Monthly Archives: May 2019

Mark and Gino Stocco, who were captured on a property where Rosario Cimone’s body was also located. Photo: NSW Police Mark and Gino Stocco under arrest near Dunedoo. Photo: NSW Police
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Mark Stocco at Dubbo police station. Photo: Channel Nine

Father and son bush fugitives Gino, 58, and Mark, 36, Stocco stripped a farm caretaker naked after murdering him and hid the body under bushes to “cover their tracks” during an extraordinary time on the run, a court has heard.

The notorious pair evaded authorities for eight years and shot at officers during a dramatic 12-day chase across NSW and Victoria.

The pursuit ended when they were arrested on Pinevale, a remote property at Elong Elong in Dunedoo, 45 kilometres east of Dubbo, in October 29, 2015.

The badly decomposed body of Rosario Cimone, 68, the caretaker of the property, was found after their arrest.

Dramatic dashcam footage played at a sentencing hearing in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday showed the moment the Stoccos fired at police during a pursuit near Wagga Wagga on October 16, sending plumes of dust into the air.

“Urgent! Urgent! Urgent! Shots are fired! Shots are fired!” an officer yells as his car hastily reverses away from the Stoccos.

About five minutes later, the pair shot at Senior Constable Matthew Shaw during another pursuit. He also reversed away before pursuing them for a further 40 minutes.

He told the court on Friday he couldn’t forgive himself for losing the Stoccos during the pursuit and allowing them to then potentially harm others.

“It took a long time to get over what happened,” he said in a victim impact statement.

Mr Cimone’s children also gave a victim impact statement and wept as they described their ongoing nightmares and flashbacks about the way their father, a “gentle giant”, was killed.

The family, from western Sydney, had reported him missing three weeks earlier.

Mr Cimone had well-known Mafia links and the Pinevale property was being used to cultivate marijuana.

“The state of his body was so extremely … decomposed we were unable to identify him,” daughter Maria Perre told the court on Friday.

“We would never even have the opportunity to see our dad the last time and say goodbye, to tell him that we loved him and to share with him all the things we wanted to share with him but hadn’t.”

Her sister, Vincenza Nasso, sat beside her weeping and her brother, Phillip Cimone, stood behind the women staring at the Stoccos before mouthing “dogs” and saying “this will never be forgotten”.

The court heard that the Stoccos’ probable motivation for killing Mr Cimone was frustration and anger at being told to leave the property, an extremely remote and rugged plot.

The pair had worked as farm hands for a short period in September 2015 and were angry because they had nowhere else to go at a time when police were closing in on them, the court heard.

They also claimed Mr Cimone made some threats towards them and had a gun.

Prosecutor Wayne Creasey, SC, said the pair shot Mr Cimone on October 7 then stole the boots off his feet and a small amount of money on him before taking various items from his home to “give the appearance that he just left the property and was a missing person”.

It’s possible that others working on the site may not have reported anything to police because of the nature of the property’s function, he said.

As Gino held a gun at Mr Cimone, he suggested to his son that they only tie him up however Mark was “the dominant partner” and insisted on killing him, the court heard.

Mr Creasey said it was hard to explain why the pair turned fugitives and descended into a period of “lawlessness”.

They had a relatively small criminal record, had no mental health issues and no alcohol or drug use.

“They appeared to have lost their moral compass from being on the run for what were originally minor offences,” Judge David Davies said.

Gino Stocco later told a doctor their behaviour “snowballed out of control”.

At the height of their run from police, they returned to Pinevale in an attempt to hide but were found by police after a member of the public saw their ute in the nearby Goonoo State Forest.

It was only after their arrest on October 29, 2015, that police found the badly decomposed body of Mr Cimone.

The Stoccos built a sinister yet bizarre reputation as they ran amok through rural areas along the country’s east coast for eight years.

They carried out moonlight raids to steal goods, went on vandalism sprees, stank “like a pair of polecats” and lived off the grid with no phones, licences, bank accounts or friends.

They pleaded guilty last year to murder, destroying a farmer’s shed and belongings by fire in 2014 and two counts of shooting to evade arrest.

The pair pleaded guilty to several offences last year and will be sentenced in March.

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Saturday’s Flemington meeting will be the third metropolitan race program in three days and trainer Darren Weir still remains the major player.
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After successes right through the week Weir is again poised to have a strong influence on the nine-race fixture.

