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Missing William Tyrrell: Foster parents named ‘persons of interest’ as police seek AVO against them

The foster parents of missing toddler William Tyrrell have been identified as ‘persons of interest’ by detectives investigating the mysterious fate of the three-year-old.

The dramatic shift in the seven year hunt came as police seek an apprehended violence order against his foster parents in relation to the alleged assault of a child.

Police have descended on the NSW Mid North Coast town of Kendall, where William went missing from his foster grandmother’s garden in 2014, after new evidence came to light – with a mammoth search set to begin in earnest on Tuesday.

The evidence has sparked a fresh hunt close to the garden where William was playing in his Spider-Man suit, before he vanished without a trace.

Police are scouring three new sites near the home, including bushland just 700m from where he was last seen.

But detectives admit they believe William is dead, and they now only expect to find the toddler’s remains. 

 

Hundreds of police officers are preparing to search three new locations in the town of Kendall where William Tyrrell (pictured) went missing in September of 2014 – with his foster parents deemed ‘persons of interest’ by detectives

Police are now hunting in bushland just 700m from William Tyrrell's foster grandmother's home in Kendall

Police are now hunting in bushland just 700m from William Tyrrell’s foster grandmother’s home in Kendall

The AVO applications against William’s foster parents – who can’t be named for legal reasons – were filed in Hornsby Local Court by Detective Sean Ogilvy, to be heard on November 23.  

Despite the allegations, understood to be contained within police AVO paperwork, no charges have been laid. 

However police are considering laying common assault charges against the foster parents who have now become persons of interest in the case, according to The Australian.  

It reports that the alleged assault happened earlier this month and caused bruising to the child, sparking the attention of the Tyrrell investigation team.

The foster parents of missing toddler William Tyrrell have been identified as 'persons of interest' by detectives investigating the mysterious fate of the three-year-old (pictured, William's foster father helping police during an earlier search)

The foster parents of missing toddler William Tyrrell have been identified as ‘persons of interest’ by detectives investigating the mysterious fate of the three-year-old (pictured, William’s foster father helping police during an earlier search)

The dramatic shift in the seven year hunt came as police seek an apprehended violence order against his foster parents in relation to the alleged assault of a child (pictured, William's foster mother who wept while giving evidence about the boy's disappearance at an inquest in 2019)

The dramatic shift in the seven year hunt came as police seek an apprehended violence order against his foster parents in relation to the alleged assault of a child (pictured, William’s foster mother who wept while giving evidence about the boy’s disappearance at an inquest in 2019)

The sensational claims come as the new ‘high intensity’ search for missing William begins in bushland, with a coroner’s van waiting nearby. 

Hundreds of officers armed with chainsaws and whipper snippers began cutting into bush and felling trees on Monday in eucalyptus scrub by the Cobb & Co Road in Kendall, just around two bends from where the toddler vanished.

Hundreds more officers as well as excavators are expected to descend on the area and two other locations on Tuesday.  

On Monday, seven RFS officers worked as detectives stood by and uniformed police guarded an area of road.

A collection of shovels lay on the ground near the white van marked ‘Forensic Services’ and five RFS vans and trucks. 

As the officers downed tools after 6pm, one detective placed images back in his car of William dressed in the red and blue Spider-Man suit he was wearing when he disappeared. 

Officers armed with chainsaws and whipper snippers (pictured) began cutting into bush and felling trees on Monday in eucalyptus scrub close to William's foster grandmother's home

Officers armed with chainsaws and whipper snippers (pictured) began cutting into bush and felling trees on Monday in eucalyptus scrub close to William’s foster grandmother’s home

Police and rural fire officers led the fresh hunt while a coroner's van waited nearby (pictured on Monday)

Police and rural fire officers led the fresh hunt while a coroner’s van waited nearby (pictured on Monday)

The new search of the NSW Mid North Coast town of Kendall is expected to take two to three weeks and involve forensic and bone experts.

NSW Detective Superintendent Darren Bennett said the search is for three-year-old William’s body.

He said that no areas searched previously will be gone over again.

Further searches of the surrounding areas were made in 2018, to coincide with a coronial inquest into the boy’s disappearance.

But hundreds of police and emergency services officers descended on Kendall on Monday to search three new areas which have not previously been looked at.

Daily Mail Australia witnessed police search teams search the areas surrounding William’s foster grandmother home on Monday evening. 

