Coroner's plea to Tobias and Katrin
By Alex Easton
TOBIAS SUCKFUELL and his sister, Katrin, will be given one more chance to tell the truth about the night German backpacker Simone Strobel was killed in Lismore.
Deputy State Coroner Paul McMahon yesterday announced he would extend the inquest into Simone's disappearance and death to give Tobias and Katrin the chance to give their version of events.
Mr McMahon noted that both Tobias and Katrin had been invited by police to appear at the inquest and both had refused that request.
However, Mr McMahon said he would personally write to both of them, laying out the claims made against them by police and by their former friend Jens Martin, and ask they come and tell their story.
Yesterday's announcement follows a week of shocking evidence detailing bitter arguments between Tobias and Simone in the days leading up to her death, of Tobias' growing anger and aggression on the night Simone was killed, of the lies Tobias ordered Katrin and Mr Martin to tell police, and of the way Tobias would brief and debrief his companions before and after each police interview.
Police officers giving evidence at the inquest, including that of Detective Inspector Wayne Hayes, who has 32 years experience as a police officer and 22 years as a homicide detective, told the court they believed Tobias killed Simone, probably by suffocating her with a pillow in the HiAce van she had bought for them to travel Australia in.
The police prosecutor assisting Mr McMahon, Senior Sergeant Jodie Shepherd, yesterday added her voice to that chorus, saying Tobias ultimately killed Simone over a falling out that began several days earlier at Sandon River, where he had refused to let Simone and Katrin into Simone's van when it began raining.
"All these things are suggestive of his involvement in his girlfriend's death, or make it suspicious as to his motive and actions," Mr McMahon said.
"There are also suspicions Katrin had some involvement, if not in Strobel's death, then in the covering-up of that death."
Mr McMahon said it was in the interests of justice that Tobias and Katrin attend the inquest and tell what they know.
"It seems fair and just that they be given the opportunity to tell their story, if for no other reason than to clear their names of the suggestion that they have had some involvement in the death of Simone Strobel," he said.
Mr McMahon said that if Tobias and/or Katrin agreed to attend, the State Coroner's office would cover the costs of their trip and accommodation, just as NSW Police had covered Mr Martin's costs, and would schedule their appearance for a time convenient to them.
Mr McMahon adjourned the case to Glebe Coroner's Court on August 10, which he said would give time for him to write to Tobias and Katrin and for them to respond.