As the rumours swirled, killers waited to spring their trap

CARL WILLIAMS had it coming. When he survived being shot in the belly in a confrontation with the Moran brothers in 1999 he unleashed a chain of violence that ended with his own death.Few will genuinely mourn Williams, but a man accused of a notorious underworld murder will be relieved today because a potential witness against him has been silenced forever. That ugly fact will ensure investigators will be raking over Williams’ death for some time. The manner and timing of his death poses questions about the administration of justice and the prison system.There are all sorts of rumours. Some are funny, some are nasty and some, particularly inside prisons, can be very, very deadly.Police will investigate if one of those rumours – that Williams had abandoned the code of silence and become a police informer – was the reason he was fatally bashed yesterday inside the maximum security Barwon Prison.Police said Williams, 39, was approached from behind and struck in the head with the steel stem of an exercise bike just before 1 pm yesterday.Rumours have been circulating in the underworld for nearly 12 months Williams was trying to cut a deal where he would give evidence in major cases in return for a substantial reduction in his crushing jail term.He was sentenced to life with a minimum of 35 years in 2007 over four underworld murders.Detectives say the attack was unlikely to have been prompted by a report in yesterday’s Herald Sun police paid the private school fees of Williams’s daughter.Inmates are avid readers of newspapers and many would have asked themselves why police would have paid school fees on behalf of a man they spent a fortune convicting.In jail reality means nothing. Perception is everything. It doesn’t matter if an inmate talks. If others believe he has then his life is in danger.A prison war raged in Pentridge for years after it was said standover man Mark Brandon Read ate more than his share of sausages set aside for the H Division Christmas lunch. So if you can be stabbed over smallgoods, rumours of spilling the beans can be fatal.But the attack on Williams was no kneejerk reaction to a front-page story. It was orchestrated, co-ordinated and was perhaps months in the planning.For Corrections Victoria there was no inmate more closely monitored. Senior prison officers knew he would always be a target from two opposed camps.First, by allies of the Moran clan, the family he sent to the brink of extinction, and secondly by inmates who would want the chance to gain infamy by killing a big fish.He was kept in the maximum security Acacia unit against his wishes and only allowed to associate with two other inmates for a few hours a day. Authorities checked regularly to see there had been no changes in relationships and once moved a prisoner out of the area after they felt there was a cooling in their friendship.Williams wanted to be out of Acacia into a mainstream prison. Prison authorities saw that as too great a risk.Officials thought Williams and the men in his unit were thick as thieves (or more accurately murderers and drug dealers).The two, murderer ”Little Tommy” Ivanovic, and his mate, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were old allies. Now police believe at least one was biding his time to attack. But why?Certainly one is alleged to have an interesting array of friends and acquaintances, including colourful former police. It will be a lead explored by homicide squad detectives investigating the murder.The attack was captured on closed circuit video and witnessed by at least one onlooker.Police sources say it is alleged Ivanovic’s mate did the bashing and, amazingly, Ivanovic just happened to be on the telephone during the attack. The sources said he provided a blow-by-blow coverage on the phone – a fatal version of TV Ringside.All calls from Acacia are recorded. Police will have to establish whether the call was a startling coincidence or a cunning alibi.This was a crime where the offenders would have to believe any extra jail time would be a price worth paying.But why? And more importantly – on whose orders?Williams’s lawyer, Rob Stary, said he spoke to his client yesterday and there was nothing to suggest any threats. ”There is a real need for an external inquiry separate from police and prison authorities into how this could happen. It is clear that the full story can’t be told at present.”The Police Minister, Bob Cameron, said police, the coroner and the Officer of the Correctional Services Review would investigate the attack.Williams was convicted of the murder of Michael Marshall and later pleaded guilty to the murders of Jason Moran, Lewis Moran and Mark Mallia. He was suspected of the murder of Mark Moran. In 2007 he was jailed for 33 years – a sentence he felt was unfair as he didn’t start the war.He was right – he didn’t fire the first shots. It began when he was blasted by Jason and Mark Moran in a park in October 1999.Even then Williams knew the danger of being branded a police informer. The former supermarket shelf stacker knew that in the murky underworld, perception was more important than reality.Police believe Williams was involved in more killings, including the shootings of Richard Mladenich, Nik Radev, and Graham ”the Munster” Kinniburgh.He was a potential goldmine of information that will never be exploited. The Deputy Commissioner of the Victoria Police, Ken Jones, said yesterday the death would affect other investigations.As an underworld killer Williams knew the best way to get close to a target was to employ a friend to set them up.It is no different inside. Williams always believed he was more likely to be killed by a supposed friend than a known enemy.He was right. Dead right.
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Showdown over GST ‘will be like OK Corral’

