Family 'let down' over daughter's death in Mozambique

The father of an Australian woman found dead in Mozambique says his family has been let down after a coroner was unable to rule whether her death was a homicide.

Victoria's state coroner Judge John Cain released his findings into Elly Warren's death on Friday, more than seven years after the 20-year-old died in the African nation.

The Melbourne woman had spent a month volunteering but was due to return home on November 13, 2016, so she could start a marine biology course.

Elly Warren with a giraffe (file image)
Elly Warren was found dead outside a toilet block in a Mozambique beach town in November 2016.

Instead, she was found dead outside a toilet block in the beach town of Tofo on November 9.

A Mozambique autopsy found homicide was her medico-legal cause of death, by suffocation on sand.

The coroner found it was unlikely she was intoxicated and there was no evidence of drugs in her system.

But Judge Cain could not rule whether the 20-year-old's death was a homicide.

He found the cause of death was aspiration of sand but he could not determine how the sand ended up in her lungs.

Judge Cain could also not say whether Ms Warren's death happened outside the toilet block or if her body was moved there.

The coroner could not determine whether the 20-year-old had been sexually assaulted, although it was a possibility.

Judge Cain said it was also possible that a person or multiple people caused or contributed to her death.

Elly Warren with elephants (file image)
A Mozambique judge will determine whether an investigation should continue into Ms Warren's death.

The coroner pointed to the Mozambique authorities' decision not to hand over the brief of evidence as the reason for his limited findings.

"It is possible that the Mozambique authorities do have information that is relevant to this investigation," Judge Cain said in his findings.

"But I do accept that release of any material held by the Mozambique authorities is a matter entirely in their discretion."

Ms Warren's father Paul said he was disappointed Judge Cain did not make a concrete ruling on her death.

"I think there is overwhelming evidence my daughter was murdered," he told reporters outside court.

"The Australian authorities have blatantly told us where they stand ... and it's back in the hands of Mozambique.

"So I think Australia has let the family down."

An instructing judge in Mozambique will now need to determine whether investigators should continue to probe Ms Warren's death or if the case should be closed.

The coroner urged the judge to reach some sort of conclusion as soon as possible for the benefit for Ms Warren's family.

Paul Warren outside the coroner's court
Mr Warren says the AFP let his family down horribly.

When it came to the Australian Federal Police's involvement in the case, Judge Cain stopped short of making any recommendations.

The coroner found the AFP had made repeated attempts to provide assistance to Mozambique investigators but those requests had been largely ignored.

Judge Cain was not critical of the police force but he did urge them to develop better communication guidelines for supporting families like Ms Warren's.

Mr Warren was critical of the AFP, saying they let his family down horribly.

He's planning to continue to fight for answers for Elly.

"She was vibrant. She loved going overseas," Mr Warren said.

"She was a daughter that any father would be proud of."

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store