Sydney woman sues for defamation over shoplifting poster

The poster appeared in the One Stop Bargains store in Mount Druitt. Photo: Supplied
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A Sydney woman has lost a defamation case against a business owner who posted a photo of her with the word “Thief!” in a Mount Druitt discount store.

The poster appeared at the counter of One Stop Bargains, a two-dollar shop on Mount Druitt Road, in July 2016.

The word “Thief!” was written in capital letters above and below the woman’s photograph, which was taken from CCTV footage of her in the make-up section of the store.

The woman denied stealing from the shop and demanded that the poster be taken down before launching defamation proceedings in the NSW District Court.

Judge Judith Gibson said CCTV footage from inside the shop was incomplete but showed the woman “looking at items in the make-up section” and “picking up small cylindrical items which look like lipsticks”.

The woman placed one hand in her pocket while giving a “very long and furtive stare” in the direction of the shop assistant behind the counter.

“The plaintiff is seen putting her hand into her pocket in a suspicious manner throughout the CCTV footage,” Judge Gibson said.

The woman told the court she lived “three to five minutes’ walk” from the shop and went there every day. On the day in question – July 1, 2016 – she attended the shop with two of her children.

She said she bought two $1.50 lollipops, two 50?? ice-blocks and a $4 lipstick. But the 21-year-old shop assistant, whose family own the business, gave evidence she did not buy any lipsticks although she stood at the lipstick counter for some time.

The woman denied in the witness box that she placed anything in her pocket during the shopping expedition. Asked the same question in writing before the trial, she answered “I can’t recall.”

The case faced a number of legal hurdles, including that the man who was sued for defamation was not the owner of the shop, but the father of the owner. The father said he was not responsible for the poster.

Judge Gibson also found the poster was not, as the woman had claimed, placed in the shop window, although it was placed at the front of the shop, “namely at the counter directly in front of the glass windows”.

“As no action has been brought in relation to publication of the poster elsewhere in the shop, this claim fails,” Judge Gibson said.

Judge Gibson nevertheless considered whether the defences pleaded by the defendant, including truth, would have been successful.

A criminal prosecution against the woman for theft did not proceed and the charge was withdrawn on the day of the hearing.

But Judge Gibson said she was satisfied on the balance of probabilities that “the evidence displayed that the plaintiff did in fact steal items from the shop”. This was a “complete defence” to the poster.

Slater & Gordon principal lawyer Andy Munro, who acted for the defendant, said the shop owner had been “quite careful before preparing the poster”, including checking store inventory and the CCTV footage.

“While an individual’s rights to privacy must always be balanced against potential intrusion by the use of CCTV, the use of cameras in stores is a kind of deterrence, and this decision recognises that business owners have a right to protect themselves from legitimate shoplifters,” Mr Munro said.

Melbourne Cup: Chinan Bloodstock double focus on sharing the adrenaline rush

FOR n Bloodstock (AB) co-founder Luke Murrell, the best part about having two runners in theMelbourne Cup (3200m) for the first time is the chance to share the adrenaline rush with even more owners.
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ON TOP: n Bloodstock syndicators and part-owners Luke Murrell and Jamie Lovett celebrate after Protectionist’s victory in the 2014 Melbourne Cup.

Make no mistake, though, Murrell and business partner Jamie Lovett are addicted to Cup success, much like five-time winnerLloyd Williams,after their 2014 victory with Protectionist.

And the Hunter-based part-owners believe Red Cardinal or Big Duke, both $19 with TAB Fixed Odds,can give them a second win on Tuesday at Flemington.

“The aim is always to win this race,” Murrell said.“Lloyd’s trying to do it as well and he’s got six runners, but I wouldn’t be swapping my horses for his.”

Red Cardinal and Big Duke will be AB’sfourth and fifth Cup runners in total, afterIllustrious Blue (ninth in2010), Lucas Cranach (third, 2011) and Protectionist.

AB were successful this year in gaining a slot and finishing third with Brave Smashin the new $10 million The Everest (1200m) at Randwick but Murrell said their focus remained on the$6.2 million Cup.

CLASS: Red Cardinal, left, works at the Werribee Quarantine Centre last Thursday. Picture: AAP Image/Mal Fairclough

“Jamie and I joke a bit, but we’re serious –we want to win 10 of these and the only way to do it is to have runners and good horses and hopefully we’re here for plenty of years to come,” he said.

