news reports

Some of the media coverage was inaccurate about the events and time-line leading up to Toby’s death; some of it was insensitive and distressing for her family and friends to read. It was a surreal experience to watch familiar news readers discussing Toby and her death on the evening TV news. But overall the media coverage was also useful: it encouraged witnesses to step forward, which assisted the police with their investigations. It alerted Toby’s friends around Australia that she had died, which was a blessing because she had lost contact with many of them in her last years. Also quite a few articles expressed concern about the inadequacy of housing and treatment options for people with severe mental illness, so perhaps something positive might come from the circumstances leading up to Toby’s death.

Woman’s body found in parklands. December 31, 2007

Dan Lato – December 31, 2007 09:50am Adelaide Now
THE investigation into the body of a woman found in the parklands is no longer being treated as suspicious by police. The woman’s body was found in the middle of a sports oval near the intersection of West Terrace and North Terrace, but police this afternoon ruled out foul play in relation to the death. A passing motorist alerted police to the body after driving past about 6am. The dead woman is believed to have been aged in her 20s. A sports bag, a cigarette packet and black cap were found near the body. Police spent around three hours at the scene before releasing the body to the Coroner for a post-mortem examination.

Woman’s body found in park. December 31, 2007

Daily Telegraph – December 31, 2007 10:40am Daily Telegraph
A woman’s body has been found in Adelaide’s parklands, with police treating her death as suspicious. The body was found in the city’s west parklands, about 300m from West Terrace in the central business district, early this morning. The woman was believed to be in her 20s and major crime detectives were at the scene investigating, police said.

Police probe body-in-park case. January 1, 2008

Colin James, The Advertiser – January 01, 2008 The Australian
The death of a young Perth woman in Adelaide’s west parklands has been declared a major crime. Police believe Toby Tang Benson Garratt, 22, of Perth, was killed on Sunday night. Ms Garratt had been living in various backpacker hostels since arriving in Adelaide from WA several months ago. She was last seen alive in Adelaide on Saturday night. Her body was found lying on an oval early yesterday. Police searched the area for possible evidence and declared the death a major crime following a post-mortem examination. They would not reveal how she was killed but Detective Sergeant Greg Hutchins said there was no evidence Ms Garratt was sexually assaulted or robbed. Her purse was found in a sports bag which was next to her body. Det-Sgt Hutchins said police wanted to speak to a female acquaintance of Ms Garratt who spent time with her in the days before her death.

SA police investigate parklands body. January 1, 2008

Posted Tue Jan 1, 2008 1:10pm AEDT ABC News
Police have begun a search of parklands at the corner of West Terrace and Port Road in Adelaide in relation to the discovery of a woman’s body yesterday. The death is being treated as murder after a post-mortem was conducted. The woman, aged in her 20s, was found early yesterday morning in the middle of the Old Scholars cricket oval in the west parklands.

Police declare parklands death a major crime. January 1, 2008

Posted Tue Jan 1, 2008 4:02pm AEDT ABC News
South Australian police have declared the death of a 22-year-old woman found in the parklands yesterday morning as a major crime. The body of Perth woman Toby Tang Benson Garratt was found by a member of the public just after 6:00am on a cricket oval near West Terrace. Police say she had been staying in Adelaide hostels and backpacker premises for several months. Greg Hutchins from the Major Crime branch says Ms Garratt was last seen on Saturday morning and [police] want to hear from anyone who saw her, especially one close associate. “We’re aware that she did have a friend, she wasn’t travelling with a friend, but a friend she has met in Adelaide and we’re just seeking that person at the present time,” he said. Police have been searching the parklands at the corner of West Terrace and Port Road for evidence.

Police identify body in park. January 2, 2008

January 2, 2008 10:15AM The Age
A 22-year-old Perth backpacker has been named by police as the woman found dead in Adelaide’s Parklands on New Year’s Eve. The body of Toby Tang Benson Garrett [sic] was discovered in Adelaide’s west parklands about 6am, local time, on Monday. Police have appealed for information about Ms Garrett’s [sic] movements while in Adelaide, having declared her death a major crime. Ms Garrett [sic] arrived in Adelaide several months ago and had been staying in backpacker hostels, a police spokesman said today. She was last seen alive on the morning of December 29. Police today appealed for anyone seeing Ms Garrett [sic] since that time to contact detectives.

