ActivePaper Archive CHARGES TWIST IN TYRRELL CASE - The West Australian , 11/18/2021

CHARGES TWIST IN TYRRELL CASE

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Foster parents accused of unrelated child assault as cops beef up renewed search for missing boy

Police have charged the foster parents of William Tyrrell over the unrelated alleged assault of a child.

The bombshell news came as forensic o ficers continued to dig up a yard at the home where the three-year-old boy went missing in 2014 and seized a car believed to be linked to the boy’s foster family for testing.

The 56- ear-old woman and 54-year-old man, who cannot be identi ied for legal reasons, will face court next week over the alleged assault of a girl which took place at a Sydney home.

NSW Police said the pair have been charged with common assault, after a renewed investigation by NSW homicide squad detectives into William’s disappearance brought the allegations to light.

The foster parents are set to fight the charges and are expected to claim the girl may have fallen from a horse, The Australian reported.

Police have said they are refocusing the Tyrrell task force on the foster mother as a person of interest but the charges are not related to that investigation.

“As part of ongoing investigations under Strike Force Rosann, detectives from the homicide squad received information relating to the suspected assault of a child at a home on Sydney’s upper north shore,” a NSW Police spokesman said on Wednesday.

“Following inquiries, Strike Force Rosann detectives served court attendance notices on legal representatives of a 56-year-old woman and a 54-yearold man earlier today.”

The pair will appear in court next Tuesday.

It came as police continued to search a section of garden beneath a terrace at William’s foster grandmother’s old home in Kendall on the NSW mid-north coast, working on the theory that the youngster may have died after falling from a balcony at the property.

Overnight detectives had tested the balcony and garden bed to determine if there were any traces of blood. They sprayed Luminol across several search sites. It is a chemical that reacts with haemoglobin in blood and can reveal traces of blood even seven years later. They also turned their attention to an area of bush about a kilometre from the house.

Officers used an excavator to remove a layer of topsoil after Rural Fire Service volunteers helped clear the land and vegetation.

In Sydney’s south, police seized a grey Mazda sedan at Gymea on Wednesday morning. It will undergo forensic analysis, which could take several weeks.

William disappeared from the Kendall home in 2014, when he was three years old.

Police have been told he was last seen playing in the garden, wearing his favourite Spider-Man suit. At one point a small piece of what was thought to be material was discovered in soil, leading to premature suggestions of a breakthrough.

A detective was photographed carrying part of a replica Spider-Man outfit for comparison, but police later confirmed they did not believe the find was significant.

The area around the home has been searched a number of times over the past seven years with no result.

Members of the Australian Federal Police forensics unit have been sent to Kendall to join the operation.

Officers scoured the surrounds on Wednesday, using ground-penetrating radar, pictured above.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said they were taking part in a targeted search of several key locations, including a creek bed not far from the home.

“It is great news that the AFP are now part of the search . . . Hopefully there is going to be a breakthrough, very, very soon,” she said.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller expressed confidence the case could be solved despite admitting detectives had inherited “a bit of a mess” of an investigation that had initially “wasted” time pursuing individuals who were “clearly” not linked to the crime.

“I’m confident that the team who has the investigation at the moment can solve it,” Mr Fuller said. “My understanding is, from the investigators, is that there is certainly one person in particular that we are looking closely at.”

The foster mother, who is a person of interest in the investigation, had been caring for William and his sister since March 2012.

The West Australian is not suggesting she is guilty, only that she is now a police suspect. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the signs and reporting coming from the police investigation were “very encouraging” and officers were doing a “phenomenal” job.

He said he was not concerned by the top cop’s assertion that detectives “wasted” time.

“The signs and the reporting today is, from my perspective, very encouraging,” he said. “This whole tragedy is heartbreaking, and hopefully what we’re seeing from the work our police are doing is that we’ll get a breakthrough shortly.”

The findings of a coronial inquest into William’s disappearance, which concluded in 2020, were expected earlier this year but are still yet to be handed down. During the inquest the coroner heard evidence of how the initial police investigation focused on the theory William may have been abducted by a paedophile.

Lead detective Gary Jubelin was later charged and convicted for illegally recording conversations with a suspect.

A $1 million reward for information on the case still stands.