Cobar mourns as police investigate shooting deaths

AN INVESTIGATION is under way following the death of a couple whose bodies were discovered in their Cobar home on Wednesday night.

Emergency services were called to the Bourke Street house about 8.30pm following reports of a shooting.

While the victims were yet to be formally identified, they are understood to be 71-year-old Ian Settree and his 69-year-old wife Margaret.

Darling River Local Area Commander Superintendent Greg Moore said police were questioning a 46-year-old man who was known to the couple. As of Thursday evening, charges had not been laid.

A post mortem would take place in the coming days to formally establish a cause of death, he said.

Superintendent Moore said the investigation was in its early stages and he would not speculate on a motive.

"At this point it is also important to say on behalf of police at the Darling River Local Area Command, our condolences and thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased," he said.

"From all accounts they were fine and upstanding members of the community.

"This loss will have a devastating effect on the community. Indeed, police investigating this are part of the community, they know the deceased and that is devastating too."

Meanwhile investigators appealed for anyone with information about the incident to contact Cobar Police Station or Crime Stoppers.


FORENSIC officers on Thursday began the grim task of examining the house where Cobar couple Ian and Margaret Settree were found dead the night before, apparent victims of a shooting.

Like many Australian homes this week, a cricket bat stood tall on the front verandah paying tribute to the late cricketer Phil Hughes, who had been laid to rest the morning of a day the Settrees themselves would not see out.

A command post had been set up outside the couple's home across the road from St. John's Primary School, and police tape cordoned off the area which had been under guard overnight. Cobar Shire Council had set up road blocks at either end of the street.

Dubbo detectives were among those who arrived yesterday to interview neighbours as they tried to piece together the events of the previous evening.

Neighbour Michael Rice said he had been outside just after 7pm Wednesday and thought he heard a female voice yell "no, no, no!". Suspecting it could have been the television, he went to bed shortly afterwards and was woken by his wife about 11pm, who told him their neighbours had died.

A boarder at the Rice house had been stopped by police on his way home that night and was told to take a different route while police secured a perimeter around several houses in the street.

Police confirmed they had arrested a 46-year-old man at a licensed premises in Cobar.

Mr Rice, who had lived next door to the couple for almost two years, described the Settrees as "beautiful".

"They always stopped to talk," he said.

"The town is devastated, I'm just devastated, it was only yesterday I was talking to Ian while he was whipper-snippering."

He said the man who had been arrested lived next door and previously worked for Cobar Shire Council.

"I would often see him around and he would say hello too," he said.

"Ian and him both loved tractors. They had two Massey Ferguson tractors and just last week Ian dressed up as Santa for a parade down the main street.

"There were some beautiful pet dogs next door and I've been told they're being looked after now, so that's something."


THE "closed" sign on the door of the Settree family's office supplies store and the floral tributes on its doorstep yesterday hinted at the tragedy that had taken place a few streets away the night before.

A community-minded couple, 71-year-old Ian was a bus driver and local tour operator and 69-year-old Margaret ran the stationery business.

Garry Burton knew the Settrees because his business Golden West Financial Services, shared a building with theirs.

"I got a phone call last night telling me what happened, I just didn't believe it until I drove up to their house and saw the police there," he said.

"Ian and Marg were very prominent community members, very gentle and family-oriented.

"Marg was in the chamber of commerce and Ian was a keen swimmer with the Cobar Yabbies.

"They had come from Nyngan so as you can imagine that is another community that's in shock too.

"This is the kind of thing you see happening on TV, it's not supposed to happen in Cobar."

Mr Burton said the bouquets had started to appear about 7.30am Thursday..

Cards attached to them bore simple but heartfelt messages like "RIP our dear friends", "Thinking of you" and "Two lovely people sadly missed".

Local resident Irene Mukwindidza sobbed into a tissue as she stood outside the store.

"I just had to come down and see for myself if it was true," she said.

"It's such a shock."

Ms Mukwindidza, one of the store's loyal customers, said Mrs Settree had immediately made her feel welcome when she had arrived in Cobar from Zimbabwe eight years ago.

"She was like a mother to me," she said.

"When you lose someone you expect it to be from cancer. When it's something like this, what can you say?

"I don't think Christmas in Cobar will be the same."


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