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Suitcase murder accused fights to keep name secret


The defence lawyer of the woman accused of the murder of her two young children – whose bodies were found in suitcases – is fighting for her client’s identity to be kept out of the public domain till the end of her trial next year.

Lawyer Lorraine Smith told the judge in the High Court at Auckland today that publication of the woman’s name could endanger her client’s safety, and might get in the way of her ability to fully engage in the court proceedings.

The prosecutor, Gareth Kayes, said the Crown was neutral on the application.

The presiding judge, Anne Hinton, did not make a decision today – but said suppression of the 42-year-old’s identity would remain in place till that decision was made.

Smith said if name suppression was lifted, she would appeal.

Her client had entered a not guilty plea, via her lawyer, to two charges of murder in the High Court at Auckland in December last year.

She was last seen in court on November 30 last year, at the Manukau District Court, just one day after arriving in the country. At that appearance Judge Gus Andrée Wiltens ruled her identity, and that of her two school-aged children remain suppressed.

Police had launched a homicide investigation after the remains of the two children were discovered in the Auckland suburb of Clendon on August 11. The children’s bodies had been found inside some suitcases that had been stored inside a Safe Store unit in Papatoetoe.

The children, who had been dead for some time, were only discovered after an unsuspecting buyer bought the storage unit in an online auction and began unpacking it in the yard of their home.

The buyer has no connection to the case.

South Korean authorities said in September it received a request from New Zealand to arrest the woman – the key suspect in the case. It’s understood she’d left New Zealand for Korea in 2018 – where she’d remained until her extradition.

She was arrested in the South Korean city of Ulsan, on September 15, with officials also obtaining material evidence requested by New Zealand authorities.

In late October, on the basis that officials in South Korea determined there was probable cause to suspect the 42-year-old had committed an extraditable offence, the Asian nation’s Minister of Justice ordered an extradition hearing take place.

Then in mid-November the Seoul High Court granted the extradition, after the woman agreed to it in writing. Days later the Minister of Justice made the final call to surrender the murder-accused within 30 days of November 14.

She was surrendered to NZ authorities on November 28 at Incheon Airport near Seoul – along with the requested evidence. She arrived with a police escort in Auckland the following day and was detained in custody till her court appearance.

The woman remains in custody.