Jenny Lee Cook, bizzare Suicide or something else?

This case of Jenny Lee Cook who died on January 19 2009 has been bought to my attention so I thought I would pop it up and at the very least folks have a read and give me your thoughts. IT is tragic for the family when suicide just does not seem right and a rushed bungled investigation adds to the concerns they rightly have.

The Corners Inquest Findings

On the surface it’s one of Australia‘s more bizarre suicides. But the family of the victim believes in a more sinister truth.

"A very bright, active girl": Jenny Lee Cook horse riding before her back injury.“A very bright, active girl”: Jenny Lee Cook horse riding before her back injury.

It’s a quiet Monday night in Townsville and an ambulance radio crackles to life in the car park of the far north Queensland city’s main hospital.

It’s a Code 1A: a woman in her early 30s has suffered an apparent cardiac arrest. Lights flashing, siren on, the two paramedics on board, Robert Haydon and Chris O’Connor, accelerate through the thinning evening traffic, hoping to find the woman still alive.

The destination is a residential property in Douglas – a suburb popular with young families that sprawls along the southern banks of the Ross River, about eight kilometres from the CBD. Pulling up in front of a new residence in Sheerwater Parade, they note the outside of the property is in darkness, and unlike some triple-0 calls, nobody is waiting outside. Within moments the two men are knocking on the front door, yelling “Queensland Ambulance Service“.

Jenny Lee and Paul at home.Jenny Lee and Paul at home.

A tall, thick-set, blond man, Paul Cook, a local prison guard, answers the door and says that his wife, Jenny Lee, is lying out the back. Haydon thinks he looks upset, but to O’Connor, Cook appears unemotional as he ushers them through the house, out into the backyard and on to the side of the property. Here the two paramedics are confronted with a horrific sight.

It’s the body of a woman, lying on her left side on a bloodstained plywood board, with her legs folded backwards. There are spots of congealed blood on her forehead and the left side of her chest. She’s wearing shorts, runners, and a sun hat. Strangely, what looks like a section of a sheet has been wrapped around the back of her head, partly obscuring her face, and a bathrobe tie is secured around her throat.

The woman looks as if she’s been dead for some time, her outstretched arms apparently stiff from rigor mortis, but it’s the job of the two paramedics to make sure. Haydon kneels carefully alongside the body, attaches electrodes to her limbs, and finds no signs of life. But as Haydon is about to get to his feet, something very sharp presses into his back and he springs forward. Shining their torches in the direction of the object, the two paramedics are startled to see a large, bloodstained knife poking out from the wall, its handle tightly bound in string and tape and wedged firmly in the gap between the steel window frame and the concrete wall.

"It was so sharp": The bloodstained knife on which it is claimed Jenny Lee Cook impaled herself.“It was so sharp”: The bloodstained knife on which it is claimed Jenny Lee Cook impaled herself.

Haydon immediately radios the ambulance dispatcher to notify the police. He explains that the paramedics are at a likely crime scene, and the cops need to get here as soon as possible.

When the first police arrive at the scene, they find Paul Cook sitting hunched at the kitchen bench moaning. On another bench opposite are his wife’s handbag and some documents.

One of the officers asks him if his wife was on any medication and Cook obliquely says his wife had a bad back, was on antidepressants and was involved in a difficult WorkCover claim.

A police drawing of the scene.A police drawing of the scene.

The reference to antidepressants suggests something was not quite right about Jenny Lee – a hint of emotional instability, perhaps – and maybe even a predisposition to suicide. “She never told me she even thought about killing herself,” Cook would later tell detectives, not even raising the possibility that she may have met with foul play.

He explains to Sergeant Kay Osborn and Constable Damien Cotter, who were tasked to interview him at the scene, that he arrived home at around 6.45pm, and was surprised to find the dog locked up on the property’s front balcony and Jenny Lee nowhere to be seen. He was relieved that she was out – things hadn’t been going well in their marriage. But then he noticed her belongings were still lying about, although her runners weren’t in their usual place. So he decided to take the dog for a walk through the scrubby bushland at the end of Sheerwater Parade.

A short time later he returned home, downed a soft drink, jumped into the shower and began to wonder where Jenny Lee was. He became much more concerned after noticing that a large knife was missing from the kitchen block. He sent his wife a text, and when there was no reply began to search outside. That’s when he came across the body. “She was cold and she was stiff and I moved her lips back and they didn’t [move],” he tells the two detectives. That’s why he didn’t attempt to do CPR, he explains.

'Til death do us part: Paul and Jenny Lee Cook on their wedding day in 1998.
‘Til death do us part: Paul and Jenny Lee Cook on their wedding day in 1998.

During the course of their discussion in the kitchen and another formal interview later that night, Cook repeats his certainty that Jenny Lee killed herself – although he has no idea how she did it. “She had blood coming out of her mouth … what did she do?” he asks Detective Cotter.

Later, Cook says when he first saw her body he thought Jenny had jumped on the knife or she had overdosed. He also talks about the knife, saying, “It was so sharp, that knife, like a f…ing sword or something – I don’t know why I even bought it.”

He tells detectives that he used the knife only two or three times, later changing this to two or three times a year, the first of a series of contradictions in a long and rambling interview in which he revealed that all wasn’t exactly rosy in the Sheerwater Parade house.

Paul Cook.
Paul Cook.

Paul tells the interviewing detectives that while they “never fought”, Jenny Lee would have “a sook” about her chronic back problems “hundreds of times” and would “crack the shits” and be “a moody bitch”. Only the night before, he explains, he’d arrived home to find Jenny Lee sitting on the toilet in the bathroom crying. Ignoring her tears, he asked where his earbuds were, put them on, went to bed and fell asleep.

He admits that he’d set off for work that morning barely speaking to her, and later that day told a colleague that his marriage was over. Asked about his movements, Cook tells police that he left his job as a prison guard at Townsville Correctional Centre about midday to pay a bill at a computer shop for repairs to his laptop, then returned to the jail about 12.30pm. Strangely, the credit card payment receipt in his wallet shows the bill was paid at 12.23pm – giving him the almost impossible task of travelling the eight or so kilometres back to the jail, negotiating a number of intersections and traffic lights, by 12.30pm. He also tells police that he had sent an email to the shop, but the shop has no record of receiving any such email that day.

Within 20 hours of arriving at the scene on that steamy January night, the police decide that Jenny Lee (a woman who hated needles and blood and had a big enough stash of pain medication to overdose if she wanted to) had – without leaving behind any note -blindfolded herself, tied a belt around her neck, put a sheet over the top of her head and deliberately thrust her body on to the knife before slumping to the ground and bleeding to death.

Jenny Lee's parents, Lorraine and Terry Pullen.
Jenny Lee’s parents, Lorraine and Terry Pullen. Photo: Debrah Novak

Less than two days after the death, the Sheerwater Parade house is cleared of being a crime scene and Cook is allowed access to potentially important evidentiary exhibits such as the plywood board, still lying in the backyard. There is no dusting for fingerprints on the knife, no DNA test of the board, no search of the house for traces of the string or tape used to wedge the knife into the wall and no follow-through on Cook’s alibi.

Jenny Lee’s death is deemed non-suspicious, a clear case of suicide. But if it’s a suicide, it’s clearly one of the most extraordinary to have ever occurred in Australia: the Queensland suicide register and the National Coronial Information System have no record of female suicide by self-impalement.

Shortly after her death, Cook cashed in Jenny Lee’s WorkCover settlement and superannuation, which along with the sale of the Sheerwater Parade house, amounted to about $800,000.

It will take four years of unwavering determination by Jenny Lee’s parents, Lorraine and Terry Pullen, to have an inquest held into their daughter’s bizarre and tragic death. The inquest will also query a suspected affair between him and an attractive female prison guard (although both claimed this commenced after Jenny Lee’s death). Mainly, though, the inquest will reveal startling omissions in the police investigation into Jenny Lee’s death, and the destruction of a key piece of evidence – the bloody knife – before the coroner could properly investigate.

On the day Jenny Lee diedJanuary 19, 2009 – Lorraine rang her daughter a couple of times, but she didn’t pick up. Just before 9pm, Jenny Lee’s dad, Terry, phoned Lorraine with the terrible news and Lorraine rushed to Townsville.

So many things just didn’t add up for Lorraine. For starters, she couldn’t believe that Jenny Lee didn’t leave a suicide note. “I don’t believe she would have gone without saying goodbye. She always wrote notes and letters,” she says. Nor did Lorraine buy the scenario of her daughter impaling herself. “Jenny Lee would run from a needle. She was frightened of sharp things.”

Jenny Lee was the type who would have left directions about who was to look after the dog, insists Lorraine, and who would get what. “We had an extremely close relationship and I don’t believe she would go without telling me or asking for help.”

After Lorraine arrived at the house, Cook took her outside and showed her where Jenny Lee had died. (“He said he didn’t want any ghosts in the house,” adds Lorraine.) She recalls Cook saying something about Jenny Lee putting on her running shoes so she wouldn’t slip when she ran onto the knife, she says, but Cook would later deny ever making such as statement.

Then there was the presence of one of Cook’s female work colleagues. The woman dropped by five days after the death to clean Jenny Lee’s car, which had to be returned to James Cook University (JCU), where she worked as a water nutrient analyst. “Call it a woman’s instinct but I knew they were close,” Lorraine said after she saw the woman with Cook in the kitchen.

Lorraine says that both she and her husband have been in a personal hell trying to unravel what happened to their daughter. “I lie awake at night and it just goes round and round in my head. For 18 months afterwards I had this pain in the chest, like someone had stabbed me. I’m so frustrated and angry. If it had been [a police officer's] daughter, things would have been done properly. We don’t think Jenny Lee would be capable of doing something like this.”

The 29-year-old had met Cook more than 10 years earlier, while she was studying at James Cook University. At the time the pretty redhead had been in the midst of fulfilling her ambition of becoming a marine biologist and was enrolled at the university’s well-regarded marine sciences program. She had moved to Townsville from her family farm near Macksville, a small NSW coastal town midway between Sydney and Brisbane with a population of about 3000.

Jenny Lee’s childhood had been that of a carefree country kid running wild on her parents’ banana farm, riding dirt bikes around the hills and galloping her horse along the area’s unspoiled beaches, says Lorraine, a retired theatre nurse who still lives on the farm with Terry. “She was a very bright, active girl – she wouldn’t sit on your knee for long,” recalls Lorraine. “When she and her sister were little and they were naughty they would run and climb up the mango tree. I couldn’t get them and they would stay there till I started laughing.”

From an early age the ocean fascinated Jenny Lee, and at age 15 she was already writing to university professors for advice about how to become a marine biologist. In 1998 she gained entry to JCU and moved to Townsville to study. Like many of the young students, she partied in a nightclub scene overflowing with young single men from the nearby military base, Lavarack Barracks – one of the largest garrisons in the country. One night, in a nightclub called The Playpen, the 19-year-old met a handsome young soldier, Paul Cook. The couple were soon dating and within six months Cook proposed.

