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Police say they are “very confident” that they have found the bodies of Luke Davies (left) and Jesse Baird (right)
By Tiffanie Turnbull
BBC News, Sydney

Tributes have flowed in for suspected Australian murder victims Jesse Baird and Luke Davies, as relatives visit the site where their bodies were found.

Police located human remains inside “surf bags” on a rural property in Bungonia, south of Sydney, on Tuesday.

The discovery ends a search that has gripped and horrified Australia.

Police officer Beaumont Lamarre-Condon has been charged with murdering the couple, allegedly with his work-issued gun. He is yet to enter a plea.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was among those who paid tribute to Mr Baird and Mr Davies, offering condolences to their family and friends.

“They obviously were full of life… this is just a terrible incident,” he said, adding that it was a “tough day” for the LGBTQ+ community.

Dozens of Mr Davies friends held an intimate beach-side vigil in Sydney on Tuesday evening, lighting candles beside a portrait of the 29-year-old – who had recently landed his dream job as an international flight attendant for Qantas.

In tributes posted online, Mr Davies has been remembered as a beautiful soul with a “lust for life”, a love of travel and a cheeky smile.

“I can’t believe he’s gone. What a tragic waste,” his friend Rory Grant said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Meanwhile Mr Baird – a TV personality and Australian Football League umpire – has been remembered by loved ones as a talented, effervescent, and caring man.

His cousin, Austin Baird, described the 26-year-old as his “first ever best friend”.

“I am beyond devastated… you were one in a million,” he wrote on Instagram.

And his peers at Network 10 have said he was more friend than colleague. “[He was] like a little brother. He had this big, beautiful smile [and] at 26 he was an absolute star,” said Sarah Harris – the host of current affairs show the Project – in a teary on-air tribute on Sunday.

Police under scrutiny

In a series of press conferences this week, New South Wales (NSW) Police have shared a timeline of how they allege the killings of the Sydney couple unfolded.

Witnesses have said they heard “shouting” from inside Mr Baird’s inner-city Paddington home on the morning of 19 February. Around 09:50 local time (22:50 GMT), neighbours heard gunshots but did not report them to police until days later.

Within minutes of the gunshots, an emergency call was made from Mr Davies’ phone but quickly disconnected. Police say they sent a patrol car to Paddington to investigate the source of the call, but they could not determine the location it originated from and did not enter Mr Baird’s home.

Two more days would pass before the couple’s bloodied items were found in a bin in Cronulla, 28km (17 miles) away.

Police then set up a crime scene at Mr Baird’s house last Wednesday, after finding a “significant” amount of blood and upturned furniture, as well as a bullet from Mr Lamarre-Condon’s work-issued gun.

They also appealed for information and searched a family home in Balmain.

Police officer Beaumont Lamarre-Condon is accused of murdering Jesse Baird and Luke Davies

On Friday, Mr Lamarre-Condon handed himself in. The former celebrity blogger – who once dated Mr Baird – was charged with two counts of murder.

Investigators allege he spent the days after the alleged killings crisscrossing the state to try and cover his tracks – enlisting the help of what police say were at least two unwitting acquaintances.

In the hours after the deaths, police say Mr Lamarre-Condon hired a van to dispose of the men’s bodies, and that he sent messages from Mr Baird’s phone telling his friends he was moving to Western Australia.

Detectives began searching one property in Bungonia after allegedly learning Mr Lamarre-Condon had visited it, with a person they have described as an “innocent agent”, last Wednesday.

After severing a lock on a gate, Mr Lamarre-Condon then left the female acquaintance there before driving the van on to the property and returning 30 minutes later, investigators said.

He was initially unwilling to co-operate with police but finally told them on Tuesday that the remains were located at another property in the same town, according to authorities.

NSW Police has come under fire for its handling of the case, with questions raised over the out-of-hours access officers have to their firearms and the vetting process for prospective recruits.

The Police Commissioner has also apologised after referring to the deaths as a “crime of passion” and using a Taylor Swift lyric to respond to criticisms of the force.

“There will always be haters, haters like to hate, isn’t that what Taylor [Swift] says?” Karen Webb said on Tuesday.

The fallout has led to NSW Police being uninvited from Sydney’s iconic Mardi Gras celebrations this weekend.

Police have long had a difficult relationship with Sydney’s LGTBQ+ community, but it is the first time since their initial inclusion in the event in 1998 that they have been asked to sit it out.

Ms Webb has said she is “disappointed” by the decision and that she will try to negotiate a solution with organisers.

The Australian Federal Police have voluntarily withdrawn from the march this year.

“This decision was not taken lightly, but we acknowledge how some in the community are feeling about the blue uniform,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“We must always remember that this is an event for, and about LGBTQI+ communities, and those people who love and support them.”

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