COPS TEST POS­SI­BLE DIY BOMB

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - PETER MICHAEL

PO­LICE are await­ing test re­sults on a pos­si­ble makeshift bomb found at the site of a triple fa­tal gas ex­plo­sion in Mount Isa.

Se­nior of­fi­cers de­clined to spec­u­late on whether two LPG gas bot­tles had been rigged to blow in Tues­day’s tragedy.

Crime scene an­a­lysts have iden­ti­fied frag­ments of ex­ploded cylin­ders in a black­ened bomb- like crater out­side the fam­ily home.

Foren­sic of­fi­cers have also sent DNA sam­ples to Bris­bane to con­firm it was boil­er­maker Char­lie Hin­der, 39, and his chil­dren Ny­obi, 7, and River, 4, killed in the blast in­side a car­a­van, with pre­lim­i­nary find­ings ex­pected early next week.

Act­ing As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Paul Tay­lor said po­lice were un­able to con­firm if it was a mur­der- sui­cide or a tragic ac­ci­dent.

“It is a painstak­ing process,’’ he said. “We need to be me­thod­i­cal and metic­u­lous. This is still an open book, we can­not jump to any con­clu­sions, or rule things in or out, un­til we get rock- solid ev­i­dence.’’

Traf­fic cones marked body parts strewn in a 50m ra­dius of the blast on the road and atop nearby homes.

In a fiery det­o­na­tion that tore apart the car­a­van, torched the fam­ily home, shat­tered win­dows and was felt kilo­me­tres away, the scale of the dev­as­ta­tion and charred de­bris has in­hib­ited foren­sic work as 70 in­ves­ti­ga­tors probe the tragedy.

Po­lice last night hoped to al­low res­i­dents of all but four of 14 house­holds evac­u­ated in­side the ex­clu­sion zone back into their homes.

Mr Hin­der’s boss at Kretschmann En­gi­neer­ing said the boil­er­maker was a well- liked work­mate.

He said the fa­ther- of- two was a good worker and a de­voted dad.

“He took a few sick­ies … but only ever to look af­ter his kids,’’ he said.

He did not want to dis­cuss his em­ployee’s men­tal state, mar­i­tal breakup or whether he had de­tected signs of de­pres­sion.

“We can only let the po­lice do their job. Maybe we’ll know more when they fi­nalise their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.’’

Shop owner Kev Skin­ner ear­lier said Mr Hin­der had been vis­i­bly “down” in re­cent months, and days be­fore the deadly ex­plo­sion, told him: “I can’t leave my kids.’’

The Hin­ders ap­peared to be a lov­ing fam­ily and were “low on the radar” re­gard­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or­ders, a po­lice source said.

Daugh­ter Ny­obi was a stu­dent at Barkly High­way State School and River was in day care. Both at­tended the PCYC af­ter school.

Fel­low stu­dents and teach­ers have been of­fered coun­selling and sup­port as they grieve for two “sweet, in­no­cent, or­di­nary kids”.

Grand­fa­ther Robert Smith told Fair­fax Media how his son- in- law had sep­a­rated from wife Kath and moved into the car­a­van.

“The kids used to go and have a camp out when Kath was on night shift,’’ said Mr Smith, who was re­port­edly fly­ing from his home in Perth to Mt Isa. “They’d go and sleep over with daddy out­side.’’

The com­mu­nity is un­der­stood to have raised more than $ 5000 for the chil­dren’s fu­ner­als.

Sue Wicks, who is lead­ing the online fundrais­ing ef­fort, said it re­moved the fi­nan­cial bur­den from the chil­dren’s mother.

“She has her two chil­dren who she now has to ar­range a fu­neral for and that’s not cheap, so this will be to help get her the fu­neral she wants,” Ms Wicks told Seven News.

The fundrais­ing ef­fort is also help­ing the res­i­dents of homes cut off in the ex­clu­sion zone.

Pic­ture: JACK TRAN

TRAGEDY: Char­lie Hin­der with daugh­ter Ny­obi, 7; ( above) a foren­sic of­fi­cer at the site yesterday.

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