Kiwi woman killed alongside two children in ‘horrific’ Perth homicide ‘provided strength, hope and inspiration’ - former boss remembers

Fundraising efforts to pay for the funerals of three former New Zealanders killed in Perth have now met and exceeded their target, as the 19-year-old accused of committing the crime remains locked up in a mental health unit.

Michelle Peterson, 48, her son Rua, 8, and daughter Bella, 15, were all killed on Sunday, with Australian police describing the scene as "horrific".

Michelle's son Teancum, 19, stands accused murdering his mother and two siblings and remains in a secure mental health unit at Graylands Hospital awaiting a court date next week.

A fundraising page set up to pay for the funeral of the family has reached and exceeded its target of $20,000, with tributes and well wishes flowing in from the numerous donors in both English and Te Reo Māori.

WA Today reports the family had only moved to the home, in the suburb of Ellenbrook, about six months ago, and that they were all well-liked.

Michelle Peterson, 48.
Michelle Peterson, 48. Source: Michelle Peterson/Facebook

Michelle volunteered at a non-profit centre helping people overcome substance abuse problems, and former boss Carol Daws said Michelle "provided strength, hope and inspiration" to those who she worked with.

"Her work positively impacted on many lives, and her loss is being very keenly felt across our organisation and will continue to be into the future," Daws told WA Today.

"Her death, and those of her children is an immense tragedy for her family."

Bella Peterson, 15.
Bella Peterson, 15. Source: Supplied

Bella was a student at Ellenbrook Secondary college and loved playing rugby - a friend said she was "a very good sister, and was always looking after her little brother" and she had many friends outside of her own school.

Rua Peterson, 8, on his fifth birthday.
Rua Peterson, 8, on his fifth birthday. Source: Michelle Peterson/Facebook

Rua shared his big sister's love of rugby, receiving an All Blacks jersey-shaped cake on his fifth birthday, but he was also a little shy at heart, sometimes preferring his own company.

He posted videos on his YouTube channel of Asian martial arts demonstrations, as well as one video of himself playing Tiki Taane's 'Always On My Mind'.

Teancum, after graduating high school, reportedly spent more time with his twin brother on his father's side (he was a Petersen-Crofts), working with him as a labourer.

The family were active members of a local church, with neighbours describing them as "polite and friendly".

Teancum Peterson-Croft, 19.
Teancum Peterson-Croft, 19. Source: Facebook

But other neighbours said the sound and sight of police sirens had grown more frequent in past months, and a number of loud altercations had taken place at the Peterson home.

Friends described Teancum as "a little bit weird" and said he sometimes had anger issues.

His behaviour had become erratic and he presented at a local hospital's emergency department in a psychotic state the day before he allegedly killed his family.

Doctors there ruled his issues were not medical in nature and he was sent on his way - hours later his family was killed.

Western Australia police have defended their actions, with Commissioner Chris Dawson confirming Teancum was known to police.

"I am confident that the actions taken by police officers have been appropriate in the circumstances," he said.

"Police officers are trained to deal with any situation that they are tasked to deal with but you cannot adequately prepare someone despite training for tragic events such as what took place last weekend."

In court yesterday, Teancum appeared delusional, interrupting the judge with non-sensical statements as he was read the charges against him.

"A criminal wanted to take me out bush - he did it, and he came back for my family," Petersen-Crofts said.

The magistrate told him he didn't need to say anything, but he replied: "I have to 'cos mamma is with me".

the magistrate said Teancum would be sent to a psychiatric facility, to which he replied: "I was painting a picture of Jesus and stayed there for two months".

"He punched me in the head so hard ... I left because I had to ... I was that scared he was going to kill me.

"Mamma told me to save myself."

WA Health Minister Roger Cook told WA Today that procedures will be examined during the police investigation, including what police they knew about Teancum's behaviour before the deaths, and what they did about it.

The Ellenbrook Murders
The Ellenbrook Murders. Source: 1 NEWS

MOST
POPULAR STORIES


Limo service operator linked to crash which killed 20 people leaves court after posting $232,000 bond

A limousine service operator was charged today with criminally negligent homicide in a crash that killed 20 people, while police continued investigating what caused the wreck and whether anyone else will face charges.

Nauman Hussain, 28, showed little emotion as he was arraigned today in an Albany-area court, and he ignored shouted questions from reporters as he left after posting $231,900 bond.

A judge had entered a not guilty plea for him.

Earlier, his lawyer said that Hussain wasn't guilty and that police were rushing to judgment in investigating Sunday's stretch limo wreck.

But State Police Superintendent George Beach said Hussain hired a driver who shouldn't have been behind the wheel of such a car, and the vehicle shouldn't have been driven after state inspectors deemed it "unserviceable" last month.

Hussain's car was packed with luggage when he was stopped Thursday on a highway near Albany, Schoharie County District Attorney Susan Mallery said.

Hussain's lawyer, Lee Kindlon, said his client felt unsafe at home because he'd gotten threats.