The wedding was held on Magnetic Island, off Townsville, on November 8, 1998. The video shows a handsome couple – Cook, looking like a tall, solid, Amish farmer with his blond thatch of hair and moustache-less beard, stands about 15 centimetres taller than Jenny Lee, whose curly red hair and white dress conjure up images of a mediaeval princess.

At first, friends recall, they seemed like a devoted couple who did everything together: grocery shopping, cooking, hiking and camping around the rainforests of north Queensland. But things changed in 2007. While attempting to lug heavy buckets of water samples back to a lab at James Cook University for analysis, Jenny Lee seriously injured her back. Over the space of nearly 18 months she underwent two operations that left her virtually immobile and cut off from most of her work friends while she slowly recovered. She put in a WorkCover claim, which led her to see a psychologist, which in turn led to her taking anti-depressants and major pain medication.

Cook, meantime, had left the army and started working as a prison guard at the Townsville Correctional Centre, a jail about 12 kilometres west of the city. As a workplace, it seemed to foster controversial personal relationships. “The prisoners were nice – it was the workers you had to worry about,” says one guard who worked with Cook at the sprawling jail, which has a farm, a high-security men’s jail and a women’s prison.

The guard, who asked not to be named, told Good Weekend that the sex scandals that occurred there were on a scale that “you wouldn’t believe”, with warders often quitting over allegations they were having inappropriate contact with each other, or with prisoners. As recently as last year, the jail’s hot-house staff relationships were still making headlines in local papers, including manager Andrew Pike quitting after allegations were published alleging he’d had an affair with a junior female clerk who also worked in his office – a scenario exposed by posts from the woman’s jilted boyfriend on Facebook.

Whether Jenny Lee knew about this workplace environment it’s hard to say, but she certainly had concerns about a tall, striking-looking female guard in her late 20s who was regularly rostered on to work with Cook. “Jenny confronted Paul, who denied there was anything between them,” says a friend of the couple, who, like others Good Weekend spoke to, did not want to be identified.

In the months leading up to her death, Jenny Lee had never given any indication to her family of problems in the marriage other than a brief conversation with her father in which she implied that sexual intimacy with Cook was difficult because of her back injury.

Towards the end of 2008, friends recalled her enthusiasm about returning to work at JCU on reduced duties. Her doctors thought her depression, brought on by her chronic back problems, was in remission and that she was not a suicide risk (she had previously admitted to thoughts of “cutting herself” in the depths of her despair after her second operation, one doctor would later claim). The couple also moved into their dream home in Sheerwater Parade in November – a new, two-storey, brick-veneer home with four bedrooms, only a couple of minutes’ walk from the river. Life was starting to look up again.

The first sign of trouble on January 19 at the Cooks’ home was a barking dog. Trying to sleep in the house across the road was Janice Cavanagh, recuperating from shoulder surgery, and the noise was keeping her awake.

The barking got worse around lunchtime when the animal began making what Cavanagh would call a “crying” sound that seemed to go on for hours. She got up and thought: “Should I go over and see if it’s caught somewhere?” But because she didn’t know the Cooks, who had only moved into the new home two months before, she decided to stay put. The barking stopped around 4.30pm. About two hours later, around 6.45pm, another neighbour saw Cook drive up and chatted to him before he went inside.

These and other statements were made to coronial investigators for an inquest that was held late last year. The statements highlighted questions and contradictions in Paul Cook’s account of events on the day of his wife’s death, and shortcomings in the initial investigation. For instance, Cook told police that his movements could be easily confirmed by the jail’s CCTV cameras. But detectives never checked, and in any case, renovations were being undertaken at the jail at the time and the cameras at the entry and exit gates weren’t working. Jail logbooks, which had Cook entering the jail at 7.30 on the morning of his wife’s death and leaving at 12.49pm, were also incomplete, with no record of him re-entering the prison that day.

Maderline Ronan, another prison employee who was rostered on with Cook that day, described him in her statement to the inquest as “very quiet” and didn’t know where he was between 11am and 1.30pm. Later in the afternoon, Cook told her he had a headache and finished up early, around 5.30pm. This raised questions about where he had been until 6.45pm, when he arrived home, as the drive between the jail and Sheerwater Parade is about 15 minutes. (Jenny Lee was suspected of dying some time between 8am and 2pm, according to the autopsy.)

Cook’s statements to police indicate he was increasingly frustrated by his wife’s pessimism and depression, such as on the night before her death, when he ignored her sadness and crying and went to bed early with his earbuds in. But his later account to WorkCover was radically different: “That night in bed she cried as she told me of her pain and her concerns about her work future, which had been reinforced at the functional capacity evaluation. I hugged her till she fell asleep,” he said.

Asked at the inquest about the contradiction, he painted a strange picture. He said he had both hugged Jenny Lee and ignored her and then they both fell asleep sharing his headphones and listening to a Phil Collins song he hated.

At the subsequent inquest, Cook calmly gave evidence for nearly three-quarters of a day, without legal representation. He denied having any role in Jenny Lee’s death. Coroner Jane Bentley would later describe him as being “deliberately untruthful” in his evidence, adding that it was likely he had given different representation for the purposes of his WorkCover claim.

Cook claimed that his relationship with the unidentified work colleague prior to Jenny Lee’s death had been strictly professional, with the romance only starting a couple of months afterwards. It began with kiss in a pool at a barbecue after a few drinks and evolved into a relationship with sexual events but not intercourse, he said. Asked how many times he would have phoned or texted this woman before Jenny’s death, he said he would be surprised if it was more than five times. But when confronted with records that showed 52 calls or texts he said: “Obviously I was talking to her a lot more than I’m remembering, but we didn’t have any relationship before that other than friends”.

In her statement, fellow worker Maderline Ronan alleged she’d seen Facebook photographs of Cook socialising at drinks functions with this woman prior to Jenny Lee’s death. Bizarrely, eight months after the death, the same woman was at the centre of a violent row when she was caught by her former de facto “canoodling”, as the Townsville Bulletin headlines put it, in a prison van with a fellow guard. (The woman, whose name was suppressed in the inquest, made a statement to coronial investigators and did not appear at the inquest. After being asked for comment by Good Weekend she said, “I’ve heard about your Paul Cook stuff and I’ve got nothing to say.”)

Coroner Bentley’s findings, handed down in November last year, were damning of the police’s failure to properly investigate and the failure to follow procedures such as failing to retain the knife. But she delivered an “open finding” into Jenny Lee’s death, saying she was unable to determine whether the Townsville woman’s death was suicide or murder.

Sheerwater parade, Townsville, has changed little since Jenny Lee’s death. The homes are still well kept, with dazzlingly clean driveways and manicured lawns lushly greened by the tropical weather. Most residents have largely forgotten the dreadful tragedy that occurred in their sleepy patch of surburbia.

Those who do remember the couple have nothing bad to say about Paul Cook, with one describing him as a “gentle giant”. (Cook, after initially offering to answer any questions supplied by Good Weekend, later withdrew his co-operation, saying in an email, “I’m not going to comment, sorry.”

In the meantime, Jenny Lee’s parents have not given up the quest to find out what happened to their daughter. Lorraine has just been in Townsville once again, walking in her daughter’s footsteps on the streets of Douglas, in the city centre, and at James Cook University, showing photographs of Jenny Lee and Cook to locals. “It might make somebody remember what they saw,” she says.


Police yet to act on bungled ‘suicide’ investigation

July 19, 2014

Investigative journalist

Email Rory

Police have failed to act on a recommendation to take action over an apparently bungled investigation into the impalement death of a NSW woman in Townsville.

The incident is the latest twist in the extraordinary case of Macksville woman Jenny Lee Cook, who was found dead in 2009 after seemingly impaling herself on a kitchen knife wedged into a wall at the North Queensland home she shared with her prison guard husband, Paul James Cook.

Queensland police took fewer than 24 hours to write the death off as a suicide despite Mrs Cook, 29, not leaving a note and there being no other case in the Queensland suicide register or other coroner databases of a woman killing herself in such a way.

They also failed to fingerprint the knife, search the house for articles used to jam the knife in the wall, check on her husband’s whereabouts around the time of death, or seize important potential exhibits or DNA test them.

The knife used in the killing was destroyed before further tests or investigation by the coroner’s team could take place.

Mr Cook, who found his wife’s body, has denied any involvement in the death. He did admit there had been problems in the marriage.

As a result of his wife’s death he received $800,000, which included money from her life insurance, a work cover claim she had been pursuing, her superannuation and from the sale of their house.

After years of lobbying, Mrs Cook’s parents, Lorraine and Terry Pullen, late last year convinced Queensland authorities to hold an inquest into the death.

Coroner Jane Bentley found Mr Cook evasive and untruthful in his evidence and said because of the problems with the investigation she could not make a finding of suicide.

She recommended the Commissioner of Police consider whether any action should be taken into the inadequacy of the investigation.

This week – more than six months after the ruling – the Queensland Police Service have not acted.

A QPS spokesman said: “Ethical Standards Command continues to overview the review of the coronial file in relation to the death of Jenny Lee Cook. It is anticipated this matter will be finalised in the near future”.

The counsel representing the deceased family in the inquest, Marjorie Pagani, said she had been shocked at the way the investigation was conducted.

“I was appalled by the shoddiness of the investigation and what appeared to be total disregard for the proper coronial and police process and this has resulted in primary and most significant evidence having been destroyed under police authority, despite an ongoing inquest,” she said.

“The impact on the entire family was tragic. They felt as though they have been done a severe injustice because of police processes and they will probably never forgive the people responsible.”

Fairfax Media has also learnt that contradictions in some of the statements were never put to some of the witnesses during the inquest, and that a woman who was alleged to have had a relationship with Mr Cook soon after Mrs Cook’s death was also never called to give evidence. Her name has been suppressed.

The Pullens have called for the inquest to be reopened and for the suppression of the woman’s name to be lifted.

The coroner’s office said the name was suppressed because of allegations of an extra-marital affair.


How did Jenny Cook die?

How did Jenny Cook die?

Jenny’s family outside court

TOWNSVILLE woman Jenny Lee Cook was quirky and fun, had an infectious laugh, and was conquering milestones from a young age.

Her mother Lorraine Pullen recalled her daughter, with a big grin on her face, climbing to the top of a step ladder before she was 18 months old.

“Her first attempt at putting on makeup (she was) about two – eye shadow, rouge and lipstick, and plenty of it. Like face painting,” Mrs Pullen said.

Jenny learned to ride motorbikes at four, enjoyed horse riding and loved her Boxer dog, Nikeisha.

In happier times, Jenny and husband Paul Cook would often be seen walking Nikeisha around the streets of Douglas in the evenings.

But on January 19, 2009, something “bizarre and unusual” occurred at their immaculate home.

Mrs Cook, 29, was found dead, her body lying on a piece of plywood in the side garden by Mr Cook.

Her death was “prematurely” deemed a suicide but there were many questions unanswered.

