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Alleged Australia child killer 'coping as best she can'

SYDNEY: An Australian mother charged with killing eight children will have her case heard in January, a court said Monday, as she struggles to come to terms with what happened.

Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday, 37, also known as Mersane Warria, is accused of eight counts of murder after the bodies of the children were found in a house in the northern city of Cairns on Friday morning.

Seven of them were hers and she was an aunt to the eighth. The children — four girls and four boys — were aged between two and 14.

The Cairns Magistrates Court refused an application by the women’s lawyer Steven MacFarlane for the next hearing on January 30 to be in a mental health court.

This is procedural as MacFarlane said she was currently on an involuntary treatment order and would be assessed, “so once she gets assessed, then it may go to a mental health court at that stage”.

MacFarlane said Thaiday, who did not attend the hearing as she remained in a Cairns hospital under police guard with non life-threatening injuries, was still coming to terms with what happened.

“I’ve spoken to her, she’s coping as best she can at the moment,” he told reporters outside the court.

“I’m not a doctor, I think she probably knows what’s happened but doesn’t realise it, it hasn’t sunk in, is my personal opinion only.”

Permanent memorial

The hearing came as the local member of the Queensland state parliament, Gavin King, said the public housing home in the suburb of Manoora where the bodies were found would be demolished and a permanent memorial instead built on the site.

“It’s the right thing to do going forward to help with the healing process, of course for the family but also the local residents around us, but also the broader community who… have been very deeply shocked by this tragedy,” King told reporters.

“I’ve been here since Saturday morning and I haven’t had anyone say that they would like the house to stay.

“Everyone across the board… they are very unanimous in terms of saying they would like to see an appropriate memorial in this location.”

King said he had been talking to family representatives, local residents and agencies to get a sense of what form of permanent memorial they wanted.

“My conversations and directions from those range of people has been that they just want an appropriate memorial that… they can pay their respects, certainly local children and the local community can use on a long-term basis,” he said.

Police said Sunday that crime scene investigators were still working in the house, describing it as a “long process”.

“We still have experts there. It will be a long, hard road from here on in,” detective inspector Bruno Asnicar said.

Officers have not revealed the cause of death of the children but said they were looking into various scenarios, including suffocation. They also said knives were found at the house. (AFP)

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