THE survival of Kevin Rudd’s health and hospitals reform plan hinges on either the states or the Commonwealth backing down today after another $1.5 billion in sweeteners the Prime Minister offered failed to shift entrenched opposition to surrendering 30 per cent of GST revenue.Mr Rudd wound up yesterday’s meeting about 6.30pm with a warning that the $4.5 billion on offer in inducements would vanish should all the states not agree to surrender the GST revenue to help fund his reform plan. ”The whole deal’s off the table,” Mr Rudd was quoted as telling premiers and chief ministers.Victoria is the most entrenched against giving up the GST. It has the backing of Western Australia and NSW.But as the premiers and treasurers headed to The Lodge for dinner last night, there were strong suggestions that NSW would agree to the deal today. Western Australia, a senior source said, was considered malleable while the Victorian Premier, John Brumby, who was largely quiet in the meeting yesterday, was the key obstacle.”It’s going to be like the shoot-out at the OK Corral,” said one participant of the meeting today.About 4pm yesterday, Mr Rudd, who had already revealed inducements worth $3 billion, threw on the table another $1.2 billion. This included $827 million for 800 sub-acute care beds, including mental health beds. There was also another $250 million to augment the $500 million already on offer to speed up treatment in emergency departments, and another $150 million for elective surgery, on top of the $650 million already offered.Mr Rudd called it his final offer, causing one of the states to observe that was his ”sixth final offer”.The meeting resumed at 5pm and Mr Rudd added another $316 million – $200 million more for emergency departments and $116 million more for mental health. The states accepted, clearing the decks for the fight today over GST revenue and the states’ demand for all revenue to be put into, and administered by, a single funding pool.While Mr Rudd could agree to the latter, he is refusing point-blank to allow the states to keep the GST. He wants to keep the money and spend it directly on local hospital networks.This would make the Commonwealth the dominant funder and give it overall control of the pool and the health system.”Our bottom line is that the GST must be retained by the Commonwealth and dedicated to health in order for the Commonwealth to become the dominant funder of hospital services,” said the Health Minister, Nicola Roxon.NSW and WA have suggested guaranteeing that they put 30 per cent of GST into a pool but the Commonwealth refuses to accept this because it wants control of the money.Mr Rudd has promised a referendum if his plan is blocked. Recalcitrant states have been warned implicitly that the referendum would give the Commonwealth much greater scope to plunder GST revenue than the health deal allows.
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Rugby ready to show its resilience

