Tara Brown has returned to 60 Minutes, the first time since the botched Beirut kidnap saga

July 25, 2016 12:30 am

It was trumpeted as ’s triumphant return, and last night’s
heavily promoted episode 60 Minutes made it clear the Nine Network’s
prodigal daughter was back.
But Brown’s first story on 60 Minutes
since being jailed over the bungled child kidnapping attempt in Lebanon
brought a mixed response despite the emotional subject matter.
Some viewers on social media called for Brown’s sacking, while others were happy to see Channel 9’s star reporter back on air.
Opening
the show and presenting her own report, the returned star was
introduced as the award-winning, ratings-grabbing reporter she was
before things went horribly wrong for her, and the rest of the network,
in a stunt that failed spectacularly just 10 weeks ago.

When Brown graced the screen, her freshly cut bob looking
immaculately sharp and her interviews authoritative and empathetic as
ever, there was no mention of the reason for her prolonged absence.
The
bungle that landed the popular presenter and group of her
colleagues and assisters in a Lebanon jail – the last of the crew only
released days earlier – was sidelined to redirect the spotlight from the
program and its star reporter to the tragedy of a Sydney arson attack
which claimed three lives.
Brown sat down with the relatives and
friends of those killed when Rozelle shopkeeper Adeel Khan deliberately
set fire to his convenience store in a botched bid to claim a $225,000
insurance payout.
The fiery blaze ended the lives of three
residents living above and next door to the property destroyed by Khan’s
plotting, and injured two others as well.
The jailed shopkeeper was found guilty of murdering
Chris Noble, 27 and the manslaughter of Bianka O’Brien, 31 and her
11-month-old son, Jude.
Noble’s flatmates, Todd Fisher and Corey
Cameron, who escaped with their lives; as well as his Canowindra-based
parents shared the heartbreaking final moments of Noble’s life;
including the “I love you” text message he sent his mother before
succumbing to the fire.
Bill Keremelevski, Bianca’s father and
Jude’s doting grandfather, described the court process to convict their
killer was “torture” and “punishment”, comforted only by the fact his
daughter was found protecting her child to the bitter end.
The
victims’ families all remain angry Khan has never admitted to setting
fire to the property and lied to police about being a victim of his
crime, despite being found on the scene with a mask in his pocket to
protect him from the petrol fumes he used to torch his store.
He will be sentenced this week.
While
the tragedy returns to court for sentencing in Sydney this week, social
media gave its verdict on Brown’s return to television – her first
report since the botched child snatch saga in Beirut.
The
response was mixed, with many switching allegiances to Seven’s rival
program Sunday Night; while others offered Brown a second chance.
Meanwhile,
the child recovery agent Adam Whittington, hired by 60 Minutes to
snatch the two children of Brisbane mum Sally Faulkner from their
Lebanese father Eli Alanine, returned to Sweden to be reunited with his
family for the first time since being arrested over the bungled
assignment.
Relieved at being bailed on kidnapping charges, he
has threatened to go public with his version of the events which saw
Whittington and two of his CARI agents, Brown and three of her crew, as
well as Faulkner jailed in Beirut on April 6.
While Nine bought
the freedom of Brown, producer Stephen Rice, cameraman Ben Williamson
and sound recordist David Ballment within weeks, Whittington was only
bailed last Monday and released yesterday.
As his travel ban was
lifted, Whittington released an ominous warning to the Nine saying he
would be telling his side of the story, warning “the truth will come
out”.
The “child recovery expert” released a statement through his lawyer.
“For two days now I have been free but I am not home with my family,” he said.
“At
the moment the most important thing is to get home with my family
especially and see my two boys who believe their dad is never coming
home.
“I ask you kindly respect the privacy of my family during this period as they will not be making more comments to the media.
“The truth is coming very soon.”

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