Kodi Maybir punched boy in face, pogo stick murder trial hears

Kodi James Maybir is on trial over the death of a seven-year-old boy.​ A man accused of murdering a seven-year-old boy previously punched him hard in the face for running slowly during a “beep test”, a court has heard.
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Kodi James Maybir had been living in a relationship with the boy’s mother, Kayla James, who was convicted of her son’s manslaughter.

Mr Maybir, a Christian music producer, has pleaded not guilty to murder, arguing the boy’s 2013 death in a southern Sydney music studio was caused by a wrestling accident.

But the Crown alleges the fatal blow or blows to the head were deliberate and came after months of abuse.

Mr Maybir, the boy and James were holidaying at a Bulli campsite near Wollongong on the Easter long weekend in 2013, a little more than a month before the death.

Fellow camper Michael Comer told the NSW Supreme Court at Darlinghurst on Thursday that he had seen Mr Maybir and James running along the beach, holding the boy between them.

The boy was struggling to keep up and then they began to drag him, Mr Comer said.

“He fell face first down in the sand.”

Mr Comer told the court the boy was trying to stand when Mr Maybir picked up a piece of driftwood and beat the boy across the buttocks with it.

Mr Comer said he later saw Mr Maybir and the boy back at the campsite at a basketball court.

Mr Maybir was running lengths of the court, touching the ground at each end, encouraging the boy to do the same. The witness was reminded of a “beep test” in which the participant must do faster and faster laps.

The court heard that, when the boy slowed to a walk, Mr Maybir became aggressive.

The boy had fallen to the ground and was standing up when Mr Maybir “punched him right in the middle of the face”.

“It was a hard punch,” Mr Comer said. He reported the incidents to the police.

Mr Maybir’s barrister, Grant Brady, asked the witness whether it would be wrong to say the accused had tapped the boy on the forehead with an open palm, as if to say “Come on mate”.

The witness said that was not what happened.

Mr Maybir had become “infatuated” with the boy’s mother, inviting her and her family to live with him in his music studio, the court heard previously.

When initially asked how the boy had died, Mr Maybir said he might have fallen off a pogo stick.

An autopsy revealed the boy had suffered severe blunt force trauma to the back and front of his head, causing multiple subdural haemorrhages as well as the brain swelling that killed him.

The trial continues.

International flavour still strong at Magic Millions sale

Good stock: a half-brother to Samaready drew plenty of interest on the Gold Coast. Photo: Jenny EvansWizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing
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The Magic Millions Gold Coast 2YOs in Training Sale on Tuesday followed hot on the heels of last week’s Inglis Ready2Race Sales and once again had a phenomenal result thanks again to the powerful presence of international buyers.

The Inglis sale grossed $6 million with 115 lots selling. Of this number, 35 will head overseas, predominantly to Asian countries. The Magic Millions sales achieved a similar result.

A total of 134 lots sold on the Gold Coast with a turnover of $8,443,500, up a massive 71 per cent on the previous year and producing an average of $63,151.

The internationals were spearheaded by Singapore buyers, who purchased 18 of the 66 juveniles which, overall, represented almost half of the catalogue after 49 withdrawals were taken into account

A total of 32 two-year-olds fetched six-figure sums. Sydney-based agent David Raphael came away with the sales-topper at $300,000 for a colt by the deceased stallion Northern Meteor.

A Foxwedge colt came in second at $270,000 to Gary Moore’s son Nicholas on behalf of leading owner Lai Chan Chong with a brother to dual group 1 winner Samaready selling to the Queensland based Aquis Farm.

This colt was initially passed in at $240,000 by Gerry Harvey who later on-sold the two-year-old for his reserve price of $250,000.

Singapore trainer Theo Kieser followed on from the Inglis sale signing for another three lots for a total of $397,500 while former champion jockey Mick Dittman, who is now based in Singapore, bought four lots for $360,000.

The top-priced colt will enter Gerald Ryan’s Rosehill stables with Raphael glowing in his praise of the Northern Meteor colt and the success of the sale.

