Dad‘s fight after daughter’s chilling murder
A Melbourne father has slammed the Australian Federal Police investigation into his daughter's horrific death while she was volunteering overseas in Africa ahead of an inquest that will examine what happened to her.
The Coroners Court of Victoria will examine the death of Elly Warren in Mozambique in 2016, when the 20-year-old was found lying facedown in sand with her bikini bottoms around her knees in the beach town of Tofo.
She was there volunteering in marine conservation when she died of asphyxiation from choking on sand, with bruising on her mouth and abrasions on her neck.
Her heartbroken father Paul has tirelessly fought to find out what happened to Ms Warren, even travelling to Mozambique himself and offering a reward for information.
He said he was "ecstatic" on Tuesday when coroner Darren Bracken told the AFP to investigate during a discussion with its lawyer Andrew Yuile in open court.
"Federal police becoming active in the investigation wouldn't hinder the court's process at all," Mr Bracken said.
"It would be a useful thing if it did occur."
Mr Yuile had told the court it wouldn't investigate while there was a coronial inquest underway.
But Mr Warren said he was "over the moon" that the coroner didn't stand for that argument.
"The AFP going in and helping with the investigation is exactly what's required," he said.
"Why didn't they go in 2016 when it was crucial?
"I've had to run my own investigation, because the AFP have done nothing.
"Let's say you had a daughter that went overseas in a third world country, and something happened, would you expect the AFP to investigate? Ninety per cent of Australians would.
"But you get nothing, no support.
"They know a third world country doesn't have the resources and the facilities to investigate. So there's no investigation. And that's what's happened here.
"But the coroner knows what's going on - you can't pull the wool over his eyes."
More than four years after the tragedy, the inquest will attempt to answer key questions around Ms Warren's death.
In a statement tendered to the court, Mr Warren alleged the AFP had missed details and gotten facts wrong in their "action sheet" describing their account of Ms Warren's death.
He said he was "very disappointed".
But despite his grief, Mr Warren said to coroner Darren Bracken he hoped something positive would come out of the inquest.
"I feel that this country needs to change so that it can support families whose loved ones have died a suspicious death overseas," he said.
"Your Honour has the privilege to suggest recommendations which could set the course for future change that would be in the best interest of all Australians.
"There is no doubt in my mind if our policing agency were on the ground early in Elly's investigation things would be different today."
On Tuesday at a directions hearing to set a date for the inquest the AFP successfully blocked information about the police investigation into Ms Warren's death from being made public.
Mr Yuile told the court this was so Australia's relationship with the southern African country would not be damaged.
The AFP asked the coroner to allow some of its evidence to be redacted on three public interest immunity grounds.
The coroner agreed to keep it hidden, saying the redacted material "may cause damage" if it became public knowledge.
Mr Yuile had told him there was a "bigger picture" in that Australia needed to maintain positive relationships with other countries, including Mozambique, to fight "transnational crime".
"Australia necessarily relies on its relationships with other countries to complete that work," he said.
"If relationships like this break down, that can filter out to agencies in other countries.
"Countries do observe what happens in these situations."
He also said some information from confidential sources and shared by other government agencies should be redacted so information would continue to be shared with the AFP in future investigations.
Mr Yuile said some redacted information could "prejudice" the continuing investigation into Ms Warren's death, which is being undertaken by Mozambique authorities.
The AFP wrote to the Mozambique police force in December asking that material from their investigation into Ms Warren's death be handed over for the inquest, Mr Yuile said.
But it had only received an acknowledgment of the letter without any of the requested material, including recorded interviews, photos of the crime scene, and police theories.
"In this process we are in the hands of the Mozambique authorities," he said.
A date for the inquest is yet to be set.
When asked about Mr Warren's criticisms the AFP issued a statement.
"As the matter is before the Victorian Coroner, it is not appropriate for the AFP to comment at this time," a spokesman said.
Originally published as Dad's fight after daughter's chilling death