Residents of a small town have spoken out about living next door to Maree Crabtree, as new details emerge of a cruise she took while Erin Crabtree was dead or dying.
The Crabtree family lived in McCullys Gap, 250 kilometres north of Sydney, for about five years before moving to Queensland in 2011.
Locals who remember the family have described her as the ‘neighbour from hell’, and claim they were ‘harassed’ by Maree Crabtree, who caused ‘havoc’ in the area.
News of the Crabtrees’ life in New South Wales comes as it is revealed Maree and Jonathan Crabtree partied on a Pacific islands cruise during or after Erin’s death.
Maree Mavis Crabtree, 51, has been charged with the murders of her two impaired adult children – Erin, 18, and Jonathan, 26 – and the torture of another daughter, 25.
‘They [Maree and Jonathan] would harass the hell out of you,’ said Tony Witt, who lived next door to the Crabtrees, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Tony said he was forced to take Maree Crabtree to court over the theft of sheep from his property, which resulted in her being ‘run out of town’.
‘The trouble they caused all over the place was phenomenal. They caused havoc, and it began from day one,’ said Tony Witt snr.
‘Everywhere she went there was trouble. Maree was the neighbour from hell.’
In September 2012, Maree Crabtree took Jonathan on a P&O Cruise of the Pacific, The Australian reported.
Police claim Erin was either dead or dying of an oxycodone overdose when she was left at their Gold Coast home.
When Jonathan asked a family friend to check on his sister three days into the cruise, her body was discovered surrounded by empty packets of the drug.
It is unknown whether Erin was already died before her mother and brother departed for the cruise, or whether she died after being left alone in the house.
The cruise had been intended for Erin and funded by Lifestyle Solutions, a disability support provider, but her mother told the travel agency Erin was too afraid to go.
Jonathan was found dead in the family’s new home near the Gold Coast, on July 18 2017 after overdosing on the same opioid pain medication.
His death led homicide detectives to review Erin’s case, which had remained open since 2012.
Mark Crabtree, the siblings’ father, has since said he tried to have Jonathan put into care after Erin died.
His application was successful, but their mother won an appeal and soon his son was back in her care, leaving him feeling failed by the system.
In addition to murder and torture, Maree Crabtree was charged with several fraud offences, as police claim she killed her children for insurance payouts.
Court documents show she allegedly dishonestly received an insurance payout of $567,863, a total permanent disability claim for $238,800 and had attempted to fraudulently obtain a superannuation death benefit of $125,000.
She is also charged with the grievous bodily harm of another relative, and armed robbery over allegedly forcing Jonathan to hold up a chemist in 2015.
Detective Inspector Mark Thompson said the 25-year-old had been abused over several years and would require ‘ongoing care for some time’.
He said police alleged the murders were pre-meditated and financially motivated.
‘These acts haven’t been compassionate acts of a stressed mother at her end,’ he said after her arrest.
‘It was calculated, it was planned and it was executed with an end goal in mind.’
Maree Crabtree was remanded in custody and her matter is set to return to court on February 12.