Mason Jet Lee.
Mason Jet Lee. Contributed

2016: A year of shocking crimes across Queensland

SEVERAL gruesome murder cases and unsolved decades-long mysteries made headlines across Queensland this year.

Two of the state's most gripping murder cases came to an end with decisions from the nation's highest court, two backpackers died in a frenzied stabbing attack at a hostel in the state's north, and a tip-off sparked a police search to possibly uncover the remains of a woman who had been missing since the 1980s.

Among the worst cases this year involved the horrifying death of a toddler from alleged neglect and disturbing revelations about what really happened to schoolgirl Tialeigh Palmer.

Child protection in the spotlight

This year Queensland was confronted with horrifying details about how 21-month-old toddler Mason Jet Lee and 12-year-old Tiahleigh died, sparking questions about the state's child protection system.

Mason was found dead in a Caboolture home in June and the following month three people, including his mother and her partner, were charged with his manslaughter amid allegations they did not help Mason as he slowly died from internal injuries.

Multiple investigations were launched into Mason's death after it was revealed the toddler was allowed to return home after he allegedly presented with questionable injuries during a previous hospital visit.

Mason's mother Anne Maree Lee, 27, her partner William Andrew O'Sullivan, 35, and Ryan Robert Barry Hodson, 17, - who was granted bail - were charged with manslaughter.

The disappearance of Tiahleigh remained a mystery for almost a year, after her body was found on the banks of Pimpama River last year, but police finally made a breakthrough and charged her foster father with murder in September.


Tiahleigh Palmer, 12, whose body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River on the northern Gold Coast.
Tiahleigh Palmer, 12, whose body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River on the northern Gold Coast. AAP

This sparked a review into the foster system and the issuing of blue cards.

Rick Thorburn has been accused of killing Tiahleigh after discovering she was allegedly sexually involved with his 19-year-old son. Three other people, including the son, have been charged with attempting to pervert justice and perjury.

Life sentence for Sophie's killer

Benjamin James Milward was sentenced to life in jail for the rape and murder of French student Sophie Collombet.

Ms Collombet was on her way home after a night class at Griffith University when she was raped and murdered in South Brisbane in March 2014. Her body was found in a rotunda.


Coffs Harbour 08-04-2014

QLD Police have extradited 25 year old Benjamin James Milward from Coffs Harbour NSW who is wanted in connection to the violent murder of French student Sophie Collombet.

As he left Coffs Harbour Police Station, flanked by detectives in a Toyota Camry he covered his face with a jacket.

Photo Frank Redward
Benjamin James Milward after his arrest in Coffs Harbour NSW for the murder of French student Sophie Collombet. Frank Redward

Baden-Clay's murder conviction reinstated

THE Gerard Baden-Clay case continued to cause controversy across the state this year, but it finally drew to a close in August when the High Court reinstated his original murder conviction.

Last year the Queensland Court of Appeal downgraded his conviction to manslaughter and found there was a reasonable hypothesis for the death of his wife Allison to be accidental.

This sparked an appeal from the Director of Public Prosecutions. A decision from the High Court detailed how Baden-Clay gave evidence at his own trial that did not support the hypothesis that he could have unintentionally caused her death.


***FILE*** A supplied undated image of Gerard Baden-Clay. The image was presented as evidence on Tuesday, June 17, 2014, in the trial of Gerard Baden-Clay. Gerard Baden-Clay's murder conviction for the death of his wife Allison has been set aside on appeal and a conviction of manslaughter substituted. (AAP Image/Queensland Courts) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Cowan loses last appeal

DANIEL Morcombe's convicted killer Brett Peter Cowan lost his High Court appeal in March.

His lawyers argued hidden camera evidence of a confession should not have been allowed and said Cowan had been threatened during an earlier inquest that he faced possible charges if he did not find an alibi.

But the High Court found Cowan had not been threatened, just "robustly questioned" at the inquest.

The inquest into Daniel's death reopened this month and the coroner examined the police investigation into his disappearance. The findings will be handed down next year.

One punch attack

A QUEENSLAND family were left devastated when Cole Miller, 18, was fatally punched while out in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley in early January.

He and a friend were walking down a street when Mr Miller was struck in the one-punch attack. He later died in hospital. More than 1000 people attended his funeral.

Two men, Daniel Jermaine Lee Maxwell, who was out celebrating his 21st birthday that night, and Armstrong Renata, were charged with unlawful striking causing death, which carries a maximum sentence of life in jail.

Mr Maxwell was later committed to stand trial in the supreme court and Mr Renata was committed to be sentenced.


Cole Miller.
Cole Miller. FACEBOOK

Home Hill stabbing

TWO people died in a stabbing attack at a backpackers hostel that sent shock waves through the north Queensland town of Home Hill.

French national Smail Ayad has been accused of murder after allegedly stabbing British backpackers Mia Ayliffe-Chung and Tom Jackson, who had rushed to the woman's aid and later died in hospital.

Bodies in a box

SEVEN people were charged after police made a grisly discovery in February when they found two bodies inside a metal toolbox submerged in a dam south of Brisbane.

