Trigger warning: This post deals with graphic violence and a possible suicide attempt and may distress some readers.
A 37-year-old mother is charged with the murder of seven of her children and her niece after their bodies were found at a home in Cairns, in far north Queensland, on Friday.
The four girls and four boys aged between two and 14 were discovered at a home on Murray Street in the Cairns suburb of Manoora.
Mersane Warria, who is the mother of seven of the deceased children and aunt of the eighth, has been charged with eight counts of murder.
Police have said they would not name the children for cultural reasons.
Warria was charged under her full name of Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday.
A spokesperson for the Cairns Magistrates Court has confirmed she had been remanded in custody.
“Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday appeared before Magistrate Alan Comans at a bedside hearing at the [Cairns Hospital],” the spokesperson said.
“The matter will next be heard in the Cairns Magistrates Court tomorrow along with other Arrest Court matters from 9:30am.
“Thaiday has been excused from attending the hearing.
“Given the matter is now before the court, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
Warria remains in hospital under police guard.
Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said Warria was “conscious, speaking and quite lucid”.
He said there would be a formal hearing tomorrow, but Warria has been excused from attending.
He said police intended to oppose bail.
Detective Inspector Asnicar said autopsies of the children would be completed today, but no further details would be publicly released.
“Everybody is entitled to a fair trial – our job is to collect evidence and present it to a court,” he said.
“Our job is not to put false images in peoples heads or speculate.
“I don’t want to see anything go wrong that will affect the court process.”
When asked whether drug use was involved, police said it was part of the investigation.
Community mourns with family
There were emotional scenes in Cairns this morning as family members attended a memorial near the home where the children died.
The families are in the far north Queensland city to begin a traditional mourning period ahead of their funerals.
The five fathers of the children were among the mourners after police confirmed yesterday afternoon they had been notified of the deaths.
Manoora’s small community centre, just a block away from the house where Friday’s tragedy occurred, has become a place of mourning and reflection.
About 30 people, including family and friends of the deceased children, pastors and local leaders, gathered for a church service to pray for comfort and healing for the wounded community.
Church services around the city this morning also reflected on the tragedy.
There will be another memorial service for the eight children at Trinity Bay High School in Cairns this evening.
Call for financial donations to support family.
Cairns MP Gavin King said people who wanted to make financial donations to support the family could contact Uniting Care Community on 1800 543 354 or go to their website.
“In terms of those financial contributions that will go to Uniting Care Community – we will work with the family in terms of their needs,” he said.
“That account effectively will be activated early in the morning – we understand after 10:00am (AEST) so that anyone – both locally and across the nation – can call that number or make a donation by the [Uniting Care Community] website.”
He said he was also working with the family, local community and authorities for a permanent public memorial at the site.
“We’d also like to see some of those financial contributions go towards a public memorial, which I’ll announce more details of tomorrow morning,” he said.
Mr King said the Salvation Army was also setting up two houses in Cairns for visiting family members who were coming from across the state to stay in the city during this time.
He said people who wanted to donate household goods for the houses should take items to the Salvation Army depot on Hoare Street in Manunda.
“Those two houses require things like lounges and various household items,” he said.
“Indeed down at the community hub this morning there were a few people who turned up with offers of things like lounges.
“The Salvation Army will distribute those goods to those extended family members.”
This post originally appeared on ABC News and is republished here with permission.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or at their website www.lifeline.org.au
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