News, Police Rounds

Appeal for help in Woonona murder


POLICE are appealing for assistance as they continue to investigate the death of a woman found in a wheelie bin at Woonona in 2011.
Around 10pm on Monday 22 March 2011, Wollongong police went to a unit block on Woods Avenue, Woonona, after residents reported smelling a foul odour coming from a flat.
Officers forced entry to the unit and discovered the body of 34-year-old Valmai Jane Birch hidden inside a wheelie bin in the property’s bathroom.
Detectives from the Homicide Squad and Wollongong police formed Strike Force Gareth to investigate Ms Birch’s death, and are re-appealing for help to solve the case.
As part of their appeal, police have released two photos of Ms Birch, in the hope they will prompt the memories of people who have may have seen her in the weeks or days before her death.
The images, taken on Wednesday 9 March 2011, were sourced from CCTV cameras at Wollongong Railway Station. They are amongst the last images taken of Ms Birch before her death.


Detective Acting Inspector Darryn Gunn from the Homicide Squad said police would like to hear from anyone who may be able to assist with the investigation into Ms Birch’s death.
“We believe Ms Birch was murdered between Wednesday 9 March and Monday 22 March 2011,” Detective Acting Inspector Gunn.
“We’re particularly keen to hear from anyone who saw or spoke to Ms Birch during February or March 2011.
“It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant the information may seem, it could help us crack this case and bring whoever is responsible for Ms Birch’s death to justice.
“Please remember, information can be provided anonymously and will be treated confidentially.”

About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.


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