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Toby Moran: German surfer accused of murder of Simone Strobel in Lismore freed on bail

The grieving parents of Simone Strobel (pictured) have been seeking answers for years since her 2005 alleged murder

The grieving parents of Simone Strobel (pictured) have been seeking answers for years since her 2005 alleged murder

A German-born surfer who allegedly suffocated his backpacker girlfriend in their campervan and dumped her naked body in the bush 17 years ago will walk free from jail after his wife’s wealthy family offered $450,000 for bail.

Tobias Suckfuell Moran is charged with murdering his former partner Simone Strobel – who was allegedly suffocated with a pillow or plastic bag in Lismore, northern NSW, in 2005.

He was extradited from Western Australia to Sydney last month after being charged with the alleged killing – and acting with intent to pervert the course of justice.

Daily Mail Australia can reveal the Perth-based relatives of Moran’s wife Samantha made a frenzied last-minute bid at Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday to put up cash, property and even luxury rugs to secure his release on bail from Parklea jail in the city’s west. 

Respected Perth dentist John Moran – Samantha’s father – put up $200,000, while $100,000 each was offered by his wife Sandy, his son Michael, and his daughter – Samantha – who is expecting her third child with the accused. 

But the court requested records of property, bank balances and other financial assets from the Moran family.

John Moran offered screenshots of his son Michael’s bank accounts, but court officials demanded mortgage documents relating to the family’s Perth properties, equity valuations and contracts.

There was a discussion about the value of rugs belonging to the accused killer’s mother-in-law – and mention that her January 2022 bank balance of around $25,000 might not be enough for the bail offer. 

John Moran told court officials in Sydney his family’s legal representatives were racing to Fremantle court in Western Australia to do more to secure the release of his daughter’s husband.

It seemed Tobias Moran would not be walking from Parklea prison and returning to his luxury life with his pregnant wife and their two children in her family’s multi-million dollar Perth beach house.

But a late application by the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions to block bail after Magistrate Margaret Quinn had granted, was subsequently dropped and Mr Moran will now be released and return to Western Australia. 

Accused killer Tobias Moran (above) has been granted release after his wife's wealthy Perth family offered up property, cash and rugs to secure his return to his luxury beach shack

Accused killer Tobias Moran (above) has been granted release after his wife’s wealthy Perth family offered up property, cash and rugs to secure his return to his luxury beach shack

Tobias Moran spent the past week in Covid isolation in Parklea prison after being extradited from Perth and charged with murder.

Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court heard on Wednesday that police allege Ms Strobel, a 25-year-old kindergarten teacher, died ‘of asphyxia’ at the hands of Mr Moran at Lismore caravan park in February 2005.

The accused left Australia soon after his long-time girlfriend’s death and returned to Germany after Lismore locals raised $6,000 for his plane ticket home.

He later met wealthy Perth ski instructor, yoga teacher and lawyer Samantha Moran in South Africa and the couple married, and returned to live in Australia.

Magistrate Margaret Quinn said the 2007 inquest into Ms Strobel’s death and an inquiry in Germany had found there had been fights between Mr Moran and Ms Strobel, drinking and they had been ‘perhaps on drugs’ on the night she died.

She said statements from witnesses said there were screams heard on the night and indications of ‘some aggression on behalf of Mr Moran, who had denied there had been drinking … or drugs’.

Ms Quinn granted bail because of the substantial surety, the delay before going to trial and the fact that ‘it is not the strongest circumstantial case that I have seen’.

She ordered him to report to a WA police station three days a week, surrender his passport, and not to go within 500metres of any international departure point. 

Tobias Moran is not expected to go to trial for Ms Strobel’s alleged murder until late 2024.  

Samantha Moran and husband Tobias are expecting the birth of their third child as he is charged with the murder of his former girlfriend at a Lismore caravan park 17 years ago

Samantha Moran and husband Tobias are expecting the birth of their third child as he is charged with the murder of his former girlfriend at a Lismore caravan park 17 years ago

Ms Moran put up $200,000 for her husband's bail and her parents, Perth dentist John Moran and his wife Sandy were prepared to forfeit a further $250,000 surety against his flight before a 2024 trial

Ms Moran put up $200,000 for her husband’s bail and her parents, Perth dentist John Moran and his wife Sandy were prepared to forfeit a further $250,000 surety against his flight before a 2024 trial

While Tobias Moran’s lawyer claims police have ‘no evidence’ against his client, prosecutor Kim Gourlie said the accused had told police lies about Ms Strobel, including ‘lies in relation to the nature of their relationship, lies in relation to the use of alcohol, lies in relation to the clothing she was wearing’.