A general consensus has rugby in the middle of a great big “U” at the moment – no, we are not talking of any particular peccadilloes of those living far east of Byron Bay but rather the rut it has found itself in of late.It is not alone of course, as most major sports have their challenges.In AFL circles you are no longer allowed to say that you are “stoked” as that has taken on a whole new meaning after Matthew Stokes’s arrest for allegedly dealing drugs.And you wouldn’t bet on Brendan Fevola staying out of trouble for too long . . . although he might.Rugby league has had its own share of trouble but no more than usual and it has consistently proved exceptionally resilient to much worse in the past.Rugby has also not been without the wrong type of headlines of late, but the winds of change are blowing and as with the AFL and rugby league, the resilience of the sport is on-field led.Last week, at the request of Queensland Rugby Union chairman Rod McCall, I stepped back into rugby as the newly nominated Queensland director of the ARU board.Although slightly daunting to follow in the footsteps of the former Chief of Defence Forces, Peter Cosgrove, it is considerably better to do so in the ARU foyer in Christie Street, St Leonards, than it would be in East Timor.Since my appointment I have received much congratulations and even more advice – I expected no less in the emotional and sometimes irrational world of sport.But while it is an interesting and challenging time to step in, it is also an exciting time, and as one of my friends suggested it is better being on the inside of the tent and . . . well you know the rest.Rugby does have its challenges at the moment, some urgent and the rest simply pressing.A snapshot from any of my “advisers” reels off: player contracting and third-party agreements, factional fighting, greedy players, poor administration and the quality of the product, among a plethora of other issues, both real and imagined.If you were to prioritise, however, after a season when even the die-hards were disillusioned, the quality of the on-field product had to be a priority and both anecdotally and tangibly the entertainment renaissance has begun.No games have been more heartening for supporters than the weekend’s Bulls and Queensland Reds encounter, won 19-12 by the Reds.This is the game the Reds would have lost nine times out of 10 over the last half a dozen years – they probably would have also lost it in round one; not so now.It’s amazing what you can achieve with a bit of self belief.If not before, you now have to consider Ewan McKenzie the best current home-grown coach in Australia.He knows how to marshal a team to play to their strengths and to win.With four matches remaining until 10 teams break for an early de-brief, the Reds sit precariously in the top four, a position which even the most biased of supporters, and without doubt the players themselves, wouldn’t have picked.Now the road home is tough but undoubtedly surmountable.The Reds winning, and doing so through attractive play, is a huge and timely fillip for Australian rugby.As a breeding ground, Queensland provides almost 40 per cent of the rugby players in Australia. For those players and fans, the Reds become a team to look up to and believe in.It is a game for school kids to wear their Reds hat and jersey. Quade Cooper and Will Genia are now the names bandied around in the lunch hour, and dormant roots are again springing shoots.With this success and with the whistle now blown to the advantage of the attacking team and not the defenders, fans are watching a more compelling game and business is taking action.The upside is immediate, with Channel Nine rumoured to have signed a contract to usurp bitter rivals Channel Seven to show domestic Test matches and an hour of Super 15 highlights from next season.This is huge for rugby as since the introduction of Super Rugby in 1996 the game has had no presence on free-to-air television.Granted, pay TV has paid the bill but a lack of presence on free-to-air screens, largely due to the tournament not being on the government’s anti-syphoning list, has retarded the growth of the game.This predicament alone has excluded about 80 per cent of the population from watching the greatest showcase of provincial rugby in the southern hemisphere in their own lounge room.Nine’s action positions it cleverly to take advantage of any change to the anti-syphoning status quo.But, while the challenges on the board are imposing and the potential is also heartening, it’s important to be realistically availed of where you are at.At the end of my first meeting, someone made the comment to CEO and MD John O’Neill that at least managements’ eyes were open to the specific challenges that lay ahead, to which another added, “yes . . . wide open all night”.
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Carl Williams dies in prison

Carl WilliamsHomicide squad detectives have driven to Barwon Prison to take control of the investigation into the death of notorious underworld identity Carl Williams.
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Williams, 39, died after he was attacked by fellow inmates in the prison early this afternoon.

An autopsy will be conducted to see if he died as a direct result of the attack or due to a heart attack.

Williams had been on a modified diet and had lost weight since he was sentenced to a minimum of 33 years in 2007 over four murders.

Detectives will investigate whether the attack was sparked by reports today that police had paid Williams’ daughter’s school fees.

Two plain-clothes police arrived at the home of Williams’ father, George, in Broadmeadows about 3.10pm.

The men, believed to be homicide squad detectives, were let into the property by an unknown man.

A friend of George Williams asked a reporter who knocked on the door to leave him alone.

A police spokeswoman confirmed there had been a death as a result of an assault at Barwon Prison.

Shortly after the news broke this afternoon, underworld figure Mick Gatto said he had heard rumours about Williams having died but said that was all he had heard.

‘‘I would rather let dead dogs lie,’’ he said.

‘‘If you hear any more let me know but I would rather not comment on him.’’

He said Williams was ‘‘certainly not’’ a friend.

Williams gained notoriety for his role in Melbourne’s gangland war.

He had one daughter, with former wife Roberta Williams.

In 2007, he pleaded guilty to murdering Jason Moran in June 2000, Lewis Moran in March 2004 and Mark Mallia in August 2003 and conspiracy to murder Mario Condello in May-June 2004.

He had previously been found guilty of the murder of Michael Marshall, killed in October 2003.

Williams was denied permission to attend the funeral of his beloved mother, Barbara, at the end of 2008 after he was deemed too much of a flight risk.

