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Stateline (NSW) -

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(generated from captions) Sydney showers developing

again. Winds freshening as the change crosses the city.

Thank for that, Mike. Now

before we go, another look at

tonight's top story. Tributes

are pouring in for racing

driver, Peter Brock. The

61-year-old died in a rally

accident out side Perth today.

That is ABC News. I'm Juanita Phillips. Stateline with

Quentin Dempster is up next and

'Lateline' is along just before

10.40. Goodnight. Captioning and Subtitling Closed Captions provided by

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This week - two years ago,

Bulldogs rugby league players

were accused of rape at Coffs

Harbour. The fallout

continues. We have young fans

from other teams calling our

players rapists. Now the

police officer who led the early part of the investigation

wants the truth to come out.

It will be finished when the

record is set straight. Also

property owners accused of

illegal land clearing show us

what they did. Welcome to

Stateline New South Wales I'm

Quentin Dempster. Headlines

linking first grade football

>>z (lost audio.)

This week's news allegedly

involving the West Tigers Club

un nerved the Bulldogs Rugby

League Club which knows what

it's like to be in the media

spotlight over rape

allegations. In February 2004,

a woman claimed she was gang

raped by six members of the

Bulldogs team at a Coffs

Harbour resort swimming pool.

No charges were ever laid, but

the mud seems to have stuck.

Now, Gary McEvoy, the police

officer in charge of the first

few days of the investigation,

has spoken to Stateline and

given his account of the

matter. As you will see, the

Bulldogs' reputation is not the

only casualty from the Coffs

Harbour affair. Sharon O'Neill

reports. NEWSFILE: Up to six

players from the Bulldogs team

have been questioned over an

assault allegation made by a

woman at Coffs Harbour. It is alleged that that incident

involved a number of members of

the first grade NRL side, the

Canterbury Bulldogs. Police

are appealing for any alleged

witnesses to a sexual assault

that occurred at the resort on

22 February this year. Let

the police do their work.

Will there be any further cooperation with the police

with the allegations sounding

the club. The force believes

there are people in the

organisation who know what

happen. As far as we are

concerned, the witness

statements from all our guys

and the independent witnesses,

there has been no crime here at

all. The director of public

prosecutions advice has

assisted us in making the

decision at Coffs Harbour, that

no charges will be laid against

any player or official from the

Bulldogs organisation. In

late April 2004 detective chief

inspector Jay con Bretton

declared an end to the

investigation of an alleged

gang rape by the Bulldogs rugby

league team by announcing there

was in sufficient evidence to

lay a charge against any

player. That's not a cause of

action which we take in the

investigation. REPORTER: Is

the case closed now? Yes.

But for those at the centre of

the allegations, there has been

no clesh sure. It is still an

issue for the club, yes, no

doubt. Our fans are abused at

games, our players are abused

at games. We had someone

ejected only three or four

weeks ago when we were playing

the dangerous drug gones for

calling the players rapists.

What was a function office

quickly became dysfunctional.

As I said to others, of the 10

staff that were working in

February 2004, there is only

four still at work. Six of

those 10 staff are no longer at

work. Four of those six were

all District Court directly

attributable to the fallout

from this inquiry. Former

detective senior sergeant Gary

McEvoy is one of those four

casualties. After 23 years of

service, he was medically

discharge frd the police force

in February this year after

suffering a nervous breakdown.

Tonight he speaks on camera for

the first time about what went

on inside that investigation.

And what really happened in

Coffs Harbour in the early

hours of February 22, 2004.

In February 2004, I was

investigations manager here at

Coffs Harbour. I was in charge

of the detective's office.

