Man charged by Strike Force Trawler over alleged online child exploitation

A man has been charged following an investigation by Strike Force Trawler detectives into the alleged online procurement of a child for sex.

In July 2018, detectives from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad’s Child Exploitation Internet Unit (CEIU) began engaging online with a man from the Hunter region.

Police will allege in court that the man believed he was speaking with a 14-year-old girl and engaged in highly-sexualised conversations and made arrangements to meet with the child for sex.

Following extensive investigations, a 42-year-old man was arrested by strike force detectives in a shopping centre carpark at Salamander Bay, about 10am yesterday (Thursday 18 October 2018).

Shortly after the arrest, a search warrant was executed at a Tanilba Bay home, where investigators seized two laptops, and an electronic storage device.

The man was taken to Raymond Terrace Police Station and charged with use carriage service to procure person under 16 years for sex.

He was refused bail to appear at Raymond Terrace Local Court later today (Friday 19 October 2018).

Investigations are continuing.

Strike Force Trawler is an ongoing investigation by the CEIU into the sexual abuse and exploitation of children facilitated through the internet and related telecommunications devices.

Regular covert online investigations are conducted by the CEIU; and police in NSW work closely with their law-enforcement colleagues interstate and overseas.

Anyone with information about internet predators should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page:

Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. We remind people they should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Man charged with murder following disappearance of Leisl Smith – Wallarah

A man has been arrested over the disappearance of Leisl Smith, who went missing from the Central Coast in 2012.

Leisl Smith, then aged 23, was last seen about 1pm on Sunday 19 August 2012, leaving her Wallarah home.

Concerned family members alerted police when she failed to return home and she could not be located or contacted.

Extensive searches were conducted for Leisl; however, police have been unable to locate her.

Strike Force Wehl – comprising detectives from Tuggerah Lakes Police District – was subsequently formed to investigate her disappearance.

Leisl’s car, a Honda Accord, was found abandoned at the Tuggerah Railway Station car park on Wednesday 26 September 2012.

Strike Force detectives spoke to a then 42-year-old man before searching two properties in Wallarah and Brookfield on Thursday 4 April 2013, seizing a number of items.

Further properties were searched bordering the Golden Highway at Merriwa, approximately 60km west of Scone, in the upper Hunter Valley.

The investigation has been ongoing since this time.

About 5.10pm (Thursday 18 October 2018), detectives from Tuggerah Lakes Police District

arrested a 48-year-old man on the Gwydir Highway, west of Inverell.

He was taken to Inverell Police Station where he was charged with murder.

He was refused bail and will appear in Inverell Local Court on Friday 19 October 2018.

OMCG member faces further charges over Cooks Hill shooting

A member of the Nomads Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMCG) has been charged over a shooting at Cooks Hill in July.

About 2.20am on Wednesday 25 July 2018, police were contacted following reports of a public place shooting on Darby Street, Cooks Hill.

Officers from Newcastle City Police District attended and located bullet holes in the exterior of an apartment block. No one was injured.

A crime scene was established and examined by specialist forensic officers.

Detectives from the Criminal Groups Squad’s Strike Force Raptor North commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

On Friday 27 July 2018, a 42-year-old man was charged with multiple firearms offences following the search of a home in Cooks Hill.

Following further investigations, today (Thursday 18 July 2018), an additional charge of discharging firearm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm was added to his charges at court.

He is next due to appear before Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday 24 October 2018.

Detectives investigate sexual assault of girl – Lake Macquarie

Police will address the media after launching an investigation into the reported sexual assault of a teenage girl in the Hunter region yesterday.

About 3.30pm (Wednesday 17 October 2018), a 14-year-old girl alighted a bus on the Pacific Highway near South Street, Windale, and walked along Yertala Close before entering scrubland, where she was approached by an unknown man armed with a knife.

The girl was dragged into the bushes and sexually assaulted. The man then ran from the scene and is believed to have driven away in a silver vehicle.

Police were notified after the girl reported the incident when she arrived home.

Emergency services attended the girl’s home before she was taken by NSW Ambulance paramedics to John Hunter Hospital for examination. She has returned home into the care of her family.

Detectives from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad and Lake Macquarie Police District have established Strike Force Kielpa to investigate the incident.

