Five stories that made a mark on 2017: Breanna Chillingworth reflects on the year that was

Talking crime: Breanna Chillingworth interviews Oxley Detective Sergeant Jason Darcy.
Talking crime: Breanna Chillingworth interviews Oxley Detective Sergeant Jason Darcy.

Another year has come and almost passed, and there has been no shortage of news on the crime and court front across the New England North West.

From massive drug busts, to extraditions and breakthroughs in historical abuse investigations to murders and a program driving kids away from crime to chase their dreams.

Police have been busy, officers have been run off their feet, and the court lists have been clogged with matters.

These are just some of the stories that made the headlines this year, and won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

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Taking a toll: Oxley detectives comb a crime scene in Tamworth. Photo: Peter Hardin

Taking a toll: Oxley detectives comb a crime scene in Tamworth. Photo: Peter Hardin

Detectives wage war on thin blue line

OXLEY detectives, covering Tamworth and Gunnedah, are one of the most under-resourced units in Western NSW, and argue community safety is being put a risk because of a drug epidemic and a lack of officers.

The Leader revealed that the local team has significantly less investigators than Dubbo but has to police dozens more convicted sex offenders, and covers a population with more than 20,000 extra people. Read the story here

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Behind bars: One of the ringleaders Marcus Bruno was arrested by New England detectives

Behind bars: One of the ringleaders Marcus Bruno was arrested by New England detectives

How an undercover sting brought down two drug dealers

TWO drug dealers exposed in one of the biggest drug operations ever undertaken by New England detectives will spend up to nine years in jail.

He told an undercover officer he was 'the boss', and did laps when he and his co-accused got spooked by police. In April, Fairfax Media revealed the details of the secret operation to catch two of the region's biggest drug dealers.

Daniel Gallaher and Marcus James Bruno Crane were tracked by undercover detectives as part of a Strike Force Ansae – a secret operation set-up to bring down those behind the supply of cannabis, MDMA, amphetamine and cocaine across the Northern Tablelands. Read the story here

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Punching on: Breanna Chillingworth learns the ropes at the Armidale-based boxing program at the PCYC.

Punching on: Breanna Chillingworth learns the ropes at the Armidale-based boxing program at the PCYC.

Changing young lives one punch at a time

FIFTEEN-year-old Malakye dreams of playing in the NRL or working in a veterinarian surgery, caring for animals. 

He knows now, anything is possible, if you want it. But it’s not how life always was.

He’s been in trouble in school and had brushes with police before, but he doesn’t want to go back that way. 

He’s on the right track in school in Armidale, playing sport, and now a leader for other kids at the Nanyapura boxing program at the PCYC in Armidale. See the story and video here

See also: 

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Simultaneous raids: Police search the Nundle Rd, Woolomin, property in September, and inset, a motorbike, drugs and cash were seized in the secret police sting. Photos: Breanna Chillingworth, supplied

Simultaneous raids: Police search the Nundle Rd, Woolomin, property in September, and inset, a motorbike, drugs and cash were seized in the secret police sting. Photos: Breanna Chillingworth, supplied

Secret police sting to ‘disrupt ice supply’

The Leader revealed the secret operation to bring down alleged dealers in the rodeo and equine circuits from Tamworth. Read the story here

Strike Force Delaney was instigated in February after a tip-off to police during the Tamworth Country Music Festival about alleged supplies of the drug ice in the rodeo circuits.

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From there, the net widened as investigators allegedly uncovered a much larger trail of supplies spanning the Tamworth district and Western NSW.

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VERDICT: Murdered woman Johann Morgan's sister Vivienne Morgan and son Michael Morgan outside NSW Supreme Court in Tamworth in November. Photo: Peter Hardin

VERDICT: Murdered woman Johann Morgan's sister Vivienne Morgan and son Michael Morgan outside NSW Supreme Court in Tamworth in November. Photo: Peter Hardin

The heartbreaking plea to find Johann’s body

Gripped by grief Johann Morgan’s family made a tearful and desperate plea for her boyfriend to tell them where her body is after he was found guilty of her murder.

Troy Jason Ruttley showed no emotion in the NSW Supreme Court in Tamworth in July as he was found guilty of the murder of Ms Morgan – his on-off partner of six years.

It took less than two days of deliberations for the jury to find him guilty, despite not knowing how she died or where body is.

He is now serving out a 24-year sentence for the murder. See the story here

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