From murder charges to terrorism investigations - here is a list of the biggest crime stories to rock the region this past year.
From murder charges to terrorism investigations - here is a list of the biggest crime stories to rock the region this past year.

The crimes that shocked the coast in 2019

FROM murder charges to major drug busts, it would be an understatement to say that the year of 2019 kept local police busy.

The following is a list of the biggest crime stories that took place in the Coffs Coast region this past year, in chronological order.

Dr Angela Jay arrives at the Coffs Harbour courthouse, where the inquest into the death of Paul Lambert was taking place. Photo: Nathan Edwards.
Dr Angela Jay arrives at the Coffs Harbour courthouse, where the inquest into the death of Paul Lambert was taking place. Photo: Nathan Edwards.

February 15: Inquest finds police were not at fault in killing Tinder stalker

HANDING down the findings of the inquiry into the death of Paul Lambert at Coffs Harbour in 2016, the Coroner found police officers had no other choice but to fatally shoot the 36-year-old.

Lambert had doused his ex-girlfriend in petrol and stabbed her 11 times before leading police on a car chase on the night of November 3.

The car chase ended at Bonville, where Mr Lambert, who was threatening police with a knife, was shot three times as a taser had failed to connect.

Lambert's former partner Dr Angela Jay, who had met Lambert on Tinder, had attempted to end their relationship multiple times before the attack, but Lambert would manipulate her into thinking he would take his own life.

Read the full story here.

 

NSW Police Counter Terrorism officers executed a search warrant at Sandy Beach, searching a van linked to Brenton Tarrant. Photo: Frank Redward
NSW Police Counter Terrorism officers executed a search warrant at Sandy Beach, searching a van linked to Brenton Tarrant. Photo: Frank Redward

 

March 18: Homes raided as part of counter terrorism investigation

A COUNTER-terrorism investigation was underway at homes in the Coffs Harbour and Grafton areas following the devastating terror attack at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, at the hands of Grafton man Brenton Tarrant.

Tarrant was charged with the murder of 51 people after the gunman opened fire on Muslims during Friday prayers on March 15, which he had livestreamed and has since pleaded not guilty to.

On the morning of March 18, officers from the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team executed a search warrant at a home in Sandy Beach, and another at Lawrence in search of material to assist New Zealand police in their ongoing investigation.

Tarrant's family also assisted police with their inquiries.

Full story here.

 

Police erected a billboard on the Bruce Highway at Cannonvale earlier this year to help solve the murder of Jay Brogden in 2007.
Police erected a billboard on the Bruce Highway at Cannonvale earlier this year to help solve the murder of Jay Brogden in 2007.

26 March: Queensland police extradite man in relation to murder of Jay Brogden

GAVIN Philip Parnell, 33, was the second man to be charged in relation to the cold case murder of 21-year-old Jay Brogden, who was last seen alive near Airlie Beach in 2007.

Queensland Police applied to extradite the Coffs Harbour man, who was a former resident of Airlie Beach.

He had initially been arrested in relation the other matters.

A week earlier Queensland Police had extradited a Sydney man, 33-year-old Braddon Butler, and also charged him over the murder of Mr Brogden.

A coroner's report in 2015 ruled Mr Brogden had most likely met with foul play, and his body has never been found.

Full story here.

 

Strike Force Trawler detectives charged a specialist doctor over allegedly inciting the sexual assault of a child.
Strike Force Trawler detectives charged a specialist doctor over allegedly inciting the sexual assault of a child.

April 11: Coffs GP arrested in child sex unit sting

DR Murray Govan, a Coffs Harbour skin cancer specialist, was arrested after an undercover police operation allegedly caught him attempting to meet up with a mother and her child for sex.

Police alleged the 49-year-old man believed he was speaking online to a 32-year-old mother, but was actually engaging in sexualised conversations with detectives.

It was alleged Dr Govan attempted to meet up with the woman and her 11-year-old daughter outside a Parramatta hotel when he was arrested by Strike Force Trawler detectives.

A number of items, including children's toys, were seized from his hotel room.

Read the full story here.

 

Coskun Marius is extradited from Coffs Harbour to the Gold Coast on Tuesday, May 14. Photo: Frank Redward
Coskun Marius is extradited from Coffs Harbour to the Gold Coast on Tuesday, May 14. Photo: Frank Redward

 

May 12: Police track down 'rapper' wanted over Surfers death at Coffs Harbour

FOLLOWING a police appeal, Coskun Marius, 26, was located and arrested outside a Coffs Harbour shopping centre on the afternoon of May 12.

The self-styled rapper was wanted by Queensland police in relation to the death of a man, 38-year-old Dre Nova, in Surfers Paradise.

Mr Nova was found dead inside a house having suffered significant head injuries, police said.

Mr Marius appeared at Coffs Harbour Local Court on May 13, before he was extradited to Queensland and charged with murder.

Full story here.

 

A car involved in the double fatal crash on the Pacific Highway near Halfway Creek last December.
A car involved in the double fatal crash on the Pacific Highway near Halfway Creek last December.

July 3: Murder charges laid after two men die in fiery crash

KEVIN James Cook, 34, was arrested and charged with two counts of murder after police found the small pistol allegedly involved in the December 2018 crash that claimed the life of two men on the Pacific Hwy near Halfway Creek.

Police allege all parties had been involved in a disagreement before the vehicles, a Mitsubishi Lancer and a Commodore driven by Cook, could be seen driving erratically on the highway.

