Scott Maitland and Cindy Masonwells.
Scott Maitland and Cindy Masonwells. Contributed

Murder victim's friends mourn

POLICE were still searching on Monday night for the body of fun-loving former Gympie "larrikin" Cindy Masonwells, suspected of being murdered along with her husband Scott Maitland in Cairns earlier this month.

Brandon Peter McGowan, 41, of Bungalow in central Cairns, did not appear in Cairns Magistrate Court on Monday morning but was remanded in custody on charges of murdering the couple, who have not been seen since July 5, when they stepped off a flight in Cairns to attend an engagement party.

Cindy's Gympie friends took to Facebook over the weekend to express their grief and condolences.

Her best friend through her early school years at One Mile State Primary School, Rebecca Bodycote described Cindy as "funny and happy-go-lucky".

"I was over at her place almost every afternoon after school," she said.

"I remember us lying out on the trampoline at night watching the stars, and going to the shop to buy lollies.

"We were like sisters in those days.

"She was just like her dad - a real larrikin."

The two friends drifted apart at high school but had recently reconnected via Facebook.

Cindy, 33, left Gympie after high school when her family relocated.

Her father, who owned an earth-moving business here, had passed away while she was a student at Gympie State High, Rebecca said.

Other friends of Cindy and Scott attended court on Monday, along with Mr McGowan's brother.

Scott's father Wayne said his son, a Cairns-born Xstrata mine welder, 35, and Cindy, who was driving trucks in the Mount Isa mines, had spent more than $28,000 to repaint and restore the engine of a 1975 V8 Sandman that had been stolen earlier this year but had been tracked down.

They were to collect the panel van from a mechanic's workshop in Bungalow, where it was being restored.

But it is a white 2001 Ford Econovan that now interests police.

Far Northern Region regional crime co-ordinator Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar has asked anyone who saw the vehicle near Cairns between 9.45pm on July 5, and 1am on July 6, to contact police.

"I'm interested in the movements of the van, whether it was behind an industrial estate, in a paddock or just behaving in an erratic manner," he said.

A homicide squad and scientific and forensic units from Brisbane will remain in Cairns.

"We have a very large diverse group of specialist police here and we haven't stopped this investigation," Insp Asnicar said.

He said Mr Maitland's family had taken the news "very badly" and were being offered support.

"It's a crime that's been perpetrated on two young people and at this stage we can't find a reason for or any reasonable explanation."

Last week, Mr Maitland's father said the disappearance was "baffling" and the couple's bank accounts hadn't been touched since they left Mount Isa.

Mr Maitland had a 13-year-old daughter, Rhyane.

Anyone who has information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Gympie Times

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