William Tyrrell's abduction on September 12, 2014 sparked one of the biggest manhunts in Australian history. But even af...
Missing boy William Tyrrell had been “handpicked” to be shuffled off for adoption and had a doomed life even before he was abducted, a child welfare advocate claims.
William, who would just have turned eight years old if he is still alive, was “earmarked” for fostering and eventual adoption, child protection activist Allanna Smith said.
The subject of Australia’s most high profile missing child case, William Tyrrell is due to be examined next week when the inquest into his disappearance resumes.
Ms Smith is responsible for William’s status as a foster child being revealed, after the state government tried to restrain her disclosure on social media that William was a ward of the state when he vanished.
The children’s advocate, who successfully took his case to the NSW Supreme Court, said authorities “certainly had William earmarked”.
“The removal was systematically calculated. The plans to adopt without consent or knowledge ... was by all means heading down the path of a forced adoption,” Ms Smith told news.com.au.
William was removed from his parents’ care by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS, formerly DOCS) after it sought an order when he was just seven months old.
William’s biological mother has already told his inquest how she was alarmed when she later found out her son was then being adopted out without her knowledge.
This was just weeks before he was abducted and just before the last time she saw him, during a contact visit when he was sporting a black eye from an accidental fall.
Children’s advocate Allanna Smith (above, right) with the birth grandmother of William Tyrrell at an inquest hearing in March this year. Picture: Peter Rae.Source:News Corp Australia
William Tyrrell's left eye was bruised after an accidental fall the last time his biological parents ever saw him.Source:Supplied
William’s birth father told that inquest that after William vanished he believed FACS had “f***ed up. The minister has a duty of care to keep him safe until 18.”
William Tyrrell was three years old when he vanished from the home of his foster grandmother on the NSW Mid North Coast on the morning of September 12, 2014.
There is no suggestion that any of William’s foster family or his biological family had anything to do with his disappearance.
The strict laws governing children under the care of FACS or its minister meant William’s status as a fostered child was kept secret until Ms Smith applied to have it overturned.
In January 2017, the NSW Supreme Court ruled it was in the public interest to know William’s fostered status and that his foster carers were “not his parents”.
But that could not be publicly revealed until a NSW Court of Criminal Appeal challenge by FACS had been rejected.
Even then, FACS declared it would lobby the NSW government for “legislative amendment” to overturn the CCA ruling.
Ms Smith said she believes authorities were happy for the community to be ignorant of William’s real care status to avoid public scrutiny if the boy is found deceased.
She said welfare groups should “stop removing children for unnecessary reasons and work with the family, so the child can stay in the family environment”.
“There are preventative measures that would keep kids like William out of the care system,” Ms Smith said, “such as drug and alcohol counselling and affordable and sustainable housing just to name a few.”
Scene of one of Australia’s biggest mysteries, Benaroon Drive, Kendall. Picture: Peter Lorimer.Source:News Corp Australia
William’s birth mother. Picture: Peter Rae.Source:Getty Images
William’s father (above) said FACS botched his son’s care. Picture: Toby Zerna.Source:News Corp Australia
Under NSW law, a child can remain in short term care for up to 12 months, when they can be returned to their natural parents or moved into long term care, which requires a court order.
Under NSW Family and Community Services, William was ordered to be removed from his birth parents when he was seven months old.
Then still a couple, Williams biological mother and father absconded with him for between five and six weeks until FACS tracked then down and removed William.
The issues surrounding William’s fostering may come the spotlight when the inquest resumes this week.
The boy’s biological father - who was legally unrepresented in preliminary inquest hearings in March - has now been granted a lawyer, via Legal Aid.
The foster carers have their own lawyer for the inquest, as does FACS, and the
Salvation Army, which supervised William’s care through the now defunct Young Hope program.
William Tyrrell's foster parents, above with pictures of the boy, took him into care in March 2012.Source:Supplied
The Salvation Army’s now defunct Youth Hope service supervised William Tyrrell’s contact visits with his birth parents.Source:News Corp Australia
Also legally represented is the NSW Police, who have been riven with dispute over their investigation of missing William.
Allegations have been made of a bungled police investigation and a focus on individual suspects.
Potential persons of interest were not formally interviewed early on, the disappearance was treated as a missing person search rather than a potential case of foul play.
News.com.au spoke with a witness who says police told him that when sniffer dogs were brought in, they did not detect any scent of William beyond the perimeter of the house where William went missing.
The street itself was not cordoned off for days afterwards, and potential evidence is believed to have been lost.
Internecine conflict among investigating detectives peaked in March, when commander of Strike Force Rosann Gary Jubelin was stood down.
In June, police charged Mr Jubelin with four alleged breaches of the Surveillance Devices Acts in Kendall and at Parramatta.
