New claim about William Tyrrell’s foster parents

Nathan SchmidtNCA NewsWire
The foster parents of missing toddler William Tyrrell have made a shock claim in court as they fight serious allegations. NCA NewsWire / David Swift
Camera IconThe foster parents of missing toddler William Tyrrell have made a shock claim in court as they fight serious allegations. NCA NewsWire / David Swift Credit: NCA NewsWire

The former foster father of missing toddler William Tyrrell was “lawfully correcting” a young child when he allegedly grabbed the girl by the neck, a court has been told.

The 56-year-old man and his 58-year-old wife faced Parramatta Local Court on Monday as they fight a string of allegations relating to their care of a separate foster child.

The child was removed from the couple’s care in November 2021, seven years after William’s disappearance. Neither the couple nor the child can be legally named.

The foster father pleaded not guilty to allegations he intimidated the young girl in November 2020 and assaulted the child by grabbing her by the neck in October 2021.

Barrister Phillip English said the man had instead grabbed the girl by the shoulders and that the confrontation, over a 40-minute time-out, amounted to “lawful correction”.

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“Force was applied for the punishment of a child … he had all the duties and powers in respect to the child. It was reasonable in regard to age, health, and maturity,” he said.

William Tyrrell Inquest Released Image
Camera IconWilliam Tyrrell was only three years old when he vanished on September 12, 2014. Picture; Supplied Credit: Supplied

Prior to the alleged incident, the child had told the 56-year-old she would “quit this family … I hate you – I hate this family”, all of which was captured on a police recording.

Mr English said a noise was captured before the child, referred to as LT, was heard saying “ouch”, during which time police allege the foster father assaulted the young girl.

In follow-up interviews, Mr English said the child twice refuted allegations that she was grabbed by the neck, instead stating the man had his hands on her shoulder area.

Asked by Senior Constable Kate Lock if the man had ever grabbed her by the neck, the child said “umm yes” but told a second officer she didn’t remember talking about it.

“He usually (the foster father) just yells, but he had his hand near my neck. I didn't know what he would do, but he wouldn't choke me. He’s not like that,” she told police.

The recording, and others made by police and from which the allegations stem, were recounted in court by Mr English as the couple fights separate charges of intimidation.

04/12/2023 William Tyrrell's foster parents arriving at Paramatta court
Camera IconWilliam Tyrrell's foster parents are fighting a string of allegations relating to their care of a separate foster child. NCA NewsWire / Nathan Schmidt Credit: Supplied

On November 23, an argument between the man and the child spilt out into the car where the man was allegedly caught on the police recording intimidating the child.

“There was a dispute in the house between LT and the accused. We don’t know what this was about … The accused gets to (the car) first and shouts to LT,” Mr English said.

“‘Move, f**king move’, he said. He then speaks to himself: ‘I’m done with family, I’m out. I’m out. This is f**king ridiculous. This stupid f**king sh*t’.

“It’s only then that LT gets there. What he does is explain his frustrations: ‘We’ve done nothing to you, all we’ve done is support you and you treat us like sh*t’.”

The child later reported the incident to a teacher at school, after which the man allegedly told her: “If you feel like that again, don’t go to a teacher. Go to mum.”

The 58-year-old woman is also fighting two charges of intimidation related to the care of the child after pleading guilty to assaulting her with a wooden spoon.

Camera IconThe pair both face allegations they intimidated the child. NCA NewsWire / David Swift Credit: NCA NewsWire

Her lawyer, Sharon Ramsden, told the court that police would have to prove that the alleged threats to “slap” or “smack” the child were not also a form of lawful correction.

“Otherwise, anytime a parent says to a child ‘come here, I'll slap you on the bottom’ it would amount to unlawful intimidation,” Ms Ramsden told the court.

“For example, one of (the allegations) was ‘I’m going to slap you’. A slap or a smack to the face is not lawful correction. However, a smack to the bottom would be.”

Police prosecutor John Marsh claimed the foster father was “conscious of having intimidated” the child and counselled her not to raise her concerns with teachers.

The couple will reappear before the same court in March when magistrate Susan McIntyre will deliver her judgment following further written submissions.

William was only three years old when he vanished from his foster grandmother’s house at Kendall on the NSW Mid North Coast on September 12, 2014.

The disappearance and subsequent cold case drew national attention and sparked the formation of one of the largest ever investigative units by NSW Police.

Years on, the body of William – who would now be aged 12 – has never been found and no one has ever been charged over his disappearance and suspected death.

Originally published as New claim about William Tyrrell’s foster parents

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