing, she then pushed her into the path of an oncoming train.

Mrs Schestopalov suffered a broken leg and neck in the incident, and spent six months in hospital.

She now lives in a residential care home.

In delivering his sentence, Justice Greg Hosking said he did not accept Kiloh's version of events and that being drunk did not remotely justify her actions.

"The way the grievous bodily harm was inflicted was horrific and had a nightmare quality to it," he said.

He also commended the train driver for his quick action in stopping the train before it hit Mrs Schestopalov.

Kiloh will be eligible for release in 2016.

26 years for guard's killer

A Supreme Court judge has sentenced a man to 26 years in jail for the murder of a security guard during an armed robbery.

Security guard Jason Gully was shot as he tried to stop an armed robbery at the Freccia Azzura club in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Keysborough in 2004.

The court heard 27-year-old Wally White shot Mr Gully in the head and chest with a high-powered rifle before White and and two other men stole $10,000 from the club.

In sentencing, Justice Simon Whelan told the court White had murdered a man who was simply doing his duty, and was acting honourably and bravely.

Mr Gully's widow, Olive Gully, says her grief has taken over her life.

"My son is actually asking for his dad, I don't know how I'm going to explain that to him," she said.

"It's very hard for a three-year-old."

White had pleaded not guilty to murder and armed robbery.

He will be eligible for parole in 20 years.

Dad denies abuse claims as stepson says he's sorry

A MAN who was critically stabbed by his stepson has denied a string of claims of physical abuse, saying he was blameless but admitting having used a belt to discipline him.

John McRae told the District Court on various occasions his stepson David O'Neil-Shaw had threatened him with a cricket bat, wrestled him to the ground and grabbed him by the neck. At 15, he had crashed the family car into a pole.

Mr McRae said he had attended O'Neil-Shaw's concerts and sports functions, taken him on holidays, paid for courses and given him gifts including a watch and a David Jones gift certificate.

In the District Court yesterday, he accepted an apology from O'Neil-Shaw for the stabbing in January last year, which was contained in a letter tendered by his stepson's barrister, Stuart Littlemore, QC. O'Neil-Shaw has admitted the attack but denied he intended to murder his stepfather, arguing he was not able to form such an intention because of the years of abuse, and the effect of drugs and alcohol.

The court heard that before the stabbing O'Neil-Shaw had sent his mother a text saying he never wanted to see her and "that thing that you married" again. "God punish you two dirty pieces of trash … Time for me to get some of my own back … See you in court," the message read.

Mr McRae told the court his stepson had difficulties because of his parents' divorce, and had academic and behavioural problems and difficulties with drugs and alcohol.

His voice broke as he described the aftermath of the attack as his injuries were treated.

Mr McRae denied fearing that publicity would affect his career.

"You say you behaved blamelessly," Mr Littlemore asked.


Mr McRae denied having struck his stepson with a piece of timber, punching his face, kicking him in the testicles, locking him into the laundry, tearing out his earring or throwing him down stairs. O'Neil-Shaw sobbed as the allegations were put to Mr McRae, who admitted only to smacking him with an open hand. But later he admitted "using a belt in moderation, but on very rare occasions", two or three times on his stepson. "I've used it with intention of emphasising the seriousness of their behaviour," he said

A doctor's report had noted bruises on the children consistent with them being hit with a belt buckle, but Mr McRae said he had "never ever used a belt buckle in any way on a child".

After the incident, he changed his methods of discipline and did not use a belt again.

He also denied calling O'Neil-Shaw a loser, a no-hoper and a failure. He had told him he would never amount to anything, but as "encouragement" to motivate him.

The case continues.


Accused stepson abused by cruel and brutal man, jury told

Australia grappling with child abuse 'epidemic'

Smacking children 'allowable': minister

DOCS insiders blow whistle on tragedy

Man jailed for bashing girl to death

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Religion in corrections: Seminar

The Institute of Criminology, University of Sydney and the NSW Department of Corrective Services present a seminar;

Faith-based interventions - the role of religion in corrections

Religion and spirituality have long played a central practical and symbolic role in rehabilitation and reconciliation and this role has been highlighted in moves to more restorative justice processes. This seminar seeks to highlight and critique the role of faith-based interventions in corrections and explore any effects they may have on such issues as recidivism.

Date: Thursday 27 March 2008, 5.30pm - 7.30pm

Venue: Assembly Hall, Level 4 (entry level), Sydney University Law School, 173-175 Phillip Street, Sydney

Registration: This seminar is free, please register for catering purposes by contacting Rachel: or 9351-0239

5.30pm Welcome:
Dr. Murray Lee - Co-Director of the Institute of Criminology

Associate Professor Eileen Baldry - Associate Dean (Education) Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UNSW. Eileen is also a spokesperson for ‘Beyond Bars’.

Father Michael Whelan SM - Principal of the Aquinas Academy in Sydney. Michael is also the author of numerous books and journal articles on spirituality and is the co-founder of ‘Spirituality in the Pub’.

Nada Roude - Nada has had extensive experience in working with Arab and Muslim communities. She is the founder of a number of women’s organisations such as the Muslim Women’s Association, the Arabic Women’s Federation and the first Muslim women’s refuge. Nada currently works as a cross-cultural trainer and educator.

Judge Chris Geraghty - Judge of the NSW District Court. Judge Geraghty was a Catholic priest for 14 years but left the priesthood in 1976.

Reverend Rodney Moore - Chaplaincy Co-ordinator - New South Wales Department of Corrective Services

7.00pm Questions from the audience

7.30pm Drinks and refreshments will be served

Rachel Miller
Administrative Officer (Monday and Wednesday)
Institute of Criminology
Faculty of Law
University of Sydney
173-175 Phillip Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Telephone: +61 2 9351 0239
Fax: +61 2 9351 0200

Seven years for restaurant stabbing

A Melbourne restaurateur has been sentenced to seven years jail for fatally stabbing a customer who complained about the service.

