Gold Coast mother Maree Mavis Crabtree is alleged to have murdered her two children to make an insurance claim. Ms Crabtree is facing 11 charges including murder, torture, attempted murder, fraud, attempted fraud, and robbery in company and another eight counts of obtaining financial benefit by deception. Tuesday was the first day of the committal mention before the Brisbane Magistrates Court.
Police alleged that Ms Crabtree murdered her children, Erin, 18, and Johnathan, 26, on separate dates in 2012 and 2017, and that he allegedly tried to kill Johnathon 6 months prior to his ultimate death. Both children died from fatal overdoses of oxycodone in the family home on the Gold Coast. Both deaths were initially thought to be suicides. Concerns were raised during the autopsies and Ms Crabtree was arrested in January 2018.
It is alleged that she heavily medicated her children to benefit from disability payouts. The excessive amounts of prescription pain medication for a prolonged period are alleged to have caused them serious health and developmental delays. Both the disability pensions and the insurance for her children’s deaths, allowed her to claim almost $1 million in insurance payouts.
The torture and attempted murder charges relate to another woman known to her and occurred over a seven-year period. Doctors raised concerns years prior that she may be victim of Ms Crabtree, making false claims about her health issues and was subjected to unnecessary medical testing and treatment.
Johnathan’s ex-girlfriend, Katelyn Lofts, told the court that Johnathan was “actually petrified of (his mother) … He just wanted to leave but she would not let him as his name was on the house. Every time he mentioned [Erin], Maree would get angry.”
Ms Lofts also told the Court how she believes that Ms Crabtree poisoned her on at least three occasions when she visited the house.
A friend of Johnathan’s, Cassandra Hopper, said that Johnathon struggled to cope with the death of his sister and that Ms Crabtree had been “very controlling” of him.
“He wasn’t allowed to live his own life, he had to live by her rules,” she said.
Ms Crabtree’s ex-partner Peter McMahon said that when he lived with the family from 2003 until 2008, the children had “no health issues” until one day Erin just “started not to eat, she wouldn’t interact’, in 2006.
During the first day of the committal hearing Ms Crabtree repeatedly rolled her eyes, shook her head and smirked when listening to the witnesses give allegations against her. She has no attended previous mentions before Brisbane Magistrates Court, choosing to remain in custody.
The committal hearing is expected to continue for three weeks, with evidence to be presented by more than 100 witnesses.
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