Special powers used by Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission have led to the arrest of a man over the 2013 murder of Mackay woman Shandee Blackburn.

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The 32-year-old unemployed man from Mackay was arrested in Brisbane and charged with murder and robbery on Thursday afternoon.

Ms Blackburn, 23, was walking home from work in the early hours of February 9, 2013, when she was stabbed multiple times.

Early in the investigation, it was revealed Ms Blackburn had been planning a trip to the United States with her boyfriend in the days leading up to her death.

Exactly one week after the attack, Mackay detectives retraced Ms Blackburn’s steps in a late night re-enactment.

“(It) may just jog someone’s memory” detectives said at the time.

Later that month, the 23-year-old was laid to rest with a service at Mackay’s Newhaven Chapel.

In February this year, detectives revealed a vehicle had become central to the case.

They released CCTV images of a white ute from the night of the attack and said the occupant or occupants may be able to assist with the investigation.

On Thursday, police confirmed the arrested man was the owner of the ute.

He was also known to Ms Blackburn, but Detective Inspector Karyn Murphy wouldn’t explain the exact nature of their relationship.

“He certainly came to light early in the investigation,” she told reporters in Brisbane.

The 32-year-old man also appeared before coercive hearings at the Crime and Corruption Commission in the past six months, she said.

Coercive hearings give the commission power to compel witnesses to appear and to override the right to silence and the privilege against self-incrimination.

Det Insp Murphy paid tribute to the work of dozens of officers who’ve been involved in the “long and intense” investigation.

She said police had followed hundreds of lines of inquiry.

Det Insp Murphy also acknowledged the “terrible offence” has had an impact on the Mackay community and said her thoughts were with Ms Blackburn’s family.

“I don’t think I can explain the range of emotions that go through your mind and your body,” her mother Vicki told a media conference.

“You just take a deep breath and try to deal with it.”

Earlier this year, police offered a reward of $250,000 for information that led to the conviction of Ms Blackburn’s killer.

The reward will not be issued.

Shandee Blackburn’s accused murderer will appear in the Brisbane magistrates court on Friday.


By Ian Kerridge, University of Sydney and David Isaacs, University of Sydney

The news that Hamid Kehazaei, a 24-year-old Iranian asylum seeker detained on Manus Island, has been diagnosed as brain dead following his transfer to the Mater Hospital in Brisbane is a tragedy.

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That it is a tragedy for this young man and his family is unquestionable – but the extent of this tragedy may be much more pervasive than we realise.

If the emerging details of his case are correct, Kehazaei developed septicaemia as a complication of cellulitis (skin and soft-tissue infection) arising from a cut in his foot. This, in itself, is disturbing.

Severe infection can result in brain death – either from infection of the brain itself (meningitis, encephalitis or brain abscess), or from brain injury due to a lack of oxygen resulting from cardiac arrest (as appears to be the case here), or from reduced blood supply to the brain. Yet it is very uncommon, especially in a young, previously healthy man.

Such a case could occur in Australia and has been described in 2012 in young Indigenous adults in Central Australia. Nevertheless, severe sepsis resulting from a foot infection is preventable. And a case like this occurring in an Australian national would raise serious questions about the appropriateness of the antibiotics used and the timeliness of care.

Most cases of brain death result from traumatic brain injury, stroke or lack of oxygen to the brain following asphyxia, near-drowning, or prolonged cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

What happened to Hamid Kehazaei raises concerns about the adequacy of care provided to him during initial treatment, including wound care and antibiotics, and how soon he was transferred to expert medical care, first to Port Moresby and subsequently to Brisbane.

If this young man became ill and had his brain die while seeking asylum in Australia and while in our care, then we must examine the details of his case and ask ourselves not only whether it was preventable but whether our policies and processes actually contributed to his death.

But how can we even begin to ask these types of questions when we know so little about the circumstances in which he became ill, and his subsequent care?

Protestations that this is due to the necessity of respecting privacy and confidentiality, ethical principles that are core to the health professional-patient relationship, are to some extent correct. But they also obscure important features of this case.

