‘Ask her if she did it’: William Tyrrell foster mother quizzed over balcony theoryNovember 6, 2023
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William Tyrrell’s foster mother was quizzed about his disappearance during a secretive examination two years ago, during which lawyers suggested the toddler toppled off a verandah on the day he vanished and she dumped his body after finding it in foliage.
The woman, who cannot be named, vehemently denied the allegations in a hearing at the NSW Crime Commission, saying she did not find William’s body and repeating: “I didn’t, I didn’t.”
William Tyrrell’s foster parents arrive at Downing Centre Local Court on Monday.Credit: Nick Moir
The exchange was revealed at Downing Centre Local Court on Monday, during a hearing in which the toddler’s foster father pleaded not guilty to five counts of knowingly giving false or misleading evidence at a hearing.
He is accused of incorrectly telling the Crime Commission, a secretive body that has the power to compel witnesses to give evidence, that his wife had never harmed a different child in their care, who was not William.
On Monday, the court was played surveillance recordings of the child crying “no, no” as the woman hit them with a wooden spoon in January 2021.
Detective Sergeant Andrew Lonergan told the court he joined the investigation into William’s disappearance in July 2020, when a comprehensive review of the case was undertaken for a coronial inquest.
William Tyrrell vanished from Kendall in September 2014.
He said the unsolved homicide team investigated many theories, including manslaughter, and the possibility the toddler fell off a balcony at the Kendall property on the NSW Mid North Coast where he was last seen in September 2014.
“We constantly discuss it,” Lonergan said. “It’s one of those topics – that we simply don’t know what happened to him that day.”
Lonergan confirmed police had submitted a brief of evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions to inquire about the possibility of charging the foster mother with perverting the course of justice and interfering with a corpse.
The foster father’s barrister, Phillip English, suggested the only theory presented at the secret hearing in late 2021 was the balcony fall, with commissioner Michael Barnes noting that “accidents can happen” and the “primary objective” was to recover William’s body.
English read out a transcript of the exchange at the crime commission, where counsel assisting Sophie Callan, SC, put a series of specific suggestions to the foster mother after Barnes prompted: “Ask her if she did it.”
Callan suggested William “went around on the verandah and toppled over” and asked: “Did you find his body in the ferns and the foliage under the verandah that day?”
“No,” the woman responded.
“Did you find his body, realise he died and there was no point calling emergency services?” Callan said.
“No,” the foster mother said.
“Did you decide to take charge of the situation that was beyond remedy and hide his body rather than risk [another child] being taken away?”
“No,” the foster mother said.
Callan clarified that there was “no suggestion you harmed him or caused his death, but what is being suggested is that you found him and moved his body”.
“I didn’t find him,” the foster mother said. “I didn’t.”
English asked Lonergan why the foster parents were quizzed at the crime commission over the seemingly irrelevant allegations that a child who wasn’t William was assaulted seven years after he vanished.
The detective said he believed the questioning was relevant to the woman’s character, and a “propensity for violence” towards children.
English said his client had, in an unrelated interview, been presented with evidence that conflicted with his memory and readily conceded he might have been mistaken – however the recordings at the centre of the case were not played to him at the crime commission.
The hearing continues.
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