Police call for information about oval murder. January 2, 2008

Posted Wed Jan 2, 2008 11:00am AEDT ABC News
South Australian police are still trying to find friends of a Perth woman whose body was found in Adelaide’s parklands. 22-year-old Toby Tang Benson Garratt was found dead on a cricket oval near West Terrace at 6:00am on Monday. Police believe she was murdered. Detective Sergeant Greg Hutchins says Major Crime investigators want to speak to anyone who spent time with Ms Garratt since Saturday morning, when she was last seen. “We’re also asking assistance from any person who was in the vicinity of the oval west of West Terrace adjacent to Port Road on the evening of Sunday the 30th of December or Monday the 31st of December, or any person who has any information which may assist police enquiries into her death,” he said. “Toby arrived in Adelaide several months ago and has been staying in hostels and backpackers in and around Adelaide.” Sergeant Hutchins says police are particularly keen to speak with a woman who became friends with Ms Garratt after she moved to Adelaide.

Body-in-park case now a murder investigation. January 2, 2008

Colin James, The Advertiser – January 02, 2008 01:10am Adelaide Now
THE body of a murdered woman lay on an oval in the middle of Adelaide for several hours before it was found on Monday.
Police yesterday declared the death of Toby Tang Benson Garratt, 22, a major crime following an autopsy at the State Forensic Science Centre. Ms Garratt, of Perth, is believed to have been killed late on Sunday night or early on Monday, with police refusing to reveal for operational reasons how she died. Her fully clothed body was found beside a cricket pitch in the centre of ANI Oval, on the corner of Port Rd and West Tce, at 6.15am on Monday after it was seen by a motorist. Ms Garratt’s maroon Adidas sports bag containing her personal belongings, including her purse, was beside her body, along with her black baseball cap. STAR Group officers yesterday spent several hours searching the area around the oval for possible evidence, locating various items which were sent for forensic testing. Major Crime Detective Sergeant Greg Hutchins said there was no evidence Ms Garratt had been robbed or sexually assaulted. Neither were there signs of a violent struggle, which caused police to initially believe the death may have been drug-related. Det Sgt Hutchins said police were following several lines of inquiry but required help to track Ms Garratt’s last movements. He would not comment on whether Ms Garratt had frequented nightclubs or other venues on North Tce and Hindley St before she was killed. Det Sgt Hutchins said she had lived in various backpacker hostels since arriving in Adelaide several months ago from Western Australia. Major Crime and Adelaide CIB detectives needed to speak with anyone who knew Ms Garratt, particularly a female friend, to determine her movements, he said. “We would like to hear from anyone who knows Toby, particularly a close friend or associate who was seen with Toby several days ago.” Det Sgt Hutchins said Ms Garratt’s relatives in Perth had been told about her death. They could not be contacted for comment last night.

Govt ‘partly responsible’ for death of homeless woman. January 2, 2008

Posted Wed Jan 2, 2008 7:07pm AEDT ABC News
Staff at a backpackers hostel in Adelaide say they hold state government agencies partly responsible for the death of a 22-year-old woman.Toby Garratt, from Perth, was mentally ill and homeless. She was found dead in the west parklands on New Year’s Eve. Police say she was the victim of foul play but would not reveal how she died.
They are trying to find a young woman she was seen socialising with in the days before her death. Ms Garrett was placed in a series of backpacker hostels after she arrived from Perth in October and her rent was paid under the Health Department program Metro Homelink. Sunny Backpackers chef Garrie Telfer says he and other told the agency that a backpacker’s hostel was not suitable accommodation. He says the Government must take some responsibility for her death. “Other than the person who did this to her, they hold 90 per cent of responsibility,” he said. He says he told the department she was mentally ill and could not shop, clean or cook for herself. “That’s sad and that’s telling me she shouldn’t be here,” he said. “A girl like that needed care and needed someone to take her where she needed to go, and probably re-teach her.” The Health Department says it will not comment while a criminal investigation is underway. There have been more than a dozen calls to the police Crimestoppers line over the discovery of the woman’s body.