A total of seven people have been charged over the murder of Cory Breton and mother-of-three Iuliana Triscaru.

They were reported missing in January and police allege they were beaten and tied by the ankles and wrists before being forced into a two-metre-long metal toolbox still alive.

They were then allegedly driven to a nearby dam in Logan where they were shot in the head and dumped in the water. Holes were drilled in the sides to make the toolbox sink to the bottom.

Accused balcony killer

ACCUSED balcony killer Gable Tostee was acquitted in October of murdering a woman who fell to her death from his balcony in Surfers Paradise.

He was accused of murdering the New Zealand woman while they were on a date after meeting on dating application Tinder. A jury found him not guilty.


Gable Tostee during an interview with 60 minutes. Mr Tostee was acquitted of charges of murder and manslaughter of New Zealander tourist Warriena Wright, who fell to her death from a 14th floor apartment in the early hours of August 8, 2014.
Gable Tostee during an interview with 60 minutes. Mr Tostee was acquitted of charges of murder and manslaughter of New Zealander tourist Warriena Wright, who fell to her death from a 14th floor apartment in the early hours of August 8, 2014. CHANNEL 9/AAP

Computer whiz made $32k

FROM the comfort of his bedroom, computer whiz Shane Stephen Duffy made more than $32,000 from computer gamers who paid him to access other gaming accounts. He also attacked the computers of his online opponents, slowing their internet connections, to advance in the online game League of Legends.

The Fraser Coast man, who also lived at Kingaroy, escaped going to jail when he was sentenced for fraud, computer hacking and unauthorised impairment of electronic communication at Brisbane District Court. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail with immediate parole.


Shane Stephen Duffy escaped going to jail for hacking and fraud offences when he was sentenced at Brisbane District Court.Photo Pamela Frost
Shane Stephen Duffy escaped going to jail for hacking and fraud offences when he was sentenced at Brisbane District Court. Pamela Frost

"Blind Freddy" would have noticed

THE former director of Sunshine Coast-based whitegoods company Kleenmaid was sentenced to nine years in jail after a jury found him guilty of insolvent trading and defrauding Westpac bank of $13 million after restructuring the company to create a "false picture" of its financial state.

When sentencing Bradley Wendell Young, Brisbane District Court Judge Brad Farr said "Blind Freddy" could see the company was insolvent and continued trading could have significant flow-on effects.


Kleenmaid, 1st court appearence, Bradley Young of Kleenmaid with their Lawyer. Photo: Kari Bourne / Sunshine Coast Daily
Kleenmaid's Bradley Young. Kari Bourne

Sharron Phillips cold cases reignites

THE mystery surrounding the 1986 disappearance of Ipswich woman Sharron Phillips made more headlines this year when a possible fresh lead sparked a police search near stormwater drains.

Police sifted through about 100 cubic metres of soil from two drains in Carole Park, south west of Brisbane, but did not find any fresh evidence.

In July, the son of a taxi driver claimed his dead father was responsible for Ms Phillips's death.

Ms Phillips disappeared on May 8, 1986 after her car ran out of petrol at about 11pm near Wacol.


Police and SES crews continue their search for Sharron Phillips at Carole Park on Monday.
Police and SES crews searching for Sharron Phillips at Carole Park. Rob Williams

Finding made in Rachel Antonio mystery

FOLLOWING an inquest into the disappearance of North Queensland girl Rachel Antonio, who has not been since Anzac Day 1998, a coroner found in July she was most likely fatally injured in an altercation with her secret relationship.

The coroner found Robert Hytch, who was 25 at the time, caused a fatal injury to Rachel, 15, and then hid her body.

Mr Hytch was initially charged with her murder, was convicted of manslaughter and then later acquitted.

The matter has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate possible perjury.


Bowen teenager Rachel Antonio went missing in 1998.Photo Contributed
Bowen teenager Rachel Antonio went missing in 1998. Contributed

He gave his child marijuana oil

A MAN who gave his daughter marijuana oil to help her cancer was sentenced to a two-year good behaviour bond.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of supplying dangerous drugs to a minor and other drug related charges.

The court was told the father had researched the benefits of the oil and ordered shipments of the product.

Life sentence for murder

KINGAROY man Andrew Burke was sentenced to life in jail in August for the rape and murder of a pregnant Logan woman Joan Ryther and killing her unborn child.

He was 17 years old at the time.

Mr Ryther, 27, was eight weeks pregnant when she was murdered on her way to work south of Brisbane in May 2013. Her body was found the following day in the front yard close to her work.

Dubois convicted of McCulkin family killings

IN ONE of the most high-profile cold cases in Queensland, Garry Dubois was found guilty of the 1974 murders of sisters Vicki and Leanne McCulkin and the manslaughter of their mother Barbara.

Dubois was also convicted of raping the two girls after a jury heard evidence in a three-week trial in November in Brisbane Supreme Court.

The McCulkins disappeared 42 years ago from their Highgate Hill home and their bodies had never been found.

Dubois will be sentenced next year following the trial of co-accused Vincent O'Dempsey.