CONFLICTING STORIES: Jens Martin (left) arrives with Homicide Detective Inspector Wayne Hayes at the Lismore Court House yester
CONFLICTING STORIES: Jens Martin (left) arrives with Homicide Detective Inspector Wayne Hayes at the Lismore Court House yester

Simone inquest: Friend admits 'we lied to police'

By Alex Easton

SIMONE Strobel's companions lied to police about the direction the backpacker had walked when she left their campsite on the night the German backpacker was killed, Lismore Coroner's Court heard yesterday.

That lie came on top of other fictions told by Tobias Suckfuell, his sister Katrin Suckfuell and their friend Jens Martin, that they had drunk only a few light beers that night, that they smoked no cannabis, and that Simone and Tobias had not fought before Simone stormed off.

It also followed a period of bitter fighting between Tobias and Simone and a night when Mr Martin described Tobias as angrier and more aggressive than either he or Katrin had ever seen him.

Despite that, Mr Martin yesterday told the court that it was not until after he learned in Singapore of Simone's body being found that suspicion about Tobias began to grow in him.

Even yesterday, on the final day of evidence to the inquest into Simone's disappearance and death, Mr Martin was unable to say whether he believed Tobias murdered Simone.

"I would just say it built up slowly," Mr Martin told the court through an interpreter. "And in the end I didn't want to think that it could be possible, that it could be true, that Tobias could do something like that.

"I couldn't believe it and it was something very new for me, to see that behaviour at the campsite ... I'd never heard him screaming at his girlfriend in that way."

Mr Martin said he had deferred to Tobias' insistence that he and Katrin lie about what happened without question, because he believed Simone was alive and would return.

However, when he learned while in Singapore, en-route back to Germany, that Simone's body had been found, he began to regret those lies.

Despite that, he maintained Tobias' fictions in his first interview with German police only days after he returned to Germany and did not correct them until he was interviewed a second time in April.

The only one of those lies Mr Martin was yesterday able to explain was about the cannabis the group smoked, saying he, Tobias and Katrin did not want to be charged for cannabis use.

He was unable to explain the lies about the group's drinking, about the fiction that Simone stormed off after a disagreement between Tobias and Katrin, or the claim that Simone had walked out onto Dawson St when she left the campsite when no-one knew if she even left the caravan park.

Under questioning by the police prosecutor assisting Deputy State Coroner Paul McMahon, Senior Sergeant Jodie Shepherd, Mr Martin revealed that Tobias briefed and debriefed him and Katrin before and after each police interview.

That practice continued after Tobias and Katrin returned to Germany, until police told Mr Martin he was not to speak to them.

Mr Martin said he was no longer in contact with either Tobias or Katrin and did not care what they would think of his appearance at the inquest they had both refused to attend.

Mr McMahon praised Mr Martin for inconveniencing himself by agreeing to fly out from Germany to attend the inquest.

Mr Martin, who has a wedding to attend this week, was expected to fly home yesterday.

The inquest continues.

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