Charges laid over Woonona death cold case


Valmai Jane Birch death arrest 1

Police have arrested a 52-year-old man in connection with a Woonona woman’s death in 2011


Valmai Jane Birch portrait

Woonona woman, Valmai Jane Birch, whose body was found in a wheelie bin in 2011

HOMICIDE Squad detectives have charged a man with manslaughter over the death of woman at Woonona more than eight years ago.

Emergency services were called to Woods Avenue, Woonona, about 10pm on Monday 22 March 2011, after residents reported smelling a foul odour coming from the unit.

Police found the body of 34-year-old Valmai Jane Birch in a wheelie bin in the property’s bathroom.

A post-mortem examination was inconclusive; however, the death was deemed suspicious.

Detectives from the Homicide Squad and Wollongong Police District established Strike Force Gareth to investigate the circumstances surrounding her death.

During the investigation, Strike Force Gareth detectives requested the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), review their brief of evidence.

Following advice provided to police by the ODPP, and following further inquiries, strike force detectives, assisted by Southern Region Operations Support Group, arrested a 52-year-old man at a home at Kiama about 7.30am today (Tuesday). He was taken to Lake Illawarra Police Station and charged with manslaughter.

Police will allege in court that the man was known to Ms Birch and there was a history of domestic violence between the pair.

The man was refused bail to appear at Wollongong Local Court later today (Tuesday).



About Mick Roberts

A 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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