News State New South Wales Qld man charged in three cold-case sex assaults

Qld man charged in three cold-case sex assaults

Warren John McCorriston buries his face in his hands outside Court Photo: ABC
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A Gold Coast man linked to an investigation into the disappearance of three girls near Newcastle has been charged with sexually assaulting three women in the area over an 18-year period dating back to 1979.

Warren John McCorriston, 58, was arrested on Wednesday in Surfers Paradise and extradited from Queensland to Tweed Heads on Thursday.

He was formally charged with 22 offences including the rape and sexual assault of the three women between 1979 and 1997.

The charges include six counts of sexual assault, maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm, attempting to choke or strangle and indecently assaulting a female under 16.

He appeared by video link in Tweed court and was remanded in custody to face a Newcastle court on March 4.

McCorriston’s charges stem from a cold case investigation into the disappearances of three teenage girls near Newcastle from the Lake Macquarie area.

In April, police established Strike Force Arapaima to re-examine the disappearances but so far no one has been charged.

Investigations into the suspected murders uncovered information relating to the unrelated sexual assault allegations which prompted McCorriston’s arrest.

In his earlier extradition hearing in Southport, the court was told McCorriston was well aware he had been the subject of an ongoing investigation in NSW and fought extradition.

Defence lawyer Alex Somers said McCorriston left school in year 11 at Newcastle before carving a successful career in the tourism and hospitality industry, managing a major complex in Surfers Paradise.

He said McCorriston has separated from his partner and lived alone, suffering “emotional distress and feelings of loneliness and isolation”.

Mr Somers said the case was over 30 years old and relied on witness statements with no independent corroborating evidence to support the charges.

-AAP