William ‘Bill’ Spedding awarded $1.5million in damages over malicious prosecution

Washing machine repairman wrongly targeted as a suspect in the William Tyrrell investigation is awarded almost $1.5MILLION in damages

  • Bill Spedding paid out almost $1.5million in damages of police prosecution 
  • Washing machine repairman was wrongly named as early, high profile suspect
  • The tradesman had an alibi – he was at a school assembly for child in his care
  • Witnesses verified that he was present and his wife had a receipt from a cafe 

A washing machine repairman who was wrongly named as a high-profile suspect in the investigation into William Tyrrell’s disappearance will receive almost $1.5million in compensation.

Bill Spedding sued the NSW Police alleging detectives maliciously pursued him while investigating the disappearance of the three-year-old from his foster grandmother’s home in Kendall, on the NSW north coast, on September 12, 2014.

His case in the NSW Supreme Court sought compensation for reputational harm and psychological treatment. He also sought exemplary damages to punish police for purportedly using the courts for an improper purpose.

The tradesman was an early high-profile suspect in the disappearance, with police searching Mr Spedding’s Bonny Hills home and draining his septic tank in January 2015. But they found no evidence linking him to William. 

Bill Spedding was awarded almost $1.5 million in damages after suing the NSW Police Force for malicious prosecution. Above, outside court on Thursday with his wife Margaret

A coronial inquest later found Mr Spedding had an alibi on the day of William’s disappearance. He was attended a school assembly for a child in his care that day, and a receipt from a coffee shop nearby. 

During the police investigation into Mr Spedding, the tradesman was charged in April 2015 over the historical child abuse claims, spending 56 days in custody and then being released on strict bail conditions.

Mr Spedding was later acquitted and alleged the charges were levelled against him in a bid to intimidate and place pressure on him.  

Mr Spedding’s lawyers claimed a police investigation prior to those charges being laid was ‘done in extreme haste’ in three or four weeks. 

‘The investigation was not in any way professional, careful or proper,’ said Mr Spedding’s lawyer Adrian Canceri during closing submissions in August.

Mr Spedding has claimed the anxiety and depression he suffers were caused by the prosecution and the public attention it brought.

William's disappearance has become one of Australia's most publicised mysteries during the eight-year search. He has never been found

William’s disappearance has become one of Australia’s most publicised mysteries during the eight-year search. He has never been found

Clear evidence emerged that the complainants had been coached by another person to make allegations and another person’s evidence undermined the case, Justice Harrison heard.

The charges were later dropped by prosecutors.

Barrister Adrian Williams, for the State of NSW, had argued that misunderstandings occurred but it didn’t follow that police were acting maliciously.

William Tyrrell has never been found. 

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