There was about eight or so

detectives in the Coffs Harbour

office, and initially it was my

role to manage and lead that

inquiry. We knew that there

was a squad of 25 Bulldogs

players that had been in town

over the weekend. A female had

made a complaint of rape on the

Sunday morning. She had been

taken to hospital. She was

seeing counselors and getting

all the welfare support. The

limited information that the

investigators had that morning

- they didn't have names of

players. All they knew was

that an incident had occurred

at the pool involving some

players. So they asked the football manager for the

Bulldogs, Gary Hughes, if he

could identify what players

were at the pool at the time

themselves to the police and have them present

station. As a result, four

players came forward. The

four players were interviewed

and video taped at the coughs

ha bour Police Station just

hours after the alleged assault

. They told detectives one

player had consensual sex with

a woman in the pool in the

early hours of that morning

while two players watched. A

fourth player had had sex with

the same woman earlier in the

evening. In the following 24

hours, the players' statements

were being sported by

independent witnesses. By the

Monday afternoon, for example,

we hadn't identified one

witness that gave evidence that

would support what our victim

had told us up to that stage.

The statements that we had

taken by then and they were

getting close to about the 12

mark, were all consistent with

what the four players had told us immediately after the job

had come in. So we had

serious concerns which way the

investigation was going to go.

The woman making the

allegations denied she was the

person in the pool having

consensual sex. Despite the

fact that a number of witnesses

described a person of similar

appearance and wearing similar

clothing. The Bulldogs

players told police they left

the woman swimming in the pool

and independent witnesses

confirmed they saw a woman

swimming alone in the pool who

did not appear to be distressed

in any way. By this time, the

sun was beginning to rise.

We've got about an hour to

account for, from when this act

occurred that we have no doubt

did occur and when staff find

the lady crying in the car park

area. And in trying to find

out what happend in that hour,

we have identified the fact

that the victim approached a

room where a girlfriend of hers

was in and she asked that

girlfriend to go back down to

the pool area and find her

shoes. And it would appear

that at the time the victim and

the girlfriend were talking,

she wasn't upset, she wasn't

crying, she wasn't emotional.

Now, shortly after, the

girlfriend returns from the

pool, unable to find the shoes

and finds the victim in a

distressed and crying state in

the vicinity of the car park

and rooms. The investigators

were puzzled. Could there have

been two incidents in the pool?

Could a rape have occurred

after the consensual sex in the

pool? Did it happen before or

after the woman's friend went

back to the pool to search for

her shoes? Could six men have

attacked the woman in daylight

without hotel workers and

guests in the vicinity of the

pool area witnessing such an

event? No other witness was

found that could describe a

second incident, a second

gathering of players in the

pool area, for example, or

cries for help or anything

consistent with another

incident occurring. Two days

after the rape claims were

made, Sydney broadcaster Ray

Hadley dropped this bombshell

in a live radio broadcast.

She has then disclosed that at

least six of them sexually

assaulted her without her

consent by anal, vagina al

penetration. There was uproar

that the only way Hadley to get

hold of that was from a police

officer. Someone had

jeopardised our inquiry for the

sake of Mr Hadley getting a

lead story on everyone else.

We were pretty shocked. I

think that what happened was

that the cop s' report that was

leaked to the radio very early

on and subsequently read out

meant that a lot of people in

the media made a decision

within a few days that the

players were guilty. If the

media was of the view that the

players were guilty, it was a

view reinforced by these

comments made by chief

inspector Bretton who was in

charge of the investigation.

The victim of a very sexual --

very serious sexual assault.

It was an assertion that

concerned and surprised some

members of the investigating team. It wasn't consistent

with the evidence we had.

Different members of the team

had different views on what he

had said and how he was going

about dealing with the media.

All I can say is that it wasn't consistent with the evidence we

had gathered up to that point.

At the same news conference,

chief inspector Bretton

appealed for a seventh player

who allegedly witnessed the

rape by six others to, come

forward to police. There is a

seventh player involved. It's

quite easy to exculpate

yourself. REPORTER: Is that

the victim's version. No, we

know the seventh person. How

do you know that? Somebody

told us. The young woman

described a player coming over

to the pool area, looking

inside while the rape occurred

and he didn't take part in the

rape, apparently. He then left

the pool area, so that's where

the evidence comes from of a

seventh player. It doesn't

come from any other witness. REPORTER: Did the investigation

ever rule out the notion of a

seventh player, there being a

seventh player? We never found

evidence of six players being

there, let alone seven players.

