The Courier-Mail

As­sange sex charges due to ex­pire

- NOEL MEN­GEL CHARLES MI­RANDA

MOST bud­ding mu­sic stars head for the bright lights to start their ca­reer but Cait­lyn Shad­bolt is happy to call Gympie home.

The fast-ris­ing coun­try mu­sic star, a top-five fi­nal­ist on Chan­nel 7’s The X Fac­tor last year, signed a record deal with ABC Mu­sic last month and her new sin­gle, Shoot Out The Lights, looks cer­tain to fol­low her de­but sin­gle Maps Out The Win­dow up the Aus­tralian coun­try charts.

“I grew up on a farm just out­side of Gympie where I could make a heap of noise with­out up­set­ting the neigh­bours,” Shad­bolt, 19, said.

“A lot of peo­ple think you have to move to the city to make it, but Gympie was such a great foun­da­tion for my ca­reer. The Aus­tralian In­sti­tute Of Coun­try Mu­sic is here, which is like work ex­pe­ri­ence for any­one who wants a ca­reer in mu­sic.

“I grew up go­ing to the Gympie Muster, watch­ing all the b i g names, and I played my first tal­ent quest there when I was 14.

“That was only five years ago, so it’s a thrill to come back to the fes­ti­val and play the main stage.”

The teen is also the of­fi­cial am­bas­sador for the fes­ti­val and char­ity fundraiser, which runs from Au­gust 27-30.

“Com­pet­ing on The X Fac­tor was the big­gest learn­ing curve for me. It pre­pared me for all the things I want to do in coun­try mu­sic,” Shad­bolt said.

Shad­bolt’s self-ti­tled de­but EP will re­lease on Au­gust 21. FUGI­TIVE Wik­iLeaks founder Ju­lian As­sange could walk free from his diplo­matic bolt­hole in Lon­don as early as next week, with sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tions made against him in Swe­den set to ex­pire.

The 44-year-old Aus­tralian (pic­tured) has been holed up at the Ecuadorean em­bassy in cen­tral Lon­don since June 2012 and was later granted po­lit­i­cal asy­lum there against ex­tra­di­tion to Swe­den to face ques­tion­ing on three counts of sex­ual as­sault and one of rape al­leged by two women.

He has re­mained in a back­room of the em­bassy, next door to the Har­rods depart­ment store load­ing dock, since then, with Bri­tish po­lice armed with ar­rest war­rants posted out­side the build­ing 24 hours a day – at a cost so far of more than $25 mil­lion.

Swedish author­i­ties have con­firmed that next week, three of the four charges against him will reach their five-year ex­piry date un­der Swe­den’s statute of lim­i­ta­tions and As­sange will be cleared au­to­mat­i­cally.

The three claims of sex­ual as­sault re­lated to in­ci­dents in a flat in Stock­holm in 2010 when he was in­vited to stay over by a Wik­iLeaks sup­porter and al­legedly took a con­sen­sual act too far, forc­ing him­self on the woman phys­i­cally then de­lib­er­ately break­ing a con­dom she de­manded he use.

The fourth charge of rape has a 10-year statute of lim­i­ta­tions but it was not c lear whether it would still be pur­sued.

In March Swedish author­i­ties had al­ready con­firmed they were pre­pared to of­fer As­sange a con­ces­sion and for­mally in­ter­view him in the em­bassy in Lon­don, thereby en­sur­ing he does not need to leave the diplo­matic con­fines and be ar­rested and ex­tra­dited to face the claims in a Swedish court.

He has not been charged with any of­fence in Swe­den and is only wanted there on war­rant for ques­tion­ing. He is sought in the UK for breach­ing bail.

“The pros­e­cu­tor still wants to in­ter­view him. The pros­e­cu­tor still has not got per­mis­sion from Ecuador,” a spokesman for the Swedish Pros­e­cu­tion Au­thor­ity said.

A Wik­iLeaks spokesman said it would be “ab­so­lutely ridicu­lous” if the rape case were to now re­main open.

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