No trace of William (pictured) has ever been found and no person has ever been charged

 No trace of William (pictured) has ever been found and no person has ever been charged

Detectives admit they believe William is dead, and they only now expect to find the toddler's remains (pictured, police at the search location in Kendall on Monday)

Detectives admit they believe William is dead, and they only now expect to find the toddler’s remains (pictured, police at the search location in Kendall on Monday)

In another development in the suddenly fast-moving case, a NSW coroner has subpoenaed all notes, audio recordings and materials of a Channel 10 journalist who produced a podcast about William Tyrrell’s disappearance. 

Ten News reporter Lia Harris produced the ‘Where’s William Tyrrell?’ podcast three years ago which uncovered new information about the child’s baffling disappearance.

It remains unclear what detectives are hoping to find in the popular podcast series but Harris said the legal notice to hand over all her information while researching the podcast came as ‘a bit of a surprise’.

‘They have asked for a broad range of things related to the podcast – documents, audio, all of that is encompassed in the subpoena,’ she said.

‘It seems that they just want to know whatever we know about the case. They want to know whatever we have discovered in researching the podcast and they want us to hand it all over to them.

Hundreds of officers and excavators will descend on the area (pictured) and two other locations on Tuesday

Hundreds of officers and excavators will descend on the area (pictured) and two other locations on Tuesday

Police are seen carrying out searches on the Mid North Coast where William was last seen (pictured on Monday)

Police are seen carrying out searches on the Mid North Coast where William was last seen (pictured on Monday)

The new search of the NSW Mid North Coast town of Kendall is expected to take two to three weeks and involve forensic and bone experts (pictured, search teams prepare for the hunt on Monday)

The new search of the NSW Mid North Coast town of Kendall is expected to take two to three weeks and involve forensic and bone experts (pictured, search teams prepare for the hunt on Monday)

‘They’ve obviously got some new direction, some new strategy which has led them to issuing this subpoena after all this time.’  

Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett said the renewed search was in light of concrete evidence police had received.

‘This activity is in response to evidence we’ve obtained in the course of the investigation, it’s not speculative in any way,’ he said. 

‘We are acting on behalf of the Coroner and in conjunction with the coronial orders, she will be kept updated with regard to our progress.

‘We’re very hopeful that we can bring this matter to some form of conclusion.’

Superintendent Bennett added it was ‘highly likely’ that if something was found during searches of three new sites – it would be a body.  

‘We are looking for the remains of William Tyrrell, no doubt about that,’ he said. 

William Tyrrell (pictured) vanished from his foster grandmother's home age three on September 12, 2014

William Tyrrell (pictured) vanished from his foster grandmother’s home age three on September 12, 2014

Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett said the renewed search (pictured, the house on Monday) would take two to three weeks

Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett said the renewed search (pictured, the house on Monday) would take two to three weeks

Specialist search dogs (pictured) were brought in to assist police as the investigation takes a dramatic new turn

Specialist search dogs (pictured) were brought in to assist police as the investigation takes a dramatic new turn

Officers on the case will be assisted by specialists and will deploy new search methods to probe the new locations for evidence. 

Superintendent Bennett confirmed a number of trees would be chopped down to allow police and other agencies to clear ground and ‘go subterranean’.   

Since the little boy’s mysterious disappearance in September of 2014, no trace of him has ever been found and no person has ever been charged. 

Police hope renewed search efforts could put the investigation to rest after Deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame concluded an 18-month inquest in October, 2020. 

Superintendent Bennett said Ms Grahame was aware of plans to search the three locations and would be updated with any future findings.   

The deputy state coroner has postponed the release of her findings from the inquest, which were scheduled to be published in June.    

Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett (pictured) said the 'high intensity' search would take two to three weeks and will require the work of hundreds of officers

Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett (pictured) said the ‘high intensity’ search would take two to three weeks and will require the work of hundreds of officers

In September, detectives returned to the home of William’s grandmother on the seven-year anniversary of his disappearance after new information ‘came to light’. 

Officers from Strike Force Rosann announced they would be working under the premise the three-year-old had vanished as a result of ‘human intervention’. 

Local detectives and forensic officers once again poured over the home William was last seen as well as the surrounding areas in the rural township.   

