Bondi Fitness First personal trainer Lee Clark gets five years for dealing drugs

Lee Clark was a mid-level drug dealer while working as a personal trainer at Fitness First. Photo: SuppliedAfter a Sydney personal trainer was declared bankrupt, he decided to roll the dice and live a double life.

Lee Clark, 43, who worked at Fitness First Bondi Platinum gym, was running a sophisticated criminal side business out of his Randwick apartment and a Paddington garage.

A day before his arrest Clark was recorded saying: “I could end up in a prison cell, you know? It’s not like, it’s not all peaches and cream, but you know?”

Clark was not only selling cocaine, ecstasy and steroids to clients himself but also employed five other people to run drugs for him.

He prepared the drugs for sale by cutting the cocaine with other substances, placing MDMA into capsules, weighing and placing the cocaine into plastic bags for distribution and packaging the steroids in vials for sale.

On Friday, Clark was sentenced to a minimum five-year jail term in the NSW District Court.

In a conversation recorded by police, Clark spoke to an associate about how much cocaine he was selling.

“I have five people working for me as well. Yeah I give them, I give them each week about forty bags. They make eighty, ninety bucks on one, I make a hundred.

“I just paid two fifty for a kilo of coke and still got one twenty in a safety deposit, just sits there doing nothing you know what I mean? If someone raided me now they’d find nothing. Find about, probably five, six bags, that’s it.”

But police found a whole lot more when they raided his unit, a garage and a safety deposit box he had registered in someone else’s name on March 26, 2014.

Police found $143,980 in cash, 417 grams of cocaine, 402 grams of MDMA and nearly 60 kilograms of steroids.

In the Paddington garage officers also found a hydraulic pill press, a booklet titled Cocaine Handbook, a set of electronic scales, various sizes of plastic bags, a Sunbeam Foodsaver vacuum packager and 563.9 grams of lignocaine – a substance commonly used to cut cocaine for supply.

Court documents obtained by Fairfax Media outline how Clark met one Commonwealth Bank employee three times in seven days, selling him a total of 10 grams of cocaine.

Just hours before his arrest, Clark met the Commonwealth Bank employee known as the “Irish guy” and sold him six grams of cocaine at the Rose Bay Caltex Service station.

After the sale, police record Clark talking to an associate about how much cocaine he sells the “Irish guy”.

Clark: “Irish guy, f—ing, I don’t know how he’s still alive. And him alone uses for himself at least ten bags a week … ten to fifteen. He just got six off me now.”

Associate: “Aren’t you worried that if something happens to the guy it’s going to come back to you? If he dies?”

Clark: “Mate, he holds a job down, he works at Commonwealth Bank. What would they do, go through his phone, if they see a dodgy number, that phone gets thrown away.”

During his sentencing remarks on Friday, Judge Andrew Scotting​ took into account Clark’s guilty plea and noted he suffered from depression and drug and gambling addictions at the time of the offences.

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Sydney property developer Salim Mehajer releases bizarre ‘motivational video’

A stills from the motivational video posted by controversial Sydney property developer Salim Mehajer. Photo: YouTube A shot from al video posted by Salim Mehajer. Photo: YouTube

In times of crisis, one must seize control of the narrative.

With three apprehend violence orders against him, several court battles to fight, his marriage broken down and a public inquiry into the local council he used to lead, controversial Sydney property developer Salim Mehajer has released his own inspirational video.

Published on his Facebook page overnight, Dream – Motivational Video features stirring music, a rousing narration,  plenty of slow motion and stock footage, and the word “dream” over and over again.

“Do you dream of being successful? Do you think you will ever make it to the top? Do you dream of becoming an inspiration to millions of people out there? Or are you just one of them?” the narrator asks over shots of a blue-suited Mr Mehajer stepping out of his  white Ferrari and walking through a crowd of people.

“Well let me tell you … if you don’t dream … then you’re setting yourself up for failure.”

A climatic moment in the two-and-a-half minute YouTube clip comes when a latte-sipping older woman reads a newspaper headline about Mr Mehajer before looking at him, shaking her head and walking away.

“Not everyone will like you. Some people will try to put you down. They will discredit you. They will back stab you,” the narrator says, before Mr Mehajer chases after the woman to return her lost mobile phone.

“Just be yourself, stay genuine, and dream.”

