"Our little angels are resting in peace." Three children have died in a NSW house fire, & more in News in 5.

— With AAP.

1. “Our little angels are resting in peace.” Three children have died in a NSW house fire.

A country NSW community is in mourning after twin sisters and their brother were engulfed by an inferno that ripped through their family home, as “heroic” neighbours desperately battled the flames with garden hoses.

Fire investigators are looking for answers in the ashes as locals pledge tens of thousands of dollars for the children’s mother and sister who narrowly escaped the blaze.

Crews broke through windows to rescue the five-year-old twins Matylda and Scarlett from their smoke-filled bedrooms seconds before the flames reached them in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The twins were rushed to Singleton Hospital but died soon after.

Their older brother Blake, 11, was found dead in the burned out shell of the home.

First responders managed to rescue 31-year-old mother Kara Atkins and her eight-year-old daughter Bayley.

Atkins suffered burns to her back and forehead and Bayley was treated for smoke inhalation. Both are in a stable condition at John Hunter Hospital.

singleton house fire
Image: AAP.

NSW Police Superintendent Chad Gillies lauded the actions of neighbours who rushed to help.

"I would like to emphasise the heroic nature of the four residents in the nearby vicinity who tried to assist the people inside the house and importantly got the mother and eight-year-old out," he said.

Early investigations suggest the fire started at the front of the house before spreading to the back of the home.

Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Joshua Turner confirmed there was a fireplace inside the property, but it was too early what happened.


Smoke detectors were installed in the home and did react.

"With the intensity of the fire... the neighbours and those that attended and tried to assist did a pretty incredible job," Supt Turner said.

Among them was neighbour Brock Forbes, who along with his family were woken by a "big bang" and tried to fight the blaze until fire crews arrived.

"(We heard) just smashing and screaming so we ran out and grabbed the hose," he told the ABC.

"I was trying to put the fire out and trying to save them and firefighters came and got it under control."

Police, paramedics and firefighters admitted it was a tough and distressing time for crews - as well as the town.

"These things tear at the heart of a local community like Singleton," Supt Gillies said.

singleton house fire
Image: AAP.

On Facebook, family member Britt Rinkin wrote about the family's grief in a post on a Singleton community forum.

"Today has been a horrific day for our family," she said. "To be in that moment when we were told we lost our daughters, son, grandchildren, nieces, nephew and cousins (is) gut-wrenching for our family because we are grieving horrendously.

"We are very thankful for all the love and support everyone has giving our family... Our little angels are resting in peace."

Family friend Caitlyn Stemmer said it would be hard for locals to deal with.

"The whole town is devastated by the news," Ms Stemmer told AAP on Wednesday.


Yesterday afternoon Singleton residents began placing flowers out of the front of the house, which had been reduced to a mix of blackened wood and brick.

Ms Stemmer said the family are "tight-knit", describing Ms Atkins and her partner as hardworking and caring parents.

"This may be a message for people to cuddle their kids for a little longer today," Ms Stemmer said.

Ms Stemmer started a GoFundMe campaign which raised more than $40,000 for the family in its first day.

"The family will need to rebuild their lives and home, any help will be forever appreciated," she wrote on the fundraising page, alongside a picture of the children in their school uniforms.

2. Melbourne woman who was recovering from brain tumour allegedly murdered by boyfriend.

A Melbourne nurse allegedly murdered by her partner inside their apartment was recovering from brain surgery she had just five weeks ago.

Cait O'Brien, 31, was discovered dead inside her Gardenvale apartment in Melbourne's south east about 7.30pm on Tuesday, when police conducted a welfare check.

Her boyfriend Shea Stuart, 32, was arrested a short time later and charged with her murder. He appeared at Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Wednesday.

O'Brien had been recovering from an operation to remove a brain tumour on May 14 and shared her recovery on Facebook.

"Am home now and just requiring panadol with the occasional Endone. Showering and dressing myself etc," she shared with friends. "Shea taking care of all the chores and cooking."

Stuart posted on Facebook as recently as Tuesday, posting a series of bizarre quotes and sharing a clip from stand-up comedian Owen Benjamin titled 'How to be married and not be murdered'.


A neighbour told the Daily Mail the couple had lived in their apartment for at least three years, but O'Brien had not been seen in weeks which was "out of the ordinary".

"That's what's worried me. The fact that we hadn't seen her for a while – how long has she been up there for?"

Police said the exact circumstances and cause of death are yet to be established. Police investigations were ongoing.

