VIDEO: Deans tips sore Jets to recover

      Comments Off on VIDEO: Deans tips sore Jets to recover

IN DOUBT: Craig Goodwin, right, at Jets training yesterday. Picture: Peter Stoop
Nanjing Night Net

SWISS defender Dominik Ritter sat out training yesterday and housemate Craig Goodwin failed to finish the session, but Jets assistant coach Craig Deans was confident both would be fit to take on Wellington Phoenix at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.

Ritter had soreness in his left quadriceps after getting through 90 minutes in his return from injury in the 2-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday.

‘‘We did not expect Dom to get through 90 minutes on the weekend,’’ said Deans, who deputised for ill coach Gary van Egmond yesterday.

‘‘It might take just a little bit longer to settle down. Come Friday he will be right.’’

Goodwin, who covered for Ritter at left-back in a game against a fringe XI yesterday, received a knock on his right shin and limped off early in the second third.

‘‘He keeps getting kicked in the same spot,’’ Deans said.

‘‘He had the shin pad on today to protect it. I don’t think it will stop him playing but when you get a kick on the shin bone it gets pretty sore.’’

After a spectacular start to the season, Goodwin’s form has dipped in the past two games.

‘‘It is tough for a young kid,’’ Deans said. ‘‘When you come in and have a few good games early on … it does put a lot of pressure on a young player.

‘‘He obviously has more attention from the opposition now.

‘‘Any attacking player in any competition in the world will be marked for special attention. He is a good kid, a diligent kid with his football, and will continue to work hard.’’

James Virgili made an impact off the bench against the Wanderers and is likely to come in if Ritter or Goodwin do not recover.

‘‘Chilli has done well all year,’’ Deans said.

‘‘Some games suit Chilli and some are not necessarily games for an out-and-out winger.

‘‘But he has done really well, whether he has started or come off the bench.’’

After opening the season with a win and two draws, Wellington have lost their past three to slip to ninth place.

But they will arrive in the Hunter with a degree of confidence having beaten the Jets in their past five encounters by a combined margin of 13-2.

“We’ll have a good look at Wellington on Friday and see where they’re at and how they’ve been playing in the last couple of weeks, but we pretty much know what to expect from them,” Deans said.

“They’ve got some good individuals in the front third in Brockie, Ifill and Huysegems, who has come in this year and scored some good goals for them.

“They’re always a threat in the front third.

‘‘They work hard as a team, they’re well organised as a team.’’

The Jets are fresh from a 2-1 win on the road over Western Sydney Wanderers, their fourth win in six games.

“We’ve scored at least two goals in every game, bar the first game against Adelaide, so that’s a real positive for us,” Deans said.

“We just need to tighten up the other end because you can’t keep relying on scoring two or three goals every week to win games.’’

IN DOUBT: Craig Goodwin, right, at Jets training yesterday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Frei aims to make impact at Knights

      Comments Off on Frei aims to make impact at Knights

KNIGHTS recruit Mitchell Frei has arrived in Newcastle for the chance to develop his game under master coach Wayne Bennett.
Nanjing Night Net

Frei has joined the Knights from the Brisbane Broncos, signing a one-year contract with Newcastle’s NRL club with an option for another season in 2014.

The hard-hitting 20-year-old has spent the past two seasons in the Broncos’ National Youth Cup team.

He signed a second-tier deal with the Knights to play NSW Cup and hopes to make Bennett’s NRL squad.

Frei believes signing with the Knights is a great opportunity.

‘‘There wasn’t the same opportunity up there as I have down here, so it was time to move on, and Wayne gave me a great opportunity,’’ Frei told the Newcastle Herald yesterday.

‘‘Wayne was at the Broncos when I first got there.

‘‘I didn’t train with him or anything. I’d see him around and he’d say ‘g’day’ and important things like that, but I’m really looking forward to being coached by him full-time.’’

Frei began getting to know his new teammates at the club’s fitness testing at the University of Newcastle yesterday and said he was looking forward to 2013.

‘‘Training was good. They are a great bunch of blokes, they’ve made me feel welcome and I’m looking forward to getting into it.’’

Bennett is confident Frei will strengthen the squad.

‘‘Mitchell adds depth to the young front-rowers we are establishing at the Knights, which we identified as an area we needed to strengthen going forward,’’ Bennett told the Knights website.

The front-rower, who is also a goal-kicker and plays golf off single figures, had a stellar season last year, representing the Maroons under 20s.

