The partner of a former New Zealand woman has been
charged with murder after the 23-year-old mum died in
Former Taranaki woman Sharnee Ngatai died in hospital after
the alleged dispute at her home in Hampton Park early on
Saturday morning, the Herald Sun newspaper reported.
Ms Ngatai had lived in the rental home with her New Zealand
partner Steve Cook, 22, and their three young children, aged
5 months to 3 years, for about a year.
Cook has been charged with murder and appeared in the
Melbourne Magistrates' Court yesterday.
Ms Ngatai's brother, John Bowman, was tearful as he sat
through the court appearance, the Herald Sun reported.
He told the newspaper the death had rocked Ms Ngatai's family
in New Zealand and in Melbourne.
"At this time it's not really going so well, but we'll stick
together as a family and with family support we'll get
through this," he said.
"She was a bright soul, the best sister, mother, daughter and
grand daughter anyone could ask for. Definitely her family
will be there to support her children."
Ms Ngatai's family has set up a memorial fund. A Facebook
page said the fund was to "bring my beautiful daughter
Sharnee home to New Zealand to rest in peace" and to help
support her three children.
Australian-born Ms Ngatai was reportedly an Australian
citizen who moved to New Zealand as a child before returning
to her homeland four years ago.
Neighbours heard a man yelling "I love you, wake up" shortly
before an ambulance arrived at the Hampton Park home about
2am on Saturday, the Herald Sun reported.
Paramedics could not save Ms Ngatai and she died in hospital
a short time later.
She and Cook had reportedly been drinking in the back yard
with friends for much of the night before her death.
Cook, dressed in a white shirt and blue pants, kept his head
in his hands when he appeared in court yesterday, the Herald
Police will file a brief of evidence in the case against him
by March 24.