‘It’s hard to hold back my anger’: Maddie’s father

THE father of the hoax collar-bomb victim Madeline Pulver has criticised attempts by his daughter’s attacker to distance himself from the crime, describing Paul Peters as a ‘‘pretty flawed individual’’ who did an ‘‘unbelievably callous thing to our daughter’’.

Bill Pulver and his wife Belinda sat through a sentencing hearing on Wednesday, in which a psychiatrist said  Peters was in a ‘‘psychotic state’’ when he attached a fake collar bomb to Ms Pulver’s neck on August 3 last year.

The court had also previously heard that Peters could not recall the actual crime, and only remembers walking up the steps of the Pulvers’ Mosman home. He says his memory returned about 2 hours later, when he had returned to the central coast.

Speaking after the day’s hearing, Mr Pulver said he did not believe Peters’s claim of temporary amnesia, saying his family believed the attack had been an ‘‘extraordinarily well-planned event’’.

‘‘He has very conveniently managed to forget the hour and a half when all of this nasty stuff took place, but then when he got to Avoca he logged on to three separate computers to check whether we had responded to his note,’’ Mr Pulver said.

‘‘It’s very clear this is simply an extortion case and while I don’t really question that there are some mental health issues, I think ultimately it’s an extortion.’’

He simply didn’t buy the idea being proffered that it was just a ‘‘clumsy’’ crime and Peters had wanted to get caught so he could be properly treated for a worsening psychiatric condition.

‘‘No –  he very nearly got away with it. The only reason he got caught [was because] Maddie rang me, and I immediately called the police,’’ he said.

‘‘She didn’t know at the time that this extortion letter was there. If I had known there was an extortion letter I ask myself the question many times – would I have actually rung the police? I’m really not sure what I would have done. He was unlucky not to get away with this.’’

Clutching his wife’s hand, Mr Pulver said at times he felt fury at the evidence being presented.

‘‘To be honest I look over at what I think is a pretty flawed individual, who did an unbelievably callous thing to our daughter and it’s just not normal behaviour, so it’s challenging at times to restrain the anger.

‘‘I think it’s ruined his life, his family know what it’s done …  he’ll still live with this for the rest of his life.’’

He said Maddie was unlikely to ever come to court, because ‘‘she doesn’t want to front him’’.

The consultant psychiatrist Dr Jonathan Phillips had earlier told the District Court that his diagnosis of a ‘‘psychosis’’ did not mean Peters’s actions were not well thought out.

Dr Phillips said that assessing Peters was as complex as any case he had tackled and there were times he struggled to understand what the former businessman was talking about.

The court heard that electronic evidence showed Peters had edited two ransom documents contained on a USB stick attached to the fake bomb for a total of 503 minutes.

Judge Peter Zahra will sentence Peters later this month.

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Sobering study of strained relations

COMPLEX: Niels Arestrup in You Will Be My Son.You Will Be My Son (M)

Stars Niels Arestrup, Lorant Deutsch, Patrick Chesnais, Anne Marivin, Nicolas Bridet; directed by Gilles Legrand; 102 minutes.

The relationship between a father and a son is a complex one: love can sometimes be tainted – on one or both sides – by other, less positive feelings, such as disappointment, envy, resentment, competitiveness and excessive expectations. This sobering French film deals with two father-son relationships and won’t be for all tastes. Emotionally, it isn’t the easiest viewing, but despite a melodramatic turn towards the end, it’s a well-acted, atmospheric story. Just don’t go in expecting a frothy Gallic romp.

Widower Paul de Marseul (Niels Arestrup) runs a successful vineyard that has been in the family for generations. His son Martin (Lorant Deutsch) works in administration for him but Paul is contemptuous of his abilities as a winemaker and seldom passes up an opportunity to belittle the somewhat diffident young man and treat him with scorn and disdain. Tellingly, he has more respect for Martin’s feisty wife Alice (Anne Marivin), though she doesn’t like him because of his treatment of her husband.

Paul’s longtime estate manager, Francois (Patrick Chesnais), is dying and Martin hopes this will be his opportunity to take on a bigger role in the business. But when Francois’s son Philippe (Nicolas Bridet) arrives, having quit his winemaking job in California to be with his father, the situation becomes even more fraught. Paul is impressed with Philippe’s abilities and lavishes the praise and attention on him that he never gave Martin – even to the extent of offering him the job of estate manager when his father dies.

