Did Lismore play the fool?

WHEN Northern Rivers residents saw Tobias Suckfuell's grief they opened their hearts and their wallets to him, never thinking he might one day be named the prime suspect in the death of his girlfriend, Simone Strobel. But the Lismore councillor who helped lead the fundraising campaign to help Tobias get home yesterday said she'd do it again in an instant. Councillor Jenny Dowell, along with the then owners of Harvey World Travel at Lismore, Fay and Trevor Hopf, who have since moved to Tasmania, rallied the community to help Tobias who was struggling to pay for his airfare home. That campaign raised about $2500. German authorities have since named Tobias as their prime suspect and Australian police have tagged him a 'person of interest'. Their reasons for believing Tobias killed Simone are expected to be revealed at next week's inquest. Despite that, Cr Dowell yesterday said she had no regrets about raising the money for Tobias and would do it again. "I was working, selling tickets for Northern Stars Under the Big Top in Harvey World Travel and Fay told me Tobias had been in to get his ticket and how distressed he was," Cr Dowell said. "The police were with him and he was really struggling and had to get money from overseas to pay for it. "It was good to get people to support him." Cr Dowell said there was a big gap between being named a suspect and being charged. "We still don't know who was responsible for Simone's death, but until someone is charged and convicted, everyone is innocent, including Tobias," she said. "At that stage we had no reason to consider him a suspect and I would do it all again." Even if the community had not rallied to help Tobias, it was impossible to say that keeping him in the country for a few more weeks while he raised the money himself would have made any difference to the police case, she said.

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