Katy Perry wins legal battle amid long-running convent saga

Posted November 19, 2017 00:46:01

A Los Angeles jury has awarded $US5 million ($AU6.6 million) to pop singer Katy Perry and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, after they found a restaurateur intentionally interfered with the singer’s attempts to buy a hilltop property that was once a convent.

The jury found that Dana Hollister should pay the Archdiocese $US3.47 million ($AU4.6 million) and Perry $US1.57 million ($AU2.1 million) for interference with contractual relations and other misdeeds.

The 33-year-old pop star has sought to buy the three-hectare property and its Roman-villa style buildings in the city’s Los Feliz neighbourhood for $US14.5 million ($A19.2 million), and to relocate an adjoining house of prayer used by priests. Her bid has the approval of Los Angeles’ archbishop.

But Ms Hollister stepped in and attempted to buy the property from two nuns who had lived there.

The Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary have owned the property for more than four decades, but they haven’t lived in the convent for several years.

Only five sisters, who are in their 70s and 80s, remain, and their order has bickered with the archbishop for years on various issues. They objected to the sale to Perry.

The nuns watched the “Roar” singer’s music videos and met with her, but that only hardened their opposition to her turning their convent into her home.

A judge voided the sale to Ms Hollister earlier this year, saying the Archdiocese had the right to sell the property, not the nuns.

The jury found that Ms Hollister’s actions led to Perry and the Archdiocese having to pay exorbitant lawyer fees and other costs, which Ms Hollister should get the bill for.

Her lawyer Michael Geibelson said in court that she thought she had a correct and legal contract, and intended no harm.

“I don’t think Dana Hollister did anything wrong as to either of these parties,” Mr Geibelson said during the trial.

Perry and the archdiocese are still working out the terms of the sale. The archdiocese needs permission from the Vatican to finalise it.

The trial moves to a second phase in December, when the jury will decide if Ms Hollister should pay punitive damages.


Topics: courts-and-trials, catholic, music, united-states

Vince Colosimo avoids jail after driving while on ice

Updated November 03, 2017 12:48:57

Vince Colosimo has avoided jail for driving while on the drug ice, but the Australian actor has lost his licence and been fined.

Colosimo, 50, had a suspended licence when he was caught behind the wheel after taking the drug.

He admitted to the offences during a hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard police stopped Colosimo’s car on Exhibition Street in Melbourne’s CBD in March.

They discovered he had methylamphetamine in his system and was serving a six-month suspension for demerit points.

The magistrate said it was the third time Colosimo had been caught driving on a suspended licence.

He fined the actor $3,500 and banned him from driving for five months.

Colosimo is known for stage and screen roles including in Underbelly and The Wog Boy.

Topics: courts-and-trials, crime, law-crime-and-justice, community-and-society, drugs-and-substance-abuse, arts-and-entertainment, melbourne-3000, vic

First posted November 03, 2017 12:47:47

Freddy Krueger a ‘father figure’ says woman accused of teen’s murder

Updated October 26, 2017 17:46:06

One of two women accused of murdering Perth teenager Aaron Pajich saw the character Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street horror movies as “a father figure”, WA’s Supreme Court has heard.

The revelation came during 26-year-old Jemma Lilley’s third day in the witness box at the Supreme Court trial she is facing with her former housemate, 43-year-old Trudi Lenon.

The two women are charged with murdering Mr Pajich in June last year.

During cross examination by Ms Lenon’s lawyer, Helen Prince, Ms Lilley was shown a letter she had sent to Robert Englund, the actor who played the character, when she was 24.

A part of it read to the court said “As strange as it may seem, I’ve always seen Freddy as a father figure — Papa Freddy.”

“Everything is perfect in the world if I get to hug Freddy.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

When questioned about it, Ms Lilley said that as a six-year-old child, after she had seen the movie A Nightmare on Elm Street, she saw Freddy Krueger as her “protector” and her “guardian angel.”

She said “in her mind at that time”, she would “rather have someone” who she knew could defend her.

Ms Lilley also said she had a tattoo on her leg that was the signature of Englund.

Serial killer ‘fantasy’

Earlier she rejected the suggestion that handwritten notes found on her phone were part of a plan to make her fantasy of being a serial killer a reality.

The notes talked about “being different”, “faking emotions”, “darkness”, fighting the urges to “slaughter, to tear, to stab, to strangle” and “watching the life drain from the eyes.”

Ms Prince put it to Ms Lilley that she had put the notes into practice on June 13 last year, by attacking Mr Pajich with a garotte and a knife as he sat at her kitchen table.