A crime scene has been established off the Pacific Highway, near South Street, which is currently being examined by specialist forensic officers.

Local police are also conducting a high-visibility policing operation throughout the area to complement investigative strategies.

The man has been described as being aged in his 30s or 40s, with a heavy build, a large belly and legs, a prominent nose and lips. He was last seen wearing a black hooded jumper, long dark-coloured pants, and white sneakers.

Investigators are urging anyone who may have been in the Windale area yesterday afternoon and noticed something suspicious to contact police.

In particular, they are seeking dash-cam vision from motorists who may have been travelling on the Pacific Highway or South Street between 3pm and 4pm to provide copies either to Belmont Police Station or upload it through the Crime Stoppers online reporting page.

Lambton kids link centuries through time capsule

LAMBTON’s Mia Witherdin, 4, hopes to convince onlookers at a local war memorial in 100 years’ time that coins, USB sticks and newspapers actually once served a purpose.

The items will be among a host of contemporary curiosities buried this Saturday as part of a time capsule to replace another by left by unsung heroes from the Great War a century ago.


St John’s Primary School students Remy Whitson, 9 and Elliot Guest, 9 with Mia Witherdin, 4 (middle).

“Thank you for putting that time capsule in the ground a long time ago and another one this Saturday,” says Mia, who may well live to address the 22nd century event to unearth the new capsule.

While 140 Lambton men were off fighting World War One, a number of their wives, mothers and sisters formed the Lambton Ladies Committee to raise money to pay for Lambton Park’s Memorial Gates.

Their makeshift time capsule, buried in a bottle beneath the gates a few weeks before armistice, is the only such World War One commemoration in Australia.

When recently unearthed, a newspaper reporting the declaration of war and decaying pennies were found inside.

The 100-year-old bottle was painstakingly dug up – and the new time capsule prepared – to officially salute the 30 visionary women who together mourned 27 local men who didn’t return from the war.

“Saturday’s event will be a community celebration of a resilient group of women with enough spirit and foresight to leave us a link to that disastrous time for the world and the defining event of their lives,” Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“Everyone in the Hunter is invited to turn out to be part of an important piece of local history.

“The City of Newcastle unanimously resolved to help excavate and replace the time capsule by supporting the project with around $60,000 in funds and in-kind support, and Ward 3 Councillors Rufo, Clausen, Winney-Baartz and I will be there on Saturday as very proud representatives of the City.”

Time-Capsule-Photo-4-inside.jpgLord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes pictured with Elder Street Early Childhood Centre students Lucas Wang, 5, and Mia Witherdin, 4. 

Descendants of the Ladies Committee will attend the celebration together with Sydney man John Estell. He will bring the engraved golden trowel his great grandfather, then the local state member, used to lay the foundation stone.

Scores of local kids – Mia among them – will also be there after receiving commemorative medallions from Hunter Development Corporation to encourage them to return in 2118.

The centenarians will then be charged with explaining the contents of the second time capsule, which was built with 21st century smarts, including high-grade stainless steel and an air filter.

“Once closed and sealed, inert argon gas will be pumped into the 26-litre box through one of two valves to avoid mould and oxidation,” City of Newcastle heritage specialist Tom Smith said. “The other one will be used to expel any impure air.”

Lambton community historian Robert Watson said archaeologists, volunteers and a stone mason recently took around nine hours to exhume the old time capsule.

“The whole excavation was a painstaking process because underneath the foundation stone was solid a block on concrete with the glass bottle inside,” he said.

“The rolled-up newspaper was pretty damp and in a bad state of decay and we could barely read anything on a penny because of the corrosion.”

