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Australian prosecutors drop murder charge over German backpacker’s death in 2005

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA (AP) – The wife of a man accused of murdering his German backpacker girlfriend 18 years ago welcomed Australian prosecutors’ decision to drop all charges yesterday, saying her husband has been traumatised by the death and the suspicion of his involvement.

Charges against German immigrant Tobias Moran, 43, of murder and perverting the course of justice were withdrawn in Lismore Local Court in New South Wales state, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said.

The naked body of 25-year-old Simone Strobel from Rieden, Bavaria, was found hidden under palm fronds in a Lismore park on February 17, 2005.

She was found six days after she was reported missing and close to where she had been camping in a Lismore trailer park with Moran, then known as Suckfuell, his sister Katrin Suckfuell, and friend Jens Martin.

Moran’s Australian wife, Samantha Moran (AP, pic below), said in a press statement outside their upscale City Beach home in the west coast city of Perth, “It was the right decision.”

“Tobi, I and our whole family are extremely relieved by the… decision to withdraw the charges against him,” the mother of her husband’s three children said.

“I’m deeply ashamed that this happened to Simone in Australia, a visitor to our country who Tobi has always described as an angel on earth,” she added. Tobi Moran stood beside his wife during her statement but remained silent.

Moran was arrested in Perth in July 2022. He was extradited to New South Wales and charged with murder and perverting the course of justice. A Sydney court released him on bail and allowed him to return to Western Australia state.

Prosecutor Kim Gourlie had told the bail hearing that Moran lied about “crucial events”, including the nature of his relationship with Strobel and their use of alcohol.

Defence lawyer Tim Game told the court the prosecution case was “nonexistent”.

Samantha Moran said the time since his arrest had been “highly distressing and emotional for us”.

“I know that there is not a day that goes by that Tobi doesn’t think about Simone and wishes that he had stopped her from walking away that night,” she said.

“Tobi continues to be traumatised by the loss of Simone as well as the speculations surrounding him.” A New South Wales coroner ruled in 2007 that there was insufficient evidence to recommend charges against anyone for the death of Strobel, a kindergarten teacher.

Police offered a reward of AUD1 million (USD678,000) for information in 2020.