Kiwi accused of causing death of man in Brisbane road rage incident pleads not guilty

A trial has started in Brisbane today for a New Zealand man accused of pushing a father in front of a truck during a roadside argument.

Tamate Heke has pleaded not guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to charges of manslaughter and unlawful striking causing death.

He is alleged to have caused the death of 50-year-old Shane Merrigan after the pair got into a fight on Brisbane's busy Gateway Motorway in December 2015.

Court Australia (file picture).
Court Australia (file picture). Source: istock.com



Strawberry sabotage prompts harsh new penalties in Australia

Pranksters who post food contamination hoaxes on social media could soon face 10 years behind bars in Australia, as the federal government announces harsh new criminal penalties in response to the strawberry needle crisis.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the "idiot" who first sabotaged Queensland strawberries, setting off a distressing series of events, had risked the livelihoods of farmers and put fear in the hearts of parents across the country.

"This is a shocking and cowardly thing for this individual and others who have jumped onto the bandwagon here to have engaged in," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra today.

Anyone found guilty of contaminating food could soon face a maximum of 15 years in prison, up from 10 years.

The threshold for the harsh penalties will also be lowered from an intention to cause anxiety or harm, to simply engaging in a reckless act.

The new criminal penalties are on par with child pornography and terror financing offences.

Additionally, anyone who piggy-backs off such a crisis by engaging in a reckless hoax would also face 10 years behind bars.

The offence would extend to people who provide false reports or make jokes in poor taste on Facebook.

"It's not a joke, it's not funny, you are putting the livelihoods of hard-working Australians at risk and you are scaring children, you're a coward and you're a grub." Mr Morrison said.

"If you do that sort of thing in this country, we will come after you and we will throw the book at you."

Mr Morrison wants the laws to pass Parliament by the time it rises on Thursday evening.

"I don't care if you've got a gripe with a company, I don't care whether you've got a gripe with your fellow worker, this is a very serious thing," he said.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said the sanctions would not be applied retrospectively to those responsible for the existing strawberry saga.

"But the reason we are doing this so quickly is ... this sends a massive deterrence message to anyone out there who would further cripple this industry."

NSW authorities are investigating more than 20 incidents of needles found in strawberries. Source: Breakfast


'Some links to the Mongrel Mob' – seven charged after BOP police sting sees guns, Hilux vehicles, $21k cash, drugs seized

Police have arrested and charged seven people after executing a number of search warrants in the eastern Bay of Plenty as part of Operation Notus II.

Speaking to media today Senior Sergeant Richard Miller said the operation had "some links to the Mongrel Mob".

Operation Notus II is the second phase of a long-running investigation, led by the National Organised Crime Group, into organised crime and the supply and supplying of methamphetamine and cannabis in the eastern Bay of Plenty region.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller briefed media today. Source: 1 NEWS

Search warrants were conducted this morning in properties in Kawerau, Whakatāne and Te Teko.

The seven are facing a number of charges, including possession for supply, and supplying, methamphetamine and cannabis, as well as firearms-related offending.

They will appear in Whakatāne District Court this afternoon.

Along with methamphetamine and cannabis, 26 firearms and more than $21,000 in cash has been seized.

Three stolen Toyota Hilux utes were recovered from one address in Kawerau, along with a number of power tools.

A stolen Toyota Hilux Surf and trailer were recovered from another address.

Operation Notus, launched in October 2017, revealed the Kawerau Mongrel Mob's involvement in the commercial distribution of meth and cannabis to the community.

As a result of the investigation, 48 people were arrested and almost $3 million in assets were frozen in March 2018.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller, said, "This was a major disruption to organised crime and methamphetamine supply in EBOP".

Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty
Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Source: NZ Police

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Man, 26, charged over weekend stabbing of another left with life-threatening injuries in Napier

A 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with grievous bodily harm over the stabbing of another man in Napier at the weekend.

Police say the incident occurred on Bledisloe Road, Maraenui, about 9.45pm on Saturday. 

Police were advised a short time later when a 42-year-old man arrived at the Wellesley Medical Centre with life-threatening injuries.

He remains in Hawke's Bay Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

The man arrested has been remanded in custody and is due to reappear in Hastings District Court in four weeks.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or has information relevant to the investigation is being urged to contact Hawke’s Bay Police on (06) 873 0500, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Police car at night Source: 1 NEWS


Greenpeace links forest destruction for palm oil to global brands

Greenpeace says global consumer brands continue to buy palm oil from companies that are cutting down Indonesia's rainforests despite repeated pledges to clean up their supply chains.

The environmental group says in a report released Wednesday that 25 palm oil producing groups it has investigated destroyed more than 130,000 hectares of natural forest in Indonesia since 2015.

It says all but one of those producers had supplied palm oil to consumer companies that are household names around the world in the past year.

Palm oil, mainly produced in Indonesia and Malaysia, is used in a slew of consumer products from snacks to cosmetics.

Rapid forest loss and greenhouse gas emissions have made Indonesia the fourth biggest contributor to global warming after China, the U.S. and India.

Forest in Indonesia (file picture).
Forest in Indonesia (file picture). Source: 1 NEWS