He quit the force in July and faced court last week, pleading not guilty to all charges.
Mr Jubelin’s court case will provide a second look into William’s disappearance, long after the inquest has concluded.
News.com.au has compiled a timeline of William Tyrrell’s tragic life, his abduction and the fallout.
Gary Jubelin (above at court with supporters including Mark and Faye Leveson, right), pleaded not guilty. Picture: Dean Lewins.Source:AAP
William Tyrrell had a difficult life even before he was taken by persons unknown.Source:News Corp Australia
TIMELINE TO TRAGEDY
2010-2011: William Tyrrell’s biological parents reunite after a period of estrangement and remain together during the mother’s pregnancy with William.
26.6.2011: William Tyrrell is born.
During 2011: The couple destined to be his foster parents are approved by the Department of Family and Community Services (formerly DOCS) as carers.
Couple is willing to do crisis care and take “a sibling group” for long term placement.
Between 2011 and 2012: DOCS learns William’s biological mother and father are back together and get a court order to have him removed. FACS tells the foster couple William is going to be surrendered from his birth family and come into their care.
February, 2012: FACS gains court orders to remove William from his birth mother.
8.2.2012: William’s birth parents take off with William, and police in concert with FACS issue a warrant for the birth mother’s arrest.
16.2.2012: FACS approves foster parents as William’s carers.
15.03.2012: William is found at Sydney’s Upper North Shore with biological parents and removed from them.
16.03.2012: Nine-month-old William is placed with the foster parents, supervised by Wesley Mission’s Dalmar Out of Home Care.
William Tyrrell's foster carers (above in 2016) are expected to attend the resumed inquest into his boy’s disappearance.Source:Supplied
March - September 2012: William’s biological parents see him once a fortnight for between one and three hours.
July 2012: NSW FACS awards the Salvation Army a foster care contract under its new [but since disbanded] Young Hope Out of Home Care Service.
5 September 2012: Salvation Army’s Young Hope,along with other NGOs, accredited by The Children’s Guardian to manage foster care for FACS. Young Hope will take on 130 children in its first three years, including William Tyrrell.
2012-2013: William’s biological parents are told the foster parents aren’t comfortable meeting them. Under the Salvation Army, the birth parents see William for one hour once every two months on visits supervised by Salvation Army Out of Home Care supervisor, Ben Atwood.
Around March 2013: Dropping off William for a contact visit, foster mother sees William’s birth father, and on another occasion sees the birth mother. They don’t speak.
December 2013 (if not 12 months earlier): William, his sister and foster parents attend a Christmas street party on the corner of Ellendale Crescent and Benaroon Drive, Kendall.
William visited Kendall several times before he vanished, attending a street Christmas party on the corner of Ellendale Crescent and Benaroon Drive (above).Source:Supplied
February, 2014: William Tyrrell and sister visit Kendall home of foster grandmother after foster grandfather’s death.
April 2014: During a one hour contact visit, William’s biological mother notices that instead of calling her “Mum”, William calls her his “birth mum”. She later says she felt upset for William’s confusion.
July-August, 2014: William and sister travel to Bali with foster carers who buy William a SpiderMan suit.
WILLIAM’S BLACK EYE AND ‘ADOPTION’
August, 2014: Ben Atwood calls William’s birth mother to say the boy has a black eye, sustained when he is climbing up on the foster father and lost his balance and fell.
William’s birth mother learns about foster parents plan to adopt William permanently.
She is not happy.
She will later tell NSW Coroner Harriet Grahame, “I didn’t agree [with the adoption plan].
“I had heard about that ... they [case workers] said it wasn’t happening.
“We were still trying to get [William back] we were at court.”
When William’s birth mother learnt he was being processed for adoption she was aghast.Source:AAP
MUM’S LAST TIME WITH WILLIAM
August 21, 2014: William’s birth mother and father see their son at the Chipmunks play centre at Macquarie Park, northern Sydney.
The visit lasts two hours to make up for the previous visit in June when the mother was sick.
William is “more affectionate than usual ... sitting on my lap and giving me a cuddle” rather than running around.
The birth mother notices the bruising on her son’s left eye.
This time, Ben Atwood and another Salvation Army officer are supervising with a FACS worker there to assess if William has “any behavioural issues” or if he “needs any help”.
The birth parents give William clothes and shoes, and he hugs and kisses them when Ben says it’s time to go.
They parents never see son William again.
On William's last trip alive the foster carers pulled into Caltex at Wyong.Source:Supplied
BOYS FATEFUL LAST JOURNEY
August 25 to September 1: Foster mother tees up visit with her husband to travel with William and his sister to her mother’s place on Benaroon Drive, Kendall, to sort through property prior to house sale.