Was she murdered? Did her husband do it? Was the police investigation adequate?

Coroner Jane Bentley convened an inquest in Townsville this week in a bid to find answers to those questions.

They are questions that have lingered for Jenny’s parents for years, but a “vastly inadequate” police investigation and the destruction of a key piece of evidence means they may never get answers.

The lack of investigation by police was slammed by barrister Kerri Mellifont QC during closing submissions yesterday, with chief investigator Detective Senior Sergeant Kay Osborn recommended for disciplinary action or re-training.

During the five day inquest, the court heard Mrs Cook, a nutrient analyst at James Cook University, had been on anti-depressants and suffered back pain following a workplace accident several years prior to her death, and had been involved in protracted negotiations for compensation.

On the day of her death, Mr Cook, a former prison officer, came home but could not find his wife.

He sent her a text message at 7.38pm but heard her phone in the house, and noticed a knife missing from the knife block.

He found her body lying on a large sheet of plywood, with a sheet or bandage covering her face, and a large knife, wrapped in string and secured with tape, wedged between a security screen and a window.

No suicide note was located and an autopsy found she died from a wound to her chest.

Paramedic Robert Hayden told the court Mr Cook appeared “upset” when they arrived at the house.

He said rigor mortis had set in, but he could not estimate how long Mrs Cook had been dead.

Detective Senior Constable Damien Cotter, Det Sen Sgt Osborn’s partner, said he formed the view Mrs Cook’s death was a suicide after Professor David Williams gave a verbal preliminary report that her wound was “consistent” with a self-inflicted injury.

Barrister Marjorie Pagani, for Mrs Cook’s parents, asked whether the wound could also be consistent with a person being pushed on to a knife. He replied “yes”.

A NSW forensic officer also could not rule out the possibility she was pushed on to the knife.

Police released the scene shortly after hearing Prof William’s preliminary findings — less than 20 hours after the first call to triple zero.

Det Sen Const Cotter said he was not aware of any other investigations after the scene was released, but said police treated it as a homicide until they received the preliminary autopsy findings.

Both Ms Mellifont and Ms Pagani criticised how quickly police concluded Mrs Cook’s death was self-inflicted.

Mr Cook was asked if he played a role in his wife’s death. He said “no”.

He was questioned about his relationship with a female colleague, ­referred to only as the “unnamed ­female”.

Phone records show he made 52 texts or calls to the woman in the six weeks before his wife’s death. He made only 14 contacts with his wife, by text or call, between November 3, 2008 and January 19, 2009.

He denied having an extra-marital affair with the unnamed woman but a friend confirmed they had a physical relationship in the weeks after his wife’s death.

It was revealed police never investigated Mr Cook’s movements on the day his wife died, or confirmed his version of events, whether he had any financial motive, or if he was having any extra-marital affairs.

Ms Mellifont conceded, in closing submissions, that Mr Cook could be completely innocent, but the lack of investigation by police had let him and Mrs Cook’s parents down.

But Det Sen Sgt Osborn could face disciplinary proceedings after authorising the destruction of the knife.

She denied knowing a coroner could request exhibits, saying she believed the knife could be destroyed because the police investigation was done.

Coroner Jane Bentley is expected to hand down her findings on Friday.

Mrs Cook’s friend Dee, who sat through proceedings, said Mrs Cook was the kindest person.

“Soft by nature, and extremely helpful,” she said. “She was not confrontational or violent in any way.

“It (the way she died) was so violent. For someone who was such a planner it’s hard to comprehend she made such a permanent solution without a note or list for anyone.”

Coronial inquest into the death of Jenny Lee Cook

A CORONIAL inquest is examining whether Jenny Lee Cook, a young Townsville woman whose 2009 death was deemed a suicide, was actually murdered, with the police investigation into her death also in the spotlight.

At the centre of the mystery is a large knife, wrapped in string and tape, located wedged between a security screen and a window.

The hearing, which began before Coroner Jane Bentley in Townsville on Monday, was asked by Mrs Cook’s parents Lorraine and Terry Pullen.

The inquest heard Mrs Cook, 29, a nutrient analyst at James Cook University, had lived with her husband Paul James Cook in Douglas before her body was found in the side garden on January 19, 2009.

On the opening day of the inquest, barrister Kerri Mellifont, QC, said Mr Cook arrived home about 7pm, but could not find his wife.

He took their dog Nikeisha, a boxer, for a walk and when he returned Mrs Cook was nowhere to be found.

Mr Cook sent his wife a text message at 7.38pm but heard her phone in the house and noticed a knife missing from the knife block. He found Mrs Cook in a pool of blood at the side of their house.

Ms Mellifont said no suicide note was located and an autopsy revealed her cause of death was a wound to the left side of her chest.

The inquest heard Mrs Cook had been on anti-depressants and suffered back pain following a workplace accident several years before her death and had been involved in protracted negotiations for compensation.

Detective Senior Constable Damien Cotter, a plain clothes officer in 2009, said the scene was released back to Mr Cook after preliminary results from the pathologist concluded Mrs Cook’s injuries were consistent with being self-inflicted.

Barrister Marjorie Pagani, for Mr and Mrs Pullen, asked whether those same injuries could be consistent with a person being pushed on to a knife.

Det Sen Constable Cotter replied “yes”.

The inquest heard Mrs Cook had been upset and crying the night before her death, with Mr Cook saying he hugged her and they lay in bed listening to music. He said that looking back, there were signs his wife needed help.

On the night Mr Cook found his wife’s body, he said it was obvious she had been dead for a while. He recalled being instructed to do CPR, but her mouth was black with blood.

“I dropped the phone, put my hands on the lawn and grabbed the grass. I think I screamed,” Mr Cook said.

Mr Cook was also questioned about his relationship with a female colleague, ­referred to as the “unnamed ­female”.

Phone records showed Mr Cook made 52 contacts, by text or call, to the unidentified female in the six weeks before his wife’s death.

In comparison, he made 14 contacts with his wife, by text or call, between November 3, 2008 and January 19, 2009.

The inquest heard Mr Cook made a claim against his wife’s life insurance in the weeks after her death, and also sold the marital home for $570,000.

Ms Mellifont asked Mr Cook if he had any involvement in his wife’s death. “No,” he said.

The inquest continues today.

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28 Aussies among 298 killed as Malaysia Airlines ‘blown out of sky’ by missile over Ukraine

Please NOTE This Community is too important to let any individual ruin it for others!

From now on, bullying in any form will result in ONE WARNING FROM ME (ROBBO) and 2nd time will result in an instant ban from the site.

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Make no mistake this, is a terrorist attack on 298 citizens of the world, but sad and importantly for us here, on 28 Australians and their family and friends…

This was originally a page I made yesterday but I can’t stick pages to top of site.


MH17: Investigators find large part of plane and more bodies at Malaysia Airlines crash site

25/07/14 2pm

Investigators have found a previously undiscovered part of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 along with more bodies more than a week after the Boeing 777 was shot down over eastern Ukraine.

It is understood the location of the bodies has been marked with a white flag, but investigators do not have the facilities available to handle human remains.

The discovery has highlighted an urgent need for the area to be thoroughly searched, but continued fighting in the surrounding region has hampered the efforts of investigators.

A spokesman for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Michael Bociurkiw, says the piece of fuselage that was found “appeared out of nowhere”.

“The most significant find today was we went into a heavily wooded area and found a huge piece of fuselage,” Mr Bociurkiw said.

“I think this is the part of the plane that came down which … travellers would say resembles an airline. The windows were still intact and if one wanted to they could even climb inside and be covered.

“It almost appeared out of nowhere because there were no tell-tale signs, no broken branches, nothing to indicate that a piece of fuselage had landed there.”

Mr Bociurkiw said investigators were also closely examining the area of the crash site where the cockpit had landed.

“The other thing the investigators took an interest in was the cockpit area because there are still personal and professional belongings of the crew in there,” he said.

“There is also a lot of sensitivity around human remains … and for the second day in a row we did come across more human remains, not much, but it does indicate that they are there and … that a very detailed sweep of the entire area will probably be needed to make sure nothing is missed.”

The head of the Dutch police mission in Ukraine, Jan Tuinder, says it remains difficult to get access to the crash site.

Pro-Russian rebels have continually caused problems during the investigation, blocking access to the site and harassing recovery workers.

“The process is not over. There are still remains [at the site] and it’s very hard to get there because there are some – and I would say it’s not politically correct – but there are still some lunatics there,” Mr Tuinder said.

“It’s very hard for us to get to the remains.”

However, the OSCE says there were no incidents overnight, as they were joined by experts from Australia and Malaysia.

Australian specialists join teams working to identify remains

Meanwhile Australian specialists have joined teams in the Netherlands working on the identification of remains from the MH17 crash.

Three Australian officials, including a forensic specialist, have also visited the crash site for the first time, which is now officially the responsibility of Dutch investigators.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop this morning signed an agreement with her Dutch counterpart, Frans Timmermans, allowing Australian investigators to work at the site.

The Government says it will help Australian officials move around and give them legal cover in Ukraine.

“I feel confident that with the legal and operational matters underway that we’ll be in a position to start work on the site without much further delay,” Ms Bishop said.

Asked whether families should prepare themselves for a delay of weeks or even longer before the bodies of the 298 victims are sent home, Ms Bishop said: “We’re not talking about weeks, we’re talking about days.

“I am very optimistic after today’s meetings that we will have had in place the legal and operational framework that will enable our mission to be carried out as soon as possible,” she said.

The Government has sent 50 Australian Federal Police officers to London, with a view to possibly joining an international force, but no decision has yet been made.

Another 74 bodies have been flown into the city of Eindhoven, where they will be examined by forensics experts for identification.

An RAAF C17 and a Dutch military plane were used to transport the second group of bodies to Eindhoven.

A formal reception was once again staged on the tarmac and crowds gathered at the air base’s gates to pay their respects as the procession of hearses passed.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian people face fresh elections in October after their prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigned.

Both parties have now pulled out of the government, causing it to collapse. However, in 30 days the president will be able to call fresh elections with the aim to get rid of the old administration.


MH17: Devastation as human face of tragedy becomes clearer

The attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 has claimed the lives of 28 Australians, who were among the 298 passengers and crew on board.

A Catholic nun, an estate agent, a teacher, a husband-and-wife pair of doctors, a businessman and his three grandchildren are just some of those Australian lives lost.

They were returning home but never made it. For their families and friends, life will never be the same.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke for many when he said the tragedy was “a grim day for our country and a grim day for the world”.

“We bleed for them, we grieve for them and we will do everything we can.”

Here are the Australians so far feared to have lost their lives

Malaysia Airlines MH17: Devastation as the list of Australian victims is revealed

A Catholic nun, an estate agent, a teacher, a husband-and-wife pair of doctors, a businessman and his three pre-teen grandchildren. Just some of the Australian lives cut short by the attack on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Twenty-eight Australians were returning home with Malaysia Airlines, but never made it. For their families and friends, life will never be the same.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke for many when he said the tragedy was “a grim day for our country and a grim day for the world.” He said: “We bleed for them, we grieve for them and we will do everything we can.”