“Your fantasy world that you’d been creating since you were 16 was becoming real to you?” Ms Prince asked

“No it wasn’t.” Ms Lilley replied.

She maintained the notes were fiction, and part of the work she was doing on a trilogy of books she was writing about a serial killer called “SOS”.

“This is the thoughts of SOS. This is fictional work. I didn’t kill anyone.”

Ms Lilley has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and has testified she was asleep in a bedroom when Ms Lenon “must have killed” Mr Pajich.

But Ms Lenon has also denied murdering him, claiming Ms Lilley was the killer and she just helped clean up.

Topics: courts-and-trials, murder-and-manslaughter, horror-films, perth-6000, wa

First posted October 26, 2017 17:37:03

Photographer refused bail on alleged rape, assault of models

Posted October 19, 2017 11:41:34

A Newcastle photographer has been refused bail on multiple charges relating to an alleged series of serious sexual assaults of models during photo shoots.

Allan Todd Cameron, 54, of Gateshead, appeared in Newcastle Local Court on Thursday charged with 17 offences including eight courts of sexual intercourse without consent, three counts of inciting a person 16 years or over to commit act of indecency and two counts of procuring a person, who is not a prostitute, for prostitution.

NSW police said they began investigating complaints against the man after a 19-year-old woman complained she was sexually assaulted during a photography session at a studio in June.

Officers seized a computer containing more than 300,000 images — a number of which were sexually explicit — which led them to two further women.

Police inspector Steve Gallagher said those two women, both now aged 25, also alleged they were assaulted during photo sessions in 2012 and 2017.

In applying for bail, Mr Cameron’s lawyer Mark Evans said his client had no criminal history and had strong ties to the community.

Mr Cameron runs a photographic business called Primeval Edge. On his website, he said “the styles which capture my interest currently include Casual Fashion, Bikini, Pin Up, Lingerie, and Glamour [sic]”.

“I’m currently looking for challenging concepts that push my creative boundaries,” the website said.

“I am not looking to work with Diva’s [sic]. If your [sic] not about hard work while having fun and more about being as difficult as possible to get along with, look somewhere else.”

The court heard his business had been shut down because to his equipment was seized by police.

Magistrate Ian Cheetham rejected the bail application and said “individually and combined, the facts are very serious crimes”.

Police said any other women who believe they have been assaulted by the photographer should not be afraid to come forward.

“If anyone is out there who thinks that they have information … or they may indeed be a victim, they should contact Lake Macquarie detectives or Crime Stoppers and we will be very keen to speak with them,” Inspector Gallagher said.

Mr Cameron is due to face court again in December.

Topics: law-crime-and-justice, courts-and-trials, photography, pornography, newcastle-2300, nsw

Ghosts, unicorns and killers: Five things you may not expect from one of WA’s oldest buildings

Posted October 14, 2017 10:22:43

WA’s Supreme Court has convicted some of the State’s most infamous criminals over the past century, but did you know an Aboriginal woman apparently haunts the building?

Or that a unicorn in chains looks down from above the seat where the judge presides?

On Sunday the courthouse, built in 1903, will open its doors to the public in an effort to engage with the wider community and educate people about the judicial system.

The building’s criminal court has convicted thousands of people over more than a century, including notorious Perth couple Catherine and David Birnie, who killed four women in the 1980s, and businessman Alan Bond.

But what secrets has the old building kept hidden over the many years?

A kangaroo court?

Sitting above the building, and above each judge in the building’s three courts, is the full British coat of arms.

The crest depicts a crowned lion on one side, representing England, while a unicorn in chains, representing Scotland, is on the other.

According to legend, a free unicorn was considered a very dangerous beast, which is why the mythical creature is chained.

Chief Justice Wayne Martin, who has presided over the Supreme Court for the past 11 years, said the crest – which has the French phrase “Dieu et mon droit” (God and my right) – was maintained in the building because of its heritage value.

“At the time this building was built it was thought that the authority for all the judges came from the monarch,” he said.

“Whereas today we accept the authority comes from the state of Western Australia, and so in our modern court buildings we sit under our state crest, which has the kangaroos on it.

“Which is good, because when anybody complains that it’s a kangaroo court we can say, ‘of course it is, look at the crest behind us’.”

Walking in criminal footsteps

Chief Justice Martin said the open day provided an opportunity to get an insight into the court’s operation, with access made available to otherwise restricted areas.

Visitors will also be given the chance to follow in the footsteps of some of WA’s worst criminals, and walk the stairs from the holding cells up to the dock.

