Potent drug disguised as ecstasy causes mass overdose in Newcastle

FAKE: Testing has revealed the ‘blue superman’ pills responsible for a mass overdose in Newcastle are not ecstasy.

THEY are being sold as the party drug ecstasy, or MDMA.

The distinctive triangle-shaped ‘blue superman’pills caused a mass overdose of 11 people last weekend and “several” more peoplehave been hospitalised after taking the pills in Newcastle this week.

Buyers may know they’re getting a drug.

But what they don’t know is that the drug they are getting is the potentcentral nervous system depressant alprazolam, or Xanax, not MDMA.

Health authorities have issued a second alertthis week after several more patients were admitted to Hunter emergency departments after taking ‘blue superman’ pills since Tuesday.

Pills takenby people who thought they took something else.

Fairfax Mediacan reveal that testing of the dangerous new pills at the Forensic and Analytical Science Service laboratory in Sydney has found they are not MDMA.

The senior staff specialist addiction medicine, director alcohol and drug unit, Calvary Mater Newcastle and Hunter New England Health, Dr Craig Sadler, said the pills were addictive and potentially very dangerous.

“We are talking about a potent and fast-acting form of benzodiazepine,” he said.

“This particular supply of illicit pills is being sold as something that it is not.”

Alprazolam is used as an anti-anxiety medication or sedative and belongs to the same group of drugs as Valium.

When mixed with alcohol, another depressant, it can be extremely dangerous.

Hospital staff reported patients who had taken the ‘blue superman’ pillsdeclined rapidly and suffered varying levels of consciousness.

At least one suffered seizures.

Dr Sadler said all patients recovered and were discharged from hospital.

He warned anyone against taking the pills and said people who took party drugs and felt unwell should seek medical help immediately.

“It is very real problem if people are taking these pills thinking they are a stimulant,” he said.

“We want people to aware that what they are being sold, is not what the pills are. They should not be taken.”

At least 11 party goers were taken to Calvary Mater Newcastle and John Hunter Hospital emergency departments between Friday and Monday nights after taking the pills.

The patients, ten men and one woman, were aged between 18 and 34.

The exact number is not known, but several other people were treated in Hunter hospitals since Tuesday after taking the pills.

Police urgedanyone with information about the pills to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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“Monstrous in scale”: Mayor slams 100-metre towers for Marrickville

The Inner West Council is gearing up for a fight over a mammoth $1.3 billion apartment project, which could see a string of 20 buildings, including towers more than 100 metres tall and comprising 2600 units, built along a key road corridor.

Under a proposal by property giant Mirvac, a large section of Carrington Road in Marrickville would be rezoned for high-rise apartment towers up to 28 storeys, and would see existing business premises demolished to make way for the redevelopment.

Labor mayor Darcy Byrne slammed the proposal as “monstrous in scale” and on Thursday night the council voted to oppose the Mirvac proposal in its current form.

An artist impression of Mirvac’s proposed $1.3 billion development along Carrington Road, Marrickville. Photo: Supplied

“The proponent seems to have confused south Marrickville with downtown Hong Kong,” Cr Byrne said.

To facilitate the development, Mirvac and the NVT Group, the landowner of the Carrington Road precinct, wants 7.8 hectares of the precinct to be rezoned to allow buildings up to 105 metres, as part of a plan to construct 20 buildings with heights ranging from two to 28 storeys.

The project would include 2616 residential units, as well as 17,300 square metres of new retail and commercial space.

A Mirvac spokeswoman said the tallest buildings under the proposal would be 28 storeys, but the council estimates that as many as 35 storeys could be built within a height limit of 105 metres.

The details of the project are contained in the planning proposal, which was submitted to the Inner West Council in May, are deemed “commercial in confidence” and have not been made public.

A planning proposal is an initial step in the planning process by which a developer submits an application to change the zoning or building restrictions on a parcel of land.

However, details of the proposal were revealed when a report containing the council’s initial response to the plans was published ahead of Thursday’s council meeting.