Toby’s tragic final days. January 2, 2008

Colin James, The Advertiser – January 02, 2008 01:10am Adelaide Now
A MENTALLY ill woman found murdered in Adelaide’s western parklands was last seen alive at a makeshift camp for Aborigines, it has emerged. Camp residents said yesterday that Toby Tang Benson Garratt, 22, was involved in an altercation at the site, behind Adelaide High School, late on Sunday after she arrived with an adult male. Her photograph was recognised by several homeless people, who said they had often seen Ms Garratt at soup kitchens and other inner city welfare agencies. Major Crime detectives yesterday interviewed backpacker hostel owners near the camp as it emerged Ms Garratt had been monitored by the SA Mental Health Service. Mental Health Department director Derek Wright said last night that Western Australian mental health services contacted them on November 2 to say that Ms Garratt was in SA and may need support. “After speaking with her mother in WA, we were able to locate her and do so,” he said. One hostel owner said Ms Garratt had turned up with psychiatric case notes from WA when he was asked by a mental health agency in November to provide accommodation for her. Mr Wright said she was discharged from an SA hospital on December 4 after a four-day stay, following a review by a psychiatrist. “Toby had been receiving almost daily contact and support from SA mental health services up to the end of December, whilst also receiving assistance with her financial cost of her accommodation,” Mr Wright said. She contacted the mental health triage team on December 29 and indicated she intended returning to Perth. Ms Garratt’s body was found early on Monday in the middle of a sporting oval in the western parklands. Her death was declared a major crime on Tuesday after an autopsy. Mr Wright described her death as “a tragic loss of life”. Inquiries by The Advertiser revealed Ms Garratt stayed at a State Government mental health hostel, Palm Lodge, early last week before she was seen at the makeshift camp at the weekend. Ms Garratt was admitted to Palm Lodge after she was taken to a detoxification centre last month, after being picked up by a voluntary welfare team patrolling Adelaide’s streets for intoxicated people. Sunny’s Backpacker Hostel owner John Dwyer said he asked a government-funded agency to find alternative accommodation for Ms Garratt after she had stayed at his hostel for a week. Mr Dwyer said she was a quiet, withdrawn person who had difficulty caring for herself, including an inability to cook, clean, shop or do her laundry. Food vouchers were delivered by taxi but Ms Garratt returned from a supermarket seeking staff assistance because she did not know how to use them. “After a week, I asked them (the mental health team) to find somewhere else for her because this wasn’t appropriate for her,” he said. “She should never have been allowed to roam the streets on her own. I blame the Government for what has happened. “They were fully aware of the situation.” For legal reasons, comments cannot be published on this story.

Mystery friend key to killing of ‘lost soul’. January 3, 2008

John Wiseman – January 03, 2008 The Australian
ADELAIDE murder victim Toby Garratt was a shy young woman who appeared to have mental problems and could not fully care for herself, according to backpacker hostel managers. Ms Garratt stayed at various hostels in the weeks before her body was found in the middle of a cricket oval in the city’s parklands.
Investigators are searching for a mystery woman who may hold the key to the 22-year-old’s murder as they try to piece together her movements in the 48 hours before her body was discovered on Monday, fully clothed and with no apparent injuries. A sports bag containing personal belongings including her purse was found nearby, although a laptop was missing. Detectives have said the Perth woman had not been sexually assaulted and there were no signs of violent struggle. Initially they believed her death was drug-related, but after an autopsy they began a murder investigation and are refusing to disclose how she died.
Toby Tang Benson Garratt had been living in Adelaide for several months, moving between inner-city hostels and backpacker accommodation, staying a week or two at a time and often returning weeks later. Some of her bookings were made by mental health authorities, according to several backpacker hostels. “Flick” Builder, a manager at Annie’s Place Hostel, described Ms Garratt as cheerful, quiet and very polite, but someone who kept to herself. Sunny’s Backpackers manager John Dwyer also said the young woman was quiet and didn’t cause any problems. But he said she was a “little bit incapable of looking after herself”. He said other people would look after her. “Other backpackers would help her cook and help her shop,” he said. “She was always well presented – neatly dressed and clean.” But Mr Dwyer said she was a “lost soul” who was not “streetwise”. In early December Ms Garratt was staying at the Blue Galah Backpackers when she could not pay her bill, according to reception worker Amid Raheja.
Ms Garratt is known to have made a friend in the city – another woman – who was seen with her in the days leading up to her death. Police are now seeking that woman to help piece together Ms Garratt’s movements. She was last seen alive on Saturday morning. She was killed either late Sunday night or in the early hours of Monday.
Garratt’s mother Alma [sic] and her stepfather Bradley were yesterday grieving at the family home in Mt Lawley in Perth’s inner north. Alma [sic] Garratt said she wanted others to know that her daughter “was a lovely girl”.

