Police involved in the first searches for NSW toddler William Tyrrell found suspected human hair and blood in dense bushland and repeatedly searched one man’s home, documents released by the coroner reveal.
The boy in the Spiderman suit was three years old when he vanished from his foster grandmother’s property on Benaroon Drive at Kendall, on the mid north coast, in September 2014.
A Sydney inquest in March heard from the first people on the scene and William’s biological and foster families.
“My immediate thought was someone has taken him,” his foster mother tearfully told the inquest.
Four statements to NSW Police – three by Senior Constable Christopher Rowley and one from William’s biological father – were released by the coroner on Friday.
Senior Constable Rowley recounts how, at the end of Benaroon Drive, a volunteer searcher located suspected human hair in a barbed wire fence two days after William went missing.
“A small strawberry blonde/reddish hair” was photographed and taken into evidence.
The dense bush offered up more items of interest, including marijuana plants, men’s underwear, red fluff and a child’s toy.
One volunteer found blood near a road on the afternoon of the fifth day of searching.
Senior Constable Rowley was approached by a woman.
“She told us a male in a white ute had been sitting off the side (of the road) watching the actions of police around the ‘blood find’ for about 15 minutes,” the officer said.
Senior Constable Rowley also went another officer to search a small brick home on the street hours after William vanished.
No one answered the door.
But the officers saw a wooden box installed over what they assumed was a side window. It was likely blocking out all light.
They heard running water and saw a man inside. The resident allowed them to search the house and they found nothing.
Senior Constable Rowley returned with two police detectives to search the home again later that afternoon.
The officer noticed a ladder leading up to a manhole in the laundry ceiling.
“I looked inside the roof cavity but did not climb in,” he said in his statement, noting it appeared the hatch had not been opened recently.
“The only thing I could see in the roof cavity was a plastic owl often used to scare birds and vermin.”
This second search was described as a “nil find” too.
The next morning, Senior Constable Rowley returned a third time to search the home with a detective and another officer.
The man’s television showed he had selected news coverage of William’s disappearance from a menu.
The man told Senior Constable Rowley he was in poor health and had “sleep patterns” left over from his time as a taxi driver.
William’s biological father, in his statement released on Friday, assured police he hadn’t abducted his son.
“If I was going to take William I would also have taken (his sister),” he said in September 2014.
“I have been praying that the police find him safe.”
The inquest before deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame is scheduled to resume in August.