“The last man who was executed in Western Australia, Mr Eric Cooke, was convicted here and sentenced here and ultimately executed, and many of the other more notorious criminals of the earlier part of the last century were also dealt with here,” Chief Justice Martin said.

“I’m sure it would have been a very frightening experience for many of the people who’ve had to walk down those stairs after being sentenced to a long term of imprisonment, or perhaps to death.”

Ghost stories

The building’s darker side has been an ongoing source of fascination for visitors, the Chief Justice said.

“There have been a lot of stories about ghosts in the basement,” he said.

“We have security 24/7 so people who work here still maintain those stories, they hear clunks in the middle of the night,” he said.

“There’s supposed to be the ghost of an old Aboriginal lady living in the cellar.

“We did have some ghost hunters in, [but] they weren’t able to find anything, unfortunately.”

Prisoners on the loose

In 2004 nine prisoners overpowered security guards and made a dash for freedom from the heritage building.

The men — all classified maximum or medium security prisoners with offences ranging from armed robbery and aggravated burglary to assaulting a police officer — were in the holding cells when the breakout took place on the morning of June 10.

“As a consequence of that escape … a significant amount of money was spent improving the custody arrangements in the cells,” Chief Justice Martin said.

“We now have much more secure arrangements in our cells than we did prior to that tragic event.”

Both the building and the judiciary it serves have undergone a number of upgrades and changes.

Designed by well-known colonial architect John Grainger, the court was built before electricity was readily available.

Multiple large windows for natural light are in each room, as are fireplaces in every corner.

“One of the jobs of the judge’s orderly was to stoke the fire during the course of proceedings during winter, to make sure people didn’t get too cold,” Chief Justice Martin said.

Horse’s hair ditched

Technology has meant many changes, with full digitisation expected either late this year or early next year, while the appearance of judges has also evolved.

Traditional robes, which some compared to looking like Father Christmas, have been replaced by plain black robes, and in 2008 wigs were abandoned

“The removal of the wigs was an important, symbolic step in showing that the courts are vibrant, contemporary, Australian institutions, rather than antiquated European institutions,” he said.

There was also an added bonus for ditching the head attire.

“The wigs are made from hair of the tail of a horse,” he said.

“And if you think about where the tail of the horse is anatomically — well, enough said.”

The Supreme Court will be open to the public between 11am and 3pm on Sunday October 15.

Topics: courts-and-trials, architecture, judges-and-legal-profession, perth-6000

Rebel Wilson’s massive defamation win is an opportunity for publishers and readers

By Alana Schetzer

Posted September 14, 2017 16:52:54

Australia’s tabloid magazines received a massive blow when Rebel Wilson was awarded a whopping $4.5 million in damages over a series of articles in 2015 that were found to be defamatory.

But it’s also an opportunity for publishers and readers to say goodbye to an out-moded product.

The sheer size of the payout — which could be the subject of an appeal — sets a legal and social precedent in what magazines cannot get away with printing about people. In this case, a jury decided that Woman’s Day had damaged Wilson’s career with “a campaign designed to cast a slur on Ms Wilson, that would attract interest”.

The question now is how will magazines such as Woman’s Day, NW, New Idea and others respond to this? Will they keep exaggerating stories and using dodgy, anonymous sources or will they change tactics in order to avoid such stiff consequences again?

The holy trinity of gossip

Many gossip magazines are built on the premise of untruths and exaggerated tales, especially around the holy trinity of marriage, babies and divorce.

They buy photos from paparazzi photographers and build a narrative around that image.

Did a famous actor took grumpy while they’re eating at a cafe with their boyfriend? Must be relationship troubles!

Has a singer been snapped after eating a meal and looks a bit bloated? She must be eating for two!

Trust isn’t a factor

While many are predicting that the tabloid industry will now need to straighten up and stop printing falsehoods and stories built on flimsy premises and dodgy sources, that is not necessarily the case.

Trust has never been an ingredient needed for gossip magazine success; readers are often well aware that what they are reading is at the very least exaggerations and hyperbole, and Wilson’s win doesn’t change that.

Instead, readers will need to decide whether they want to continue to support an industry that profits off harming people’s reputations, career opportunities and relationship stability.

As long as people keep buying these magazines, it will be considered an endorsement of their actions. After all, aren’t they just supplying what their audience demands?

Money talks for cash-strapped companies

What could change the industry is money. Wilson’s payout is the biggest in Australian legal history; it is an eye-watering sum for the Australian magazine industry.