In the Kensington Stakes the trainer will be represented with Flamberge, Hellbent and El Divino.

Bookmakers reacted quickly to the reappearance to racing of Hellbent (Race 7, No.4) by installing the sprinting talent at $1.65.

“I’m very happy with him and his ultimate autumn goal will be the Oakleigh Plate later in the autumn,” Weir said.

Oh brother

However, while Hellbent may be favourite for the listed event, no doubt the appearance in Melbourne of the all-conquering Winx’s little brother El Divino (Race 7, No.8) will draw much interest at headquarters.

El Divino was formerly prepared by Gai Waterhouse but connections of the colt believe a training regime at the beach, which Weir can supply at Warrnambool, is the best tactic for the horse going forward.

A Randwick winner early in his career, El Divino, arguably the best-bred horse at the meeting, has drawn gate one and will be aided by having Damien Oliver on board for his Victorian debut.

Poised to strike

Saturday’s Inglis Dash, worth $250,000, looks to be the toughest of all races programmed over the Australia Day week.

With all of the runners graduates from Inglis Sales, bookmakers have installed Fuhryk (Race 6, No.15) as the nominal favourite following his amazing strike-rate of four racetrack appearances for three wins.

Successes at Wodonga and twice at Moonee Valley have labelled the filly a high-class sprinter of the future.

Final chance

Sydney trainer Chris Waller looks poised to win the final race at Flemington with Hipparchus (Race 9, No.3).

The stayer looks well placed here after his remarkable effort to finish second after being so far back at Moonee Valley last time.

The 1800 metres looks ideal and the bigger and more spacious Flemington will also be on his side.

Autumn previews

And it would seem two high-class horses who will race in Adelaide and Sydney on Saturday could well have a hand in major autumn assignments in the next month or so.

Strategic Demand (Race 3, No.4) is poised to make it four in a row in the Sprint Handicap at Morphettville and another success could bring the five-year-old over the border for some rich pickings in Melbourne.

At Rosehill, Music Magnate is all the rage for his return to racing in the $200,000 Expressway Stakes.

Having only his 14th race start, Music Magnate is already a Group 1 winner. He has trialled brilliantly of late and a successful return is very much expected.

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The ringleader of the Ultranet scandal, former education department deputy secretary Darrell Fraser. Photo: Luis Enrique AscuiEducation Department officials wasted up to $240 million of taxpayers’ money during a corrupt tender process for a school IT project, Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog has concluded.
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The officials could now faces criminal charges over the “appalling waste” following a lengthy investigation by the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission.

The Ultranet project promised to deliver an online platform that connected teachers, parents and students, but was plagued by technical issues and rarely used after its rollout by the former state Labor government in 2010.

In a long-awaited report tabled in state parliament on Friday, IBAC found that department officials purchased shares in CSG – the company awarded the Ultranet project – influenced the tender process and accepted inappropriate gifts from suppliers including flights and lavish dinners.

“The willingness of some senior leaders in the department to deceive has resulted in the waste of millions of dollars of public money,” the report said.

It follows revelations by Fairfax Media in 2014 that four senior senior education department officials bought shares or took jobs with CSG.

Operation Dunham, an IBAC investigation into the alleged misconduct, found that former regional director John Allman purchased shares in CSG knowing it would likely win the lucrative contract.

His colleague, former regional director Ron Lake, bought $100,000 in CSG shares while on the Ultranet board. Former regional director Wayne Craig and his wife purchased 6000 CSG shares after the company won the contract.

“The behaviour suggests that at least some used confidential information to which they were exposed in the course of their work for private gain,” the report said.

The man who spearheaded the Ultranet project, former deputy secretary Darrell Fraser, used $1 million of department money to “corruptly inject funds into CSG to ensure it had sufficient cash flow to properly deliver the Ultranet project”, IBAC found.

It said Mr Fraser – a former principal at Glen Waverley Secondary College – was “instrumental in manipulating procurement processes to ensure the Ultranet contract was awarded to the CSG/Oracle consortium – companies with whom he had a longstanding relationship”.

He also tried to influence the tender evaluation by ‘stacking’ an assessment team with like-minded colleagues. Mr Fraser also spent thousands of dollars of department funds on expensive dinners and alcohol.

In 2011, Mr Fraser resigned as deputy secretary and took up a senior job with CSG.

