Tostee 'did not' cause balcony death
The Gold Coast man being questioned over the death of a woman who fell from his Gold Coast high rise unit says his reputation has been "destroyed". Nine NewsPT1M31S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3dgs8 620 349 August 12, 2014
At 2.30am on August 8, police and paramedics congregated at the foot of the Avalon apartments in Surfers Paradise as the lifeless body of a young woman lay on the concrete.
She had fallen 14 storeys to her death.
Seven days on, the crime scene at the front of the high-rise had been cleared. The police, journalists and curious bystanders were also long gone.
Warriena Tagpuno Wright died after falling from a Gold Coast balcony. Photo: Supplied
The only reminder of the frightening events that occurred a week earlier were three cardboard boxes filled with floral bouquets and a small stuffed kiwi bird toy. The tribute, neatly arranged next to a ground floor window, was just metres from where a large police tent had once covered the body.
And the question of what happened to Warriena Tagpuno Wright, a 26-year-old tourist from New Zealand, remains unanswered.
It’s a case that has at times been equal parts mysterious, bizarre and salacious.
Tributes left for Warriena Wright outside the Avalon apartments. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
But at the heart of it is a grieving family who want answers about how “Rrie” met her fate.
After flying in from New Zealand, Warriena’s 23-year-old sister Marreza summoned the strength to face a press conference on Thursday and pleaded for anyone with information to come forward.
It was about 6pm last Thursday that Marreza had last spoken with her sister on Facebook, where she bemoaned that the oil in her car was leaking.
Superintendent David Hutchinson speaks to the media on Thursday. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
A week later tears welled in Marreza's eyes and she could barely speak.
She described her older sister as a passionate animals’ rights activist and a practical joker.
“It's hard for me facing the loss of my sister without knowing what happened in the last hours of her life,” she said.
The Avalon Apartments Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
“Rrie was the most important person in my world. Most of the time we only had each other to rely on.”
In the six minutes that Marreza spoke her quivering voice was often drowned out by the snaps of photographers’ cameras.
“I really just want to go home,” she said.
Gable Tostee, 28, is the person of interest in the Warriena Tagpuno Wright death. Photo: Supplied
Warriena arrived in Queensland for a two-week holiday on July 29, which was centered around the wedding of a close friend she once worked with at PixiFoto.
After the wedding Warriena booked a room at a Gold Coast hotel on August 6. She reportedly spoke to local man Gable Tostee on dating app Tinder before meeting him on August 7. The pair ended up at his apartment that evening.
Neighbours recall seeing them drinking on the balcony, before hearing an argument and a woman’s screams.
Marreza Wright, sister of Warriena, faces the media. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
However Mr Tostee was not there when police arrived at the scene minutes after Warriena plunged to her death.
Hours after the incident Mr Tostee was interviewed by detectives but refused to provide his version of events.
“He’s exercised his right to silence - he’s entitled to do that,” Queensland Police Superintendent David Hutchinson said of Mr Tostee.
“It’s our responsibility just to continue the investigation and we’re doing that.”
Mr Tostee, 28, remains the focus of a police taskforce made up of 20 detectives.
His apartment is still a crime scene. Forensic investigators have pored over every last detail, while detectives have seized hard drives, CDs and a camera from inside. On Wednesday, a cherry picker was brought in to collect swabs from the outside of the balcony.
Since last Friday evening, Mr Tostee’s past has been front page news and led the 6pm television bulletins.
Most of the details aired have been his own words and pictures from an online forum on bodybuilding.com.
Mr Tostee has frequented the website’s “Misc.” forum since 2004. Under the username “G T”, he has made hundreds of online postings.
In recent months he told of his encounters with women on Tinder dates and shared screenshots of his text messages with them. He has boasted of his conquests, lamented his failures and asked advice from others.
It was the members of the Misc. forum Mr Tostee felt most compelled to address when news of Warriena’s death broke.
“I've been advised not to go into details but all I will say is that I absolutely did NOT cause this girl to fall and that I am devastated about what happened to her,” he wrote.
Later in the week, Mr Tostee went on Facebook to deny a newspaper report that secret sex tapes were found in his apartment. Superintendent Hutchinson backed him up and labelled the story as “all lies”.
Two years ago, Mr Tostee told the Misc. forum he was “somewhat obsessed with recording everything”. He explained how he had installed security cameras in his former apartment and tried wearing “spy cameras” out to nightclubs.
In 2006, Mr Tostee and two friends used a home computer, a laminator and a scanner to run a schoolies fake ID racket that potentially netted them $30,000.
According to News Corp reports, Mr Tostee pleaded guilty on fraud counts but avoided a conviction. The sentencing judge described his artistic skills as “extraordinary” but said they needed to be “harnessed”.
Much has also been publicised about Mr Tostee’s interactions with women on the Gold Coast.
Some women he dated and chatted with online have emerged in the media describing his behaviour as unpleasant. But an ex-girlfriend went on television to insist he was “never horrible”.
“I don’t think he would ever, ever hurt a girl,” she said.
Others have gone to police to speak about their encounters with Mr Tostee.
Bond University criminologist Terry Goldsworthy, a former 28-year veteran of the Queensland Police Service, said tales of Mr Tostee’s womanising were unlikely to make any difference in the investigation.
“The only way that adds value is if it shows he has a propensity to violence towards females and whether he has committed sexual offences in the past nobody has complained about,” Dr Goldsworthy said.
“If it’s people coming forward saying he’s a ladies' man with a good success rate with the women, that’s neither here nor there. He’s a young male out in Surfers Paradise.”
With no apparent eyewitness of Warriena’s fall and the usefulness of security footage unclear, Dr Goldsworthy said forensic testing on the balcony would be key. Investigators would then need to build a circumstantial case.
“Are [Warriena’s] fingerprints over the railings, and is there any DNA saying she touched the balcony going over? Is it possible for someone of her stature to jump over?” he said.
Piecing together a 24-hour timeline of events would also be vital to working out what happened that night.
“They may go back further, from when the initial contact was made,” he said.
With Mr Tostee maintaining his silence to detectives, Dr Goldsworthy said it was “pretty stupid” that the man under investigation would make comments on social media.
“If you’re not prepared to speak to the police, then I don’t think you should be going on those forums where he was allegedly commenting,” he said.
“The two actions don’t gel and it makes it look disingenuous when he doesn’t talk to the police.”