Dying dad needs answers to murder

A DESPERATE need to find out the whole story behind his son’s murder is keeping Max Weekes going.

Mr Weekes’ son Graeme was bludgeoned to death inside his Toormina home 11 years ago.

Terminally ill with bowel cancer, the grieving dad just needs to know.

“It is the only reason my father is living at the moment,” Mr Weekes’ daughter Michelle Cummins told The Advocate yesterday.

With her father ill in hospital, Mrs Cummins has appealed to the public for information that could shed light on what happened to her brother.

“My father didn’t cope very well with the inquest in Sydney last week, it has taken a huge toll,” she said.

“Anyone who knew Graeme will tell you he was a passive, fun-loving and extremely caring man.”

Graeme studied naturopathy to “help people to heal themselves” and was working at local markets as an iridologist, studying and helping the condition of people’s health through examination of their eyes.

“Losing Graeme like this has left our family with a permanent heartache and a void that can never be filled,” added Ms Cummins.

“For years, we’ve had to witness his two beautiful children endure life without him and it breaks our hearts to see their brave faces on days such as Father’s Day and Christmas that most have the luxury of taking for granted.

“This was a senseless violent act that some person or persons are responsible for and they need to be made accountable.

“If anyone has any information, no matter how small, they need to come forward to bring these violent perpetrators to justice; to give his family closure and to keep our society safe from the possibility of them re-offending. They don’t deserve to be protected from the truth under any circumstances.”

Mr Weekes’ failing condition has been a factor in the State Government posting a $100,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case.

Since the reward was offered, Coffs Harbour detectives have confirmed they have fielded and are investigating fresh information through calls to Crimestoppers.

Several persons of interest were questioned during the first week of the inquest, while the matter before Deputy State Coroner Hugh Dillon has been adjourned to July.

Mr Weekes, 38, was found dead in the lounge room of his Lalaguli Drive unit on June 13, 1999.

It has since been established that an ornamental statue was the murder weapon.

The father of two died from head and chest injuries caused by a blunt instrument, a post-mortem examination determined.

Injury patterns matching a broken five kilogram ornamental statue – found beside Mr Weekes – were found on his body.

“There were signs of a violent struggle in the kitchen and the lounge room areas of the unit,” counsel assisting the inquest, Peter McGrath said in the Glebe Coroners Court.

“There were bloodstains and splatters, furniture was overturned.”

Mr Weekes was found lying on his back and investigators believed he was moved after his death.

“The position of Mr Weekes’ body led police to believe that he had been dragged there after his death,” Mr McGrath said.

There were no signs of forced entry to the first-floor unit when Mr Weekes’ former de facto used her key to enter the property and found the body.

The couple’s six-year relationship had ended four months before Mr Weekes’ death, but the pair had remained close, the inquest heard.

Neighbours told police they heard a loud argument from inside Mr Weekes’ unit the night before his body was discovered.

Subsequent forensic investigations found fingerprints on the outside of the lounge room window, which were matched to one of three men considered “persons of interest” in Mr Weekes’ murder.

All of the men lived “nearby” at the time of Mr Weekes’ death.

“Your honour will hear that three suspects were identified by police who they thought had been involved in Mr Weekes’ murder,” Mr McGrath said.

Each of the men is represented at the inquest and will be called to give evidence.

“I should say that the police forwarded the brief of evidence to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) ... (who) advised that in that officer’s opinion there was insufficient evidence to lay charges against any person for the murder of Mr Weekes,” he added.

One of the suspects made admissions to the killing which he later retracted.

He was unable to give police any details about how Mr Weekes was killed, saying he had only made the initial admission to “get the heat off the boys”.

The inquest was also told that police have fresh information about a possible fourth person of interest.

Mr McGrath said “there may be a development occurring about another person of interest ... identified in very recent times.”

The matter will be mentioned again in the Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, June 25.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

This was a senseless violent act that some person or persons are responsible for and they need to be made accountable.

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