Here are the Australians so far feared to have lost their lives.

Sister Philomene Tiernan, New South Wales

Sister Philomene Tiernan, who was killed in the MH17 plane crash on July 18, 2014

Photo: Sister Philomene Tiernan, who was killed in the MH17 plane crash on July 18, 2014 (Supplied: Kincoppal-Rose Bay School)

A Catholic nun from Sydney, Sister Philomene worked at a private Catholic school in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

In a letter to students, principal Hilary Johnston-Croke said the school was devastated by the loss of Sister Philomene who had been attending a retreat in Joigny in France.

“Phil was a very much-loved staff member and friend,” she said.

“We are devastated by the loss of such a wonderfully kind, wise and compassionate woman who was greatly loved by us all.”

Father Tony Doherty, who had known Sister Philomene for 30 years, has told the ABC’s AM the school community is in mourning.

“I think the first thing that you were struck with was her gentleness and her courtesy,” he said.

“Her character was quite an immediate sensitivity to people and who they were, so there’s been a wave of grieve that’s met this tragic news in the last day.”

Michael and Carol Clancy, New South Wales

NSW retirees Michael and Carol Clancy, who were on board flight MH17 on a European trip, are being remembered as outstanding local teachers.

The couple aged 57 and 64 were from Kanahooka, south of Wollongong.

Mr Clancy, the former deputy principal of Albion Park Public School, had a passion for teaching disabled children.

His longtime friend and former principal, Jim Cooper, says he suffered chronic arthritis and would teach while enduring extraordinary pain.

“The sad part for us as well is we were all planning to get together with a group of friends tomorrow actually for a birthday party so it’s going to be a very sombre affair,” he said.

Mrs Clancy was also teacher and is being remembered for her community work.

Albert and Marie Rizk, Victoria

Albert and Marie Rizk, who were aboard MH17, with their children Vanessa and James.

Photo: Albert (L) and Marie Rizk (3rd from L), who were aboard MH17, with their children Vanessa and James. (Supplied: Raine and Horne)

Albert, a real estate agent, and his wife Marie were on the final stretch of a European holiday.

The Sunbury pair, and parents of two, were heavily involved in the local Sunbury Football Club over the past decade.

The couple have been described by friend Ken Grech as “beautiful” people.

He said the Rizks had called their son James the night before the flight to notify them of a change to their travel plans.

“[They tried to] move it forward because the interconnecting flight was a nine-hour stay so they thought if they could change their flight they would do so, but unfortunately that didn’t occur,” Mr Grech said.

“It hasn’t really sunk it yet that their parents aren’t going to walk in the front door at home,” he said.

Nick Norris, Mo Maslin, Evie Maslin and Otis Maslin, WA

MH17 victims Mo, Otis and Evie Maslin from Perth

Photo: MH17 victims Mo, Otis and Evie Maslin from Perth (Supplied)

The 68-year-old Perth native and three of his grandchildren were on the flight’s manifest and were understood to be travelling to Western Australia from Amsterdam.

Perth businessman Nick Norris

Photo: Perth businessman Nick Norris and three of his grandchildren died in the MH17 crash. (ABC: Supplied)

Mr Norris was a long-time member of the South of Perth Yacht club and had worked in remote Aboriginal communities in education.

Mr Norris’s 24-year-old son Brack said his father had been accompanying the children: Mo (12) , Evie (10) and Otis (8) Maslin home to Australia.

Their parents had remained in Amsterdam for a few more days but Mr Norris, a father of four, was bringing them home to return to school.

Son Brack described the situation as “surreal” and thought it was “ridiculous” when a sister called from Sydney to tell him about the crashed plane.

“I couldn’t believe it … I love my dad extraordinarily and they were amazing kids,” he said.

The parents of the three children are receiving consular assistance in Amsterdam and are believed to be making their way back to Perth.

Roger and Jill Guard, Queensland

Retired Toowoomba pathologist Dr Roger Guard was killed on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Fri July 18, 2014

Photo: Dr Roger Guard and his wife Dr Jill Guard were among those killed on MH17. (Kevin Farmer / APN)

Pathologist Roger Guard and his wife, GP Dr Jill Guard, were returning from a holiday and medical conference.

Toowoomba Hospital Foundation chief executive Peter Rookas said the pair were well respected in the community.

“Roger and Jill went off on a holiday and then attended a medical conference and were actually returning with doctors from that conference on MH17, so we have lost some absolutely brilliant people,” he said.

Howard and Susan Horder, Queensland

MH17 passengers Howard and Susan Horder

Photo: Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 passengers Howard and Susan Horder from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. (Supplied)

Howard and Susan Horder were retirees from the state’s Sunshine Coast.

The couple’s sons released a statement saying they are devastated by the loss of their parents.

“Howard and Susan touched the hearts of many and will be missed,” the statement read.

“They lived a happy life and provided much love and care for all those around them.”

Liliane Derden, ACT

A mother of two daughters, Ms Derden from Hall in Canberra’s north, has been identified as being on board flight MH17.

Liliane Derden Canberra victim of MH17 plane crash

Photo: Liliane Derden Canberra victim of MH17 plane crash

Ms Derden was a public servant who worked with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in Canberra.

The NHMRC issued a statement honouring Ms Derden.

“The CEO and staff of the NHMRC are deeply saddened by the loss of our valued colleague and friend,” the statement read.

“Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.”

ACT Acting Chief Minister Andrew Barr said it was devastating news a Canberra resident was on the flight.

“It’s devastating news for the family and friends of that ACT resident and indeed our sympathies go to not only to the families here in the ACT who are impacted, but across Australia and indeed around the world.

“It’s a great tragedy and it’s certainly hitting home here locally.”

Helena Sidelik, Queensland

Ms Sidelik, 56, was returning home to the Gold Coast after a holidaying in Europe before she died in what colleagues have described as an “incomprehensible plane disaster”.

Her brother Hans Sidelik says she had been to a wedding in Amsterdam and had spent three weeks holidaying in Greece.

He says his only sister will be greatly missed.

“Very very funny person, loved life, not afraid to speak up and just enjoyed life,” he said.

A statement from colleagues at Vision Personal Training said: “We will truly miss your smiling and infectious personality that we have all become super fond of.”

“May your spirit and soul live on within every one of us that you touched, may you be blessed to soar high above the clouds and smile down on us with double scotch and water and may you rest in peace for eternity,” it added.

Frankie and Liam Davison, Victoria

Francesca “Frankie” and her husband Liam Davison, who were onboard the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Photo: Francesca “Frankie” and her husband Liam Davison were onboard the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. (Supplied: Toorak College)

Toorak College, at Mount Eliza, has confirmed that teacher Frankie Davison and her husband Liam were travelling on the flight.

Principal Helen Carmody described Mrs Davidson as a much-loved teacher, colleague and friend.

“Frankie was an inspirational teacher and the most amazing person,” she said.

“She was kind, generous, and truly warm and giving to everybody – she was a very, very popular teacher and was well-loved by all the students, parents and staff.”

Mary and Gerry Menke, Victoria

Business owners Mary and Gerry Menke from the small coastal community of Mallacoota in far eastern Victoria were among the passengers on flight MH17.

The couple were involved in the abalone industry and were producing pearl jewellery.

Jeanette Seignior from Business and Tourism East Gippsland says it is shocking news.

“They work in a unique part of the world – a very beautiful part of the world,” she said.

“You know, abalone’s out in the ocean and Mary owns the local beauty and hairdressing shop in Mallacoota.

“Mallacoota’s not a very big place so it’ll be a great loss for that community.”

Elaine Teoh and Emiel Mahler, Victoria

Elaine Teoh and Emiel Mahler

Photo: Elaine Teoh and Emiel Mahler in happier times. (ABC: Supplied)

Victorian-based finance workers Elaine Teoh and Emiel Mahler have been remembered as “beloved” staff at IG Australia.

As foreign nationals, Ms Teoh – who was Malaysian – and Mr Mahler – who was Dutch, have not been counted on the official toll of Australians killed in the disaster.

In a statement, IG Australia sent its condolences to the families of the pair.

“IG Australia wishes to send its deepest sympathies … to the families of our colleague and former colleague Elaine Teoh and Emiel Mahler,” it said.

Ms Teoh graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Commerce in 2008.

On social media, David Teoh Qi-en said he had confirmation from Malaysia Airlines that his sister was on board the flight.

“While I understand public opinions and comments on MH17, I urge my friends to remain wise and calm when talking about it and also [to] keep my family and I in prayer as we are going through these tough times,” he wrote on Facebook.

Emma Bell, Northern Territory

Emma Bell, a teacher at the Maningrida College in Arnhem Land, was among three Territorians killed in the incident.

Ms Bell’s friend Bernard Price says her students will be upset at the news.

“She sort of had an infectious nature that rubbed off on everyone,” he said.

“Especially out here, from an education point of view – I’d sort of describe her as one of the very few who actually get it when it comes to Indigenous education.”

Ms Bell had been teaching in the Maningrida community for nearly 18 months.

Wayne and Theresa Baker, Northern Territory

Married former public servants Wayne and Theresa Baker from Darwin were returning home after holidaying in Europe.

The couple have two adult sons still living in the Top End.

Mrs Baker’s mother Angela Turnbull remembers her daughter as a loving and devoted person.

“She loved her job – she only just retired from her job in March in Darwin and their plan was to do a lot of travelling,” she said.

“She was a very devoted mother .

Ms Turnbull says the couple lived in the Darwin region for most of their adult lives.

“Before they got married, they moved up there and then they came home and got married and moved back up there because [the] work situation was better than down here,” she said.

Arjen and Yvonne Ryder, WA

Married couple Arjen and Yvonne Ryder from Albany in the state’s south were on board flight MH17.

Mr Ryder worked for the Department of Agriculture while his wife was a teacher.

Ruhi Furdowsian, who worked with Mr Ryder for many years, has paid tribute to his friend and colleague.

“The memory I have of him is his lovely smile and approachable attitude that he had,” he said.

“He was a very hard-working person, always on time, always dedicating his life and time to his work.”

Edel Mahady, WA

Edel Mahady who was on board flight MH17 was an administrator at a West Australian Catholic school.

Malaysia Airlines plane MH17 ‘shot down’ on Ukraine-Russia border

  • Malaysia Airlines plane shot down over eastern Ukraine
  • Surface-to-air missile used
  • 27 Australians were among the 298 on board
  • Pro-Russian separatists blamed, but have denied attack
  • The plane was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur

Russian MH17 response ‘unsatisfactory’

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has told of the difficulty of investigations into the downed MH17 flight, saying it will be weeks before there are answers for the victims’ families.

He said Australian officials have been deployed to the region.

“Yesterday we saw the smouldering wreckage on our screens, today we have seen some of the faces of the dead,” he said.

