Anthony (Tony) John Jones went missing in 1982.
Anthony (Tony) John Jones went missing in 1982.

No hope of closure for family of missing backpacker

A RULING handed down by the Supreme Court of Queensland has quashed the hopes of the family of a missing backpacker, searching for answers after he vanished nearly 40 years ago.

Tony Jones, 20, disappeared near Townsville in November 1982 while hitchhiking to Mount Isa.

Mr Jones' body was never found, with a coronial inquest in 2002 finding he was killed by an unknown person or persons.

A second inquest was being heard in 2010, with proceedings being adjourned after lawyers acting for the Jones family found it was being heard under the 1958 Coroners' Act and not the amended 2003 legislation.

Brother of Tony, Mark Jones said he had been given legal advice that if the inquest was being heard under the wrong coroner's act it could be declared unlawful, and jeopardise any future criminal prosecution of the suspects.

The application for the judicial review was dismissed by Justice Elizabeth Wilson for the reason that it was not made in "reasonable time", having being lodged in March 2018.

Mr Jones said the decision was another setback for his family, with his father now aged 94 and still in the dark over the circumstances of his son's death.

"Our expectations from this system that we've been in for 37 years are so low, it's just been one disappointment after another and we've learnt you just roll up your sleeves and keep going," he said.

"It's demoralising … we hope now the coroner will consider the new evidence and things will move into the right direction.

"We all have heavy hearts over Tony's loss, and we long accepted that we'd never get Tony back again, and we will probably never know."

Mr Jones said if the inquiry were to proceed under the newer Act, then it would allow the police investigation into Tony's death to be scrutinised, which he believes to have been inadequate.

"It's just been one calamity after another," he said.

Mr Jones said there needed to be consistency within the legal system, and cited some inquests being heard under the older act, and others being heard under the 2003 version.