News State NSW News Police determined to find abducted boy William Tyrrell amid new revelations
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Police determined to find abducted boy William Tyrrell amid new revelations

william tyrrell
William Tyrrell's birth parents have denied any involvement in his disappearance. Photo: AAP
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Revelations that missing boy William Tyrrell was a foster child have prompted police to stress that his foster carers had no role in his disappearance.

The news came after a legal court challenge to child protection laws preventing the reporting of the fact William had been in foster care at the time of his disappearance from his foster grandmother’s yard in Kendall on the NSW mid north coast on September 12, 2014.

William’s status as a child in foster care was kept quiet until this week.

But New South Wales Supreme Court judge Justice Paul Brereton found there was “substantial public interest” in the integrity of the out-of-home system. Mr Brereton also noted “the tragic possibility that (William) is no longer alive” in his finding.

“There is a substantial public interest in accountability and scrutiny of the out-of-home care system, and in accuracy of reportage of the circumstances of Julian’s (a pseudonym used by the court) disappearance,” Justice Brereton said.

“If found alive (he) will face many issues and challenges, most of them probably larger and more challenging than the stigma associated with being a child in care.”

Since the foster care revelation on Thursday, some news agencies have also named William’s biological mother and father as Karlie Tyrrell and Brendan Collins from Sydney’s western suburbs.

Police have moved to downplay William’s time in out-of-home care and emphasised that his foster carers played no part in his disappearance.

Detective Inspector Gary Jubelin, of the NSW police force, told The New Daily on Friday that William had grown up in a “loving environment” and stressed that the toddler’s family status “did not impact on what happened to William”.

When asked if the three-year-old boy had been in foster care his whole life, Det Jubelin said: “I’m not going to comment on specifics on the foster care, I just want to make it a general thing and the families would like privacy respected if possible.”

Detective Inspector Jubelin said the information did not impact the investigation at all and police had “obviously” been aware of the circumstance from the start.

“I’d just like to reinforce the fact that there’s a $1 million reward still in place (to find William Tyrrell) so anyone that’s got any information, come forward,” he said.

In the midst of legal restrictions to William’s time in foster care, the missing boy’s foster parents had said they were reluctant to expose his siblings to public scrutiny.

“It’s important because there are children involved and they’re young. They deserve an opportunity for privacy,” William’s foster mother said in 2015.

“They deserve to grow up as individuals and not grow up being known as the brother or sister of the little boy who went missing.

“It’s not fair. It’s not fair to them and we’re not doing it for us, we’re doing it for the children.”

A New South Wales Police spokesperson told The New Daily the NSW Police Force had noted the decision of the court and the investigation into the disappearance of William was still “very much ongoing”.

The spokesperson said the homicide squad’s Strike Force team ‘Rosann’ was dedicated to finding William and was pursuing numerous lines of inquiry.

“It is important to note that at the time of his disappearance, William was living in a loving home and well cared for – there is no indication his family status played any part in his disappearance,” the spokesperson said.

“Please respect his family’s privacy.”

Trish McCluskey, of Berry Street, a foster kinship and residential care service, told The New Daily she had experienced “first-hand” quality foster carers in Victoria and throughout Australia.

Dr McCluskey said it was the sixth year running that Victoria had lost more foster carers than they had been able to recruit.

The New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services reported there were more than 18,000 children in out-of-home-care as of  the June 30, 2016.

Dr McCluskey said it would never cross her mind that a foster carer would do anything but a terrific job, and the case wasn’t anything else but a “horrendous circumstance”.

When asked why the names of William’s foster parents might have been withheld in the media, Dr McCluskey explained it was a high priority to protect the privacy of children and their foster care parents.

“We don’t know what other concerns they face and it would be awful to not only have what’s happened, but also to experience that sort of commentary or public scrutiny,” she said.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF WILLIAM TYRRELL

* 2014

September 12 – Dressed in a Spiderman outfit, three-year-old William Tyrrell goes missing from the garden while visiting members of his foster family in Kendall, about 40 kilometres south of Port Macquarie.

September 21 – Police stop searching for the missing boy after scouring surrounding bushland and neighbouring houses.

* 2015

January 20 – Police search the home and business of washing machine repairman William Spedding, who had been due to carry out repairs at the Kendall house at the time the three-year-old went missing. Detectives take items for testing including a mattress, computer and vehicles. They drain his septic tank.

January 23 – Mr Spedding publicly denies any involvement in William’s disappearance and says he and his wife are on the verge of a breakdown due to the public attention.

February 19 – Homicide detectives take over the case and say it’s likely William was abducted.

March 2 – Police fruitlessly search an area of bushland near Bonny Hills for three days after a tip-off.

April 17 – William’s foster parents speak publicly for the first time in an emotional video released through police which does not identify them. Police say the boy may have been a victim of a pedophile ring.

September 6 – The Nine Network’s 60 Minutes airs a special report into the case, revealing two suspicious cars were parked on the street the morning William went missing.

September 12 – “Where’s William” week is launched one year after he disappeared.

* 2016

September 12 – A $1 million reward is offered for information leading to William’s return.

* 2017

August 24 – William’s foster child status is revealed after a court ruling

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