CHOPPER BLOCK: The Belmont-based Westpac rescue helicopter could not fly to several emergencies this year because of a unique arrangement with John Hunter Hospital around who accompanies patients during a transfer.THE Hunter Westpac rescue helicopter has been unable to respond to emergencies in its own backyard because of a hospital policy that a union fears is putting lives on the line.
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TheNewcastle Heraldcan reveal on Christmas Eve the Hunter service could not help a surfer who nearly drowned on a beach near Forster,despite being just five minutes from the scene in an empty helicopter.

It took paramedics 45 minutes to get to the remote location by four-wheel drive, but only after a back-up Sydney-based rescue helicopter struck birds and needed to abort.

It is not the first time the multimillion-dollar service has been unable to help despite being minutes away.

The Health Services Union revealed calls for the Belmont-based rescue chopper to assist in two emergencies on Lake Macquarie this year went unanswered as the helicopter was staffed with the wrong crew and fitted with the wrong equipment.

It stems back to a long-standing John Hunter Hospital policy that requires the hospital to keep its own medical team on the chopper for patient transfers between hospitals, leading to a dispute with paramedics.

The disagreement has now reached boiling point, with the HSU urging Hunter MPs to pressure the hospital into backing down.

The union wants the Hunter rescue service to be brought into line with the rest of the state to allow specialised paramedics to perform the patient transfers, known as secondary missions.

Currently, only critical care nurses are allowed to perform patient transfers on the Hunter rescue chopper.Theyare untrained for emergencies, known asprimary missions, which aero-paramedics respond to.

Hospital defends 30-year protocolParamedics had expected Hunter New England Health would change its policy after the Aeromedical Reform Plan was announced in 2013, but nothing eventuated.

The hospital maintains that critical care nurses, with a doctor,are the best medical team to transfer unwell patients in the Hunter.

But the union arguesthepolicy is “putting lives at risk” as it was leaving thechopper unequipped in times of emergency.

Read more: Westpac Rescue Helicopter unveils new base fleet in 2017

Defending the chopper protocol, John Hunter’scritical care servicesmanager Julie Taitsaid nurses were “best-equipped” to manage critically unwell patients in the Hunter, which had “unique” medical demands.

“In our intensive care, with the greatest respect, we don’t put paramedics to work,” Ms Tait said.

“We put our nursing staff who are trained that way.The paramedics are extremely skilled in what they do, but so too are the nurses in their intensive care setting.

“It’s about making sure the right level of nursing skill is there to cater for the patient.”

Ms Taitsaid the Hunter rescue chopper had operated under the same model for more than 30 years.

TO THE RESCUE: The Bankstown-based Toll rescue helicopter winches a man to safety from a capsized boat at Swansea after Westpac rescue couldn’t help.

“In many ways, these are the most unstable patients we have …from our perspective, it’s really an opportunity to make sure the appropriately trained nurses and doctors continue to do the work they’ve been doing,” she said.

Ms Tait added that Sydney-based rescue services were capable of helping.

“Sydney manage it quite well and they will facilitate what we need,” she said.

Survival down to ‘good luck’However, HSU secretary Gerard Hayes said every rescue helicopter in the state –except the Hunter’s –could be diverted mid-mission.

In March, the Bankstown-based Toll helicopter was dispatched to Swansea Heads to winch a man to safety from a capsized boat,despite the Westpac chopper being minutes away at the hospital.

The chopper would have needed to fly back to its Belmont base to swap crew and equipment. A refit can take up to half an hour.

“On this occasion, the victim survived but this was more due to good luck,” Mr Hayes told Hunter MPs, in a letter obtained by theHerald.

The situation repeated on October 7 when a woman was swept out to sea at Boat Harbour. The Westpac chopper was again on a patient transfer.

WARNING: Health Services Union secretary Gerard Hayes puts the survival of some patients down to ‘good luck’.

Mr Hayes said the Hunter retrieval service “denied” the communitytimely care.

“On these secondary helicopter missions, the Westpac rescue helicopter flew without a patient 159 times, yet could not take a critical care doctor to the scene of acar accident, a farming incident or rescue a person drowning,” he said.

“The only system of its kind, the Hunter Retrieval system denies the community access to timely critical care and rescue services, a service that the rest of the state expects.”