Frei will not be the only new face to wear the red and blue in 2013.

He has joined Beau Scott, Jeremy Smith, Toka Likiliki and David Fa’alogo as new signings, and former Knights winger Anthony Quinn is also close to agreeing to terms.

SEEKING EXPERIENCE: Mitchell Frei at The Forum yesterday. Picture: Peter Stoop

Scott feels right at home

      Comments Off on Scott feels right at home

KNIGHTS recruit Beau Scott said the familiar faces of former teammates and coaches had made it easier for him to feel at home at his new NRL club.
Nanjing Night Net

The rugged NSW and one-time Australian utility has been reunited with former St George Illawarra coach Wayne Bennett and fellow ex-Dragons Darius Boyd, Neville Costigan and Jeremy Smith, with whom he won the 2010 NRL premiership.

Knights Chris Houston, Alex McKinnon and Kevin Naiqama also did time at the Dragons during Scott’s six-year stint with the club.

Scott, who has signed a four-year deal with the Knights, officially clocked on for his first day at work yesterday when he joined the squad for fitness testing at the University of Newcastle.

The Knights are Scott’s third NRL club, after the 28-year-old Picton Magpies junior made his debut among 28 appearances for Cronulla in 2005 and 2006.

He returned to the Dragons in 2007, having played in the club’s junior representative teams before joining the Sharks, and went on to play 118 NRL games for the Red V.

Three of his six years at the Dragons were with Bennett, so he knows what is in store.

‘‘It does make it easier, being under Wayne and the coaching staff that’s at the Knights at the moment, and knowing what to expect,’’ Scott said yesterday.

‘‘He’s pretty intimidating when he wants to be but, like I said, I know what to expect with Wayne and the styles of the group of coaches we’ve got here, so I’m looking forward to it.

‘‘It’s the first day back at training with the group itself.

‘‘They’re a great bunch of fellas and I know a fair few of them already … so I’m looking forward to getting amongst it.’’ Scott is still recovering from groin surgery but does not anticipate missing much of the pre-season program.

‘‘I’m still on a rehab schedule, but when the groin gets back to 100per cent I’ll jump back into full training. It’s sort of a week-to-week thing now, so we’ll just manage it as it goes,’’ he said.

Scott is equally at home in the back row or the centres but said he was yet to discuss what role Bennett envisaged for him.

‘‘I’m pretty happy to fill whatever spot I need to do for the team,’’ he said.

He hoped to add to his five Origin games for NSW and one Test match for Australia, but his priority was to nail down a spot with the Knights.

‘‘First and foremost it’s a solid pre-season, and start to play football with the Knights … You’ve got to play good club football to be in that representative circle ,’’ he said.

Though he falls short of being one of the club’s ‘‘thirty-somethings’’ – he turns 29 in May – Scott will be one of the senior players expected to play a mentoring role.

‘‘At nearly every club they’ve got a senior playing group and the young stock coming through. I guess to get that balance right at the club is the main thing, so I’m not too worried about the playing group’s age at all,’’ he said.

‘‘I guess we’ve been around for a while now, Jeremy [Smith] and myself, and I guess we can help steer the young fellas on the right path, which is good for the club.’’

AMONG FRIENDS: Knights member Beau Scott.

Skipper relishes chance to atone

      Comments Off on Skipper relishes chance to atone

MARK Littlewood plans to exorcise a few demons when he leads Newcastle in the northern carnival of the NSW Country cricket championships at Belmont this weekend.
Nanjing Night Net

Littlewood was skipper last year for the corresponding event when Newcastle, sent in on a seam-friendly Cahill Oval pitch, were beaten by giant-killers Western Zone, costing the home side a berth in the Country Championships final.

It was Newcastle’s first loss in a NSW Country championships match in eight years, and Littlewood has no desire for a second serve of such disappointment.

‘‘It was a bit of a wake-up call for us, to lose last year,’’ Littlewood said yesterday.

‘‘It might have been a good thing. It’s a motivating factor for us and was probably good for country cricket.

‘‘We’ve been the benchmark in country cricket for a long time now and all the other zones have been trying to hunt us down.

‘‘It worked last year, so it’s up to us to try and be one step ahead this year.

‘‘But the boys have been training hard, we’ve got a good team, and we’re feeling confident.’’

Littlewood said last year’s defeat was a reminder there was little room for error during the three-day tournament, in which Newcastle will play Central Coast tomorrow, North Coastal on Saturday and Central North on Sunday. ‘‘That’s the nature of this carnival. You really can’t afford to have a bad match or a bad half-hour,’’ he said.