The watchdog heard that despite repeated warnings from consultants and probity officers that the CSG bid was high risk, the contract went ahead.

“IBAC found decisions were made that were contrary to proper procurement process – in particular, the unreasoned and inexplicable decision to give singular preference to CSG, despite serious concerns about its commercial credentials in the relevant area.

Ultranet was launched in August, 2010 at an event which became known as “The Big Day Out” and cost a staggering $1.4 million.

A video of the event shows singers and dancers performing to a remixed version of Madonna’s Material Girl: “We are living in a virtual world and I am an Ultranet girl”.

The scandal is a major embarrassment for the Labor government, which pledged to deliver Ultranet at the 2006 state election and considered it a legacy project. It was dumped by the former state Coalition government in 2013.

During the public hearings, former Education Minister Bronwyn Pike was snared in phone taps agreeing to secretly “chew the fat” over drinks with two ex department officials accused of corruption.

But the report cleared her of any wrongdoing, saying her enthusiasm for the project “never gave tacit approval to any person to do anything outside of those proper processes or to act with anything other than complete integrity”.

Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling said the government needed to reassure parents that education funding would be spent on improving literacy and numeracy. 

Education Minister James Merlino said that Victorian families had a right to feel angy and let down by the department.

He said the department had introduced reforms which would stamp out corruption by improving procurement processes, auditing and financial training for schools. 

Education Department secretary Gill Callister said that the behaviour exposed by IBAC was “completely unacceptable”.

“I hope that this signals the closure of a dark chapter in this department’s history,” she said. 

“Many people within the department and our school communities will feel greatly let down by the people they were entitled to trust.”

Senior executives implicated in the scandal have been either sacked or resigned, she said.

IBAC is seeking advice from the Office of Public Prosecutions about whether criminal charges can be pursued. It has recommended the Victorian Public Sector Commission look at banning public servants from receiving gifts or benefits from prospective suppliers.

This is IBAC’s second major investigation into corruption in the Education Department. It recently charged former education department official Nino Napoli for his involvement in an alleged scam that swindled $6 million from state schools.

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Key focus areas: Liberal candidate for Collie-Preston Elysia Harverson will focus on job creation, families, and community safety if she wins the state election in March. Photo: Shannon Wood. Liberal candidate for Collie-Preston Elysia Harverson has pledgedto focus on job creation, families, and community safety if elected in the upcoming state election.
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MrsHarverson said she had identified the three key focus areas through feedback from the community.

“I have done a lot of door knocking and a lot of community engagementand quite a few forums and they are the things that have been identified by me that people want us to cover,” she said.

“I think Colliecan play a lot when it comes to jobs,we need to look at diversifying the economywhich I think everyone says because that’s what needs to be done.”

Mrs Harversonsaid investing in technology for the coal industry would be something she supports. “Our emissions target is not as high as Labor’s, so we won’t be looking at closing down the power stations like they will be,” she said.

“The fact that Labor are proposing a solar plant is a big indication to methat they planto close the power stations down and create a solar farm, which is a big concern because there are hundreds of jobs in a coal fired power station.

“We have so much coal, there’s 50 years of coal left I think coal is where it’s at, I think we need to invest in looking at different technology for coal.”

MrsHarverson said, if elected,she would make community safety a top priority.

“In terms of families, one of the things for families is that they want to feel safeand that means making sure our police are properly resourced and that they are doing regular patrols,” she said.

Investing in local tourism is an area that MrsHarverson said she would strive for if elected to the seat of Collie-Preston.

“Tourism is another potential and I think with tourism we need startup businesses in the area,” she said.

“We need to get Lake Kepwari opened, unfortunately there has been a lot of hold up with that but now that it has been handed over to the State Government hopefully we will start seeing some traction, and that will be something I will be fighting to deliver as soon as possible.

“I would also like to see investment at Stockton, Glen Mervyn, those two places in particular have been neglected.”

Improving facilities at Collie Senior High School, implementing a regional meth strategy and further funding for upgrades to Coalfields Highway are also areas Mrs Harverson has pledged her support for.

“I think that this electorate needs fresh vision and energy and I think I am the right person for that,” Mrs Harverson said.

“Collie is going through a real transitional period right now, and I see that as a real challenge. Now is our opportunity to see that we set ourselves up for the future.”

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