Although the film tends to take Martin’s side, there is complexity and depth to the characters and situations enabling us to see various points of view: Paul, though cruel, is concerned for the future of the renowned vineyard and may be justified in thinking Martin isn’t as talented a winemaker as Philippe, although how much of this situation is of Paul’s creation is arguable. Philippe, who doesn’t seem to be a bad sort, is uncomfortably caught up in the dysfunctional relationship of Paul and Martin. And Francois has his own resentments at the situation that is developing and his advice to his son is not without merit.

The music can be a little overbearing and, as noted, there’s one crucial twist that might seem a bit much. But the story, told well in straightforward fashion by director and co-writer Gilles Legrand, is a strong one. This is a film for people who like a good character piece with fine performances and something to think about.

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Cooper cops $40,000 fine from ARU for outbursts

Quade Cooper gives a statement to the media after the disciplinary hearing. Quade Cooper at ARU headquarters after the hearing.

Quade Cooper arrives at ARU headquarters.


QUADE COOPER’S future in Australian rugby remains in limbo after the Wallabies five-eighth was fined $40,000 for criticising the team and coach Robbie Deans.

Although Cooper has signed a three-year deal with Super Rugby franchise the Reds, the ARU withdrew its top-up contract after the injured playmaker’s remarks in September.

Deputy chief executive Matt Carroll said the ARU had noted the tribunal’s findings and would consider the next step in the contracting process.

”ARU placed contract negotiations with Quade Cooper on hold until the tribunal process had been finalised,” he said.

”Given the tribunal has handed down its decision, this matter as far as we are concerned has been finalised. ARU will now look at how we address the contract situation involving Quade Cooper.”

After more than four hours of hearings and deliberations at the ARU headquarters in St Leonards on Wednesday, the three-person tribunal found Cooper had breached the ARU’s code of conduct in two separate instances.

He was fined $10,000 for a post on Twitter criticising an ARU-licensed computer game, Rugby Challenge, and $50,000 for comments he made in the general media and on Twitter, in which he called the Wallabies culture ”toxic” and criticised the team’s style of play under Deans.

A $20,000 portion of that was suspended, as was a three-match ban, but both will be activated if Cooper breaches the code of conduct again at any point in the next two years.

The Reds playmaker apologised to rugby fans and said he received a ”very fair hearing” at ARU headquarters. ”I’m very happy with the outcome and obviously the sentence that’s been handed to me, full respect for that, and I understand that I fell well below par for what it means to be a Wallaby, and for all the supporters who are out there, my apologies,” he said.

Cooper must wait while the ARU decides whether to put its contract offer back on the table.

But in the aftermath of the four-hour hearing, Cooper, who has battled a knee injury all year and will sit out the Wallabies end-of-year tour to Europe, broached the subject of playing again in the gold jersey. ”From now I’m just looking forward to the future, and hopefully having a big year with not only my state but the Wallabies and very much looking forward to overcoming my injury and getting back on the field,” he said.

Meanwhile, back-rower Alexandre Lapandry was called up by France coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Tuesday for the Test against the Wallabies in Paris on November 10 in place of the injured flanker Wenceslas Lauret.

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Tamil asylum seeker wins stay on deportation

Triumph … refugee advocates celebrate an injuction against the deportation of a Tamil refugee.A TAMIL asylum seeker has won a last-minute reprieve from deportation, hours before he was due to be flown to Sri Lanka.

The Federal Court in Sydney on Wednesday overturned an earlier court decision to reject an application to stop his removal.

In a dramatic day, the man, in his 40s and known as ”Anjan”, attempted to take his life early on Wednesday morning.

But his injuries were not considered serious and he remained in detention.

Protesters gathered to blockade the Maribyrnong detention centre in a bid to stop Immigration Department officers taking the man to the airport.

But the court ordered that the man remain in Australia, in a decision also expected to prevent the deportation of several other failed asylum seekers at least for a month.

Another Tamil man held at the Villawood detention centre in Sydney is believed to have been told he faces removal from Australia.

George Newhouse, the solicitor representing Anjan, argued the risk of harm to him if he were sent back to his homeland had not been assessed according to changes to the Migration Act earlier this year.

”The considerations are broader under the new test than under the old rules, before the pre-March 2012 changes,” Mr Newhouse said.

The injunction is until 72 hours after the court delivers its judgment in a similar case to be heard by the Federal Court in November.

Mr Newhouse said the Tamil man still had an arguable case in relation to Australia’s complementary protection obligations.

But he was ”not at liberty to discuss” why the decision was overturned.

An Immigration Department spokeswoman confirmed the man had engaged in self harm, and said the incident did not affect the outcome of his claim.

