ReviewGallery of Rogues

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Gallery of RoguesCircus Avalon, Birdwood Park, Newcastle WestSaturday and Sunday at 11am, 3pm, 6pm​DIRECTOR Elsa Chan and the production team have engagingly built a storyline around amazing theatre acts, with the competitors vying to be chosen as the latest entrant in the title institution. The performers are dressed in garb that suggests, among others, gangsters from the 1920s, elegant wicked women, and a smooth matador, with one in colourful trousers adorned with comic strip characters. The “rogues” names are likewise amusing, including the Cracked Twister, Lady Venom and Baron Von Boom.
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A would-be villain, young boy Ned (Ned Keogh), watches attentively as the ringmaster and head villain (Lachlan Dickson) takes the competitors through their paces, with both also getting the chance to show what they can do. And the skills are incredible, involving the use of large rings and hoops, spinning diabolos, line-attached pois, climbing straps and tissus, balancing and sliding on tables, doing contortions and juggling clubs. Performers Kara Bissett, Mia Connell, Serena Pestery, Jordan Turley, Ian Churton, Juliet Creanor, Jess Peters, Killian Deneker, Bridgette May, Simon Tarrant, Samantha Crispin, Ella Gordon, Chris O’Donnell, and Sarah Windley keep even the youngest watchers spellbound.

Jordan Turley has watchers open-mouthed as he does amazing juggling, initially with three strings-attached sets of diabolos and later with balls, handling up to five of the latter at a time. And he joins Chris O’Donnell and Lachlan Dickson in juggling and throwing clubs to each other, using just their shoulders to do the feat at one point. Bridgette May sits hands-free high above the ring on two material tissus she has joined together. Simon Tarrant swings up to 21 hoops at a time as he moves around the arena. Killian Deneker performs gymnastics using a ring that it is initially high above the floor and then is lowered onto it, and Samantha Crispin and Ella Gordon share a ring as they perform. Kara Bissett and Juliet Creanor use a table for amazing balances and that table later sees agile sliding by seven of the ensemble members. And the incredible finale has eight of the “rogues” throwing clubs in an amusing combat.

NSW man cleared of assault because he might have been sleepwalking

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Jacob Holland once woke his mother in the middle of the night insisting his brother was stuck inside a sandwich bag in a wardrobe.
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Mr Holland experienced these night terrors and sleepwalking episodes throughout his life, sometimes taking tins of food from the pantry to his bed, and once wandering out of his house.

On the night of November 9, 2014, Mr Holland was naked when he went into a neighbour’s house in Coffs Harbour, put on a young girl’s blue cardigan in the laundry, crawled on the floor, and assaulted a woman in her bedroom while yelling “arrghh”.

He said he was dreaming about being in the mythical world of the computer game Skyrim when the woman’s husband restrained him, only realising he was in trouble when he was taken to the police station and locked in a cell.

NSW District Court judge Phillip Mahony last week found the 21-year-old not guilty of aggravated assault occasioning actual bodily harm after a judge alone trial, finding prosecutors had not excluded the reasonable possibility he was sleepwalking, making his actions involuntary.

The court heard Mr Holland and his older brother drank beers and played Xbox games until about 10pm, before he went to bed naked.

About an hour after the older brother left the house, police called him and he found Mr Holland naked and hysterical in a cell, claiming police had told him he’d killed or hurt a child.

Alan Holland told court: “Jacob does these weird sleep things. He goes into a weird state and does crazy things and doesn’t remember.”

An officer who arrested Mr Holland at the house said he appeared drunk, but agreed the symptoms of “sleep drunkeness” – a sleepy confusion sleepwalkers suffer marked by disorientation, balance problems, slurred speech and mumbling – was similar to intoxication.

The Crown’s expert Professor David Greenberg said Mr Holland’s actions were more likely the result of intoxication, in part because sleepwalkers tend to do “repetitive and purposeless” things.

Professor Greenberg noted that Mr Holland, who had been treated for behavioural disorders as a child, had never been diagnosed with sleepwalking by a sleep physician or neurologist.

The medical expert called by Mr Holland’s defence found that a low level of blood alcohol concentration would not account for his actions, but could have made the sleepwalking worse.

Both experts found Mr Holland did not suffer from a mental illness.

Judge Mahony found there was no motive for Mr Holland to target the woman, whom he’d never met, and noted there were known examples of people driving or using machinery while sleepwalking.

“I am therefore of the opinion that the Crown case has not satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, the onus on it to disprove the reasonable possibility that the accused was sleepwalking at the time of the offending conduct.

“Therefore his conduct was not voluntary at the time of that offending.”

Newcastle Supercars track builders ready to rollphotos, video

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START LINE: Josh Ryan, right, in Newcastle on Tuesday with Supercars boss James Warburton and drivers James Courtney and Scott McLaughlin. Work is due to start on May 1 to transform parts of Newcastle East into a Supercars track, including resurfacing all 2.6km of the circuit.
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Senior project manager Josh Ryan, of track engineers iEDM, said on Tuesday that construction crews would work on various parts of the circuitsimultaneously.

The project would include fresh tarmac on the entire track, reshaping corners, new footpaths, anew road through Nobbys reserve and replacing permanent speed humps with temporary ones.

Supercars track builders ready to roll | photos, videos Scott McLaughlin and James Courtney

STREET PLAN: An artist’s impression based on a Supercars preliminary design for the track.

