Mum’s strange decision before deaths
A disability support worker has told a court that a Gold Coast mum accused of murdering her adult children refused offers for support workers to care for her kids.
Maree Mavis Crabtree sat quietly in the dock of Brisbane Magistrates Court as a committal hearing into the alleged murders of her children Erin, 18 and Jonathan, 26, entered its second week.
On Monday, a facilitator for a disability support provider in NSW claimed the Gold Coast mum did not appear interested in any assistance from the company when she attended the office.
Ms Crabtree is charged with murdering Erin and Jonathan on separate dates in 2012 and 2017.
Police allege the pair were plied with prescription medication for years to keep them bedridden, causing a raft of health problems.
Ms Crabtree is also accused of falsely claiming disability payouts and insurance claims following their deaths.
The court was told the family went on a cruise in September 2012 but Erin stayed at home and was found dead several days after their departure.
On Monday, Stephen Johnston, who worked at disability care provider Lifestyle Solutions, gave evidence of his work with Ms Crabtree between 2011 and 2016.
He said Ms Crabtree attended the Tweed Heads Centre with Erin.
She would use children's colouring books while there, he said.
"I would say in the office, it would have been about five separate times (they visited)," Mr Johnston said.
Mr Johnston said the service would provide support workers to clients but Ms Crabtree had no-one assisting with the children at the time.
"A few times it would have been put to her there was availability of living support and that was denied," he said.
"She said she didn't need a carer."
Defence barrister Angus Edwards questioned whether there was a possibility Ms Crabtree had considered asking for a carer prior to Erin passing away but changed her mind at the end.
Mr Johnston replied it was possible but he was not given the "understanding" of her needing any carers as he would have noted her request.
"If Ms Crabtree came to me and said she would like a support worker, then I would definitely remember that," he said.
A friend of Ms Crabtree's who befriended her on Facebook before the 2012 cruise claimed a security guard was required to escort Jonathan around the ship after he learned of Erin's death.
Crystal Phillips told the court the young man became "withdrawn and depressed" and was "devastated".
One of Jonathan Crabtree's football friends, Christopher Tattersall, said he was in regular contact with Jonathan and knew he had struggled with depression before and after a serious car crash in 2015.
He said he helped talk Jonathan out of several suicide attempts.
"It wasn't him," Mr Tattersall said.
The court was told Jonathan had spoken "many times" about wanting to be with Erin after her death
More than 100 witnesses are expected to be called during the committal hearing.
Last week, former neighbours of the Crabtree family gave varying accounts of the different care arrangements claimed to have been organised for Erin during the family cruise.
The court was told Jonathan had a troubled mental health history and drug addiction, even "deliberately" causing the 2015 car crash that left him hospitalised.
Ms Crabtree is facing eight charges of obtaining a financial benefit by deception, and 11 other charges including torture, murder, attempted murder, fraud and robbery.
The hearing continues.
Originally published as Mum's strange decision before deaths