Jeffrey, not his real name, identified a man before revealing he and his brother had seen the suitcase the man had William in, the girl told the inquest into William’s 2014 disappearance.
“Did he also say that he (William) was dead but they didn’t see the body?” counsel assisting the coroner, Gerard Craddock SC, asked the girl given the pseudonym Tanya.
“Yes,” she replied in court on Friday.
During the September 2017 discussion – three years after William vanished while playing at his foster grandmother’s home in Kendall on the NSW mid-north coast – Jeffrey’s older brother, Matthew, became cross about discussing the buried suitcase.
But Tanya agreed the younger boy continued saying: “The person who had done it said that if they told anyone, then their mum’s neck could get snapped.”
“He (Jeffrey) seemed serious but scared,” Tanya told the NSW Coroners Court.
Matthew was saying things like: “No, stop. We’re not supposed to be saying anything, stop telling people.”
“He was more worried that something was going to happen,” the girl said. She relayed the story to her mother a day or two later prompting a call to Crime Stoppers.
“She seemed to have no doubt or no thought that they could be making it up,” Tanya’s mother told the inquest on Friday.
Police investigating William’s disappearance contacted the mother. The court on Friday was not told the outcome of the investigation into Jeffrey’s claims.
Tanya’s mother, who was temporarily caring for the boys in September 2017, described Jeffrey as the brother who did most of the talking. “He particularly wanted to speak,” she said, agreeing that Matthew would signal with nods.
“Matthew’s only hesitation seemed to be from fear and protection of his brother.” The inquest, overseen by deputy coroner Harriet Grahame, resumes on Monday for its final week. It began in March 2019 with two more tranches held in August 2019 and this week.