Wil­liam Tyrrell: search to fo­cus on ev­i­dence of 'hu­man in­ter­ven­tion'

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Michael McGowan

It was al­most a year ago when de­tec­tive chief in­spec­tor Gary Jube­lin last spoke to the me­dia on the third an­niver­sary of the dis­ap­pear­ance of Wil­liam Tyrrell.

At the time, Jube­lin was de­fi­ant po­lice were “not giv­ing up” on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into what hap­pened to the three-year-old boy in the Spi­der­man suit who van­ished from his grand­mother’s front yard on the New South Wales mid north coast in 2014.

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On Wed­nes­day, Jube­lin, the of­fi­cer who has led the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and has pre­vi­ously ad­mit­ted the case “weighed heav­ily” on him, came as close as ever to con­ced­ing the like­li­hood of find­ing Tyrrell alive was in­creas­ingly slim.

He told me­dia in Ken­dall on Wed­nes­day that po­lice held “grave, grave fears” about Wil­liam, who was three when he dis­ap­peared.

“It’s been a very long time,” he said.

“As I’ve said to the fam­ily, and I can’t be any more hon­est than what I say to the fam­ily ... un­til we know con­clu­sively that Wil­liam is not alive we’ll treat it with the pos­si­bil­ity that he still is alive. But ob­vi­ously we have grave con­cerns.”

Four years af­ter his dis­ap­pear­ance, po­lice have re­ceived some 15,000 pieces of in­for­ma­tion about Wil­liam and sifted through hun­dreds of per­sons of in­ter­est.

On Wed­nes­day they started afresh, re­turn­ing to the street where Wil­liam dis­ap­peared to be­gin a “foren­sic” search of bush­land sur­round­ing the home.

Jube­lin said the search was about es­tab­lish­ing that Wil­liam’s dis­ap­pear­ance “was “the re­sult of hu­man in­ter­ven­tion and not through mis­ad­ven­ture”, be­fore a pos­si­ble coro­nial in­quest.

“The dif­fer­ence be­tween this search and the search that was done orig­i­nally [is that] the orig­i­nal search was fo­cused on find­ing a lit­tle boy lost,” he said.

“The search com­menc­ing to­day, which we an­tic­i­pate will take be­tween three to four weeks, will be fo­cus­ing on a foren­sic search.

“The pur­pose of this is that if we present ev­i­dence to a court, whether coro­nial or crim­i­nal, [we can show] beyond rea­son­able doubt that Wil­liam’s dis­ap­pear­ance was the re­sult of hu­man in­ter­ven­tion and not through mis­ad­ven­ture.”

The first day of the search saw about 50 of­fi­cers cover some 600 sq me­tres us­ing shov­els and trow­els to comb through bush­land while dogs searched the area. The search will con­tinue for an­other four weeks un­til an area of 3 sq km has been cov­ered.

The case has en­veloped the small town of Ken­dall, near Port Mac­quarie on the NSW mid-north coast. When Tyrrell first dis­ap­peared it sparked one of the largest searches in NSW po­lice his­tory.

In the 10 days fol­low­ing his dis­ap­pear­ance hun­dreds of po­lice and com­mu­nity mem­bers combed through bush­land but noth­ing was found. The­o­ries about the case have come and gone.

In 2015 it looked like po­lice had found a break­through when a nearby prop­erty was searched and a sep­tic tank was drained.

Po­lice pre­vi­ously said they were look­ing at the pos­si­ble in­volve­ment of an ac­tive pae­dophile ring on the mid north coast.

On Wed­nes­day Jube­lin said that this had still not been to­tally ruled out as a line of in­quiry, but it had not led to any charges.

“Un­til this mat­ter is solved, we keep all lines of in­quiry open,” he said.

But still no ar­rests have been made.

For lo­cals, the dis­ap­pear­ance is baf­fling. Wil­liam’s grand­mother lived on a se­cluded cul-de-sac well away from the Pa­cific High­way that Ken­dall strad­dles, and neigh­bours keep a close eye on one an­other.

“It’s just weird to me, ”Lisa Reimer, who lives on the street said.

“When my kids [are] out­side play­ing you’re think­ing how could it hap­pen. It’s big open yards [and] you hear ev­ery car and noise.”

Reimer only moved to Ken­dall six months ago, but her par­ents have lived here for more than a decade. She said vis­i­tors al­ways stood out.

“If I was vis­it­ing they [the neigh­bours] all knew that I was up,” she said.

“You look in the yards and think how could some­one sneak up there, it just makes no sense.”

Pho­to­graph: Nsw Po­lice/PR IM­AGE

Four years af­ter his dis­ap­pear­ance, po­lice have re­ceived about 15,000 pieces of in­for­ma­tion about Wil­liam Tyrell.

Pho­to­graph: Joel Car­rett/ AAP

Po­lice re­turn­ing to search for ev­i­dence in the area sur­round­ing Wil­liam Tyrrell’s home.

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