20 Dec 2014

Cairns stabbing memorial grows

8:01 pm on 20 December 2014

Cairns residents continue to leave dozens of flowers and gifts at a makeshift shrine outside a home where eight children were found dead.

Cairns memorial

A woman cries after laying flowers on ]at the scene where eight children were killed. Photo: AFP

The children's bodies were found following what was believed to be a multiple stabbing on Friday morning in the far north Queensland town.

Mersane Warria, the 37-year-old mother of seven of the children found at the Murray Street home, has been arrested for murder.

Four girls aged 14, 12, 11 and two, and four boys aged nine, eight, six and five were found in Murray Street, Manoora, where the 37-year-old woman was also located with chest and neck wounds.

The 14-year-old girl was the woman's niece.

Officers recovered several knives from the scene that were being forensically examined.

Outside the house this morning there was a growing tribute to the children, who were aged from 18 months to 14 years, which showed the immense grief felt by Cairns locals, the ABC reported.

There were some emotional and heart-wrenching scenes of people leaving baby teddies and small teddy bears wearing Santa hats.

People who did not know the family have laid flowers, left notes and Christmas presents wrapped up for the children, with one lady putting down an advent calendar and some mince pies.


The police operation in Cairns. Photo: AFP

"Rest in peace. We are so sorry your lives have been taken so young. It's an absolute loss of innocence," one note said.

Sisters Jade and Crystal went to school with one of the victims and would have sleepovers at the Murray Street home.

They described their friend as sweet and very close with her family.

"Me and my friend were going to the shops and we decided to come have a look where all the police were and the tapes were being put up," one of the girls said.

"Then my mum rang me and said one of my friends had passed away and I just cried, stayed here for a while - it's very shocking."

Local woman Lency Piva said the tragedy had taught her a lesson about looking after neighbours.

"When there's a noise you don't even look across - we should do something about it," she said.

"A very big lesson to look out for each other as neighbours."

'Hold those we love a bit closer'

Acting Queensland Premier Tim Nicholls expressed his "heartfelt sorrow" at the tragedy.

"As a father myself with three children under 15, I can only imagine the grief this family is feeling as they come to grips with the events over the last few days," he said.

"I'm sure I speak on behalf of all Queenslanders and indeed all Australians when we say we are with you, we are here to support you and we feel with you the grief this community feels."

Cairns memorial

A mourner lays flowers at the scene where the children found dead. Photo: AFP

He said the Government would be talking with the community and its leaders.

"I've spoken to some elders today about what the appropriate cultural response is," he said.

"I'm sure people throughout Queensland join with me in expressing both our sorrow, our regret and our heartfelt... sorrow about how terrible these events are at a time when we are thinking of our families.

"I think it makes us all want to hold those we love a bit closer to us."

Labor Senator Jan McLucas also urged people to seek counselling if they needed help.

"Put your arms around each other - we will get through this - it will be hard, but we are strong."

Community needs to come together

Queensland MP and Manoora resident Gavin King also said it was important for the community to come together and support each other.

"It's just really starting to hit home for me personally and certainly we're not ashamed to say we had our two kids in bed with us last night," he said.

He said over 100 people gathered for a candlelight vigil last night in Cairns.

Cairns stabbing

Police officers work at the scene of the stabbings. Photo: AFP