How did Phoebe Handsjuk fall to her death? In Into the Darkness, Robin Bowles uses her formidable array of investigative and forensic skills to tell a tale that is stranger than fiction.
On 2 December 2010, the body of a 24-year-old woman was found at the bottom of the rubbish chute in the luxury Balencea tower apartments in St Kilda Road, Melbourne, twelve floors below the apartment she had shared with her boyfriend, Antony Hampel.
Within minutes, the sound of sirens filled the hall as police cars from the nearby police station filled the front forecourt in response to the day manager‘s call. So began the so-called investigation into the sudden death of a young woman called Phoebe Handsjuk.
From then, the case became weirder and weirder. Phoebe, it turned out, was a beautiful but damaged young woman who'd been in a fraught relationship with a well-connected and wealthy lover almost twice her age, who was related to the elite of Melbourne‘s judiciary. The police botched their investigation, so Phoebe‘s grandfather, a former detective, decided to run one of his own. And in December 2014, after a 14-day inquest, the Coroner delivered a finding that excluded both suicide and foul play, a ruling that shocked her family and many others who had been following the case.
‘Bowles delivers an impartial account of the inquest and she also traces back to the original police investigation. Bowles also gives the reader an insight into Phoebe herself, the girl growing up and the troubled young woman she became before her death … Bowles follows up her story with a detailed picture of the inquest, which really is an eye-opener as to how flawed, as well as unclear, this case has been right from the start … an informed and comprehensive account of a tragic crime that captivated the nation. It is a must read if you are a fan of quality true crime stories.’
Amanda Barrett, Mrs B’s Book Reviews
‘In a compelling exploration of a bizarre case, true-crime writer Robin Bowles probes the circumstances behind the death of Phoebe Handsjuk … Cataloguing the long list of uncollected and disregarded crime scene evidence, Bowles reveals that the subsequent police investigation into the death was minimal, and breathtaking in the scope of its omissions and indifference to the available facts.’
Jane Jago, Sisters in Crime