His father George was released from Barwon Prison in June last year after serving 20 months for drug trafficking.

with Robyn Grace, Reid Sexton, AAP

Lotto trio settle dispute over $13 million prize

Three men involved in a dispute over a $13 million lottery win have settled the matter in the Victorian Supreme Court this morning.
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A civil trial over the winnings, which has reportedly cost the trio $1.5 million in legal costs, was set to begin today before the men agreed to a confidential settlement.

Garry Garlick and Eugene Te Pairi were suing Brett Pretty over a division-one Oz Lotto win after the three pooled money and bought a 24-game “quick pick” from a Carrum newsagency.

Days after the win, the money was frozen by the courts when Mr Pretty allegedly reneged on how much he would give the other two.

In statements of claim filed to the court, Mr Te Pairi and Mr Garlick reportedly argued that they had an implied “joint-venture agreement” with Mr Pretty to share the rights to the ticket.

They claimed they were each entitled to $4,395,091 – a third share of the $13,185,273 prize money, or alternatively, they should be given a proportionate distribution of the winnings based on the amount each contributed to the pool of money on the day.

The trial was due to start before Justice James Judd this morning when the parties asked for extra time to discuss issues relating to the case.

When the matter resumed, the court heard that the matter had been settled.

Wigan fightback shatters Arsenal’s title hopes

Arsenal squandered a golden opportunity to get back in the Premier League title race as Wigan scored three times in the last 10 minutes to clinch a remarkable 3-2 win at the DW Stadium on Sunday.Goals from Theo Walcott and Mikael Silvestre had given Arsene Wenger’s side a 2-0 lead by the 48th minute, but Ben Watson reduced the deficit in the 80th minute to spark a stunning meltdown from the Gunners.A horrific mistake by Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski gifted Wigan an equaliser in the 89th minute as the Pole dropped a corner onto Titus Bramble for the defender to head home.Then in stoppage time, winger Charles N’Zogbia cut across the edge of the Arsenal penalty area and curled a superb shot past Fabianski to shatter Wenger’s men.The defeat – Arsenal’s third in a row – leaves the north London club six points behind leaders Chelsea with only three games to play and effectively ends their title bid.Wigan’s fightback means Roberto Martinez’s team are now seven points away from the relegation zone and virtually guaranteed to stay up.”It is the most disappointing defeat of the season with the way we conceded,” Wenger said. “It is difficult to understand and accept, perhaps the players felt too much comfort but in football you must stay focused for 90 minutes and we were punished.”We made mistakes and they took advantage, they were sharper in the final part of the game.”Elsewhere on Sunday, Aston Villa moved into sixth place after teenage striker Nathan Delfouneso’s late goal clinched a 2-1 win over already-relegated Portsmouth.Martin O’Neill’s team fell behind to an early goal from Michael Brown at Fratton Park, but Villa hit back soon after through John Carew, who then saw a penalty saved by David James before half-time.Carew had no need to rue that miss as Delfouneso came off the bench in the 80th minute and scored just two minutes later with a close-range strike after Emile Heskey headed on James Milner’s cross.Villa are firmly on course for a Europa League place and could even snatch a Champions League spot as they lie six points behind fourth placed Tottenham with four games to play.AFP
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Stosur captures second career title

