A woman has been charged with murder and arson over a house fire that killed a “young, happy” couple and their newborn baby in Melbourne.
Abbey Forrest, 19, her partner Inderpal Sohal, 28, also known as Indi, and their 3-week-old daughter Ivy were found dead in their Point Cook townhouse after it was engulfed in flames in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Arson and Explosives Squad detectives charged a woman 46-year-old woman with murder and arson causing death after she was arrested by detectives in Airport West this morning.
She has been charged with three counts each of murder and arson causing death.
Police are not looking for anyone else in relation to the matter.
The matter will be heard at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court tonight.
“It is believed the woman was known to one of the occupants of the property,” police said in a statement today.
“Police are not looking for anyone else in relation to the matter.”
Heroic neighbours desperately tried to break an upstairs window with an axe to free the young family but they were forced back by the ferocity of the blaze, which destroyed the house in a matter of minutes.
Abbey’s sister Emily Forrest said she had the “biggest, boldest personality”.
She visited her sister’s house with her partner, Joel Martin, today to lay flowers and a Peppa Pig toy in memory of the young family.
The family had only moved into the house three weeks before the tragedy.
“To see this is just heartbreaking,” Emily said.
“It’s been a really hard one for my parents to deal with and I’m just so lucky that we’ve got so many great family and friends surrounding us through this really hard time.”
Emily said she was really close with her only sibling and the pair “grew up riding ponies and always running amok”.
“She was an amazing mum; she just took to it like a duck to water. I’m so incredibly proud of her,” Emily said.
“She was absolutely smitten. She was so over the moon to become a mum and she did so well.”
The couple had been moving into the townhouse when Abbey went into labour.
Emily said her sister’s partner Indi was a “very loving man” who adored Abbey dearly and their daughter just as much.
“I came home early from a camping trip and snuck into the hospital and got to have a quick little visit, despite Covid,” she said.
“Then we had a beautiful family dinner only a week or two ago, so we got to meet everyone and our son got to meet his cousin; that was really beautiful.”
Emily said she was in “disbelief” and needed to see the house herself to know something really happened. She also thanked the neighbours who tried to save her sister and her family.
Close friend Gurvinder Singh last spoke to Inderpal on Monday and said he was “really happy” to be a dad.
He said Inderpal had moved to Australia from India about four years ago and they had lived together for about 18 months.
“He helped me so much when I first moved here, with each and everything,”Singh said. “I don’t have any words, just sadness.”
Emergency services were called to the Totem Way property just after 3.30am yesterday.
Neighbour Jade Bartolo was one of the first on scene and said she had been waiting for her partner to get home from work when she heard someone screaming “fire”.
She ran to the front door of the burning house but couldn’t get in, so she went to her shed and grabbed an axe.
“Then we saw someone up at the top window, we saw someone screaming for help,”Bartolo said.
“They were trying to half hang out the window and then my partner rocked up and he started throwing the axe at the window, trying to break it for them to get out.
“It happened in about four minutes. There was no smoke and then it was just black, the whole room.”
After throwing the axe about five times,Bartolo’s neighbour Jemil grabbed an object from the garden bed and was able to break the window.
But by then, it was too late.
“By the time we actually broke the window they didn’t hear a response from whoever was up there,”Bartolo said.
“We saw their arms, like half their body hanging out the window trying to get out the window but they couldn’t.
“Then they fell back in and my partner said he heard them kind of take a breath and then drop to the floor. That’s the last we heard.”
Bartolo said it was “horrifying” to see the couple unable to escape.
“It was pretty sad to see and hear them trying to get help and we couldn’t get them down. We did the best we could,” she said.
“They were saying ‘help, help’. That’s all I can hear in my head right now, just them screaming for help. I can’t forget it.
“They were responding at the start for like the first two minutes and then it was just black, the whole room. It was pretty terrifying.
“I’ve never seen anything happen that fast and go through nearly three houses.”
Bartolo said the window was secured by a chain and couldn’t be opened wide enough for a person to get out.
She said firefighters arrived five minutes later.
Bartolo said there was no way the family could have escaped through the front if the fire was at the bottom of the house.
She said her house was almost an exact replica of the one that burnt down and she was now “terrified to stay there”.
“I’ve already been looking for other properties, potentially; we’re only here until February,”Bartolo said.
“It scares the s*** out of me, knowing they were desperate and you can’t get out. They had nowhere to go. There’s only four windows upstairs. I have my own house and live upstairs myself.”
Another neighbour, Kirra Haeata, said she saw someone from the house receiving an Uber Eats delivery about an hour before the fire started.
“I finished work at 1am and I ordered Uber Eats and they were standing out the front waiting for their Uber Eats as well,” she said.
“I went to sleep and then the next thing I know was the neighbour screaming to wake me up. You couldn’t see anywhere; it was like grey everywhere. Everyone was choking on smoke and their eyes were burning.”
Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Kennedy said the fire was being treated as suspicious due to its intensity when firefighters arrived, with the blaze raging at the front and upstairs.
“With accidental fires that doesn’t really occur,” he said.
“I’m sure with our arson chemist and forensic experts, we have a large team here, I’m hopeful that we’ll get those answers.”
The house remained cordoned off by police tape today and a few bunches of flowers had been laid out the front.
A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up to help the family cover the funeral costs.
– NCA NewsWire
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