Sydney Bay Run flasher jailed for attacks

Andrew James Grant was just months away from becoming a dad when he hid behind trees alongside Sydney’s popular Bay Run and flashed female joggers while asking them for sex.

Grant’s business was failing, his finances were dire and he resented the joggers’ “privileged lifestyles”, Central Local Court heard.

“He essentially went into self-destruction mode,” Grant’s lawyer, Joseph Nashed, said on Wednesday when his 29-year-old client was jailed for at least eight months.

After multiple incidents, NSW Police started hunting for a man they said had “prominent front teeth”. He approached one woman back in February 2016 and six others in January and February 2018.

In his final attack, Grant blocked the path of a woman running alone, asked her if she was single and tried to grab her, before she ran towards some people walking their dogs who took a photo of him.

After Grant’s arrest in March, police allegedly found a rope, balaclava, gloves and a muzzle at his home.

The Freshwater man, who grew up in Perth, pleaded guilty in June to four counts of stalking and intimidation, two acts of indecency and one count of common assault.

Magistrate Beverley Schurr sentenced Grant to 17 months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of eight months.

He’ll be placed on a three-year good behaviour bond when released, meaning he’ll be supervised and receive sexual assault counselling.

Ms Schurr backdated his sentence to his arrest on March 6 so the father-of-one will be eligible for parole in November.

The magistrate said most of the “targeted” offences were committed during the day when Grant hid behind trees near the Bay Run in Lilyfield before approaching sole female joggers.

“He felt they had a more privileged lifestyle … saying that he wanted to have intercourse with them and looking at them in a threatening way,” Ms Schurr said.

He twice exposed his penis, once late at night, she said.

Grant, who appeared via video link, said he was “ashamed and deeply remorseful” for imposing his “deluded thoughts” on innocent people.

He said he’d failed as a son, partner, father, member of the community and ultimately as a man.

“I understand my actions had a very negative impact and caused great distress – I am truly sorry,” Grant said.

He has since taken courses to help deal with his “urges and cravings”.

The police prosecutor argued Grant’s escalating offending demonstrated a “brazen” disregard for others.

“This is an area where women go to exercise, where families go,” Senior Sergeant Jamie Palmer said.

“He created an element of fear for the community.”

Mr Nashed said Grant had suffered serious childhood trauma. His biological father was convicted for stabbing his mother and a young Grant was holding his brother’s hand while crossing a road when his sibling was hit by a car and killed.

The court also heard Grant was fined in Western Australia in 2013 for committing acts of indecency in public.

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NAPLAN school test scores ‘on track’

Parents and teachers will be able to compare the standardised NAPLAN test results of students who took the exams online with those who used traditional pen and paper.

The national assessment body says its data analysts have confirmed the two data sets can be compared, following reports some state and territory education department bosses due to meet in Canberra on Wednesday have concerns.

One in five students in years three, five, seven and nine who took the standardised tests did so online in the first year of a three-year rollout of online testing.

“As this is the first year of online assessment extra attention has been given to reviewing the data and ensuring it is comparable with previous years and between online and paper test modes,” the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority said on Wednesday.

Media reports suggest some education heads raised concerns at a meeting earlier this month about how the data would be released.

A number of options had been considered, including one combined public report, two separate reports or no report at all.

The authority also rejected suggestions there could be delays in releasing the results, confirming they’re “on track” to be released soon.

The transition to online testing has received mixed responses.

Labor’s education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek wants to see the rollout happening faster, saying it was astounding that in 2018 students were still sitting pen and paper tests.

“NAPLAN online, if delivered well, could give students, parents and teachers more accurate and timely information,” she said.

But the Australian Education Union boss Correna Haythorpe said it was a “disaster” and repeated the AEU’s earlier calls for online tests to be scrapped.

“NAPLAN online is fundamentally flawed and must not be implemented,” she said.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said it was disappointing the union was taking advantage of extra consultations designed to ensure the first year of online results were ready for public release.

“Australians should see through the scare campaign being peddled by the union as little more than cheap opportunism from those who have always opposed parents receiving transparent and accountable information on student and school performance,” Senator Birmingham said.

“The Turnbull government will always back parents and educators to get the information they need to help students reach their full potential in their education.”

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Drought bites 100 per cent of NSW

With all of NSW now impacted by drought and nearly a quarter of the state facing intense drought conditions, one farmer wants governments to acknowledge the role of climate change before it’s too late.

Department of Primary Industries data released on Wednesday shows almost 22 per cent of NSW is suffering intense drought, 40 per cent is in drought and nearly 38 per cent is drought-affected.

The combined drought indicator – which takes in rainfall, soil water, plant growth and long-term climate data – suggests no part of NSW is recovering despite some recent rains.

Less than 10 millimetres was recorded in the western, northwest and central areas of NSW over the past month and drier-than-normal conditions are forecast for the next three months across the majority of the state.

The federal government has announced $12,000 grants for each affected farming family while the NSW government has doubled its funding commitments with a total of $1 billion now available.