The report revealed council planning staff had written to Mirvac and the NVT Group last month, detailing a list of concerns and requested they provide further information before the proposal could be assessed.

Among the concerns relayed by the council was the prospect of mass job losses from the 148 existing businesses that operate along the Carrington Road precinct. The precinct is home to numerous creative industries and, according to council estimates, the precinct employs between 894 and 1440 full-time jobs.

The Council’s planning department requested the developer “address in specific detail how these businesses and jobs will be accommodated in this urban renewal project”.

In response to questions from Fairfax Media, a Mirvac spokeswoman said existing creative industries “will not be evicted” or displaced from the site during construction.

“Under the preliminary proposal the space dedicated to creative industrial and office users will be increased,” she said.

“The small creative tenants will be accommodated in new, purpose-built light industrial creative space at a subsidised rent to ensure their continued presence in the precinct.”

The council also took issue with scale of the project, describing it as an “unsuitable response to the site’s context”, and noted it exceeded the government’s own recommended density for the Carrington Road precinct.

In the latest planning strategy for the Sydenham to Bankstown corridor, government planners identified the precinct as suitable for medium-high rise housing up to a maximum of 12 to 15 storeys.

A Mirvac spokeswoman said the redevelopment would feature 20 per cent publicly accessible open space, including a new park the size of two football fields.

It would also include the provision of affordable housing in line with the Greater Sydney Commission’s proposed benchmark of 5 to 10 per cent. NormalfalsefalseEN-AUJAX-NONE /* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-priority:99;mso-style-parent:””;mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin-top:0cm;mso-para-margin-right:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt;mso-para-margin-left:0cm;line-height:107%;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

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Bradfield grandson faces jail time for $3 million fraud

Pic shows John Bradfield at his home in St Ives. Mr Bradfield has allegedly stole millions from friends and family. Wednesday 24th June 2009. SHD NEWS 090624 SPECIAL 000The lawyer grandson of chief Sydney Harbour Bridge engineer John Bradfield was driven by “ego status” to defraud clients and friends of almost $3 million, a court has heard.

John Gordon Bradfield, 74, was at the centre of a drawn-out investigation and prosecution for misappropriating clients’ and friends’ money as part of pyramid-style scheme spanning 30 years from the late 1980s.

The former suburban solicitor suffered a heart attack in 2015, which delayed an anticipated NSW District Court hearing.

He subsequently pleaded guilty on February 5 last year to 10 charges of making false statements and using false instruments to obtain money.

On Friday, Judge Julia Baly heard submissions from the parties on the appropriate sentence.

His lawyer, former Auburn MP Peter Nagel, told the court his client had misappropriated $2.97 million as part of a “planned criminal activity”.

“They were in most cases his friends but also his clients,” Mr Nagel said of the victims.

He said there was “no evidence” Bradfield used the money for gambling or drugs but rather he was part of a Ponzi scheme “trying to pay other people off”.

Bradfield “got deeper in debt” and lost $2.3 million of his own assets, including his interest in the matrimonial home, Mr Nagel said.

Mr Nagel said Bradfield came from a prominent family and was driven by “ego status” and “trying to keep his status”.

His grandfather, John Bradfield snr, is known as the “father” of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Born in Brisbane in 1867, Bradfield snr oversaw the design and construction of the bridge and had the Bradfield Highway named in his honour.

Mr Nagel said Bradfield jnr could be sentenced to home detention and was effectively confined to his north shore home already because he had been required to remain close to home for court appearances since about 2014.

His client had been “punished for nine years waiting to get here today”, Mr Nagel added.

A sick and frail-looking Bradfield appeared in court via audiovisual link.

Crown prosecutor Michael Barr said, “in my submission, clearly leaving aside the health issue, a substantial custodial sentence is required”.

“The Crown doesn’t dispute he’s a very ill man,” Mr Barr said.

But he said the offence was “too prevalent and too serious” for a custodial sentence not to be imposed to serve as a deterrent to others.

Deterrence was less relevant to Bradfield personally because he was no longer a solicitor and not in a position to reoffend, Mr Barr said.

