Charges could be laid within months in one of Australia’s highest-profile missing person cases as prosecutors weigh up evidence in the disappearance and suspected death of William Tyrrell.
NSW Police are seeking advice from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions about the case, with that opinion due to be delivered by the end of January, a coroner heard on Friday.
Earlier this year, multiple media outlets reported that police had recommended the child’s foster mother be prosecuted over William’s 2014 disappearance, as investigators believed she might have disposed of his body.
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But lawyers for the woman again called on police to release any evidence they suggested would form the basis of criminal proceedings against her.
“We are midway through the inquest, and William remains missing and his case unsolved,” lawyer Rylie Hahn said outside the inquest.
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“William’s foster mother maintains she had nothing to do with his disappearance and asks the police to continue … looking for William and what happened to him.”
Both of William’s foster parents, whose identities cannot be revealed for legal reasons, appeared at the coronial hearing and seemed emotional as they left after the brief proceedings.
The three-year-old vanished from a property at Kendall, on the NSW mid-north coast, belonging to his foster grandmother.
No one has been charged over his disappearance.
Convicted sex offender Frank Abbott was also present at Friday’s hearing, appearing on a video-link from Long Bay jail.
He sat silently through the proceedings with a walking-assistance device visible behind him.
NSW Police are seeking advice from prosecutors about the William Tyrrell case. Credit: AAP
Abbott became a focus of the investigation into William’s disappearance, with several witnesses claiming during earlier inquest hearings that he knew something about the case and had been obsessed with the search for the missing boy.
The now-elderly man lived in a caravan on a property on Herons Creek Road, about 4km from Kendall, at the time of William’s disappearance. He denies any involvement.
Counsel assisting Gerard Craddock SC told Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame that the advice being sought from prosecutors was not linked to the coronial proceedings.
“I should make as clear as possible that request for advice has nothing to do with the inquest,” he said.
“It’s not a coronial referral. It did not come from the counsel assisting team.”
The inquest has been scheduled to resume on February 23 for a further directions hearing.
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