The Victorian Supreme Court heard Anh Dung Nguyen had ordered seafood and beer at the Richmond Vietnamese restaurant, Bon Mua, in April 2006.

The court heard he complained the service was taking too long, and banged his fist on the table.

The court heard a fight started between two groups and during the confrontation, co-owner and chef 35-year-old Khanh Vo fetched a paring knife from the kitchen and stabbed Anh Dung Nguyen three times.

Vo pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

In sentencing, Justice Kevin Bell said he took into account that Vo was unable to control his reactions, due to his horrific experiences as a child refugee.

Vo will serve a non-parole period of four years.

Accused stepson abused by cruel and brutal man, jury told

"Brutalised" … defendant David O'Neil-Shaw.

THE prosecution says it is a case of attempted murder, but to the defence it is about the consequences of child abuse.

The setting was the Roseville home of a David Jones general manager, John McRae, and his wife, Louise Lander.

There, Mr McRae was critically injured when he was stabbed by his stepson in January last year.

David John O'Neil-Shaw, 25, has admitted to stabbing Mr McRae, with whom he is said to have had an antagonistic, volatile relationship. At issue, a District Court jury was told yesterday, is whether he did so with intent to murder, or cause seriously injury

The crown prosecutor, Michael O'Brien, told the court O'Neil-Shaw had acted in a premeditated manner.

But the defence barrister Stuart Littlemore, QC, said his client had stood up to a "cruel and brutal man who had brutalised [him]", without an intention to kill.

Mr McRae was sitting on the lounge floor when O'Neil-Shaw had lunged at him in "a frenzied attack", Mr O'Brien said.

He had stabbed his stepfather multiple times, missing his carotid artery by 2 centimetres and injuring his thyroid gland and voice box. Mr McRae had also sustained defensive wounds on his arms and hands.

O'Neil-Shaw's mother had restrained him but he broke free and ran away. Within hours he had gone to the police and had agreed to be interviewed.

Mr McRae had previously used a baseball bat, a piece of wood with nails in it, and a belt buckle to hit O'Neil-Shaw, Mr Littlemore said.

He had punched him in the face, kicked him and thrown him down stairs. He had dragged other children by the hair and ears.

"There's a real criminal here, a child abuse brute, who drove my client … to drink and take drugs in order to cope with this," Mr Littlemore said.

O'Neil-Shaw's mother had never intervened to protect her son, but had said she was "not surprised it ended like this", he said.

"He reached a point where the abuse and the lies of his stepfather and his mother had become more than he could bear."

O'Neil-Shaw, who had drunk alcohol and taken drugs that evening, was not thinking of the consequences, Mr Littlemore said. He had "nothing in mind except to use his words to put an end to the bullshit … and on the spur of the moment … picked up the knife, jumped over the sofa to strike his abuser," he said.

The jury heard police were called to the home as recently as last week when Mr McRae was allegedly taking items from the house to a truck and Ms Lander disagreed.

In July or August last year he allegedly stepped on another child's foot after the child did not feed the dog.

Other allegations were raised last week with the Director of Public Prosecutions, but police had not been asked to investigate these allegations, the officer in charge, Lara Lambert, told the jury.

Mr O'Brien said O'Neil-Shaw had sent a nasty text message to his mother weeks before the incident because the family had left on an overseas holiday without him.

On the day of the stabbing, O'Neil-Shaw had missed work. He later parked his car 120 metres away after first pulling into the driveway. This "demonstrates a degree of premeditation", he said.

The case continues.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

WA prisoner transport changes: Death in custody

The death of an Aboriginal man in custody has sparked a number of changes to Western Australia's prisoner transport services after a review by the WA Department of Corrective Services.

Ian Ward, 46, of Warburton in the Goldfields, died during a Global Solutions Ltd (GSL) transfer from Laverton to Kalgoorlie in hot conditions on January 27.

It is unclear if the air conditioning in the van was off, or faulty.

Drivers of the van took Mr Ward, who had been picked up for drink driving on Australia Day, to Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital after they found him collapsed. He died a short time later.

The review was not an inquiry into Mr Ward's death but was necessary to give the community some assurance that prisoner transport was as safe and humane as possible, WA Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk said.

A number of measures, including breaks in journeys of more than two hours, physical checks and interaction with prisoners during journey breaks will be implemented by March 28.

"After a stringent review of operating procedures which have duty of care implications, I have directed that additional measures be implemented by March 28," Ms Quirk said.

The Department of Corrective Services will have to obtain advice from WA police to ensure everyone leaving custody is fit to travel by March 14.

All vehicles used to transport prisoners will undergo comprehensive roadworthiness tests and have remote temperature monitoring from offender compartments to the staff cab, as well as fail safe duress buttons fitted by May 31.

"I have also directed that all options for expediting the full replacement of the fleet be considered and progressed," Ms Quirk said.

WA Custodial Services Inspector Richard Harding wrote to GSL last year outlining six concerns including "GSL's capacity to cope with the logistical challenge of running a transport service across such huge distances as are involved with WA."

Mr Harding described the government-owned fleet which GSL would have to rely on as "parlous".

Rock-throwing lies: Teens get community service

Three young men who lied to police about a rock-throwing incident in northern Sydney last year have been sentenced to community service.

A 17-year-old boy suffered a severe head injury when a rock was thrown through a car window in September.

His three friends, 18-year-old Elai Mann and Cameron Bruce and 19-year-old Matthew Geerke, told police it happened at Allambie Heights.

But they changed their story the next day, admitting the boy was attacked at Curl Curl after they had thrown eggs at the offenders.

They were charged with making a false statement to police.

Their lawyers told Manly Court they had mostly clean records and were now paying for a moment of madness.

Magistrate Andrew George sentenced the trio to 100 hours of community service each, saying while they were all legally adults, they had not grown up yet.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Brisbane teacher jailed for possessing explosives

A Brisbane school teacher has been jailed for six years after pleading guilty to possessing explosives, detonators and two incendiary devices.

Forty-two-year-old John Howard Amundsen was arrested in 2006 on the day he sent a threatening email to the Queensland Police Service's counter-terrorism unit claiming to be an Al Qaeda operative.

He also pleaded guilty to forgery and making threats.

Today, the District Court in Brisbane heard Amundsen suffered from Autism Spectrum Disorder and was prone to retreating into a fantasy world.

Prosecutor Glen Rice told the hearing Amundsen's activities were part of a strategy to win over his former girlfriend's parents, whom Amundsen blamed for the relationship's failure.

Amundsen told the court he was sorry for his actions and felt humiliated.

Judge Gilbert Trafford Walker ordered Amundsen would be eligible for parole after serving three years.

That means he will be due for release in just over a year, given time already served in pre-sentence custody.

Police pursuit: repeat offender jailed over fatal smash

A man has been jailed for at least five years for killing a State Emergency Service volunteer in a fatal road smash at Wingfield in Adelaide a year ago.

The offender was in a stolen car and being chased by police when the crash happened.

Denis Vlado Dundovic, of Renown Park, was driving at more than 160 kilometres per hour, more than double the speed limit.

There were two young women passengers in the car and it had no headlights on when Dundovic ploughed into the car of 30-year-old Peter Godfrey, who died at the scene.

Dundovic was under the influence of methylamphetamines.

He was on parole after being in jail three times in the previous three years - once for almost killing a car load of people during another police chase.

District Court Judge Steven Millsteed said it was not a momentary or impulsive crime and he described Dundovic's actions as outrageous.

Man jailed for bashing girl to death

The ACT Supreme Court has sentenced a man to 15 years in jail for the manslaughter of a four-year-old girl in Canberra more than two years ago.

Darren Lee Cassidy pleaded guilty to killing South Australian girl Trinaty Monique Howarth with a saucepan and walking stick on November 26, 2005.

The girl was the daughter of Cassidy's then girlfriend, Alicia Wilson.

The three travelled from Loxton in South Australia to Canberra to visit Cassidy's brother.

In sentencing, Chief Justice Terence Higgins described the killing as brutal, cowardly and merciless.

He accepted the 42-year-old did not intend to kill Trinaty Howarth but said it was a serious crime that required a lengthy sentence.

Cassidy will be eligible for parole in 10 years and two months.

Not enough help for teen binge drinkers: report

A report has found there is not enough help available for teenage binge drinkers.

The Federal Government's advisory group on drugs has found one in 10 high school students has been binge drinking in the last week.

The report has found there is not enough help available.

The report by the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) has found in the last week about 170,000 children would have been binge-drinking.

It also says about 240,000 high school student used cannabis and 67,000 secondary students have used amphetamines in the past year.

ANCD spokesman Gino Vumbaca says the report focussed on the effect that has on families and found there was not enough support services for those who want help.

"They're hard-pressed to go beyond that person and offer the support for the family for siblings and the like," he said.

The report has found drug use by children can ruin young lives, destroy marriages and even have an effect on siblings.

Mr Vumbaca says most parents have trouble dealing with the issue.

"Parents feel a little bit more comfortable dealing with alcohol problems and probably think they can sort those things out, even though we recommend they get professional advice," he said.

ANCD chairman Dr John Herron says binge drinking is more common in bigger cities.

"It's much the same, but it varies of course across when you go from the metropolitan area to country areas and so on, because - and again it depends on whether the siblings, the older kids in the family buy the grog for the younger kids - thinking they're helping them," he said.


Millions abused during boozy Christmas hols: study

Stress and debt make Sydney a violent city

Saturday, 23 February 2008

More women perpetrating domestic violence: statistics

In the 12 months to September 2003 police recorded 4918 women as persons of interest for perpetrating domestic violence. By 2006-07 that had risen to 6056, figures from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show.

Of the women arrested for domestic violence-related assault in the five years to last September only 32 per cent of the cases reached court, compared with 56 per cent of cases involving men, statistics show.

The bureau's director, Don Weatherburn, said the increase was likely to have been driven by more than one factor. Others could include an increase in binge drinking, or more men who were willing to admit they are victims.

"It's possible that people are becoming less tolerant of violence by females than they used to be," he said. More women are also being arrested for assault not related to domestic violence, which some attribute to a rise in alcohol abuse. Others say women can be as violent as men, and that in more than half of violent partnerships partners struck each other.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Physio jailed over sex attacks

A Melbourne physiotherapist who sexually assaulted 15 of his patients has been sentenced to nine years and 11 months in jail.

Bradford Allen Deslandes, 44, from Wantirna South, pleaded guilty to 30 charges, including rape and indecent assault.

The County Court heard the assaults happened over a nine-year period.

Deslandes will serve a non-parole period of seven years and eight months.

Discrimination Act should apply to intervention: Calma

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner wants the Racial Discrimination Act immediately reinstated in the Northern Territory's Indigenous communities.

When the Howard government's emergency intervention legislation was introduced last year, it was made exempt from the Racial Discrimination Act.

Commissioner Tom Calma says suspending the Act for Aboriginal people is wrong.