By the end of the

investigation, Gary McEvoy was

convinced his doubts in the

early stages of the police

inquiry were right - no rape

had occurred. I think this is

unique that the allegations

that the lady is making

actually occurred with so many

independent witnesses and were

so lucky to get the platers

that were m the pool area

committed to an interview

within hours of the allegations

made. So their stories were

locked in. And yet 10 weeks of

investigation, many, many

people interviewed and not one

piece of evidence has been

identified that contradicts

what the players have said.

Not one piece of evidence has

suggested that there was a

second incident in the pool.

There is enough evidence there

to come to a conclusion. It

was a conclusion supported by

the director of public

prosecutions. My

understanding is that it's one

of the easiest decisions

they've ever had to make. But

at the press conference to

announce the case was closed,

chief inspector Bretton did

nothing to clear the Bulldogs'

name. Report earth do you

believe something happened in

Coffs Harbour in February?

Snoo Absolutely. There is no

doubt that comments very early

in the investigation from the

same officer who suggested that

a very serious sexual assault

had haepted, rather than an

alleged sexual assault had

happened, I think, showed that

some people had made their mind

up very early on in the investigation and then set

about trying to prove what they

nought initially, and they

couldn't. REPORTER: So how

angry do you feel about it?

Very angry. In May this year,

radio broadcast er Hadley received another police leak on the Bulldogs' investigation,

which he used to hose down any

suggestion the Bulldogs had

been vindicated by the decision

not to lay charges. Senior

police have told me the this morning the reason they

couldn't sustain any charges

was because of the flawed

investigation in the very early

stages. The investigation was

never flawed. It was thorough,

it was professional. The

reason why there was no charges laid was there was no evidence

to support the allegation.

It's as simple as that. Gary

McEvoy is no longer in the

police force, but he is still

trying to get his own closure

from the Bulldogs'

investigation. He wants

Police Commissioner Ken Moroney

to officially repudiate the

claims made by Ray Hadley and

confirm the name of the senior

police officer he thinks he

knows spoke to Hadley. I name

that had officer to Mr Moroney

and and to the investigators

and in actual fact, the

investigators told me that they identified a phone call on the

day of his broadcast from 2GB to Coffs Harbour Police

Station. Commissioner Moroney

is currently on leave and was

therefore unavailable to be

interviewed by Stateline

Stateline. His spokes woman

said an internal investigation

by the complaints management

team has yet to be finalised.

This week at the Bulldogs,

training was under way for the

first round of the rugby league

finals. Although the coughs

harbour incident is not --

Coffs Harbour incident is not

foremost in their minds, it's

never far away. Every time

there is a story about player

misbehaviour in the media,

Coffs Harbour comes up again,

and it did this morning.

Whether it's newspapers, radio

or television, they always

refer back to Coffs Harbour.

That's just something we have

to live with, I think, but I

think we've done a lot in the

last two years in a lot of area

s in the community where we've

re-established our reputation

to a great extent, I think.

There will always be

disbeliever s out out there,

but there is nothing we can do

about that. We have our heads

down every day trying to do the

best possible job we can do.

Gary McEvoy is now finalising a

book about the Coffs Harbour

investigation. He says it is

helping him in his healing

process, but it's also

important that people know the

truth about what happened back

in February 2004. I've

started something. People have

told me I can walk away at any

time, I don't have to finish

it. But I feel I've started

something, I've got to tin

finish it and it will be

finished when the record is set

straight. Earlier this year,

Stateline highlighted the now

bitter dispute between central

western wheat growers and

farmers and the Department of Natural Resources over claims

of illegal clearing of native

vegetation. Farmers around

Nyngan have been mount ing

blockades to stop departmental

compliance officers coming to

inspect for illegal clearing.

They claim they are being

criminalised by the latest

version of the native

vegetation arct. As the - --

as we reported. The farmers

contest the science drive ing

government policy to put an end

to broad scale clearing of

native veg tation in Australia.