The new capsule will also contain:Golden-Trowel-(1).jpg

  • A letter from Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes
  • A letter from His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley
  • A letter/document from Newcastle Museum with a contemporary interpretation of World War One
  • A letter from Terri-Lee Darcy/Auntie Phyllis to consider Aboriginal cultural heritage and stories/family experiences
  • A contribution from Lambton Jaffas Football Club
  • A contribution from Lambton Swimming Pool
  • Photo of RSL guard of honour set against backdrop of the Gates
  • Photo and names of the Newcastle City councillors
  • Cr Rufo’s Council badge
  • A copy of the invite to the event
  • A USB stick with a copy of My Country video and VR package from 2018 NAIDOC Week and another containing photos of 1918 capsule and its retrieval
  • A copy of all 54 issues of The Lambton Local
  • A copy of the names of the Anzac Ladies Club’s members
  • RSL charter
  • Sonia Hornery – RSL book
  • Photos of pre and school kids – whole of school / preschool or classes
  • St Johns photo
  • Stamps and Armistice Commemorative coins from 2018
  • Photos documenting original time capsule from International Conservation Services
  • The Story of Lambton in Lambton book by Julie Keating
  • A street map of Lambton with current lot & DPs
  • Old RSL relic items – two bullet shell cones and the Lambton-New Lambton RSL Sub- Branch Constitution, 1938.
  • Current issue of coins.
  • Program from Lizottes
  • Music from This Land

Man charged over alleged indecent assault of young employee

A man has been charged after allegedly indecently assaulting a young employee at a Hunter region take-away shop.

Detectives from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad commenced an investigation earlier this week after receiving reports a teenage girl had been indecently assaulted while at work.

Following investigations, a 74-year-old man was arrested by detectives at a shop on Tarean Road, Karuah, just before 10am yesterday (Tuesday 16 October 2018).

He was taken to Raymond Terrace Police Station and charged with four counts of indecent assault-person under 16 years.

Police will allege in court that the girl was indecently assaulted on a number of occasions while working alone with her employer at a take-away store at Karuah.

The man was refused bail and appeared at Raymond Terrace Local Court yesterday, where he was formally refused bail to reappear at the same court on Tuesday 6 November 2018.

Investigations are continuing.


Australia Day Awards now open online

Nominations have opened for Newcastle’s 2019 Australia Day Awards.

Lord Mayor of Newcastle Nuatali Nelmes said the city was looking for inspirational role models to be nominated for Newcastle’s Citizen of the Year, Young Citizen of the Year and Community Group of the Year.

Traditional hard-copy nomination forms can be downloaded from City of Newcastle’s website and can also be completed and lodged online.


Mark Hughes receiving this year’s Citizenship Of The Year Award from The Lord Mayor.

“These awards recognise an individual’s or group’s outstanding achievements and contribution to the community for the past year,” Cr Nelmes said.

“This could be in the through arts, science, engineering, sports or any other field of endeavour. The aim is not just to award people with high profiles – we also want to hear about the quiet achievers who work tirelessly and often thanklessly to make the world a better place.”

Our current Citizen of the Year is Mark Hughes, whose Foundation has raised more than $1.75 million for brain cancer research.

Previous winners include Newcastle refugee advocate Sister Diana Santleben,  legendary athlete Kurt Fearnley, and former University of Newcastle Chancellor and clinical psychologist Professor Trevor Waring.

“Nominating someone is simple, so we want to see as many worthy people as possible nominated and considered for these annual awards,” Cr Nelmes said.

Nominees must be residents of the Newcastle local government area, except for Community Group of the Year which can be from outside the LGA in exceptional circumstances.

They must be Australian citizens and must be turning at least 16 years of age in 2018.

A panel of judges will consider each nomination on its merits, with the awards presented at a ceremony on Australia Day, 2019.

To access nomination forms go to Australia Day nominations

Man charged over allegedly grooming child online and meeting for sex

A man has been charged after allegedly grooming a teenage girl online and meeting with her for sex in the Hunter region.

Detectives from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad commenced an investigation following reports a 15-year-old girl had been sexually and indecently assaulted by a man she met online last month.

Police will allege in court that the pair met on a social media application designed for teenagers, where the man purported to be aged 17. They engaged in conversation before arranging to meet in person.

The man later advised he was aged 27, and the pair met in the Newcastle area on Saturday 29 September 2018, and allegedly had sex.

The incident was reported to local police last week before being referred to the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad for further investigation.

Following inquiries, detectives arrested a 35-year-old man at a home unit at Valentine about 7am yesterday (Monday 15 October 2018).

Shortly after the arrest, investigators executed a search warrant at the unit, before executing a crime scene warrant at a home at Whitebridge.

During the searches, police seized a number of items relevant to the investigation.