Wilson v Bauer

Such a hefty payout could have been absorbed by a magazine company’s equally hefty wallets a few years ago, but magazines are now struggling. A flux of title closures, staff redundancies and other cost cuts has removed the financial cushion needed to soften the blow of some of their more reckless actions.

Bauer Media, the German owner of Woman’s Day, has already had to drastically cut staff and use more content from its overseas publications following a drop in sales across most of its titles. It can ill-afford to have further defamation cases brought against it.

If it doesn’t make financial sense for a magazine to print nonsense, this could bring about a significant change in editorial approach.

Take Who for example, a tabloid magazine published by Pacific Magazines, but which has a editorial policy of not publishing known falsehoods or sleazy photographs. A recent Roy Morgan survey of magazine sales reveal that Who is performing better than Woman’s Day in terms of readership loss, but only by a tiny margin.

Struggling to keep up with online

Many former tabloid magazine readers have ditched print in favour for online gossip in recent years. Online, stories are instant and by the time a magazine is printed days later they are likely to be woefully out-out-date.

The need for fresh stories and angles in this hyper-competitive market could be a significant driving force for the creative licence used by these magazines.

Wilson is far from the first celebrity or high-profile person who’s been targeted by a tabloid magazine, having lies printed about their private lives.

TV presenter Fifi Box and actress Bec Hewitt are regular targets on the front pages of these magazines, an appearance they neither seek nor are happy with. On numerous occasions, these women have publicly called out the fake stories that are printed about them. But this didn’t stop readers from buying these magazines or reading other gossip online.

And if Wilson’s resounding win and record payout isn’t incentive enough for the tabloids to change their ways, what will it take?

Alana Schetzer is a freelance writer.

Topics: courts-and-trials, law-crime-and-justice, print-media, information-and-communication, arts-and-entertainment, melbourne-3000, australia

George Calombaris’s assault of A-League fan ‘a serious crime’

Posted September 08, 2017 13:30:05

Celebrity chef George Calombaris thought a teenager was insulting his mother when he assaulted him after the A-League grand final in May, a court has heard.

Calombaris, who appears in Channel Ten reality TV show Masterchef, was due to be sentenced today for assaulting the 19-year-old Sydney FC fan in the stands of the Sydney Football Stadium.

However, Downing Centre Local Court magistrate David Price declined to pass sentence without the assistance of a pre-sentence report.

Mr Price said the assault took place in public and was a “serious crime”.

“The accused pointed at the victim and said ‘you’re a big-mouthed man you dodgy c***’,” Mr Price said.

“He then punched him in the lower abdomen.”

The 38-year-old pleaded guilty to common assault via his lawyer last month after video emerged of him confronting the fan, then being ushered away by police.

In the video, Calombaris shakes his Melbourne Victory scarf at the victim, who was yelling abuse.

Calombaris then approached the man and shoved him in the chest.

His lawyer, Pat Conaghan said Calombaris thought the teenager was insulting his mother.

“He expressed that he believed the victim had called his mother a c*** and took offence to that,” Mr Conaghan said.

He asked the court to impose community service.

“For someone with no prior offences, this is on the low end of the criminal calendar,” he said.

But Mr Price disagreed and ordered a pre-sentence report in order, which would highlight any extenuating circumstances that could impact the sentence.

Calombaris will be sentenced in six weeks.

Some restaurant staff still not paid entitlements

Meanwhile, Calombaris’s restaurant empire has been criticised for failing to meet a deadline to back pay former staff who were underpaid and did not receive their entitlements.

In April, Calombaris apologised after 162 of his company Made Establishment Group’s 430 employees — including staff at his Melbourne restaurants The Press Club, Gazi and Hellenic Republic — were short-changed a total of $2.6 million.

On Thursday, the company released a statement that said former staff were still waiting for payments.

“We understand the frustration of our former employees and have apologised for our past poor systems and processes that resulted in employees not being paid their full entitlements under the award. We are committed to resolving this as quickly as possible,” it said.

“We have also taken action to try and speed up the process and reduce delays. We have employed additional resources to help in calculating and reconciling the entitlements, some of which go back six years.

“Each week we continue to process payments of claims from former employees.”

A spokeswoman for the Fair Work Ombudsman said it was understood the majority of wage reconciliations for former employees had been completed.

However, those that remain outstanding have taken longer than expected to complete.

“While we appreciate that large-scale reconciliations can take considerable time and resources, we do not believe it is reasonable for former employees to have to wait this long to receive wages owed to them,” the spokeswoman said.

Topics: courts-and-trials, law-crime-and-justice, sport, food-and-cooking, television, sydney-2000