“It’s just such a different world and we’re trying to share it with people.There’s always group 1s and we’re the most successful syndicators in terms of them, but the Melbourne Cup is just a completely different level.

“The Everest was amazing when we ran third and we desperately want to win that race but the Melbourne Cup’s on its own pedestal.I guess it’s an addiction.”

Murrell was pleased to have two runners this year so more owners could share in the Cup excitement.

“We’ve won the race and the more people we can share that thrill and experience with … you can’t describe that feeling,” he said.

“The Mondaynight nerves and when they are milling behind the barrier and about to jump, it’s an amazing adrenaline rush that you probably get when you’re a little kid and playing sport.It’s probably one of the only ways to recapture that.

“We introduce these people with grand plans and it’s more that I want to see the horse do well for them, rather than for ourselves.”

WINNER: Brenton Avdulla rides Big Duke to victory in the St Leger Stakes. Picture: AAP

Murrell declared Protectionist the winner prior to the 2014 Cup and he felt the same about his Japanese import Admire Deus before it broke down three weeks ago. The draw in 24 for Red Cardinal was another blow for AB but Big Duke has firmed in the market since gaining gate five.

“We’ve still got two good chances,” Murrell said.

“If Red Cardinal had drawn well, he couldn’t help but run top three, but some has to draw out there.

“I’d always probably rather a horse like Big Duke.He hasn’t got the class of Red Cardinal but he just tries all the time, whether he’s feeling great or not.They are the ones the owners get a thrill out of because you can rely on them.”

Building partially collapses in Kurri Kurri amid severe weather

‘I wasn’t meant to die today’: close calls as savage storm smashes Kurri Kurri SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil
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SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

SMASHED: The clean-up in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Marina Neil

Picture: Media Response Newcastle

The scene in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Anthony James

The scene in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Anthony James

The scene in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Anthony James

SCENE: Emergency services converge on Kurri Kurri after severe weather damaged the community centre. Picture: Jessica Dowler

SCENE: Emergency services converge on Kurri Kurri after severe weather damaged the community centre. Picture: Jessica Dowler

SCENE: Emergency services converge on Kurri Kurri after severe weather damaged the community centre. Picture: Jessica Dowler

SCENE: Emergency services converge on Kurri Kurri after severe weather damaged the community centre. Picture: Jessica Dowler

SCENE: The Kurri Kurri Ambulance Station.

The scene in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Anthony James

The scene in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Anthony James

The scene in Kurri Kurri. Picture: Anthony James

Picture: Media Response Newcastle

Picture: Media Response Newcastle

Picture: Media Response Newcastle

Picture: Media Response Newcastle

Picture: Media Response Newcastle

Picture: Media Response Newcastle

Picture: Media Response Newcastle

TweetFacebookKURRI KURRI | #FRNSW is assisting with multi-agency response to partial building collapse in Lang St. Torrential rain in area. Ops continue

— Fire & Rescue NSW (@FRNSW) November 6, [email protected] inspecting the roof of the Kurri Community Centre after it partially collapsed during a storm @[email protected]苏州夜总会招聘/ahnE3huYGE

— Lachie Leeming (@LeemingLachie) November 6, 2017Kurri Kurri Public School will be closed tomorrow (Tues Nov 7) due to damage from a major storm. Please share: https://t苏州夜场招聘/irZ9I94tfVpic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/4afarfqrwM

— NSW DoE (@NSWEducation) November 6, 2017Storm destruction on Lang Street, Kurri Kurri, this afternoon. Video credit: Jessica Dowler pic.twitter苏州夜总会招聘/P2iaJDCwNL

— The Advertiser (@CessAdvertiser) November 6, 2017

Mad Max actor cashes in on $1.3 million Botany sale

If Joy Smithers ever wants to quit her official job as an actor or as a ceramicist she should take up property flipping, judging from the windfall on the sale of her Botany home.
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The three-bedroom house she renovated with her partner, former INXS manager Gary Grant, sold on the weekend for more than $1.3 million, well above the $1 million guide set ahead of this weekend’s planned auction.

The bullish purchase price returned a 72 per cent capital gain to Smithers from the $752,000 she paid for it in late 2013, although she has undertaken a renovation since then.

George Faris, of The Sydney Property Agency, was unable to disclose the exact sale price but said it sold to a young couple from Vaucluse who are hoping to live in the home.

The house, on 304 square metres, includes a rear studio with rear lane access where Smithers’ Batch ceramics were created.

