Family feud: ‘Cass was obsessed with Karl and Jasmine’
Cassandra Thorburn's half-sister has lifted the lid on what she describes as her tumultuous relationship with Karl Stefanovic's ex-wife.
Allegra Bottrell-Thorburn claims Cassandra has a secret obsession with the Today show host and his new wife Jasmine that includes frequently Googling the couple.
Bottrell-Thorburn had been reluctant to speak to the media following the breakdown of their family relationship.
However, the budding journalist said she wants the public to know the real Cassandra Thorburn, who yesterday told The Sunday Telegraph she did not want to discuss her relationship with her half-sister but admitted they had not spoken for some time.
Bottrell-Thorburn entered Cassandra's life 22 years ago after her father Max - a respected journalist turned councillor in the Victorian city of Mildura - separated from his wife Pat after a 20-year marriage and found love with Allegra's mother Janelle, with whom he remained until his death 18 months ago from cancer.
Cassandra was reportedly unhappy with her father over the new relationship.
"It wasn't an affair. He didn't cheat. He was unhappy in his marriage," she said.
"It's been hard growing up with that. I always felt like I was the one who ruined everything."
Bottrell-Thorburn claims she was considered "Daddy's favourite" and this further fuelled family tensions.
Bottrell-Thorburn claims when Cassandra was growing up their father Max had not always been there - work taking priority over family.
"I think he genuinely felt guilty about not being there for Cass," she said.
"He did not want a repeat of that with me."
Despite this, Cassandra still took her younger half-sister under her wing and, for many years, she was part of the life she was building in Sydney with husband Karl Stefanovic.
The holidays Bottrell-Thorburn spent with Karl, Cassandra and their three children are among her fondest childhood memories.
"It was the rich life. The life I didn't have in Mildura," she said.
In Jackson, Ava and River Stefanovic she also found ready-made siblings, although technically Bottrell-Thorburn was the aunt.
"Jackson was my best friend in the whole world," she said. "There's only two years between us and I will love him until the day I die."
Tensions grew in the months leading up to Max's death.
"Before he died he said 'all I want is for you and your sister to get along'," she said. "That was one of the last things he said before he lost his voice."
Bottrell-Thorburn claimed tensions between herself and Cassandra increased after Max passed away from cancer in October 2018.
An angry exchange followed over her father's dying wish that his funeral play out like a radio show, which he wanted his youngest daughter to organise. Tensions boiled over at Max's funeral.
The 22-year-old feels that day she not only lost her father but her brothers and sister.
Matters were made worse after an argument when she says she offered to take Ava, Jackson and River bowling the following day to celebrate River's birthday and take their minds off the death of their grandfather. This was the last time Bottrell-Thorburn saw her half-sister.
And while she said it's heartbreaking she no longer has her sister in her life, she remains focused on forging her own pathway as a journalist, the profession her father gave his life to.
KARL AND CASSANDRA'S MARRIAGE
Bottrell-Thorburn remembers Karl and Cassandra's wedding day fondly.
She was four-years-old and wore fairy wings covered in bright glitter.
And while she has only good memories of her big sister's wedding day to the man who would become one of Australia's best known TV hosts, little did she know the relationship would end 21 years later in what would become one of the country's most public divorces.
Stefanovic and Thorburn's marriage broke down and ended in 2017. However one person who wasn't surprised by the split at the time is Bottrell-Thorburn, who describes her sister and brother-in-law's relationship as a "war zone" with never-ending screaming matches.
She claims to have witnessed plenty of examples of bitter arguments.
When Karl and Jasmine tied the knot in 2018, Bottrell-Thorburn claims her big sister became obsessed with googling information on her ex-husband and his wife.
During the time Bottrell-Thorburn stayed at Cassandra's house, she would be asked to monitor the news feed and report back while Cassandra was running the children to school.
"She just wants to know what people are saying," she said. "That is how she feels she is in control."
She believes, sadly, her big sister may never get over the collapse of her marriage.
"It had changed her as a person," she said.
Originally published as Family feud: 'Cass was obsessed with Karl and Jasmine'