"If we want to practice equality, if we want to honour our international obligations and the obligations that the Parliament has bestowed on Australia, and that's the Racial Discrimination Act, then that should be back in place and people should have the right to be able to lodge a complaint," he said.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Watchdog slams jails oversight

AUSTRALIA'S only independent prison watchdog has heavily criticised the oversight of Victorian jails, saying the existing system of monitoring abuses and corruption is "well short of what a democratic society is entitled to".

The criticism of the lack of transparency in Victoria's prisons by the Western Australian Inspector of Custodial Services, Professor Richard Harding, comes after The Age revealed secret documents detailing improper behaviour by staff at the state's largest female jail.

Professor Harding said the Victorian Government's failure to release its multiple inquiries into assaults, deaths, drug use and staff impropriety in the state's jails could be fuelling problems inside prisons.

Professor Harding told The Age: "This is important stuff. Would it have stopped it more quickly if the reports had been made public? My guess is it would. In WA, I have had similar issues and I feel confident the release of my reports covering these issues have lanced the boil of this kind of stuff."

Professor Harding testified at a Victorian court hearing earlier this month after he was called as a witness by the Western Suburbs Legal Service. The service is fighting for the release of a secret review of the placement of prisoners by Corrections Victoria into solitary confinement.

Documents obtained under freedom of information laws show Victoria's prison watchdog, the Office of Correctional Services Review, has completed more than 100 investigations into prison incidents since 2000. None have been released.

Professor Harding said the Victorian watchdog was compromised because it was part of the Justice Department, which also manages prisons.

"People can't but help be aware of the problems they may create within the department with their reports, whereas an autonomous external inspectorate (has) a fearless approach to controversy," he said.

"It is well short of what a democratic society is entitled to and we come back again to the human rights issues. In the end, these can only be properly traversed by external accountability.

"If you have an external inspectorate, all of these things — justice and fairness and decency to the individual — and the way the prisons are spending their money become visible to the public."

But a spokesman for Corrections Minister Bob Cameron said the state's jails were subject to rigorous oversight. The spokesman said the Ombudsman's office had the power to demand investigation reports from the Justice Department and conduct its own inquiries, which could be tabled in Parliament.

[Well if it's anything like NSW then the ombudsman actually says... they have no power to ask for any evidence in relation to 'discretionary' decisions made by the commissioner, those having been made for the 'good order and security of the prison. Therefore the Ombudsman is said to be a toothless sort of terrier and that those answers are given to complainants and in fact very little is done when complaints are made and therefore end up getting to this point where they're out of control.]

The Age yesterday revealed that prison guards at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, which houses up to 260 female prisoners, were told by experienced officers to break rules, conducted improper strip searches and falsified records.

The breaches are revealed in prison documents detailing concerns raised in October 2006 by new prison officers.

Documents reveal women's prison rules flouted
GUARDS at Victoria's largest women's prison were told by experienced officers to break rules, conducted improper strip searches and falsified records, according to secret prison documents.

Behind the wire
The documents, from 2003 and 2004, outlined claims that "prison officers at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre were sexually assaulting female prisoners and standing over prisoners to obtain sexual favours".

PDF Prison staff briefing notes

PDF Documents about sexual assault allegations in 2003

Secret policemen's bill: $7.5m

MORE than 600 security officials around the nation have worked on the Mohamed Haneef case and the related British bombings in an investigation which cost more than $7.5 million, collected 300 witness statements and examined 349 forensic samples.

And the result so far: one charge against the doctor that was dropped within a fortnight.

As the Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty ran through the figures yesterday, he was quick to point out that - seven months after the Indian-born doctor was arrested, interrogated, charged and released - the investigation is continuing.

He said there was no need to change any practices within his force, even as the Government prepares to launch a judicial inquiry to try to unravel the error-ridden saga and prevent its repetition. "We have reviewed the Haneef matter as a matter of course and there is nothing that has arisen out of those reviews that required us to alter our policies or alter our approaches to those investigations," Mr Keelty told a Senate estimates hearing.

At its peak, Mr Keelty revealed, the investigation involved 249 AFP officers, 225 Queensland police, 54 WA police, 40 NSW police, four police and 15 other officers from the Northern Territory, Tasmania and other agencies, six translators, six Customs officers, and two British police.

They executed 22 search warrants, 16 telephone intercepts, six surveillance devices and seized 623 gigabytes of computer data - and racked up a $1.6 million overtime bill.

Mr Keelty said he was awaiting the results of an inquiry into the co-operation between federal agencies - which he initiated - but welcomed the judicial inquiry and would act on any recommendations.

"We have absolutely nothing to hide," he said.

Mr Keelty, who initially defended the charge against Dr Haneef but later said he had told prosecutors not to proceed, has strenuously denied any wrongdoing by the AFP and blamed the media for creating a perception that police lacked "street smarts" and had failed in the case.

"It is a full-time job trying to correct the media," he said.

The Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, said yesterday that he was still finalising plans for the judicial inquiry.

"The impact on ongoing national security operations is a factor being taken into account in arrangements for the inquiry," a spokesman, Adam Sims, said.

But the Opposition said the inquiry was premature and should be called off.

"The AFP still regards this as a very serious matter," the shadow attorney-general, George Brandis, said.

"It is extraordinary that the Government would set up an inquiry into a pending investigation without interfering with the AFP's capability."

Mr Keelty indicated he did not think Dr Haneef - who returned to his home in India after his work visa was revoked - had a case for compensation.

Mr McClelland separately ruled out compensating or apologising to the Sydney medical student Izhar Ul-Haque, who a Supreme Court judge said had been kidnapped by ASIO officers. The conduct of ASIO in the case of Mr ul-Haque, who was cleared of terrorism charges, is being reviewed by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Ian Carnell.

The Greens senator Kerry Nettle said Mr Keelty "has learnt little from this saga apart from a desire to shut down media scrutiny".