‘‘You have to be on your game for the whole three days . . . there’s plenty of talent around rural NSW, so there’s always some challenges.’’

If Newcastle finish on top of the northern group, they will face their nemesis from last season, Western Zone, in the championship decider at Wade Park, Orange, on Sunday week.

Western won the southern pool last weekend with a clean sweep of Southern Zone, Riverina and Wollongong.

Newcastle’s 13-man squad features a blend of youth and experience, from teenage leg-spinner Ben Evans to veteran run machine Simon Moore.

Littlewood was sure selectors had covered all bases.

‘‘It’s a strong side, well balanced,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve got a good mix of all-rounders in there and good variety in the attack.

‘‘I think it’s a pretty good-looking side on paper and we just have to get down to doing the business.’’

FOCUS: Mark Littlewood believes Newcastle will benefit from last year’s disappointment.

OPINION: Cost-effective light rail a dividend for city

      Comments Off on OPINION: Cost-effective light rail a dividend for city

IT’S not easy to come up with a viable and achievable plan when you’re talking about light rail.
Nanjing Night Net

But it is too easy to write it off with simplistic density or unrepresentative cost arguments.

I believe all possible leverage options should be carefully looked into with a ‘‘can do’’ approach, considering all benefits as well as costs.

Many parties say light rail systems have a high cost, when comparing other developments worldwide.

In most of these cases, however, substantial parts of the costs were associated with acquiring land right of way, and entire infrastructure construction.

Our situation in Newcastle has the potential to deliver a system for substantially less cost, and from this, a lower population density hurdle can and should be applied.

There is a mooted concept of ‘‘tram train’’, where light rail vehicles ‘‘share’’ track with existing heavy rail traffic.

This operates successfully in a number of overseas locations.

If one sets aside the issue of regulation and approvals required, and analyses the existing operation of heavy freight and passenger operations in Newcastle, the challenges become apparent.

The area of rail line between Hamilton and Warabrook would necessarily be an integral part of ‘‘tram train’’ operations and is already close to saturation.

That is, there is no available ‘‘bandwidth’’ to accommodate the train paths required for a suitable frequency of light rail vehicles.

There is continual discussion about the need for a Fassifern to Hexham rail bypass as the long-term solution to heavy rail operational problems, including freight in the suburbs and the Adamstown crossing. Unfortunately scant actual planning action has taken place.

The looming increase in coal traffic from the Cobbora Coal mine through Newcastle’s suburbs will put the blowtorch on this issue in the next couple of years.

One shining light appears in the recent Infrastructure NSW “First Things First” document, which describes this link as of strategic merit.

It points out the merit of ‘‘engineering’’ the northern section of such a link with the proposed “F3 Extension” through Hexham.

This approach has the dual positive of reducing the likely rail cost, as well as potentially bringing forward the timetable for delivery.

The Hunter Business Chamber, in its recent publication Newcastle Central, outlines the importance of designing any relocated heavy rail terminus to incorporate future light rail capability. This would include using the existing inner-city corridor for such a light rail right of way.

The only problem is the call to remove the current rail infrastructure, whereas the track in its present form should be retained as it is perfectly suitable for light rail vehicles.

Removal and subsequent reinstatement is an unnecessary cost when compared with landscaping and covering options available.

The completion of the mooted Fassifern to Hexham rail bypass relieves the constraint on heavy rail operations between Hamilton and Warabrook.

As well as removing coal and freight trains from much of the Newcastle suburban areas, it also opens the door to light rail traffic using tracks to the west of Hamilton, either as ‘‘tram trains’’ or consolidating heavy rail operations on to two tracks and permitting exclusive light rail operation on the remaining two tracks.

In combination with the construction of a light rail track into the heart of the Newcastle University Callaghan campus, it is possible to envisage a Newcastle CBD to University campus light rail spine, with a cost of about $100million.

One has to stress that the majority of the ‘‘real’’ cost is already borne by the new heavy rail terminus and Newcastle rail bypass projects, which live or die on their own merit. A cost-effective light rail system can be seen as a dividend from the correct planning and delivery of these projects.

If a new light rail system indeed reaches into the Newcastle University campus, one tantalising future expansion possibility is to ‘‘co-engineer’’ light rail tracks from the university into the mooted SR23 extension from Jesmond to New Lambton Heights.

