The family of missing man Matthew Leveson is “devastated” after a search for his body in bushland south of Sydney was called off after eight days with no breakthrough.
Police had been searching the Royal National Park since last Thursday, after Mr Leveson’s boyfriend at the time of his 2007 disappearance, Michael Atkins, led them to the location.
Mr Leveson’s parents Mark and Faye Leveson said while the outcome was disappointing, they were more determined than ever to find their son.
“Although [there’s] no results here … this only strengthens our resolve,” Mark Leveson said.
“So we now are even more determined to find Matt, so Atkins, look over your shoulder.”
Mr Leveson, 20, was last seen outside Sydney nightclub ARQ with Mr Atkins in September 2007.
Mr Atkins was acquitted of murder by a jury in 2009 after a trial during which he exercised his right to silence.
But Mr Atkins was compelled to give evidence at a coronial inquest earlier this month.
Last week he led police to the roadside spot in the Royal National Park, which was then declared a crime scene.
His cooperation with police followed an unprecedented deal struck with the NSW Attorney-General giving him immunity from prosecution for perjury at the inquest in return for information leading to the recovery of Mr Leveson’s body.
That deal is now in doubt and Mr Atkins could now be charged with perjury, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
What happens now?
The ABC has confirmed the specific terms of Mr Atkins’ perjury immunity deal with the NSW Attorney-General was ‘no body, no deal’.
At the time that deal was struck, New South Wales police had been on the verge of charging Mr Atkins with perjury.
It is now up to police as to if and when charges may be laid.
The ABC understands Mr Atkins is expected to face further questioning when the coronial inquest into Mr Leveson’s death resumes in March next year.
The Section 61 certificate issued by the NSW deputy coroner granting Mr Atkins immunity from anything he said in court at the inquest, or any evidence secured as a result of what he said, remains in place.
‘I promise Matty, we’ll bring you home’
Mrs Leveson said every day during the search she had brought a message to her son, telling him they had kept their promise to bring him home.
She hoped to be able to place the message at the spot where he was found.
“I said, ‘Matt, our beautiful son and brother we made a promise to you nine years, one month and 24 days ago to find you and bring you home – today we get to bring you home to where you belong’,” Mrs Leveson read.
“‘Heartfelt thanks to all that have helped to make this possible.’
“But I can’t really say that now, can I? Because we didn’t find him and we haven’t fulfilled our promise to him yet.
“But I promise you, Matty, we will bring you home.”
Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin said police would continue their efforts to locate Mr Leveson.
“I can’t talk [about] details of the investigation, it is the subject of a current coronial inquiry,” he said.
“I’d just like to pay tribute to Matt’s family and the way that they’ve conducted themselves for the past seven days in very trying circumstances.
“It’s been difficult for them and it’s been a privilege to work with them on this investigation.”