Inside the Gunnedah tragedy: Teen killers violent manifesto revealed

Warning: Distressing content

A teenage girl sits on a chair in front of a property in sleepy northeastern NSW, her youthful features and calm demeanour belie the fact she has just committed an unspeakable act which in the coming hours will shock the state.

Police body-worn camera footage captures the 14-year-old sitting stoically, wearing black pants and a grey tank top, the sun at her back with her feet folded up under her.

Officers have raced to the scene after being called there by the property’s occupants, who had not met the girl until she arrived on their doorstep moments earlier wearing a backpack with a baseball bat hanging out the back.

The girl walked to the property unannounced having just killed a 10-year-old girl at a nearby house at Gunnedah.

“Do you understand what you have done?” an officer asks the girl after she made startling admissions about her horrific acts.

“Yep,” the girl says calmly.

“How do you feel about that?” the officer asks.

“I don’t feel anything,” the girl responds.

Her identity, and that of her victim, is protected by the courts and she cannot be named.

As well, the NSW Supreme Court has placed prohibitions on the media publishing any details of the injuries suffered by her young victim.

In the days and months leading up to the nightmare killing, there were numerous warning signs after she exhibited bizarre behaviours.

Her murderous thoughts are captured in diary entries, snippets of which were this week released after a judge found she carried out the killing but wasn’t criminally responsible because of mental illness.

Tommy, Roo and Ray

The girl lived on a property outside of Gunnedah, an agricultural hub that describes itself as the “Koala capital” of Australia, situated about an hour’s drive west of Tamworth.

A statement of agreed facts tendered to the court says that prior to the horrific incident, she had not seen a psychiatrist or psychologist, though was awaiting an appointment to see a psychiatrist in Sydney.

The young girl was subsequently diagnosed with schizophrenia and she was this week dealt with under the Mental Health Act because she was suffering a mental illness at the time of the offence.

Family members recall a happy and bright child, however about four years before the killing she began exhibiting worrying and violent behaviour, court documents say.

She began biting herself, piercing staples into her hand and taking part in other acts of self-harm.

Then in mid-2019, a year before the killing, she admitted to her mother that she had slaughtered six chickens that had gone missing from their property.

She confessed that she had slaughtered the animals before throwing their carcasses into a fire.

When she was confronted about the incident, she told another family member: “I wanted to see what would happen.”

As well, she took body parts of the chickens into school and showed off videos of her stabbing the animals through the neck.

Court documents describe a long list of worrying behaviour including talking about suicide, speaking of killing family members, and other behavioural and mood problems.

She told others of “a voice in her mind” that “told her to do things”, as well as a face that she would see in the dark with a “big smile or sinister grin.”

Following her arrest, she told officers that she would see the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland when she closed her eyes.

“I’ve always been able to see him,” she told police during an interview at Gunnedah Police Station.

Her parents noticed burn marks and cuts on her arm.

She also displayed a fascination with weapons with court documents revealing she owned several which she had given names such as “Tommy”, “Roo” and “Ray”.

'I'm going to do something stupid and write down my plan'

In June 2020, she told her mother: “I want to tell you something but I’m not sure how you will react … I think about killing people all the time.”

During the conversation, she confessed she had thought about killing her mother and father in their sleep.

Her diary entries in the days leading up to the killing – contained in court documents – reveal dark and disordered thoughts.

“I’m getting sick and tired of being told I’m a liar when I say I see cat eyes in a dark room and feel like I’m going to kill someone,” she said in an entry on July 6.

“Well I’ve been planning it for a long time and all so I’m going to do something stupid and write down my plan on what I’ll do for my serial murders.”

In fine detail, she documented her preparations for a killing spree including the weapons she planned to use.

She described the “sheer fun” of killing and mutilating victims, as well as predicting what life would be like when she’s forced to go on the run.

“I’ve only mutilated animals so far, but just imagine how nice it’s gonna feel when I do it to a human,” she wrote.

The following day, she packed a bag full of her belongings as well as weapons.

In a diary entry the night before the killing she further detailed plans for her murderous rampage.

“So if I’m correct my kill count will be 11 people,” she wrote.

Late at night, she texted with another person talking about “the voice” in her head and how she planned to kill.

The other person called her and showed great concern before the young girl said “Sorry I have to go.”

The killing

It’s not known exactly what occurred in the house during which her 10-year-old victim was brutally slaughtered, but the bloody incident has been pieced together by police, forensic evidence and her own admissions.

What is known is that at some point between 6.30am and 7am on July 8 last year, she killed the 10-year-old girl.

It’s known her victim ran away but was set upon several times.

The young girl dragged her victim’s bloody corpse into a bedroom, leaving it to be discovered, before picking up her bag and leaving via the front door and walking up the road.

On a notepad in her room, the girl had scrawled a note.

“Tell them I’m sorry,” she wrote.

About 8am she arrived at a nearby property where she came across a woman who she had never met.

“Can you take me to the police station,” she asked.

A short while later police arrived at the property to see her calmly sitting on a chair in front of the pergola — a moment captured on body-worn camera footage.

She made admissions about her bloody and violent acts before being put in the back of a paddywagon and taken to Gunnedah Police Station.

The police interview, which was released by the court, shows her making further admissions as well as declining to answer other questions.

Asked if she knew it was wrong, she simply nodded her head.

Not criminally responsible

On Tuesday, she was sentenced under section 31 of the Mental Health Act.

A judge ruled that while she committed the actions which led to the girl’s horrific death, she was not criminally responsible because she was mentally ill at the time.

Reports tendered to the court by several psychiatrists concluded she was suffering undiagnosed schizophrenia.

She was remanded in custody indefinitely and will be housed at a youth justice centre in southwestern Sydney.

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