“As a nation we need to prepare ourselves for difficult and painful weeks ahead as we strive to find out precisely what has happened and who is responsible.

“My aim is to get justice for Australia, in particular to get justice for the dead and the living. The only way to get justice is if there is a thorough investigation and that means getting access to the site as swiftly as possible … it’s imperative that the site is made available to investigators without molestation and hindrance as fast as possible.”

Abbott said the area is controlled by rebels and “bodies remain strewn over the fields of Eastern Ukraine”.

He emphasised just how dangerous the situation is.

“Overnight, a monitoring mission from the organisation for the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe did gain temporary access but it was driven off by gunfire presumably from the Russian-backed rebels.

“This does highlight though the difficulty and danger of this mission.”

Attempts to contact the Russian government have been unsuccessful so far.

The Ukraine government had said it would give Australia all the support it needed to access the site to retrieve bodies and protect evidence.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will be heading to the US to champion Australia’s campaign at the UN Security Council for an independent comprehensive international investigation with access to the site, debris, black box and any possible witnesses.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have deployed six officers to Kiev and more are on their way, including a five-member emergency response team. Australian Federal Police investigators are also on their way, and more are ready to be deployed as the situation develops.

Contingency arrangements have been put in place to repatriate the bodies, he added.

“Although I must caution this is likely to be weeks, rather than days ahead.”

Ms Bishop noted that for the investigation to proceed, a cease fire around the crash site would be required.

Qantas and Virgin have offered their support for any Australians travelling to the site.


Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Source: Getty Images


Meanwhile, the Government doesn’t want the MH17 disaster to distract from its G20 agenda despite growing pressure for Australia to bar Russia from attending the forum later this year.

The downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 has overshadowed the opening of the G20 trade ministers meeting in Sydney on Saturday, where top officials from the world’s 20 richest nations including Russia have gathered to discuss economic growth.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said there was a “steely determination” to find out who was responsible for the disaster but also not to allow it to distract from the task facing G20 ministers.

“There’s no doubt the events are tragic, just tragic,” Mr Hockey said in Sydney ahead of the G20 meeting.

“But we have to move on with the world, bring those people to justice that were responsible for that horrendous act, but also not allow it to distract us from the challenge of creating a world that has greater prosperity and freedom.”

Nearly 300 people — including 28 Australians — were killed when MH17 was shot down in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border. Suspicion has fallen on Russian-backed rebels, prompting calls for Moscow to be punished with trade sanctions.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who met with his Russian counterpart Alexey Ulyukaev ahead of chairing the G20 meeting, didn’t rule out the prospect of trade sanctions if Russia didn’t play ball.

“These are things we need to consider in the goodness of time,” Mr Robb said.

“It is a matter of how Russia responds, co-operates and is proactive in seeking answers.”

Malaysian prime minister’s grief

The step-grandmother of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was on board MH17, the country’s defence minister confirmed.

Hishammuddin Hussein, a cousin of Najib’s, said 83-year-old Siti Amirah was “on the flight”. Siti Amirah was also Hishammuddin’s step-grandmother.

“Pls pray 4 her,” he wrote on his Twitter feed above a photo of her in an Islamic headscarf.




The defence minister’s tweet today confirmed an earlier report in the Star newspaper that said Siti Amirah had embarked alone in Amsterdam on board flight MH17 en route to the Indonesian city of Jogjakarta.

She was scheduled to transit at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Bizarre account

A top pro-Russia rebel commander in eastern Ukraine has given a bizarre version of events surrounding the Malaysian jetliner crash – suggesting many of the victims may have died days before the plane took off.

The pro-rebel website Russkaya Vesna quoted Igor Girkin as saying he was told by people at the crash site that “a significant number of the bodies weren’t fresh,” adding that he was told they were drained of blood and reeked of decomposition.

Air travel warning

Pilots and aircraft operators are being warned by the Australian aviation regulator to avoid flying over eastern Ukraine, following similar advice from US and European air safety agencies.

No Australian planes are presently scheduled to fly above eastern Ukraine where MH17 was shot down by a suspected surface-to-air missile, killing all 298 people on board.

“Australian air operators and pilots considering operations in eastern European airspace (should) take into account all available safety notices and bulletins regarding flights in the Ukraine region,” the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said.

“Particular attention should be given to notices issued by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency.” US aircraft have been prohibited by the country’s Federal Aviation Administration from flying above parts of eastern Ukraine. “The restricted area includes the entire Simferopol and Dnepropetrovsk … regions,” the FAA said.

“This action expands a prohibition of US flight operations issued by the FAA in April, over the Crimean region of Ukraine and adjacent areas of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.”

First photo of pilot

Details of the pilots of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have been revealed.

The plane with 298 people on board, including at least 28 Australians, was downed about 12.15am Sydney time yesterday.

The flight MH17, a Boeing 777-200, was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur but was shot down in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine.

The two captains on the plane were Eugene Choo Jin Leong, 45, and Wan Amran Wan Hussin, 50, according to a list.

A photograph of Leong shows him alongside a motorbike. A family member of Leong’s, who did not want to be named, confirmed that he was on board the plane. Meanwhile, Captain Wan Amran Wan Hussin’s wife reportedly told the New Straits Times that he had contacted her minutes before he boarded the flight.

The mother-of-two was shocked to learn what had happened when she randomly checked her phone.

“I had just finished my prayers and decided to checked my handphone as the battery had earlier gone flat.

“I was shocked to see a message from my children’s ustaz (religious teacher) informing me that a Malaysia Airlines plane had crashed.

“I was taken aback and immediately switched on the television to see what was going on.”


First photo of MH17 pilot

Pilot: Eugene Choo Jin Leong was flying Malaysia airlines MH17 when it was shot down Source: Supplied


Nationalities of victims

Malaysia Airlines has released a new list of the nationalities of passengers who lost their lives on MH17. It lists 27 Australian lives lost — while the number according to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is 28, including a dual-citizen.

• Netherlands: 189

• Malaysia: 44

• Australia: 27

• Indonesia: 12

• UK: 9

• Belgium: 4

• Germany: 4

• Philippines: 3

• Canada: 1

• New Zealand: 1

Four passengers’ nationalities have not yet been verified.

The full list of names have been released in the flight manifesto.

Flight MH17 Passenger Manifest

Day of mourning

Several hundred members of an exclusive Sydney school community have gathered at a church in the city’s east to hold a special mass for a much-loved teacher killed in the MH17 attack.

Sydney nun Sister Philomene Tiernan was on board the Malaysia Airlines flight

Sister Philomene worked for more than 30 years as a teacher and director of boarding at Catholic school Kincoppal-Rose Bay and was remembered fondly by students yesterday.

“The impact of this is just unbelievable in the whole community,” a year 12 student who did not want to be named said. On a cold Saturday morning several nuns, students and their parents and associates of the school arrived at Saint Mary Magdalene church in Rose Bay for a special mass.

Parish Priest Monsignor Tony Doherty said the special prayer service, which began at 9am, would “focus our grief and loss of such an extraordinary woman.”

Sister Philomene Tiernan, aged 77, was a passenger on Malaysian Airline Flight MH17.

Sister Philomene Tiernan, aged 77, was a passenger on Malaysian Airline Flight MH17. Source: Supplied

People leave the church after Sister Philomene Tiernan’s memorial. Picture: Damian Shaw

People leave the church after Sister Philomene Tiernan’s memorial. Picture: Damian Shaw Source: News Corp Australia

The world has been rocked by the tragedy, with people attending a range of memorial sites.

Floral tributes are seen for Sunbury (Victoria) couple Albert Rizk and his wife Marie Riz

Floral tributes are seen for Sunbury (Victoria) couple Albert Rizk and his wife Marie Rizk. Source: Getty Images

Melburnians begin to leave floral tributes to those lost aboard MH17.

Melburnians begin to leave floral tributes to those lost aboard MH17. Source: News Corp Australia

A visitor places flowers at a temporary memorial for the victims in Berlin.

A visitor places flowers at a temporary memorial for the victims in Berlin. Source: Getty Images

A candle burns nex to flowers at the entrance to Schiphol Airport.

A candle burns next to flowers at the entrance to Schiphol Airport. Source: Getty Images

‘Ban Putin from G20’

Australia should consider uninviting Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Brisbane G20 meeting over his government’s “reckless and stupid” actions leading up to the MH17 disaster, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says.

Mr Shorten said he was fully supportive of the Australian government’s strong stance over the apparent downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

“For an outside nation to have supplied these Ukrainian rebels with this weaponry of war and murder is a very, very reckless and stupid act,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Saturday.

“It is in the interests of resolving what has happened that all of the great powers, including the Russian Federation, support what was said at the United Nations Security Council last night.” The council called for a thorough investigation of the crash. Mr Shorten said the Australian government should consider barring Mr Putin from the upcoming G20 meeting in Brisbane if the country did not support the investigation.

“If the Russian Federation will not co-operate to help resolve and get to the heart of what has happened here, I don’t think Australians would welcome them coming to the G20,” he said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Source: News Corp Australia

Royal condolences

Prince William has expressed his sympathy for all those affected by the disaster, noting in particular the impact on Australians.

Speaking at Australia House in London, the Duke of Cambridge spoke of his great sadness.

“For all of us who have lost fellow countrymen and women in the tragedy, words cannot do justice to our sense of loss,” he said. “For Australians, for our Malaysian brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth, the crash is a particularly cruel tragedy, coming so soon after the loss of MH370.” He said his family’s thoughts and prayers were with everyone affected.

The Duke was at Australia House to unveil a statue of Matthew Flinders, the first explorer to circumnavigate Australia.

Australian High Commissioner to London Alexander Downer also spoke about the tragedy, asking for a moment’s silence for those killed.

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R) and his brother Prince Harry stand on the

Britain’s Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his brother Prince Harry. Source: AFP

Obama speaks out

US President Barack Obama has sent his condolences to the families of victims. He has also paid tribute to AIDS researchers and activists who were bound for an international conference in Melbourne.

The president phoned Prime Minister Tony Abbott to discuss the tragedy.

“The president expressed condolences on behalf of the American people to the Australian families who lost loved ones on board the flight,” a statement from the White House said today.

US President Barack Obama addresses the plane crash of flight MH17.

US President Barack Obama addresses the plane crash of flight MH17. Source: AFP

Death toll

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has warned the Australian death toll may still rise as investigators work to uncover the identities of 41 victims of the MH17 disaster who are not yet accounted for.

Speaking on Sky News last night, Ms Bishop also confirmed a 28th Australian death is that of a dual citizen.

The Foreign Minister has issued a stark warning to Russia as it becomes increasingly clear that pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine are responsible for bringing down the jet.

Using language that is more direct than is custom in international relations, Ms Bishop made it clear Australia would use its position on the United Nations Security Council to push for an international investigation and warned Russia not to stand in the way.

“Russia has a crucial role to play in all of this. If, as Russia claims, Ukraine is responsible for this, I expect Russia to support a thorough investigation”, she said.

