Kindergarten cops graduate

By Alex Easton

NO-ONE'S calling them 'kindergarten cops' any more.

Northern Rivers police copped a hammering in 2005 when Simone Strobel's body was found hidden at the old Bocce Club on Uralba Street six days after she disappeared.

It was Simone's boyfriend Tobias Suckfuell, now the prime suspect, who called police 'kindergarten cops' for not finding her sooner.

It's a line that has stuck in the craw of police for two-and-a-half years, and this week, at the inquest into Simone's death, we learned why.

Her body was carefully hidden. People walked past her and gardeners worked next to her without noticing her.

Det Insp Shane Diehm said it was hard to spot Simone even if you were standing in front of her and knew what you were looking for. In pictures of the crime scene, even where limbs protrude from the fronds, it is near impossible see anything.

Adding to the frustration was that, to be able to investigate the case properly, police could not defend themselves.

With people seemingly lining up to admit to the murder, the state of her body and the way it was hidden was vital to sorting truth from fiction.

Det Insp Wayne Hayes, a Sydney homicide cop of 22 years' experience, praised the local police effort this week, saying it was as good as any he had seen.

He also questioned Tobias' motive for his attack, saying it was unusual for people close to a victim to attack police.

Tobias' attack could have been a symptom of his desperation to get out of Australia and out of the reach of NSW Police, he said.

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