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18 Mar

‘Vicious, unprovoked and relentless’: Quartet charged after group attack

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Calling another teenager a “dog” allegedly led to a 19-year-old woman with a “below average learning ability” being kidnapped, burnt, stabbed andthrown, bound and blindfolded, into the Hawkesbury River by four of her former friends.
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The alleged victim, who Fairfax Media has elected not to identify, was picked up from a friend’s house on Saturday by four of her friends – Brooke Browne, 19, Matthew Leuthwaite, 22, a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl who both cannot be named.

Matthew Leuthwaite did not appear in a brief mention in court on Thursday, where he did not apply for bail. Photo: Facebook

Police facts seen by Fairfax Media suggest that on the way to collect her, the foursome allegedly decided to attack her.

Upon arriving at the Ambarvale address, the alleged victim was physically forced into a Holden Commodore where Mr Leuthwaite allegedly stole her iPhone and she was ordered into the car’s boot.

Ms Browne drove to her family home in Whalan, where the 19-year-old was tied to a chair with a phone charger and subjected to six hours of what investigators called “a vicious, unprovoked and relentless group attack”.

Brooke Browne, a mother-of-one, allegedly stabbed the victim in her right thigh. Photo: Facebook

Blindfolded, the alleged victim was repeatedly punched and hit in the head, hit with a wooden bat, stabbed in both her thighs and had 15 centimetres of her hair cut off. She was left with two stab wounds, deep bruising to her head and face, soreness, burn marks to her hand and “severe emotional trauma”, police say.

Police facts state that while her co-accused were allegedly torturing the victim, Ms Browne cleaned the kitchen and had a shower. When Mr Leuthwaite told her she had not done anything to the victim, Ms Browne, a mother-of-one, allegedly stabbed the victim in her right thigh.

What police facts call a “significant birth defect” meant the teen was “not able to physically resist any attack”.

After six torturous hours, the group allegedly decided to throw the victim in the Hawkesbury River about 5am on Sunday morning to avert police suspicion.

The foursome then got back into the Commodore and Ms Browne drove back to her home at Whalan.

The alleged victim managed to swim to shore and knocked on the door of a nearby home, where police and an ambulance were called. She was taken to Nepean Hospital.

A 19-year-old woman was allegedly thrown from the Windsor Bridge into the Hawkesbury River on Sunday. Photo: Tamara Dean

Police facts say Ms Browne attended Windsor Police Station on Monday and denied any involvement in an interview. She returned on Wednesday where police facts say she “freely implicated her involvement in this matter as alleged and agreed that her actions could have caused the death of the victim and would have caused her significant pain and distress”.

Later that day, the 17-year-old girl also handed herself in. Both were charged with attempted murder, aggravated kidnapping, wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and robbery with wounding.

The 17-year-old appeared in a Children’s Court on Thursday, while the 19-year-old unsuccessfully applied for bail at Penrith Local Court on Wednesday and will remain in custody until her next appearance.

Mr Leuthwaite also handed himself into Windsor Police Station on Wednesday night, and was charged with attempted murder, detain for advantage in company, aggravated robbery and wound person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He did not appear in a brief mention at Penrith Local Court on Thursday, where he did not apply for bail which was formally refused.

On Thursday, the 16-year-old boy was arrested at a home in Wallacia and charged with attempted murder, detain in company with intent to get advantage occasioning actual bodily harm, aggravated robbery and wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He will appear in a Children’s Court on Friday.

On Thursday, the alleged victim’s father thanked investigators for their work.

“I would like to say from the bottom of my heart a huge thank you to the police and detectives you have done a fantastic job,” he wrote on Facebook.

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