“I think this breeze up sale will continue to grow and more breeders will aim at a sale like this with nice horses as their first point of sale.” he said.

Waterhouse produces two divine winners

Randwick played host to two two-year-old barrier trials on Tuesday and Gai Waterhouse produced a pair of highly exciting winners. Both have brilliant pedigrees and are endowed with tremendous ability which is bound to win them city races in the not-to-distant future.

El Divino is a Snitzel half-brother to the super mare Winx and has been retained by breeder John Camilleri, a decision he will surely find a rewarding one judging on his all-the-way win in the 737-metre heat.

Thyme For Roses won the next heat in a terrific speed display giving jockey Tim Clarke an armchair ride. She is a Redoute’s Choice filly from the Magic Millions winner Augusta Proud and was bought by American Jon Kelly for $450,000 at the Magic Million Sales in January.

There is a tremendously interesting two-year-old trialling at Rosehill on Friday for Chris Waller. He is named Comin’ Through and is the half-brother to Criterion by Fastnet Rock who is raced by the champion’s owner-breeder Sir Owen Glenn.

His dam, Mica’s Pride, currently has a colt by Pierro and was covered by Fastnet Rock last year.

Previous Magic Millions produces three winners

Speaking of the Magic Millions sales – the three two-year-old races conducted on the east coast last Saturday were all won by graduates of the Gold Coast sales last January.

Conchita started the ball rolling at Randwick with the Uncle Mo filly, a $130,000 buy for Paul Perry, followed by Melbourne trainer Robbie Laing producing the last-to-first Caulfield winner Missrock, who looked to be worth every cent of the $500,000 which he paid for the Fastnet Rock filly.

Criquette, a daughter of I Am Invincible, had an effortless win at Doomben for Kelso Wood. She was bought by agent John Foote for $240,000 last January. The filly was bred by Ron Quinton who has a full brother entered for next year’s Gold Coast sale.

Godolphin in record $1.6m bid for yearling at Newmarket

Godolphin’s racing manager John Ferguson wasn’t going to miss out on the sole lot by champion sire Dubawi in the Tattersall’s Book 2 Yearling Sale at Newmarket on Tuesday.

Ferguson showed no signs of stopping as he outbid a number of hopefuls at 725,000 guineas ($1,607,927) which was to establish a record price for a yearling at the Book 2 sale.

Dubawi had the top-priced yearling to come out of Book 1 last week with the Coolmore team paying $4.66 million for a beautifully credentialled filly.

Ferguson had signed for 16 yearlings after the second session of Book 2 for $5.94 million but was in second place with Shadwell Estates leading the way with 24 youngsters for just under $6.65 million.

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End of the line for Newcastle rail after government wins key vote

NSW Premier Mike Baird and Transport Minister Andrew Constance after unveiling the new design for the Wickham transport interchange. Mr Constance says light rail will allow Newcastle to capitalise on an opportunity for renewal. Photo: Max Mason-Hubers Community campaigner Joan Dawson from Save Our Rail after a December court win that stopped heavy rail being removed. Photo: Jonathan Carroll
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The heavy rail line into Newcastle will start to be removed from next year, after the government won support for legislation allowing the overhaul in the NSW Parliament on Wednesday night.

The upper house vote, which follows a drawn-out legal battle and a highly charged debate surrounding the future of the state’s second city, will also allow the government to build a replacement light rail service on an alternative route through central Newcastle.

“With the bill passing Parliament, we now have the certainty to forge ahead and deliver on our promise to roll out light rail, allowing Newcastle to capitalise on this opportunity for renewal and reach its potential as an economic, social and cultural centre,” Transport Minister Andrew Constance said on Thursday.

But the government’s policy has been strongly criticised by some community groups, the Labor opposition and the Greens, who say removing a direct rail link into the heart of Newcastle is a retrograde step.

The idea of removing the rail line through the middle of Newcastle has been floated for decades, and support for the idea has divided the community.