Bradfield was struck off the roll of practising solicitors in 2009, a move that he did not oppose.

Mr Barr said a full-time custodial sentence was “the only … available sentence” but the Governor could pardon Bradfield because of his ill health.

The court heard that Justice Health, which delivers healthcare to inmates, had provided two reports that said it was “in a position to look after the offender in custody”.

Judge Baly said the case had been a “difficult matter for everybody”.

She will sentence Bradfield on November 3.

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Wickham interchange about to open

NEW TERMINUS: One of the test trains running in and out of the new Wickham interchange on Friday. The first public trains run from early Sunday morning, and the state government is hosting an official opening on Monday.CONSTRUCTION workers in bright fluoro safety vests were putting the final touches on the Newcastle Interchange at Wickham on Friday, ahead of the first trains early on Sunday morning and an official opening on Monday.

Test trains have been traversing the new and overhauled sections of track between Wickham and Hamilton for some time now, and the opening of the controversial $200 million project will end the first major section of the state government’s Revitalising Newcastle program.

A painted sign-board replica of the upcoming light rail carriages stands at the south-east corner of the interchange, where thelight rail tracks will leave to cross Stewart Avenue. Abus layover is still to be built on the site of the old Store building, but the heavy rail side of theinterchange looks ready to go.

The first train to depart the interchange will be a1.44am Sunday service to Fassifern.

Transport for NSW was tight-lipped on Friday as far as arrangements for Monday’s opening ceremony is concerned, but the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Andrew Constance, is expected to attend.

“The opening of Newcastle Interchange is a game changer for Novocastrian public transport customers, creating a new gateway for the city that links trains, buses, taxis, pedestrians, cyclists and the new light rail in 2019,” Mr Constance said on Friday.

“The $200 million interchange is a major part of the revitalisation of Newcastle, delivering a once in a generation upgrade to local public transport.”

The lossof the heavy rail line is still a controversial issue, and on Friday a small group of Rail, Tram and Bus Union members held a footpath protest outside the interchange, calling on Mr Constance to resign.

Only 15 or so people took part in the protest, but the union’s state secretary, Alex Claassens, said there was statewide dissatisfaction with Mr Constance, who had recently told a business gathering that he looked forward to driverless buses and trains because it meant he wouldn’t have to deal with unions.

VOCAL FEW: RTBU officials Alex Claassens and Chris Preston with union members at a protest outside the interchange on Friday.

Mr Constance was also the target of some rowdy questioning from Labor in state parliament on Thursday, with Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison, Port Stephens MP Kate Washington and Labor’s transport spokesperson Jodi McKay all ejected from the chamber.

Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said on Friday that he waspleased commuters would be able to ride one station closer to the Newcastle CBD.

“The original estimate for the interchange was $73 million but it has blown out to nearly three times that amount with still noadequate provision for buses, interstate coaches or commuter car parking,” Mr Crakanthorp said.

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Derby veteran Joyce looks forward to Victory rivalry – but he could do without the water cannon and choppers

Melbourne derbies can be daunting affairs for those who have never experienced them before.

Some players handle the prospect of the biggest stage with aplomb: it was hardly a surprise that Tim Cahill, the man who loves the limelight, scored a wonder goal on his debut as he helped power Melbourne City to a 4-1 win over Melbourne Victory in the first of the three derbies last season.

Others can go into their shells or take time to adjust. The tackles always seem to fly in harder, the crowd noise seems to be louder and the pace and intensity of the game is greater.

This time round there are plenty who will be making a Derby debut. Victory’s new signing, Rhys Williams, the former Socceroo defender, and its new Dutch forward, Leroy George, are probably the two most prominent names in navy blue lining up for their first taste of the Victory v City rivalry. Argentinian midfielder Matias Sanchez, a veteran of explosive confrontations in Buenos Aires, where so many top Argentine teams are based, may join them.

There will be several in sky blue experiencing the special tensions of a Derby for the first time, including City’s new Scottish frontman Ross McCormick.

