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Sisters found dead in Canterbury apartment in southwest Sydney fled Saudi Arabia as teenagers

Two sisters found dead in an apartment in Sydney’s south-west under ‘suspicious’ circumstances fled Saudi Arabia as teenagers to seek safety in Australia. 

The women, aged 23 and 24, were discovered in separate beds of their first-floor Canterbury unit on June 7 by officers conducting a welfare check after the pair failed to pay rent for four weeks and mail began to pile up outside their door. 

Police said the sisters’ bodies had been there for ‘some time’ and had ‘no obvious signs of injury’. 

While there were no signs of forced entry, detectives are still treating their deaths as suspicious, with the Homicide Squad investigating the case. 

Daily Mail Australia understands the siblings fled Saudi Arabia without their family in 2017 when they were 18 and 19, and NSW Police are now struggling to locate their relatives.

The bodies of two women, believed to be sisters in their early 20s, were found in a Canterbury apartment block (pictured) last week after they failed to pay rent for several weeks and mail piled up

The women had for five years been engaged with a refugee service which helps foreign nationals escaping persecution and seeking asylum.

On Friday, police were still awaiting some autopsy results and are yet to locate and contact the women’s family in the Middle East to formally identify the bodies. 

The sisters were not in regular contact with their relatives back home, sources told Daily Mail Australia.

Daily Mail Australia can also reveal the older sister had taken out an AVO against a 28-year-old man in January 2019. 

The AVO was later withdrawn and dismissed. 

In another court matter, the owner of their Canterbury unit filed a civil case against the 23-year-old on May 13 this year. 

Landlords can issue tenants with legal warning notices via the civil court for overdue rent before taking further action to have them removed from the property. 

That action was taken four weeks after sheriff’s officers  went to the apartment to serve the women with an eviction notice – alongside police – and the grisly discovery was made. 

It is unclear what attempts were made by real estate company, Property Investors Alliance (PIA), which was managing the lease, to contact the sister during the weeks before the sisters were found. 

PIA refused numerous requests for comment by Daily Mail Australia.

Daily Mail Australia understands the women fled the Middle East in 2017 to seek shelter in Australia. They were regulars at a petrol station (pictured) near their Canterbury unit

Daily Mail Australia understands the women fled the Middle East in 2017 to seek shelter in Australia. They were regulars at a petrol station (pictured) near their Canterbury unit 

Daily Mail Australia understands the two girls fled Saudi Arabia in 2017. Police are pictured at the apartment block on June 8

Daily Mail Australia understands the two girls fled Saudi Arabia in 2017. Police are pictured at the apartment block on June 8

Forensics last week scoured the unit (pictured) in the wake of the grisly discovery

Forensics last week scoured the unit (pictured) in the wake of the grisly discovery 

Despite their traumatic past, locals say the women were cheerful towards neighbours.  

Staff at a nearby service station said the women started visiting in 2020, just before the Covid pandemic, and were regulars until two months ago when they stopped passing by. 

They described the pair – one brunette and the other dyed blonde – as ‘quiet’ but ‘very friendly’, and said they would only respond to questions. 

One female attendant said the sisters would visit the store to pick up drinks during the day, but only appeared to fill up their black BMW coupe with petrol at night. 

‘One girl would come in to buy iced coffee and sometimes V [energy drink]. ‘ Sometimes two or three times a day,’ one female attendant said.

‘I never served her sister but I would see them walking up the street together. When I found out what happened to them, I was very shocked and confused.

A black BMW coupe covered in dust was removed from the garage of the apartment block the day after the bodies were found

A black BMW coupe covered in dust was removed from the garage of the apartment block the day after the bodies were found 

‘She was so friendly. Every time she came in and I talked to her she would smile. She never looked sad.’

The Department of Home Affairs would not confirm if the women were seeking asylum in Australia. 

‘The department does not comment on individual cases,’ a spokesman said. 

Daily Mail Australia has also contacted the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia for comment.

In 2019, a Four Corners report found around 80 Saudi Arabian women had tried to seek asylum in Australia in recent years. 

The investigation found the many of them were fleeing Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship laws, which allow their husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles and sons to control their lives.

The sisters’ reasons for leaving their homeland remains unclear and Daily Mail Australia does not suggest it was due to guardianship laws.  

The latest revelations come after Daily Mail Australia revealed there were two prior welfare checks, one done by police, on the women in the months leading up to their discovery.

Investigators spent days the apartment building with forensic teams poring over the scene to try and figure out how the sisters died

Investigators spent days the apartment building with forensic teams poring over the scene to try and figure out how the sisters died

In one of the checks the women, the pair were described as ‘timid’ and refused to let anyone enter the apartment.

But after protests from a concerned party, the sisters eventually allowed the check to occur, but spent it huddled together in the far corner of the unit. 

One sat down while the other cowered behind her as they answered simple questions about their wellbeing. 

‘They were standoffish and didn’t really want to talk,’ a source said. 

‘Something felt off, but they said they were ok. What more could anyone do?’ 

A source told Daily Mail Australia the first check was conducted by police in March, with officers leaving after the women insisted they were ok. 

In a separate incident months earlier, the sisters’ black car – which was towed away from their apartment last week – was keyed. 

The gruesome find of their decaying bodies rocked the local community, with residents describing the building as typically quiet.

NSW Police Detective Inspector Claudia Allcroft said the deaths of the sisters appeared to be suspicious

NSW Police Detective Inspector Claudia Allcroft said the deaths of the sisters appeared to be suspicious

‘It is really shocking and scary,’ one neighbour said. 

‘Now I have to think about whether or not I am going to stay here or move. I don’t know what happened. No one has told us anything.’

Anyone who may have information that could assist detectives is urged to contact Burwood Police Station or Crime Stoppers. 

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