Privilege to prison: socialite Oliver Curtis charged

AS A wedding gift, Oliver Curtis bought his publicist wife Roxy Jacenko a Ferrari. The couple’s wedding last March is rumoured to have cost more than $250,000. Together with Jacenko and daughter Pixie, he lives in a $6.6 million house in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

But if found guilty of conspiring to commit insider trading, the socialite and investment banker could experience a very different lifestyle.

Curtis, 27, faced Downing Centre Local Court today charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit insider trading.

If convicted, the son of the wealthy mining executive Nick Curtis faces a maximum sentence of five years’ jail. He is yet to enter a plea.

The charge relates to an alleged agreement between Curtis and his former close friend, John Hartman. Curtis allegedly traded based on inside information Hartman possessed about his then employer, Orion Asset Management. In doing so, the pair sought to take advantage of expected movements in Orion’s share price and split the profits, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission alleges.

Allegedly conspired to commit insider trading ... Oliver Curtis. Picture: Lee Besford

Allegedly conspired to commit insider trading … Oliver Curtis. Picture: Lee Besford

In April 2010, Hartman pleaded guilty to insider trading and was sentenced to three years’ jail. He served 15 months behind bars – the youngest person jailed in Australia for insider trading.

Curtis allegedly traded on 45 separate occasions between May 2007 and June 2008, profiting in excess of $1 million.

ASIC will allege that he shared the funds with Hartman in the form of cash and by purchasing expensive items for him.

Magistrate Graeme Curran granted Curtis bail and allowed him to keep his passport.

Ms Jacenko was not present in court.

John Hartman, left, and Roxy Jacenko.

John Hartman, left, and Roxy Jacenko.

Goat free to eat grass: magistrate

IN CASE you missed it, a goat turned up to court this week after being caught by police munching on garden plants in Sydney’s Circular Quay. Really.

Last August comedian James Dezarnaulds was charged with destroying vegetation without authority and fined $440 after his pet goat, Gary, chomped on flowers outside the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Mr Dezarnaulds’ lawyer, Paul McGirr, argued that police had wrongly fined the comedian, aka Jimbo Bazoobi, because the infringement related to a person and not to a goat. “Gary’s not a person,” Mr McGirr told Downing Centre Local Court.

On Wednesday, magistrate Carolyn Barkell dropped the charge, saying there was no evidence Mr Dezarnaulds brought Gary there with the intention of vandalising vegetation.

“He may have preferred to have an ice cream,” she told the court, which at times erupted into fits of laughter.

The magistrate cancelled the fine but dismissed Mr Dezarnaulds’ bid for the crown to pay his legal costs.

Media circus ... Gary the goat has made international headlines after police caught him eating plants in central Sydney. Picture: Bob Barker

Media circus … Gary the goat has made international headlines after police caught him eating plants in central Sydney. Picture: Bob Barker

Outside court, Mr Dezarnaulds told a throng of waiting reporters he was happy that Gary’s name had been “cleared of all this slander” and that the charge was an abuse of common sense and the law.

He said Gary had taught the police a valuable lesson: “don’t bite off more than you can chew.”

The goat made no comment on the outcome.

It is unclear at this stage whether police will charge Gary with public urination after a mishap outside court.

Picture: Laura Tunstall

Picture: Laura Tunstall

‘Controlling’ fiancee to stand trial for murder

A SYDNEY man accused of tossing a woman he described as his “life” off a 15th floor balcony has been committed to stand trial for murder.

Simon Gittany, 39, allegedly dropped his fiancee, 30-year-old Canadian woman Lisa Harnum, over the balcony of their rented luxury apartment in Sydney’s CBD on July 30, 2011. He has pleaded not guilty to murder.

After a week-long committal hearing, magistrate Clare Farnan today found in the Downing Centre Local Court there was enough evidence for a jury, properly instructed, to convict Mr Gittany of the crime.

The court was shown CCTV footage of Mr Gittany putting his hand over his fiancee’s mouth and “very violently” dragging her back into their apartment after the couple had argued and Ms Harnum tried to leave. A minute and eight seconds later Ms Harnum had plummeted to the pavement 15 storeys below.

