Weekes inquest to hear from three
POLICE have a growing number of suspects in the murder of Coffs Harbour man Graeme Weekes, who was bludgeoned to death in his home with an ornamental statue, a coronial inquest heard yesterday.
Mr Weekes, 38, was found dead in the lounge room of his unit at Lalaguli Drive at Toormina almost 11 years ago on June 13, 1999.
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 5kg 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 his opening address at Glebe Coroners Court.
“There were bloodstains and splatters, furniture was overturned.”
Mr Weekes was found lying on his back, and investigators believe 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 defacto 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 those 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 had 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.”
Last week the NSW government announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case of Mr Weekes’ murder.
The latest suspect is believed to have come to light as a result of publicity surrounding the reward.
Family and friends including Mr Weekes’ ex de facto wife were at Glebe Coroner’s Court.