Witness struggles to explain delay reporting Simone missing
THEY were supposedly desperately worried for their missing friend.
But Simone Strobel's companions spent a leisurely morning packing up their campsite and showering before they reported her missing to Lismore police, the Lismore Coroner's Court heard yesterday.
Taking the stand for the first time, one of those companions, Jens Martin, yesterday struggled to explain why he, Simone's boyfriend Tobias Suckfuell and Tobias' sister Katrin Suckfuell had taken so long to travel the few hundred metres from the campsite to the police station.
Mr Martin told the court that he and Katrin had gone out twice searching for Simone after she disappeared, while an apparently unconcerned Tobias rested in his girlfriend's Toyota HiAce in a T-shirt and boxer shorts.
Mr Martin said both he and Katrin were 'annoyed' at Tobias' apparently blase attitude to Simone's disappearance, but that neither openly challenged him about it and that both accepted his assurances Simone would be back by morning when they returned from their searches about 3am.
After a restless few hours' sleep, Mr Martin and Katrin rose about 7am to find Simone had not returned.
By now, Tobias was concerned too.
"He wanted something to be done and talked about going to the police," Mr Martin said.
But for three hours and 45 minutes, until Tobias and Mr Martin walked through the doors of Lismore police station at 10.45am, that was as close as they got to reporting Simone's disappearance.
Instead, at Tobias' insistence, the three of them spent about an hour packing up their campsite and spent about 30 minutes each taking a shower before they checked out of the Lismore Lake Tourist Caravan Park.
Even then they did not go straight to the police, but instead 'discussed' what they would tell police, with Tobias telling Mr Martin and Katrin they should lie about the beer they drank the night before, the cannabis they smoked, and his and Simone's fights.
"It seems an awful lot of time to spend doing things that could be done quite quickly," observed Senior Sergeant Jodie Shepherd, the police prosecutor assisting Deputy State Coroner Paul McMahon.
Mr Martin was also at a loss to explain why neither he nor Katrin questioned Tobias' instructions on the lies to be told to police, particularly the direction they lie about the arguments.