Cairns stabbings: Eight child victims formally identified by police

Father speaks of his devastation at losing his 14-year-old daughter, niece of the woman arrested over last week's deaths
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The Independent Online

The father of one of eight children found dead in a home in Cairns has spoken of the devastation over the death of his "beautiful" daughter – whose birthday he should have been celebrating this weekend.

Queensland police said yesterday they had formally identified the children, including an 18-month-old baby girl. The other victims of the multiple murder were three girls aged 11, 12 and 14 and four boys aged nine, eight, six and five. The bodies of the children were found inside a property in the city's Manoora district on Friday.

In a statement, police said they were not yet releasing the children's names "due to cultural sensitivities within the Manoora and Torres Strait community". It continued: "Forensic officers are still on site at the crime scene, and investigations are continuing." A number of weapons were recovered from the scene, including knives, which are being examined.

The mother of seven of the eight children, named locally as Mersane Warria, 37, has been arrested on suspicion of their murder. She was found at the house suffering from stab wounds and is recovering in hospital under police guard. The 14-year-old girl was her niece. The bodies of the children were reportedly discovered by Ms Warria's 20-year-old son.

The father of the 14-year-old girl, who has not been named, told the Australian Associated Press: "I've lost a beautiful daughter". He added: "What for? What has she done?"

His daughter had been staying with her aunt for about a week. "[The son] told us that everyone is dead," he said. "I said how come you are telling me this? And I was crying and [my wife] was crying. Everybody was crying."

He was shocked when he heard that Ms Warria had been arrested in connection with the killings, as his daughter had spent many weekends and holidays at the house without any sign of problems.

Police have insisted it was "not a problem house", dismissing suggestions that the family had been investigated by social services.

Detective inspector Bruno Asnicar of Queensland Police Service said officers had now spoken to all five of the children's fathers. "I don't think anybody would imagine any reaction other than absolute devastation, to be told that their child's dead. Of course that was the case," he said.