Cop killer mum and son’s twisted fortress
INSIDE a squalid brick veneer cottage on Sydney's western fringe, a paranoid mother and son created Fortress Barbieri.
In the middle of the house, where they could retreat and still see all the doors, Fiona and Mitchell Barbieri collected an arsenal of barbaric weapons so - as police later said - they could make "their last stand".
Strewn outside across the five overgrown acres at their rural Oakville home, they had hidden man traps among leaf litter in the form of wooden boards with 10cm nails sticking out of them, designed to maim anyone who stepped on them.
Molotov cocktails primed with petrol and wicks were hidden in the freezer in the property's granny flat, close to other homemade incendiary devices. There were swords, a barbed wire garrotte, a homemade spear with four barbs, a metal hook with a wooden handle called a gaff, a rope flail, an electronic cattle prod, hunting knives and two baseball bats.
In a kitchen cupboard was a slingshot and a 4.5kg sledgehammer propped against the wall just inside the front door.
A wooden-handled replica firearm and a gas bottle attached to a flame-thrower were also found at what police described as "strategic" points inside the house.
One of the three bedrooms was a kennel for two neapolitan mastiffs of the cane corso breed - traditional fighting dogs police said were originally bred to kill people.
The story of the delusional world of Fiona and Mitchell Barbieri can now be told after the close of the inquest into the murder of Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson, 45 - knifed when he walked into their stronghold to sort out a volatile neighbourhood dispute in 2012.
Mitchell Barbieri, then 19, is behind bars for at least 15 years for murder after the prosecution conceded he was affected by his mother's paranoid delusions.
Fiona Barbieri, then 45, is in jail for at least seven years six months after her guilty plea to manslaughter was accepted.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal the full story of the pair's descent into paranoia and how it led to the deadly events of December 6, 2012.
So insular had the mother and son become that their relationship was described as "unhealthy" and had "intimate undertones", a court was told.
Fiona Barbieri had once had a successful career working for American Express in the US. After moving back to Australia and divorcing she continued to work through the night from home so she could stay on US time.
It was in 2008 they began to build the fortress, first in their minds, then physically.
Mother and son also started hosting wild alcohol and dope parties for hundreds of teenagers. At theses shindigs Fiona complained to guests about her neighbours, tow truck king Kevin Waters and his family.
Initially the families got on well but as mother and son became more disturbed, they saw the Waters family as enemies.
As Fiona's mental health deteriorated, she was made redundant and spent whole days smoking cannabis with her son while debts mounted. In 2011, the electricity was cut off and never reconnected. The house was lit at night with candles. The pair wrapped the water meter in barbed wire to prevent a reading or the closing valve being turned off.
At Windsor Police Station, Fiona became increasingly well known to police. Feeling totally abandoned and persecuted, they started barricading themselves in their home and in their paranoia saw Mr Waters as the "cause of all their problems", the inquest was told.
Fiona told her doctor that Mr Waters wanted to intimidate them and buy their property at a rock-bottom price.
She emailed MPs about her perceived problems with Amex, about her neighbours and about conspiracies involving government and non-government agencies.
Menacingly, she confided in a friend that she had a "killer's plan" against Mr Waters.
Mother and son put up a sign next to the locked gate on their property that said: "Autarchy in place on these premises, strictly by appointment only." It meant they had declared absolute sovereignty or self-government.
The fortress was complete.
This was the scene that confronted police when they were called to the property after reports Mitch Barbieri was firing arrows at an electrician installing floodlights on the Waters' property. His mother was swinging a baseball bat in the sparkie's direction.
As officers tried to calm the escalating situation, inside their barricaded home the Barbieris sent emails to numerous federal and state ministers titled "Barbieri v Waters".
When the door was flung open, the two massive dogs, weighing up to 70kg each, rushed out - followed by Mitch with a 27cm hunting knife in his hand. He stabbed Insp Anderson fatally in the top of his right chest and then in his face, while his mother swung a 1.8kg sledgehammer at officers.
Insp Anderson paid with his life for breaching Fortress Barbieri.