Australian fourth seed Samantha Stosur won her second career WTA title on Sunday, routing Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-0 6-3 in the final of the $US700,000 ($750,000) Family Circle Cup.Stosur, whose only prior WTA crown came last year at Osaka, improved to 5-2 all-time against seventh seed Zvonareva, losing twice in 2004 but winning the past five, the most recent prior match a fourth-round win at Indian Wells.With the clay-court title, 11th-ranked Stosur assured she will jump into the top 10 in Monday’s WTA rankings and signaled she could be a threat at the French Open, where she reached the semi-finals in 2009.At the Australian Open, Stosur lost to eventual winner Serena Williams in the fourth round. The 26-year-old from Brisbane also made a run to the Indian Wells semi-finals last month.Zvonareva, 25, fell to 19-6 on the year and failed in a bid for her 11th career title and her second of the year after a successful title defense in Pattaya City.Zvonareva, ranked 22nd, reached the final when Danish top seed Caroline Wozniacki retired from a semi-final with a right ankle injury. She also was a runner-up at Charleston in 2008.Stosur dominated the first set, surrendering only five points to her Russian rival. Stosur broke at love for a 4-0 edge, having allowed Zvonareva only two points in the first four games.The Aussie then held and broke again to take the set in 18 minutes.Stosur held to open the second set, a forehand winner to the far corner claiming the first game, and broke at love for a 2-0 edge, ripping her 15th forehand winner of the match down the line for the break.An ace up the middle allowed Stosur to hold at love for a 3-0 edge before Zvonareva tried to disrupt Stosur’s rhythm with high lobs.After fallng behind 15-40, Zvonareva shattered her racket on the court, smashed it twice more and kicked it under her seat in anger.The tantrum worked as Zvonareva saved two break points and won the next four points, holding to trail 3-1 after taking 35 minutes to finally win a game.But Stosur, who wore a left wristband bearing the words “attitude” and “composure”, recovered to hold for a 4-1 lead.Zvonareva held to 4-2, then jumped ahead 0-30 on Stosur’s serve and grabbed her first break when the Aussie sent a backhand wide.Stosur answered the challenge by seizing two break-point chances in the seventh game, capitalizing with a forehand winner down the line to grab a 5-3 lead and she served out at love to claim the match and the title.AFP
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Double send-off: referees lose the plot as Cayless and Champion both play fall guy

REFEREES Ben Cummins and Gerard Sutton were accused of losing control of yesterday’s match at ANZ Stadium following a ”strange” decision to sin-bin Parramatta captain Nathan Cayless for an offence he didn’t commit and later ”squaring up” by dispatching South Sydney centre Beau Champion for an equally dubious offence.Players and officials on both teams last night were still mystified by the send-offs, which followed a 61st-minute warning from Sutton to Cayless and rival skipper Luke Stuart that the referees were prepared to take action that could ”determine the game”.Less than three minutes later, Cayless was given his marching orders for a strip by teammate Daniel Mortimer on Rabbitohs five-eighth John Sutton. When he protested his innocence, Cummins told Cayless: ”Someone stripped it from him. Go or I’ll send you”.After telling Eels co-captain Nathan Hindmarsh that the next Souths player to be penalised would also be sin-binned, Cummins then sent Champion from the field for 10 minutes over a high tackle on Jarryd Hayne that even the Parramatta star said he had not committed.”Haynesy said he got him around the chest,” Cayless said afterwards. ”It was a bit of a square-up and we got away with it so that was good. I didn’t rake the ball but I was the one who copped it.”It was a bad decision and he squared it up … It was a very puzzling decision, it was just lucky it didn’t cost us the result.”Asked if he thought the referees had lost control of the match, Cayless said: ”I think they did struggle to keep control of the game. There were two passionate teams and there was a lot at stake.”That was of little consolation to Champion, who was sin-binned in the 66th minute for a tackle on the Eels line as Souths looked to take advantage of the overlap created by Cayless’s dismissal. ”I’m still a bit frustrated as to why he [did] it,” Champion said.”If we scored there, momentum might have swung our way and I’m still a bit mesmerised as to why it was a send-off offence. It was not a professional foul. I didn’t even think the tackle was high. If he made the decision to send Cayless off then he probably needed to even it up if we did anything wrong, that’s all I could see.”Rabbitohs coach John Lang felt his team’s discipline had been good before then, while Parramatta’s Daniel Anderson thought the match officials had been keeping the Eels back more than 10 metres in defence. Both were shocked the match officials suddenly warned the two captains that they would not tolerate any more penalties after a 61st-minute penalty for a high tackle by Eels forward Justin Horo.”They’re all over the place,” referee Sutton told Cayless and Stuart. ”It slows down the game when they’re critically important. And if you lose someone to the sideline, that’s going to determine the game. It’s up to you blokes to take control and fix it up.”Anderson said: ”It was a strange decision to sin-bin a bloke for a rake or stripping the ball when we hadn’t been penalised that much for stripping the ball that I can remember.”Obviously they got frustrated with us and I didn’t understand why they got frustrated. And I thought in the first half … we were getting pinged for not getting back the 10 [metres] when we were back 11 [metres].”Lang said the sin bin was meant to be used for professional fouls – not foul play. ”I didn’t even know you could get sin-binned for a high tackle but I might be wrong,” he said.The performance of the referees prompted an angry response from Phil Gould during Channel Nine’s commentary. ”Those two referees there, you’re sacked next week. Gone. You’ve just made a mess of this game,” Gould said.
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Man dies after wheelie bin ride

A YOUNG man has died and another was in Gosford Hospital with serious injuries after riding a wheelie bin down a long, steep street on the central coast at the weekend.
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The practice, in which a wheelie bin is laid on its side and then ridden down the street, is well documented on YouTube.

