Year in review – July 2017

Police find hundreds of cannabis plants growing in a suburban house in Jacaranda Avenue, Figtree. Picture: Robert Peet
Police find hundreds of cannabis plants growing in a suburban house in Jacaranda Avenue, Figtree. Picture: Robert Peet

Predator: Aaron David Vincent, a Wollongong sex deviant with a “chronic and permanent” attraction to children, will be tracked every day in the community for the next five years as part of a court order.

Drug raids: Police swoop on several houses in the Illawarra. In a Mt St Thomas home they find a hydroponic crop of cannabis with an estimated street value of $500,000. In Jacaranda Avenue, Figtree, a home with around $500,000 worth of cannabis plants is discovered. Two people were found at the Figtree house and arrested. A further 170 plants are found in a Shellharbour Road, Kemblawarra, property and a man found on the premises is taken into custody.

High price: A one-hour Wollongong-Sydney rail trip is unlikely after NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance says it would cost “billions and not millions of dollars”.

Wollongong councillor Leigh Colacino and Heathcote MP Lee Evans at the Otford rail tunnel, which will become a shared walkway. Picture: Robert Peet

Wollongong councillor Leigh Colacino and Heathcote MP Lee Evans at the Otford rail tunnel, which will become a shared walkway. Picture: Robert Peet

Flight idea: Shellharbour City Council confirms regional airline JetGo will run services out of Illawarra Regional Airport to Melbourne and Brisbane.

Tunnel vision: The Otford Railway Tunnel will be turned into a shared cycleway and walkway, with sensor lighting to illuminate the thoroughfare.

Flooded cinema: Sani Primorac appears in Wollongong court charged with tripping the fire alarm at Hoyts Warrawong, which led to sprinklers flooding a section of carpet. The theatre plans to seek damages as high as $100,000.

Sorry: The NSW RSL is forced to apologise to sacked CEO Glenn Kolomeitz and hand over $300,000 and a Mercedes-Benz as part of a settlement package.

Jail for granddad: An Illawarra man who repeatedly molested his young step-granddaughter in the mid-2000s is jailed for almost 13 years.

Pay the toll: If the F6 extension is ever built, it will definitely come with a toll says Roads Minister Melinda Pavey during a visit to Kiama.

Parking problems: Phil Sharp is allowed to park in disabled spaces outside Wollongong Hospital but ends up copping a fine because he is still there at 3pm when the street turns into a clearway. He says the issue highlighted the lack of parking for seriously ill and disabled people close to the hospital.

Jail term: Lester “Sootie” Mills, a 73-year-old former bikie and convicted paedophile is jailed for three years after molesting an underage girl at his home and offering to pay her $100 if she came back.

After getting a parking ticket outside Wollongong Hospital when a disabled space turns into a clearway, Phil Sharp speaks out about the parking issue at the health precinct. Picture: Adam McLean

After getting a parking ticket outside Wollongong Hospital when a disabled space turns into a clearway, Phil Sharp speaks out about the parking issue at the health precinct. Picture: Adam McLean

Damning: A report from the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency reveals dementia patients at the Garrawarra Centre at Waterfall are frequently assaulted and have excessive force used against them. The centre appoints an administrator and clinical adviser to get the facility up to standard.

Big burnout: A video surfaces showing a driver in a car doing a three-minute burnout in Montgomery Street, Warrawong. It was part of a raucous wake for Jack Kinloch, who died in a road accident the previous month. 

Fox find: Residents spot a fox with a fondness for fish and chips hanging around Belmore Basin in the early morning. Wollongong City Council opts not to do anything about it because science shows another fox would simply take its place.

Car park: Wollongong City councillor Janice Kershaw makes moves to wipe out “pop-up car yards”, where people park unwanted cars for sale on the roadside.

During a visit to Kiama Transport Minister Andrew Constance (right, with Gareth Ward) says a one-hour Wollongong-Sydney rail commute would cost billions of dollars. Picture: Adam McLean

During a visit to Kiama Transport Minister Andrew Constance (right, with Gareth Ward) says a one-hour Wollongong-Sydney rail commute would cost billions of dollars. Picture: Adam McLean

Tinder crime: Kiama Downs miner Andrew Peter Swallow is charged over repeatedly harassing a woman he met on Tinder and threatening to post “intimate” videos after she dumped him. In November he will be sentenced to at least 13 months in jail. In December Swallow will appeal the sentence.

Footy fracas: Ivan Buchanan is stabbed in a Koonawarra home while watching the State of Origin. Police charge his friend of 20 years, Lindsey Cochrane over the stabbing. He would later plead guilty to reckless wounding in a plea deal.

Freefall: Two men taking part in a tandem skydive at Wilton plummet to their deaths in a horror accident.

Dog dramas: An Albion Park family is fearful of a pack of hunting dogs kept in a neighbouring backyard, claiming they’ve had three pets either disappear or mauled to death right in front of their eyes.

Andrew Peter Swallow is convicted over threatening a woman with sending an "intimate" video of her over the internet. He appeals the 13-month sentence.

Andrew Peter Swallow is convicted over threatening a woman with sending an "intimate" video of her over the internet. He appeals the 13-month sentence.

Open road: The Berry Bypass opens for traffic 12 months ahead of schedule.

Grand opening: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian visits the Illawarra to open Warrigal Shell Cove, one of the projects built with a share of the $100 million promised to the region as part of the leasing of Port Kembla.

Triple theft: A court hears that Jordyn Clulow burgled the same tobacconist in Albion Park Rail three times in six weeks and turned himself in after seeing footage of one of the break and enters on Facebook. Clulow will be hit with a severely reduced prison sentence of just three months.

No deal: Wollongong councillors knock back a proposal to outsource part of the planning for the future of Beaton Park.

Alix McDermott was one of several contestants on The Bachelor with an Illawarra connection.

Alix McDermott was one of several contestants on The Bachelor with an Illawarra connection.

Local talent: Austinmer body painter Alix McDermott, former Oak Flats High student Jen Hawke and West Wollongong-raised Laura Byrne appear in the reality TV series The Bachelor.

Tourist town: Wigan Warriors and Hull FC will play at WIN Stadium on February 10 in the first Super League match held outside Europe.

TV attack: A Greenwell Point man accused of hitting his girlfriend in the face with a hammer and then smashing a TV over her head is refused bail.

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