 A police prosecutor told the court on Wednesday detectives were investigating an alleged history of domestic violence between the couple and would be interviewing witnesses and review CCTV.

Stuart was remanded in custody until his next court appearance on October 16.

3. The father whose four children died in a possible murder-suicide in a Queensland crash says authorities ignored warnings about his ex-wife.

The father of four young children killed with their mum in a possible murder-suicide car crash believes authorities could have prevented their deaths.

Charmaine Harris McLeod, 35, Aaleyn, 6, Matilda, 5, Wyatt, 4 and Zaidok, 2, died in a head-on collision with a truck near Kingaroy on May 27.

Homicide detectives are investigating the deaths as a possible murder-suicide.

There are reports a note was thrown from the car shortly before the crash.

The children's father, James McLeod, has told The Courier-Mail on Wednesday that authorities turned a blind-eye to his warnings that she could hurt their children.

"She's just been a lying, vindictive, evil, nasty person," he told The Courier-Mail.

He said he had separated from his ex partner to protect their children.

"I've always known that she would do something like this to the kids. I've let judges know, I've let lawyers know, I've let DOCS (the Department of Child Safety) know, I've let police know.


"They've all turned a blind eye. This all could have been prevented if they did something. (I've been telling them) for years."

Comment was being sought from DOCS. Police would not comment on the ongoing investigation.

Queensland police have said it could be months before the cause of the fiery car crash on a rural road is known.

Ms McLeod also reportedly posted on social media late last year that she had been struggling with mental health issues, and had been dealing with Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women.

4. Five families who lost loved ones in the MH17 tragedy have reached a settlement with Malaysia Air.

Five families suing Malaysia Airlines over the death of their loved ones onboard MH17 have reached a settlement with the company.

The families agreed to a confidential settlement with Malaysia Airlines ahead of an eight-day Federal Court hearing due to start in Sydney.

"The Court approves the settlement and dismissal of these proceedings on the terms set out in the release between the parties dated 5 June 2019," Justice Nye Perram wrote in his orders on Wednesday.

The settlement is to remain confidential.

Cassandra Gibson whose mother, Liliane Derden, was among the 38 Australians killed in the July 17, 2014 disaster, was the lead plaintiff in the case.

The plane was on its way between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpar when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine near the Russian border in territory held by pro-Russian separatists.

Last week the Dutch-led international team named four suspects - Russians Sergey Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Igor Girkin, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko.

It said international arrest warrants for the four had been issued.


Russian President Vladimir Putin rejects the accusations.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said the charges and international arrest warrants are an important step in what will be a "long process".

5. Doctors warned they must only communicate with patients face-to-face under new Victorian euthanasia laws, or face criminal charges.

Talking by phone or internet to a Victorian wanting to access the state's euthanasia scheme could be a federal crime.

Just one week after the controversial laws were enacted, certified doctors are being warned to have all discussions with patients face-to-face, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said on Wednesday.

The action has been prompted by a 2005 federal law which makes it a crime, punishable by a fine, to incite or counsel someone into suicide using a carriage service.

Ms Mikakos said she was not aware of anyone ever being charged with the law and said it would be "absurd" for a family member, doctor or journalist to be prosecuted.

"I don't imagine that any clinician in Victoria would be exposed to risk here," she told reporters.

"I don't think any prosecutor worth their salt will be pursuing this."

It would be an "absolute absurdity" of the commonwealth law lead to risks for family members supporting their loved ones or a journalist talking to a dying patient about their wishes, Ms Mikakos said.

However, the minister does not see the need to amend the state's law.

"Effectively we are working around the Commonwealth law by providing this advice (to doctors) and in the conversations that my department has had with the clinicians, they've made it very clear that they always intended to have face-to-face consultations," she said.

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter said in a statement his department's discussions with Victorian officials confirmed in-person medical consultations would not spark a prosecution.

"Advice from Victorian officials is that, under their voluntary assisted dying laws, medical consultations would occur in person and would therefore not breach Commonwealth offences for inciting or instructing suicide online," he said.

"I'm confident that anyone acting in accordance with Victorian laws will not be prosecuted for Commonwealth offences."

The Victorian government will help doctors travel to regional Victoria to make sure there is no breach of the law.

Ms Mikakos said the issue had never come up during the parliamentary debate or during the 18-month implementation process, but she considered it "a negligible risk" of prosecutions happening.

By Wednesday, 175 doctors have been trained or are completing training to take part in the scheme.

00:00 / ???