Brother and sister accused of lying to police investigating rooftop electrocution death

“We know that what happened to him was not right. “We know someone did something that caused my son’s death.”

A 2020 inquest into Luke’s death heard allegations that cables on the roof of the house had previously been tampered with to bypass the meter and steal electricity from the grid, before the system was removed. Wiring was allegedly left exposed with insulation that had been destroyed.

Luke was found with a frayed cable in his hand and could not be revived.

His partner at the time, Jaime-Lee Digby, received a knock on the door that night from the police, who told him Luke had died at work.

“He didn’t do it to himself,” Digby said. “He did everything right. “He is the one who has had to pay the maximum price.”

They gave him his partner’s belongings, including the receipt for the ring.

“It was just one kick in the gut after another,” he said.

He said several lives had been destroyed, allegedly by someone “trying to save money on electricity.”

Jaime-Lee Digby and his late partner Luke Bray.

Jaime-Lee Digby and his late partner Luke Bray.

In August 2021, the coroner referred the matter to the Prosecutor’s Office, an ODPP spokeswoman confirmed.

Diane Bray said the coroner “had a full picture” and closed the investigation, sending her to consider criminal charges, but then the family found themselves waiting again.

He said they were later told the matter would be considered a cold case.

That was until July 2023, when the home’s former tenant, Mariam Hamade, and her brother, Rabih Hamadi, were charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice and lying to police investigating Luke’s death.

Hamade and Hamadi faced Sydney’s Downing Center District Court on Friday to be arraigned. Each of them pleaded innocent and was sentenced to stand trial.

Hamade allegedly lied to police in June 2017 “about his electricity bills and electricity usage at 16 Short Street, Carlton”, and spoke to his brother about the interview and police investigation.

Police allege the 42-year-old intended to pervert the investigation into Luke Bray’s death.

Hamade was a witness at the investigation and testified about the decreasing cost of his electricity bills over a period in 2015 compared to 2014, which he attributed to the switch from electricity to gas.

Mariam Hamade leaves Downing Center District Court with her lawyer Michael Blair (left).

Mariam Hamade leaves Downing Center District Court with her lawyer Michael Blair (left).Credit: Edwina Pickles

Hamadi allegedly “took steps to remove any evidence of an electrical bypass” from his home in the nearby suburb of Bardwell Valley in June 2017.

It is also alleged that the 47-year-old “told lies to investigating police” about why he had carried out electrical work at the premises.

Perverting the course of justice carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison if proven.

Judge Timothy Gartelmann scheduled the brothers’ three-week trial in April 2025.

Rabih Hamadi leaves court on Friday after his trial was set for April 2025.

Rabih Hamadi leaves court on Friday after his trial was set for April 2025.Credit: Edwina Pickles

No one has been charged with causing Luke’s death.

“It’s been seven years and we’re still moving forward,” Diane Bray said.

“We have no expectations that it will be an open and definitive task. We can always hope, but we can’t hold our breath.

“From the beginning we were asked to trust the justice system, and here we are, we still trust.”

Reflecting on her son’s memory, Luke’s mother said he was a smart, happy-go-lucky entrepreneur who loved water skiing and camping. His tall, lanky figure earned him the nickname Pretzel.

“He was a very handsome rooster,” she said. “He had a very strong sense of right and wrong.”

She said he began a carpentry apprenticeship at the age of 15, had completed a construction management license course at 18 and had been lead guitarist in a “screamo” band with his friends who reached triple j Unearthed.

“When he turned 20, he wanted a change,” Diane Bray said.

A plaque dedicated to Luke Bray at Point Cartwright on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

A plaque dedicated to Luke Bray at Point Cartwright on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Luke had wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps into the military, but had to wait to join, so he ended up in the navy.

His mother said the poverty and desperation her son witnessed while serving in the military stayed with him, and after a time he decided to return to his trade.

As Luke’s cousins ​​and friends grow up, marry, and have children, his memory is honored, including through Digby’s first-born son, who has the middle name Luke.

“We know at least four little people named after Luke,” Diane Bray said. “It’s beautiful to see.”

Start your day with a summary of the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up for our Morning Edition newsletter.

Related Articles

Back to top button