Court proceedings for a woman accused of murdering her two kids have ground to a sudden and dramatic halt after a witness was accused of lying.
Court proceedings for a woman accused of murdering her two kids have ground to a sudden and dramatic halt after a witness was accused of lying.

Dramatic turn in mum’s murder hearing

A woman allegedly tortured by a Gold Coast mum has been ordered to hand over her phone alleged to contain critical evidence about how the mother's son died.

Maree Mavis Crabtree's committal hearing took a dramatic turn on Tuesday when a witness was ordered to hand her phone, alleged to contain messages concerning the truth about Jonathan Crabtree's death, over to police.

The committal hearing at Brisbane Magistrates Court ground to a dramatic halt after defence barrister Angus Edwards accused the woman of lying about how the young man died.

Maree Mavis Crabtree was arrested in 2018 and charged with the murders of her children Erin and Jonathan in 2012 and 2018.
Maree Mavis Crabtree was arrested in 2018 and charged with the murders of her children Erin and Jonathan in 2012 and 2018.

Ms Crabtree is facing a raft of charges, including murder, attempted murder, fraud, torture, attempted fraud and multiple counts of obtaining a financial benefit by deception.

Police allege she murdered her children Erin, 18 and Jonathan, 26, on separate dates in 2012 and 2017.

The pair were allegedly plied with prescription medication for years, causing an array of health problems.

Ms Crabtree is also accused of falsely claiming disability payouts and insurance claims following their deaths.

Jonathan (centre) and Erin’s (right) deaths were initially ruled as suicides until police charged Maree Crabtree (left) with their murders in 2018.
Jonathan (centre) and Erin’s (right) deaths were initially ruled as suicides until police charged Maree Crabtree (left) with their murders in 2018.

Ms Crabtree's charge of torture relates to allegations she forced the woman to take prescription medication for years in the same manner.

On Tuesday the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she did not want to give a statement to police following Jonathan's death in July 2017 because she was worried it would be used against her.

The court was told the woman initially said Jonathan had taken his own life.

It was only in December 2019 that the woman wrote a letter, claiming Jonathan had instead been given a drink laced with prescription medication.

"You didn't remember that before you started to write it down, did you?" Mr Edwards asked.

"I did remember it, but not what was used in the drink," the woman replied.

"I did remember seeing her do it, but I didn't mention it at the time."

The woman said she was under a lot of stress when asked by Mr Edwards why she lied to police after Jonathan's death.

The woman told the court she had messaged friends on Facebook about what she claimed happened to Jonathan but then deleted the conversations.

Jonathan Crabtree.
Jonathan Crabtree.

Mr Edwards grilled the woman as to why she had not told police about the messages.

"That's my phone, those conversations are private," she answered.

"Do you have something to hide?" Mr Edwards asked.

"No, I just don't want people going through my phone," the woman replied.

Mr Edwards accused the woman of lying about the truth of Jonathan's death.

"On one version you told us Jonathan committed suicide, on another you've told us your mother killed him," he said.

"I'd suggest there was a lot more lies than that, it's a bit hard to accept what you say just on the basis … that you say it."

Tuesday's court proceedings abruptly ended when a subpoena was ordered for the woman's phone after she refused to hand it over.

Erin Crabtree.
Erin Crabtree.

 

On Monday, a witness told the court she overheard Ms Crabtree wishing Jonathan was "dead" during conversations at a rodent enthusiast club meet, but could not elaborate on whether they were stand-alone comments in the context of Jonathan's changed personality.

Jonathan was hospitalised in 2015 following a serious car crash and became more violent, depressed and unpredictable in his behaviours, witnesses have testified.

A care provider also gave evidence that Ms Crabtree did not appear interested in having a support worker help with looking after her children.

The hearing continues.

Originally published as Dramatic turn in mum's murder hearing


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