Catfisher accused kept up scam with victim’s family: Inquest
The Sydney woman accused of tormenting her friend with a fake "catfish" love affair until she suicided allegedly kept up the charade to the dead woman's parents.
Renae Marsden appeared overjoyed that a man she had never met, Brayden Spiteri, was just months from being released from jail, an inquest into her 2013 death has heard.
She had researched bridal gowns online, booked a wedding photographer and had "Spiteri" tattooed on her arm.
But Brayden was not real and Camila Zeidan, in her third day of gruelling evidence at Lidcombe coroner's court, claimed Ms Marsden was in the on the rouse - that both women created Brayden together as a way of shielding their lesbian affair from their disapproving families.
Ms Marsden died at The Gap on August 5, 2013, on the same day Brayden messaged her saying "I think I need a break and so do you". Her body was never found.
Counsel assisting the coroner Sasha Harding put to Ms Zeidan that she broke up, as Brayden, with Ms Marsden out of a desire to hurt her.
"The reality of the situation was that Renae had ended the friendship with you, she didn't go and watch (your) soccer match the Sunday before. That was further consolidation in your mind that the friendship was over and you knew the way to hurt Renae was for Brayden to break up with Renae and that's what happened," Ms Harding said.
Ms Zeidan denied that, saying Ms Marsden "didn't end the friendship". She also repeatedly denied Ms Marsden thought Brayden was a real person.
Ms Harding focused on the timing of Ms Zeidan's text messages around the date of Ms Marsden's death.
At 5.54pm on August 6 - the day after Ms Marsden's suicide - Ms Zeidan was still maintaining Brayden was real in messages to Mrs Marsden.
"Renae has always been like this, it isn't Brayden's fault," she wrote to Mrs Marsden.
"We can't blame one person … there is never one person to blame. I can't handle this because I can't live without Renae."
Mrs Marsden responded: "I'm not coping myself, we are going now back to The Gap, the police are going to do another search at daylight".
But thirteen minutes before that exchange with Mrs Marsden, Ms Zeidan texted her boyfriend Michael.
"My best friend committed suicide last night, she jumped off The Gap. It's not Mel, a different girl, I'm not going to work," she told Michael.
Ms Zeidan told the inquest she only suspected Ms Marsden was dead but was not sure.
"I knew she was at The Gap when they told me she was at The Gap but I didn't know she had jumped," she said.
The inquest also heard Ms Marsden's father Mark was desperately trying to speak to Brayden in the hours after his daughter disappeared but Ms Zeidan said he wouldn't talk "because everyone is blaming him".
Phone records showed Ms Zeidan and Ms Marsden exchanged a number of texts the day she died but Ms Zeidan could only recall one which said "she was sorry and she loved me".
Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott said: "are you serious?"
"Are you asking the court to accept you have no recollection of the texts? But you remember seeing a text that she loved you?" Ms Truscott said.
Ms Zeidan said: "I don't know what was said while she was at The Gap".
Ms Zeidan said she did not think Mrs Marsden was serious about hurting herself on the night she died.
"Camila at this point I would not be able to count the number of lies you have told today," Ms Harding said.
"I have not lied today," Ms Zeidan said.
The inquest also heard this morning Ms Marsden had penned a love letter to Brayden in 2013, telling him "I have finally let Camila go for good"- further proof according to Ms Harding that Ms Marsden thought Brayden was real.
"I'm not sure if you will get this or not but I hope you do. I'm missing you like crazy baby," Ms Marsden wrote.
"I have finally let Camila go for good and I feel so much better about it.
"I've never kissed you or held you in my arms, every day I feel like I have … I love you so much my man."
Ms Zeidan said the letter demonstrated the lengths the pair went to, to make Brayden appear real.
"That was just the character … she didn't know who was going to see it," she said.
Ms Harding pressed: "you're being untruthful Camila".
"No I'm not," Ms Zeidan responded.
It can also be revealed today Ms Zeidan gave her evidence in the inquest after being given immunity, meaning she could not be criminally prosecuted on the basis of anything she said on the stand.
Ms Truscott said the Marsden family had been deprived answers on what happened to their daughter.
"I know this inquest has been a dreadful experience for you and you haven't got the answers you were seeking so desperately," she said.
"For whatever reason motivated her, she has declined to give you those answers."
The inquest continues.
*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636. The Suicide Call Back service is on 1300 659 467.