Ms Bishop’s words were backed by the UN Security Council, which passed a unanimous motion calling for a full and thorough investigation.

“The members of the Security Council called for a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines and for appropriate accountability,” the council said in a unanimous declaration.

The UN statement expressed the council’s “deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims, and to the people and governments of all those killed in the crash.”

Council members stood in a moment of silent tribute to the 298 victims at the start of an emergency council meeting. The council called for an investigation “in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines and for appropriate accountability.”

It stressed the need for “immediate access by investigators to the crash site to determine the cause of the incident.”

Ms Bishop also said she had been unable to get in touch with her Russian counterpart, who is on holidays, and was told by the Russians she could not speak to a more junior representative.

The comments came after Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier condemned the initial response of the Russian Ambassador to the MH17 disaster.

Julie Bishop following her meeting with the Russian Ambassador Vladimir Morozov.

Julie Bishop following her meeting with the Russian Ambassador Vladimir Morozov. Source: AFP

Mr Abbott said it was “highly probable” MH17 was “shot down” by what appeared to be a Russian-backed rebel missile.

Yesterday afternoon, the Prime Minister revealed the first response from the Russian Ambassador was to blame Ukraine forces for the tragedy — a response he called “deeply, deeply unsatisfactory”.

The ambassador had been summoned to speak in Sydney with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who was seeking assurances Russia would co-operate with investigators and Australia would get access to the crash site.

Mr Abbott repeated his statement made in Parliament that the disaster was a crime and not an accident.

Rescue crews walk through the crash site.

Rescue crews walk through the crash site. Source: AP

Australia was working for a binding UN Security Council resolution to secure an independent international investigation, he said.

“It’s very important that we don’t allow Russia to prevent an absolutely comprehensive investigation.”

Mr Abbott said Australia was eager to take a leading role in the investigation, given the high number of Australians killed.

“These people were innocent people going about their lives … And they have been killed by Russian-backed rebels … Possibly with Russian supplied missiles.”

He had strong words for those that supplied the rebels with the missile.

“Anyone who gave such a weapon to people who were absolutely incapable of using it … Should feel a sense of shame.”

He said Russia’s involvement would be a test for that country. “There can be no excuses, no buck passing.”

Mr Abbott said there would be a national day of mourning and ordered flags at government buildings to be flown at half-mast tomorrow.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said anyone with concerns for friends or family can call the hotline on 1300 555 135.

People search for bodies near the wreckage of Flight MH17

People search for bodies near the wreckage of Flight MH17 Source: AFP


Malaysia Airlines says there were 298 people on board, not 295 as originally stated. At least 28 of the victims are Australian.

Among the dead are Victorian couple Albert and Marie Rizk, who are believed to have missed an earlier flight and ended up on MH17.

Mr Rizk, a local real estate agent, and his wife, who have two children, were due to return home from Europe today after spending a month abroad on holidays.

Other victims are 27-year-old Melbourne student Elaine Teoh, Sister Philomene Tiernan — a teacher at eastern Sydney’s Catholic girls’ school — and Perth management consultant Nick Norris, who was travelling with his grandchildren.

Denis Napthine, the Premier of Victoria, said it was likely there were permanent residents of Australia travelling on other passports who were also killed in the crash.

Albert Rizk (on left) and wife Marie (third from left) the couple believed to be on fligh

Albert Rizk (on left) and wife Marie (third from left) the couple believed to be on flight MH-17. Source: Supplied

The airline confirmed that those on board included 28 Australians, as well as 154 Dutch, 43 Malaysians, 12 Indonesian (including one infant), nine from the UK, four German, four Beligum, three Filipinos, one Canadian. The nationalities of 41 others on the plane were still unknown.

RELATED: The lives lost on MH17

RELATED: Passenger’s tragic last words

RELATED: The families that should have been on MH17

Malaysia Airlines plane shot down

Debris from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is shown smouldering in a field July 17, 2014 in Grabovo, Ukraine near the Russian border. Source: Getty Images


Government minister Ian MacFarlane has played down the possibility that Vladimir Putin could be excluded from the G20 summit in Brisbane in November.

“It’s not a security forum and therefore while we need to be mindful that an investigation does have to take place and we do have to obviously see exactly what’s happened here, in terms of the G20, it is an economic forum not a security forum.”

In the US, Hillary Clinton, the former US secretary of state, and possible presidential candidate, said in a television interview that indications pointed to Russian-backed side and action was needed to “put [Vladimir] Putin on notice that he has gone too far and we are not going to stand idly by”.

“The questions I’d be asking is, number one, who could have shot it down? Who had the equipment? It’s obviously an anti-aircraft missile. Who could have had the expertise to do that? Because commercial airlines are big targets, but by the time they got over that part of Ukraine they should have been high, so it takes some planning [to target such a plane].

“And the Ukrainian government has been quick to blame it on terrorists, which is their name for the Russian insurgents. And there does seem to be some growing awareness that it probably had to be Russian insurgents.”

A firefighter stands among the wreckage. DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

A firefighter stands among the wreckage. DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images Source: Getty Images


One of those on board was HIV researcher Joep Lange, who was on his way to Melbourne from the Netherlands to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference, AIDS2014.

As many as 100 of the passengers were thought to be headed to Melbourne for the conference. Organisers have confirmed it will go ahead as planned

“The International AIDS Society (IAS) today expresses its sincere sadness at receiving news that a number of colleagues and friends en route to attend the 20th International AIDS Conference taking place in Melbourne, Australia, were on board the Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight that has crashed over Ukraine earlier today,” a statement from the International AIDS Society said.

“At this incredibly sad and sensitive time the IAS stands with our international family and sends condolences to the loved ones of those who have been lost to this tragedy.”

The event is to be held in Melbourne from July 20-25.

People stand next to the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FA

People stand next to the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET Source: AFP

Australian passport found at Malaysia Airlines wreckage site. Photo: Live Leak

Australian passport found at Malaysia Airlines wreckage site. Photo: Live Leak Source: Supplied

Earlier, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko was quoted as saying the plane had been shot down by a ground-to-air missile.

According to CNN senior US officials have concluded the plane was shot down but were divided over the origin.

“One radar system saw a surface-to-air missile system turn on and track an aircraft right before the plane went down Thursday,” CNN is reporting.

A second system saw a heat signature at the time the airliner was hit.

RELATED: Russian rebels ‘likely responsible’

RELATED: Warnings ignored on Ukraine’s airspace


The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has reportedly released recordings of intercepted phone calls between Russian military intelligence officers and members of terrorist groups that took place about 20 minutes after the crash.

One call was apparently made by Igor Bezler, who the SBU says is a Russian military intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Igor Bezler: “We have just shot down a plane. Group Minera. It fell down beyond Yenakievo (Donetsk Oblast).”

Vasili Geranin, a colonel in the main intelligence department Russian Federation armed forces then asks: “Pilots. Where are the pilots?”

Bezler replies: “Gone to search for and photograph the plane. Its smoking.”

“We have just shot down a plane” (translated)

A second call was between militants nicknamed “Major” and “Greek” about 40 minutes later.

“It’s 100 per cent a passenger (civilian) aircraft,” Major is recorded as admitting that he had seen no weapons on site. “Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.”

Australian Federal MP Christopher Pyne said there was no doubt that the plane was shot out of the sky. But Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that at this stage it had been unable to verify the cause of the tragedy.

Earlier Mr Gerashchenko told the Wall Street Journal pro-Russia rebels had set up a ground-to-missile battery near the Russian border by the town of Snizhne.

“They clearly thought that it was a military transport plane that they were shooting at,” he said. “They were the ones who did this.”

Wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 295 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lump

Wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. Picture: AFP / DOMINIQUE FAGET Source: AFP


The plane appeared to have broken up before hitting the ground, and the burning wreckage — which included body parts and the belongings of passengers — was scattered over a wide area.

It came down near the town of Shaktarsk, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, and shocking photos of bodies among the wreckage have been posted on Twitter.

“Malaysia Airlines confirms it received notification from Ukrainian ATC that it had lost contact with flight MH17 at 1415 (GMT) at 30km from Tamak waypoint, approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border,” the carrier said in a statement on Facebook.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the downing an act of terrorism and called for an international investigation into the crash.

Some are blaming Russia for allegedly supporting the separatists but a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said allegations that Russia had been involved in the incident was “stupidity”.

Ukrainian woman lies down in front of Dutch embassy holding a poster reading “Putin is a

Ukrainian woman lies down in front of Dutch embassy holding a poster reading “Putin is a killer”. AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov Source: AP

Mr Putin has blamed Ukraine for the crash, “Undoubtedly, the government in whose air space this happened bears responsibility for this terrible tragedy,” a Kremlin statement says.

Putin reportedly opened a meeting with his economic advisers by calling for a moment of silence over the crash.

“This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine. And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy,” he said, according to the statement.

The village of Grabovo is currently under the control of the separatists and the area has seen severe fighting between the two sides in recent days.

A man stands next to the wreckage of the Malaysian Airlines plane. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FA

A man stands next to the wreckage of the Malaysian Airlines plane. Picture: AFP / DOMINIQUE FAGET Source: AFP


Ukraine is a country in crisis. The region where MH17 went down has seen severe fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists in recent days. Ukraine has been in crisis ever since pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych was driven from office in February by a protest movement among citizens wanting closer ties with the European Union. Russia later annexed the Crimean Peninsula in southern Ukraine, and pro-Russians separatists in the country’s eastern regions began occupying government buildings and pressing for independence. Moscow denies Western charges it is supporting the separatists or sowing unrest.

Wreckage near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGE

Wreckage near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine. Picture: AFP / DOMINIQUE FAGET Source: AFP

Luggage on the site of the crash of the crash. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET

Luggage on the site of the crash of the crash. Picture: AFP /DOMINIQUE FAGET Source: AFP

Flames among the wreckage. AFP PHOTO/DOMINIQUE FAGET

Flames among the wreckage. Picture: AFP / DOMINIQUE FAGET Source: AFP


In a statement, Mr Poroshenko said the plane “disappeared from radar screens”.

“In recent days, this is the third tragic accident after the Russian territory were downed aircraft AN-26 and SU-25 Armed Forces of Ukraine. We do not exclude that this aircraft was also shot down, and stress that the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not commit any action to defeat the purposes of the air,” Mr Poroshenko added.

A defence expert told the BBC that shooting down a plane at that height would have required a long-range surface-to-air missile — possibly guided by radar.

Oleg Tsarev, one of the leaders of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, told Time that the rebels did not shoot down the plane.

“We don’t have weapons that can take down a plane from that altitude,” he said, minutes after news of the crash broke.

But there are reports that rebels did have an anti-aircraft military station and the Russian state media even congratulated the rebels on their new Russian-made Buk missile launchers seized from a Ukrainian air force base.

“The Donetsk resistance fighters have captured an anti-aircraft military station,” the Kremlin’s main television network Vesti announced three weeks ago.

