Black Saturday bushfire ‘hero’ stripped of bravery award

Black Saturday bushfire ‘hero’ stripped of bravery award

19 June 2012

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 Australia -A BLACK Saturday hero has been stripped of his bravery award after he was revealed as a wife-basher.

The Royal Humane Society yesterday unanimously voted to strip Country Fire Authority volunteer Paul McCuskey of the Certificate of Merit, following a petition signed by 18,000 people calling for the award to be revoked.

Jeannie Blackburn, repeatedly bashed by McCuskey during their relationship, says he’s not fit for the bravery medal he received after Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.

Ms Blackburn suffered a miscarriage and was blinded in one eye in savage beatings by her former partner.

The Royal Humane Society honoured McCuskey with a certificate of merit for his part in rescuing an elderly woman from her home during the fires.

But just months after the rescue he was jailed for dragging a pregnant Ms Blackburn from bed and kicking her in the stomach, in an attack which she says ultimately led to a miscarriage.

Yesterday she presented her petition to a representative of Melbourne mayor Robert Doyle, who serves as vice-president of the Humane Society, saying the award must be revoked.

“I don’t consider any man who bashes a woman or commits any sort of violence to another person can be classed as a hero,” she said outside Melbourne Town Hall.

“I’ve lost babies and permanent sight in my left eye through acts of violence.

“This is another slap in the face.”

In 2010 McCuskey pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to criminal damage, intentionally causing injury, recklessly causing injury and recklessly causing serious injury to Ms Blackburn between 2006 and 2007.

He was serving a minimum three-year jail term when he was honoured with the certificate in February 2012.

The society said no mention was made in any of the nomination documentation that McCuskey had been convicted and jailed after a series of violent assaults on Ms Blackburn.

“In the McCuskey case, its judgment rested purely on what he did on Black Saturday,” a society spokesman said.

“No other evidence of any kind outside these circumstances was presented, nor was the conviction revealed when a CFA member received the award on behalf of Mr McCuskey.”

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