On Friday 12 January 2018, a landlord went to deliver some mail to one of his tenants in Newtown, Sydney and discovered the bodies of both his tenant, British backpacker 22-year-old Amelia Blake, and her friend, 33-year-old Brazil Gurung, lying dead inside the flat. Both deaths are still being investigated by New South Wales Police, however, it is suspected that Gurung murdered Amelia Blake before taking his own life and they are not looking for any other suspects, BBC News has reported.
Amelia Blake had been in Australia for just eight months, travelling from her home in Leicestershire, England. According to the Independent, she had been working on a fruit farm in Victoria before returning to Newtown to waitress in a restaurant, saving money to continue her travels onto Vietnam. Brazil Gurung was the head chef at the Fogo Brazilia Churrasco restaurant where Amelia Blake worked. The pair, it seems, were friends and were spending more time together in the weeks before their deaths, although the nature of their relationship has not been confirmed.
While police continue their enquiries, family in England and all who knew Amelia Blake have been heartbroken to hear of her death, with many paying tribute to a kind and fun-loving girl who will be deeply missed. Brazil Gurung was from Nepal and his background appears to have been more complex. News Australia reported comments made to them by an acquaintance of Gurung who did not wish to be named. Gurung had significant “behavioral and mental problems” while in Nepal they said, and had a number of loans he was still trying to pay off. He had repayments he was trying to meet for outstanding bills in Nepal along with his living expenses in Australia, causing him stress over money and leading to him borrowing cash and working long hours at the restaurant.
Although it is suspected that Brazil Gurung murdered Amelia Blake and then took his own life, his motive for doing so is still unknown. The Australian Institute of Criminology reported in 1998 that of all homicide incidents between 1989 and 1996 in Australia, almost 7% of them were classed as murder-suicides. Furthermore, most incidents involved a victim and offender in a partner relationship with 79% of cases being one individual murdering another before killing themselves.
In more recent research, The Conversation published an article in 2013 written by academics from Griffith University and the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention. Samara McPhedran and Professor Mark Kebbell reported their research highlighted those who commit murder-suicide often fall into categories, with some offenders falling into more than one. They are likely to be suffering from legal or financial problems, to have family violence in their history and a current violence order against them or found to be in a current custody battle over children. They suggest that in-line with much of the international research into murder-suicide, it is a crime which is a “unique and extreme form of response to significant life events such as relationship separation.”
Amelia Blake was just 22-years-old and described by one friend as ‘living the dream’. Her shocking death has devastated her family and friends who now have to try to understand what happened to her inside that flat in Sydney and why. “This has broken my heart into a million pieces,” her friend Rhys Collington wrote on Facebook. Her family said in a statement issued through the Foreign Office, “We are deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of our much-loved daughter and sister Amelia, who will be truly missed by all who knew her.”