A witness, Joshua Rathmell, was on his way to work through Hyde Park the morning Ms Harnum died when he heard screams coming from The Hyde apartment building on Liverpool Street.

Giving evidence from New York via audio-visual link, Mr Rathmell told the court he heard a male voice screaming in a “deranged” and “incomprehensible” manner.

When Mr Rathmell looked up at the building he saw a man “unloading” or “dropping” a black object over the balcony ledge. He initially thought that object was a “piece of luggage or a black duffel bag”.

It was Ms Harnum’s body.

The court also heard Ms Harnum had received abusive text messages from her fiancee, who prosecutor Daniel Noll said was a “very controlling and jealous and domineering” partner.

Mr Noll said the couple had been fighting the previous night because Ms Harnum wanted to leave Mr Gittany and return to her native Canada.

On the morning of her death, their arguing had escalated to a point where Ms Harnum was heard screaming “help me, help me, please God help me” and banging on neighbours’ doors. The prosecution alleges that Mr Gittany became so enraged that he carried Ms Harnum to the balcony and dropped her over the railing.

Text messages tendered to court show Mr Gittany told Ms Harnum to keep her phone next to her “always” and to listen to him “all the time”.

“Who the f… do you think you are walking around the house like you own it or coming and going without my permission?” he wrote on April 16, 2011.

A ripped-up note found inside Ms Harnum’s pocket the morning she died read: “There’s surveillance cameras inside and outside the house”. The court heard Mr Gittany had installed pinhole cameras in the apartment and that Ms Harnum kept the hand-written note in her pocket to “warn people”.

In a statement, Ms Harnum’s personal trainer, Lisa Brown, said the only time Ms Harnum was allowed to leave the unit “was to go grocery shopping”.

Mr Gittany told police that his fiancee ran on to the balcony and climbed the railing on to a narrow ledge and that he was just trying to save her from falling.

His barrister, Anthony Bellanto, QC, said Ms Harnum was at a “low ebb” and took her own life.

But magistrate Farnan rejected it was suicide. “There was no evidence Ms Harnum was suicidal, in fact, there is evidence she was not,” she said.

As the magistrate handed down her decision in front of a packed courtroom, Mr Gittany stood in the dock and said: “I’m not guilty and I reserve my defence.”

He will stand trial later this year.

"Possessive" ... Simon Gittany will stand trial for the murder of his fiancee, Lisa Harnum. Picture: Edwina Pickles (left)

“Possessive” … Simon Gittany will stand trial for the murder of his fiancee, Lisa Harnum. Picture: Edwina Pickles (left)

Teen gatecrasher charged

A 16-YEAR-old boy has been charged over a vicious attack in north Sydney last week, which has left a teenager fighting for life in hospital after a metal pole became impaled in his head.

Liam Knight, 17, is in a critical condition in Royal North Shore Hospital after he attended a friend’s 18th birthday party that ended horribly wrong.

Shortly after 11.30pm last Friday, a group of teenagers allegedly attempted to gatecrash a party at a home on Keldie Street in Forestville, on Sydney’s north shore.

Police allege a fight broke out when a 16-year-old boy began throwing a number of building materials around. One of these materials, a 2.5-metre metal rod, struck 17-year-old Liam in the head, penetrating his skull so deeply that part of it had to be cut off at the scene by firefighters before he could be placed in an ambulance and taken to hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.

It is further alleged that the same youth pushed a 44-year-old man, the father of the party host, and punched two other boys, aged 16 and 17, that night.

The teenager, from North Ryde, handed himself in to Surry Hills police yesterday and was charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, two counts of common assault, affray and breach of bail.

He is due to appear in Bidura Children’s Court today.

Liam remains in an induced coma in hospital with serious head injuries.

Critical ... Liam Knight.

Critical … Liam Knight.

UPDATE: The 16-year-old boy who allegedly threw a metal rod that embedded in the head of Sydney teenager Liam Knight has had his application for bail denied.

The teen is charged with a string of offences including recklessly causing grievous bodily harm after he attempted to gatecrash an 18th birthday party in Forestville last Friday and allegedly pelted a metal rod at another boy’s head. The rod pierced Liam Knight’s skull so deeply that part of it had to be cut off at the scene by firefighters so he could be placed in an ambulance.

The accused, who courtnewssydney cannot name for legal reasons, shielded his face as he was escorted into Bidura Children’s Court in handcuffs.

The North Ryde youth is no stranger to police, having already been out on bail for shoplifting offences at the time of the attack. Magistrate Elizabeth Ellis also noted he had previously failed to appear in court and had breached his bail conditions.

The 16-year-old wept in the dock as the magistrate refused him bail, concerned he’d further offend.

The court heard that the boy threw the metal rod towards partygoers “in a javelin-type motion” off the roof of the house and that Liam had been “the wrong person in the wrong place” on what became a “tragic evening”.

Outside the court the accused boy’s mother and sister lashed out at waiting media.

The matter will be heard again on February 26.

Liam remains on life support in Royal North Shore Hospital. His attacker is tonight behind bars.

The boy accused of spearing Liam Knight through the temple, who can't be named for legal reasons, enters Bidura Children's Court in Glebe. Picture: Cameron Richardson

The boy accused of spearing Liam Knight through the temple, who can’t be named for legal reasons, enters Bidura Children’s Court in Glebe. Picture: Cameron Richardson

Accused who threw fiancee 15 storeys ‘deranged’: witness

A WITNESS heard a man screaming in a “deranged” and “incomprehensible” manner before seeing the man toss what he thought was a suitcase off a 15th floor balcony, a Sydney court has heard.

That “piece of luggage or a black duffel bag” was the body of 30-year-old Canadian Lisa Harnum. Her fiancee, Simon Gittany, allegedly threw her over the ledge following an argument. He has pleaded not guilty to her murder.

At a second committal hearing today to decide if Mr Gittany, 39, stands trial over her death, a witness, Joshua Rathmell, told Downing Centre Local Court he was walking through Hyde Park on his way to work on the morning of July 30, 2011, when he heard screams coming from The Hyde apartment building on Liverpool Street in Sydney’s CBD.

Giving evidence via audio-visual link from New York, Mr Rathmell told the court: “I believed it to be a male voice … it was deranged, incomprehensible.”

Mr Rathmell said he looked up at the building and saw a shirtless man “unloading” or “dropping” a black object over the balcony. He initially thought that object was a piece of luggage or a duffel bag.

But when Mr Rathmell got closer and saw people rushing towards the outside of the building, he “started coming to the conclusion it’s not a black object, but it was in fact a human being.”

As passers-by tried to revive Ms Harnum who had plunged from the 15th floor and was lying unconscious on the ground, Mr Rathmell saw the same man he had seen on the balcony – this time wearing a white shirt – walk towards her body.

He observed him “openly mourning, obviously very shocked” with his hands over his face.

Mr Gittany admitted to police that he and his fiancee were fighting that Saturday morning, but says that she ran on to their balcony and climbed the railing on to a narrow ledge. He told detectives he was just trying to save her from falling.

The hearing continues before Magistrate Clare Farnan.

Simon Gittany arrives at court. Picture: Edwina Pickles

Simon Gittany arrives at court. Picture: Edwina Pickles

Man threw fiancee off balcony: court

A COURT has been told a female voice screaming “help me, help me, please God help me” could be heard moments before a woman fell to her death from a Sydney balcony.

Canadian woman Lisa Harnum died after falling 15 storeys from the balcony of her high-rise CBD apartment. Her fiancee, Simon Gittany, is charged with her murder after allegedly “causing her to fall” off.

At a committal hearing today to determine whether there is enough evidence to commit Mr Gittany to stand trial, Downing Centre Local Court was told a neighbour heard arguing and a woman’s screams coming from the rented Liverpool Street apartment Ms Harnum, 30, had shared with her partner the morning she died on July 30, 2011.

Mr Gittany proposed to Ms Harnum less than two months earlier. He has pleaded not guilty to her murder.

The court was shown CCTV footage of Mr Gittany, 39, putting his hand over her mouth and “very violently” dragging her back into the apartment after she tried to leave.

A minute and eight seconds later, he’s seen rushing out the door shirtless while Ms Harnum lay dead on the pavement outside. Mr Gittany returned briefly to the apartment to put on a shirt and then took the lift down to the ground floor.

A 15-year-old boy who witnessed Ms Harnum land on the ground spoke to police at the scene, but his parents did not give permission for him to make a formal statement.

The officer heading up the investigation, Detective-Sergeant David Weekes, told the court the boy looked up and saw a male standing on a balcony halfway up the building.

“The male was not wearing a shirt,” Det Sgt Weekes said.

No traces of Ms Harnum’s fingerprints were found on the balcony ledge.

Magistrate Clare Farnan was told the case depends largely on the evidence of one witness, who saw Mr Gittany throw what he thought was a suitcase off the balcony.

That witness is due to give evidence tomorrow when the hearing resumes.

Mr Gittany declined to speak to waiting media outside court.

Allegedly thrown off the balcony ... Lisa Harnum.

Allegedly thrown off the balcony … Lisa Harnum.

News a hard habit to break for Hendo

HE may have retired more than a decade ago, but news is still the life for Brian Henderson.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, the former Channel Nine newsreader says he analyses each news bulletin.

The country’s longest-serving television news anchor said his favourite presenters are Nine’s Georgie Gardner and the ABC’s Juanita Phillips.

“[Georgie] is a very good newsreader with a lovely quality voice, her delivery and emphasis is very good,”
he told The Sunday Telegraph.

But Henderson, 81, who read Nine’s nightly news for 46 years before retiring in 2002, says there are some things he disapproves of.

He says today’s bulletins are more focused on quantity rather than quality.

“There’s a trend to have more and more stories. It’s very busy now, cramming more stuff in,” he said.

“When I was doing the news it was three or four stories. Now there are seven or eight bits.”

Brian Henderson announces his retirement on the set of National Nine News in Sydney in 2002. Picture: Reuters

Brian Henderson announces his retirement on the set of National Nine News in Sydney in 2002. Picture: Reuters

“Occasionally, to my horror, discussing what is coming up is longer than what eventuates, and that is not good,” the legendary newsman said.

“I have criticisms of news now that I had when I was in it.”

“We had many an argument about what we would lead with, take out, run and didn’t run,” he said.

“I still have arguments with myself sitting in front of the TV.”

Henderson will narrate a documentary on the 1977 Granville train disaster, which claimed the lives of 83 people and injured more than 200 when a crowded train came off its tracks in western Sydney.

The Train: The Granville Rail Disaster airs on Foxtel’s History Channel at 7.30pm on Friday, on the 36th anniversary of the event.

News these days is about quantity not quality ... Brian Henderson will be heard on TV again, when he narrates a documentary on the Granville train disaster.

News these days is about quantity not quality … Brian Henderson will be heard on TV again, when he narrates a documentary on the Granville train disaster.

In other media news, sacked Melbourne newsreader Helen Kapalos has today been confirmed as the new host of Seven’s Today Tonight.

Kapalos was previously the presenter of Channel 10’s 5pm news bulletin in Melbourne. She replaces Matt White, who quit the post at the end of November.

The 41-year-old will host the Victorian and NSW editions of the current affairs show.

“I look forward to actively contributing quality stories and interviews and working alongside an excellent reporting team to bring you a content-rich, compelling public affairs program,” Kapalos said in a statement.

She told Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph: “The stories will be a bit meatier.”

Kapalos will begin in the new role on February 11.

Sacked newsreader Helen Kapalos will host Today Tonight.

Sacked newsreader Helen Kapalos will host Today Tonight.

And veteran television journalist Mike Munro has become a grandfather for the first time, with son Sean and partner Jenna welcoming a baby last week.

Munro told The Sunday Telegraph he’s “absolutely delighted” with the arrival.

Good news ... Mike Munro has become a grandad.

Good news … Mike Munro has become a grandad.

Hewitt and Tomic: Australian tennis on the comeback

LLEYTON Hewitt is back.

The 31-year-old took out his second Kooyong Classic today, defeating Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets.

Hewitt, who also won the tournament in 2011, is in fine form ahead of next week’s Australian Open after blitzing the world No.7 6-1, 6-4 in a match which lasted just over an hour.