The man was taken to Belmont Police Station and charged with nine counts of sexual intercourse with person aged 14-16, two counts of indecent assault-person under 16, groom child for unlawful sexual activity, meet with child groomed for sexual activity, and use carriage service to plan for sex-person under 16.

He was refused bail and appeared at Toronto Local Court yesterday, where he was formally refused bail to reappear at the same court on Tuesday 30 October 2018.

Meanwhile, police are urging parents and carers to speak with their children about staying safe online.

Safe internet use – tips for parents:

• Be aware of how much time your child spends on the internet.

• Spend time talking to your child about the dangers associated with online conversations, particularly when communicating with someone that they have only ever met online.

• Spend time exploring the internet with your children and let them teach you about their favourite websites and applications.

• Keep computers or internet-enabled devices in a room the whole family can access, not in your child’s bedroom; monitor internet access on those devices.

• Consider installing filtering and/or computer blocking software provided by your internet service provider.

• Ensure you are able to access your child’s email and social media accounts and randomly check the contents.

• Check your phone bill for unusual outgoing calls and consider using ‘caller ID’ to identify incoming calls.

• Consult your telephone company for options designed to ensure privacy and security.

• Enquire with your child’s school, public library, and places they frequent to find out what internet safety measures they have in place.

• Information on internet safety is available on the NSW Police website at:

Tips for children:

• Do not send a picture of yourself to anyone you don’t know and never place a full profile and picture anywhere on the internet.

• Never give out your personal information, including full name, home address, phone number or school, over the internet.

• Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone that you have only ever chatted with on the internet.

• Tell your parents or another adult you know of any contact that makes you feel uncomfortable.

• Think carefully before uploading or sending images or videos to people over the internet. Once you press ‘send’ it’s definite and final – you can’t get it back or take it down.

• Information on youth issues, including online safety is available on the NSW Police website at:

More information and educational packages for parents and children are available from ThinkUKnow, a multi-agency program designed to educate and promote cyber safety:

The Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad is comprised of detectives who are specially trained to investigate matters against children and adults, including sexual assault, serious physical abuse, and extreme cases of neglect.

Anyone with concerns about suspected child abuse or exploitation should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page:

Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. People should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Newcastle win 2018 Netball NSW State Cup

The 2018 Netball NSW State Cup trophy is heading to the Hunter Region after Newcastle took out the title at the Genea Netball Centre over the weekend.

The competition, which brings the best Metro and Regional teams from across NSW together, was set up to determine the State’s best Association in the Opens age category.

Teams from the 2018 DOOLEYS Metro League and BING LEE Regional League took part with Newcastle the last team standing after two days of action: Saturday and Sunday, 13-14 October.

And it was a double celebration for Newcastle as they were also crowned the Inter-Regional State champions for being the highest-ranked Regional Association at the conclusion of the weekend.

In all, eight Associations from across NSW took part: Barellan & District, Hastings Valley, Hills District, Lismore, Newcastle, Northern Suburbs, Orange and Quirindi.

A total of 76 players took part over 40 games, with over 1800 goals scored.

Newcastle are a new name on the trophy after Northern Suburbs won the inaugural State Cup in 2016 and Hastings Valley took out last year’s title.

2018 State Cup Final Placings
Hills District
Northern Suburbs
Hastings Valley
Barellan & District

Police investigate armed robbery – Newcastle City

Police have commenced an investigation following the armed robbery of a bottle shop in Shortland yesterday.

Just after 6pm (Monday 15 October 2018), a 55-year-old woman was working at a bottle shop on Sandgate Road when a motorcycle pulled in.

The rider of the bike entered the store while his pillion passenger stayed with the bike.

A customer left the shop and the rider – still wearing his full-face helmet – removed a shortened double-barrel shotgun from his backpack and threatened the employee while demanding money from the register.

The employee complied with his demands and handed over a sum of cash.

The man left the store and was seen getting onto the back of the motorbike now being ridden by his accomplice.

The alarm was raised and officers from Newcastle City Police District attended and commenced inquiries.

Police have been told the armed man was wearing a black helmet, black jacket with blue jeans and a black backpack.

His accomplice was wearing a multi coloured Motocross style helmet with blue rimmed goggles with grey track pants and a grey hoodie.

Investigators would also like to speak with the customer who left the store just prior to the robbery.