Horrific day Nicholas found family killed
Horrific day Nicholas found family killed

Nicholas Horstman turned 27 on Tuesday.

It is a birthday he should have been celebrating with his twin sister Tamara and mother Maureen. Instead he was planning their funeral.

It was Nicholas who found Tamara's body when he returned home on a Sunday afternoon 14 days ago to the Warwick house they shared.

He called an ambulance and as he waited for help, he found his mother dead in another room.

They had allegedly been bludgeoned by an intruder who sneaked into the house some time that morning.

"Losing one family member is tough and then to discover it's two, at the same time, due to the same event ... your mind goes into survival mode," Nicholas said.

As he makes arrangements for Friday's funeral, Nicholas chose to talk to The Weekend West to share memories of his warm, hardworking and much-loved mother and sister.

Sitting at a Warwick cafe not far from the Felgate Place house, Nicholas is wearing clothes borrowed from friends, his family home still a crime scene.

“Mum was very loving and caring, she would always go out of her way to help people,” he said.

Tamara was super-intelligent, she was a high achiever but carefree.

“She liked to go out and have a good time with her friends.”

As Nicholas struggles to come to terms with how his family’s lives have been shattered by the violent incident, he has urged people to cherish their family and friends.

“Our family is devastated by what has taken place,” he said.

“Unfortunately, events similar to this do happen and you read about it in the paper and see it on the news. But like everyone always says … you’d never imagine it would happen to you and I’m in the same situation.

“It’s not something you expect to come home to, and obviously you don’t want to come home to something like that.”

Nicholas went to the gym early that morning before spending the day with mates.

He did not know his mother and sister had not made it to work or that their worried colleagues had tried to call them. He thought something was wrong as soon as he returned home that day. He won’t say what sparked his fears but says he tried to dismiss it as his mind playing tricks on him.

Seconds later he found his sister and then his mother dead, each with injuries to their head and body.

“You implement whatever coping mechanism your brain can do at the time just to get through it,” he said.

“You think OK, my sister’s passed away and now my mother’s passed away, I’m still alive, I’ve still got my father.”

But for several terrible hours he could not get hold of his dad and feared he might have lost him as well. Remarkably composed, Nicholas admitted the past days had been extremely tough but he was trying to be strong for his mother. It is what she would have wanted, he says.

He said his mum had always made the twins her priority, changing careers after they were born, and sparing no expense to make sure they had the best birthday parties.

Nicholas Horstman. Picture: Facebook

Born and raised in England, she moved to Holland in her 20s to be with her Dutch husband Gerald.

There she worked for a corporate executive director, a challenging role that took her around Europe and provided fodder for entertaining stories she later shared with her children.

After the couple moved to Australia for a life change, she worked for a mining firm.

But she gave that up when the twins were born, believing retail would offer more flexibility.

“She made that sacrifice for us ... so she could take us to school and be there when we were home,” Nicholas said.

Friends and colleagues of the 67-year-old have paid tribute to her charisma, wit and dry sense of humour.

Her son said she seemed to get along with everyone.

She would strike up conversations with neighbours or others she met during her daily walks with her dog Freda, later telling Nicholas about whom she had seen that day.

“She was always trying to crack jokes but they weren’t overly funny ... well, not to us kids,” he said.

Nicholas and Tamara were loving siblings but had their own friends and lives.

He is a financial planner and she had been enjoying her time as a university student.

Tamara’s decision to do an arts degree, which she finished in December, might have seemed unusual for someone who graduated high school with exam results that put her in the top 0.2 per cent of students in the State, her brother said. But Tamara enjoyed English literature and he thought that she might have become a teacher.

The trio moved into the Felgate Place home more than a year ago, buying it together after Maureen and Gerald separated.

Despite the separation, the couple had remained on good terms. Gerald was a regular visitor to the Warwick home and Maureen was helping him with the interiors for his new place in Chittering.

Nicholas said they loved the Warwick property.

But before buying it, they had discussed the safety risks of the adjoining alley, which connected the quiet cul de sac to busy Beach Road and Warwick train station.

“The previous owners said they had lived there for more than 25 years and had no problems,” he said.

“We thought ‘it is what it is’ and you could live in the quietest, most secure house in Australia and still have an issue. And we hadn’t had any issues until last Sunday.”

Nicholas does not want to dwell on the circumstances of the horrendous crime but said that police had worked around the clock to give his family answers.

Less than 48 hours after the women were found dead, detectives identified and arrested a teenage suspect. The 19-year-old has been charged with their murders.

“It is comforting to know that everything that can be done was being done,” Nicholas said.

Maureen’s grieving sister said the loss of her and Tamara had been a complete shock and devastating for the whole family.

Nicholas said the support of relatives, friends and neighbours was helping him through the harrowing time.

“It’s a tragedy that no one should have to go through but unfortunately this is the card we’ve been dealt,” he said.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support from family and friends, which has probably made the difference to getting through this.

“I think the message out of this is to just cherish your family and friends ... live each day like it’s their last because, unfortunately, things happen that are outside your control.”

The West Australian

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