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The Tyrrell’s team: Managing director Bruce Tyrrell, chief winemaker Andrew Spinaze and viticulturist Andrew Pengilly Picture: Hannah Rose RobinsonDURING2017 I received about 2000 wines for review and so selecting a year’s Top 10 involves agonisingly difficult choices. My Hunter palate led me to wines from this regionas tops in semillon, shiraz and chardonnay.
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WINE OF THE YEARWine of the year and chardonnay of the year is theTyrrell’s2013 Vat 47 chardonnay, a white of superb balance and elements of nectarine, fig, lemon zest and flint, which sells for $70.It was recently judged one of best wines and the top Hunter in the James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge.

BEST SEMILLONSemillon of the year is theMcWilliam’sMount Pleasant2009 Lovedale semillon, selling for$90. It unfolds an array of grapefruit, lemon zest, flint and toast and honey flavours.

BEST SHIRAZShiraz of the year is theMeerea Park 2007 Alexander Munro shiraz.FromIvanhoe vineyardgrapes, it’s got great balance and intensity.

BEST CABERNET SAUVIGNONMargaret River’sMoss Wood 2014 cabernet sauvignongets the gong as cabernet sauvignon of the year. Selling for $128, it has sumptuous blackcurrant flavour with underlays of mulberry, Turkish delight, chocolate and mint.

BEST SAUVIGNON BLANCThe $27-a-bottleShaw and Smith 2017 Adelaide Hills sauvignon blancis my best of this hugely popular variety. It has zingy gooseberry front-palate flavour, with elements of kiwifruit, green apple and gunmetal.

BEST PINOT NOIRMy best pinot noir is also from the Adelaide Hills winery of cousins Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith. The$46Shaw and Smith 2015 pinot noirhas vibrant cherry front-palate flavour and a complex backup of pomegranate, spice and spearmint.

BEST SPARKLINGYou can pay a motza for bubbly, but on quality and affordability my choice is the TasmanianKreglinger 2007 vintage brut.For $38 at Dan Murphy’s, it has tiny, persistent bubbles, oatmeal scents and deliciously crisp strawberry, citrus, mineral and macadamia characters.

BEST RIESLINGFrom former Hunter winemaker Samantha Connew, the$35Stargazer 2017 Tasmania rieslingis my top riesling. It has fresh, crisp ruby grapefruit front-palate flavour, backed by preserved lemon, nashi pear, flint and mineral acid.

BEST ROSETop rosé is the$20HilltopsFreeman 2017 Rondo rosé,madeItalian-origin rondinella varietybyex-Sturt University wine science professorBrian Freeman. It melds strawberry, peaches and cream, apple and mineral characters.

TOP VALUE OF THE YEARMy top-value wine isthe$25De Iuliis 2016 shiraz made by Michael De Iuliis. At the 2017 Hunter Wine Show it won the best young shiraz trophy and has an array of palate-pleasing blackcurrant, Morello cherry, spice and spearmint.

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Boxing Day shoppers pack punch for region Boxing Day sales: Kim Humphries, Jessica Quist, Rita Jones and Lisa Kearney at Charlestown Square. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
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Boxing Day sales: Annie Neenan and Meg Gallagher at Charlestown Square. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Boxing Day sales: Tien, Trang, Thu and Ni Nguyen at Charlestown Square. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Boxing Day sales: Melissa Brennan and David Battisson at Charlestown Square. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Boxing Day sales: Jenni White at Charlestown Square. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Boxing Day sales at Charlestown Square. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Boxing Day sales at Charlestown Square. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Boxing Day sales at Charlestown Square. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Boxing Day sales at Charlestown Square. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Boxing Day sales at Charlestown Square. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

TweetFacebookFOR RITA Jones, bargain-hunting at the Boxing Day sales isas much a Christmas tradition as sharing a meal with family and giving gifts to loved ones.

“It’s a day out for us –it’s about getting together and having lunch,” said Ms Jones, who was joined by her daughters Kim Humphries and Lisa Kearney and grandaughter Jessica Quist, who is 15 weeks pregnant.

“And if something is a good bargain, then I’ll buy it.”

The Lake Macquarie family used to have to wait to December 27 to splash their cash, beforethe state government held a two-year trial allowing retailersin suburban and regional NSW to trade on December 26.

The government passed laws in September this year making Boxing Day trade permanent across the state.

