William Tyrrell inquest finishes 18 months of evidence with emotional gift from foster family


It was a poignant gift that triggered an eerie silence throughout the courtroom and tears from police, a former homicide detective, lawyers, reporters and those who loved William Tyrrell.

A black book of never-before-seen photographs of the three-year-old boy was handed to Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame at the conclusion of an inquest into his disappearance.

His slightly older sister was the last person to see the boy in the Spider-Man suit — one minute they were playing "tigers" on the lawn of their foster grandmother's home in Kendall on the NSW Mid-North Coast, the next he was gone.

She cannot remember what happened and now, aged 10, she no longer remembers him at all.

"The photobooks are his memories — they show you the innocence and love his sister and him have for each other," their foster mother told the NSW Coroner's Court.

The inquest closed on Thursday and Deputy State Coroner Grahame will review more than 18 months of evidence before handing down her findings mid-way through next year.

'Something bad was going to happen'

Nine months after William Tyrrell was born on June 26, 2011, he was taken from his birth parents, who had a history of substance abuse and domestic violence.

However regular contact with his birth parents continued.

Then six years ago, a "monstrous crime" happened, in the words of his foster father.

It crushed the worlds of William's two families, his birth and foster carers, the inquest heard.

William Tyrrell sits at a table, smiling and holding a pen.
William Tyrrell was put into foster care not long after he was born.(Supplied)

William's birth father had seen his son only a month before the boy vanished on September 12, 2014.

"He saw that the sky was dark and had an overwhelming feeling something bad was going to happen that day," lawyer Michelle Swift said on behalf of William's birth father.

"Only hours later, William was missing.

"Imagine having your son taken away and doing everything to try and get him back, only for him to go missing."

As the family statement was delivered to an emotional courtroom, William's birth grandmother sobbed in the witness box.

"William's father hasn't been the same since he disappeared — in a way, two sons have been lost."

William's birth father was unable to attend the remaining hearings this week after having his jaw broken by another patient while being treated for mental health at a Sydney hospital.

William Tyrrell in red shirt, sitting in chair with drink
The William Tyrrell inquest has heard evidence for more than 18 months.(AAP: NSW Police)

As well as stomaching immeasurable loss, William's birth family has suffered abuse from complete strangers and at times, been put through hell by the media.

"Because of some of the media, the world is blaming us, we have had six years of pain and broken promises," Ms Swift told the court on behalf of the family.

"Life will never be the same again, living without answers makes things so much harder.

"We want to thank the coroner; we think she cares."

Family targeted by trolls

William's foster family has also been stalked, harassed and bullied as they have had to endure sickening evidence.

In one session, a young girl gave evidence that a convicted paedophile had told her he killed William.

"Some of the people behind these deeply personal attacks have sat in the gallery of this very courtroom," the foster mother said.

William Tyrrell in suit
William Tyrrell had been playing at his foster grandmother's house in Kendall.(Supplied: Department Of Justice)

Those trolls — some of whom have gone as far to travel to Taree for two of the hearings — were sitting in Lidcombe Coroner's Court on Thursday.

The court heard the foster mother had her father's grave photographed by a stranger and posted on social media.

"At every opportunity, they have done everything to degrade our privacy," the foster mother said.

"They have published our names and documents from the children's court about William and his sister — they have stalked our home and invited others to join in drive-bys.

"They went as far as to make serious threats against our lives and one person was imprisoned for such threats."

These attacks were on top of experiencing something "no parent should ever have to endure," the court heard.

"We have been photographed at our most vulnerable — it breaks our hearts and is just so wrong," she said.

William Tyrrell in a dress-up outfit
The inquest findings will be handed down next June.(Supplied: NSW Police)

There were plenty of tears in the public gallery when the foster mother described having to return to Sydney after the initial nine-day search, which covered more than 50 square kilometres.

"William's empty car seat next to his sister's in the back seat absolutely tore our hearts," she said.

Inconsistent police handling

For William Tyrrell's loved ones, the battle to find him was not limited by only a small amount of evidence, but by changes of leadership in the NSW Police Force.

The foster family continues to share a close bond with former detective Gary Jubelin — who lead the investigation for four years before he was convicted for illegally recording four conversations with former suspect Paul Savage.

A man grimacing as he leaves court.
Former NSW detective Gary Jubelin was stood down from the case.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

Their relationship with police went from "empathetic" to "cold" when Detective Chief Inspector David Laidlaw took over one of Australia's most puzzling missing child cases.

The foster mother told the court how she was told not to call Mr Laidlaw, but to instead go through other investigators on the team.

"No other family member should ever feel the need to fight tooth and nail in order to maintain commitment to find out what happened," she said.

Strike Force Rosann continues to investigate William Tyrrell's suspected abduction, with a team of five full-time investigators.

Six years ago, it was a team of 26.

Deputy State Coroner Grahame will hand down her findings at the NSW Coroner's Court on June 18, 2021.

(Source)


1 comment


  • Sharon Emeny

    It’s bitterly disappointed that the inquest can be finished but they haven’t even spoken to Gary Jubelin, it’s disgusting!!
    Gary was the right man for the job and still is.
    As for Mr Laidlaw, he shouldn’t have that job, he’s a disgrace to the families, the police force and the public!!!


Leave a comment


Please note, comments must be approved before they are published