Tim Game SC told the court on Wednesday that the police case is a ‘weak theory’ with more than 300 witness statements and would be a complex case to defend.

Before being granted bail Mr Moran appeared in court via video link from Parklea prison wearing a blue forensic gown over his prison greens, with his hair drawn back in a ponytail beneath a white surgical mask.

Mr Game argued against a letter Chief Investigating Officer, Detective Sergeant David David Mackie, which was submitted to the court by prosecutors.

Tobias Moran (above in an artist's court sketch on Wednesday) appeared by video link from Parklea prison to apply for bail with the help of $450,000 from his wife's family

Tobias Moran (above in an artist’s court sketch on Wednesday) appeared by video link from Parklea prison to apply for bail with the help of $450,000 from his wife’s family

Toby Moran (above when he was Tobias Suckfuell with then girlfriend Simone Strobel) has been charged with her 2005 murder in Lismore

Toby Moran (above when he was Tobias Suckfuell with then girlfriend Simone Strobel) has been charged with her 2005 murder in Lismore

Defence lawyers said there was 'no evidence' to suggest Moran murdered Ms Strobel in the couple's campervan (pictured) after a night out at Lismore's Gollan Hotel in February 2005

Defence lawyers said there was ‘no evidence’ to suggest Moran murdered Ms Strobel in the couple’s campervan (pictured) after a night out at Lismore’s Gollan Hotel in February 2005

Mr Game repeatedly said there was ‘no evidence’ for the allegations against Mr Moran, which assert the now 42-year-old man murdered Ms Strobel in the couple’s campervan after a night out at Lismore’s Gollan Hotel.

Describing the police statement of facts in the case as ‘an overstatement and exaggeration’, the lawyer said his client had supplied DNA and had been excluded from 53 samples cited in the police case.

The DNA of an ‘unknown male’ had also been found on a ‘black item’ by police near the crime scene. 

The court also heard there was evidence in the police case to suggest there were marks visible on Ms Strobel’s neck, however, Mr Game maintained her cause of death was not certain.

‘There is no evidence to support the supposition that the cause of death is suffocation,’ he told the court.

‘There were some marks, but no evidence to suggest that was the cause of death. That cannot be relied upon as cause of death.’ 

Moran (pictured) sat with his hands clasped in front of him, staring at the screen, occasionally flexing the thumb of his left hand when he appeared in court on Wednesday

Moran (pictured) sat with his hands clasped in front of him, staring at the screen, occasionally flexing the thumb of his left hand when he appeared in court on Wednesday

As Mr Moran spent a week in a Sydney jail after being extradited from Perth to be charged with murder, his wife Samantha (above, the couple together) is preparing to give birth to their third child

As Mr Moran spent a week in a Sydney jail after being extradited from Perth to be charged with murder, his wife Samantha (above, the couple together) is preparing to give birth to their third child

He said the case against Mr Moran had been ‘hitched up’ by police ahead of another inquest into Ms Strobel’s death, to be held later this year.

‘Without any explanation or any attempt to explain why, he has been charged … now suddenly gets arrested one morning in Perth early last week,’ Mr Game said.

Police expressed concern the accused could take off overseas with his family – an assertion that Mr Game described that assertion as ‘outrageous’. 

Prosecutor Kim Gourlie said screams from Lismore caravan park had been heard on the night Simone Strobel disappeared ‘while she was still at the campsite’.

He said her body had shown ‘bruising’ and that her death was due to ‘the action of one or more persons’. 

He said the police case would include statements from German witnesses about the ‘nature of the relationship’ between Ms Strobel and Mr Moran back in 2005.  

‘When he was an important suspect around the time of her death, he left the jurisdiction,’ Mr Gourlie said. 

‘At critical times when Simone was killed he doesn’t co-operate’ he said, adding that the accused had been ‘compelled’ to give police DNA samples. 

‘The reason he returned is he married an Australian. before he returned he changed his name.’ 

Pictured: Simone Strobel before she was found dead

Ms Strobel's last known sighting on CCTV (right) six days before her naked body was found

Simone Strobel is pictured left and right, on CCTV six days before her naked decomposing body was found pushed through a fence near the Suckfuell siblings’ campsite

Simone Strobel and Tobias Suckfuell (right) are seen on CCTV leaving Lismore's Gollan hotel on February 11, 2005 when it is said the couple argued over tensions in their relationship

Simone Strobel and Tobias Suckfuell (right) are seen on CCTV leaving Lismore’s Gollan hotel on February 11, 2005 when it is said the couple argued over tensions in their relationship

Ms Strobel’s body was found six days after she vanished following a drinking session between the four German tourists in a local Lismore hotel. 

