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Woman arrested in relation to Cairns mass murder

9News.com.au 9News.com.au 19/12/2014
A young boy and his father place a flower at a tribute near a house in which eight children were stabbed to death in Cairns. © AAP Image/Dan Peled A young boy and his father place a flower at a tribute near a house in which eight children were stabbed to death in Cairns.

The mother of several children found dead in a Cairns home has been arrested for their murder, police have confirmed this morning.

The 37-year-old, who is believed to be the mother of seven of the victims and the aunt of the eighth, is in a stable condition after yesterday being rushed to hospital with stab wounds.

Police were called to her house on Murray Street, Manoora, about 11am after a 20-year-old man arrived home and discovered the bodies of the eight children, understood to be his siblings and a cousin.

The children, who are believed to have been stabbed to death, were aged between 18 months and 15 years.

Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said the bodies had now been removed from the house and autopsies would occur today.

He said a number of weapons, including knives, had been found at the scene.

"At some stage we will be able to determine if we have the weapon that was used," he said.

He said the woman remains under police guard at Cairns Hospital.

"At the current time she is awake and lucid and able to speak," Detective Inspector Asnicar said.

He would not speculate on whether charges would be laid for all eight murders but said police were not looking for "anybody else".

"At this stage we are not looking for anybody else," he said.

"We are comfortable that the community at large is safe and have no need for concern."

He said crime scene investigators are expected to be on the scene for another few days.

"They're looking for DNA, they're looking for mapping of the scene to establish what occurred, they're looking for time chronology, they're looking for the order of the actions that occurred, they're looking for any trace evidence that's in the residence itself, they're looking for blood spatter patterns, all of these things that our experts are trained to look for, to establish 100 per cent exactly what happened in that house when these actions were committed."

Detective Inspector Asnicar said his officers were holding up well under the circumstances.

"My officers are coping very well," he said.

"We unfortunately get exposed to this type of thing more often than anybody would like to but all the support mechanisms are there in place for us and my staff and they'll be fine."

The tragedy, which is one of Australia's worst mass murders, has shocked the local community, many of whom paid tribute to the children yesterday by laying flowers and placing soft toys on the curb across the road from the house.

A vigil was held at a local church where the pastor told those gathered that this was a time to come together and support those in need.

Cairns Regional Council Mayor Bob Manning told the TODAY show the community was still in shock, but would attempt to move forward.

Politicians have expressed their shock at the incident, in the wake of the Martin Place siege tragedy.

"The events in Cairns today are heartbreaking and all parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said he was “deeply saddened and shocked” by the events.

Cairns state Liberal MP Gavin King told ABC the local community was devastated by the incident.

"This area has had its ups and downs, but that’s not out of the ordinary, most communities have their ups and downs," Mr King, who is also the former chief of staff and editor at large of the Cairns Post, said

"I think something like this is such a shock, it's completely out of the blue.

"It's completely incomprehensible."

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