Australian News

All charges dropped in Katoomba circus school abuse case

More than 100 charges against a family accused of child sex crimes including blood rituals at a Katoomba circus school, have been dropped.

Therese Cook, 60, her brother Paul Cook, 54, and her daughters Yyani Cook-Williams, 31, and Clarissa Meredith, 25, and three juveniles pleaded not guilty to more than 120 charges combined.

The family were accused of sexually abusing three boys under the age of 10 between 2014 and 2016.

The allegations included rape, assault and kidnapping.

The number of charges had been reduced to 115 charges, and NSW Police said all of the charges have been dropped today.

The magistrate said there was no evidence for the claims. A court heard in March last year that one of the alleged victims had written a note saying “mum I’m really sorry I’ve been lying about the whole thing”.

Defence lawyer Bryan Wrench told Nine News outside court: “This is probably one of the greatest miscarriages of justice this state has seen.”

“It was totally concocted, we are totally innocent, and it’s been total vindication today,” he said. “It’s been a saga, it’s finally over, it’s been two years since they have seen their family and it is will be reunited.”

In a tweet, lawyer Chris Murphy thanked those who had come forward to support the “wrongfully accused”.

“Blue Mountains family separated by court restrictions for the last 2 years – 4 of them spending 206 days remanded in goal and 3 children spending 4 months locked up – now they can be united,” he tweeted.

NSW Police said a review has been requested.

“The NSW Police Force notes the withdrawal of all charges against seven people, including four women, two men, and a teenage girl at Penrith Local Court today,” a statement said.

“It remains the strong recommendation of the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad that the matters proceed before the court and a review has been requested.”

The family will next appear before Katoomba Local Court on March 3 relating to the apprehended violence orders.

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