Under former planning minister Brad Hazzard and former transport minister Gladys Berejiklian, the Coalition backed the plan, saying  it would replace the heavy rail line between Wickham and Newcastle with a light rail service.

The route that that light rail will run on, however, does not duplicate the heavy rail line. Premier Mike Baird has confirmed that much of the land used for the current rail corridor would be open for development.

And leaked internal analysis showed that Transport for NSW thought the government’s chosen route would deliver a slower service at greater cost, though it would deliver more opportunities for property developers.

But the government was prevented from tearing up the rail corridor by a Christmas Eve Supreme Court victory by community group Save Our Rail. Lawyers for the group argued successfully that under the Transport Administration Act, the government could not remove a rail line except by act of Parliament.

An appeal to that verdict is pending, though the verdict will mean little. The government obtained its required act on Wednesday night, after securing the support of the two upper house Shooters and Fishers MPs.

Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi condemned the vote.

“The NSW government has prioritised the interests of private developers over the public transport needs of an entire region,” Dr Faruqi said.

“The government has teamed up with the Shooters   and Fishers Party to rob the Hunter, Central Coast and Newcastle of a world-class public transport future and flog off public land,” she said.

“What happened in Parliament on Wednesday night was transparently misguided and truly shameful.”

But Mr Constance called the outcome “the start of Newcastle’s tomorrow”.

“The reality is, due to the delay in being able to remove the heavy rail line, early stages of the light rail project have been pushed back a month or two,” he said.

“Consultation with the community will now take place early next year, with early enabling work to start soon after.”

Why Bridge of Spies gave Tom Hanks the cold war chills

Brooklyn lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is an ordinary man placed in extraordinary circumstances in the thriller Bridge of Spies. Photo: Jaap BuitendijkMore on Bridge of SpiesMovie session timesFull movies coverage
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Tom Hanks made his debut on Broadway this year in the play Lucky Guy. The title could not have been more appropriate for an actor who often uses the phrase to describe his life.

After all, this is the actor who defied all odds to achieve his megastar status. His beginnings were hardly illustrious – a guest appearance on the TV series The Love Boat, followed up by a lead in the forgettable sitcom Bosom Buddies and then the teenage sex romp Bachelor Party.

But in the 30 years since, he has become one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars – his films have taken more than $A10 billion at the box office, according to the website Boxofficemojo – as well as becoming almost synonymous with decency and likeability.

But as we sit in a small, windowless conference room in a New York hotel to talk about his latest screen venture, the new spy drama Bridge of Spies, directed by Steven Spielberg, the 59-year-old actor confides that lately he’s really come to appreciate the good fortune of being a “lucky guy”.

Last December, Hanks’ wife of 27 years, actress Rita Wilson, was diagnosed with  breast cancer and underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction.

She revealed her diagnosis to this media this year, saying it was missed by the first doctor and that, “I hope this will encourage others to get a second opinion and to trust their instincts if something doesn’t feel right”.

The usually upbeat Hanks, who likes to skim along the surface of interviews with self-deprecating jokes, momentarily pauses when asked how he felt about her decision to go public.

“That was all her decision,” he responds. “When something comes up like that, everything stops and you deal with it.”

He says that after they got the potentially life-threatening diagnosis, “Christmas and New Year’s was a completely different version of what it had been prior to that”.

He adds, with palpable relief, that after “a fervent nine months of treatment”, Wilson has fully recovered.

“We are so lucky, because right off the bat we knew that we had access to the greatest care in the world, and that was a blessing,” he says, using the L-word again. “All I can do now is bow down to the courage of my wife.”

As if we’ve come too close to the emotions that are rarely on display for the press, Hanks smoothly steers the conversation back to the reason we’re here, to talk about Bridge of Spies, his fourth collaboration with Spielberg.

Set in the 1950s and based on a true story, the film stars Hanks as James Donovan, an insurance-claims lawyer from New York who is thrust into the centre of the Cold War after the CIA enlists his help in negotiating the release of captured American U-2 pilot Gary Powers and student Frederic Pryor (Will Rogers) in exchange for Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance).

