Online dating has recently become the new popular way to meet a potential romantic partner. With 50 million active users on the popular dating app Tinder and approximately 12 million matches per day, “swiping right” to possible future partners has never looked so appealing. However, in the rarest of circumstances turning to the internet to look for romance has taken a sinister turn and thus we have the latest case which has stirred up discussions recently – the mysterious, saddening case of Warriena Wright.
Warriena Wright was an attractive, fun-loving 26 year old New Zealand woman who on the 7th August 2014, was visiting Australia for a friend’s wedding. That evening, Wright met up with a potential romantic interest, Australian Gable Tostee whom she had spoken to via Tinder for the first time only 6 days earlier. They met outside a pub on Cavill Avenue, stayed only a few minutes before buying alcohol at a local shop and then decided to return to Tostee’s flat to continue their evening.
What happens next at the flat is the topic of much debate. From Tostee’s perspective both him and Warriena consumed a fair amount of alcohol, ended up having sex and then went out onto the balcony to take pictures together. At about 1am, early the next day, Tostee made an extraordinary action that would later affect his trial in its entirety – he began recording everything being said in his apartment. The full recording lasted for 199 minutes and by the time it had ended, Warriena Wright was dead.
It is clear from the recording made on that night that Warriena had drank a vast amount of alcohol and started behaving aggressively towards Tostee. On the tape you can clearly hear Tostee telling Warriena to stop hitting him and to “chill out and have another drink”. Later during the recording, the situation escalates when Warriena asked to leave, shouting “Where’s my fucking shit? It’s not fucking funny. I’m going to call the police” and thus when she continues hitting Tostee, he finally snaps stating “That’s more than enough. You’ve worn out your welcome. You have to leave”. They can both be heard struggling with each other, and after this Wright can be heard whispering “Just let me go home”, to which Tostee replies “I would but you’ve been a bad girl”. The glass door is then heard clicking shut and Wright’s voice becomes muffled. Tragically, just 20 seconds later, Warriena can be heard screaming as she falls from the balcony, down 14 storeys, to her death.
Tostee’s next actions are then extraordinary. After witnessing his date fall 14 storeys down to her death, he leaves his apartment before police can swarm the scene, calls his father who advises him that he should get a lawyer so that they would help get this situation straightened out and then orders and proceeds to eat a Dominos pizza. Shortly after Wright’s body was found Tostee was accused of murdering Warriena Wright.
However, this isn’t the first time Tostee has been in trouble with the authorities. Prior to meeting Warriena, Tostee had been banned from local nightclubs on the Gold Coast for acting “creepy” towards women and had been in prison for leading officers on a high speed chase when drunk, just three weeks before the fateful meeting . Also, in a separate post, claimed to be written by Tostee, the self-confessed binge-drinker had told of how another date had “freaked out” on his balcony and then fled his home. Tostee had also had claims against him of bombarding women with dirty messages on Tinder, with the contents ranging from cringy chat up lines to messages of a more sexual nature.
During Tostee’s 9 day trial in October 2016, the jury (six men and six women) were asked to consider whether Tostee’s actions had left Warriena in such a state of fear and intimidation, that she felt as though she had to flee immediately, even if that meant attempting to escape from a balcony on the 14th floor. The crown argued that by forcing her out and locking the door, Tostee is responsible for her death. Glen Cash, the lead prosecutor of this case, stated that at the very least, Tostee meant to cause Warriena harm by locking her outside and gave her no choice of escape, other than attempting to exit the balcony unsafely. Tostee’s defence claimed that after Warriena’s actions became aggressive towards him, he had no choice but to attempt to restrain her to attempt to save them both from harm when he locked her out on the balcony – therefore, her death was just a tragic accident.
After four days of jury deliberation, Tostee was acquitted on charges of both murder and manslaughter and thus labelled an innocent, free man.
In my opinion, whether or not Warriena was acting aggressively towards Tostee, unless he was in direct fear for his life, his actions resulted in the death of an innocent person, whose life was tragically cut short at only 26 years old. For me, the fact that Tostee didn’t call for help directly after realising that Warriena had fallen, but continued with his day as though nothing had happened, equals a significant amount of guilt and responsibility for her death.