This would deliver a light rail station into the heart of the John Hunter campus, and everyone would see the enormous benefits to improving hospital access.

Tim Bohlsen writes on behalf of theHunter Independent PublicTransport Inquiry.

OPINION: If we’re in doubt, let’s rule these ‘drugs’ out

      Comments Off on OPINION: If we’re in doubt, let’s rule these ‘drugs’ out

SO-called ‘‘legal highs’’ have been around in NSW for a number of years, but in early 2011 they started to become more prevalent in the community.
Nanjing Night Net

Until then there had been a relatively small but growing group of consumers who preferred to use products that claimed, and mostly were, legal.

They had friendly types behind the counter who could rattle off all the good points of using this type of weed rather than cannabis, from the mild sedative effects and slight buzz to the biggest selling point – that it was legal.

It was a similar case to other substances, with pills, powders and potions all said to give you a particular high without the worry of committing a criminal offence.

Fast forward to October 2012 and the Newcastle region may have had its first death related to one of these products. While this is yet to be determined pending a police investigation and brief to the coroner, there is little doubt this substance had a severe psychotic effect on both the two users.

Tragically, a man passed away a few days after using the substance.

What we do know is the substance was sold at an adult store and marketed as a legal alternative to prohibited drugs, sometimes referred to as ‘‘bath salts’’ or ‘‘plant nutrient’’.

While these products are generally labelled not for human consumption, this is nonsense and, in my opinion, an attempt to absolve the seller of any responsibility should the user be adversely affected. These products are marketed on various websites describing the type of high you should get and comparing the products to the illicit substances they purport to mimic.

So what can or should we do? We often hear from eminent and not so eminent members of the community that all drugs should be legal. They wax lyrical about freedom of choice and about not putting young people in jail for using drugs, but we rarely, if ever, hear what a reasonable alternative would be.

As an aside, in 28 years in the police force, I’ve never heard of a person charged only with using drugs going to jail.

Back to the new synthetics. In July 2011, the NSW government, after consultation with police and health authorities, banned a number of synthetic cannabinoids.

These are the generally herbal mixtures that mimic the effects of cannabis. What happened immediately was that manufacturers altered the ingredients slightly to circumvent the legislation, so, while banning these products was a start, it hasn’t provided the solution.

Further work is being done at a Commonwealth and state level to find a permanent solution and there is a parliamentary law reform committee made up of a bipartisan group of state politicians researching this issue.

There is some evidence to suggest that many of the synthetic cannabis products seized by police since July last year contain one or more of the banned substances.

Further, some of the products marketed as bath salts or plant nutrient – and said to mimic the effects of cocaine, amphetamines or ecstasy – contain analogues of methcathinone or cathinone, both prohibited drugs in NSW.

What this means is, if you supply, possess or use one of these products, you are committing an offence under the Drugs Misuse and Trafficking Act, as analogues of prohibited drugs are treated the same as the prohibited drug listed in the Drug Schedule.

The problem is you don’t know what you are buying and this alone should ring alarm bells.

These products started life 40 or 50 years ago as research chemicals to see how they acted on certain receptors on the brain.

The fact they never made it to the pharmaceutical drugs market should be a good indicator that they never satisfied authorities they had a legitimate use.

These drugs are made in countries that don’t have the same stringent compliance issues as Australia.

They are not subject to any clinical standards that pharmaceuticals or even foodstuffs need to pass.

There are no ingredients listed, no advice on safe dosage levels and no information on what to do in the event of an adverse reaction.

The truth is we don’t know what the long-term or even the short-term effects of these drugs are. Research across the world shows there have been many adverse effects attributed to these substances and while some out there would argue that many others haven’t been affected, who knows how they will be affected in the years to come.

New Zealand has placed a temporary ban on these products pending testing.

While prohibition is not popular with some, it’s my view that if a manufacturer, distributor or retailer wants to sell these products then the onus is on them to show they are safe.

We should take the lead from New Zealand and ban these products until it is shown they have no harmful effects and don’t cause impairment issues. If a product is allowed on to the market, I guess it will then be up to a more informed consumer about whether they should make a purchase or not.

Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham is the commander of the NSW Police Drug Squad.

PLAIN PACKAGING: Unknown ingredients in synthetic drugs can often be illegal.

Wall goes up between Diggers and Afghan army

      Comments Off on Wall goes up between Diggers and Afghan army

Australian troops in Afghanistan have been physically separated from the Afghan National Army to protect the Diggers from their allies after a spate of green-on-blue attacks.
Nanjing Night Net

Attacks this year on coalition forces by men wearing Afghan army uniforms – known as green-on-blue, or insider attacks – have almost doubled the record set the previous year.

