ED’S DESK: Bogan Evil-Doers With Tenuous Links To Ivan Milat Thrill Court Watchers With ‘Matching White Forensic Jumpsuits’ And ‘Forlorn Expressions’


If you’re going to appear in court on apparently unnamed but really serious charges, then it’s important to look your best. As for coordinating your outfit with your alleged accomplice… fabulous.

ED’S DESK is a new semi-regular column by New Matilda, where we give readers an inside look at the sub-editing process involved in news-making. Or at least, we give you an inside look at what should have been the sub-editing process to correct a steaming pile of sh*t story that actually got published, despite holes in it you could drive a truck through. On that note, over to The Daily Telegraph….

[HEADLINE] Alleged kidnappers ‘may have been driving to Belanglo’

[BYLINE] Perry Duffin | The Daily Telegraph

[INTRO] Police are investigating whether two young women, allegedly found by police with a stabbed 24-year-old woman in the car’s boot on a highway, were headed to Belanglo State Forest. The revelation comes as a court refused to release them from custody.
[ED’S NOTES:] Perry… your headline with ‘may have been driving to Belanglo’ in single quotes suggests we’ve quoted someone saying that. Have we quoted someone saying that? Or have you made that up? Also, the two young women were not “allegedly found by police”. It’s not a criminal offence to be ‘found’ (or even arrested) by police, so there’s nothing to allege. What IS ‘alleged’ is that they had a ‘stabbed woman in the car’s boot’. Which probably IS a criminal offence. But WHAT criminal offence, Perry? The story doesn’t appear to detail any.

[BODY COPY] Latia Henderson, 18, and Kayley Ketley, 24, were hit with a slew of charges last night after a truck driver spotted a hand sticking out from a hole in the boot, according to police.
[ED’S NOTES] Sorry Perry, I stand corrected. When I said ‘The story doesn’t appear to detail any charges’, I hadn’t realized the very next paragraph revealed that the women “were hit with a slew of charges”. My mistake. But if you get time, defining what a ‘slew of charges’ is would be really helpful. Given both women were ultimately refused bail, I’m presuming the court at some point probably mentioned what they were being refused bail for? No rush or stress though… I don’t want to pressure you… if you get around to it… thank you.

The Holden Commodore had been travelling down the Hume Highway, near Berrima in the Southern Highlands, at around 11.30am yesterday when the driver spotted the woman’s hand. The Daily Telegraph can reveal police believe the car may have been bound for Belanglo State Forest. Sources are said to be investigating if the car’s navigation system had been programmed to the forest south of Sydney.
‘Sources’ are said to be investigating? Do you mean ‘police are said to be investigating’? And if so, ‘said’ by whom? Did lawyers say police are investigating? Or is it just you saying that? Why don’t you just ask police, and then quote them? Please clarify.

Henderson and Ketley appeared in Picton Local Court just after lunch on Thursday. Henderson’s lawyer Gazi Abbas did not apply for release and it was formally refused while she sat looking forlorn in a white forensic jumpsuit on the audio-visual link.
‘Just after lunch’… I really love the detail, Perry, but are you referring to a specific time? Like, say, midday? In which case, just state it. Otherwise it sounds like the ‘girls met for a bit of lunch, and then toddled off to court shortly after’. Also, why would Henderson’s lawyer be sitting ‘looking forlorn in a white forensic jumpsuit on the audio-visual link’? Are you sure it wasn’t Henderson herself in the ‘jumpsuit’? Henderson’s lawyer should have been sitting in court. But if it WAS Henderson’s lawyer, then THAT’s the headline: ‘Forlorn looking lawyer in fetching white jumpsuit tries to represent client from jail’. Please clarify. Also, unless what you actually attended earlier today was an impromptu Picton pyjama party, it’s called a ‘crime scene suit’, not a ‘jumpsuit’. Please amend.