The company, Prestige Limousine, has come under intense scrutiny since a 19-seater limo ran a stop sign and plowed into a parked SUV at the bottom of a long hill on Sunday.

The impact killed two pedestrians and 18 people in the limo, which was taking a group to a birthday bash.

Kindlon said his client handled only marketing duties and phone calls, while his father ran the company, though police called Hussain its operator.

Under New York law, criminally negligent homicide involves not perceiving a substantial, unjustifiable risk that leads to someone's death.

It's punishable by up to four years in prison.

Nauman Hussain, 28, entered a not guilty plea following Sunday’s stretch limo tragedy. Source: Associated Press

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Sydney local council takes to social media to shame drivers caught parking in disabled car parks

A local Sydney council is shaming drivers caught parking in disabled car parks.

Canterbury-Bankstown Council has taken to social media to upload photos of vehicles in disabled parking spots without a permit under the hashtag 'not your space', Channel Nine reports.

Peter Simspon, a disability advocate who uses a wheelchair, says, "I don't like parking in [disabled parking spots], but I have to because it's a convenience for me so I can get from A to B.

"At the end of the day, you know, it's just a lack of respect - a lack of empathy, even."

Canterbury-Bankstown Council Mayor Khal Asfour said, "We're making sure that this campaign is spreading as far as we can on social media platforms and making sure our community's aware that when it comes to parking illegally, that we will catch you if you're doing the wrong thing".

Motorists caught parking in a disabled parking spot will be fined $561 and one demerit point from their licence.

Around 200 drivers already fined for the illegal behaviour this year.

Canterbury Bankstown Council is uploading pictures of those who use parks without a permit online. Source: Nine

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Person airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after two-car crash in Canterbury

One person has been airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after a two-car crash in Canterbury today.

The incident occurred between a truck and a ute on Bealey Road, near the intersection with Greendale Road, Selwyn, at around 12.30pm.

The Serious Crash Unit is in attendance and traffic is being diverted around the scene.

Source: 1 NEWS


Māori cultural centre for Whangārei hopes for $5 million council grant

The long-held dream of a Māori cultural centre for Whangārei is hanging on hopes of a $5 million council grant.

Work has just begun on the first stage of the project - a big carving workshop and waka shelter, east of the Town Basin in the Hihiaua Peninsula.

But stage two, a theatre, will be competing for council funding with hotel developers across the river.

Master Carver Te Warihi Hetaraka can visualise exactly what the Hihiaua Cultural Centre will look like.

The trust he's a part of has been planning it for ten years, but it's been the dream of his elders for much longer.

"The vision of it started back in the 1980s when the kaumātua realised that kids were losing their culture fast - real fast. They saw a cultural centre as a place where they could retain a lot of the knowledge that used to be handed down and is no longer with us."

Some of those arts and skills - carving, weaving and waka building - would finally have a home in Whangārei by next April.

A former boat-building shed on the Waiarohia Stream is being converted into an art workshop space, with a waka shelter and launching gantry.

Half the $2 million cost has been covered with a grant from the Provincial Growth Fund, and the rest from the Whangarei District Council, Foundation North and Te Puni Kokiri.

But it's the next stage that will be the big one: A 700 seat theatre for the performing arts, a facility Whangārei has needed for years.

It will cost between $10m and $15m according to Hihiaua Trust secretary Janet Hetaraka.

The theatre would be versatile enough to handle many community events, Mrs Hetaraka said.

But the priority for the Trust was kapa haka.

"We have many kapa haka events throughout the year and there is no adequate venue.

"They have to use stadiums or gyms and there's never enough space for the audience. What we've designed is an indoor/outdoor stage, so we can have thousands of people seated outside on the grass with the stage open to the outdoors."

The Hihiaua Trust will apply for resource consent for the theatre in the next fortnight. It hopes to persuade the council to back the project with a $5m grant.

If it succeeds, it would be able to apply to other charities for the rest of the funds, Mrs Hetaraka said.

The Whangārei District Council has long had $10 million budgeted in its long term plan for a theatre but developers planning to build a hotel across the river are also pitching for council funding for a conference centre.

Another Hihiaua Trust member, lawyer Ryan Welsh, said the Hihiaua theatre was more in line with what the city needed.

"Not to say that a hotel wouldn't provide jobs but we are looking to showcase Māori culture and also be inclusive of the whole community in terms of its use."

Both developments are intended to work in with the Hundertwasser Art Centre now under construction at the other end of town.

The Hihiaua Trust said the cultural centre would complement the Hundertwasser, which included a Māori fine arts' gallery.

Hihiaua trustees held off applying for council and charitable funding for several years, to let the $28m Hundertwasser take precedent.

But the trust and the hotel developers could yet be in for a wait.

Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai said the council was in the process of developing a new events and venues strategy and would not be handing out any money until it was decided where the venue gaps were in the city.

- By Radio New Zealand's Lois Williams

Boats moored at Whangarei Marina in the town basin. Northland, New Zealand, NZ.
Whangārei's Town Basin. (file picture). Source: istock.com