William Tyrrell’s foster mother was grilled during secret NSW Crime Commission hearings about whether the missing toddler had toppled off a verandah into ferns before she disposed of his body, a court has heard.
William’s foster father, 56, on Monday appeared before Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court where he pleaded not guilty to five counts of lying to the NSW Crime Commission.
The court heard that the foster father and foster mother were summonsed to appear before the NSW Crime Commission in November 2021 as part of the investigation into William’s disappearance.
The court heard that when police arrived at her home to serve the summons to appear, they told her “we know you’re a good person” and “we know William was loved”.
But they also said: “We aren’t guessing, we aren’t bluffing. We know why, we know how. We know where he is.”
The court heard on Monday that during the Crime Commission hearing two years ago, counsel assisting Sophie Callan SC questioned the foster mother about whether William had fallen from the balcony and she had disposed of the body.
“Did you find his body in the ferns and in the foliage under the verandah that day,” Ms Callan asked.
The court heard that the woman repeatedly said “no” and “I didn’t” as she was asked whether she found William’s lifeless body and placed it in her mother’s car.
On that day, Ms Callan questioned the foster mother about whether she put William’s body into her mother’s care and moved it to another location.
“Just to be clear, there‘s no suggestion that you harmed him or caused his death, but you found him and you moved his body,” Ms Callan
“I didn’t,” the woman replied.
William was three when he disappeared without a trace from his foster grandmother’s home in Kendall on September 12, 2014.
His body has never been found and he is presumed dead. His foster parents continue to deny having any involvement in, or knowledge of, his disappearance.
No one has ever been charged.
On the stand on Monday, Detective Sergeant Andrew Lonergan said: “We simply don’t know what happened to him that day.”
The court heard that at the Crime Commission, the foster mother was asked whether William’s body had fallen into the ferns under the verandah and whether she “realised there was no point calling emergency services”.
“Did you decide to take charge of the situation, which was beyond remedy, rather than risk (another child who was in their care) being taken away,” Ms Callan said.
“No,” the foster mother replied.
The court heard on Monday that the NSW Police had sent a brief of evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions asking whether the foster mother could be charged with interfering with a corpse and perverting the course of justice.
In a statement delivered by her lawyer outside court earlier this year, the foster mother maintained she: “Had nothing to do with his disappearance … and asks the police to continue to look for William and what happened to him.”
The court heard that during his questioning before the Crime Commission, the foster father is accused of lying about whether he knew that the foster mother had struck a child with a wooden spoon.
The incident relates to a child who was not William.
The court heard that from December 2020, NSW Police were granted a series of audio and phone surveillance warrants to monitor the couple, their home, phone calls and car.
The court was told on Monday that during his Crime Commission evidence that the foster father had denied knowledge of the foster mother being violent towards the child.
Defence barrister Phillip English questioned why the father had not been played the tapes of the incidents during his Crime Commission evidence.
He noted that in a subsequent interview, when played the tapes, he had acknowledged he knew of them.
In one tape played to the court, a child can be heard screaming and yelling for “help” for several minutes.
One of the listening devices placed in the family home captured the woman saying “move your hands” to the child before a smacking sound could be heard.
In an intercepted telephone call, the foster mother tells her husband that she hit the child “really hard with that wooden spoon.”
Mr English questioned Sergeant Lonergan whether allegations that the foster mother had harmed another child had any relevance to the investigation into William’s disappearance.
“It goes towards her character and her propensity for violence towards children in her care,” Sergeant Lonergan replied.
The trial before Magistrate John Arms continues on Tuesday.
William’s foster mother was last year acquitted of a similar charge after she was found not guilty of lying to the NSW Crime Commission.
Police had alleged she lied during her evidence that she did not strike the same child with a wooden spoon.
Magistrate Miranda Moody said she could not find beyond a reasonable doubt that the foster mother had willingly lied to the commission.