Saturday August 24 2013
– The boyfriend of a woman whose death involved a mysterious apartment rubbish chute plunge spent at least 15 minutes on the couple’s computer after discovering her missing and blood in their study, a court has heard.
Phoebe Handsjuk, 24, was found by a concierge in the rubbish storage room of the Balencea apartment complex, where she lived in a 12th-floor apartment with Antony Hampel, on December 2nd, 2010, after 6:30pm.
Although police concluded the death was likely a suicide, an inquest was launched this year following a campaign by Ms Handsjuk’s family, including her retired detective grandfather Lorne Campbell.
Mr Hampel, the son of retired Supreme Court justice George Hampel, on Friday told the coroner of how Ms Handsjuk had struggled with depression and binge drinking throughout their 18-month relationship.
“She struggled every day to do the most simple things,” he said. The night before her death Ms Handsjuk was in “recovery mode” from an alcohol and drug binge earlier in the week, Mr Hampel said.
She was still in bed on Wednesday when he returned home, he said. He cooked her favourite meal for dinner and she went back to sleep.
The following morning Mr Hampel didn’t wake her when he left for work and, according to his evidence, this was the last time he saw her alive.
When he returned home shortly after 6pm on Thursday he noticed a broken glass he believed contained vodka and blood on the couple’s keyboard, he told the inquest.
He said he was also concerned when he discovered a small shrine in the bedroom, including a photograph of himself, a photograph of Ms Handsjuk’s cat and black candles.
“I was becoming very concerned at that point,” he told the inquest.
Counsel assisting the coroner asked Mr Hampel why activity logs showed he was using the couple’s computer at 6:19pm, 6:34pm and “then later again” after returning home to the strange scene shortly after 6pm.
“Why did you continue to use the computer if you were so worried about Phoebe?” counsel assisting said.
Mr Hampel said he had been looking for a website or a note that could explain where Ms Handsjuk was.
“When I came home and saw the small amount of blood on the keyboard my first thought was to look there,” he said.
However, phone and computer records show Mr Hampel did not access Word or email, rather he opened GarageBand, a music program, and iPhoto.
“I just remember looking at programs that were open,” he told the court, adding that Ms Handsjuk often used them.
“My sole intention was to try to see what sort of activity she’d had, if any, on the computer.”
After receiving a call from a work colleague at 7pm, Mr Hampel, a producer, then accessed the program iMovie at 7:10pm.
The apartment computer was accessed again at 7:39pm and 7:40pm.
Mr Hampel said he also fed the couple’s dog, smoked a cigarette, had a beer and ordered some takeaway.
About 8:03pm Mr Hampel buzzed somebody up to his apartment, whom he recalls was probably the takeaway delivery man.
Minutes later police told him Ms Handsjuk was dead.
A police officer responsible for staying with Mr Hampel from 9:05pm noted that he appeared to be crying, but there were no tears, there was no mucus and his eyes were not bloodshot, the inquest heard.
Mr Hampel had also “laughed nervously” after suggesting to the officer that he could type up his own statement because he was a “fast typer”.
The inquest was adjourned until Wednesday – Rania Spooner