1. Sydney father was having an affair when he killed himself and his family.
A Sydney father was in financial strife and having an affair with a teenager in the Philippines when he killed himself and his family, an inquest has been told.
Fernando Manrique, 44 and his wife Maria Lutz, 43, were about to divorce when they were found dead along with their children Elisa, 11, and Martin, 10, and the family dog Tequila, in their northern Sydney home in October 2016.
They all died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
At the opening of an inquest into their deaths at Lidcombe Coroners Court, counsel assisting Adam Casselden said there was “little cause for doubt” that Mr Manrique was responsible.
“He had planned the deaths of his family over the course of some time,” Mr Casselden said on Monday.
“Maria had no awareness of, or involvement in, Fernando’s plans.”
The court heard Ms Lutz was a “dedicated, loving mother” to her two autistic children.
She was excited about the possibility of going back to work after finding out they would be receiving $50,000 from the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“She was looking forward to life without Fernando,” Detective Sergeant Timothy Pooley told the inquest.
Det Sgt Pooley said this funding meant Ms Lutz “would’ve been better off than she had been for years”.
Mr Manrique, meanwhile, was in “dire straits” financially, Det Sgt Pooley said.
He owed at least $15,000 to the tax office, had $28,000 in credit card debts and was struggling to pay off the family’s two mortgages totalling more than $500,000.
The family trust account, meanwhile, had just $6 in it.
Despite his debts, Mr Manrique was also supporting a woman he was in a “serious relationship” with in the Philippines, where he travelled for work each month.
The woman, known only as Jamilyn, was 17 when she met Mr Manrique in 2015 at a bar where she worked. He told her to quit her job and that he would buy her a house.
The inquest heard Mr Manrique ordered two cylinders of carbon monoxide 10 days before the family’s death and arranged for them to be delivered to his friend Jairo Campos’ house.
He also made four visits to Bunnings in a week to buy more equipment.
Mr Campos told the coroner his friend told him he needed the cylinders to run tests on “gas released by cars in underground car parks”.
Mr Manrique paid him $400 for storing the cylinders.
Det Sgt Pooley said that while Ms Lutz was at school with their children, Mr Manrique was rigging up an apparatus that would pump carbon monoxide into the family home while they slept.
Deputy state coroner Elaine Truscott made a brief statement midway through proceedings to thank Ms Lutz’s friends for “honouring her” by attending court and providing statements to police.