Hanks reminisces that he was only five when the Cold War really began but has chilling memories of that period.

“I remember my parents talking about when Khrushchev said, ‘We will bury you’, and I was a kid, so I took it literally and was terrified,” he says. “I imagined we were all going to be put in a hole with dirt shovelled on top of us and I was terrified.”

Perhaps that vivid brush with a period in all the history books spurred on his lifelong fascination with the past, which often translated to films such as Saving Private Ryan and Apollo 13, and his excitement when he heard about Bridge of Spies.

“I’d heard that this was a huge international incident, when the U-2 pilot was shot down by the Soviet Union back then,” Hanks says, “but I didn’t know anything about James Donovan, so when Steven sent me the script, it was like winning the lottery.”

The affable actor has always come across as charming and easygoing during our many chats over the past two decades, but it’s only in recent times he’s become more willing to voice his political opinions – as if he no longer seems worried about offending his fan base.

The staunch Democrat has supported environmental causes, alternative fuels, same-sex marriage and Barack Obama in his presidential bid.

But in a country now obsessed with Donald Trump’s race for the White House, Hanks drops any facade and cautions with disgust: “There are some things to be taken very seriously right now but the political process today is so far away from being important that it’s a joke.”

Few actors have survived as long as Hanks without a whisper of scandal. Not only is he considered, as Spielberg later declares, “one of the greatest actors in the world”, he’s also a devoted husband and father of four – Colin, 37, Elizabeth, 32 (from his first marriage), Chester, 24, and Truman, 20 – and grandfather of two.

It’s no secret he had a rough childhood; it could tell you why he’s always prioritised his family over his career.

“I learned what not to do from my own parents, who had this fabulous philosophy of benign care,” Hanks says with a hint of lingering resentment as he leans forward in his chair, his green eyes boyishly engaging.

Aged five when his parents divorced, Hanks and his older brother and sister went to live with their dad, Amos, a cook who moved often, while his younger brother stayed with their mother. When Amos married for a third time in 1966, he moved the three Hanks children into a tiny basement bedroom with their five new step-siblings.

“There was stuff going on and I’d go to school and end up spending three or four weeks sleeping on the couch at somebody’s house because it was easier than going home,” Hanks says.

“When you get older and have kids yourself, you’re just trying to make your way in the world as a professional but also a man who is continuously reminded that there’s no substitute for being there enough during the day in order to make them breakfast before they go to school.”

Hanks, who has won two Oscars (for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump) and been nominated for three more (Big, Saving Private Ryan, Castaway), seems particularly proud his family has remained largely unaffected by his fame.

“My wife married me knowing I wasn’t a dentist or an investment banker and my kids have grown up with a dad who had this odd job that was often defined by the hairstyle he was wearing or whether or not he had a dyed moustache,” he says, chuckling.

“I’d either be away for a long time or be the idiot doing car pool and hanging around a lot and they pay no attention to all the other stuff, so it’s no different than if I was a long-haul trucker or news photographer on assignment.”

A lucky guy? Indeed, but a great deal more as well.

Bridge of Spies opens in cinemas on October 22. 

Saving private friendship  

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks met long before they collaborated on the 1998 war drama Saving Private Ryan. They started out as close friends after Spielberg produced the 1986 movie The Money Pit and 1990 film Joe vs the Volcano, both starring Hanks.

Eight years later, Spielberg the director cast his friend in the World War II film that won five Oscars.

“I think it was just a matter of me being mature enough finally,” Hanks suggests modestly. Spielberg acknowledges it was a risk, saying, “Tom is godfather to one of my kids and we were friends for years, so the fear was whether our friendship would survive the movies.”

They needn’t have worried. The collaboration continued with the 2002 caper movie Catch Me If You Can and the 2004 drama The Terminal and they have also co-produced two award-winning miniseries, Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010), and the documentary Shooting War, narrated by Hanks.