They say clearing and regenerating it for

agricultural purposes produces

sustainable outcomes all

around. Property owners Joe and

gab bring yell Holmes at Loxley

south of Nyngan, one of the

properties in dispute, invited

Stateline to inspect what

they've done with their land.

They have been accused by the

Wilderness Society of having le

legally cleared 2,000 hectares

of native vegetation. They

deny the claim. This was the

before shot. And this was the

after shot. Faced with a Department of Natural Resources

remediation order, the Holmeses

took legal action, with the

land and environment court

eventually ruling the

remediation order technically

invalid. The rules was not

further tested by appeal and a

later civil action brought by

the Wilderness Society was

withdrawn on legal advice.

The row over Loxley has

generated national publicity as

part of its political lobbying,

the Wilderness Society's

Felicity Wade took State

Opposition Leader Peter Debnam

to inspect, causing some

recriminations with the

Coalition partner, the

Nationals. Aggrieved farmers

in the Nyngan district

supported the Holmeses. They

complain to the Native

Vegetation Act's requirement

for property vegetation plans

or PVPs are impractical,

unworkable and require

impossible-to-achieve

vegetation cover, rendering

most of the land in contention

un productive. Through a

telephone ring-around, they've

been mounting blockades to stop

random inspections of

properties by departmental

compliance offices. We have

no options. We are getting

screwed into the ground. There

will be no department staff

come on private properties.

Nominated leader of the

blockaders is farmer Brian

Plummer. Mr Mum -- Mr Mum

mer, the compliance officers

want to konl onto your property

to see that you are not

illegally clearing land. Are

you illegally clearing land in

this area? No, we are having

to manage land and native

vegetation. It's part of the

process in the rotational Al

cultural production systems we

have been using for the last

century out here. What have

you got to hide with some

compliance officers coming onto

your properties without having

to get the cops out to protect

them? We have nothing to hide.

Actually this process happened

under SEPP 46. Third party

complaints were put in about

alleged illegal land clearing.

The dft just had to look up on

that file to see that that land

owner has a permit to go along

with it. After good winter

rains, the Holmeses invited

Stateline to inspect the land

they had contentiously cleared.

After months of negative

publicity they wanted to show

us they had behaved

responsibly. The place is its

own offset. It is a viable,

environmental, sustainable environmental unit now. It was

a degraded wasteland before.

That's what has been lost in

this whole argument, is the

tools that we need to establish

a sustainable environment -

sure it helps us financially,

it's going to be of benefit to

our family and work in the best

interests of us, but it also will sustain itself

environmentally. We've got

more wildlife here. It's got

options and management options

and we can go on and do the

work that needs to be done on

this place because we have a

financial return out of it.

Before it was an environmental

wasteland dead to the

community, dead to us. With

some help of some fertiliser,

the barley they had planted was

growing well and there was

reassuring green as far as the

eye could see. Do you

acknowledge that you cleared

this 2,000 hectares without a

permit? No, we don't. The

work that was carried out here

was done under the guidelines

of a plan that had been put out

for a public consultation. We

worked really long and hard on

working out the capability of

this land, the areas that

needed the most significant

restoration work done, and we

undertook to do that work and

to commit ourselves to

restoring the land to the way

it should have been. Was that

really your intention? Don't

you really want to turn this

land into productive

agricultural land in the long

term to add to the asset value

of your property? The land

that is in a productive state

is also in a good environmental

state. It is a win-win

situation. By improving the

land and its capability to

sustain good ground cover on a

long-term basis... But you're

going to put in wheat in here,

aren't you? Very occasionally,

as a way to manage re-growth.

Exactly what the government is

trying to achieve. Peter soes

yeah is a member of the

Wentworth group of concerned

scientists which was commissioned by the State

Government in 2003 to help

reform land and water

management in New South Wales.

Mr Koez yeah is a former deputy

Director-General of the department overseeing native

vegetation reform. He has

declined to comment on

individual cases in dispute.

