Dinner at the same hotel was how their paths crossed. 42 year old Mirabella Northcote was a senior manager in an energy company visiting Rockhampton, central Queensland to speak at a conference. 48 year old environmental scientist Cassidy Cheltham found himself in Rockhampton to inspect a site to see if it could be restored for residential or commercial development.
Initially they were both dining alone. Mirabella made sure Cassidy was aware of her. She smiled at him several times during the early part of her meal. On her way back from the toilet to her table just after Cassidy had commenced his main course, Mirabella invited to Cassidy to dine with her at her table. Her wedding ring was clearly visible to single Cassidy as she extended her invitation to him. He accepted her invitation and took his meal and drink to her table.
After initial introductions and pleasantries, it did not take Mirabella long to tell Cassidy she was trapped in a bad marriage. She did not say much positive about her husband, Derwent Northcote, the few times she spoke about him. She said she was staying with him because it was best for her two (2) children, Miss 10 and Mr 7.
Mirabella put on a good performance. She managed to talk about enough topics to take the focus off her “troubled” marriage and appear charming to Cassidy. When they finished their dinner they talked for a while and then Mirabella successfully asked Cassidy to go to her hotel room with her.
Inside her hotel room Mirabella removed her clothing, but not her wedding ring. Cassidy participated in the encounter and spent the evening with her. So began their adulterous affair.
When they returned to their respective homes, they kept in touch via telephone calls and text messages, with the occasional e-mail.
Throughout their affair Mirabella kept her story consistent in one regard, she complained her husband Derwent was a serial cheat, who had had many lovers before she commenced her affair with Cassidy. From the start Cassidy urged Mirabella to leave Derwent and he continued to do so for the entirety of their relationship.
Mirabella always said she would stay with Derwent because that was the best for their children. If she left him, she was always worried about him doing something to the children. There was never any complaint of physical violence, but there were regular references to emotional abuse from Derwent to Mirabella.
Mirabella was also consistent with her demands that she did not want her husband, Derwent, to know about her affair with Cassidy. Cassidy complied with her request, even though that made contacting Mirabella a difficult exercise at times. She did not always keep her spare mobile telephone close by.
They saw each other as often as their business schedules would permit and they saw the inside of several hotel rooms together.
For eighteen (18) months things went well between Mirabella and Cassidy, Mirabella was a kind, loving, caring woman. Occasionally during that time she would contact Cassidy and seek comfort from him because of what she said was an unpleasant interaction with her husband. Those exchanges were always the same, Derwent had allegedly said something horrible to Mirabella and whilst she endeavoured to stand up for herself, the outcome was unpleasant and very stressful for her.
Mirabella maintained that their children never saw nor heard any of this dysfunctional relationship. As far as they were concerned, their parents had a reasonably happy household. Cassidy and Mirabella disagreed often on that issue and Mirabella never accepted that Cassidy may be correct.
Many times Cassidy said to Mirabella that he was interested in a full-time relationship with her and that she should make plans to leave Derwent for that purpose. Mirabella always rejected that offer and said she would stay with Derwent because that was the best for their children. If she left him, she was worried about what he might do to their children.
During that time there were also four (4) or five (5) hysterical telephone calls from Mirabella to Cassidy after Mirabella got upset over something Cassidy had allegedly done. There were several more occasions when Mirabella telephoned Cassidy seeking his support and comfort after what she said were arguments she had with her husband Derwent. Cassidy was always available and supportive when Mirabella rang. In stark contrast to the carefully controlled availability Mirabella offered him.
Their relationship changed after about eighteen (18) months, when Cassidy learned through social media that Mirabella had become very interested in two (2) or three (3) other men. Mirabella always denied she was having an affair with any or all of those men when she and Cassidy discussed the matter. But she was clearly starstruck by the attention those men were giving her.
Mirabella made herself even less available to Cassidy and whenever she did ring him, it was clear to him that Mirabella was always available for her new men. This caused great friction between Mirabella and Cassidy. He saw several instances online where Mirabella was flaunting the time she spent with her new men.
Cassidy also noticed another change in Mirabella. Ever since she started associating with her new men, her dishonesty increased significantly. There were several things she said to Cassidy that were demonstrably not true. The friction between Mirabella and Cassidy was growing steadily.
After about six (6) months of that friction laden, deteriorating relationship, Mirabella announced to Cassidy that she was separating from her husband. By that stage she contended that separation was the best for her and her children. The friction between Cassidy and Mirabella grew significantly once Mirabella made that revelation.