The government is simply wrong to claim that this issue should not be “politicised”. What is ultimately at issue here is the way in which domestic politics and border policy impose norms (rules of behaviour) that are antithetical to medicine and health care and, fundamentally, to democracy.

Medicine, like biomedical science, requires transparency and honesty to be clinically and ethically sound. Peer review, clinical audit, root-cause analysis, family conferences, conflict-resolution strategies, case consultation, multidisciplinary team meetings, mortality and morbidity meetings, open disclosure policies: all rest on the importance of transparency and respect.

In contrast, we know very little about the people who seek asylum in Australia. Everything is secret – their arrival, their situation, their medical need, their illnesses, and their death.

This requirement for secrecy has largely overwhelmed efforts by many good people – legislators, human rights lawyers, refugee advocates, health workers, politicians and ordinary citizens – to shine a light on what is happening to people in detention.

The Immigration Health Advisory Group has been disbanded, restricting the degree to which the health professions can critique the care available to asylum seekers. And even those tasked with providing medical care to asylum-seekers struggle to advocate for the people under their care.

Policies restrict the degree to which they can care for their patients or refer them for specialist care not available in the detention centres. Contracts bind them to secrecy and many, often shocked by what they have seen, are prevented from speaking out by legal threats and intimidation long after they’ve returned to the mainland.

The language of “border control” has been used to excuse political secrecy. But such secrecy is what we usually associate with autocratic governments and is the antithesis of democratic ideals.

What this case illustrates, yet again, is that the asylum seekers detained on Manus and Christmas Islands and Nauru have been excised not only from the laws that determine access to Australia but from the care we should provide any vulnerable person for whom we are responsible. And from the ethical principles upon which medicine and our health system are based.

If we care about these people, and if we truly believe in the humane values that ground medicine and the moral principles that ground democracy, then we need to do two things. The first is to hold a truly independent inquiry into the care of people in detention. And the second is to end off-shore processing.

David Isaacs is head of the Health Assessment for Refugee Kids (HARK) clinic at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Ian Kerridge does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.


Fifty-five Greenpeace activists from some 20 countries go on trial in France on Thursday for an audacious break-in at the country’s oldest nuclear power plant to highlight weaknesses at atomic installations.

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The March 18 protest at the Fessenheim power plant in eastern France near the border with Germany and Switzerland resulted in the government ordering stronger security at nuclear facilities.

   

The activists include 21 Germans, seven Italians and others from France, Turkey, Austria, Hungary, Australia and Israel and several other nations.

   

The court in the eastern French city of Colmar will try and determine whether the Greenpeace members had smashed a metal security gate with their truck to enter the plant or simply broken a lock to get in as they claim.

   

They will be tried for trespassing and for wilful damage and could be slapped with a prison term of up to five years if convicted.

   

Those activists from countries outside the European Union’s 26-nation Schengen visa-free travel zone also face a travel ban in France if convicted.

   

However, protestors staging break-ins at French nuclear installations in the past have got off with six-month suspended prison sentences.

   

The March dawn protest ended hours later at the plant run by state-run power firm EDF. About 20 activists had managed to get on the dome of one of the reactors but EDF said the safety of the plant had not been compromised.

   

Later another group of Greenpeace activists put up a giant banner next to the nearby Rhine canal, which read “Future Is Renewable, Stop Nuclear”.

   

France, the world’s most nuclear-dependent country, operates 58 reactors and has been a leading international proponent of atomic energy.

   

But in a deal with the Greens before the 2012 parliamentary and presidential elections, President Francois Hollande’s Socialist party promised to cut reliance on nuclear energy from more than 75 percent to 50 percent by shutting 24 reactors by 2025.

   

Hollande has pledged to close Fessenheim, which was commissioned in 1977, by the end of 2016.

   

The plant, located on the banks of the Rhine, is considered vulnerable to seismic activity and flooding.

   

The protest stunt came ahead of a meeting by European leaders to discuss the future of the continent’s energy policy.

   

Greenpeace wants Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to push Europe towards cleaner energy, complaining that France relies too much on nuclear power and Germany on coal for electricity supplies.

   

Hollande has repeatedly pledged to develop renewable energy and vowed to improve the energy efficiency of one million homes that are badly insulated.

