How family trip turned into a devastating murder case

WARNING: Distressing content

It began as a shared holiday between female cousins from a well-known and comfortably off family enjoying the school holidays together after the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The holidays began last Friday, 3 July with the ten-year-old cousin preparing to travel 350km northeast from her home in central western NSW.

She was headed for a property near Gunnedah, which has a population of around 13,000, set in cotton, cattle and crop producing country on NSW's fertile, but drought affected, Liverpool Plains.

The young girl's aunt had lived on the property, northeast of Gunnedah, for more than a decade along with the girl's female cousin, now age 14.

At around 6.30am, the 10-year-old's aunt left the homestead on the property to do farm work.

Her niece and her 14-year-old daughter both appeared to be sleeping when she left the house.

At 7am, the woman returned to the house and entered the girls' bedroom where she discovered her niece suffering serious injuries.

The woman's teenage daughter was missing.

SES officers and police conduct a line search in a field near the Gunnedah farmhouse where the 10-year-old from Orange, NSW died. Picture: Nathan Edwards

SES officers and police conduct a line search in a field near the Gunnedah farmhouse where the 10-year-old from Orange, NSW died. Picture: Nathan EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia

Forensic officers continued to searched the area on Thursday. Picture: Nathan Edwards

Forensic officers continued to searched the area on Thursday. Picture: Nathan EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia

Police and SES conduct a line search near the Gunnedah farmhouse where a 14-year-old girl is alleged to have murdered her cousin, 10. Picture: Nathan Edwards

Police and SES conduct a line search near the Gunnedah farmhouse where a 14-year-old girl is alleged to have murdered her cousin, 10. Picture: Nathan EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia

The woman immediately dialled triple-0 and emergency services arrived at the property.

Paramedics tried to revive the girl but she was already deceased.

Police from Oxley Police District established a crime scene and officers began searching for the woman's missing daughter.

Just after 8.30pm, the police located the teenager on a neighbouring property in a dazed state and arrested her.

They took her into custody and drove her into Gunnedah Police Station.

During the day, the 14-year-old was questioned at the station while police conduct a search of the property which sits on a few hundred hectares of land.

At around 10pm Wednesday night, detectives charged the teenager with her cousin's murder and remanded her in custody until Thursday to appear at Tamworth Children's Court.

Police allege in court documents the girl murdered her cousin between 7am and 7:20am.

Overnight, the ten-year-old's parents were travelling to Gunnedah.

On Thursday police returned to the property to do a line search for the alleged murder weapon and any other items.

The 14-year-old appeared in Tamworth Children's Court where she did not apply for bail, which was formally refused.

Police at the crime scene near Gunnedah on Wednesday after the young girl was found dead by her aunt. Picture: 7NEWS

Police at the crime scene near Gunnedah on Wednesday after the young girl was found dead by her aunt. Picture: 7NEWSSource:Channel 7

Police and SES conduct a line search near the Gunnedah farmhouse where a 14-year-old girl allegedly murdered her 10-year-old cousin. Picture: Nathan Edwards

Police and SES conduct a line search near the Gunnedah farmhouse where a 14-year-old girl allegedly murdered her 10-year-old cousin. Picture: Nathan EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia

She was remanded in custody and will be housed in a juvenile justice institution until her next appearance in September.

Local John Snape told Ten News the girl was a "nice kid" and described her family as "nice people".

An autopsy on the ten-year-old girl will be carried out this week.

With locals still trying to get their "heads around" the tragedy, Gunnedah's mayor Jamie Chaffey said his "devastated" community could struggle to come to terms with the death.

"It's hard to talk about the details as it's a police case, but because we are a small community and people know each other it will certainly touch a lot of people," he said.

"I can't imagine the pain the families are going through at this time and our thoughts and prayers go out to them," he said.

He said he had spoken with his fellow councillors and church representatives "who will be encouraging prayer time on Sunday … to pray for the families in this absolutely horrible situation".



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