Smithers, who is best known for her roles in Home and Away, All Saints and most recently in Mad Max:Fury Road as part of the The Vuvalini, has increasingly put her efforts in recent years into her ceramics.

But it is her love of renovating that is also getting plenty of creative expression of late. Records show the Smithers and Grant have bought another house in Botany marketed with “redevelopment potential” for $1.54 million.

And like the family home they just sold, the three-bedroom house on 447 square metres also comes with a separate rear studio space, although she says she plans to move her ceramics studio out of the family home.

“The thing I love about Botany is it hasn’t been gentrified yet,” she told Domain when she listed the family home last month. “There are so many gems.” Related: Joy Smithers goes from Mad Max to renovation warriorRelated: Steven Lowy expands beachfront holding by $14.2 millionRelated: Andrew Potter trades one Point Piper waterfront for another

Jackie Mary Hays in court over alleged child grooming at Hunter school

ACCUSED: Jackie Hays leaving Raymond Terrace courthouse on Monday. Picture: Sam Rigney A FORMER female employee of a Hunter school allegedly groomed a male student for sex over a period of 14 months, according to court documents.
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Jackie Mary Hays, 50,appeared in Raymond Terrace Local Court on Monday charged with groom child for unlawful sexual activity, two counts of using acarriage service to groom a person under 16 years for sexual activityand two counts ofusing a carriage service to menace, harass or offend.

Ms Hays, who was represented by barrister Philip Massey, did not enter any pleas and the matter was adjourned to Newcastle Local Court on January 24, where it will be prosecuted by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The charge ofusing acarriage service to groom a person under 16 years for sexual activity carries a maximum of 10 years in jail.

Police say they established Strike Force Minnamorra in June this year to investigate allegations an employee at a Hunter school had been grooming two male students for sexual activity.

Detectives allege a number of explicit text messages and phone calls were sent between Ms Hays and a male student.

Investigations allegedly revealed a second student was also involved in sending and receiving messages and phone calls from Ms Hays, who the school’s principalsaid was a former member of the support staff.

Ms Hays is accused of trying to groom one of the malestudents for sexual activity between April, 2015, and June, 2016, according to court documents.

She is also accused of using a mobile phone to groom that student between 3.11pm and 8pm on September 21, 2016, and using a carriage service to menace or harass the second student between November and December, 2015.

In a statement addressed to parents after Ms Hays’s arrest, the principal said the school instigated the police investigation by reporting the allegations to the authorities.

“The school has been advised by police that a former member of our support staff has been charged with grooming and improper use of a telecommunications device in relation to two former students,” the statement says.

“The school first became aware of the allegations last year and immediately reported them to the police, Family and Community Services and the NSW Ombudsman.

“While we were not involved in the investigation or privy to the details, we understand that the charges are the result of investigations triggered by our reports.”

GolfBlake Windred wins his third WE Alexander Open title by three shots.

CHAMPION: WE Alexander winner Blake Windred lines up a putt at Waratah on Sunday. Windred has now won the tournament three times. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.BLAKE Windred dreams of a career as a professional golfer.
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ACE: Justin Ely celebrates after nailing a hole-in-one on the 14th on Sunday.

If and when that becomes a reality, he will reflect on the WE Alexander Open at Waratah as his launchpad.

The 19-year-old Charlestown amateur won the tournament for the third time on Sunday, posting rounds of 68 and 69 to finish three under par, and three ahead of runner-up Clayton Small (Long Reef).

DRIVING AMBITION: Luke Ferrier won Merewether’s A-grade title.

Charlestown’s Brayden Petersenand Justin Ely (Waratah) –who had a hole-in-one on the par-three 14th–finished two shots further back in equal third.

Windred first won the WE Alexander as a 15-year-old and took it out again last year.

“I look at it as a really good stepping stone,” Windred said. “Obviously I’m looking to move on to professional golf, and I suppose bigger and better things.

“But winning this tournament is definitely going to help me achieve what I want to achieve in the future …I have so much respect for the tournament and the people who have won it, so to get my name on the board for a third time is just awesome.”

Small held a two-shot lead after the first round and gained a shot with 12 holes to play.

“It was nice to make a few putts around the turn and slowly get into the lead, especially in the conditions,” Windred said.

“It was pretty tough, rainy and windy, but it felt good to take advantage of that.”

* ANOTHER promising youngster to win a tournament for the third time was Luke Ferrier, who finished three shots ahead of Scott Telfer in Merewether’s A-grade club championships.