Monday, 18 February 2008

DPP urges tougher child identity laws

The New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions is calling for even stricter conditions on the naming of children involved in criminal proceedings.

A state parliamentary committee is reviewing laws which protect the identity of juvenile offenders, as well as young victims and witnesses.

Nicholas Cowdery QC agrees with the prohibition and believes it should be extended further, to include children arrested but not yet charged, or even to children who are part of an investigation.

"Take it back earlier to the point where there is an investigation underway," he said.

"So it doesn't even have to be the interview of a child, but where the investigation involves a child. Then there should be a prohibition."


Justice Action’s Submission to the Inquiry into the prohibition on the publication of names of children involved in criminal proceedings.

1 Introduction

Thank you for inviting Justice Action to make submissions to this inquiry. We have considered the terms of reference. In summary, our position is:

(a) Term of reference 1

The current policy remains completely valid for the reasons outlined in paragraph 2;

(b) Term of reference 2

In our experience the Act is operating successfully to achieve the objectives of the current policy outlined in term of reference 1;

(c) Term of reference 3

The prohibition on the publication and broadcasting of names under section 1 of the Act should cover all the children and circumstances outlined in this term of reference; and

(d) Term of reference 4

Our comments on this term of reference are contained in our comments on term of reference 1 in paragraph 2.

2. Submissions on term of reference 1

2.1 Ramifications of naming, shaming and blaming

In all cases, we say that one needs to understand the ramifications of naming, shaming and blaming on people especially children because children are least likely to be able to deal with the fallout. As some Justice Action members are ex prisoners we have taken into account the process of naming, shaming and blaming on us, because it has affected some of us in adverse ways that we say have had no pragmatic outcome in terms of preventing crime in the future.

Amongst other things, the naming of children is likely to have the following effects:

(a) By obscuring the true environmental predisposing factors that led to the crime and instead focusing, hence shifting, the blame almost entirely on a bad person or bad genes.

(b) By hiding the fact that ‘anyone’ without skills could have made the same mistake given the wrong circumstances:

(c) Reducing the understanding about more resources that could be available for people or children to deal with social responsibility or a crisis situation that may develop, by having the further opportunity to learn better social responsibility and skills at the ‘earliest intervention’ that would prevent crime.

(d) Interventions that could have been blocked and that could sideline the general problem of preventing crime generally - particularly if socio economic factors such as poverty or bad parenting - that led to the crime have not been dealt with

(e) Not passing on more social skills to people or children like communication, conflict resolution and life skills in the future to the person or child offender.

2.2 Benefits of addressing the true causes of crime

One needs to understand how the justice system could be much different than it is now. It ought to be constructive so that the community gets the ‘full benefit’ of crime prevention by generally understanding what led to the crime and therefore how to prevent it instead of naming, shaming and blaming a particular offender’s mistake.

Offending is one part of a person

We are all human beings and so when society breaks down a human being into parts then one invariably loses sight of a way to fix the problem holistically and in terms of crime prevention. Our experience as ex-prisoners is that in order to solve a problem one must search for the solution at the root. Not at the part. In this instance the root is the human being and for this submission a child. The part is what the human being or child may have been accused of (the act or crime) or found guilty of doing. The early intervention at this level provides long-term benefits for crime prevention in the community.


For instance, x is an alleged gang-rapist, or x is an alleged sex-monster, x is an alleged criminal, murder, killer, etc. Even if those attributes were found to be true then how does it help fix the problem holistically of crime, sex offending or killing in the future? Is shaming, naming and blaming a constructive way to address the problem of sex offending or killing in the future? Are there any pragmatic answers we are missing in labeling people, especially children for their mistakes? Are we forgetting the process of learning involved in trial and error?

Once a person or child is broken down into parts, criminal, sex offender, killer, even if the offence may never ever occur again by the same offender, it then becomes harder to prevent crime in the future or in this instance the fact that the offender was a child. To explain:

The problem is more general than the person who has committed an offence. The problem is the offence itself and the social issues underlying the offence. Punishing individuals further through naming and shaming does not address this problem and in effect fails to prevent further offences occurring. Both the person who has committed an offence and society must take responsibility to socially respond to crime for crime prevention to be effective.

Opportunity to learn from mistakes and rehabilitate

Society is built on trial and error because that’s how people, especially children, learn. We couldn’t have a society without trial and error or learning and therefore depend on it to build the future and so a standard needs to be in place similar to the current prohibition on the publication and broadcasting of names under section 11 of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (the Act) to ensure that offending others is addressed generally and holistically and not just internalized as if one particular person has bad genes and is the problem. It is more likely that an offender has lost their way because of ‘x predispositions’, taken too many risks and used the wrong resources in order to achieve the same goals as say you and I might aspire to. Problems that could have been addressed better by learning some ‘social responsibility’, say at school or at the earliest intervention in the future (especially if some parents didn’t have the social skills to pass on) that may have prevented the same crime and will prevent more of the same crime down the track.

If all people or children become aware of the process and outcome (damage caused by the offence of crime, sex offending or killing) then they are more likely not to do it, more likely not to want to do it or be aware of the consequences of doing it themselves. In turn if a person, child, offender knows how much they are ‘worth’ then it is more likely that they will know how much you are worth next time that they may consider offending. How would that happen if they were just belittled, blamed or shamed that would decrease their self worth and deconstruct them?


In communication we learn that if something is not said or addressed in a constructive manner then it would be better off not being said at all. One may argue that shaming and blaming is ‘constructive’ - we say in what way? Destructing and belittling a person for making a mistake does nothing but put fear into a child. A child running on fear is not learning as well because they have high emotions and less thinking ability as a child who has no fear and is thinking about solutions better.