The clip is directed by Manuel Abdo, whose True Dreams Media company was also behind Mr Mehajer’s now infamous pre-wedding video.

It was the extravagant wedding, which shut down a public street with helicopters and a cavalcade of luxury cars, that threw Mr Mehajer, then deputy mayor of Auburn Council, into the headlines.

It also drew the spotlight onto Auburn Council, which was ultimately sacked and is now the subject of a public inquiry.

Mr Mehajer’s latest video appears to be only the start of his video ambitions. On his Facebook page he wrote that the clip was just a teaser trailer with a “full episode” to be released on October 21.

But it seems Mr Mehajer might first be the unwitting star of another video.

Television show A Current Affair has been running promo advertisements featuring a video of Mr Salim losing his temper during a telephone call.

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Man shot at in car keeps driving to bowling club for help

A man who was shot multiple times while driving in Sydney’s south west pulled into a popular bowling club in the next suburb looking for help.

Detective Inspector Stuart Cadden said the 35-year-old man was driving with two passengers along Edensor Road in Cabramatta West when the car was sprayed with bullets on Saturday night.

“There’s three fellows in a car driving along. A car has pulled up alongside them and from the passenger window a number of shots have been fired,” Inspector Cadden said.

The man was shot in the upper legs and lower body, and kept driving until he reached St Johns Park Bowling Club in the neighbouring suburb.

Emergency services were called to reports of a man shot in the stomach and bleeding in the club’s foyer just after 10.20pm, and he was taken to hospital in a serious condition. The man’s two male passengers were not injured.

Inspector Cadden said police were following a “number of lines of inquiry” but there there was no “immediate indication” of what, if anything, triggered the shooting.

Asked if road rage could have been behind the shooting, Inspector Cadden said: “we don’t have anything at all to indicate that at this stage.”

Police have spoken to the man in hospital, but he has not yet been formally interviewed as he was due to undergo surgery on Sunday.

Channel Seven reported on Sunday night that there was an incident at the hospital as the man’s family members tried to gain access to him.

“As a precaution, there was extra security for the safety of patients and staff,” a NSW Health spokeswoman said.

Inspector Cadden said the injured man’s two passengers were co-operating with the police investigation, and had both made statements.

“I don’t know why but he kept driving. He was going west and he kept going west. I guess it’s really the first thing you come to. There’s a 7/11 and the bowling club,” Inspector Cadden said.

“He’s probably taken his bets there would be security there and help for him there.”

On Sunday morning, a manager at St Johns Park Bowling Club said it was business as usual and there were no signs of any disturbance in the foyer.

On Sunday night, the man was listed as being in a stable condition. */]]>

With Josh Dye

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Sydney weather: cold snap brings rain and temperature drops for the end of winter

Sydney wet weather in August this year. Photo by Edwina Pickles. Photo: Edwina PicklesSydney can expect wet conditions this week as we enter the final weeks of winter.

Rain is expected to fall all week, after last week’s first glimpse of spring was felt with sunshine and balmy weather in the mid 20s.

But, heavy rain this week will remind us that winter is still very much here.

The rain is expected to start on Monday, with up to five millimetres forecast to drop in the late afternoon with more of the same on Tuesday. This is expected to increase throughout the week, with Wednesday forecast to be the wettest day with up to 35 millimetres expected, combined with strong winds.

The wet weather is expected to ease on Thursday and Friday with a max of five millimetres of rain expected on both days, in time for the weekend which is forecast to be rain-free.

With the wet weather will come colder nights, as temperatures dip to overnight minimums below 10 degrees near the coast and five degrees in the west.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Mohammed Nabi said maximum day temperatures would remain near average for this time of year between 17 and 19 degrees.

He said another cold front was expected early next week. “It won’t be as strong as Wednesday’s cold front,” he said.

The expected front will signal the official end of winter, but Mr Nabi said cooler days were still expected in Sydney until October.

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Sara Connor and David Taylor join long tradition of Byron Bay media obsessions

Sara Connor travelled to Bali to meet up with David Taylor, friends say. Photo: Supplied David Taylor being interrogated by Bali police on Saturday. Photo: Supplied

Sara Connor after a physical examination at Trijata police hospital in Denpasar. Photo: Amilia Rose

 Saturday evening in Byron Bay’s main street and a lone guitarist is making like Santana for the coins of passersby outside the Patagonia shop.