Since then there have been regular downings of Ukrainian aircraft including an AN-26 military transport plane, which was shot down on Monday. Its four crew members were taken hostage after they ejected from the aircraft, rebels later confirmed.

According to The Telegraph, the DPR also posted a Twitter picture of a missile system that it captured when it overran a Ukrainian army garrison on June 29.

A spokesman told Voice of Russia radio at the time: “The forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic assumed control of A-1402 (regiment’s) military base” and boasted of capturing the Buk launcher.

Ukrainian government forces manoeuvre a Buk anti-aircraft missile launcher. AP Photo/Dmit

Ukrainian government forces manoeuvre a Buk anti-aircraft missile launcher. Picture: AP / Dmitry Lovetsky Source: AP


A similar weapon was reportedly seen by an Associated Press journalist on Thursday in Snizhne.

As news spread of the crashed Malaysia Airlines flight, the separatists deleted the Twitter photo of the captured missile system.

A raft of global airlines, including Air France, Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, swiftly responded to the disaster by saying they had been avoiding airspace over eastern Ukraine due to safety concerns.

Qantas has confirmed that it has not flown the route across the Ukraine in recent months because it recognised the risks presented by the separatist conflict, during which the aircraft were being shot down.

They were further advised on Thursday to avoid Ukraine’s airspace

In France, a statement by junior transport minister Frederic Cuvillier said he had advised “French airlines to avoid Ukraine’s air space as long as the reasons behind this catastrophe are not known.”


Flight MH17 departed Amsterdam at 12:15pm (Amsterdam local time, 8:15pm AEDT) on Thursday and was scheduled to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 6:10am (Malaysia local time, 8:10am AEDT) the next day.

A Malaysian official tonight told a news conference the flight path was approved by the International Civilian Aviation Organisation and was in unrestricted airspace.

The plane disappeared from radar when flying at 10,000 metres cruising altitude, Interfa-Ukraine reports.

The Daily Beast reported the plane’s “black box” was on its way to Moscow for “investigation”.

But the head of Ukrainian Emergency Situations has since reportedly claimed that search efforts at the scene are being hampered by “armed terrorists”.

In response to the disaster Thai Airways said its flights to Europe have been rerouted to avoid Ukrainian airspace.

The company didn’t say when the route changes were made effective or how many flights were affected.

America’s FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has also banned US flights from entering the airspace of eastern Ukraine. Via Mashable.

“The FAA has made official what most airlines were already doing: American flights are barred from entering the airspace of eastern Ukraine “until further notice,” the agency says. Flights were already officially barred from Crimea and surrounding areas.”

The crash comes just four months after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which remains missing

Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak said he was “shocked” by the reports. “We are launching an immediate investigation,” he said.

The Kremlin said US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had discussed the crash over the phone.

He said US would offer any assistance it could to determine what happened.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.”

A statement from the White House said there needed to be a “full, credible and unimpeded” investigation and urged all concerned — Russia, pro-Russians separatists and the Ukraine — to agree to an immediate ceasefire so investigators could gain access to the crash site.

Malaysia Airlines shot down on Ukraine-Russia border.

Malaysia Airlines shot down on Ukraine-Russia border. In this Press Association graphic the earlier figure of 295 was given before the airline revised the figure to 298. Source: Supplied

Malaysian airlines flight MH17: Tony Abbott says ‘Russian-backed rebels’ likely to blame on ‘grim day’ for Australia

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the deaths of 300 people on board a downed Malaysia Airlines passenger jet is a grim day for the nation and a grim day for the world.

At least 27 Australians are among the dead after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a missile over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

The plane was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, where many of the passengers were due to catch connecting flights to Australia.

Today Mr Abbott said the plane seemed to have been shot down “by Russian-backed rebels”.

He indicated he believed that Russia or Russian arms played a part in the disaster.

“This look less like an accident than a crime,” he told Parliament.

“The bullying of small countries by big ones, the trampling of justice and decency in the pursuit of national aggrandisement, and reckless indifference to human life should have no place in our world.”

“Our hearts go out to the families of all the dead.”

Mr Abbott said Russian ambassador to Australia Vladimir Morozov was being summoned by Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop to seek assurances that the Russian government would fully cooperate with the investigation.

Australian officials are seeking to get access to the crash site and a DFAT team is being sent to Ukraine’s capital Kiev.

“Australia will be working at the United Nations Security Council for a binding resolution calling for a full and impartial investigation with full access to the site, with full access to the debris, with full access to the black box and with full access to all individuals who might be in a position to shed light on this terrible event,” he added.

‘Tyrannical, wild act’, says Shorten

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the shooting down of MH17 was shocking and bewildering.

“Travelling at six miles’ height, this is unimaginable. This is a violation of the rules of civilisation. This is a tyrannical, wild act,” he said.

Mr Shorten said the Government had Labor’s full support.

“The missile that brought down MH17 and the missiles that have claimed numerous other Ukrainian aircraft could not possibly be made by the people who’ve possibly fired them,” he said.

“These separatist terrorists are obtaining these instruments of murder from elsewhere.”

Mr Shorten said it was time for national unity.

“It is a time for temperate responses, for cool heads and measured action,” he said.

“That is indeed the strongest possible response that Australians expect from us.

“This horrific situation can seem far removed from our daily lives but there is no question that the conflict in this disputed part of the Ukraine has now reached Australia.”

Many passengers heading to Melbourne HIV/AIDS conference

It is believed that a number of people on board the crashed flight were on their way to a Melbourne HIV/AIDS conference.

The 20th International AIDS conference is due to start in Melbourne on Sunday and run until July 25.

The International AIDS Society has confirmed its former Dutch president Joep Lange was killed in the crash.

Speaker Bronwyn Bishop is due to address the HIV/AIDS conference on Monday.

“I know there will be many empty spots,” she said.

“I think that what we’re doing is mourning with all the world and all that have been lost. We want to see justice but in a measured way.”

The shooting down of MH17 comes while the search goes on for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which vanished mysteriously on March 8.

18/07/14 Updated 35 minutes ago

Up to 27 Australians were among 298 people on board a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet which was shot down over Ukraine with the loss of all on board.

Flight MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was apparently blown out of the sky by a missile near Ukraine’s border with Russia.

Dutch authorities have confirmed 27 Australians were on board the plane. DFAT says it is working to confirm that figure.

US vice president Joe Biden says the aircraft was “blown out of the sky” and it was “not an accident”.

Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists it is currently fighting in the east of the country have both denied shooting the plane down.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said it would be an “unspeakable crime” if the aircraft was proven to have been shot down.

“If it does turn out that this aircraft was brought down by a surface-to-air missile, there is no doubt this would be – under those circumstances – an unspeakable crime and the perpetrators should swiftly be brought to justice,” he said.

However, he emphasised that there are no hard facts at the moment.

The Prime Minister said the Government was making arrangements to deploy consular staff to Kiev to provide whatever assistance they could.

Passengers on board MH17

  • Netherlands: 154
  • Australia: 27
  • Malaysia: 23
  • Indonesia: 11
  • UK: 6
  • Germany: 4
  • Belgium: 4
  • Philippines: 3
  • Canada: 1

Source: Dutch officials

Earlier Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko said the downing of the airliner was an act of terrorism.

Media reports suggest the aircraft was downed by a Buk ground-to-air missile.

Russia’s Interfax news agency says pro-Russian separatists have claimed to have found the plane’s black box.

Malaysia Airlines said flight tracking data indicated the plane was at its cruising altitude of 33,000 feet (10,000 metres) when it disappeared.

The BBC is quoting one farm worker in the area as saying, “I was working in the field on my tractor when I heard the sound of a plane, then a bang and shots”.

Another said: “There was thick black smoke from a nearby factory. From my balcony I saw a plane begin to descend from a great height and then heard two explosions.”

The disaster comes just four months after Malaysia Airlines lost contact with flight MH370, another Boeing 777 carrying more than 200 people. The fate of that aircraft remains a mystery.

On Twitter, Mr Poroshenko described the incident as an attack by terrorists.

“We do not exclude that the plane was shot down and confirm that the Ukraine Armed Forces did not fire at any targets in the sky,” Mr Poroshenko said in a statement posted on the president’s website.

Malaysian president Najib Razak said he was “shocked”.

“I am shocked by reports that an MH plane crashed,” he said on his Twitter account. “We are launching an immediate investigation.”

The White House says US president Barack Obama has ordered senior US officials to remain in close touch with Ukrainian officials about the downed plane.

Mr Obama has spoken to Russian president Vladimir Putin about the crash.

“The Russian leader informed the US president about an air-traffic controllers’ report that came just before their phone conversation that a Malaysian plane crashed in Ukraine,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

Other airlines are now avoiding east Ukrainian air space, including Germany’s biggest airline Lufthansa.

“Lufthansa has decided to avoid the east Ukrainian air space by a wide margin with immediate effect,” a company spokesperson said.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17: Official statements

Updated 1 hour 20 minutes ago

Malaysia Airlines MH17: Phone tap reveals pro-Russian separatists claiming responsibility for passenger plane downed over Ukraine

Updated 30 minutes ago

Igor Bezler

Photo: “We have just shot down a plane”: Pro-Russian separatist Igor Bezler.

Ukrainian wire taps appear to have captured pro-Russian separatists claiming responsibility for shooting down a Malaysian airliner over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 289 people on board, including at least 27 Australians.

Ukraine’s Kyiv Post newspaper has posted what it says is a conversation between a separatist commander and Russian intelligence officer Vasili Geranin.

In the transcript, released by Ukraine’s security service, the separatist, identified as Igor Bezler, says: “We have just shot down a plane. It fell down beyond Yenakievo (Donetsk Oblast).”

The paper also has a transcript of what it says is a conversation between two separatists identified as “Major” and “Greek”.

“The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first 200. We have found the first 200 – a civilian,” Major says, referring to the codeword for a dead person.

“In short, it was 100 per cent a passenger aircraft.

“These are Chernukhin folks who shot down the plane. From the Chernukhin check point. Those cossacks who are based in Chernukhino.””

The paper also posted part of a third conversation between Cossack commander Nikolay Kozitsin and an unidentified militant.

“Regarding the plane shot down in the area of Snizhne-Torez. It’s a civilian one – fell down near Grabove. There are lots of corpses of women and children. The Cossacks are out there looking at all this,” the militant says.

“They say on TV it’s AN-26 transport plane, but they say it’s written Malaysia Airlines on the plane. What was it doing on Ukraine’s territory?”

Kozitsin replies: “That means they were carrying spies. They shouldn’t be f***ing flying. There is a war going on.”

Military analysts have speculated that militants mistook the passenger jet for a military aircraft.

Earlier Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko said the downing of the airliner was an act of terrorism.

“MH-17 is not an incident or catastrophe, it is a terrorist attack,” he tweeted.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said it would be an “unspeakable crime” if the aircraft was proven to have been shot down.