Detectives allege the firearm, brandished by Mr Cook, caused the Mitsubishi Lancer to leave the highway and roll several times before catching on fire.

Mr Cook allegedly fled the scene without contacting emergency services.

Grafton man Daniel Elliot and Jucabia man Jared Ward died in the incident.

A 39-year-old woman suffered permanent injury and was airlifted from the scene.

Full story here.

 

The four children, who were reported missing, were arrested by police at Jackadgery,
The four children, who were reported missing, were arrested by police at Jackadgery,

July 14: Missing children's 1000km joy ride ends in arrest

FOUR Queensland children who allegedly stole one of their father's vehicles and went on a 1,000km interstate joy ride were tracked down and arrested by police off the Gwydir Hwy at Jackadgery.

The children, a 12-year-old girl, two 13-year-old boys from Queensland and a 14-year-old boy originally from Grafton, were found in the stolen Nissan Patrol after having travelled through the centre of Queensland, out through Warialda before travelling towards Glen Innes.

During their journey the children, who had failed to pay for petrol twice, were sighted at stations in Banana in Qld and Warialda in NSW, and had led police on a pursuit at Glen Innes.

Full story here.

Tim Watkins was killed in a hit and run incident on Wilsons Creek Road, Wilsons Creek, about 9km southwest of Mullumbimby.
Tim Watkins was killed in a hit and run incident on Wilsons Creek Road, Wilsons Creek, about 9km southwest of Mullumbimby.

August 20: Man hands himself in over hit-and-run which killed 22-year-old cyclist

MORE than two months after he allegedly hit and killed 22-year-old cyclist Tim Watkins on a road near Mullimbimby, Stuart Charles Newman handed himself in to Coffs Harbour police.

Mr Watkins' bike was found in three pieces by his deceased body on Wilsons Creed Rd in the early hours of June 23.

It's alleged that after striking the victim Mr Newman fled the scene without calling for assistance.

In the weeks following the hit and run, Mr Newman was living with his mother in Bellingen and had allegedly resprayed his vehicle and searched online for plane tickets.

It is alleged he handed himself in after becoming aware detectives had begun making inquiries around Bellingen.

He was charged with dangerous driving occasioning death, negligent driving occasioning death and failing to stop and assist after vehicle impact causing death.

Full story here.

 

Two women died after they were hit by car outside a Nambucca Heads shopping centre. Photo: Frank Redward
Two women died after they were hit by car outside a Nambucca Heads shopping centre. Photo: Frank Redward

September 28: Mum charged with manslaughter after hitting and killing two women

A 52-year-old woman was charged with manslaughter after two women - including her daughter - were killed after being hit by a vehicle at a Nambucca Heads shopping centre car park.

Police said just before midnight on September 28, the two young women Skye Luland, 24, and Kazzandra Widders, 20, were engaged in an altercation when they were hit by the white Commodore being driven by Linda Britton, the mother of Ms Luland.

The young women became trapped under the vehicle and died at the scene.

Police said Ms Britton left the scene without rendering assistance.

Full story here.

 

Two men were arrested after police seized more than $3 million worth of cannabis plants at a rural property north of Coffs Harbour. Picture: NSW Police
Two men were arrested after police seized more than $3 million worth of cannabis plants at a rural property north of Coffs Harbour. Picture: NSW Police

November 20: Police shut down 'Vietnamese drug syndicate' operations in Korora

TWO Vietnamese men, aged 26 and 31, were arrested during a massive $3 million cannabis bust north of Coffs Harbour.

Drug and Firearms Squad Commander Michael Cook said it was believed the men, who were growing the cannabis inside 'greenhouses' on the 11-acre Korora property, were part of an organised Vietnamese crime syndicate.

Police seized almost 1030 cannabis plants and 50kg of cannabis head from the property.

One of the men was also charged in relation to two previous hydroponic cannabis plantations found in Sydney.

Full story here.

John Wallace Edwards was found guilty of murdering Sharon Edwards. Photo: Nathan Edwards
John Wallace Edwards was found guilty of murdering Sharon Edwards. Photo: Nathan Edwards

November 22: Jury finds John Edwards guilty of murdering estranged wife Sharon Edwards

FOLLOWING a three-week trial at Coffs Harbour Supreme Court, John Wallace Edwards, 62, was found guilty for the murder of Grafton schoolteacher and his estranged wife Sharon Edwards.

Ms Edwards, who had reunited with her old flame from high school Billy Mills, had spent the night of March 14, 2015, at a Grafton pub with Mr Mills before driving back to her home.

The court heard that when the 55-year-old arrived back at her home that night, John Edwards was waiting for her inside the home and killed her in a jealous rage.

Ms Edwards' body has not been found, and Mr Edwards maintained his innocence throughout the court proceedings.

Full coverage here.

 

December 9: Former high school teacher jailed for assaulting students

A FORMER teacher at a Coffs Harbour high school was sentenced to jail over the common assault of four young teenage students, who were aged 12 and 13 at the time of the incidents.

The 60-year-old man was the head of the HSIE department when the four victims reported the isolated assaults, with claims ranging from being prodded in the stomach to being hit on the buttocks between late 2017 to early 2018.

He was arrested in February 2019 before later pleading guilty in court to a string of common assault charges.

He was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment with a non-parole period of 9 months.

Full story here.



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