Harriet Wran in jail, charged with killing former Byron man

The late New South Wales Premier Neville Wran and daughter Harriet
The late New South Wales Premier Neville Wran and daughter Harriet

A LIFE of wealth and privilege has come crashing down on Harriet Wran, youngest daughter of the late New South Wales Premier Neville Wran, who has been charged with murdering a former Byron Bay man alleged to have turned to drug dealing.

Wran, 26, whose father was one of Australia's most celebrated politicians and a Labor Party icon, had reportedly been living rough and, according to Fairfax Media, has told police she is addicted to the drug ice (P).

Her boyfriend, Michael Lee, 35, and another man, Lloyd Haines, 29, have also been charged.

The three are accused of fatally stabbing former Byron Bay man Daniel McNulty, 48, in his Sydney flat in a run-down public housing block in inner-city Redfern on Sunday night, and attacking Brett Fitzgerald, 42, who is in a serious condition in hospital with multiple stab wounds.

The Daily Telegraph reports Mr McNulty had worked in the film and television industry, including on music projects and documentaries for SBS, and as a fisherman.

He lived at Byron Bay for about 10 years before becoming addicted to heroin and moving to Sydney a few years ago.

Shock at a brutal murder in a slowly gentrifying neighbourhood turned to disbelief yesterday when it emerged that privately educated Wran, who stands to inherit a sizeable chunk of her father's estimated A$40 million ($44 million) fortune, was implicated.

After a night in a police cell, she appeared at Liverpool Local Court in southwestern Sydney, charged with murder, attempted murder and aggravated break and enter. Her barrister, Winston Terracini, SC, one of Sydney's highest-profile silks, said she would plead not guilty but would not, for the moment, be applying for bail.

Lee, with whom Wran was arrested at Liverpool train station on Wednesday, was charged with the same offences, as was Haines, who was arrested on Tuesday.

According to Fairfax, Wran - whose father died in April at 87 following a long battle with dementia - has told police she was "terrified" and "desperate" to buy ice, or methamphetamine, on Sunday night.

She was "numb on ice", she said, when she accompanied Lee and Haines to the flat of McNulty, said to have been a musician, heroin addict and small-time dealer. A police source quoted by the Daily Telegraph said, "the next thing she knows, they were laying into him".

Police allege the trio went to McNulty's flat with the joint intention of killing him.

Reports say Wran - said to have acquired a "bikie" boyfriend and tattoos - had been struggling emotionally since her father's death.

The paper quoted a source as saying: "She's been sleeping in the streets". Fairfax said that, when arrested, she had no money or credit cards on her.

Harriet Wran
Harriet Wran

Neville Wran, who was given a state funeral attended by Labor luminaries, became a QC and NSW's longest-serving Premier, running the state from 1976 to 1986. The family reportedly owns a A$10 million house in an exclusive Sydney neighbourhood, a A$10 million waterside apartment and a A$2 million farm.

Harriet - Wran's daughter from his second marriage to Jill Hickson and a god-daughter of Kerry Packer - attended elite private schools and, according to her Facebook page, has been studying modern and ancient history and philosophy at Sydney University.

An unnamed friend told Nine News that the murder charge was "beyond comprehension".

Neighbours described McNulty as an "affable, friendly" man and loving father to his 9-year-old daughter, who moved to Sydney from Byron Bay two years ago. One friend said he was struggling to overcome his addiction, and was on a methadone programme.

After Wran's death in a Sydney nursing home, Hickson became embroiled in a battle over his will with the three children of his previous marriage. The Wrans had had a stormy relationship, splitting up in 2006 but reconciling in 2011.

Flying into Sydney airport from Brisbane yesterday to support her daughter, a tearful Hickson said: "I can hardly walk, let alone talk."

A friend of Mr McNulty's, Jim Hearne, described the former Byron man as 'a cheeky bugger' who 'didn't have a history of violence'.

"He's an incredibly charming guy," the Telegraph quoted Mr Hearne saying.

"He had a mate with a boat in Byron Bay and he fished every day. He was a brilliant fisherman. He was up at 4am and he lived the life of a salty sea dog.

"I bumped into him a few months ago at a festival on Oxford St and he didn't look great, to be frank," Mr Hearne said.

"But he was as charming as ever. He might have even hit me up for $20. That's the life of an addict.

"We just had a chat and he was a bit down on his luck.

"But tomorrow was always going to be a better day."

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