Ketley tried her luck, without a lawyer, at being released on bail. “My grandmother is very sick,” she told the court from the sterile, stainless steel AVL suite where she too wore a white forensic suit.
Perry… firstly, you don’t ‘try your luck’ at getting bail. It’s a court, not a fucking casino. Secondly, it’s not the fucking Oscars either. We don’t care what she was wearing, and we would only care if they’d coordinated their outfits prior to being arrested. Thirdly, how do you know the ‘stainless steel AVL suite’ was sterile? Is there a COVID-19 angle we’ve missed? Please investigate, and amend.

“I would be asking to be released into her care at her address so I can care for her… I would do whatever I have to do.” But the magistrate told Ketley she was facing very serious charges and had failed to justify her release. She ran her fingers through her hair exasperated and said she would accept Legal Aid help. Ketley asked the magistrate what would justify her release. “I don’t give legal advice anymore,” he said. “These are very serious offences, please obtain legal advice.”
Okay Perry, the magistrate’s comments are pretty funny. Kudos for including them. But please remove the reference to the accused ‘running her fingers through her hair, exasperated’. This is a court report, not a fucking Jane Austen novel.

Two men with face tattoos and sunglasses accompanied another woman, believed to be a relative, to the country courthouse in the morning.
Right… where the actual fuck are you going with the story now, Perry? If you’re trying to suggest these people are ‘bags of shit’ and should be vilified, please refer to The Daily Telegraph in-house style manual for guidance. For example, can we make race a factor in this story by reporting that their lawyers are ‘from Aboriginal Legal Aid’? Can we work the phrase ‘African or Islander appearance’ into the story somehow? Was the mother wearing a ‘hijab’ or a ‘headscarf’? Did someone use a word that sounded foreign? And for future reference, face tattoos may indicate a certain level of ‘bad-arsery’, which is what I think you’re going for, but sunglasses don’t. Most people wear sunglasses at some point in their life, Perry. Unless they’re wearing them indoors, it doesn’t denote class anymore. Also, I realize that you might think anything west of Annandale is outside NSW, and that you may have ‘spotted a horse in a paddock’ on your arduous journey all the way out to Picton, but it doesn’t have a ‘country courthouse’ because it’s a suburb of Greater Sydney. Please amend.

Only the woman stayed for Henderson’s hearing. She refused to speak to media waiting outside and tried to cross the road to escape questions.
Right… so the bad lady didn’t want to answer your questions. Don’t take it personally, Perry. It happens. More importantly, did the bad lady who is ‘possibly maybe a relative but we don’t really know but what the fuck let’s just report that anyway’ actually make it across the road? Or did she just try to make it across the road? Don’t leave us all hanging, Perry, tell us if she succeeded! If she didn’t, then THAT is the headline… ‘Mystery woman who has friends with face tattoos and sunglasses tries unsuccessfully to cross road’. That’s one-third of a ‘Three Headings Walkley’ right there, Perry. Be a team player, please.

Mr Abbas said he had no instructions on whether Henderson would fight the charges but said his client was distressed in custody – saying it was “jarring” for her. They will return to Campbelltown Local Court on April 7.
Right… so that’s it then is it, Perry? That’s the end of the story, yeah? You sure? I know you’re only a court reporter, but did it occur you to maybe update readers on the condition of the fucking woman who was fucking well ‘allegedly found’ with ‘multiple stab wounds in the boot of a car’? Otherwise it looks like we don’t actually give a flying fuck about the violence she endured, and we’re just trying to scare the shit out of people with a story about Belanglo Forest… even though at no point in the story do we actually explain why Belanglo is so fucking terrifying. Which brings me to my main point, Perry: You could have worked the words ‘Ivan Milat’ into the headline and then the story on innumerable occasions. I shouldn’t have to do it for you. Please stop by my office before you leave this evening. – Ed.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. Chris has won a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards for his reporting. He lives in Brisbane and splits his time between Stradbroke Island, where New Matilda is based, and the mainland.