But as he started his career off with Glasgow Rangers and subsequently played at Leeds and Fulham, he will be well used to the tensions that come with local rivalries. Nowhere in Britain is the tension hotter than in Glasgow, where the Rangers v Celtic fixtures triggers animosity and visceral hatreds that stretch back more than a century, emphasising economic, religious and cultural divisions which have historically separated the two great clubs.

However, one man will go into this game with more riding on his shoulders than any other, and that is City’s new English coach, Warren Joyce.

He is the man whose tactical decisions, selections and approach to the game will be scrutinised more than any player because he is a fresh face.

Get it right and mastermind a City win, and his kudos will rise, his place in the affections of City fans be assured and the judgement of the media and critics will be positive.

Get it wrong and Victory fans will make him a figure of fun, City fans will be wondering what else lies in store, and the critics will mark it down as his first failure.

Not that Joyce is the sort to lose too much sleep over it. As pressure cooker situations go, he has been in far hotter kitchens and survived with his equanimity and sense of humour intact.

During a senior playing career which lasted 17 years, the now 52-year-old former midfielder spent two-thirds of that time (12 years) playing for the Lancashire clubs Bolton, Preston and Burnley, where the heat is on every time they meet on a football pitch.

He also experienced on-field tensions in England’s west country, during a period at Plymouth late in his playing days, where rivalries with Exeter and the Bristol clubs were heated.

And, of course, he spent eight years at Old Trafford as one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistants, coaching Manchester United’s reserve side.

That was during the latter years of United’s domination of the Premier League, but also coincided with the period when the “noisy neighbours” of City, fuelled by first Asian and then Middle Eastern investment, started to catch up with and then overtake United. City have won two of the past five league championships while United foundered under David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal as they struggled to adjust to the post Fergie era.

Derbies between the two clubs – ironically his former and now current employers – were always intense affairs and victory in them is highly prized by Mancunian fans, especially those of City who were able to measure their progress in the most tangible way of all, with a win over the hitherto dominant United.

But it is none of those derbies with which he has been involved – City v United, Burnley v Blackburn (noted as one of the most vicious rivalries in the English game), Bolton v Preston or Plymouth v Exeter – that Joyce rates as the hairiest.

He says his time in Belgium, when he managed United’s partner club Royal Antwerp between 2006 and 2008, was the standout where bizarre behaviour and straight out fan vehemence was greatest.

“All those games in England, the atmosphere is always fantastic because the rivalries have been going on for years and everyone in the towns looks forward to those matches in particular. You feel it out on the pitch as a player.

“It’s not just the actual derbies within cities either. In the Premier League when I was with United there were games against Liverpool and Leeds that always had an edge too. The geography makes it easier – fans can travel and get to away games. You could drive from Manchester to Leeds in 40 minutes: here it takes that long to get from Bundoora [City’s training base] to the city.

“In Belgium though, it was something else. The country is so small you could drive through the best part of it in an hour and the fans all get to away games every time.”

The mood was, to put it politely, boisterous, he said.

“It was a genuinely hostile atmosphere at so many of those games – particularly when the fans had been on the strong Belgian beers for hours leading up to it.

“Lots of chanting, shouting, the police would be there with machine guns and the hungriest looking dogs straining at the leash that you have ever seen. The Antwerp fans were probably the noisiest I have ever heard and they wanted results: if you drew 0-0 away from home there would probably be 600 of them in the car park later letting you know how they felt about a result like that.

“You would have police in armoured vehicles with water cannon, I remember one game when there were helicopters buzzing over head after, it was like a war zone.

“I got to know them a bit at Antwerp. There was one bloke involved, Gino, he was a nice fellow when he hadn’t had a drink. Him and some of his mates also for some reason used to follow Barnsley in the English Championship too, and sometimes they would hop on a plane and land at Doncaster Airport and go and watch them.”

So what is he expecting from his first Melbourne Derby?

“Well, three points is the first thing, but what we also want to do is put on a show for the fans so that our supporters are proud of the players and proud to support this team. That’s very important.”

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