If offending is merely attributed to certain individuals who’ve made the mistake ‘now’ say based on only those who had ‘bad genes’, then that fails in terms of ‘general awareness’ and ‘deterrence’ and preventing the same crime down the track. In this case it is forgotten that many others could make the same mistake. Some crime, sex offending, killing or domestic violence is not always a premeditated crime either. Therefore not a pre learned experience or a plan, but a grave mistake, trial and error and sometimes done in the heat of the moment.

Taking into account ‘social responsibility’ in responding to crime means that all people and children have some responsibility for preventing crime. It gives further opportunity for all children to realise why offending a human being is an option that is not tolerated in society, or even to be considered if one wants mutual respect in the community, in the future and in any relationship between human beings.

3 Constructive feedback through JA mentoring is the solution

In our view, constructive feedback through JA mentoring has a more positive effect than any other means. To have a person trusted by the offender, in a one-to-one relationship, to give support and guidance to an offender as a role model and a friend, is in our experience the most effective means of addressing an offender's criminal behavior.

4. Conclusion

Justice Action believes that naming offenders and in particular child offenders is ‘destructive’. It will reduce the likelihood of general deterrence and shift the focus, blame and attention to the destructive notion that an individual simply has bad genes or even a bad family. Crime and society are more complex. In our view, given a constructive lifestyle, the opportunity to form positive mentoring relationships and an equal opportunity to learn about life, will prevent more crime and make others more aware of not being offensive. Hence, as a general deterrent we should not remove the prohibition on the publication of names of children involved in criminal proceedings.

Additional References

The Privacy Commissioner's position on Child Offenders and Privacy:

Justice Action Mentoring:

Friday, 15 February 2008

ICOPA XII Creating a Scandal - Notification of Conference / Call for Papers

International Conference on Penal Abolition

The Howard League for Penal Reform is organising and hosting the above international conference to develop the case for the abolition of prison and to rethink penal policy. The conference will discuss and hear about the impact of the penal system on our communities and provide suggestions for new and alternative approaches. It will look at custody and community interventions as alternatives to imprisonment; prisons and the politics of poverty; the role of the media and public opinion; and the role of privatisation and capitalism in penal policy today.

ICOPA XII will host international speakers dealing with the ancillary, fiscal and human costs of crime and punishment in the 21st century and will look at other possibilities and approaches outside of a failing crime control agenda.

Key themes and plenary sessions for the conference include:
· Creating a scandal - prison abolition and the policy agenda
· Prison and the politics of poverty
· The role of privatisation and capitalism in penal policy
· Penal abolition, the media and the public

Confirmed speakers so far include:
· Professor Thomas Mathieson, University of Oslo
· Professor Joe Sim, Liverpool John Moores University
· Frances Crook, Director, The Howard League for Penal Reform
· Stephen Nathan, Editor, Prison Privatisation Report International
· Moazzamm Begg, Former Guantanamo detainee and spokesman for Cageprisoners
· Raphael Rowe, Journalist, BBC
· Professor David Wilson, Birmingham City University and vice-chair, The Howard League for Penal Reform
· Professor Barry Goldson, The University of Liverpool
· Professor Phil Scraton PhD, Queen's University, Belfast
· Clive Stafford Smith, Director, Reprieve

To book a place at this stimulating and thought provoking conference, please click here
For more information on ICOPA XII, including the submission of papers and applications for poster presentations, please visit the website or email

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Australia grappling with child abuse 'epidemic'

A child protection organisation says the rate of child abuse in Australia has reached epidemic levels.

Child Wise has collated research showing one in four girls and one in seven boys experience some form of sexual abuse.

It is launching a national campaign to raise awareness about the problem and help parents and others who work with children recognise the signs.

The group's chief executive Bernadette McMenamin says the silence about abuse has to be broken.

"We need to look at children, we need to listen to them, we need to hear them, we need to respond to them," she said.

"So many adults do not believe children. So many adults cannot believe that abuse can happen to the children that they know or that they work with. So we need to completely change our consciousness around understanding child sexual abuse."

Ms McMenamin says there needs to be a focus on prevention.

"Children are so victimised by the court system that often victims will say it [the court appearance] traumatised me as much as the abuse did," she said.

"We need to completely examine our child protection systems, the way that we deal with children who are at risk of abuse, or who have been abused."


Smacking children 'allowable': minister

Monday, 11 February 2008

DOCS insiders blow whistle on tragedy

DOCS workers have detailed a catalogue of failures that have left at-risk children in unsafe families and put staff in danger, as officers struggle with crippling vacancies in a department top-heavy with managers and with a dysfunctional records system.

On the eve of the State Government's special commission of inquiry into child protection services, prompted by the death of seven-year-old Shellay Ward, frustrated staff have spoken to the Herald about reports of abuse that are never investigated and children in care who never see a case worker.

Long silenced by government restrictions on speaking to the media, these Department of Community Services workers say it is time for their views to be heard. They believe it is the only way to ensure that the Wood Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services, due to begin public forums this week, will succeed in undoing the years of neglect and bad policies that have led to the crisis.

The workers who told their stories did so on condition of anonymity, fearful for their jobs and mindful of the impact their actions may have on clients. Many more were unwilling to speak, while others withdrew after legal advice.

One child protection worker, Richard*, said staff were overwhelmed by the amount of work. "In the end that means we can only deal with the worst of the worst cases, and they are the most difficult cases," he said.

"There was a time when you could get to matters before they got to a real crisis point, but we are now being pushed to the very pointy end of child protection."

Wayne, who manages case workers, said there was a world of difference between what the department was telling the public, and what the frontline workers were experiencing.

Much of the problem stemmed from the enormous number of staff vacancies. As a result, "many children in the department's care … very rarely get to see their case worker - it is not unusual to hear that they only see them once a year, sometimes less," Wayne said.