Her decomposed body was found covered in palm fronds and pushed through a fence 90m from where she and Mr Moran had been camping with his sister Kathrin and her friend, Jens Martin. 

A Supreme Court judge ruled in a civil case there are ‘reasonable suspicions’ that Mr Moran killed Ms Strobel.

Mr Moran left Australia after the alleged murder and led a carefree nomadic, existence surfing the world’s top beaches, before he met Samantha in South Africa. 

Tobias Suckfuell (above) in a NSW Police interview following the discovery of his then girlfriend's body pushed through a fence near their campsite in Lismore

Tobias Suckfuell (above) in a NSW Police interview following the discovery of his then girlfriend’s body pushed through a fence near their campsite in Lismore

Photo of Tobias and Simone during their backpacker holiday in Australia which has been signed by him with a romantic message to his then girlfriend of more than six years

Photo of Tobias and Simone during their backpacker holiday in Australia which has been signed by him with a romantic message to his then girlfriend of more than six years

Neither Mr Moran nor his sister Kathrin returned to Australia to appear at the subsequent inquest into Ms Strobel’s death.

But Jens Martin did testify and claimed that all three had lied to police at Mr Moran’s behest about their actions before Ms Strobel disappeared.

Ms Strobel’s grieving parents Gustl and Gabi Strobel have spoken to German newspapers over the years, saying they have endured ‘agonising uncertainty’ since their beloved daughter’s death.

The former Tobias Suckfuell, has been living under his new name Toby Moran with wealthy lawyer and yoga instructor wife Samantha Moran (pictured above) in the elite Perth suburb of City Beach for more than a decade

The former Tobias Suckfuell, has been living under his new name Toby Moran with wealthy lawyer and yoga instructor wife Samantha Moran (pictured above) in the elite Perth suburb of City Beach for more than a decade

Toby and Samantha met in South Africa after he left Australia following Simone's alleged murder

Toby and Samantha met in South Africa after he left Australia following Simone’s alleged murder and have lived a comfortable life with the help of her rich Perth family

Ms Strobel’s mysterious death also became the subject of a book, Have You Seen Simone? written by Virginia Peters.

In 2014, Mr Moran took out an injunction to prevent its publication, and then launched a defamation suit against Ms Peters and Schwarz Publishing, but dropped the lawsuit in 2017.

However, during the defamation suit’s process called discovery, the defence applied for the release of papers called ‘the 100-page Document’. 

In 2017, Mr Moran applied to block these documents on the grounds they were the subject of legal professional privilege and included notes written by himself and Samantha in South Africa which allegedly discuss the ­circumstances of Ms Strobel’s death.

NSW Police told the inquest they believed Ms Strobel had been killed by smothering, most likely with a pillow.

In 2020, the NSW government offered a $1 million reward for information over the alleged homicide.   

Tobias Moran is pictured being extradited back to NSW to face murder charges. Pictured: His arrival at Sydney airport

Tobias Moran is pictured being extradited back to NSW to face murder charges. Pictured: His arrival at Sydney airport

SIMONE STROBEL TRAGEDY

Simeone Strobel and Toby Moran – then known as Tobias Suckfuell – arrived in Australia for a one-year working holiday in August 2004, and travelled along the east coast.

Tobias’s sister Kathrin and Jens Martin arrived on Australia Day 2005 to join the couple for a month.

On February 11, the four young Germans arrived at Lismore Tourist Caravan Park, and adjourned to the Gollan Hotel for a drinking session.

Tensions erupted between Tobias and Simone, who argued at the campsite, after which Simone disappeared.

The next day, Jens and Kathrin began to look for Simone.

On February 13, the three checked out of the caravan park before reporting Simone’s disappearance to police.

Four days later, on February 17, 2005, a police dog handler discovered Simone’s body hidden in the grounds of the Lismore Continental Club’s bocce courts.

The three travellers laid flowers at a makeshift memorial in the club grounds with Ms Strobel’s brother who had flown out from Germany.

Both Suckfuell siblings and Jens Martin returned to Germany, but only Mr Martin flew back to Lismore for the 2007 inquest. 

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