The quartet arrived at Charlestown Square at 8am and soon filled a trolley with items including a Christmas wreath that was half price at $50, Skechers shoes that were originally $169 but snapped up for$39 and Dusk candles for $4.

Kim Humphries said it was important after spending so much time shopping for others to treat yourself.

“It means you can get whatever you want and feel like on the day,” she said, while her daughter Jessica Quist said she enjoyed “the rush of getting a good deal”.

Ms Humphriessearched online for a Fitbit, but found one for $189 at JB Hi Fi, $10 cheaper than anywhere else.

She brought $300 cash and left her credit cards at home, while her sister Lisa Kearney –who had received a text message from her husband saying ‘It’s not cheap if you don’t need it’ –said she was prepared to push on until “we feel we’ve had enough”.

Meanwhile, Singleton sisters Tien, Trang, Thu and Ni Nguyen were expecting to depletetheir individual $1000 budgets.

“We’ve bought from about 12 shops, then will eat, put this in the car and keep going,” Thu said.“It’s better than online because you can try things on and get it straight away.”

Charlestown Square general manager DwightHodgetts said more than 60,000 people visited the centre on Tuesday, second only to the roughly 87,000 who attended on Thursdaywhen it was open to midnight.

He said the carpark was already 50 per cent full at 8am on what becamethe centre’s biggest Boxing Day of the past three years.

“A lot of stores will stay on sale for the next two weeks so we’ll see very high traffic through to mid January,” he said.

Westfield Kotaracentre managerKate Murphy said one of the centre’s “biggest shopping days of the year” had included “great discounts from brands for the official launch of the sales season, with queues of people outside stores such as David Jones, Mimco, Lush, JB-HiFi and Pandora”.

The National Retail Association said shoppers were expected to spend $2.36 billion on Boxing Day, up three per cent on 2016.

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Pearce backs himself to lead Knights’ revival FOCUSED: Mitchell Pearce takes the ball to the line at Knights training. The NSW Origin halfback has settled into his new surroundings in Newcastle. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
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TweetFacebookSYDNEY ROOSTERSPearce is proud of the way he and his old club parted ways.

“It all happened pretty quick and obviouslyI didn’t expect it, but the next thing, I’m here in Newcastle.”

Read more: Pearce reveals why he chose the Knights

“I was told what was happening with Cooper [Cronk]. Iwas going overseas and Robbo [Trent Robinson] and Nick [Politis] said that if I didn’t think I could buy in, let’s work it out.

“It just didn’t sit right for me to potentially be playing a utility role. I felt like I had more to offer and, while it was emotional, I knew I had to move on.I felt like I dealt with it really honestly and we dealt with it in a good way.Sometimes you see situations like this get a bit nasty but it was a really smooth transition and a mutual respect for each other.”

THE OPTIONSPearce has always relied heavily on his instincts, and while he went onto the market with an“open mind”the decision in the end wasn’t difficult.

“Cronulla was really attractive, Manly was attractive and I was definitely interested in those clubs andwent into the processwith an open mind.”

“Ina lot of ways, they were the easier choices. But I just saw the opportunity for more growth for me and for me to take more responsibility here in Newcastle and that’s why I’m here.”

Read more: Knights stretch the limits with yoga

THAT MEETINGMuch has been made of Pearce’s meeting with Knights coach Nathan Brown, head of football Darren Mooney and Phil Gardner at Brown’s home a week before confirmation that was joining the club.

Pearce arrived armed with plenty of questions and left genuinely excited.

“I didn’t know what to expect with Newcastle and I said thatto Browny at the meeting.”

“For anyone coming up here after the results of the past couple of years, I think you definitely needed to be asking questions about the roster and the vision.But they were really honest about the direction of the club and I walked away and rang Dad straight away because I was really excited.

“For one,I was excited about how quickly I think the club can develop with the direction of Browny and Moons [Mooney] andtheway they are setting up the recruitment.Just the chance to come up here and be a part of the evolution of the team and bringsome success in such a mad rugby league town -that is what excited me more than the other clubs and that’s why I’m here.”

THE MOVEPearce hasn’t had one negative thought about his decision since moving to Newcastle.

“It all still feels a bit surreal and probably will for a couple of months but I said to a few mates the other day it feels right and I’m big on trusting your instinct. It’s an awesome place to live and play footy. I noticed that straight away.The fansseem like a loyal type of people who really love their footy team. It makes you proud to be a Knight. I know I have only just started but I’m a footy head and I’ve already got that vibe.”

