Ex-wife accuses paedophile of lying on day William vanished

The inquest into the disappearance of William Tyrrell is examining a convicted paedophile whose ex-wife says he lied about going "scrapping" and came home drunk the day the child vanished.

Wauchope's Anthony "Tony" Jones was charged with indecently assaulting an 11-year-old girl at about the time William disappeared from the nearby town of Kendall on the NSW Mid-North Coast in September 2014.

Years earlier Jones and his wife, Debbie, joined a local community group known as GAPA - Grandparents As Parents Again.

Mrs Jones, who gave evidence at the inquest into William's disappearance on Monday, said the group split in around 2009 when its leader, Paul Bickford, was criminally charged.

Bickford, in 2015, was handed a suspended sentence for indecently assaulting a girl who suffers from Asperger's syndrome but the inquest did not specify if those were the charges that split GAPA.

William Tyrrell in his now infamous Spider-Man suit.
William Tyrrell in his now infamous Spider-Man suit.

 

Jones and Bickford remained friends following the split, Mrs Jones said, even after she stopped letting the former GAPA chief into her home.

Neither man has ever been charged in relation to the disappearance of William Tyrrell and their convictions are unrelated to the case.

At about the time William disappeared, in September 2014, the Jones family had three cars - including a white Toyota Camry and a blue ute Jones would use to collect and sell scrap metal from bushland around Wauchope.

But the relationship between Jones, an amphetamine user and heavy drinker, and his wife was souring, the inquest heard.

The morning William vanished, September 12, Jones left the home unusually early, his ex-wife told the coroner.

"He left early that morning saying he was going out to do scrapping with our son, Dwayne," she said.

But, Mrs Jones said, her son turned up on her doorstep just a few hours later.

Investigators search bushland at Kendall. Picture: Nathan Edwards
Investigators search bushland at Kendall. Picture: Nathan Edwards

"I asked him where his father was," she said.

"I said 'he was going to your place because you had a big job that day'. He said he didn't know anything about it and he hasn't seen his father at all."

Instead her son told her to turn on the television because the news was talking about a boy missing from nearby Kendall.

Later that afternoon, Mrs Jones said, her husband returned home so drunk he was "not walking straight".

"I confronted him as to why he lied about not being with Dwayne," she said.

"I asked him had he been out scrapping, he said 'yes' so I confronted him - 'why did you lie?'."

"He wasn't with Dwayne at all."

Later that month Mrs Jones kicked him from the house for "yelling at the kids all the time".

It was at about this time he was charged with indecent assault on the other child, though that case is unrelated to William Tyrrell.

One year after he was kicked out of home Jones was sentenced.

The separate police strike force investigating William's disappearance seized a white Camry from the Jones family home that same month.

Max Jones - who is not related to either Tony or Debbie Jones - told the inquest on Monday that he saw Jones in a "fogged up" car parked in a bush reserve just before midday on the day William disappeared.

"He looked at me … he wound his window up quite quickly," he said.

"I waved to him of course … but he didn't want to know me."

Mr Jones said it was "strange" and, about eight months later, he recognised Tony Jones from a news report.

"To me it was definitely him, I'm 100 per cent sure," Mr Jones said, adding he was "pretty sure" Tony Jones was sitting in a white Camry.

Earlier the inquest heard from Ron Chapman, who could be the last person to have seen William Tyrrell alive.

Mr Chapman, who lived near William's foster grandmother's home on the NSW mid-north coast, previously told the inquest he saw a boy in a Spider-Man suit in the back of a "fawn-coloured" 4WD the morning of the toddler's disappearance.

Mr Chapman was recalled on Monday for further questioning by Counsel Assisting the Coroner Gerard Craddock SC.

The second round of questioning came after another Kendall resident told the inquest her own son wore a Spider-Man suit at around that time.

But Mr Chapman, on Monday, was adamant he had not confused her boy for William.

"Could you possibly have seen that little boy … in that car, and mistaken the boy for William Tyrrell?" Mr Craddock asked.

"I'm sure it was William Tyrrell that was in the vehicle," Mr Chapman replied.

The inquest will continue for two weeks at Taree Courthouse.

It's expected Dwayne Gardoll, the Jones' son, will be called on Tuesday as will Tony Jones.


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