TOBIAS GETS OFF ... FOR NOW
By Alex Easton
TOBIAS SUCKFUELL will not be charged with murdering his girlfriend Simone Strobel at Lismore in 2005 after Deputy State Coroner Paul Macmahon referred the case back to police.
Despite agreeing with evidence police say showed Tobias was the most likely suspect, Mr Macmahon said there was not enough evidence to charge him or his sister, Katrin Suckfuell, who police suspect may have helped him hide Simone's body.
That leaves police in Australia and Germany barring a surprise confession from Tobias or his sister waiting for a leap forward in DNA technology as their best hope for the evidence needed to press charges.
The Lismore police officer in charge of the case, Detective Sergeant Shane Diehm, yesterday vowed to continue his pursuit of Tobias, saying detectives would chase down 'any line of inquiry or evidence that comes to light'.
"The case will not be closed," Det Sgt Diehm said. "We will continue to work closely with German authorities as evidence revealed in the inquiry leads me to believe Tobias Suckfuell and possibly another of the German tourists (Katrin Suckfuell) had some involvement in the death of Simone Strobel."
In delivering his findings yesterday, Mr Macmahon noted there was a critical piece of evidence found by police at the Bocce Club, where Simone's body was discovered, that could place Tobias at the scene.
"Unfortunately at this stage current technology is not sufficiently advanced to confirm that suggestion," he said. That piece of evidence was not publicly described at the inquest. How-%ever, German authorities have previously referred to a piece of hair, believed to be Tobias's, found at the site.
He made little reference to Tobias and Katrin refusing his personal request to return to Australia and give evidence to the inquest, beyond noting that both had declined via their lawyer.
Mr Macmahon said he was satisfied Tobias was trying to direct suspicion away from himself when he lied to police about the circumstances surrounding Simone's disappearance.
Mr Macmahon backed evidence given in the inquest that Tobias and Simone had a poor relationship when she disappeared and that Tobias had been 'uncharacteristically aggressive' towards her the night she vanished.
He agreed with police that Simone most likely died from suffocation or asphyxiation, that Tobias had time 'to become involved in an incident that led to Simone's death' and that he was physically capable of then moving her body with or without help from the caravan park to the Bocce Club, where it was found nearly a week later.
He was satisfied Simone had been stripped by her killer or killers to remove evidence that could identify them.
The fact that Simone's black top was dropped in Uralba Street suggested the killer or killers were 'returning to the caravan park or, at least, travelling in the direction of that site'.
However, he said the evidence presented during the inquest was not enough to justify recommending charges against Tobias or Katrin. He instead referred the matter back to police for further investigation.
Mr Macmahon praised the police investigation into Simone's disappearance and then her death which Tobias had savagely criticised during the search describing it as thorough and using 'substantial police resources' from local police and Sydney specialist squads.
He also praised Jens Martin the travelling companion of Tobias, Simone and Katrin saying he had appeared to make an 'honest and credible' attempt to assist the investigation into Simone's death.
However, in the absence of stronger evidence against Tobias, Mr Macmahon's found that Simone died on or about February 12, 2005, that she likely died from suffocation or smothering asphyxia, and that her death was 'caused by the action of a person or persons unknown'.