Chef charged with alleged murder of a female colleague at a zoo in Canberra

Investigators are working to find out more about the pair's background and a homicide inquiry had been launched.

29-year-old Chef Jude Wijesinghe has been charged with murder over the alleged stabbing death of a female colleague at a zoo in Canberra, ACT.

It is being reported that the female victim was a 29-year-old Bhutanese national.

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Image: Jude Wijesinghe, 29, has been charged with murder at the National Zoo & Aquarium (Source: Facebook)

Jude was arrested and taken to taken to Canberra Hospital under police guard with media reporting of “significant self-inflicted stab wounds.”

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ACT Policing confirmed that Wijesinghe had been charged with murder.

‘ACT Policing homicide detectives have today charged a 29-year-old man with one count of murder during a bedside hearing following an incident at the National Zoo & Aquarium yesterday.’

About 12.50pm on Monday, 18 December 2023, ACT Policing and emergency services responded to reports of a disturbance at the National Zoo & Aquarium.    

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Image: National Zoo & Aquarium

The National Zoo & Aquarium is privately owned 19-hectare zoo and aquarium at the western end of Lake Burley Griffin next to the Scrivener Dam.

Police attended the location, and the woman was “located deceased in a commercial kitchen area.”

The woman is believed to have been stabbed with a knife, before her alleged attacker tried to harm himself.

It is reported that the woman’s body was found by zoo staff who heard her screams.

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Several zoo employees told 7NEWS they were “shocked” and “devastated” something so horrific could have taken place there.

The zoo was closed on Tuesday, and police do not believe there is any ongoing threat to the public.

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Image: Jude Wijesinghe, 29, has been charged with murder at the National Zoo & Aquarium (Source: Facebook)

According to Jude’s social media profile, he has worked all around Australia as a chef since migrating from Sri Lanka.

He did a cooking course in Melbourne, graduating in 2019 before relocating to Canberra two years later. 

Jude’s neighbours told Daily Mail that he lived alone and they had never seen any women entering his apartment.

‘I can’t believe it. It’s all a bit of a shock.’ 

Hall O’Meagher, ACT Policing’s Detective Superintendent of Criminal Investigations, said the knife was found on the scene.

‘An autopsy is yet to be performed, but at this stage we believe [the victim] died from being stabbed with a knife. The knife was found at the scene.’

The National Zoo & Aquarium said it hoped it would reopen today.

‘We request that visitors and guests recognise the significant trauma that staff have experienced and that they respect their need for privacy on this matter. Our thoughts are with the families, along with those staff affected in one way or another.’

Jude was refused bail, and will next appear in court on 4 April 2023.

Investigators are working to find out more about the pair’s background and a homicide inquiry had been launched.

Investigations into the incident are ongoing. Anyone with information that could assist police is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website.  Please quote reference 7623644. 

For confidential support 24/7 contact LIFELINE on 13 11 14 or 1800 RESPECT.

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