But cattle and sheep farmer Robert Lee says these are “short-term reactions”.

“They’re just reacting to a crisis and not acknowledging climate change is going to make this more common and severe,” Mr Lee told AAP on Wednesday.

“The reason all of this is happening is because of climate change.”

Mr Lee has been farming near Molong in the state’s central west for 32 years.

He says over that time the climate has certainly changed with winter and spring rainfall becoming less reliable.

Mr Lee, a member of Farmers for Climate Action, wants the federal and state governments to accept that reality and come up with a plan to help farmers adjust to a warming environment.

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair accepts drier than normal conditions are expected for the rest of 2018.

“This is tough,” Mr Blair said in a statement on Wednesday.

“There isn’t a person in the state that isn’t hoping to see some rain for our farmers and regional communities.”

The NSW Rural Fire Service says the state hasn’t been this dry for a long time.

“We have 48 fires burning right now and we’re seeing more fires pop up every day,” deputy commissioner Rob Rogers told ABC TV on Wednesday.

“That’s the concern with how dry it is – it doesn’t even need the heat of summer.”

New international research published this week warns that human-induced global warming of 2C could trigger environmental processes – or “feedbacks” – leading to an irreversible “hothouse” climate.

Lead researcher Will Steffen from the Australian National University said current global climate efforts were unlikely to help avoid the “very risky” situation and warned many parts of the planet could become uninhabitable for humans.

A “hothouse” climate could see ocean levels rise between 10 and 60 metres in the long-term.

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Bennett denies Panthers NRL approach

Coach Wayne Bennett says he has not been approached by Penrith but is keen to remain in Brisbane.Wayne Bennett firmly believes he still has a few good years left in him as an NRL coach – and his first preference is that they are spent in Brisbane, not Penrith.

Bennett denied suggestions he has been approached by the Panthers about their coaching vacancy following the shock sacking of Anthony Griffin on Monday.

He said he was “over” discussing his future, having been linked to a number of different clubs as speculation swirls about how long he will remain in the top job at the Broncos.

Bennett is contracted at Red Hill until the end of next season, but is clearly open to offers in 2020 and beyond if the Brisbane board decides against re-signing him – or sooner, in the event he is sacked.

“The way you guys (the media) are going at the moment, I’m coaching Penrith on Monday, the Broncos on Tuesday, Wests Tigers on Wednesday and probably the Titans on Thursday,” Bennett told reporters.

“I’ve only got one day off and that’s Fridays.

“No club’s made contact with me about what’s happened in the last 24-48 hours.”

Bennett, who turns 69 in January, said he was waiting for a decision from the Broncos board at the end of the season and would not entertain any hypotheticals until it is made.

“I’ll tell you again, I’m really over the coaching saga altogether,” he said.

“We made a decision here – we’ll make it in October. The board will make their decision. Let’s see where it all goes.

“I want to be at the Broncos, I want to continue to coach, everyone knows that.

“I feel I know how long I can go on for. And I’m not going to stay a year too long.

“I’m going to be like Billy Slater – I want to go out on top of my game.

“But it’s not now.”

Bennett said he felt sorry for Griffin in seeing him axed so close to the finals, having put Penrith in the mix for a potential top-four berth.

“Probably with four games to go, yeah, it’s a bit tough. But that’s their decision,” he said.

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Bolton advises North Korea to act on nukes

John Bolton says nobody needs more rhetoric when it comes to North Korean denuclearisation.White House national security adviser John Bolton says North Korea has not taken the necessary steps to denuclearise despite an agreement between Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump in June.

Bolton, in an interview on Fox News, said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was prepared to return to North Korea for another meeting with Kim.

“What we really need is not more rhetoric,” Bolton said. “What we need is performance from North Korea on denuclearisation.”

Kim and Trump promised to work to end North Korea’s weapons programs at their summit in Singapore, but the two countries have been struggling to reach a detailed accord to meet that goal.

Pyongyang’s state media has highlighted it has made goodwill gestures, such as a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests, the dismantling of a nuclear site, and the return of the remains of US soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War.

It has urged Washington to take reciprocal steps including officially declaring an end to the war and dropping sanctions.

Satellite images from last Friday indicate North Korea has carried out additional activities to dismantle a key missile launch facility, the Washington-based 38 North think-tank said on Tuesday.

Photos from last Friday showed recent work at the Sohae station to tear down an engine test stand and remove fuel and oxidiser tanks from bunkers, though the possibility can’t be ruled out that the North might be trying to modify the stand for other purposes.

Bolton said the United States has lived up to the Singapore declaration that followed the June 12 summit.

“It’s just North Korea that has not taken the steps we feel are necessary to denuclearise,” Bolton said.

He said the relaxation of any sanctions was not under consideration.

Asked about the possibility of additional meetings, Bolton said Trump in a recent letter to Kim proposed sending Pompeo back to North Korea, and that Trump was ready to meet with Kim any time. The letter was handed to North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho during the weekend.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has caused international tension for decades and the rhetoric and threats from Kim and Trump had been especially hostile before their June meeting.

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