PROSPECTSPearces understands that Knights fans have had to be extremely patient, but he hopes they will give the team time to further develop in 2018.

Read more: Knights’ new $20 million centre of excellence to be built at Broadmeadow

“There are lots of things that have exceeded my expectations during pre-season training about the group and the way we train.”

“I’ve come from a winning culture at the Roosters where we have been pretty successful and the club has high standards. In some areas, we are right up there but there are also parts that need to improve and in a developing squad, that’s no surprise.

“We’ll have ups and downs for parts of the season. It’s going to be small steps but the key is to keep improving and keep setting our standards higher. If we are doing that, I think we will really surprise some teams and pull a few pants down.”

CAPTAINCYGiven Pearce has only been at the club a short time, captaincy is not a priority.

Read more: Mentor Allan Bell says Pearce will shine in Knights colours

“I know my job is to be the best role model and leader I can beand, first and foremost, the best halfback I can be.Leadership is a big reason why I’m here but the club has great guys in those roles.I’m not here to take a tag off anyone and just want to be a part of this leadership group and help us raise the bar.”

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Mistakes are inevitable in football and Melbourne City captain Michael Jakobsen acknowledges they will always happen.
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What angers him is avoidable blunders; stupid mistakes borne from a lack of concentration or thoughtlessness.

And while he is happy to spend the festive season with Danish family friends who are visiting Australia, the memory of City’s past two matches – defeats to Sydney FC and in the Christmas derby to Melbourne Victory – meant it was not as merry a Christmas as it might have been.

Jakobsen includes himself in the criticism for those losses, with goals that all came from set pieces (one free kick and two penalties), saying that City players have to maintain focus for 90 minutes if they want to avoid making errors that have such a costly effect.

“We need to concentrate more, get back to basics and eliminate the silly errors otherwise we can forget about finishing high up the table,” he said.

City performed well against the Sydney in NSW, having taken a first-half lead only to be undone by two goals just before the interval, one from a free kick, the other from a penalty.

They lost to Victory in similar fashion, going down to a last-gasp spot kick converted by Mark Milligan after goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis upended the Socceroo midfielder. That the free kick – conceded in a dangerous position in the fourth minute of extra time – was given away by City annoyed Jakobsen.

“Mistakes are going to happen. It’s football. But these were silly mistakes. We spoke before the Sydney game and the Victory game about not giving away free kicks around the box and in the penalty area.”

Despite the recent losses, Jakobsen is pleased with the first half of the season under new coach Warren Joyce.

City are third on the ladder – albeit a respectable distance behind leaders Sydney and second-placed Newcastle – and despite the derby defeat remain in front of Victory.

“We are in a pretty good position,” Jakobsen said. “We know what we can do when we get things right. But we need to be more consistent if we are to progress.

“The Sydney game irritated me. It was a tight match and we set a good standard against the champion team and exposed some weaknesses, but then we made those avoidable mistakes.

“Against Victory we started too slowly. All credit to Victory for the way they came out and pressed us from the first whistle. They are hard to shut down when they play at a high pressure like that from the start and they were better in the first half.

“But we changed our game plan in the second and I think we created many chances and neither side would have been upset had that game ended in a draw.”

Western Sydney Wanderers loom as City’s next opponents, and the Josep Gombau-coached side are shaping as the A-League’s crisis team, having suffered heavy losses to Sydney and Newcastle in recent games as the players struggle to adapt to the new style their Spanish coach is seeking to impose.

“We need to get back to doing what we did at the start of the season (when City won their first four games) and we need to take three points in this game<” Jakobsen said.

“Wanderers are having a difficult run so it could all depend on the start. If we can get at them early and get an early lead then their heads might drop a bit . But if they get off to a good start we have to be careful, as they have quality players that can hurt you.”

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Wil Anderson isn’t the only high-profile Triple M personality to distance himself from the network’s “Ozzest 100”.
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Other presenters, both publicly and privately, have expressed their dismay after the station took a jab at Triple J for changing the date of its Hottest 100 countdown out of respect for Indigenous Australians.

Radio royalty Mick Molloy and Jane Kennedy recently told listeners they believe Australia Day shouldn’t be held on January 26.

