Australia

Australia Cairns murders: Mental-health plea rejected

Mourners in Cairns Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mourners have been paying tribute at a memorial for the children

A woman charged with the murders of eight children in the Australian city of Cairns has failed to have her case transferred to a mental health court.

Mersane Warria, 37, is accused of murdering seven of her children and her niece at her home last week.

A Cairns judge rejected her lawyer's plea to move the case. Mental health courts usually try defendants who have a disease or disability of the mind.

Ms Warria's house is now likely to be demolished, a Cairns MP said.

In remarks quoted by Australian broadcaster ABC, Gavin King said he believed the property would be replaced by a public memorial.

He said the authorities would consult with family, traditional owners and the local community to decide what form the memorial should take.

"It certainly won't be the state government coming in over the top and deciding what that will look like, or indeed the timing," ABC quotes him as saying.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The killing of the eight children has shocked the community in Manoora, a suburb of Cairns

Ms Warria did not attend the brief hearing on Monday, as she is currently in hospital, receiving treatment under guard for self-inflicted knife wounds.

Post-mortem examinations are being carried out to determine the exact cause of the eight victims' deaths.

The four boys and four girls were aged between 18 months and 14 years.

Police found a number of weapons at the scene, including knives, which are being examined.

Officers said they were looking at various possibilities for the deaths, including suffocation.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The police say they are still investigating how the murders took place

The bodies were reportedly discovered by the mother's 20-year-old son arriving at the home on Friday morning.

Police have dismissed reports the family had been investigated by social services, saying it was "not a problem house".

Memorials have sprung up outside the home in the Manoora district of Cairns. A church service was held on Sunday morning to remember the children.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement it was an "unspeakable crime". These were "trying days for our country", he added.

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