A coroner has slammed the "pack of lies" told by a woman who catfished her best friend, leading the 20-year-old to tragically commit suicide.

Renae Marsden, 20, died on August 5, 2013 at The Gap in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

NSW Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott has found the actions of Camila Zeidan "caused the hurt and heartache which led (Mardsen) to take her own life".

The coroner found Zeidan, 27, deliberately catfished Marsden, 20, by masquerading as an adoring prison lover so she could manipulate her for her own romantic desires.


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Since the death, Zeidan had lied to Marsden's family, police and the inquest, where she falsely claimed the fake boyfriend was created by both women as a cover for their lesbian relationship.

Zeidan was unable to admit to her "appalling conduct" and "extreme betrayal of the trust of her friend," the coroner said.

"Camila appeared completely unaffected from the beginning to the end of her evidence about the impact her lies had.

"She showed no warmth, no concern and no regard to any process of the inquest other than to further her own fiction.

"Her evidence can only be described as disingenuous, at best, and ultimately nothing but a pack of lies."

Renae Marsden and Camila Zeidan were close friends at high school. Photo / news.com.au
Renae Marsden and Camila Zeidan were close friends at high school. Photo / news.com.au

Truscott said although catfishing was not in itself an offence under the Crimes Act, it was unclear if the crime of using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend applied in this case.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of three years.


Truscott said the NSW Domestic Violence Death review team should conduct an in-depth review of the case.

The Marsdens have said they believe catfishing should be recognised as a crime.

At the time of her death, Marsden had been planning a wedding to her boyfriend Brayden Spiteri, who told her he was serving time in Goulburn jail over a fatal motorcycle accident.

She had looked up wedding dresses, made appointments for a photo shoot and tattooed his name on her body.

Camila Zeidan, who has not been charged with any offence, was subpoenaed to give evidence at the inquest into Renae's death. Photo / news.com.au
Camila Zeidan, who has not been charged with any offence, was subpoenaed to give evidence at the inquest into Renae's death. Photo / news.com.au

Despite never meeting, more than 11,000 text messages were exchanged between the pair.

The court heard Marsden had his surname tattooed on her body and there was evidence she used her own money to pay for his prepaid phone.

But police found there was no proof Brayden ever existed.

Zeidan, 27, who has not been charged with any offence, was subpoenaed to give evidence at the inquest into Marden's death.

The two girls were close friends at high school and at one stage had once been in a close sexual relationship, which was later rejected by the coroner.

"We created the character (of Brayden) so that no one would find out," Zeidan told the court.

"A few times before at school, she wasn't accepted to be around me in my life."

She said she had shared the phone Brayden's texts were sent from with Marsden , who would "hold it" and "put it in her bag".

Zeidan said she contacted Marsden as both Camila and Brayden on the day Marsden died, but she doesn't know what happened to the phone or the SIM card.

Zeidan said she ended her relationship as Brayden with Marsden in the hours before she disappeared because she "just didn't want to continue".

However less than two months before she died, Marsden confided in Brayden that she was ending friendship with Camila.

Truscott said of Marsden that at that moment, "little does she know it's … the beginning of the end of her relationship with Brayden".

Collage of images Renae Marsden kept of 'Brayden Spiteri' show a man who didn't even know his image was being used in the deception. Photo / Dpt of Communities & Justice
Collage of images Renae Marsden kept of 'Brayden Spiteri' show a man who didn't even know his image was being used in the deception. Photo / Dpt of Communities & Justice

Marsden took her own life after receiving a text the same day from Brayden saying, "I think I need a break and so do you".

The court heard while Marsden and Zeidan that there was evidence "Renae experienced abuse from Camila, including physical abuse".

The court heard Marsden had told her mother in July 2013 that she was "frightened of" Zeidan who had "punched her, pulled her hair" and grabbed the steering wheel when she was driving.

Truscott said a friend had observed "red marks and bruises" on Marsden from "being pushed by Camila".

What Camila Zeidan told police

Detective Senior Constable Brent Bell said in court earlier this year that Zeidan spoke to police in Parramatta three weeks after Marsden's death.

She said she had met Brayden once when she went to a brewery in Windsor with Marsden .

Zeidan described Brayden "as being a tall build with longish hair to above his shoulders".

"She stated that she'd seen him from a distance but had never really spoken to him?" counsel assisting the coroner, Sasha Harding, asked Bell, who replied "Yes".

Harding said: "We've identified some photographs contained in the collage that appears to have been made by Renae … do you agree that that (description of Brayden) is different?"

"Yes, I do," Bell replied.

Harding asked Bell if he agreed that in phone records "Renae indicates on a number of occasions that she's never met Brayden".

"Yes," he replied.

Harding asked: "So that comment is untrue, would you agree, that Renae had met Brayden?"

"It's my opinion that never occurred," Bell replied.

He said Zeidan told police she once had Brayden's number in her phone but "never texted him". She also said the device broke and she'd had a new phone for the last month.

The court heard that Zeidan told police her last text from Marsden was "something like, 'You will always be my best friend, I will always love you. Hope one day you can forgive me'."

Harding asked Bell: "On August 25, 2013 she told (the officer) that she didn't think the text message was serious?"

"Yes," he replied.

However, Harding said Marsden's mother received a text from Brayden on August 5, 2013 saying, "Sort your daughter out. Threatening to kill herself."

She asked Bell: "If one is to accept that Camila is the person posing as Brayden and sending a text message to Teresa, the comment of 'she further stated that she didn't think the message was serious' is possibly incongruous?"

"Yes, I wouldn't believe that to be correct because it was enough for Brayden's phone to message there was a threat to kill herself," he replied.

In the same interview on August 25, 2013, Zeidan told police when she found out her friend was missing she drove to her house and got in the car with Marsden's mother.

"Teresa (Marsden) and Camila then drove around the neighbourhood to areas where Renae liked to go and continued to call Renae's telephone," Harding told the court.

"She had driven up and down the street and where Brayden's sister's house was in Glenhaven."

Marsden's friends scoffed in court at the mention of Brayden's sister and looked in the direction of Zeidan's family.

Harding said when Zeidan was asked the address of Brayden's sister's house, she told police: "I don't really know the name."

Zeidan further told police she "had a relationship with Marsden while they were at school but nothing sexual".

Bell agreed with Harding that emails exchanged between Zeidan and Marsden years earlier, in 2008, proved otherwise.

One of these emails, from Zeidan to Marsden in July 2008, was read aloud in court.

Text from 'Brayden' to Renae Marsden.
Text from 'Brayden' to Renae Marsden.

"I love you so much. I'll try be back soon I promise. I love you so much," Harding read.

"Baby, you can get phone sex with me every night … and then I'll give you sex in bed, okay?"

Harding asked Bell: "Would you agree that that (relationship) is different to what Camila had indicated to the police?"

"Yes," he replied.

Zeidan was asked in the police interview if she was Brayden Spiteri.

"No. I know that a lot of people think I am. Everyone is against me. I wish I was where Renae is now," the young woman said, according to s Harding.

"Wherever she is, I just want to have the peace she is having now. We could be together, do you think she is really gone?"

According to a statement from a colleague, tendered in court, Marsden received upsetting text messages from Brayden at work on the day of her death after a month of radio silence.

Harding said the man remembered one message read something similar to "I think I need a break and so do you".

"After receiving it, she began to cry. I saw that Renae had tears running down her face ... she was shaking and her face went read," the colleague told police.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youth services: (06) 3555 906
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.