“I’m speaking for myself here, but I would like to see Australia Day moved so everyone can enjoy it,” Molloy said. “If you want to do it, include everyone. Keep the public holiday, remove the date and everyone can enjoy it together.”

The pair also invited ARIA-winning Indigenous artist Dan Sultan onto the airwaves to talk about why January 26 was a sad day for Australia’s first peoples.

The comments mean presenters from Triple M’s two most prestigious programs, Drive and Breakfast, have now spoken against management’s decision to host a countdown on Australia Day.

Molloy and Kennedy are currently hosting Triple M Drive in Melbourne, but in a network first their show will transform into a national drive show come January.

Last week, Breakfast co-host Wil Anderson tweeted that he was “extremely shocked” by the Ozzest 100 announcement.

“[I] have made that clear to management yesterday and will continue to hold and prosecute why I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he wrote. “I was as shocked and disappointed as you would imagine as someone who has vocally and on the record expressed how proud I was of Triple J.”

Despite the pushback, Triple M is not backing down on its plans to take a jab at its “hipster” rival. Content head Mike Fitzpatrick has said the network will air the Ozzest 100 as planned in order to “celebrate Aussie artists”.

However, the countdown could be in for an upset after Indigenous rapper Briggs urged fans to vote for his hit single January 26. The award-winning track, which also features Dan Sultan, was written in order to educate Australians about Australia Day. Vote for ???January 26′ by A.B. Original & @dansultan in #TripleM’s redneck countdown! https://t.co/05OqAcIvUZpic.twitter南京夜网/XksBhDWLXE??? A.B. Original (@ABOriginalBAM) December 20, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.Read More →

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – December 23, 2017: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SMH NEWS: 231217: Story by Andrew Wu: Portrait of Sydney Thunder Batsman and Spin Bowler Arjun Nair at his Western Sydney family home where he has built a Cricket net to practise and train. (Photo James Alcock /Fairfax Media).It might not be the SCG or the MCG but Sydney Thunder young gun Arjun Nair has his own field of dreams in the backyard.
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The 22 yards of synthetic turf that sits down the side of the Nair family home in Girraween, in Sydney’s west, is where one of the brightest young prospects in Australian cricket has honed his game.

Nair, 19, has had the pitch since he was a 14-year-old with ambitions of making it to the top. The future prospect, who last year aged 17 became one of the youngest players to make his first-class debut for NSW, still has a way to go to fulfil his dreams but it’s hard not to be enthused by his start to the Big Bash.

The all-rounder hit the winning runs in the Thunder’s victory in the Sydney Derby, and was strong with bat and ball in their loss to Adelaide last Friday.

As a schoolboy, Nair spent hours with his father in the custom-made net much to the chagrin of his mother, who preferred him hitting the books instead of the ball. As a trade-off, Nair would have to study late into the night.

The idea to install a full-sized pitch and net, at a cost of $5000-$10,000, was his father Jay’s. Nair was not complaining. Few teenagers with a passion for the game would.

“I was able to play more, I didn’t have to travel as far. I’ve only got to go to the backyard, which is much easier,” Nair told Fairfax Media.

“It’s something different. If you have space and you really want to do it, it’s a good investment.”

There is unlikely to be anyone in the world who has faced Nair more than his father. In a standard session, Nair will practise his wide range of variations in a 100-ball spell. His father also feeds the bowling machine so Nair, a budding all-rounder, can practise his batting.

Like every backyard across the country, there are house rules. Automatic wicky applies, of course, and for Nair anything hit above 10cm is out. The rules are not conducive to producing the big hits which are synonymous with the BBL but there is a grander goal in mind.

“Unless I hit it clean straight, I get away with it,” Nair said. “Dad can hit it as high as he wants unless it’s a straight top edge, he’s out.”

Nair was a leggie as a child but inspired by West Indies offie Sunil Narine switched to finger-spin. Like Narine, Nair has a deadly doosra – a ball which spins away from the right-hander with little discernible difference in action – that he has used with success at grade level.

The delivery is not taught in the Australian system due to a belief it cannot be bowled with a legal action.

“I watched an Indian Premier League game and saw Narine bowl. I thought it was pretty cool so I started working in the backyard with my dad,” Nair said.

“It turned out pretty decent so I started working hard from then on.”

Nair still practises his leg-spin and has not ruled out bowling a few in games.

