Suspected killer farewelled with massacre victims
Margaret River murder-suicide victims, Katrina Miles and her four children.Source:The Courier-Mail
THE victims of one of Australia's worst mass shootings have today been farewelled in two funeral services - including one with their suspected killer, Peter Miles.
Hundred of mourners this morning attended a service at Bunbury Crematorium in Western Australia to farewell Taye Cockman, 13, and her siblings Rylan, 12, Kaye, 10, and Kayden, 8, along with their mother Katrina Miles.
The family was murdered, alongside the children's grandmother Cynda Miles on May 11 on a rural property in Osmington, on the outskirts of Margaret River.
Police believe Cynda's husband Peter Miles, 61, killed the family before turning the gun on himself. Their investigations are ongoing.
Dozens of children attended the 11am service with several of them openly sobbing as they left. Other barefooted kids skipped around roses on the manicured grounds of the cemetery. A number of mourners were too upset to talk to news.com.au as they hurried from the service. Aaron Cockman, the father of four children killed in the murder-suicide appeared distraught as he left the first funeral earlier today.
A second service, starting just three hours after the first, for the entire family is under way in the same crematorium, as of 1pm local time.
The funeral program for the second service, obtained by news.com.au, features a photograph of the seven family members smiling on the cover with the caption: "In Loving memory [of] Peter, Cynda & Katrina Miles, Taye, Rylan, Arye & Kadyn Cockman."
Inside, it lists The Calling's Wherever You Will Go as the entrance song, followed by Powder Finger's These Days and Sarah McLachlan's Angels for the memorial tributes.
Margaret Shire president Pam Townshend said her heartfelt condolences went out to the Cockman and Miles families.
"This continues to be a devastating loss and pain continues to be felt by the wider community," she said in a statement.
"The funerals will be an important part of the healing process but we know there will be a much longer road ahead for many.
"Today is about those who are farewelling and those closet to them. We want to offer them a respectful pause for this day and provide everyone with the space and time that they might be needing."
Earlier, people slowly made their way into the crematorium on Wednesday morning, avoiding the massive horde of waiting media who were banned from the service.
Peter Miles is the main suspect in the mass shooting after he was found slumped in a chair with his rifle between his legs and a self-inflicted gun wound.
The family of Katrina's former partner Mr Cockman, said yesterday the funeral was "open to all", but this morning asked media not to report from inside the service.
Mr Cockman lost his four children in the mass shooting, fronting reporters less than two days after their deaths in a heartbreaking press conference.
Philip Cockman, Aaron's father, told Perth Now he expected the funerals to have a strong turnout.
"It is obviously going to be pretty big because a lot of people feel deeply about it," Philip Cockman said yesterday.
"We have got a big group of people that we know that are going to go but there are also a lot of people in the Margaret River community. We encourage anybody, it is open to everyone."
Mr Cockman said after meeting with the community, they decided to move the funerals to the West Australian city, rather than keep it in Margaret River or Osmington.
"Early on we were meeting with the shire and it was always about the community," he said.
"We have moved it (the funeral) up to Bunbury because of the fact that there are two together.
"This way if people want to travel from anywhere they can all go in the one day.
"We're all holding up all right. We are a tight-knit family but we are not so private that we don't share the grief of the community. The community has as much grief as we do.
"There is a huge big parkland area out the back where people can gather to see. There will be plenty of room," he added.
A handful of mourners have already started to leave tribute messages to the young family on the funeral directors' website.
"Fly free beautiful angels," one friend wrote.
A couple named Phil and Debbie remembered the times they spent on the Osmington farm with the family - the site of Australia's worst mass shooting since Port Arthur.
"Thank you for many happy family holidays at the farm, seeing our children grow and grandchildren arrive, through the happy times and through the sad times you've always been special friends. We've been privileged to see Kat grow into a lovely young woman and then into a loving mother to Taye, Rylan, Arye & Kadyn. We will never forget our special friends. Love to All," the couple wrote.
Addressing Katrina's brother Neil, Diana Lokken and Jay Jennings said they were "saddened" to hear about the family's death.
"Neil, Suzanne & family, we were both so saddened to hear of your sudden loss. We had so enjoyed the lovely breakfast at the farm and chatting with all your family during our visit to Australia. May time and the memories of happier days give you strength to overcome your sorrow. Our love and thoughts are with you," they wrote.
Mary and Bob Elton wrote a tribute saying they would "always treasure our friendship of 30 years with Peter and Cynda and family. Expressing our deepest sympathy to all".
Another friend wrote "Fly high beautiful children".
Three hours after Katrina and her four young children are farewelled, a second funeral will be held for the entire family in the same crematorium.
It's believed the second funeral will have a different sentiment to the first funeral - as the police investigation continues and Peter Miles is still considered the number one suspect.
The services are taking place two and a half weeks after their dead bodies were located in a shed which had been converted into a living quarters, for Katrina and her kids after the breakdown of her marriage, at Peter and Cynda's Forever Dreaming farm.
The family is believed to have been slain by Peter, who ended the May 11 massacre by taking his own life.
Police discovered the bodies when called to the property, about 20km from the Margaret River, just after 5am on the day of the shootings.
Commissioner Chris Dawson later confirmed "that all seven deceased suffered gunshot wounds". The tragedy has been described as Australia's worst mass shooting in more than two decades.
HOW IT ALL UNFOLDED
Police previously confirmed that three guns found at the Margaret River property belonged to the property owner, Peter. Within hours of the tragedy, police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the shootings. Detectives and forensic officers spent days scouring the farm. Commissioner Dawson said the incident was one of the worst the force would ever have to deal with.
"The loss of any life is tragic, but four children and three adults, this is a significant tragedy," he said earlier this month. "This devastating incident will no doubt have a lasting impact on the families concerned, the whole community, and in particular the communities in the southwest. These tragedies take their toll on everybody."
The investigation into what led to the multiple murders and suicide is continuing, and the coroner will eventually hold an inquest.
Friends have told reporters that Peter "couldn't look after his family" and felt a "sense of failure" because he was facing financial problems and looking for work.
The children's father Aaron Cockman previously said he believed Peter had planned the murder-suicide because he'd been told the siblings, all of whom were on the autism spectrum, were in their beds and appeared peaceful. Mr Cockman said Peter, whose son died years ago, could not bear the thought of losing his other son Neil, who is gravely ill with a kidney illness.
Cynda and Peter were well known in the Margaret River area - for extensive community involvement and a longstanding and successful farm maintenance business.
Katrina and her four children had been or were students at Margaret River Primary School. They had also been home schooled.
Their father, Mr Cockman, was a local carpenter and builder. It is understood he and Katrina had been involved an acrimonious split, which had led her and the children to move in with her parents on their property. It is not suggested Mr Cockman had any involvement in the shooting.
The Miles's farm, which they bought in January 2015, boasted two residences and was sold at the time as a "piece of paradise" in a popular holiday destination. But it instead became the scene of a bloody tragedy.
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