   

France plans to reach the EU’s 10 percent renewable energy target by boosting the use of second-generation biofuels, which are made from crop residues, waste, algae or woody material.


It wasn’t Jimmy Anderson, but Australian destroyer Mitchell Johnson has broken the arm of an opponent.

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Ryan McLaren, the South African allrounder who is all too familiar with Johnson’s thunderbolts, will miss the rest of the one-day tri-series in Harare after suffering a hairline fracture in his forearm during Tuesday’s loss to Australia.

Back in February’s first Test against the Proteas at Centurion, Johnson struck McLaren in the side of the helmet with a vicious blow which left the 31-year-old bleeding from the ear.

McLaren was admitted to hospital a day later and played no further part in the series.

Now Johnson has sent him back to the medicos for the second time in six months, this time to treat a broken arm.

Last summer, Australian captain Michael Clarke was caught on the stump microphone telling England No.11 Anderson to “get ready for a broken f***ing arm” when Johnson was charging into bowl.

To McLaren’s credit, he batted on bravely through both the headknock at Centurion and now the broken arm in Harare, but you can’t imagine he’s looking forward to facing up to Johnson again come November when the South Africans visit Australia for another one-day series.

“Ryan was taken for X-rays this afternoon after complaining of severe pain following a blow to his right forearm yesterday,” said South African team manager, Dr Mohammed Moosaje.

“The scans revealed a hairline fracture to the bone in the right forearm, which rules him out of action for the next three weeks. He will return back to South Africa on Thursday morning.”

McLaren has been troubled by the same length both times, only the speed and the pace of the wicket in Centurion made the situation far more dangerous.

It might have a few of the Proteas top order more than a little nervous ahead of Saturday’s tri-series final.

Johnson said he knew he had McLaren hopping, and lamented not getting his wicket.

“I probably got a bit carried away when McLaren came in,” said Johnson.

In the opening match against Zimbabwe Johnson smashed the window of the commentary box, shattering glass all over the callers.

And Johnson inadvertently caused Zimbabwean Tinashe Panyangara to be sacked.

The local quick had sent around a picture to teammates on social media on the eve of the match of the Australian quick blasting England’s batsmen, with the message: “Good luck boys.”


Dozens of people held a midday vigil in Brisbane for an asylum seeker believed to be ‘brain dead’, ahead of twilight vigils across the country this evening.

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Hamid Kehazaei, 24, was airlifted from Papua New Guinea to Brisbane last week for emergency treatment for a life-threatening skin infection.

Yesterday, refugee advocates claimed Mr Kehazaei had been declared brain dead.

Those attending the Brisbane vigil called for the Manus Island detention centre to be closed.

The vigil, held outside the Mater Hospital, is part of a series of vigils in capital cities across Australia.

More than 1000 people had signed up to an online invitation to join the twilight vigils, organised by various organisations around the country.

Attendance at the vigils sent the hashtag #hamidkehazaei trending on Twitter.

Every candle is evidence a better Australia is possible. #HamidKehazaei, we’re sorry. #LightTheDark pic.twitter广西桑拿,/cwD4X48Kp4

— Brad Chilcott (@bradchilcott) September 4, 2014

#RIP #HamidKehazaei. روحت شاد حمید #asylumseekers #Australia #LightTheDark pic.twitter广西桑拿,/LPOM0o4Ooq

— Sohrab (@Sohrabrustami) September 4, 2014

Mr Kehazaei developed septicaemia from an infection which spread from a cut foot. Septicaemia occurs when disease-causing bacteria enters the bloodstream.

The hospital told his family a legal guardian will be appointed to make the decision about the withdrawal of life support.

Vigil for Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei at Brisbane hospital @SBSNews #refugee #manus pic.twitter广西桑拿,/uBJcedQQuX

— Stefan Armbruster (@StefArmbruster) September 4, 2014

Vigil for ‘brain dead’ Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei at Brisbane hospital @SBSNews #manus #png #refugee pic.twitter广西桑拿,/dfN2t1TAnh

— Stefan Armbruster (@StefArmbruster) September 4, 2014