"Many of those unallocated cases are serious allegations of children being physically, mentally or sexually harmed."

Another worker, William, said that despite the $1.2 billion in enhanced funding for the department, "at the field level, at the coalface level, nothing has changed for the case worker, and that is very disappointing".

"There is a political time bomb ticking here - there is a large gap between those that can be helped with early intervention and the crisis end of the system."

DOCS workers have detailed a catalogue of failures that have left at-risk children in unsafe families and put staff in danger, as officers struggle with crippling vacancies in a department top-heavy with managers and with a dysfunctional records system.

On the eve of the State Government's special commission of inquiry into child protection services, prompted by the death of seven-year-old Shellay Ward, frustrated staff have spoken to the Herald about reports of abuse that are never investigated and children in care who never see a case worker.

Long silenced by government restrictions on speaking to the media, these Department of Community Services workers say it is time for their views to be heard. They believe it is the only way to ensure that the Wood Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services, due to begin public forums this week, will succeed in undoing the years of neglect and bad policies that have led to the crisis.

The workers who told their stories did so on condition of anonymity, fearful for their jobs and mindful of the impact their actions may have on clients. Many more were unwilling to speak, while others withdrew after legal advice.

One child protection worker, Richard*, said staff were overwhelmed by the amount of work. "In the end that means we can only deal with the worst of the worst cases, and they are the most difficult cases," he said.

"There was a time when you could get to matters before they got to a real crisis point, but we are now being pushed to the very pointy end of child protection."

Wayne, who manages case workers, said there was a world of difference between what the department was telling the public, and what the frontline workers were experiencing.

Much of the problem stemmed from the enormous number of staff vacancies. As a result, "many children in the department's care … very rarely get to see their case worker - it is not unusual to hear that they only see them once a year, sometimes less," Wayne said.

"Many of those unallocated cases are serious allegations of children being physically, mentally or sexually harmed."

Another worker, William, said that despite the $1.2 billion in enhanced funding for the department, "at the field level, at the coalface level, nothing has changed for the case worker, and that is very disappointing".

"There is a political time bomb ticking here - there is a large gap between those that can be helped with early intervention and the crisis end of the system."


On the front line of tragedy
Day after day DOCS staff battle fear and violence to save children on the edge of the abyss. It's never enough, writes Ruth Pollard. Staff call it the Department of Damned If You Do and Damned If You Don't. They paint a picture of a reality far removed from the hysterical media coverage and tit-for-tat politics of child protection. They have a long list of solutions and - after more than a decade of neglect, underfunding and staff shortages - a short supply of patience. And yet, amid it all, they have hope.

In their own words: Case workers speak out
I can cite hundreds of examples of matters not being assessed … allegations not addressed until weeks or months after the report,' one worker says. 'At times [I have had] no face-to-face contact with any clients for three to four weeks due to demands of court work.' One case worker says there are more than 50 'unallocated cases that don't have any interventions other than annual reviews. No manager available for approval of financial assistance or advice, no cars for transporting, no access to transport workers.' Some areas report having every position in a team vacant. The large numbers of vacancies are heightened by 'excessive delays in the recruitment process. At times there are more vacancies in child protection than [there are] filled positions.''I thought I could make a difference; that hope is not yet gone, but almost.''[We are] unable to allocate complex casework due to a lack of resources and unable to respond to early reports of families in need.'

Sunday, 10 February 2008


TJ died 4 years ago. His bike was rammed by a Redfern police vehicle, driven by then, Constable Michael Hollingsworth. As a result, he was impaled on the metal spiked fence.

Proper medical practices were not followed by the police and he died in hospital the next day. If standard medical practices were followed, TJ would probably be alive today.

As is the norm in all police-initiated Black Deaths in Custody, the cover up started immediately. Every one was involved, from the then Premier, Bob Carr and to the Police Commissioner. Even the State Coroner did his bit by placing very tight conditions on what could be presented to him in the ‘manufactured’ police Brief of Evidence. The Hickey Family’s legal team, forced upon the Family, blocked some witnesses, did not give proper legal representation to TJ’s Family, and stopped, or agreed to, some crucial evidence not being presented in Court. Whilst the police were exonerated, despite their admitted collusion of evidence, those Aborigines who were provoked by the Redfern Police and vented their collective anger and grief, as was to happen on Palm Island, Qld, at the death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee by Snr. Sgt. Christopher Hurley in November, 2004, were found guilty and gaoled. Another corrupt whitewash had occurred.

On Palm Island, Snr Sgt Christopher Hurley. in the Police Station, assaulted Mulrunji so badly that he died shortly after on the cell floor, in great pain arising from his injuries that included 4 broken ribs and a split liver. As usual, in these cases, the cover up started immediately with police, working friends of Hurley, ‘investigating’ the circumstances. But something went very wrong for the Qld. Government and their police. The Palm Island Community, and the solidarity of the Brisbane and Queensland Communities, firstly, and then later from all around Australia, demanded JUSTICE.

Two Coroners, a long enquiry, Government, police and DPP pressure that was resisted, meant the cover-up failed. The acting State Coroner, Ms. Christine Clements, recommended that Hurley face Court on charges of killing Mulrunji. Still the corrupt forces of injustice kept working. The DPP ‘found that Hurley had no case to answer’. And again Aborigines from Queensland and their Supporters around the Nation came out demanding JUSTICE. The then Premier, Peter Beattie, was forced to accept the outcome of this struggle and a new enquiry by Sir Laurence Street recommended the charges against Hurley be reinstated. But eventually, when the Trial was held, “White Australian Justice” was at work and Hurley was acquitted by a racially picked jury.


