What hit headlines in New South Wales in 2015

DAY THAT SHOCKED THE NATION: A panicked hostage runs to tactical response officers after escaping from the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, Sydney.
Inquest into the Sydney siege traced killer Man Haron Monis before tragic event. Rob Griffithap


INVESTIGATORS carefully dissected the days, months and years that led to Man Haron Monis taking hostages in a Martin Place cafe last year.

They uncovered the story of a deranged, sexually deviant conman who had none of the links to Islamic State he claimed.

The inquest found he murdered Lindt Cafe manager Tori Johnson with an execution-style shot to the back of the head.

Mother of three Katrina Dawson died after a fragment of a police bullet ricocheted and hit a major blood vessel.

The inquest will continue next year.

Tadashi Nakahara, inset, was killed by a suspected great white shark at Ballina.
Tadashi Nakahara, inset, was killed by a suspected great white shark at Ballina. Facebook (inset) / Twitter


A SURGE in shark attacks on NSW beaches prompted the State Government to launch a world-first $16 million strategy to make its coastlines safer.

The plan included trials of new shark-repelling technologies, aerial monitoring, a shark tagging research program and new systems for publicising sightings.

At least 14 unprovoked shark attacks were recorded across the state this year, mostly on the North Coast.

Mat Lee was bodyboarding at Lighthouse Beach near Ballina when a 4m shark mauled both his legs in July.

Surfer Sam Morgan awoke from a medically-induced coma two days after being attacked on the same beach in November.

Japanese surfer Tadashi Nakahara  was killed in February just a couple of kilometres away at Shelly Beach.

Fellow beachgoers pulled his from the water and administered first aid but he died on the sand.


AUBURN Deputy Mayor Salim Mehajer was thrown into the spotlight after footage went public of his lavish wedding, complete with sports cars, helicopters and fighter jets.

The media circus that followed led to accusations of foul play with his voting on major development projects and previous run-ins with the law.

Today host Karl Stefanovic could not hold back his laughter when he watched an interview in which Mehajer suggested he aspired to run for prime minister one day.


FORMER Bega Cheese boss Maurice Van Ryn was sentenced to maximum of 13 years' jail after pleading guilty to sexually abusing children between 2003 and 2014 on the state's South Coast.

Van Ryn, who was the company's chief executive for 15 years, pleaded guilty to 14 charges over the abuse of nine boys and girls.

Prosecutors have appealed against the sentence that could see him released on parole in seven years.

His lawyer said Van Ryn had been "religiously" taking chemical castration treatment since 2014.


A PORT Macquarie man who bit a mouse almost in half in an "act of madness" was fined $2000 and publicly shamed.

The RSPCA was given video of Bradley Wilson, 26, putting a live mouse in his mouth, clamping his teeth down and pulling its tail before spitting the dead rodent on the ground.

Wilson had been drinking heavily.

Adam Goodes.
Adam Goodes.


FORMER AFL star Adam Goodes had his final season in the sport largely overshadowed by talk of racism - both from the crowd and from him.

Opposition fans repeatedly and loudly booed the Sydney Swans captain at every match of the year.

Some thought the jeering to be motivated by racism against the outspoken Aboriginal advocate, including then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott who called on crowds to treat Goodes with "civility and respect".

Others saw it as a reaction against his public condemnation of a 13-year-old girl who called him an "ape" during a game in 2013.

The controversy came to a head when, during the AFL's Indigenous Round in May, Goodes celebrated a goal by performing a war dance in which he threw an imaginary spear in the direction of the opposing team's cheer squad.

He took indefinite leave from the sport in August, only to return the following week and retire in September.

He was named brand ambassador of David Jones the following month, sparking a flood of abusive and racist posts to the department store chain's Facebook page.

Stephanie Scott
Stephanie Scott Facebook


POLICE believe Leeton woman Stephanie Scott was murdered just six days before she was due to be married in April.

The schoolteacher's burned remains were found five days later in bushland after the small town rallied behind a huge search effort.

School cleaner Vincent Stanford was charged with murder and aggravated sexual assault.

His identical twin Marcus Stanford was arrested and extradited from South Australia to NSW in June on an accessory to murder charge.

The brothers' trials have been delayed until February, almost a year after Ms Scott's death.

James Packer gives an emotional interview on the Seven network.
James Packer


A BOOZY lunch turned into a frenzy when multi-millionaire radio man John Singleton appeared to lunge at his mate with a broken glass at a restaurant.

The brawl seemed reminiscent of an on-street fracas between gambling billionaire James Packer and Channel Nine boss James Gyngell in 2014.

This time though, Singo said his scrap with media executive Jack Cowin was just a "joke gone wrong" and looked worse on film than it really was.


THE longest criminal trial against a single person in NSW history ended after nine months with the jury still unable to decide whether Robert Xie was guilty of five murders.

The jury spent 11 days trying to reach a verdict over the brutal slaying of the Lin family in their North Epping home in 2009.

It was the third time Xie stood trial over the five murders, with the previous two juries discharged last year.

Prosecutors are pushing for another trial next year.


COREY Breen was sentenced to at least 33 years behind bars after stabbing his father 15 times before turning his hunting knife on his stepmother.

Police found Paul Breen and Felicia Crawford's bodies in their Killarney Vale home on the NSW Central Coast in March 2013.

The court heard Breen told police upon his arrest: "I have achieved my mission."

He said he had planned to kill the rest of his family but his car broke down.

The 29-year-old was jailed for 42 years with a chance of parole in 2046 after 33 years in prison.

Kari Bourne


FOR the first time, the number of over-65s in key areas of regional NSW outnumber those under the age of 15.

The North Coast, South Coast and the Illawarra-Shoalhaven, South-East and Tablelands regions had all reached and passed the threshold.

Population projections found everywhere in the state outside Sydney would have more over-65s than under-15s by 2021.