Coroner demands Channel Ten hand over information from its William Tyrrell podcast


The NSW coroner has subpoenaed all notes, audio recordings and materials of a Channel 10 journalist who produced a podcast about William Tyrrell’s disappearance. 

Police on Monday announced detectives have ‘new evidence’ in the search for the little boy and are scouring three new sites on the Mid North Coast.

The three-year-old was last seen wearing a Spider-Man suit in the garden of his foster grandmother’s Kendal home in 2014. 

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.      

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

Police search teams descended on bushland in the surrounding areas near the home on Monday to carry out ‘high intensity’ searches as the investigation takes a dramatic new turn.

It remains unclear what detectives are hoping to find in the popular podcast series but Harris said the legal notice 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.

‘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 (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

Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett said the renewed search would take two to three weeks. 

‘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 on Monday. 

‘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. 

Officers will not be returning to 'old ground' extensively searched in June of 2018 and will instead focus on three new locations in Kendall, a rural township on the NSW Mid North Coast

Officers will not be returning to ‘old ground’ extensively searched in June of 2018 and will instead focus on three new locations in Kendall, a rural township on the NSW Mid North Coast

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’. 

He said officers would not be returning to the Kendall sites that were extensively combed back in June of 2018 with ‘experts outside the police force’ to provide officers guidance during the holistic search. 

The superintendent said he didn’t know who took William seven years ago and reminded the public the $1million reward for information was still available. 

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. 

William Tyrrell vanished from his foster grandmother's home age 3 on September 12, 2014

William Tyrrell vanished from his foster grandmother’s home age 3 on September 12, 2014

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.  

Before the conference on Monday, Channel Ten tweeted that its Where’s William Tyrrell? podcast had been subpoenaed for information.

When asked about whether the subpoena related to the fresh searches for William, Mr Bennett said: ‘There is a lot of activity in around this, it’s all related.’ 

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. 

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 

Officers from Strike Force Rosann returned to the Kendall home of William's grandmother (pictured) following the seven-year anniversary of the little boy's disappearance

Officers from Strike Force Rosann returned to the Kendall home of William’s grandmother (pictured) following the seven-year anniversary of the little boy’s disappearance 

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

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. 

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 (pictured)

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 (pictured)

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

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 Spiderman 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 less than a week 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 Tyrell’s foster parents have called claims by police sources that they are closing in on a new suspect in the toddler’s disappearance ‘fake news’.

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

NSW Police searched bushland at Batar Creek, about four kilometres from where William was last seen in 2014, for evidence back in June of 2018 (pictured)

NSW Police searched bushland at Batar Creek, about four kilometres from where William was last seen in 2014, for evidence back in June of 2018 (pictured)

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

‘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,’ the statement said. 

An inquest into the case was launched in March 2019 which is ongoing. 

Chief Inspector David 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.

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

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

Police returned to the rural township of Kendall the little boy vanished from in September of this year after new information 'came to light'

Police returned to the rural township of Kendall the little boy vanished from in September of this year after new information ‘came to light’

‘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 William.

In September, his foster family issued a heartbreaking plea for those involved in his disappearance to finally come forward and end their daily suffering. 

‘On the seventh anniversary of William’s disappearance, we ask of the person or persons involved; how much more heartbreak must be endured before you come forward,’ the statement read.  

‘When you took William, you plunged our world into perpetual darkness. How long will you continue to make us suffer?

‘When will you choose to come forward and end the nightmare we’ve endured every day for the past 2558 days since you took William from his happy life?’  

Meanwhile it has emerged a convicted paedophile ‘person of interest’ in the case had a son who mysteriously died at the same age as William.  

The jailed paedophile, 80 (pictured), is a key person of interest in the disappearance of William Tyrrell and is understood to have taken a key interest in the coronial inquiry

The jailed paedophile, 80 (pictured), is a key person of interest in the disappearance of William Tyrrell and is understood to have taken a key interest in the coronial inquiry 

The 80-year-old was living in a caravan 12km from the property the three-year-old boy vanished without a trace and has since been unable to give police an alibi.