Cassidy received several more hysterical telephone calls from Mirabella telling him she did not want her husband to learn of their affair. Typically those telephone conversations involved Cassidy telling Mirabella that Derwent would see from her social media activity that she was having affairs with her new men. Mirabella always said she was worried about what harm Derwent might do to their children if he ever found out about her affair with Cassidy.
That contention became less credible every time Cassidy heard it, particularly in light of how Mirabella was flaunting on-line her relationships with her new men.
Once Mirabella had separated from her husband, she told Cassidy she no longer wished to continue her relationship with him. She wanted to concentrate on her divorce and she did not want any relationships with other men to complicate that situation. Cassidy was not happy when he heard that news. It was clear from her social media presence that Mirabella had increased her activity with her new men, both online and in person.
From time to time after ending their relationship Mirabella telephoned Cassidy because she wanted something or wanted to discuss something. She never rang him to comfort him. It was curious behaviour on the part of Mirabella, Cassidy thought, when she could easily consult any of her new men for assistance.
A feature of those conversations for Cassidy was how Mirabella coped with the pressure of being a single parent and the primary carer of her children. It looked to him as though she was not coping well. Another Mirabella behaviour Cassidy thought curious was Mirabella continuing to flaunt her relationships with her new men when she said to him she did not want Derwent to know of their relationship. That was an issue Mirabella refused to discuss whenever she rang Cassidy. Yet it seemed to be the motivation for two (2) or three (3) hysterical conversations Mirabella had with Cassidy after her separation from Derwent.
By that stage Cassidy thought the criticism of her husband was a projection by Mirabella of her own problems.
Mirabella never shared with Cassidy that her children witnessed and were subjected to several episodes of severe mood swings by her, once she has separated from Derwent and she had to care for the children all by herself. Nor did she share with Cassidy that she had seen doctors on several occasions to get assistance to sleep when she had to care for the children all by herself.
The Road Trip
Cassidy had not heard from Mirabella for about two (2) moths when she undertook her four (4) hour road trip to her camping holiday with her children. During that last call Mirabella was completely hysterical about her now estranged husband finding out about her affair with Cassidy and Derwent thinking she was having affairs with other men.
Mirabella told her children they were going on a road trip and a camping holiday. When they asked her where they were going, Mirabella replied, “We will find out when we get there”.
To the outside world Mirabella, the mother driving her children on a four (4) hour road trip holiday, was highly educated with a very good professional job. She portrayed an impressive image of herself to the outside world. Mirabella ensured she was well prepared for the holiday by taking a large supply of her sleeping tablets with her. She told herself she did not want to have problems getting to sleep during the holiday.
Soon after the road trip with her two (2) children commenced it became clear that Mirabella had not planned for the enormous stress to which she would feel exposed with her and her children in such close quarters for a long time. During the drive Mirabella became paranoid about her double life with men other than her husband being discovered. Several food, drink and toilet stops interrupted the troubled thought processes of Mirabella, which was fortunate for the children.
The Camp Site
When they arrived at the camp site Mirabella told her children, “This is where we will be staying for the next week.”
The three (3) of them then unpacked the car and set up the tent. All seemed well for Mirabella and her children. Their first night at the camp site proceeded without incident. As did most of the next day.
Dinner on the second evening saw that situation change. Mirabella became convinced that her double life with other men would be discovered by her now estranged husband and he would take her children away from her. She took a large number of her sleeping tablets and put them in the food she cooked for her children that evening.
Not long after dinner was finished the children went to sleep. They never awoke.
Several hours after putting sleeping tablets in the food she cooked for her children, Mirabella drove away from the camp site and returned to her home.
The next day other campers found the children of Mirabella and Derwent dead in the tent in which they went to sleep the previous evening. Of course Mirabella was nowhere to be seen at the camp site and immediately the campers contacted the police.
Later that day the police located Mirabella and took her into custody.
Derwent was devastated when he heard of the news about his children and Mirabella.
Cassidy was also upset when he heard the news. He said to himself the hysterical telephone calls from Mirabella were some evidence of the delusions she created for herself from time to time.
Subsequently Mirabella was examined by a psychiatrist and was found to be suffering from paranoid delusions at the time of her road trip holiday. Having been found to be of unsound mind at the time of the road trip and the offences, the prosecution against Mirabella was discontinued. Mirabella spent a considerable time in hospital receiving treatment for her mental health problems.