Sometimes the bins have modifications such as handled bars for steering; others are cut away to make seats. Some video clips have children riding them.

The 22-year-old Umina man died after riding a wheelie bin down Lone Pine Avenue, which runs on to Kingsview Drive, at Umina Beach in the early hours of yesterday morning. Police believe that he and another man rode the bin down the street, lying one on top of the other, then struck the gutter and were thrown into a small tree.

Another man had gone down the hill on another bin before realising his friends had not reached the bottom.

A Lone Pine Avenue resident, Andrea Cartwright, said it was ”an accident waiting to happen”.

”Kingsview Drive has been a favourite place for kids who would ride down the hill face-first on skateboards,” she said.

”It’s such a steep hill that cars have trouble doing more than 20km/h up it.”

A police statement said the men were treated by friends until emergency services arrived shortly after 3am. ”Investigators believe that while one man lay on the bin, the second was on top of him, but they struck the gutter as they continued with their descent,” police said.

”A 22-year-old Umina man appears to have struck a small tree and suffered massive head injuries while a 19-year-old Umina man has broken ribs and internal injuries.”

NSW Ambulance said staff performed CPR on the 22-year-old en route to Gosford Hospital, where he died. The other man was last night still in Gosford Hospital in a stable condition. A report will be prepared for the coroner.

with Michelle Harris and Stephen Ryan

Flight ban causes wedding chaos for bride-to-be

Race against time … Jodie Hughes and fiance Jon BottBride-to-be Jodie Hughes never imagined her plans for an intimate wedding in the Dandenongs would be dashed by a volcanic eruption in Iceland.
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But that’s the situation the 34-year-old Melburnian now faces, as she remains stranded in England with her wedding dress, 17,000 kilometres from the wedding venue.

Ms Hughes and her English fiance Jon Bott, who live together in England, are due to marry in a small ceremony near her parents’ Mount Dandenong home next week.

Race against time … Jodie Hughes and fiance Jon Bott

Race against time … Jodie Hughes and fiance Jon Bott

She was due to fly to Melbourne tomorrow, in time to meet the priest, arrange the flowers and carry out last-minute wedding preparations.

But the couple are among the hundreds of thousands of travellers whose well-laid plans have been shattered by the huge cloud of volcanic ash that continues to paralyse air travel across much of Europe.

Before they even walk down the aisle, their vows of “in good times and in bad” are being put to the test.

“What else can you do? If nothing else it’s going to be a memorable wedding,” Ms Hughes said.

“When air travel was shut down on Thursday I thought they can’t possibly close the flights throughout Europe for more than a day or two.

“But as it went on, I thought there’s no way I could have predicted this.”

Ms Hughes, who works in nuclear medicine, said she was due to fly out of London on Tuesday morning with one of her bridesmaids, while Mr Bott, 35, was scheduled to leave on Friday ahead of their May 1 nuptials.

Now it appears likely her flight, like thousands of others, will be cancelled.

Making the situation worse is the fact that other stranded travellers will be fighting for limited seats on rescheduled flights in the coming week.

She is now trawling the internet for possible flights to Australia from Italy or Spain.

“If there was something I could be doing I’d feel much better, but if I book train tickets to Rome or something, and they’re not very common at the moment, there’s no guarantee that that airport would be open by the time I got there,” she said.

Despite the setback, Ms Hughes remains upbeat. After all, she has waited patiently for her wedding day since the couple started dating nearly six years ago.

“He proposed in a little place in Scotland called Dry Island. He had been given a deadline though,” she said.

“We’d been going out for a long time, we’d been living together for a while, and I said ‘are you really serious?’

“He did eventually propose. He’s a lovely guy and I’m just hoping that we can get the wedding that we want.”