Australian house where eight children killed to be demolished

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 22, 2014 12:33 AM

By Jane Wardell

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The house where an Australian mother allegedly killed eight children, most of them her own, will likely be demolished in keeping with indigenous culture to make way for a memorial, a government official said on Monday.

The fate of the house in the tropical northern city of Cairns was being discussed while a judge denied a request to transfer the murder case against 37-year-old Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday to Queensland state's Mental Health Court.

Thaiday is the mother of the four boys and three of the girls who were slain. The eighth child was her niece.

The Queensland government agreed to the demolition of the home because of the horrific nature of the killings and in keeping with indigenous cultural beliefs, Queensland MP Gavin King said.

"After extensive consultation we will remove the house behind me," King said as he spoke to the media in a park where the dead children used to play.

King said the government would liaise with the community on what form a memorial would take.

Thaiday was charged on Sunday with eight counts of murder over the deaths of the children, aged between two and 14 years.

Magistrate Alan Comans declined a request from Thaiday's lawyer, Steven MacFarlane, to have the case moved to the Mental Health Court. Comans said during a brief hearing at the Cairns Magistrates Court on Monday it was too soon for such a request.

No plea was entered at the hearing on behalf of Thaiday, who remains under police guard in hospital. She is being treated for stab wounds.

MacFarlane said he was not sure how long his client would remain in hospital, where she is also awaiting psychiatric assessment.

Police have asked that media abide by the cultural protocols of the indigenous Torres Strait Islander community, to which the family belongs, and withhold the names and photos of the dead children.

Torres Strait Islanders, a group of indigenous Australians viewed as distinct from the broader Aboriginal community, believe the spirit of a dead person must be sent along its journey or it might stay and disturb remaining family members.

The spirit is helped on this journey by a refusal to speak the deceased's name for a long period.

(Editing by Paul Tait)