Witness changes story: What happened to William?

 

Evidence against the most high-profile person of interest named in the William Tyrrell disappearance investigation has spectacularly fallen apart at a NSW inquest.

White goods repairman Bill Spedding vehemently denies any involvement with the suspected abduction of the three-year-old, who vanished while playing in his foster grandmother's Kendall garden on September 12, 2014.

A supplied image of missing three-year-old William Tyrrell. Credit: NSW Police
A supplied image of missing three-year-old William Tyrrell. Credit: NSW Police

On the morning the boy in the Spiderman suit vanished, his foster mother called Mr Spedding to ask when a missing part for her mum's broken washing machine would be delivered.

And important evidence came from Mr Spedding's Bonny Hills neighbour Dean Pollard, who told police in January 2015 he saw his work van driving suspiciously out of bushland south of Port Macquarie one day after the child went missing.

Dean Pollard arrives for the inquest into the disappearance of William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP
Dean Pollard arrives for the inquest into the disappearance of William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP

Mr Pollard insisted in his statement that it was "definitely Bill's van" and the bloke behind the wheel had stopped abruptly and ducked his head to avoid being seen.

But Mr Pollard dramatically changed his story on Friday when he told the NSW Coroner's Court he wasn't sure if it was Mr Spedding's exact van or just a similar car.

Mr Pollard's version of events was further discredited when he confused which day the sighting occurred and said the van didn't have writing on the front bonnet, in direct contradiction to a tendered photo of Mr Spedding in front of his van which does.

This led Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame to conclude it couldn't possibly have been his.

A police officer with a dog investigates a sawmill on Herons Creek Road during the search for William Tyrrell north of Kendall. Credit: AAP
A police officer with a dog investigates a sawmill on Herons Creek Road during the search for William Tyrrell north of Kendall. Credit: AAP

 

Outside the Taree Courthouse, Mr Spedding's lawyer Peter O'Brien said, "The real sad feature of this investigation is that massive amounts of police resources seem to have been expended unnecessarily."

"What we really need to get to the bottom of is whether the investigation has been effective. That is really crucial to determine what happened to William Tyrrell."

It's understood that Mr Pollard's statement led to a four-day police search of the surrounding bushland conducted by nearly 50 officers.

Mr Spedding, who will give evidence himself when the probe resumes in Sydney on Monday, is now expected to sue the force for damage to his reputation and business.

"My client was vindicated a long time ago, he was a person of interest for a period of time, investigations were done and he really couldn't have done what was suggested," Mr O'Brien said.

COURT Alexandra Jackson
COURT Alexandra Jackson

Laurieton local Gordon Wiegold has previously told the inquest that on the day William disappeared he saw Mr Spedding at a local school assembly to support a child relative who was receiving an award.

Mr Spedding also maintains that around 10am that morning - the same time the boy is feared to have been snatched - he had coffee at the nearby Buzz cafe with his wife Margaret, who is slated to testify next week.

Witness Paul Savage leaves an inquest into the disappearance of William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP
Witness Paul Savage leaves an inquest into the disappearance of William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP

Earlier, neighbour Paul Savage was questioned for more than an hour in closed court after giving three days of testimony that at times contradicted previous accounts he's given to police.

The elderly Benaroon Drive resident recalled seeing two unknown cars parked on the street two days before William vanished, the court heard.

But the 75-year-old widower made no reference to the old white and blue "bomb" cars in his first statement made two weeks after the boy went missing, mentioning them for the first time in 2016.

"Did you tell anybody about it at the time?" Mr Craddock asked.

"Only Heather, my wife," Mr Savage replied.

"When William disappeared didn't you think, maybe I better tell police about those cars?"

"I told somebody, might have been the police, I don't know. I can't remember," Mr Savage said.

Witness Paul Savage arrives to the inquest into the disappearance of William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP
Witness Paul Savage arrives to the inquest into the disappearance of William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP

 

William's foster mother has previously testified it took her four days to remember seeing two suspicious cars with dark-tinted windows in the street the morning he vanished, although some neighbours were "adamant" that there were none there.

Mr Savage, who agreed his memory was "not really good" anymore, said he'd done "what I could" to help find the youngster.

The pensioner said he scoured bushland for William after another neighbour raised the alarm around 11am, and no-one saw Mr Savage for the two hours to 1.15pm when his brother-in-law said he arrived in his driveway.

Witness Paul Savage arrives to the inquest into the disappearance of William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP
Witness Paul Savage arrives to the inquest into the disappearance of William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP

 

The court heard the next day Mr Savage did organised line searches with other locals but also "decided to go on my own … (and) went off into the bush" solo.

The retiree denies any involvement in the boy's disappearance and he is set to be recalled at a later date.

After repeated delays during the special hearing designed to help locals testify, the inquest will return to Taree in November with the coroner noting it was "just scratching the surface."

Earlier, neighbour Paul Savage was questioned for more than an hour in closed court after giving three days of testimony that at times contradicted previous accounts he's given to police.

The elderly Benaroon Drive resident recalled seeing two unknown cars parked on the street two days before William vanished, the court heard.

But the 75-year-old widower made no reference to the old white and blue "bomb" cars in his first statement made two weeks after the boy went missing, mentioning them for the first time in 2016.

A supplied image of missing three-year-old boy William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP/NSW Police
A supplied image of missing three-year-old boy William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP/NSW Police

"Did you tell anybody about it at the time?" Mr Craddock asked.

"Only Heather, my wife," Mr Savage replied.

"When William disappeared didn't you think, maybe I better tell police about those cars?"

"I told somebody, might have been the police, I don't know. I can't remember," Mr Savage said.

William's foster mother has previously testified it took her four days to remember seeing two suspicious cars with dark-tinted windows in the street the morning he vanished, although some neighbours were "adamant" that there were none there.

Mr Savage, who agreed his memory was "not really good" anymore, said he'd done "what I could" to help find the youngster.

A supplied image of missing three-year-old boy William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP/NSW Police)
A supplied image of missing three-year-old boy William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP/NSW Police)

The pensioner said he scoured bushland for William after another neighbour raised the alarm around 11am, and no-one saw Mr Savage for the two hours to 1.15pm when his brother-in-law said he arrived in his driveway.

The court heard the next day Mr Savage did organised line searches with other locals but also "decided to go on my own … (and) went off into the bush" solo.

The retiree denies any involvement in the boy's disappearance and he is set to be recalled at a later date.

After repeated delays during the special hearing designed to help locals testify, the inquest will return to Taree in November with the coroner noting it was "just scratching the surface."

A supplied image of missing three-year-old boy William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP
A supplied image of missing three-year-old boy William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP

 

 

Police investigate a sawmill on Herons Creek Road during the search for William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP
Police investigate a sawmill on Herons Creek Road during the search for William Tyrrell. Credit: AAP


GUNS POINTED: Yamba woman's inside view of uni lockdown

premium_icon GUNS POINTED: Yamba woman's inside view of uni lockdown

Hear what happened when police locked down campus

UNDER THREAT:’It’s like everyone’s world has stopped’

premium_icon UNDER THREAT:’It’s like everyone’s world has stopped’

PHOTOS and firsthand accounts from the fire front.

Surfer warns of monster great white lurking in surf break

premium_icon Surfer warns of monster great white lurking in surf break

Two shark sightings in two days at same beach.