“I felt like every match I got better and better and more confident,” Hewitt said of his week.

The former world No.1 beat three top-15 players in his Kooyong run and will face Serb eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic in the first round of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Monday night.

The win was Hewitt’s first in an ATP final since June 2010 and his 29th career title.

Lleyton Hewitt and his children Mia, Ava and Cruz with the trophy. Picture: Sebastian Costanzo

Lleyton Hewitt and his children Mia, Ava and Cruz with the trophy. Picture: Sebastian Costanzo

It was a memorable day for Australian tennis, with Bernard Tomic also victorious.

The 20-year-old overcame South African Kevin Anderson in three sets to take out the Sydney International, claiming his first ATP Tour title.

Tomic won the first set 6-3 but lost a tiebreak in the second 6-7 (7-2). He came out on top in the third, winning 6-3.

The victory was Tomic’s eighth straight this year.

He is the first Aussie to take out the tournament since Hewitt in 2005.

After the match Tomic said it was an honour to win his first title in front of tennis great Ken Rosewall, on his stadium. “It’s an amazing feeling,” he said.

Tomic paid special thanks to his father, John. “It’s been a long road and finally I’ve got one of these trophies,” he said. “Hopefully this is not the last time that I can win.”

The last 20-year-old to hoist the trophy on Ken Rosewall Arena was Roger Federer in 2002.

Tomic will verse world No.2 Federer in the third round of the Australian Open if both players can make it that far.

He is now the No.1 ranked Australian going into the grand slam (43), replacing Marinko Matosevic (48). Hewitt is ranked No.81.

“It took a while” ... Bernard Tomic moments after winning the men’s final at the Sydney International. Picture: Mark Evans

“It took a while” … Bernard Tomic moments after winning the men’s final at the Sydney International. Picture: Mark Evans

Minichiello named Roosters captain

AFTER 13 years in Bondi, Anthony Minichiello has been named skipper of the Sydney Roosters.

Minichiello, who has been at the Roosters since he was 16, said the appointment was probably the most meaningful highlight of his career to date.

“[It’s] a pretty special moment,” he told reporters at a press conference at Roosters HQ in Sydney this afternoon. “To be named captain of the club I love so much means the absolute world to me.”

Minichiello replaces Braith Anasta, who left the team to join the Wests Tigers.

The 32-year-old fullback joined the Roosters in 1997 and made his first-grade debut for the club in 2000, going on to play 251 top-grade matches.

New Roosters head coach, Trent Robinson, said Mini was the standout option to lead the club through 2013, in what is predicted to be his last NRL season.

“Anthony is to be commended for his attitude to life and to training. He trains hard and is respected by the players,” Robinson said.

But the big question remains unanswered: what position will he play?

Minichiello said he had been training mainly at fullback “but a bit of wing as well”.

“Obviously I’d love to hold down the fullback spot but we’ve got a lot of great young players in the club that play fullback and other positions as well,” he said.

“I’ve just got to train hard and hopefully hold down that spot.”

It is rumoured that 2013 will be Minichiello’s final season playing the game.

In 2005 the club gave stalwart Luke Ricketson the captaincy for his last season.

The Roosters also announced the appointment of Mitchell Pearce, Jake Friend, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Boyd Cordner as vice-captains.

The decision to appointment Friend, 22, as vice-captain is a controversial one.

In 2009, then only 19, he was disqualified from driving for 16 months after pleading guilty to high range drink driving, charged with assaulting a woman, and arrested and charged after an incident in a taxi in which he was intoxicated and asleep on the back seat. When woken he became abusive towards police and refused to pay his taxi fare.

As a result Friend’s contract with the club was terminated. In May 2010, he was reinstated in the Roosters after undergoing counselling and rehabilitation. The very next month, he was arrested and charged with two counts of possessing a prescription drug, Valium, without prescription.

Veteran fullback Anthony Minichiello has been named captain of the Sydney Roosters. Picture: Ryan Pierse

Veteran fullback Anthony Minichiello has been named captain of the Sydney Roosters. Picture: Ryan Pierse

In other sports news, Bernard Tomic is through to his first ATP Tour final, overcoming third seed Andreas Seppi with a 7-6 (12-10), 6-4 win in the semi-final of the Sydney International.

The 20-year-old beat the Italian – and the sweltering conditions – to book a place in tomorrow night’s final against South African Kevin Anderson.

It was Tomic’s seventh straight win of the new year. Last week he upset world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets at the Hopman Cup in Perth.

He is the first Aussie to make it into the Sydney final since Chris Guccione in 2008.

If Tomic beats the unseeded Anderson, he will become the first Australian winner since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005 and the first 20-year-old to hold the trophy since Roger Federer in 2002.

Tomic overcame dizziness and blurred vision as on-court temperatures reached almost 40 degrees to advance to the final.

“It’s about time, I think, I really got to one of these finals,” Tomic said after the match.

''It's about time, eh?'' ...  Bernard Tomic is through to his first ATP Tour final. Picture: Brendan Esposito

”It’s about time, eh?” … Bernard Tomic is through to his first ATP Tour final. Picture: Brendan Esposito

Madeleine Pulver’s dad new boss of the ARU

THE father of the Sydney woman who was the victim of a collar-bomb hoax in 2011 is tipped to be named the new CEO of the Australian Rugby Union this afternoon.

News Limited reports Bill Pulver, a multi-millionaire Sydney businessman and father of collar-bomb hoax victim Madeleine, is expected to succeed long-time ARU boss John O’Neill.

The Pulver family made international headlines in 2011 when a masked man, Paul Douglas Peters, broke into their Mosman home and strapped a fake bomb to the then 18-year-old’s neck with a note demanding money. Peters was sentenced last November to a minimum of 10 years behind bars over the attack (read more).

Bill Pulver was previously chief executive of a global research firm in New York which was taken over by Nielsen in 2007, for a reported $US820 million.

"Rugby mad" ... incoming ARU boss Bill Pulver relaxes at his home in Mosman with his wife Belinda, daughter Maddie, 19, and sons Harry, 21, Angus, 18, and Archie, 15. Picture: Tim Hunter

“Rugby mad” … incoming ARU boss Bill Pulver relaxes at his home in Mosman with his wife Belinda, daughter Maddie, 19, and sons Harry, 21, Angus, 18, and Archie, 15. Picture: Tim Hunter

UPDATE: 2pm Bill Pulver has been appointed the new chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union, replacing the long-serving John O’Neill who stepped down from the post last October.

In a statement, ARU chairman Michael Hawker, a former schoolmate and teammate of Pulver’s at the exclusive Sydney private school Shore, said he was the right man for the job.

“We wanted someone with proven commercial success at CEO level, with international business experience and a love of rugby,” he said. “The board also set priorities around good communication skills and an understanding of the world of sports marketing and media.”

“Bill has all those attributes.”

Pulver landed the job from a pool of more than 50 international candidates, shortlisted to 14 interviewed candidates.

Speaking at a packed press conference at ARU headquarters in Sydney this afternoon, Pulver said the appointment was a “dream come true” and that he is the “luckiest man alive”.

“I feel privileged and excited to take up this role for the ARU and enter the world of Australian and international rugby,” he said.

“For 20 years I have been a chief executive in a diverse range of industries and now I have the opportunity to focus my efforts on this great game, the game I love.”

“I’m 53 years old and I think I’ve finally discovered what I wanted to do with my life,” he told reporters.

“In a way I feel partly that it is a civic duty. My love of rugby is so deep.”

Confirming that embattled Wallabies coach Robbie Deans will remain in the role through 2013, Pulver said: “I am convinced that rugby has an extraordinary future in Australia and I’m looking forward to being part of the team that’s going to make that a reality.” He said the Wallabies could be the No. 1 team in the world if they maintained a culture of high performance.

Pulver added that his family “are all rugby tragics”. His second son, Angus, was a halfback on last year’s Australian Schoolboys national rugby union team, the same position Pulver played during his school and university years.

“He sure knows how to handle a crisis,” veteran Nine newsman Peter Harvey tweeted of his appointment. That he does.

The father-of-four starts in the new role on February 1.