If we allowed everybody out

there to knock down all that

land for wheat cropping, it

would be catastrophic for the

Australian environment. No,

the law should not and does not

allow that and I think it is a

very responsible law for that

reason. Since 1996 when the

Howard Government was elected,

they had a policy to have a no

net loss of native vegetation

across Australia by 2001 and

the only way you could possibly

achieve that policy outcome

would be to end broad scale

clearing across Australia. The

reason for doing so is that

over the last 50 years in

particular, we have discovered

that the European practises --

practices we brought into

Australia to manage this

landscape were inappropriate.

The dispute about how the Holmeses have gone about

clearing their land goes on.

The Holmeses, the New South

Wales Farmers Association and

its members argue that what

they call invasive native scrub

re-growth or woody weeds has

destroyed forever the original

native grasslands and

woodlands, leading to Aemon

know culture with soil moisture

loss and erosion. This, they

say, has made the native

vegetation laws in this region

at least, unworkable. In the

old days when we had a lot of

support from government

agencies, the soil conservation

service had a standard that a

landscape with less than 70%

ground cover was in a degraded

state. Now, that 70% is not

trees, it is grass, viable

grass. It is not the scabby

bits of the soil. It is a

viable grass. Anything less

than 70% was determined to be

degraded and needed work done.

The key to your argument is

that in this soil, under this

invai forgive native scrub, you

say, you haven't got any

grassland on it? That's

correct, so it has become a

woody dominated landscape

instead of that open mosaic of

grass and trees. Peter from

the went porth group accepts

the woody weeds argument up to

a point, as long as the land

owners are genuine in their

intentions to restore landscape

and the bio diversity that

comes with it. If people are

arguing that they should be

able to clear scrub to return

that system to an open

grassland so they can graze

sheep and cattle, then, yes,

they should be able to do that.

In fact, they can. If they are

arguing they can't do that,

they are wrong. Already in the

first nine months of the new

legislation coming into

operation (lost audio)

Mr Mr Koez yeah wants land

owners to bear with the new

native vegetation laws. There

is provision for compensation

and property ayouts, he says,

if the regulations render some

properties financially

unviable. Mr Koez yeah is

appealing to all farmers to

obey the law in the best

interests of best practice,

national and regional, land and

water catchment management.

Statements about land clearing

being put out by the environmental groups over the

whole Australian public. Land

clearing in this region is

basically an ongoing management

tool and nothing we should be

ashamed off. .

To make our society run and

we have to have rules because

if we don't have rules, we will

have anarchy. And that's

Stateline for this week. We

are repeated on ABC NV 1 at

noon on Saturday and on ABC TV

2 you can see all eight

Statelines, states and

territories in several huge

blocks on Saturday and Sunday.

Nirvana! Next week, across to

question; how Michael Costa

sees red when he sees green.

Kerry O'Brien will be back with

national current affairs in the

7:30 Report on Monday.

Goodbye. According to

Under the reforls a person

acquitted of a serious criminal

offence could face a second

trial if new and compelling

evidence such as a DNA match is

uncovered. Gale force winds

struck with deadly force. For

Harry McIntosh, tackling the

three flights of stairs at his

inner Sydney unit is no easy

task. These growth figures

are lower than we would like and there are very good reasons for this. Closed Captions provided by Captioning and Subtitling International Pty Ltd

THEME MUSIC Welcome to the show. I'm Andy Muirhead and this is Collectors, the show that looks at things and the people that collect them. And to do that we have our own people who know about things. Professor of sociology and avid collector Adrian Franklin. Museum curator and historian Niccole Warren. And antique dealer and lover of everything old, Gordon Brown. So, let's see what's on tonight's show. We meet an expert in numismatics who's uncovered a coin that will change the history of Australia. MAN: My best find of all is one of Captain Cook's medals that he gave to an Australian Aborigine. And I'm gonna show you why modern design classics never go out of style. Apart from the automobile, the chair is the most designed, studied, written-about and celebrated artefact of modern life. Now, silver can be highly collectible and valuable, but how do you know you've got the real thing?