Michael Zullo hopes City spark can reignite his career after ACL nightmare

Melbourne City’s Michael Zullo against Edgeworth Eagles in the FFA Cup. Photo: Max Mason HubersEvery team has a buzz around it at the start of the season, but it’s impossible to escape the vibe around Melbourne City this year. Perhaps it’s the run that has taken the club to the semi-final of the FFA Cup.
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Perhaps it’s the fact that the players and staff now feel at home at the City Football Academy, the purpose-built headquarters they moved into next to La Trobe University midway through last season.

Or maybe it’s simply because there are so many new players and fresh faces and their optimism is rubbing off.

One of those new boys, former Socceroo left-back Michael Zullo, is hoping to surf on the wave of hope  all the way to the Asian Champions League and put himself in line again for a recall to n colours.

But, says the former Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United man, who also spent five years in The Netherlands with FC Utrecht, his first priority is to establish early season bragging rights in the Victorian capital with a win over Melbourne Victory in Saturday night’s derby.

Zullo, who missed a whole year after an anterior cruciate ligament injury while training for Utrecht in July, 2014, cannot wait to get out on the pitch in front of a large and and passionate crowd and make his debut for his new employers.

Its understandable given his long absence and the frustration he felt at being named on the bench for City’s opening round 1-1 draw in Sydney without getting the chance to take part.

“I was a little bit disappointed I didn’t get to play against Sydney but it was a pretty quick turnaround from where I have been injured,” he said on Thursday.

“I have had another week of training under my belt and it will have done me the world of good. I am hoping to get a start and contribute during the game.”

Its significance in a wider context has not been lost on Zullo either.

“For us, the three matches against Victory are the biggest, apart from finals games. Winning on Saturday could be a massive step forward in our season.”

“Everyone at the club is looking forward to this weekend. It is the sort of game I want to be part of, to play in. We all know Victory were the best team in the league last year, and in the front third they are probably the most dangerous team in the league.

“But  if we want to be the best club in we have to beat the strongest teams. “

Zullo signed a one year deal with City; there was interest from elsewhere in the A-League and the possibility of playing in Europe and he acknowledges opting for such a short term deal was a calculated gamble.

“I have lived a nomadic life the past four or five years, but that’s the nature of being a footballer. If  you want to try and maximise your opportunities  you have to be ready to up and leave when you have to. Here is no different, it’s only a one year contract for me.

“I am definitely hoping I can prove myself and it’s definitely a place I can see myself staying longer. I am very happy off the park and on the park, Melbourne City provide everything you need to be a footballer.”

The A-League that he has returned to (he made his name with Roar over three years ago bursting on to the scene in 2007 as a tricky teenage left-winger) is now a very different beast, he says, an improved competition at every level.

“It’s  now a place where you can really establish yourself and have a strong career and give yourself a stepping stone to be a part of bigger things, whether the Asian Champions League or the national team. They are both pretty big carrots in a footballer’s career. The ACL is something that aligns with what Melbourne City wants to do as well.”

He is reluctant to talk too much about an international recall, but left-back is one of the positions in the Socceroo squad that could provide an opening.

“I don’t want to speculate too much on where I stand. For me this year is just about performing.

“I had a huge injury lay off with a reconstruction, so for me coming back a year after such a big injury is just about getting some consistency in training and playing, performing and showing people what I can do. Whatever comes of it so be it, but I am definitely not banking on it or waiting for a  call.”

The FFA Cup semi-final against Perth next Wednesday may at the back of his mind, while Victory is front and square, but Zullo says the whole City mindset will shift to that as soon as Saturday night’s game is over.

“Winning the trophy can be a massive kick in the right direction for us. All of our planning has been for moving forward over the next three or four years, but it’s based solely around being successful on the park.

“If we can be successful on the park we can build off it. It’s up to us to kick that upwards trend and it could be something as simple as winning the FFA Cup. Not that that’s simple, but it would be the first piece of silverware for us as a club, and it would be fantastic to be part of that as a player.”