Described as a ‘dirty old man’, he is currently serving a 16 year prison sentence for the sexual abuse of three young children and was acquitted of a teenage girl’s 1968 murder in the small community of Pitt Town, 60km north-west of Sydney. 

Despite being in prison, the man has taken a keen interest in the coronial inquiry into William’s likely abduction and murder – watching every day via Zoom. 

It was revealed for the first time by 7 News Investigates that the man’s own young son was, like William, three years old when he died – with the findings of an inquest sealed by a NSW coroner under ‘confidentiality’ rules. 

A two-part documentary has uncovered the bombshell new information and revealed the man had been spoken to by police about his whereabouts on the day little William disappeared. 

While he has not yet been able to provide police with an alibi, with the documentary claiming no one is able to vouch for his movements that day, he maintains he had nothing to do with what happened to William.

A key person of interest in the case of William Tyrrell (pictured) had a son who died at the same age as the missing three-year-old

A key person of interest in the case of William Tyrrell (pictured) had a son who died at the same age as the missing three-year-old

This is a caravan the man lived in on the mid-north coast of New South Wales following William's disappearance in September, 2014

This is a caravan the man lived in on the mid-north coast of New South Wales following William’s disappearance in September, 2014

Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting the man had any involvement in William’s disappearance, and is only stating that police have spoken to him.

The man’s friend Ray Porter, who died of kidney failure, allegedly told a nurse he had driven his ‘best fishing mate and that little boy from the television’ 300km north.

Uniting Care nurse Kirston Okpegbue told a coronial inquest last year that Porter had rested his head on her shoulder in August 2019 revealing he believed he was tricked into giving the pair a lift up Pacific Highway towards Queens­land – a day after the abduction.

While Mr Porter did not explicitly name the man, the pair were known to be fishing buddies.

Ray Porter (left) allegedly told an aged care nurse he drove William and a fishing mate 300km north day after his disappearance in his white station wagon (right)

‘That was his only friend. The only person I’ve ever seen Ray with was (the man),’ an unnamed associate told the program.

‘And he described the little boy from the TV which would be William Tyrrell.’

The unnamed man also told the documentary he was interviewed by police who told him the man was the ‘number one prime suspect in the investigation’. 

Highway cameras captured Porter’s vehicle on the southbound Pacific Motorway camera at Kew on September 13, and on the north and southbound cameras at Port Macquarie the following day.

Williams’ foster mother also told police a white station wagon matching the description was parked near her parents’ property on the morning of his 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

The inquest separately heard that a worker at a takeaway shop where the man used to do repairs reported the elderly man making a ‘strange’ comment about William’s whereabouts.

‘Frank made a comment he thought they were searching in the wrong spot for William Tyrrell, which seemed like a very strange comment to make,’ Dean Anderson told the court.

The person of interest also once spoke of smelling something ‘dead’ in bushland by a road in nearby Logans Crossing, Mr Anderson said.

Mr Anderson said he suggested the smell was probably a dead kangaroo, to which the man replied: ‘No, I know the difference between a dead kangaroo and a dead human smell.’ 

Revelations also came to light that the man was acquitted of the gruesome 1968 murder of 17-year-old shop assistant Hellen Harrison after being put on trial twice. 

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’

FBI-trained Kris Illingsworth, who worked as a NSW police detective, said it was almost certainly an opportunistic attack. 

He also suggested that William, who had been roaring like a tiger while playing in the yard, had let out a ‘last roar’ that was ‘especially loud, as though he’s roaring at someone’. 

‘I believe this offender given he has this preferential idea of being attracted to children and has kicked so quickly into predatory child abductor mode, to me that says it’s an older offender,’ the criminal profiler said.

‘This has years of experience and practice behind it.

‘He sat there for a moment in his car and watched William – this flash of blue, this roaring noise that he’s making – and he’s been checking out the situation thinking that boy attracts me. I am interested in him, so I’ll watch a bit more.

‘And at that time he’s also doing a risk assessment. He’s very cool, calm and collected in what he was doing.

‘This offender has acted with great boldness, skill and cunning.’

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 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 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 Tyrell near Herons Creek, where Abbott once lived

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

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