Ferrier, whose family homeoverlooks Merewether’s fifth green, won the title for the first time2014, as a 15-year-old.

He was runner-up a year later and won it again last year.As if he didn’t have enough cause to celebrate, this year’s victory coincided with his 18th birthday.

B grade was won by Kyle Anderson, and C grade by Louis Silberberg.

*JACK Newton Junior Golf is expanding its boundaries next year to welcome in even younger players.

For the first time since it was founded 30 years ago, the JNJG Tour is adding 11-years and under-10s divisions to its calendar of events.

The newcomers will play a shortened course and will have a caddy to help them cope with 18 holes.

* CHARLETOWN’S Jake Higginbottom finished 21st last week in the Indonesian Open, played at Pondok Indah Golf Course, Jakarta.

Higginbottom shot rounds of73, 69, 71, 68, to finish at seven-under, 16 behind winnerPanuphol Pittayarat, of Thailand. He collected $US3045 ($3980) for his efforts.

​* ENTRIESclose on Wednesday for the 2017 Newcastle Cup, which will be held at Newcastle Golf Club on Sunday.

Awabakal land council begins restoration work on old post office building in Newcastle CBD

WORK has begun to secure the verandah of Newcastle’s oldpost office, in what has been hailed as the “first step in a long journey” to restore the iconic buildingto its former glory.
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As part of stage one of the project, homeless people who sheltered underneath the building have been moved on and a fence has been erected around the site.

“We’ve been assisted greatly by the Matthew Talbot homelessness service,” Awabakal Aboriginal Local Land Council chief executive Robert Russell said, adding that alternate accommodation had now been found for those affected.

“We’ve cleaned the verandah and taken the remnants from the fire in August, plus the old mattresses and rubbish that had accumulated there. Our contractors are now going to build a more secure box to deny access to the verandah.”

The next stage of the work, being carried out by consultants RPS Group, will help protect the site from further weather damage and deterioration.

“The next stage will involve going in to try and repair the roof as best we can,” Mr Russell said.

“We will be putting up netting to prevent further pigeon infestations and generally start to clean up … some of the vermin and mess that’s been left behind, to put the post office in a more presentable state for people who may be interested in a development or some other arrangement.”

The work is being funded by a $150,000 funding grant from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, being matcheddollar-for-dollar by the land council.

Awabakal has listed the post office for sale through Colliers International, with expressions of interest closing later this month.

It has received 70 inquiries from prospective buyers, with suggesteduses for the building include a hotel, an art gallery or a fine-dining restaurant.

“There’s a long way to go but it’s really good to get the first step in this long journey under our belt, and move forward in trying to finally work towards the ultimate restoration of the post office,” Mr Russell said.

Parking woes plague staff

FRUSTRATED: Hospital staff say the battle to find a parking space is getting harder, with one member saying she drove around for an hour searching for a spot.STAFF members at John Hunter Hospital say they are no longer guaranteed a parking spot on site, despite having parking fees deducted from their wages.
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Hospital staff say they are becoming “increasingly frustrated” that the number of people versus the number of available car spaces had gone “beyond parity,” renewing calls for Hunter New England Health to reinstate the park and ride shuttle service.

One staff member, who spoke to the Newcastle Herald on condition of anonymity, said she drove around for an hour looking for a car space before a shift.

“I normally swipe into the staff car park, but it was chock-a-block full. So I tried another one, and I had no luck there either, so then I went to the multi-storey car park there,” she said.

The parking attendant saidshe would have to pay the full day parking rate, despite already having a parking fee deducted from her wage each week.

“The other option was to park along Lookout Road, or up near the water tower, but by that stage, all of those parks were taken too.

“After an hour, it crossed my mind to actually just go home. It’s not good.”

Sonia Hornery,member for Wallsend, said she receivescalls from hospital staff about “inadequate” staff parking “almost weekly.”

An email from hospital management to a staff member in September confirmed they were no longer guaranteed a spot, and would becharged twice if they parked in the public spaces.

Ms Hornery is calling for Hunter New England Health to re-instate the shuttle bus service.

“Staff are under enough stress without thefrustration of having to circle around the number of staff car parks trying to find a spot,” she said. “The added insult of being charged twice to park in the public car park is a disgrace.

“When the shuttle bus from Hunter Stadium was operating, staff parking was never an issue. It was a stress-free option.”

