Mum’s chilling threat before son’s death
A Gold Coast mother accused of murdering her two adult children allegedly told her next-door neighbour she "should put something" in her depressed son's syringe after she found him "shooting up" with his sister's medication.
Maree Mavis Crabtree returned to Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday as part of a lengthy committal hearing after she was charged in 2018 for the murders of her adult children; Erin, 18 in 2012 and Jonathan, 26 in 2017.
It's alleged Crabtree plied her disabled children with prescription medications to keep them bedridden and claim payouts, as well as claim insurance after their deaths, which were initially considered suicides.
On the third day of Crabtree's hearing, Vicki Inglis, who lived next door to the family from 2014, told the court there had been times Crabtree would ask for help with Jonathan before his death.
Ms Inglis told the court in the lead-up to Jonathan's death, Crabtree had said she was concerned her son was going to kill her.
"She definitely told me he (Jonathan) had chased her with knives … She told me she used to hide Tara's (her other daughter) medication to prevent him from using it," Ms Inglis told the court.
"She phoned me at one stage when I was away for work and she said he was chasing her with a brick …
"These incidents were spread out between when he had his (car) accident (in 2015), and when he died."
Ms Inglis said Crabtree had told her she had hidden Tara's medication because Jonathan had been "shooting (it) up" in his room, as she had seen by peering through his curtains.
"(She said) 'I should put something in his syringe'," Ms Inglis said.
"She said it on a number of times in different conversations … I said 'do not do anything silly'.
"I was concerned she was going to put something in there that would do him some damage or kill him."
Ms Inglis' sister Janine also testified, and told the court she had heard Crabtree yelling "get away from me" on "many … different occasions."
She said that had happened in the period of time between Jonathan's car accident and when he passed away, and that it was her understanding the protests had been directed to Jonathan.
"On some occasions I would know Jonathan was near … I would hear Maree in one spot, Jonathan in another … Closeish, but not close enough. I did think this was strange at times, I could hear her saying 'get away from me' when they (sounded to be) metres away from each other," she said.
Ms Inglis said she had never seen violence between the two, and that when Crabtree shouted "get away from me" it was a "flat tone".
A number of witnesses claimed Crabtree had told them her daughter Erin had died on a cruise ship in 2012, only to later discover the teenager had not been on the family trip.
Brenda Barber told the court Crabtree had called her after Erin's death, telling her she needed money to get the body back to Australia, as well as funds to fly home.
"She said Jonathan was sharing a cabin with her (and that) he wasn't coping at all," she said.
"She was gobsmacked that she had died. And that the medical officer or doctor on board said she (Erin) had died from choking on her own vomit in her sleep.
"She said Jonathan was very upset and taking it badly."
Vicki Inglis also told the court Crabtree had told her Jonathan was depressed as a result of his sister's death.
"She said he had been seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist for depression … That he had heard her on the night of her death coughing and spluttering," Ms Inglis said.
"(She told me) the psychologist or psychiatrist told Jonathan he should have gone and checked on Erin."
She said she had later discovered Erin had not been on the cruise with the rest of the family, and so Jonathan "couldn't possibly" have been responsible for checking on his sister.
One other neighbour, Faith Lees, who sometimes walked with Crabtree said she was made aware that Erin wasn't going on the cruise with the rest of the family.
"I was told (about a month before the cruise) that someone was coming to the house to look after Erin," she said.
Crabtree is facing eight charges of obtaining a financial benefit by deception, and 11 other charges including torture, murder, attempted murder, fraud and robbery.
The hearing continues.
Originally published as Mum's chilling threat before son's death