Week beginning September 8: Contracts due to be exchanged on Benaroon Drive house after foster grandmother sells property to a friend of a friend.
About the same period: Ben Atwood calls William’s birth mother to tee up October visit. Birth mother is worried William is “a bit too skinny”.
11 September, 2014:
2.50pm: On a last minute change of plan, the foster mother and father leave their Sydney home, drop their cats at kennels.
4pm: The foster parents collect William and his sister from childcare and start the drive up to Kendall one day earlier than planned, via the F3, stopping en route at Caltex, Wyong and then, at 6.35pm, Raymond Terrace McDonalds.
The foster carers stopped with William and his sister at Raymond Terrace McDonalds.Source:Supplied
9pm: Foster parents and William and his sister arrive at Benaroon Drive. The kids are put to bed in different rooms and the foster mother discusses broken washing machine with her mother.
Around midnight: In a house in the western Sydney suburb of Granville, William’s birth mother goes to bed and the boy’s birth father goes to McDonalds for hotcakes. DAY WILLIAM VANISHES Friday, 12 September, 2019, Benaroon Drive, Kendall:
7-7.30am: Foster mother wakes in room with William’s sister and hears William playing in the next room. She and the girl try to go back to sleep, but can’t.
8am: William and his sister wake up the foster grandmother.
William insists on wearing his SpiderMan suit from Bali, pulls out all his toys from the bedroom he has been sharing with the foster father and starts playing in the lounge room.
The foster father, foster grandmother and William’s sister are in front of the foster mother, while William is behind her.
The foster father gets frustrated with all the noise.
House at 48 Benaroon Drive Kendal on the NSW Mid North Coast from where William Tyrrell went missing.Source:News Corp Australia
On the morning her vanished, William deliberately crashed his bike into the garden at the Benaroon Drive. Picture: David Moir.Source:News Corp Australia
8.30am: Late breakfast of toast, eggs and Weet-Bix.
9.03am: Foster mother rings washing machine repairman for 38 seconds, the call going to messages.
The children play with the bikes kept at the property and race up the driveway, William deliberately crashing his into the garden.
Between 9am and 9.30am: Foster father leaves Benaroon Drive for Laurieton township to buy prescription drugs from pharmacy and conduct business call via Skype.
William and his sister draw pictures and roll dice on the verandah of the house, William rolling ‘the dice very hard” and “jumping out of his skin with energy”.
The foster mother photographs William for the last time. He is “roaring” in a tiger game on the verandah.
William gets bored and runs down from the verandah onto the grass.
It is now after 10am, probably between 10.10am and 10.30am.
William was playing with dice in his hand on the verandah in the last photos of him.Source:Supplied
The foster mother notices it is quiet and goes to search for William in the yard. William has vanished.
The foster father texts the foster mother saying he is five minutes away.
On or after 10.30am: The foster father returns in his vehicle and when told by the foster mother William has disappeared, the foster father “just bolted ... running for William”.
The foster mother “didn’t see him for ages after that” and searches the street with female neighbours helping.
10.56am: Foster mother dials triple-0 informing police she’s the mother of a boy called William who has been missing for approximately 15-20 minutes.
11.06am: Police arrive at Benaroon Drive. Neighbours and locals join in search with police.
William’s foster mother calls the Salvation Army.
Neighbour Lydene Heslop contacts friends via Facebook to help in search.
Police begin house-to-house search.
NSW Public Order and Riot Squad Police search near Bonny Hills on the NSW Mid North Coast for William. Picture: Dan Himbrechts.Source:AAP
Benaroon Drive in Kendal, one week after William Tyrell vanished. Picture: David Moir.Source:News Corp Australia
Around 4pm: Police in Sydney knock on the door of William’s biological parents and ask if they know where William is. They search the house. The mother is crying and confused.
When the birth father arrived home to find William is missing, he says “he’s f***ing what?”
Salvation Army workers arrive, but the father becomes angry about FACS.
“They f***ed up. The minister has a duty of care to keep him safe until 18,” he will later say.
5pm: Benaroon Drive neighbour Lydene Heslop turns on a food van for weary searchers.
Overnight: Temperature drops to 13.2 degrees.
SES volunteers search forest 15km from the town of Kendall after William’s disappearance. Picture: David Moir.Source:News Corp Australia
SATURDAY, 13 September:
6am: Large scale search mounted to find William. Command post set up at Kendall Showground. Police encourage volunteers to wear high vis gear to help in search with officers, sniffer dogs, SES, and PolAir helicopters.
Hundreds register, including surf lifesavers, the Rural Fire Service and locals on horseback, trail bikes and with their own dogs to search in scrub near Benaroon Drive, and the Kendall and Middle Brother state forests.
