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Hit-run killer of Lankan student jailed for eight years

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Nisali Perera was just two metres from safety when an ice-addicted driver struck and killed her on a Melbourne road

Shane Cochrane killed her instantly after he sped through a red light in Clayton in August 2019, having used ice and GHB the night before.

The 20-year-old Sri Lankan international student, on her way home from Monash University, was thrown nearly 60m by the impact.

But Cochrane didn’t stop, instead dumping his car at an abandoned church nearby before hopping into a DiDi ride share.

Judge Liz Gaynor sentenced the 38-year-old, who appeared to wipe away tears as he faced the Victorian County Court on Tuesday, to a maximum 10 years behind bars, the Australian media reported yesterday (6)

Cochrane had earlier pleaded guilty to multiple offences including culpable driving causing death, and failing to stop and render assistance.

Ms Perera’s parents were torn when their only child was accepted to study commerce at Monash, the court heard.

Her mother, Kamal, said in a statement they were “reluctant” to let their daughter go from their care and protection, but wanted the young woman to be able to “fulfil her dreams and live independently”.

“I still regret the fact that I let her go (to Australia),” the 52-year-old said.

“If I kept her back (home) … she would have lived.

“We do not have anything to look forward to in the future.”

Kamal Perera and her husband despaired that their daughter wouldn’t be able to care for them in their old age, as is customary in Sri Lankan culture.

“The irony of the situation is that Nisali had a belief that Australia was a very safe country,” Judge Gaynor said on Tuesday.

“She was the centre of her parents’ world and their lives have been entirely and irrevocably shattered.”

Cochrane had already been sentenced 29 times, mostly for drug and driving offences, when he fatally struck Ms Perera.

Judge Gaynor called his road record “appalling”.

He was still under the influence of ice when he sped, unlicensed, through a light which had been red for 12 seconds.

A collision reconstruction expert told the court Cochrane was “most likely” driving at 95 to 102km/h when he struck Ms Perera, who was 2.3m away from crossing the road.

The former furniture removalist and courier was arrested sleeping in a home at Officer, southeast of Melbourne, five days after the crash.

“I was just driving along that road and … the next thing I know, I’ve hit somebody, like, I didn’t even see her one bit,” he told police.

Cochrane is thought to have a brain injury from prolonged drug use and trauma, after an upbringing marred by violence. His mother died from drugs when he was a teenager.

He will be eligible for parole after eight years, but has already served 355 days in pre-sentence detention.



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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