The divisions the attacks have created between the ANA and the Diggers stationed in patrol and Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) across Oruzgan province is stark.

At FOB Mirwais in the Chora Valley, a barbed-wire topped fence and a locked door now separates the two sides.

An armed Australian soldier, known as a guardian angel, accompanies any Australian going over to the ANA side.

No armed ANA soldiers are allowed on the Australian side.

Before an Afghan army soldier killed three Australians at a patrol base in August, the two forces lived side by side.

Seven Diggers have been killed in three separate insider attacks, and 57 NATO-led troops have been killed in green-on-blue attacks this year alone.

But the commander of 3RAR Task Group, Lieutenant-Colonel Trent Scott, says this isn’t why the army is handing over the bases to the ANA.

“We’re not pulling off them because of insider threat, or an insurgent threat. We’re pulling off them because they’re well on track to be independent,” he says.

The army has previously announced all patrol and forward operating bases will be emptied of Australian forces and handed over to the ANA by the end of the year.

The bases, many built by the Australians, have been pivotal to Australia’s mentoring and training mission of the ANA 4th Brigade.

At FOB Mirwais, 3RAR Task Group troops have been mentoring the ANA 2 Kandak – the Afghan term for Battalion – as well as fighting alongside them on joint patrols.

The base’s commanding officer, Major Judd Finger, says the new dividing wall is a precautionary measure against the insider threat, and not a sign of a damaged relationship.

“You can’t rule it out 100 per cent however our troops will carry on with the ANA and our relationship is still good,” he says.

While 2 Kandak hasn’t yet been officially declared independent, Major Finger says they’re ready.

“The Kandak itself now is independent. So it can operate independently and it has done so for the last year throughout the Chora Baluchi region,” he says.

The ANA operations commander at Mirwais, Lieutenant-Colonel Mohammad Wasseem, says the wall is not “a division that can stop our co-operation… This was only a security measure and there is no other consideration.”

He blames the insider threat on Pakistan: “They train their personnel amongst our personnel.”

On August 29, Afghan army Sergeant Hekmatullah opened fire on five Australian soldiers at patrol base Wahab.

Private Robert Poate, 23, Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic, 44, and Sapper James Martin, 21, were killed. The two wounded have not been named.

ANA soldiers at the base had been disarmed except for those on guard duty. The shooter had only just checked out his weapon to begin a guard shift when he fired on the men.

He jumped the fence, ran away and disappeared.

“As for his motivation, look I’m pretty keen to have a chat with him and ask him. And if he shows his face again we’ll do that, we’ll have a chat,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Scott.

A $US5000 ($4785) bounty on his head has failed to result in his capture.

Lieutenant-Colonel Scott says the threat has to be put in perspective.

“We deal with 4000 ANA soldiers on our tour here. We’ve had one insider attack…. so that’s one soldier in 4000 who’s managed tragically to kill our mates.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Bike lane triumph for Lord Mayor

      Comments Off on Bike lane triumph for Lord Mayor

IN an ironic twist, Barry O’Farrell’s push to take control of transport in Sydney’s CBD may finally complete Clover Moore’s network of bike lanes.
Nanjing Night Net

Despite the Premier’s hostility to the Lord Mayor’s plans for the city, a committee set up by Mr O’Farrell gave fresh momentum on Wednesday to building the extra bike lanes needed to finish the city’s grid.

The Central Sydney Traffic and Transport Committee was set up in May by the Premier, who declared that the city was being “held hostage” to Cr Moore’s political constituency.

“It’s very clear Clover Moore’s pitch for re-election is built around more bike lanes and making the CBD as unfriendly to cars as possible,” Mr O’Farrell said at the time.

In response, Mr O’Farrell set up a new committee, to be chaired by the Director-General of Transport for NSW, Les Wielinga, to take control of transport planning in the city.

The committee would feature another six members, three nominated by the government and three by the council.

But at its first meeting on Wednesday afternoon, that committee left Cr Moore beaming after it endorsed her agenda and gave new impetus to implementing it.

All seven committee members resolved to finish the design of the city’s bike network by May next year.

And they agreed to report back on a separate “access plan” for the CBD to co-ordinate bus, pedestrian and potentially light rail movements finished by March.

