George Morris.
George Morris.

Whiporie bodies named

By Toby Walker

The names of two men found burnt beyond recognition in a car near Whiporie in March have been released by the Coroner.

Earlier this week it was revealed brothers George Michael Morris, 50, of Nimbin and Peter Bernard Morris, 49, of Taree, had died in a gasoline-fuelled car fire in the Banyabba State Forest.

Forensic investigations of the crime scene led police to rule out any suspicion of foul play, leading the Coroner to conclude the brothers died in what appeared to have been a suicide pact.

The Coroner said there was no evidence to suggest another vehicle had been in the vicinity of the Ford Laser before it went up in flames.

He said police were continuing to investigate any possible links the brothers may have had to criminal activities.

What prompted the brothers to take their own lives remains a mystery but items found in and around the car added to the bizarre nature of the grisly episode. The Coroner said the vehicle, owned by George, was doused with fuel taken from a petrol container which was later found outside the car.

The hatch of the vehicle was left open but the windows wound up as the intense fire all but destroyed the car which was clearly visible to traffic travelling several hundred metres away on Summerland Way.

A laptop computer was found sitting open between the two men but was damaged beyond repair, preventing the recovery of any data from its hard drive.

Two wrist watches were also recovered from the car.

Whiporie residents believe the car may have sat in the deserted section of cleared pine forest for up to five days before a curious passing motorist made the horrific discovery and notified police on March 1.

News of George Morris' death has surprised the Nimbin community who knew him as the kindly man behind Pete's Passion Ice Creams.

No one in Nimbin noticed him missing until their ice cream supplies started to run low.

Former owner of Nimbin Organics, Gerhard Weihermann, said retailers knew something was up when the ice cream ran out and George hadn't been seen.

"He was more than just a supplier, he was local," he said.

"I thought maybe he was so stressed he went on holiday.

"He wanted to sell his business.

"His partner died last year of cancer, so it was more of a burden on him, doing all the ice cream.

"It was quite big with stalls at all the markets and he'd been doing it for almost 20 years."

Close friend Dianne Foster who left Nimbin three years ago, travelled back to the town from the Mid North Coast to try to find out more about her friend's death.

She said George was a very private man with only a few close friends who had been devastated after his life partner, Peter Turner, died.

"I think he fell apart," she said.

"He looked upon Peter as his mentor."

She said the pair had originally owned a passionfruit plantation in Murwillumbah and started making ice cream to use up their excess fruit. She said George was gentle and quiet, had an extensive cacti collection and 'just adored' his cat.

"He was very good at calligraphy," she said.

"I have some just beautiful cards that he did for me."

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