“It’s coming out alright now but I won’t use it for a while,” Nair said. “It’s a work in progress. It’ll add to my variety.”

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Armed robber Jesse Nikolovski’s golden rule after Wickham murder Jesse Nikolovski committed four armed robberies after being present during Robbie Parry’s home invasion murder.
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Inset: Daniel Petryk and police investigate the murder at Wickham in March, 2015.

MISSED: Police investigate the death of Robbie Parry, inset, at Wickham in March.

TRIAL: Main; Robert Parry (right) with his late father, Alan Parry. Left; Jesse Nikolovski was acquitted of murder, but pleaded guilty to armed robbery over the home invasion at Wickham. Right; Robert Parry’s sisters, Susie and Lynda Parry, after Daniel Petryk was found guilty of murder in September.

TweetFacebook Jesse Nikolovski committed four armed robberies after being present during Robbie Parry’s home invasion murder. GUNMAN’S GAMBLE ENDS IN MURDER

NO more guns.

That was the self-imposed rule Jesse Nikolovski introduced after he watched Daniel Petryk shoot Robbie Parry dead during a botched home invasion at Wickham on March 7, 2015.

But that didn’t mean Nikolovski, then 21, of Mayfield, was done committing armed robberies.

In fact, while Petryk was heading north to lie low in Queensland, Nikolovski was putting together a crew of armed thieves intent on holding up Sydney pubs and clubs.

And rather than keep a low profile, six weeks after Mr Parry was shot dead in the lounge room of his Dickson Street home, Nikolovski was waiting outside the Royal Hotel at Leichardt for the last few staff members to leave for the night.

That was Nikolovski’s MO. His crew would always carry knives, machetes, baseball bats or metal poles.

They would always be waiting at the back door when unsuspecting staff members left for the night.

And they would always force them back inside with threats of violence unless the safe was opened and cash was handed over.

“Give us everything,” Nikolovski told one victim during an armed robbery at the Red Lion Hotel at Rozelle.

“They’re insured, your life isn’t.”

Nikolovski and his tight-knit crew–who spoke in code and pig Latin when organising what pubs to hit–would commit four armed robberies in five weeks, bashing one staff member senseless at the Belfield Bowling Club and netting more than $45,000 in total.

“We will cut your head off,” one of the armed offenders said to a staff memberhe was holdingcaptive while Nikolovski stole the cash float.

And Nikolovski, who burnt through the cash on drugs and poker machines, didn’t stop until heavily-armed police interrupted him about to hold-up the Victoria Hotel at Annandale during the early hours of June 17.

But somehow he managed to slip the net and escape on foot before being arrested the next morning.

Nikolovski’s crimes in the aftermath of Mr Parry’s murder can be revealed after he pleadedguilty to three counts of armed robbery and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and was jailed for a maximum of eight years and six months, with a non-parole period of five years and six months in Campbelltown District Court earlier this month.

He was in custody at Cessnock Correctional Centre on the armed robbery charges in November, 2015, when detectives investigating Mr Parry’s murder brought him into Newcastle police station for questioning.He didn’t say a word to police and languished in jail for two years before he and Petryk, who was also in custody on other matters when he was charged with Mr Parry’s murder, faced the start of a trial in Newcastle Supreme Court in September.

The prosecution case was that Petryk pulled the trigger and robbed Mr Parry, while Nikolovski was with him and willing to provide assistance.

It was an often-dramatic five-week trial.

One witness failed to show up to give evidence and had to be arrested on a warrant and brought to court.

Another witness, key to the prosecution case, pleaded guilty to providing the murder weapon and was given a deal on the understanding he testify against the pair.

But he looked like he’d almost rather be in jail than on the witness stand as Nikolovski and Petryk took notes, smirked and whispered to each other in the court dock.

But the most crucial witness was the woman who said she was with Petryk and Nikolovski on the night of the shooting.

The witness, who cannot be identified, told the jury she was armed with an axe when she snuck into the home behind Petryk and watched as he pulled the trigger.

She said Mr Parry, a small-time cannabis dealer and well-known Wickham identity who was deaf in one ear and left his front door unlocked,fell to the ground.

“I think I recall him telling us to f— off out of his house,” the woman said.

“Daniel let the gun off.

“[The man] dropped to the ground.”

