Child wearing Spider-Man suit seen in car

A man living on the NSW mid-north coast just streets away from where William Tyrrell vanished saw a boy in a Spider-Man suit in the back of a car on the morning the toddler disappeared.

Ronald Chapman - who lived in Laurel St, Kendall, about 1.6km from Benaroon Drive, where William was staying - "saw a child in the back seat … up against the passenger-side back seat window and has a recollection the child was wearing a Spider-Man outfit".

Detective Sergeant Laura Beacroft told the inquest into the three-year-old's 2014 disappearance that Mr Chapman saw what appeared to be two cars driving in tandem down his street, with the boy in a car "driven by a woman".

 

William Tyrrell was wearing a Spider-Man suit when he disappeared. Picture: AAP Image/NSW Police
William Tyrrell was wearing a Spider-Man suit when he disappeared. Picture: AAP Image/NSW Police

 

The car following was "driven by a man".

Sgt Beacroft said further investigations revealed that on the same morning, September 12, a mother and her two children were visiting a resident across the road, and one of the children, a boy, had a Spider-Man suit.

However. Sgt Beacroft said the child Mr Chapman saw in the back seat of the car was not the child visiting the street.

"From the information provided by that child's mother … it was not that child Mr Chapman saw," she said.

 

Despite a huge manhunt, no trace of William Tyrrell has ever been found.
Despite a huge manhunt, no trace of William Tyrrell has ever been found.

 

She said Mr Chapman was a "well respected" member of the Kendall community and had participated in a video walk-through of the incident.

The sighting occurred when "he was at home, he heard a noise and thought it might be the postie", counsel assisting the inquest Gerard Craddock told the hearing.

Mr Chapman "went outside the house and saw a vehicle driving from the direction of Batar Creek Rd along Laurel St and he saw a child in the back seat".

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Batar Creek Rd joins Benaroon Drive, the street were William had been staying at his foster grandmother's house on the morning he vanished.

The inquest into his disappearance is being heard at Taree Local Court this week to facilitate attendance by witnesses who live in Kendall or nearby areas on the NSW mid-north coast.

The inquest heard today that neighbours of William's foster grandmother heard a car do a U-turn on Benaroon Drive on the morning in question.

Peter and Sharelle Crabb, who lived at 51 Benaroon Drive at the time, heard the sound of a vehicle turning and driving away.

 

William Tyrrell vanished in Kendall on the NSW mid-north coast. Picture: AAP Image/NSW Police
William Tyrrell vanished in Kendall on the NSW mid-north coast. Picture: AAP Image/NSW Police

 

The Crabbs were on their veranda at the back of the house, but Mr Craddock told the inquest "residents of Benaroon Drive would notice there were cars if there were cars".

Asked if the street was "very quiet and noise travels", Sgt Beacroft said Benaroon Drive was "extremely quiet".

Asked also if she had been "sceptical" abut the Crabbs' evidence, Sgt Beacroft said she had "done a lot of work with them", investigating the claim including visiting them at home in June 2016.

It had been a cold day and the windows and doors at 51 Benaroon Drive were closed when Sharelle Crabb said to Sgt Beacroft: "Listen, do you hear anything?"

When Sgt Beacroft did listen, she then "heard the sound of a car coming up Benaroon Drive", although she hadn't heard it when Mrs Crabb did "two to three seconds before I did".

 

 

The inquest heard that when police investigating the disappearance of William came up with no clues, eye witnesses, evidence or confessions, they came up with 404 potential "persons of interest".

Police started looking closely at neighbours who had been living in the same street, the inquest heard.

Called a "re-canvass", this involved asking neighbours on Benaroon Drive if they had been involved in the search for William, where they were between 9.30am and 11.30am on the day, and if they'd had visitors or tradespeople in the past 12 months.

Sgt Beacroft was seconded to Strike Force Rosann investigating William's disappearance to process the multiple "person of interest nominations".

She agreed with Mr Craddock, that the term "person of interest … certainly doesn't indicate that person … is necessarily suspected" in William's disappearance.

Despite a massive manhunt, no trace of William has ever been found.


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