The executive manager of City Access and Transport Strategy at the Council, Terry Lee-Williams, said the committee’s joint approach should have happened long ago.

“We have until now had no formal mechanism for the two organisations to work together collaboratively,” he said.

Cr Moore said the commitment to work together on the completion of the bicycle network was “terrific”.

“This is a great move that we are working together on this important initiative for the city,” she said.

Cr Moore’s $76 million planned bike network through the city remains unfinished. In particular, there is no east-west crossing of the CBD, with the King Street cycleway running only two blocks from Sussex to Clarence street.

In August Fairfax Media revealed that while the Roads Minister, Duncan Gay, says Sydney’s bike lanes are in the wrong spot, his department has no such concerns.

The committee also discussed changing traffic lanes on College Street, between Oxford street and William Street.

Roads and Maritime Services proposed removing a pedestrian crossing and a lane of parking heading east on College Street in order to give more space to turning vehicles.

But Cr Moore raised safety concerns for students at Sydney Grammar School that the committee agreed to investigate.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

History transformed in VCE exam

      Comments Off on History transformed in VCE exam

The image that appeared on the exam paper.THE VCE exam body has been left red faced after a doctored artwork depicting a huge robot helping socialist revolutionaries during the Russian Revolution was accidentally included in this year’s year 12 history exam taken by 5700 students.
Nanjing Night Net

Exams for the popular History: Revolution subject were original supposed to include the artwork Storming the Winter palace on 25th October 1917 by Nikolai Kochergin, which depicts events during the October Revolution, which was instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917.

But when students opened their exam this morning they found an altered version of the work with what appear to be a large “BattleTech Marauder” robot aiding the rising revolutionaries in the background.

It is unclear how the doctored version made it into the exam. But a search for the image in Google brings up the robot version as the first result.

A picture of the exam paper posted on twitter sources the photo to website all-art.org which also carries the doctored image in the Soviet Union part of its Visual History of the World section.

The robot image is also found on the website Dark Roasted Blend, which describes itself as one of the internet’s “favourite destinations on the web for all things weird and wonderful.”

A spokesman for the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) said the image was “sourced and acknowledged by the VCAA as coming from the Internet”.

“The image has been altered but the alteration of the image won’t impact on the students’ capacity to answer the examination question,” he said.

“The VCAA will monitor students’ answers to ensure that any student who has been distracted by the image will not be disadvantaged.”

It is the second year running that the  Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority has been embarrassed by problems in its end of year exam papers.

Last year popular columnist Helen Razer accused the VCE exam body of plagiarism and breach of copyright after the English exam featured on tattoos by the Melbourne writer without her permission or acknowledging she was the author.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

MP’s son found not guilty of indecent assault

      Comments Off on MP’s son found not guilty of indecent assault

AN indecent assault charge against Jack Fitzgibbon was quashed yesterday in East Maitland District Court.
Nanjing Night Net

Judge John North upheld the appeal against Mr Fitzgibbon’s conviction in Cessnock Local Court in June.

The 21-year-old son of Hunter federal MP Joel Fitzgibbon pleaded not guilty to the charge and said he did not put his hand up the 19-year-old alleged victim’s skirt after midnight on September 11 last year.

He was accused of touching her on the outside of her underwear.

Mr Fitzgibbon’s parents were in court to support him.

The appeal reviewed the original case during which Mr Fitzgibbon admitted that he sat on the woman’s lap in the beer garden of the Cessnock Hotel.

He denied being attracted to her despite admitting that he rubbed her thighs and told her that she had nice ‘‘shapely legs’’.

Mr Fitzgibbon encouraged the woman to hit him after the alleged incident, but denied in court it was admission of guilt.

In upholding the appeal Judge North said that he had reviewed security camera footage from the night in question and it was inconsistent with the woman’s account of what happened.

‘‘It’s difficult to understand how the appellant could have committed the offence in the manner as described,’’ he said.

Judge North said the prosecution had relied solely on the testimony of the alleged victim and there was no DNA or forensic evidence to support their case.

‘‘It’s perhaps highly suspicious that something occurred which caused the complainant to complain.

‘‘I cannot in the all the circumstances be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant assaulted the complainant.’’

That, combined with the good character of Mr Fitzgibbon, convinced Judge North to uphold the appeal.

CLEARED: Jack Fitzgibbon, middle, and his father Joel Fitzgibbon, left, leave East Maitland courthouse.

Mr Fitzgibbon was originally fined $2000 and placed on a bond for two years.