A mother accused of murdering her two disabled children had counselled one of them to commit armed robbery, police say.
In a press conference held on Wednesday, Detective Inspector Mark Thompson alleged Maree Mavis Crabtree, 51, had encouraged her son Jonathan to hold up a chemist in Southport, Queensland.
In 2015, he had stormed into the store wearing a balaclava and wielding a knife, The Australian reported.
He told staff to give him ‘all your Tramadol’ – a prescription painkiller the 26-year-old had been addicted to since he was involved in a car accident in 2009.
Gold Coast woman Maree Mavis Crabtree, 51, was arrested on Wednesday morning over the deaths of her disabled children
Crabtree was allegedly responsible for killing her son, Jonathan (pictured) whose body was found at an Upper Coomera home in July last year
Police have alleged before his death, she counselled him to hold up a chemist with a knife for prescription painkillers
Crabtree went by a variety of names, police allege, including her maiden name, Graham.
Police arrested the mother-of-three in Wednesday morning, and charged her with murder, torture and fraud.
The murder charges relate to the deaths of her son Jonathan Crabtree, 26, and daughter Erin Crabtree, 18. The pair were originally believed to have committed suicide.
Jonathan’s body was found at an Upper Coomera home in July last year, while Erin died at a Maudsland home in September 2012, where the accused was living at the time.
Police will allege Crabtree gave her daughter a lethal dose of drugs before taking the rest of the family on a holiday, and that a suicide note believed to have been penned by her son was actually written by her.
Police will reportedly allege Crabtree slowly poisoned them over an ‘extended period’
Handwriting experts have been called in to verify the handwriting on the note is not Jonathan’s.
Police will allege Crabtree slowly poisoned her children over an ‘extended period’, Nine News reported.
Crabtree had allegedly been administering medication over a period of time, contributing to her children’s medical conditions, from which she benefited financially.
Detectives allege Crabtree fraudulently received over $550,000 from an insurance payment, before allegedly attempting to receive another $125,000 death benefit and $238,000 permanent disability claim.
‘These acts haven’t been compassionate acts or [the work of] a stressed mother at her end,’ Detective Inspector Thompson said.
‘These are premeditated acts of murder.’
When her son was found dead years later, a suicide note was discovered – but police will allege it was prepared by the mother
Crabtree is further accused of seriously assaulting her 25-year-old daughter on a number of occasions over several years.
Detective Inspector Thompson said officers would allege the 51-year-old caused her child ‘significant harm over a significant period of time’.
‘We will be alleging it stemmed back into her childhood,’ he said.
A Facebook page was started by Tara for small animal rescues in her local area, and suggests she ran the service with her mother.
‘I love animals and if you have any pets you cannot look after [that] need a home for what ever reason, we are happy [to] take them,’ she wrote.
‘My mum Maree and myself treat your beloved pets as part of our own family, they will live the rest of their lives with us.’
On her personal Facebook page, she wrote: ‘I miss my life, my friends and my chihuahua Tinkerbell , my German Shepherd and Casey my cat’.
Her 18-year-old daughter and 26-year-old son were found dead around five years apart
The investigation was described as ‘complex’, and Det Insp Thompson told reporters it had ‘taken its toll’ on officers.
‘It’s extremely traumatic as investigators to see what has happened to these children over an extended period of time,’ he said.
During a brief appearance in Brisbane Magistrate’s court on Wednesday, Crabtree did not apply for bail. She will not return to court until February 12.
She will face Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday afternoon on two counts of murder, one count each of torture and grievous bodily harm.
She will also face two counts each of fraud and attempted fraud and one count of robbery whilst armed.
Detective Inspector Mark Thompson said the investigation had been complex as some of the alleged incidents occurred across Australia.
‘That is why we are appealing for anyone who may have any information that could assist with the investigation,’ Det Insp Thompson said.
‘Any piece of information, no matter how small, can have a significant impact on our investigation.’
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