Woman charged with parklands murder. January 3, 2008

Posted Thu Jan 3, 2008 11:03am AEDT Updated Thu Jan 3, 2008 11:10am AEDT ABC News
A 21-year-old woman will appear in court today charged with the murder of a Perth backpacker in Adelaide’s parklands. (ABC News: Gary Rivett)
South Australian police have charged a woman with the murder of a Perth backpacker who was found dead in Adelaide on Monday morning. 22-year-old Toby Tang Benson Garratt’s body was found on an oval in Adelaide’s parklands. Late last night police arrested the 21-year-old suspect and charged her with murder. Police say the suspect will appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court today, where they will ask for her identity to be suppressed. Ms Garratt had been staying in backpacker accommodation since moving to Adelaide several months ago. She had been treated in hospital early in December for mental health problems, and was released with the approval of a psychiatrist. The Department of Health has issued a statement saying WA authorities alerted them to Ms Garratt’s mental health problems in early November, shortly after she arrived in Adelaide. The director of mental health, Derek Wright, says from that time almost daily contact was made with the young woman and her rent in backpacker hostels was paid by the state.

Woman charged over Perth backpacker murdered in SA. January 3, 2008

AAP January 03, 2008 08:00am Perth Now
A 21-YEAR-old woman has been charged with murdering a Perth backpacker whose body was found in Adelaide’s parklands on New Year’s Eve. The woman was arrested by major crime detectives last night and charged with the murder of 22-year-old Perth woman Toby Tang Benson Garrett [sic], a police spokeswoman said today.
Ms Garrett [sic] arrived in Adelaide several months ago and had been staying in backpacker hostels. Her body was discovered in Adelaide’s west parklands at about 6am (CDT) on Monday. The charged woman will appear in court later today and police will apply for a suppression order on her name and image, the spokeswoman said.

More help needed for mental health patients: Opposition. January 3, 2008

Posted Thu Jan 3, 2008 2:17pm AEDT Updated Thu Jan 3, 2008 2:18pm AEDT ABC News
The South Australian Opposition says more help should have been given to a mental health patient who was murdered on the weekend. The Liberal’s mental health spokeswoman Michelle Lensink says 22-year-old Perth woman Toby Garratt was a vulnerable person who deserved greater attention.
“If she’s living in a hostel she’s depending on the goodwill of the people who own it who aren’t trained professionals and she clearly needs to have someone who’s providing her with skills and support to ensure that she can survive,” she said. “We have it on very good authority that there’s probably between 20 or 30 people living in this situation. I’ve also been contacted by parents of a girl who lives on Adelaide streets and her mother doesn’t know where she is from one day to the next.” At the time of Ms Garratt’s death the Health Department was paying for her to stay in hostels, with health workers regularly visiting to provide support. A 21-year-old woman has been charged with her murder.

Killing exposes mental health failings. January 3, 2008

Thursday, 3 January 2008 Martin Hamilton-Smith MP
The Rann Government must reveal the number of mentally ill South Australians being left to fend for themselves in hostels. Shadow Mental Health Minister Michelle Lensink said the tragic killing of a 22-year-old woman has highlighted an ongoing crisis in South Australia. “I have received credible reports that between 20 and 30 mentally ill people are being left to fend for themselves in hostels and unsupported accommodation in Adelaide,” Ms Lensink said. “The Government must come clean and reveal the full extent of how many mentally ill people are being funded to stay in backpacker hostels.
“The Opposition and the families of many sufferers do not regard this as appropriate care.” Ms Lensink said Mental Health Minister Gail Gago had questions to answer about the Government’s procedures after the death of West Australian backpacker Toby Garratt. “Is it Government procedure for food vouchers to be delivered by taxi?” Ms Lensink said. “Why is the government pursing a policy of putting mentally ill people in motels, hostels and unsupported accommodation while at the same time selling off Glenside to raise money? The mentally ill are among the most vulnerable people in our society and often require the greatest support. The abandonment of West Australian backpacker Toby Garratt has had tragic consequences.”