Brett Evans, manager of capital works for the hospital, said parkingfees for staff at John Hunter Hospital varieddepending on their salary, but ranged from$7.40 to $17.49 per week.

He said there were2150 staff carparkingspaces at John Hunter Hospital, and there were no plans to reinstate the shuttle service.

“Staff who pay forparkingon the hospital campus but are unable to find a park should present to the carparkingattendant’s office. The attendant can assist with finding a park in designated staffparkingor elsewhere onthe campus,” he said.

“Parkingfees will be refunded via the employee’s salary in circumstances where they cannot find a park in a designated area and are required to park elsewhere under the advice of the attendant.”

One year since his disappearance, Zac Barnes’ family are still searching for answers

Search for answers: Zac Barnes’ mother Karen Gudelj and step father Michael Gudelj at a search earlier this year and (inset) missing teenager Zac. It’s a milestone Karen and Michael Gudeljhoped would never be reached.
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November 13, 2017will mark one year sincetheir son Zac Barnes was last seen, dashing from a friend’s car into bushnear Thornton.

It’s been a difficult 12 months for the 18-year-old’s family.

Zac’s younger sisters still wake in the middle of the night when it rains, scared their beloved older brotheris somewhere outside,getting wet.

The family’s concern for their missing boy hasn’t eased for a second of the last year, leading to their latest attempt to find out what happened that night on November 13.

Related content:

The pain of not knowing‘I know he would have not just run off’Help us find ZacThey’re calling for volunteers this weekend for a search of the bushland whereZac is suspected of disappearing. Karenhopes it will shed some light on a question that pains their family every day.

“We just want to know if he’s in there or not,” she said of the stretch of bush along Haussman Drive.

If Zac isn’t located there, they can at least focuson different areas and possibilities, Karen reasoned.

The most recent search comes almost a year after Zac was last seen.

The apprentice bricklayerwas at a friend’s house before he suddenly wanted to leave to get a train at Thornton railway station, according to his friends.On the wayZac asked his friend to stop the car, thengot out and ran off into the bush off of Haussman Drive.

Zac’s family’s anguish: the search for answers a year on TweetFacebook

Six Hunter women, three youngsters named in NSW Sevens national championship squads

OLD HANDS: Brydie Parker, Hannah Southwell and Layne Morgan already have representative experience in spades for rugby sevens. Sarah Halvorsen, Mel Howard and Cheech Baker also named. Picture: Marina NeilSIX Newcastle Hunter players have been named in the NSW Sevens representative squads for the Women’s Opens at the National Championshipsin November and December.
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Sarah Halvorsen, Mel Howard and Cheech Baker have been included as part of the 32 player squad that was announced by NSW Rugby Union on October 29.

The local contingent slated to represent NSW is also boosted by Commonwealth Games representativesBrydie Parker, Hannah Southwell and Layne Morgan.

Layne Morgan.

The Newcastle Hunter area also has two representatives in the 33 player team list for the Under 17s Youth Girls, with Emma Bradford named at 4 and Jorja Holden named at 17. Jessie Southwell was named as a development player.

Although the region has no entries in the Men’s Open division at the championship, they also have players named in the Under 17s Youth Men’s team –Caleb Hopping has been selected fromMerewether High School, and Jacob Rabai has been selected fromIrrawang High School.

Central Coast also has anUnder 17 selection in Lachlan Shelley from Green Point Christian College.

Hopping, Rabai and Shelley will be eager to prove their merits in the squad, with the Under 17s team preparing for their title defence after winning the Youth Cup in 2016.

Jacob Rabai and Caleb Hopping with the State Championship Sevens trophy.

NSW Rugby Coach Education and Pathways Manager, Matt Evrard, was impressed with the talent pool that the rep squads could draw after seeingthe NSW State Championships and the Central Coast Sevens competitions.

“These are the first selected squads for the 2017 National Championships for youth and senior age groups,” he said. “These teams have been selected from a number of identified selection tournaments all around the state, with the Central Coast being the last one.”

“Over the coming weeks, these squads will prepare to win as many national titles across the different divisions but more importantly, get as many players identified for Youth Commonwealth Games and National Senior team selection.”

The final opens squad –to benamed before the event – will travel to Bendigo for the Senior National Championships from November 25.

The youth national competition, which will also have its squads reduced, will be held in Ballymore, Brisbane from December 9.

STEP: Mel Howard, named in the extended squad, puts on the after-burners at the n Uni Games.