9.20am: Police reveal Williams suffers from asthma.
Police increase search area and police divers are sent to check dams and waterways.
6.30pm: Mid North Cost LAC Commander Superintendent Paul Fehon says volunteers can arrive at 7am for the search’s resumption on Sunday.
Police commander Paul Fehon outside the house where the tragedy unfolded in September 2014. Picture: David Moir.Source:News Corp Australia
14 September: Hundreds continue the search in rugged terrain. Foster mother gives first statement to police.
15 September: Massive search continues with sex crimes officers from the newly formed Strike Force Rosann speaking to local residents.
16 September: Reports of no leads on fifth day of searching for William. The ABC reports police are talking to known sex offenders in the Mid North Coast region.
18 September: Foster mother picks up relative from Port Macquarie airport and suddenly remembers three strange cars being in Benaroon Drive before William’s disappearance.
Gives second police statement, at Port Macquarie, and says while searching for William on September 12 she heard a quick, sharp high-pitched scream from the reeds and a grassy knoll.
The sound was “like ... when a child hurts themselves” although “maybe it was a bird”
20 September: Foster parents issue thank you letter to searchers.
Volunteers on horseback in the search for the missing boy in bush near Benaroon Drive in Kendall.Source:News Corp Australia
21 September: Police scale back search.
6.1.2015: - Media reports claim Superintendent Paul Fehon has denied reports investigators are treating the case as a targeted abduction.
21.1.2015: Police descend on the town of Laurieton and on a house at Bonny Hills, 26km east of Kendall, belonging to washing machine repairman, Bill Spedding.
Police will search the house, drain a septic tank, and find nothing, with Mr Spedding later being cleared of any connection with William’s disappearance.
19.2.2015: Strike Force Rosann asks for anyone within one kilometre of 48 Benaroon Drive on the morning of September 12, 2014 to come forward.
2.3.2015: Police search Bonny Hills bushland.
Police divers search a dam near Bonny Hills in March 2015. Picture: Dan Himbrechts.Source:AAP
A septic tank at Bonny Hills is drained and searched in January 2015. Picture: Nathan Edwards.Source:News Corp Australia
17.3.2015: Foster mother gives third statement to police, with detailed descriptions of two cars, white and dark grey, she saw in the street on the day.
17.04.2015: Strike Force Rosann reveals it is investigating a large paedophile ring on the Mid North Coast attached to William’s disappearance.
26.6.2015: On what would have been William’s fourth birthday, Strike Force Rosann commander Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin says William may still be alive.
7.9.2015: Foster Mother’s phone call to triple-0 released to media.
20.12.2015: Foster Mother says William’s sister may have been the only witness to abduction and that she knows a “bad person took William”.
Gary Jubelin, flanked by onetime police commissioner Andrew Scipione (left) and former NSW Premier Mike Baird (right) announce $1m reward.Source:News Corp Australia
12.09.2016: $1m reward for finding William announced. Despite it being known William is a fostered child, under law this is yet to be publicly revealed.
7.9.2016: FACS seek and receive injunction preventing publication of William being under parental responsibility of Minister of FACS and in foster or out of home care.
January, 2017: Following a legal bid by child welfare advocate Allanna Smith, NSW Supreme Court Justice Paul Brereton rules William’s foster status can be revealed due to “substantial public interest” in the integrity of the out-of-home care system.
He rules the public has been misled and “been given to think that [his] carers are his parents”.
FACS appeals the decision and the ruling remains secret.
August 2017: The Court of Criminal Appeal upholds Justice Brereton’s decision, which is finally revealed to the media and community.
NSW Police search bushland at Batar Creek in June, 2018 but find no trace of William. Picture: Shane Chalker.Source:AAP
June 2018: Gary Jubelin leads a last ditch search of the Kendall area for signs of William. Nothing vital is found.
September 2018: Inquest announced into William Tyrrell’s disappearance.
Late 2018: Tensions begin to boil in the NSW Homicide Squad between detectives investigating William, with dispute over the focus on one or more persons of interest. This will soon lead to Jubelin stepping down as strike force commander.
William Tyrrell’s biological father, right, will return to the inquest this month with legal representation. Picture: Peter Rae.Source:Supplied
March, 2019: A week of preliminary hearings of the William Tyrrell inquest opens at the Lidcombe Coroner’s Court. William’s biological parents speak out about their grief over their son’s abduction.
June 2019: Mr Jubelin is charged with breaches of the Surveillance Devices Act, for allegedly recording conversations with persons including Kendall neighbour, Paul Savage.
July, 2019: Jubelin retires from the NSW Police and appears in court on four charges, for which he has pleaded not guilty.
August, 2019: Inquest into William Tyrrell’s disappearance resumes.
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