She said paramedics treated him on-site for minor injuries and that he had ongoing access to mental health support, including psychologists, mental health nurses and counsellors.

The man arrived in Australia two years ago, and had said his brother was a separatist Tamil Tiger fighter in Sri Lanka. Last week, he was given his deportation orders after he had exhausted legal appeals for protection and refused to sign them.

Tamil community advocate Aran Mylvaganam said a security guard at Maribyrnong detention centre, where the man is being held, had told him the news of the injunction and moved him to a private room.

For the past two days, Mr Mylvaganam said the man had called him hourly to ask him if he can stop his deportation.

”One of the things that he’s told me is he’d be killed if he’s sent back to Sri Lanka so hearing this news … he’ll be very happy.”

Earlier on Wednesday about 30 people linked arms in a line outside the Hampstead Road exit of the centre.

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Conferences would not help: AFL

After criticism that some clubs benefited by playing the weaker teams twice this year, the AFL has moved to ease these concerns.AS clubs and supporters begin to analyse their 2013 fixture, the AFL insists splitting the competition into two conferences would not alleviate any concerns.

While releasing next year’s schedule, AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan said the league had investigated several sporting systems.

”The simple message I would say about conferences is that, ultimately, our view is that any sort of structural advantage you may get through that certainty is outweighed by potential inequalities that are created,” he said.

”You can get very soft conferences, ultimately. That means you can get teams missing out on finals who are actually a stronger team than others who are in (the other) conference just because the way the conferences are structured up.

”We don’t think that really works. Ultimately, we think you can get the best bits of conferencing out of our model to try and mitigate the worst bits.”

The AFL claims it has delivered greater fairness and made its marquee Friday night timeslot even more attractive for broadcasters and supporters in next year’s schedule.

After criticism during this year’s campaign that some clubs, particularly North Melbourne and Adelaide, benefited by playing the weaker teams twice, the AFL has moved to ease these concerns.

This year’s top four clubs – Sydney, Hawthorn, Collingwood and Adelaide – will only play the bottom four clubs – Greater Western Sydney, Gold Coast, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs – once. The exception is the Swans and Giants with their cross-town clash set to be played twice in 2013.

The 10 clubs that did not make the finals will have a maximum of two return matches with the top-eight teams from this year while, where possible, the eight finalists this year will have a maximum of two return matches against the 10 non-finalists.

The season begins with a split round on Friday March 22 when the Adelaide Crows host Essendon. The Dockers and Eagles will stage a derby the following day, while the remaining clubs will begin a week later over Easter when Carlton and Richmond clash at the MCG on Thursday March 28.

AFL general manager broadcasting, scheduling and legal affairs, Simon Lethlean, said he was happy with the overall outcome of a fixture featuring 198 home-and-away matches.

”Every year the average is three clubs come out of the eight and three go in, so you can’t pick who they are going to be. You can’t divorce yourself from those teams that are in the eight because they could be there again,” he said.

”I think we have looked at it as transparently as we ever have about who is playing who twice and tried to assume as best we can whilst still trying to achieve all these things like big match ups, the big crowds, all those contractual obligations and the broadcasts.

”I think it’s the best type of model of fairness and commerciality and everything else that I have done in four or five years. But who knows? Someone might be playing a side that falls well below where we thought they would have been and might get an easier run.”

McLachlan, who said he was particularly looking forward to the historic Anzac Day clash between St Kilda and Sydney in Wellington, New Zealand, said Friday night and Saturday twilight fixtures were stronger.

”Friday night is the strongest Friday night fixture I have ever seen,” he said.

To help achieve this, five of this year’s struggling clubs – Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney – will not appear in the most commercially important time-slot of the weekend.

However, the eagerly-anticipated clash between Collingwood and a Carlton team now led by Mick Malthouse will be staged on a Sunday afternoon in round two.

McLachlan said in an ideal world the entire opening round would have been held on the weekend of March 22-24 but the unavailability of the MCG due to cricket commitments – it needs to be available for the final of the Sheffield Shield – meant this was not possible.

He said the AFL was seeking ”constructive solutions” for future seasons with the state government and cricket authorities. Cricket’s contract with the MCC runs from October 1 to March 31 until 2019.

McLachlan said if this issue was resolved it would allow the league to appease its players and factor in two byes.

”Our players are crying out for a rest. In the discussions we have with them, in the conversations, it’s priority one, two, three for them,” he said.

Lethlean said the move to have the top eight teams from this season play each other more regularly next year would not be to their disadvantage.

”I think, for one thing, it’s giving people what they want to see, which is the best clubs playing each other,” he said.

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