It marked the first time the area had been extensively combed since the little boy vanished, prompting a frantic operation that saw volunteers and emergency crews search homes, forests, creeks and paddocks in June of 2018. 

Officers have since remained tight-lipped about what new information prompted officers to return to Kendall after nearly a decade. 

Little William Tyrrell (pictured) would have celebrated his 10th birthday in June of this year

Little William Tyrrell (pictured) would have celebrated his 10th birthday in June of this year

Strike force officer-in-charge Detective Chief Inspector David Laidlaw said further information had come to light after a review of materials gathered by investigators over the seven-year period of William’s disappearance.  

‘As our team continue to conduct inquiries and explore all avenues of investigation, our focus has been identifying if anything has been missed, or if there are any details – no matter how small – that need to be clarified,’ the inspector said in September. 

‘Police remain committed to finding out what happened to William, but our most important job here is to bring him home for both families.’

Detectives continue to conduct interviews, searches and other investigative activity, including those under Coronial Orders, as well as reviewing all available materials with the assistance of experts. 

William was wearing his Spider-Man costume on the morning he mysteriously vanished while playing in the yard of his foster grandmother's house in September 2014

William was wearing his Spider-Man costume on the morning he mysteriously vanished while playing in the yard of his foster grandmother’s house in September 2014

William vanished from his foster grandmother’s property on Benaroon Drive, Kendall on the morning of September 12, 2014, while playing in the yard in a Spider-Man suit with his five-year-old sister. 

The children were on a trip at the NSW Mid North Coast with their foster parents after making the five-hour car journey from Sydney. 

His foster mother, who had been outside, went inside to make a tea but became concerned when she had not heard him for five minutes. 

The little boy would have celebrated his 10th birthday in June.

A $1million reward announced in 2016 remains in place for information that leads to the recovery of William and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance.  

The latest development came after senior sources claimed a new person of interest was being honed in on by police, declaring a breakthrough in the nearly decade-old case was imminent. 

However, William’s foster parents have previously called claims by police sources that they are closing in on a new suspect in the toddler’s disappearance ‘fake news’.

Chief Inspector David Laidlaw (pictured) is leading the investigation and told Sky News in July he knew who was to blame for William's disappearance

Chief Inspector David Laidlaw (pictured) is leading the investigation and told Sky News in July he knew who was to blame for William’s disappearance

'When you took William, you plunged our world into perpetual darkness. How long will you continue to make us suffer?', the little boy's foster parents said September

‘When you took William, you plunged our world into perpetual darkness. How long will you continue to make us suffer?’, the little boy’s foster parents said September

‘Once again we are forced to watch others objectify William for personal gain,’ a statement from the couple released on September 7.

‘To publish unverified claims, without consideration to the hurt that articles of this nature cause, is disrespectful and devastating to everyone who knows and loves William.’

Chief Inspector Laidlaw is leading the investigation after former lead detective Gary Jubelin quit the force when he was convicted of breaking the law to covertly record four conversations with a suspect. 

‘We believe we can identify who it may be or the circumstances of his disappearance,’ Chief Insp Laidlaw told Sky News in July.

‘We have thoughts on what occurred to William, there is a range of thoughts.’

When asked if he knew who was to blame and what happened he replied: ‘Yes.’

William’s foster parents, who are unable to be identified due to state laws, and biological parents have both made public appeals asking for help finding him. 

William had been playing with his little sister in the front yard of his grandmother's house when he disappeared, his foster mother later stating she took her eyes off him for 'five minutes'

William had been playing with his little sister in the front yard of his grandmother’s house when he disappeared, his foster mother later stating she took her eyes off him for ‘five minutes’

Timeline of William Tyrrell’s disappearance

Still missing: William Tyrrell vanished from his foster grandmother's home five years ago

Still missing: William Tyrrell vanished from his foster grandmother’s home five years ago

2014 

September 12 – Dressed in a Spider-Man outfit, three-year-old William Tyrrell goes missing from the garden while visiting members of his foster family on the NSW north coast. 

September 21 – Police stop searching for the missing boy after scouring surrounding bushland and neighbouring houses. 

2015 

January 20 – Police search the home and business of washing machine repairman Bill Spedding, who had been due to carry out repairs at the house at the time the three-year-old went missing.

Detectives take items for testing including a mattress, computer and vehicles. They drain his septic tank. 

