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William Tyrell investigation was doomed with laws around foster children hindering public appeal

The baffling disappearance of William Tyrell was hampered from the very beginning with strict privacy laws around the foster care system making the job of investigators much more difficult, one of the state’s top cops has revealed.

Former Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Police Nick Kaldas admitted to 7News Investigates that in the early stages the restrictive laws hindered police and raised ‘scepticism’ in the community as detectives were banned from publicly identifying members of William’s biological and adopted families. 

The three-year-old went missing without a trace from a Kendall property on the NSW Mid North Coast on September 12, 2014, sparking one of the largest police investigations in Australian history.

Young William disappeared from his foster grandmother’s Benaroon Drive home while playing in the yard in a Spiderman suit.

Seven years on, a two-part documentary has teased new evidence will be revealed next week which could finally shed light on who was responsible for the suspected abduction.

 

The baffling disappearance of William Tyrell (pictured) was hampered from the very beginning with strict privacy laws around the foster care system making the job of investigators much more difficult, one of the state’s top cops has revealed

William and his five-year-old sister had made the five-hour drive from Sydney with their foster parents. 

His foster mother, who cannot be identified due to legal reasons surrounding the identification of foster carers, had only taken her eyes off William for ‘five minutes’. 

Mr Kaldas said the strict state laws put in place to protect the privacy of those in the foster care system, made the job of detectives much harder than usual.

‘It made it very difficult for the initial investigative police holding press conferences and briefings because they were tip-toeing around the issue because of privacy reasons and legal reasons and it made them look like they weren’t telling the whole story,’ he said.

‘It was incredibly well intentioned and they were doing the right thing by abiding by what you can and can’t say about children, particularly when they’ve been in foster care. But It was a very difficult situation for those who dealt with it initially.’

It was also frustrating for the media desperately trying to get the message out, as they were hamstrung by the unusual circumstances which surrounded the case.

‘It was extremely confusing and I think from the very beginning it really hindered and hurt the police case,’ veteran Channel Seven journalist Michael Usher told the program.

To make matters worse the public were growing increasingly sceptical. 

‘Even I remember thinking this is all very strange, there is something they aren’t telling us,’ Usher said.

Former Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Police Nick Kaldas (pictured) admitted that in the early stages when William vanished the restrictive laws hindered police and raised 'scepticism' in the community

Former Deputy Commissioner of the NSW Police Nick Kaldas (pictured) admitted that in the early stages when William vanished the restrictive laws hindered police and raised ‘scepticism’ in the community

‘It was difficult to tell the truth about William’s status because he had foster parents, he had biological parents, he had Family and Children’s Services involved and they also had an outside agency partly caring for him as well.

‘And then you had the police involved, so this poor little boy was lost in and amongst all of that and his message and his story wasn’t able to be told properly.

‘All of those early traditional of a search and a public appeal campaign… none of it could happen.’ 

William’s foster mother had been outside with the energetic child but returned to the kitchen to make a tea.

William was constantly ‘roaring’ like a tiger while running around outside but when he mysteriously stopped, his foster mother became felt something was wrong.

It's been seven years since youngster William Tyrrell (pictured) disappeared without a trace

It’s been seven years since youngster William Tyrrell (pictured) disappeared without a trace

William was playing with his sister at their foster grandmother's Benaroon Drive home (pictured) when he mysteriously disappeared seven years ago

William was playing with his sister at their foster grandmother’s Benaroon Drive home (pictured) when he mysteriously disappeared seven years ago

She rushed out the door but there was no trace of the blonde-haired boy. 

In the moments that followed she frantically called Triple-0 and within hours hundreds of officers, volunteers, SES and RFS members were scouring nearby bushland that backed onto the property.

Detectives conducted multiple searches around the home and in surrounding areas but no significant clues were ever found and search dogs came up with nothing.

Consensus among police is that William was snatched in an opportunistic attack.

Detectives continue to investigate a number of suspects and theories, including whether the little boy was kidnapped by a member of a paedophile ring. 

William was sent to live in foster care because his biological parents had issues with drugs and alcohol as well as domestic violence.

But his biological mother says the two were in the process of getting their lives back on track after William was born.

Pictured: Members of the force search bushland at Batar Creek in 2018 looking for evidence in the case

Pictured: Members of the force search bushland at Batar Creek in 2018 looking for evidence in the case 

William's foster mum said the strict laws in place to protect those within the foster care system are 'cruel'

William’s foster mum said the strict laws in place to protect those within the foster care system are ‘cruel’

She said the laws which have essentially silenced her from making a public appeal in which she can be identified are ‘cruel’.   

‘I don’t care about my privacy. It got me nowhere. I want to stand up and tell people the real story,’ she said.

‘Because I haven’t come out and said anything people are going to assume I don’t care.

‘It makes me angry. Angry at the system.’     

The NSW Government in 2016 announced a $1million reward for information that leads to the recovery of William.

In March 2019, a coronial inquest launched into William’s death, which remains ongoing.  

William Tyrrell (pictured) vanished from his foster mother's Kendall property, on the NSW Mid North Coast, in September 2014

William Tyrrell (pictured) vanished from his foster mother’s Kendall property, on the NSW Mid North Coast, in September 2014

The second part of 7News Investigates special into William’s disappearance is set to air on Sunday September 26 at at 7pm.

The remarks come shortly after detectives revisited the area where the toddler vanished after new information ‘came to light’.

Police announced on the anniversary of William’s disappearance earlier in September that detectives had returned to Kendall with specialist forensic officers to have another look at the home where William was last seen and other areas nearby.

Photos and footage have been released of detectives at the foster grandmother’s home where William was last seen, showing them pouring over photos of other nearby places of interest.

Strike Force Rosann detectives (pictured) have been revisiting places near where William disappeared

Strike Force Rosann detectives (pictured) have been revisiting places near where William disappeared

But police remain tight-lipped about the new information they’ve received.

‘Further information has since come to light, as part of our ongoing review of the materials gathered by investigators since the moment William went missing seven years ago,’ strike force officer-in-charge Detective Chief Inspector David Laidlaw said.

‘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.

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

Timeline of William Tyrrell’s disappearance 

2014 

September 12 – Dressed in a Spiderman 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 a person 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 person 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 

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 a person of interest in court hearing 

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: Police and SES launch new search for William Tyrell near Herons Creek

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk