WARNING: Distressing content
A 14-year-old girl has been charged with murder after her 10-year-old cousin’s body was found in northwest NSW.
The 14-year-old’s mother returned to her NSW farmhouse in the town of Gunnedah early yesterday morning, where she allegedly found her niece’s body — the 10-year-old — with serious injuries. Her own daughter was missing.
A frantic search by police found the woman’s 14-year-old daughter at a neighbouring property about 8.30am.
The teenager will face a children’s court today after she was refused bail.
In Australia, the age of criminal responsibility — the age below which a child is deemed incapable of having committed a crime — is set at 10.
Forensic police spent the night combing for evidence on the property to piece together the series of events that led to the alleged murder.
Emergency services were called to the remote rural property and discovered the body of the 10-year-old about 7am yesterday.
“Officers from Oxley Police District established a crime scene and commenced an investigation,” police said when announcing the charges last night.
“A short time later, officers arrested a 14-year-old girl – who was known to the child – nearby.”
The mother of the teenager reportedly discovered the child’s body inside a bedroom of the home and called triple-0.
Police said despite attempts to revive the girl she died at the scene.
They said her injuries were “substantial”. An autopsy will be carried out this week.
Police would not comment on the weapon used in the alleged attack.
Seven News reported the 10-year-old came from regional NSW and had been visiting Gunnedah for the school holidays.
A woman at Gunnedah’s Court House Hotel told news.com.au that “everyone is still trying to get their heads around” the news sweeping the town about the horrific event.
Another woman, who works at the Parkview Hotel in the centre of Gunnedah, told news.com.au that people were “totally shocked’ by the news.
“It’s a small town, so everyone knows about and it and yes people are shocked about it,” she said.
Gunnedah’s mayor Jamie Chaffey told news.com.au the tight-knit country town of about 10,000 people was resilient but would be “devastated” as news of the tragedy spread.
“It’s hard to talk about the details as it’s a police case, but because we are a small community and people know each other it will certainly touch a lot of people,” he said.
Mr Chaffey said he had not spoken directly with the families involved.
“I can’t imagine the pain the families are going through at this time and our thoughts and prayers go out to them,” he said.
He said he had spoken with his fellow councillors and church representatives “who will be encouraging prayer time on Sunday … to pray for the families in this absolutely horrible situation”.
Mr Chaffey said he encouraged anyone who was struggling with the news to reach out to Lifeline or to contact members of his council to help them.
“We will be dealing with this for some time,” he said.