James Courtney and Scott McLaughlin

James Courtney and Scott McLaughlin

James Courtney and Nuatali Nelmes

Scott McLaughlin and James Courtney

Scott McLaughlin and James Courtney

TweetFacebook Supercars visit to Newcastle, March 21Photos: Marina Neil“Given the condensed time frames for delivery, the packages will be constructed concurrently in all four zones as per our mapping,” Mr Ryan said.“We are aiming, with the caveat of approvals from state government, to start construction on the first of May, through, tentatively, to the end of September.

“That’s just the civil construction. Then overlay of the event will start around early to mid October, take us through six to seven weeks to the event.”

Mr Ryan said the engineers would work hard to maintain vehicle access for as much of the construction period as possible.

Newcastle City Council is working on partof the race route at the southern end of Shortland Esplanade,but a spokesman said this was related to replacing a retaining wall for the Bathers Way project.

Some residents are concerned the circuit will look like a motor racing track 365 days a year, detracting from Newcastle East’s heritage character.But Mr Ryansaid the circuit would effectively disappear after each race weekend.

Temporary structures for the November 24 to 26 race would include two pedestrian bridges spanning the track, one at the corner of Wharf Road and Watt Street and another probably at Hunter Street to maximise pedestrian traffic past CBD shops, cafes and bars.

Mr Ryan said Supercars simulations had confirmed the drivers would reach 240km/h down Wharf Road before sweeping left into Watt Street around a slightly reshaped corner. The trackwould not require chicanes to slow down the cars.

Mr Ryan, who is living in Newcastle this year with his family while the track is built, said about 300 contractors would work on the five-month track construction.He said the project would leave the city with better roads and footpaths.

Supercars executives will be back in Newcastle next week to talk to residents, and chief executive James Warburton said tickets would go on sale to Novocastrians at the end of April.

Organisers have secured Delta Goodrem to perform on the Friday night of the race weekend and are still chasing a “major” act for the following night.

Ronaldo or Messi? For Baro, it’s a no-brainer.

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Strikers may well be the most talented individuals on a A-League team, which is why Melbourne Victory’s Spanish centre back Alan Baro is diplomatic when asked who is the toughest opponent he has faced in his first season in .
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“The strikers are always the best players in the team, and in the A-League all the strikers are good players,” he says with a smile. ” I always have to concentrate fully.”

But Baro is far too polite to say that any challenge he might meet in pales into insignificance compared to the biggest test he has faced in a career which started 12 years ago with a small team, Peralada, when he was a teenager in his native Catalonia.

Baro eventually worked his way though the grades in Spain, playing in the Spanish second and third division – and that’s where he came up against opponents who would give any defender nightmares, the mighty Real Madrid.

Baro faced the European champions – complete with Cristiano Ronaldo spearheading its galaxy of stars – four times in the Copa Del Rey, the Spanish knockout Cup competition where the ties are played over two legs.

It was both exhilarating and frightening at the same time, says Victory’s Iberian import.

“I played twice against Real Madrid, when I was in the third division in the Copa Del Ray [with Alicante], and the second time was against Ronaldo, and Gonzalo Higuain [the Argentinian and currently Juventus striker] with Ponferradina.”

So what must it be like stepping out on to the pitch at the Bernabeu knowing you are facing Ronaldo and his mates.

“At first you are thinking a lot about them. You know you are playing against maybe the biggest player in the world. But when you are on the pitch you try to do things well, and you see them like another player.

“We drew the first one at home [1-1] and then lost 2-1 in the Bernabeu [when he played for Alicante] the second time we lost home and away, 2-0 at home and in Madrid 4-1.”

So given that Baro is a proud Catalonian and lifelong Barca fan but has also faced Ronaldo on the field, which would he pick first – Ronaldo or Lionel Messi – if he was given the choice.

“Messi,” he says without hesitation. “The main reason is I am a Barcelona supporter but I think Messi has something special, he is different in respect of other players. For me it’s beautiful to see him play.”

Baro’s has been the story of the journeyman who has battled his way up the grades and made the most of his talent with hard work and application.

He wasn’t plucked from obscurity to train at Barca’s famous La Masia academy, from which so many talents have emerged. His progress has come in roundabout fashion.

“I started in small teams, and step by step I went to the higher levels, then I have the chance to play in the third division like a professional, then I went to the second division.

“I played one game in the first division, but I never had the chance to play in a very big team in my young days.”

When an agent who had brought other Spanish players to offered him the chance to move to the A-League he was quickly on the phone to a former teammate Isaias, who was part of Adelaide United’s title-winning team last season.

“I played two seasons with him as a teammate in Ponferradina. I also knew Alberto Aguilar from Western Sydney.

“Isaias told me very good things about the A-League. Both Isaias and Aguilar were very happy about their moves. I looked up about Melbourne Victory on the internet and was happy to come.”

Baro moved with his wife and two young children, son Biel and daughter Arlette, and the family have settled comfortably into Melbourne life.

His contract is up in May and, he says, he hasn’t really discussed extending his stay because he wants to focus on finishing the regular season strongly then making a mark in the finals.

The competition in the A-League is tough, as tough as the second league in Spain,” he says.

“I think there are very good teams. I think it’s like the second division in Spain, there are a lot of similar things. It’s hard and the levels between the teams are quite equal.

“At the end football is the same game in every country. There are good players in second division in Spain and in the A-League in .

“There are different teams in every league but at the end it’s always football.”