Police Have Classified Aussie’s Death As Murder

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne told the Fiji Sun last night that it was a “terrible, terrible tragedy”.
26 Jul 2019 10:00
Police Have Classified Aussie’s Death As Murder
The home of the late Jennifer Ann Downes (pictured in inset photo) at Service Street, Suva. Photo: Simione Haravanua.

Police have classified the death of an Australian national as murder.

This follows the post-mortem that was conducted on Jennifer Ann Downes at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva yesterday.

Ms Downes, an employee of the United Nations World Food Programme, was found dead in her house at Service Street in Domain, Suva on Tuesday afternoon by Police officers who were called to the scene.

Her husband, Henri Lukaka John, was in a stable condition at CWM Hospital last night after he allegedly attempted to take his life.

Ms Downes was an Australian national while her husband, who is originally from Congo, is an Australian citizen and the prime suspect in the case. They are believed to have gotten married in late 2012 and have three children.

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne told the Fiji Sun last night that it was a “terrible, terrible tragedy”.

“My most sincere sympathies are with her children and her parents at this appalling time and I think it is very important to respect their privacy and of course these matters are always subject to criminal investigation,” she said.

“So, I really don’t want to say any more than that. I would note that Australia is sending our most sincere sympathies to her children and her parents.”

When asked if she knew the whereabouts of Ms Downes children, Senator Payne said: “No. These are matters for the family to take care of and I very much respect their privacy. There is no more difficult time in life than this.”

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro confirmed last night that the post-mortem was conducted, but the result would not be released.

“The case has been classified as murder. The suspect is still admitted in a stable condition in hospital and he is yet to be questioned by Police,” she said.

A statement from the United Nations in the Pacific on Wednesday said Ms Downes had worked as a logistics officer for the organisation since 2017.

Ms Downes started her career as a logistician more than 10 years ago, first in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then Australia and Vanuatu.

Since joining UN World Food Programme, she and her team worked tirelessly to bring logistics tools and knowledge to communities in the Pacific Islands, helping them prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

As Police investigations into her alleged murder continue, UN Pacific has offered its full co-operation to the authorities. Police officers familiar with investigations had earlier told the Fiji Sun that Mr John works for an international organisation in Suva.

Edited by Percy Kean


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