Woman appears in court over parklands murder. January 3, 2008

Posted Thu Jan 3, 2008 4:29pm AEDT (ABC News: Gary Rivett) ABC News
A woman has appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court charged with the murder of a Perth woman. The body of Toby Garratt was found in Adelaide’s western parklands on Monday. Prosecutors told the court that witnesses saw the accused Adelaide woman with Ms Garratt the night before she was found dead. The accused’s identity has been suppressed because police are continuing their investigation and are hoping further witnesses will come forward. The 21-year-old woman did not make a bail application and will return to court next Friday.

Woman appears in court charged with parklands murder. January 3, 2008

January 03, 2008 06:00pm Andrew Dowdell, Court Reporter, The Advertiser Adelaide Now
Murder victim Toby Tang Benson Garratt, left, was seen hours before her death with the woman now charged with her murder, an Adelaide court has heard. A 21-year old woman appeared briefly in the Adelaide Magistrates Court today after being arrested by Major Crime detectives on Wednesday night. Police prosecutor Senior Constable Doug Nikolic said despite the arrest, the murder investigation was still in its “very early stages”. “On the night prior to the deceased’s body being found a number of people witnessed (the accused) with the deceased,” he said. Ms Garratt’s fully clothed body was found on a sporting oval in the west parklands early on Monday morning, New Year’s Eve.
Police are yet to reveal how Ms Garratt died but earlier said there were no obvious injuries on her body. Magistrate Lydia Makiv suppressed the accused killer’s name and image after an application by the prosecutor.
Snr Constable Nikolic said police were still hoping more witnesses would come forward who had seen Ms Garratt in the days before her death. “We would not want to in any shape or form taint any identification procedures,” he said. After yesterday’s court hearing, Major Crime Detective Sergeant Doug Hutchins said police were pleased to have made a quick arrest. He said there was no reason for members of the public to be alarmed over the alleged murder.”This was a matter between two people and I can assure the public that the parklands are safe,” Det Sgt Hutchins said.
The accused woman stood silently staring forward for most of the court hearing, dressed in a loose fitting grey t-shirt. Her lawyer, Bronwen Waldron, made no application for bail. The woman was remanded in custody to face court again next week.
Ms Garratt, 22, had come to Adelaide from Perth several months ago and had spent time in government mental health facilities. The schizophrenia sufferer had also lived in a city backpacker hostel and spent some of her final days at a makeshift camp in the west parklands.
AdelaideNow cannot publish comments on this story for legal reasons.

Alleged killer pleads mental incompetence. November 27, 2008

Posted Thu Nov 27, 2008 1:42pm AEDT Updated Thu Nov 27, 2008 1:41pm AEDT ABC News
Prosecutors have conceded that a Croydon Park woman was mentally incompetent when she killed a Perth woman in the Adelaide parklands. Toby Garratt, 22, was found dead in the middle of a cricket oval in the west parklands last New Year’s Eve. The cause of death has not been revealed. A 22-year-old woman whose identity is suppressed has pleaded not guilty to murder because she was mentally unfit at the time. Another hearing will be held next week.

Woman detained for strangling backpacker. December 15, 2008

Posted Mon Dec 15, 2008 6:04pm AEDT ABC News
A South Australian court has heard that a woman who strangled a mentally-ill backpacker had been suffering from hallucinations and chronic schizophrenia at the time of the killing. M_________, 22, admitted killing Perth woman Toby Garratt in Adelaide in December 2007, but pleaded not guilty to murder. M___________ met Ms Garratt, 22, at a hostel after Ms Garratt had arrived in Adelaide two months earlier. Witnesses said Ms Garratt was mentally ill and could not look after herself. The women were seen walking in the CBD on the night of December 30. Ms Garratt’s body was found in Adelaide’s city parklands the next morning. Psychological reports found that, at the time of the killing, M_________ was suffering from hallucinations and believed she had to kill Ms Garratt to save herself. Justice Tom Gray found that M was mentally incompetent to commit the offence and ordered her indefinite detention at mental health facility James Nash House.


M_________ was released from James Nash House in January 2013.