She was given immunity from prosecution for testifying against the pair, but her evidence wholly exonerated Nikolovski on the murder charge with Justice Helen Wilson directing the jury to find him not guilty at the close of the prosecution case.

Nikolovski later pleaded guilty to armed robbery in relation to the theft of about $50 worth of cannabis from Mr Parry.

He will be sentenced in Newcastle Supreme Court in February and that jail term should begin after the armed robbery term he received this month expires in December, 2020.

Petryk had always maintained he wasn’t in Wickham on the night of Mr Parry’s murder.

But after watching Crown prosecutor Lee Carr run his case, hearing the evidence and seeing Nikolovski get acquitted and disappear from the court dock, the 25-year-old from Windale wanted to”change his version of events”, Justice Wilson said, a development that ultimately led to his legal counsel withdrawing from the matter.

After a week of wasted court time Petryk decided not to run a defence case.

After deliberating for nine hours, the jury found him guilty of murder.He faces the prospect of life in jail when sentenced in February.

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Despite three of their five family members suffering a serious heart disease, Stephanie and Neil Wilson consider their family to be very lucky.
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Neil, Lewis, 9, and Jasper, 4, have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which results in thickening of their heart walls, restricting the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body.

It is an inherited disease with few symptoms that is often not diagnosed until an otherwise-healthy young person dies suddenly.

DEFIBRILLATOR: Stephanie Wilson holds one of the defibrillators that she hopes never to use. Sons Lewis, 9, and Jasper, 4, and her husband Neil have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which thickens their heart walls. Picture: Lachlan Bence

The disease is most severe in Lewis, whose heart walls are 25mm thick compared to the average adult’s 12mm. At their last cardiology appointment the family were told that Lewis must carry a defibrillator with him at all times in case his heart stops.

“As a mum it’s pretty confronting to be told you have to have a defibrillator on hand at all times for your child,” Ms Wilson said.

“It’s a disease that you usually don’t find out about until it’s too late, so kids playing on the footy field who suddenly die, they usually have this underlying condition.”

Until Jasper was born the Wilsons had no idea they had a genetic time-bomb ticking within their family.

“We actually consider ourselves to be really lucky that when we had our third child Jasper, it was discovered in him.”

Ms Wilson had a fever during labour so a pediatrician was on hand to check on newborn Jasper’s health. The pediatrician detected a heart murmur and further testing discovered it was more serious, with the eventual diagnosis being hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Stephanie Wilson

Because it is a genetic disease, the whole family were tested with Lewis and Neil both coming back positive.

“We are a bit of an unusual case because Iactually carry the gene but Idon’t have the condition, whereas my husband has the condition but not the gene though he does have three variants of the gene. Two of my children have the gene, the three variants plus the condition.”

Neil has a mild form of the disease but Lewis and Jasper have it more severely. Eldest son Archie, 11, does not have the condition.

The disease means Lewis can not play sport. He can do PE lessons at school but must be vigilant and stop if he feels out of breath.

“Lewis was our most sporty child of all and wants to be involved in all that kind of stuff, so it’s pretty hard for him,” Ms Wilson said.

Lewis will need surgery in a few years, but he is too small to undergo it safely so the defibrillator is a vital measure to ensure his safety until then.

“If they did the surgery now it would be open heart surgery. They look at three different risk factors and Lewis has one to two, so they want to try to hold off so the surgery is not as dramatic,” Ms Wilson said.

Jasper is also likely to be ordered to carry a defibrillator in the coming years as his disease worsens.

The family currently have two defibrillators, one in their car and another which goes between school and home.

When the family were told they needed the defibrillators, family friend Sally Howe jumped in to remove the financial stress from the family’s emotional burden and started a Go Fund Me page which raised the money needed in just a few days.

“I couldn’t even look at the Go Fund Me page because I was too distressed and emotional about it, and it just totally amazes me the support we’ve had. I’m blown away and very grateful,” Ms Wilson said.

When Ms Wilson contacted Defib for Life they dispatched a defibrillator straight away, regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

“They were amazing. I rang the founder Sue Buckman and told her what we had been told and she said she would pack it up straight away even it if took us three years to pay off because she wanted us to have it immediately,” Ms Wilson said.

Any money raised through the Go Fund Me campaign in excess of what the family need for defibrillators will be donated to Defib for Life.

The Courier, Ballarat

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