The 6pm news had just told the town one of their women had been charged with murder. So too had her friend, an Englishman.

“Play some sad song for Sara,” a local shouted across Jonson Street to the player.

A lot of people know Sara Connor, 45. She is the woman who has the pasta-making business in town and two little boys at Byron Bay Primary School.

Few know her friend, David Taylor, 35. But many heard him on the local radio station, BayFM 99.9, through his Thursday night show First Bass, a program of “phat funky fresh beats and some booty bouncing breaks”.

Until the killing in Bali, hardly anyone around town even knew they were an item.

Perhaps the only hint surfaced on August 3, when Taylor interrupted his usual stream of consciousness thoughts on dub music to post a coy Facebook reference to her business, Byron Bay Fresh Pasta, with just five words: “Perfect dinner made with love!”

Now the world has descended on the two lovers.

Bali and Byron are paradises found and sometimes lost. The 2002 bombing, the hangings, Schapelle Corby, schoolies week, shark attacks, Bali and Byron just seem to drive the media into frenzy.

The internet trolls have started. 60 Minutes, the acme of chequebook journalism, is trawling Byron Bay for friends of Connor and Taylor.

Depending on the court outcome, this is a story that will run and run. Australians could be following it for years. As the story erupted on Saturday, a Byron Bay marketing consultant Sarah Mulvin moved in to handle the story, she said “on behalf the family and the local community”.

“The accusations laid against her are totally out of character for this beautiful person,” a statement issued by Mulvin said.

“All of Byron unite in harmony and wish the world to know that Sara is one of the most generous, fun, honest and loved women in the Byron Bay community. She is incredibly inclusive of everyone, making sure anyone in her company feels nurtured and cared for. She has a huge heart. Her love for her boys is the biggest love in her life. She is very passionate about life and exudes enthusiasm wherever she goes.”

Sara Connor moved into the Byron area with her new husband after they met roving the world in the late 1990s.

Twig Connor, a knockabout surfer dog cum barman/ manager from the Tweed Coast, had long dropped his Christian name Anthony, – preferring to answer to the nickname bestowed upon him by surf mates during his early teen years – when he met Sara Pistidda.

She had left northern Italy and headed for London where she shared a house with Connor. They poured beer at various pubs and clubs and ended up working together at the Southside Bar, a DJ nightclub/bar in Covent Garden. He managed, she collected glasses.

A Swedish-born friend, now residing north of Byron, lived with the couple in London.

“Sarah is my surrogate big sister,” she says. “I’ve never met anyone so kind, so gentle, all she wants to do is mother everybody. It’s inconceivable what’s happened,” she says.

Twig Connor and Sara Pistidda married in London and he took her home to northern NSW. They moved into an idyllic farmhouse secreted in the cane fields besides the Clarence River outside Yamba. They married there.

Two boys, Noah and Eli, arrived. The family moved to Berlin for a year or so and then returned to Australia, moving into a house on the northern outskirts of Byron Bay.

In 2013 Sara Connor got a half arm tattoo and a job as a cleaner at the nearby Arts Factory Backpackers Lodge. Older, better organised and overflowing with personal warmth, management saw her value and put her on the front desk.

But the marriage had started to sour and she moved out to a house nearer the backpackers lodge.

But with the two boys at school, coupled with the cost of living in Byron, Sara Connor in 2014 thought up a way of making money on the side: she returned to the old marital home so she could start a pasta -making business in the twin-door garage supplying local restaurants and food outlets.

“Pasta was her passion and her heritage,” a fellow worker said.

She quickly became a leading member of Byron’s happy tribe of workers who service the tourist trade but still manage to live the life laid back. And in the Byron way of kindness, she sometimes offered a spare room or tent space to backpackers she took a shine too.

A couple of dub music dudes moved in and she started to hang with the crew who play reggae at the Beach Hotel every Monday.

David Taylor was born in Halifax, England, in 1982; He has travelled the world for the last 15 years, working as a disc jockey under the name DJ Nuts. After temporary visits, he settled in Byron By in 2014.

His last program on BayFM was on July 22. He reportedly left Australia because his visa had expired, or was about to.

Sara Connor followed Taylor to Bali. Her sons were left in the care of Twig Connor.

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