January 23 – The washing machine repairman publicly denies any involvement in William’s disappearance and says he and his wife are on the verge of a breakdown due to the public attention.

February 19 – Homicide detectives take over the case and say it’s likely William was abducted. 

March 2 – Police fruitlessly search an area of bushland near Bonny Hills for three days after a tip-off. 

April 17 – William’s foster parents speak publicly for the first time in an emotional video released through police which does not identify them. 

April 17 – Police say the boy may have been a victim of a paedophile ring. 

September 6 – The Nine Network’s 60 Minutes reveal two suspicious cars were parked on the street the morning William went missing. 

September 12 – ‘Where’s William’ week is launched one year after he disappeared. 

2016 

September 12 – A $1million reward is offered for information leading to William’s return. 

2017 

August 24 – William’s foster child status is revealed after a landmark court ruling.

2018 

June 12 – NSW Police announce the start of a four-week forensic search of bushland conducted by Strike Force Rosann.

June 14 – William’s grandmother scolds police who have failed to find the young boy after four years, and claims their latest search is ‘just for show’.

June 26 – The forensic search continues on what would have been William’s seventh birthday.

June 27 – Strike Force Rosann announces it will move the search to an 800sqm block of bushland just 4km from where William was last seen alive.

June 5 – The latest search ends with Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin saying the case could soon go to a coroner. 

August – Investigation leader Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin and a sergeant get into a disagreement during a briefing.

September 13 – Police reveal they found a burned out car wreck belonging to a former person of interest.

December 19 – Coroners say William could still be alive and the inquest will determine if he died or not.

2019

February – DCI Jubelin is removed from the investigation amid a misconduct probe.

March 25 – The inquest into William Tyrrell’s disappearance begins, with William’s biological and foster parents appearing over the course of a week. 

The inquest’s first batch of hearings focused on William’s family situation and the events leading up to his disappearance. 

Both his foster and biological parents were quizzed, as were neighbours who helped in the search.   

It was disclosed that William’s biological parents absconded with him for six weeks in 2012, following a children’s court order.

William’s biological father slammed authorities for letting them down. 

‘Authorities f***ed up … The minister had a duty of care to keep William safe until he was 18. That was not the case at all.’

May: DCI Jubelin quits the Police Force.

June: Four charges of breaching the Surveillance Devices Act are laid against DCI Jubelin. He denies any wrongdoing whatsover

August: The second tranche of inquest hearings began on Wednesday August 7

Inquest hears Bill Spedding, a NSW mid-north coast repairman and one-time person of interest in the disappearance of William Tyrrell, met his wife for coffee about 9.30am in Laurieton, a 15-minute drive from Kendall, on the day William went missing.

They then attended a school assembly across the road to see a child in their care receive an award.

The inquest heard how a man who claims he saw William Tyrrell unrestrained in the back of a speeding car on the day the child went missing was waiting for police to interview him to tell them what he saw.

He told the inquest he contacted police but did not hear back about an interview.

It took it took almost 1000 days before he was able to reveal what he saw to police. 

The coroner orders an urgent probe into the final image that was taken on the day William vanished as metadata suggests the picture may have been taken 118 minutes earlier than originally thought.

The image has a ‘created time’ of 7.39am and a ‘corrected time’ of 9.37am, a new document from the 2000-page evidence brief. 

The coronial inquest has been delayed for another eight months with the next round of hearings happening in March 2020. 

November 11: The deputy state coroner releases footage of William Tyrrell and family at Heatherbrae McDonalds, on September 11, 2014

Feb – March 2020: Gary Jubelin defends four charges of illegally recording person of interest Paul Savage in court hearing

February 21: Daily Mail Australia reveals Frank Abbott was arrested in custody for the purposes of a police interview about William’s disappearance 

March 2020: The coronial inquest into William’s disappearance resumes but stops with two days to go due to the coronavirus outbreak

April 6, 2020: Magistrate Ross Hudson delivers his verdict in Gary Jubelin case

April 8, 2020: Jubelin is convicted of all four charges and fined $10,000. Ex-cop says he will appeal 

June 22, 2020: Police and SES launch new search for William Tyrrell near Herons Creek, where Abbott once lived

June 26, 2021: Police acknowledge William Tyrrell’s 10th birthday

November 15, 2021: Detectives return to Kendall after receiving new information and admit they are searching for a body. His foster parents are reported to be persons of interest in the case 

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