The sinister secrets of William Tyrrell's town
Police searching for missing three-year-old William Tyrrell were stunned at the sheer number of sex offenders in the area, the former head of the investigation has revealed.
Hard-bitten homicide detective Gary Jubelin was staggered by the realisation the region around Kendall, in NSW, where William disappeared in September 2014, had become home to so many criminals.
"It's as if they've settled on this quiet, overlooked backwater like mosquitoes," he writes in his explosive memoir, I Catch Killers: The Life and Many Deaths of a Homicide Detective which is published next week by HarperCollins Australia.
"So far, we've spoken to 18 known sex offenders who live among the acre blocks and rural properties that lie within a 30-kilometre radius of Benaroon Drive, and another 60 who live further beyond it.
"There seem to be so many such offenders on this stretch of the Mid North Coast."
The Tyrrell case, which has captured national attention for six years and remains unsolved, is a major focus of the book, with numerous revelations as Jubelin exposes the flaws in the investigation and his attempts to get answers from key persons of interest.
The retired detective inspector was removed from the case after being accused of illegally recording conversations with one such person. He was convicted and fined $10,000 earlier this and is currently appealing.
In his book, Jubelin details a career that took him from uniformed recruit to the Armed Hold-Up Squad, Gangs Squad, Homicide, tactical policing and close personal protection. And he delves deep into his personal life - from a troubled relationship and eventual reconciliation with his father, to his own experiences with fatherhood and romance.
But the case that still haunts him is the disappearance of William from his foster grandmother's home in Kendall as he played outside.
He reveals the troubled history of the investigation, including a constant lack of resources and enormous backlog of material, and his concerns about crucial evidence being missed as detectives were overwhelmed.
"It's obvious how much was missed in those first hours and days when the local cops treated it as a missing-persons case and before Homicide was called in," he writes.
"Neighbours' houses were not properly searched, cars came and left the street where William disappeared without being checked, and no crime scene was established."
Jubelin also recalls interviewing William's stricken foster mother, who had noted unfamiliar cars in the street that morning of September 12 - including one driving back and forth just outside the house.
"The driver stared at her directly," Jubelin writes.
"'The guy held my eyes, he challenged me,' says Jane."
The retired cop also details how one former person of interest in the case had been the brother-in-law of a notorious killer paedophile that Jubelin had locked up a decade before William's disappearance, for murder and child rape.
That criminal, Jeffrey Hillsley, was "pure evil," Jubelin writes: after being released from prison for child sex offences he murdered a man in order to get access to his 10-year-old daughter, whom he abducted and sexually assaulted.
Jubelin tells in the book how he led the police hunt for Hillsley which ended in the girl's rescue and a harrowing interview in which Hillsley admitted his crimes.
Hillsley, who was jailed for 30 years in 2005, was connected to Kendall resident Bill Spedding who, during the Tyrrell investigation, was arrested and charged over alleged historic child sex offences, including indecent assault and sexual intercourse, relating to two young sisters, aged three and six, in the 1980s in Victoria.
Defence lawyers claimed in court the assaults could in fact have been committed by Hillsley, the brother of Mr Spedding's ex-wife, as he was living in Victoria at the time and was also in contact with the girls.
In July 2018 a District Court judge threw out the charges, saying no jury could say for certain that Mr Spedding was guilty of assaulting the girls.
Mr Spedding has repeatedly denied any involvement in William's disappearance and is now suing the NSW Police for misfeasance in public office, abuse of process and malicious prosecution. He is no longer a person of interest in the investigation.
MORE FROM GARY JUBELIN
I Catch Killers: The Life and Many Deaths of a Homicide Detective is published by HarperCollins Australia on Thursday in paperback, e-book and audio. Pre-order your signed copy at Booktopia.
Join Gary for an exclusive live event online at 6.30pm AEST on Wednesday at True Crime Australia on Facebook. He'll be answering selected questions from YOU so email now at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And don't miss the I Catch Killers podcast.
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Sinister secret of Tyrrell town