Too many koori kids are dying at the hands of the ‘law’

Whose Son, Brother, Sister, Cousin, Uncle, Aunt will die this year
at the hands of the police?

Protest to put a stop to the deaths and get true justice for Koori kids

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Fed Govt 'tough on welfare cheats'

The Federal Government is warning it will not be soft on welfare fraud, and people caught cheating the system will face tough penalties.

A northern New South Wales woman has been sentenced to three years jail after pleading guilty to using a false identity to collect Centrelink payments worth more than $195,000.

Human Services Minister Senator Joe Ludwig says rorting the system is unfair on those with genuine needs.

"The Australian Government takes social security fraud very seriously," he said.

"It's about ensuring that the taxpayer money goes to the right people, for the right amount at the right time."

Tags: community-and-society, welfare, government-and-politics, federal-government, law-crime-and-justice, fraud-and-corporate-crime, australia, nsw

Friday, 8 February 2008

Smacking children 'allowable': minister

NSW Community Services Minister Kevin Greene has defended himself against accusations of hypocrisy for smacking his children and then supporting his department taking a six-year-old boy away from a grandmother who smacked the child.

He had smacked his children in the past, he said today, but did not think it had done them any harm.

"My children, I'd like to think, are all pretty average normal children," he told Fairfax radio Network.

Asked about the department's policy on reports of smacking, Mr Greene said: "We have a law in NSW that basically says that children can be smacked but they can't be abused.

"You cannot literally clip a child across the ear," he said. "You can smack a child but you can't cause them physical harm that's going to last a long time.

"I mean, a smack is allowable. It's not encouraged but it is allowable. It's up to individual parents to make the decision. We certainly do not allow physical abuse of children."

He said the report in a News Ltd paper today accusing him of hypocrisy was "disappointing".

Frontline caseworkers who made decisions about taking children away from abusive situations were "doing a difficult job in extremely difficult circumstances", he said.

"They have to make the real judgment decisions. They're the ones who are dealing with really vulnerable children."


NZ passes anti-smacking law

New Zealand's anti-smacking Bill will become law within weeks after winning overwhelming support in Parliament.

The country joins only a handful of European nations to legislate against the use of unreasonable force in disciplining children.

The parliamentary vote is the culmination of a two-year campaign by Greens Party MP Sue Bradford, who argued New Zealand's appalling record of violence towards children demanded drastic action.

"Every day, there are dreadful injuries inflicted on children," she said.

"People need to realise this is what happens in the name of child discipline."

Members of Parliament were free to vote on the issue according to their conscience but there was near unanimous support for the change, which passed 113 to 7 in the 121-seat Parliament.

Loud applause broke out from the public galleries after the vote.


Spare the Rod?

We all know the phrase from the Bible that says spare the rod and spoil the child. Does this mean hitting them? Is there another meaning that is possible here? An advisor of mine whilst I was Children’s Commissioner in Tasmania, who was preparing for church ministry, said that her interpretation of the Bible allows us to consider these statements from a non violent perspective. She said that the rod in the Bible referred to the shepherd’s rod. This shepherd’s rod had a crook in it which was used to hook onto the sheep to prevent them from straying, to contain them. I then realized for myself, that the rod was not the staff that the shepherd also had, that I believe was used to beat off wolves and other predators. My own reflections also lead me to this conclusion, as my favourite Psalm, Psalm 23 states that the Lord is my shepherd and that His rod and staff will always guide me and be my comfort.

The rod is to steer me to paths of righteousness with the rod to protect me from harm. Neither of these were there to harm me, and this concept of a benign and loving God, who like a good shepherd was devoted and faithful in looking after his flock is commonplace in the Bible. I humbly and respectfully offer you this alternative way of viewing some Biblical statements as matters for your consideration, to show how it is possible to parent without any violence, but with guidance, care and love.

Patmalar Ambikapathy

End Physical Punishment of Children

15 year jail term for stepdad rapist

A Cairns man who filmed himself raping his five-year-old stepdaughter, then emailed the footage around the world, has been sentenced to 15 years' jail.

The man, who cannot be identified, had pleaded guilty to 88 state and federal charges, including rape, incest and trading in objectionable material.

The District Court in Cairns, in far north Queensland, heard the 30-year-old used a webcam to film himself sexually abusing his stepdaughter in 2005.

He made 17 movie clips and emailed them to paedophiles around the world.

Members of his family sobbed in the public gallery as he addressed the court and said he was deeply sorry.

Judge Sarah Bradley described his conduct as incomprehensible to right-minded people and an affront to humanity.

She sentenced him to more than 100 years' prison on the sexual offences alone, but they will be served concurrently, so he will spend a maximum of 15 years in jail.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Millions abused during boozy Christmas hols: study

The AER says the Government must acknowledge that alcohol is the number one health and social problem in Australia.

The Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation (AER) says the level of alcohol abuse in Australia is unacceptable, and it is causing more harm than tobacco smoking.

A study commissioned by the AER asked 1,000 people about their experiences with alcohol over the Chrismas-New Year period.

Head of the foundation, Daryl Smeaton, says in that time 2.2 million Australians over the age of 14 experienced physical or verbal abuse from someone who had been drinking.

"It's involved in so much family violence and sexual assault and child abuse," he said.

"It is the major contributor to harms from personal assaults, it still contributes to 30 per cent of the deaths from motor vehicle accidents."

The foundation says licensed venues need their trading hours restricted to end alcohol abuse and wants all levels of government to take action.

Mr Smeaton says the Federal Government has already identified alcohol as one of the main causes of chronic disease.

"They need to go further, they need to acknowledge that alcohol is the number one health and social problem in Australia," he said.

He says the first step is restricting the trading hours of bars, to prevent drunk people congregating on the streets late at night.