“If it does turn out that this aircraft was brought down by a surface-to-air missile, there is no doubt this would be – under those circumstances – an unspeakable crime and the perpetrators should swiftly be brought to justice,” he said.

US vice-president Joe Biden earlier said the aircraft was “blown out of the sky” and it was “not an accident”.

Reuben Johnson from defence publication Jane’s Military says all the missile systems in the area of Ukraine where the plane was downed had been seized by separatists.

“We have some telephone recordings that were intercepted by the Ukrainian security service … that has the separatists talking to each other, saying ‘We shot down a plane’,” he said.

“So there’s not too much that’s left to the imagination.”

The conversation between Major and Greek, as posted by the Kyiv Post:

Major: These are Chernukhin folks who shot down the plane. From the Chernukhin check point. Those cossacks who are based in Chernukhino.

Greek: Yes, Major.

Major: The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first 200. We have found the first 200 – a civilian.

Greek: Well, what do you have there?

Major: In short, it was 100 per cent a passenger aircraft.

Greek: Are many people there?

Major: Holy sh**t! The debris fell right into the yards [of homes].

Greek: What kind of aircraft?

Major: I haven’t ascertained this. I haven’t been to the main sight. I am only surveying the scene where the first bodies fell. There are the remains of internal brackets, seats and bodies.

Greek: Is there anything left of the weapon?

Major: Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.

Greek: Are there documents?

Major: Yes, of one Indonesian student. From a university in Thompson.


This is what Ukraine, Russia, Malaysia Airlines and others are saying about the MH17 crash. There are claims the passenger jet, with nearly 300 people on board, may have been shot down by a missile. All the passengers and crew are dead.

Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines confirms it received notification from Ukrainian ATC that it had lost contact with flight MH17 at 1415 (GMT) at 30km from Tamak waypoint, approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.

Flight MH17 operated on a Boeing 777 departed Amsterdam at 12.15pm (Amsterdam local time) and was estimated to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.10 am (Malaysia local time) the next day.

The flight was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew onboard.

Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko

This is not an incident or catastrophe, it is a terrorist attack.

We do not exclude that the plane was shot down and confirm that the Ukraine Armed Forces did not fire at any targets in the sky.

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak

I am shocked by reports that an MH plane crashed. We are launching an immediate investigation.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott

On reports MH17 was shot down:

Look, we just have all sorts of reports and claims flying around. That’s all we have at the moment – reports and claims. I’m very conscious of the fact that the Ukrainian president has made that statement (on the plane being shot down).

I believe they’ve been other statements from people in authority in Ukraine, but we just can’t say.

If it does turn out that this aircraft was brought down by a surface-to-air missile, there is no doubt this would be – under those circumstances – an unspeakable crime and the perpetrators should swiftly be brought to justice.

On what the Government can do for families:

We can assure families that at the highest levels of government we feel for them. We grieve with them, we pray for them. That’s the first thing we do, and the second thing we do is to try to provide whatever practical assistance we can in terms of counsel, in terms of repatriation of remains and so on.

This is just a very, very sad time made worse by reports that it might be a crime rather than an accident.

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs

The loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine is a tragedy.

Initial reports indicate there were 295 people on board and there are no survivors of the crash. We have grave concerns that a number of Australians may have been on board the flight. Officials are urgently working to seek confirmation with relevant authorities.

If you have any concerns for the welfare of Australian family or friends, you should attempt to directly contact them.

If you are unable to contact them and still hold concerns for their welfare, you should call DFAT’s 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas, or within Australia on 1300 555 135.

Spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin

The president of Russia asked the prime minister of Malaysia to convey his deepest sympathy and support to the victims’ families.

US president Barack Obama

The world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia/Ukraine border, and it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.

I have directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why.

And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.


Our thoughts and prayers are with those on board the Malaysia Airlines airplane lost over Ukrainian airspace, as well as their families and loved ones.

Boeing stands ready to provide whatever assistance is requested by authorities.


4 thoughts on “28 Aussies among 298 killed as Malaysia Airlines ‘blown out of sky’ by missile over Ukraine”

  1. What is happening to this world we live in? My thoughts are with the family and friends of not just the 27 Australians but all the innocent people killed in this despicable act who were just going about there business.I don’t think I will ever fly overseas again.


  2. Gee up to 108 delegates may of been on board that plane on their way to Australia for a world conference on HIV…Tragic


  3. Spend your life saving folks (and yourself even) and researching the terrible disease that is HIV/aids to be killed on a flight to share knowledge with other experts from around the world. A sad moment in history.



Wear Yellow for Allison Baden-Clay Day August 1st 2014

On Friday 1st August it’s Wear Yellow for Allison Baden-Clay Day  This day is not about raising money. Instead Allison’s friends and family asks you to wear some yellow and perform an act of kindness (big or small) in memory of Allison.

If you wish to donate money to The Late Allison Baden-Clay Children’s Trust Fund, you can do so using these details 

Donate to the Baden-Clay children | BSB: 084 737 | Account Number: 943 084 078.

I will also include information on how to send cards of support and condolences to Allisons family shortly


Gerard Baden-Clay Appeals against Murder Conviction

Please NOTE This Community is too important to let any individual ruin it for others!

From now on, bullying in any form will result in ONE WARNING FROM ME (ROBBO) and 2nd time will result in an instant ban from the site.

We are here to discuss important things, not to make personal attacks. Admin (ROBBO) will be the one who determines whether or not a message is deemed as bullying or inappropriate. Thank you for your cooperation

(Robbo, owner and operator of aussiecriminals)

Just to lighten the mood, GBC needs reminding he was over confident before too! How wrong he was!

cop shop

update 20/07/14

GERARD Baden-Clay was wheeling and dealing behind bars to gain up to $2 million if he’d been acquitted of murdering his wife Allison.

The day before the remorseless killer was found guilty, he bragged to prison guards he would soon be a free man.

And he was set to be a wealthy one too.

Baden-Clay would have walked out to a media deal of at least $600,000, negotiated by his family as he awaited trial.

He also would have collected up to $1 million from his wife’s insurance policies and $440,000 from selling a Gold Coast investment property he had owned with his wife.

Behind the scenes, TV producers flew up to Brisbane to woo the Baden-Clays with huge sums of money if he walked and talked.


Allison Baden-Clay’s family make plea as Gerard’s lawyers launch appeal against murder conviction

9 hours ago July 18, 2014

WIFE-killer Gerard Baden-Clay is prolonging the agony of Allison’s family and friends, appealing his conviction just two days after being sentenced.

He claims the jury was “unreasonable” when they found him guilty of murdering his wife and that a “miscarriage of justice” had occurred.

The challenge will likely take more than six months to get to court.

Last night Allison’s family told of their anguish at the appeal.

“It’s been a difficult time for the family, just let her rest in peace,” one of Allison’s relatives said

Baden-Clay was condemned in court by Justice John Byrne for using his wife’s struggles with depression in an attempt to beat the murder charge.

Baden-Clay’s defence team of barrister Michael Byrne QC and solicitor Peter Shields filed the paperwork yesterday shortly before midday.

The appeal claimed a miscarriage of justice occurred because the jury should have been directed the presence of Allison Baden-Clay’s blood in her car was only relevant if the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt it could only have got there from an injury that occurred on the night she died.

It also argued the trial judge should have directed the jury that they needed to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt Baden-Clay took his wife’s body to Kholo Creek in order to use it as “post offence conduct going to guilt’’.

Baden-Clay’s legal team also claimed the judge should not have told the jury they could consider whether he had “attempted to disguise marks on his face’’ by making razor cuts.

Lawyers are given one month to lodge an appeal. It would then be listed for hearing in the Court of Appeal.

Appeal notices are usually subject to significant refinement before written outline of arguments are lodged closer to the hearing date.

When the matter makes it to the court, Baden-Clay will appear before a panel of three judges. His lawyers will outline why they believe the trial failed and the Crown will respond.

If he is successful, he could be acquitted or the case could be tried again.

update 12.35 17/07/14

Gerard Baden-Clay launches appeal against murder conviction

Lawyers for Gerard Baden-Clay have filed an appeal against his murder conviction.

On Tuesday a Supreme Court jury found the 43-year-old Brisbane man guilty of killing his wife Allison in April 2012.

He was sentenced to life in prison, with a non-parole period of 15 years.

An image of a bearded Gerard Baden-Clay that was tendered

He has appealed against his conviction on four grounds, including that the verdict of murder was unreasonable, and that:

“A miscarriage of justice occurred because the jury should have been, but was not, directed that the presence of the deceased’s blood in a motor vehicle was only relevant if the jury was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the presence of blood was attributed to an injury sustained to the deceased’s body on the evening of 19 April 2012 or the morning of 20 April 2012,” the application reads.

“The trial judge erred in law in not directing the jury that they needed to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant placed the body of the deceased at Kholo Creek in order to use such a finding as post-offence conduct going to guilt.

“The trial judge erred in leaving to the jury that the appellant attempted to disguise marks on his face by making razor cuts.”

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#Settled #Guilty # Life – Justice For Allison, Judgement Day In Pictures

What can I say, an amazing day yesterday. I was so grateful to be in the court room, amongst Allison’s family and friends and to hear those 2 words “Guilty” Life”   The overflow court roared as one.

Tears flowed freely amongst many. Whilst many of us never knew Allison personally, I feel this trial, we as just normal every day Australians, got to know and fall in love with Allison Baden Clay.

For everything that woman had gone through during her married life, she was an just the most amazing Captain of the human version of the  Titanic.  The ship was sinking, hitting major hurdles, yet, this courageous woman went about her day to day life, caring for her children, trying to stop the ship from hitting the iceberg.  What a brave, beautiful person she was.

Yesterday justice was served for Allison and her family and friends.  I have enjoyed taking photos to help give people some perspective who couldn’t be there.  Allison’s family were nothing short of AMAZING to us who have been at the trial since day 1. They were gracious, kind, caring, gentle people, it proved to me what an AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL,CARING, LOYAL family they are.

Whilst this verdict does nothing to ease their pain and broken hearts at least I feel it shows how a community of strangers can come together and support someone during their darkest hours and be there as a moral support to see the justice system do it’s job.

Finally I just want to thank Robbo for allowing me to share my images on here, I love my photography with a passion. I try to make the viewer feel like they’re there, in the front row, I think I achieved my goal during this trial.   Can I ask that you be RESPECTFUL to my work, by not copying these photos and posting on your facebook, twitter pages. I put these images on here in good faith.  Rather, do the right thing and share the page, that’s the greatest compliment you can do to me and Robbo.

Allison, may your spirit live on, you’re a shining example of how to deal with adversity and still look for the positives! May your soul be at peace with the Lord, God Bless you, never to be forgotten! Justice is SERVED, SETTLED!!


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Updated 17/07/2014

This morning before heading back home I went out to Allison’s memorial to take some final photos given the public has been regularly placing flowers since the verdict. I also stopped by the Indooroopilly Police station, they played a significant role in the case.

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