They were supposed to find what happened to missing toddler William Tyrrell – but a court has heard police Strike Force Rosann was battling a range of factors.
They were supposed to find what happened to missing toddler William Tyrrell – but a court has heard police Strike Force Rosann was battling a range of factors.

Inside the fractured William Tyrrell strike force

Detective Gary Jubelin vowed to find William Tyrrell but his strike force, set up to find the lost little boy, was fractured, battling under-resourcing and glitchy listening devices, and even the chief of the homicide squad wanted to disband it, a court has heard.

In a damning police interview the former head of the investigation also claimed he was the victim of a witch hunt with police top brass trying to justify "derailing" the missing child case.

The fifth day of hearings into allegations Jubelin illegally recorded four conversations has revealed how divided Strike Force Rosann was - particularly between its chief and second in command, Craig Lambert.

The pair came to blows in the hallway of NSW Police headquarters over the direction of the investigation, including about person of interest and Kendall resident Paul Savage.

Gary Jubelin leaves Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney. Picture: AAP
Gary Jubelin leaves Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney. Picture: AAP

Strike Force Rosann met on a July morning in 2018 to discuss what evidence would be put to the NSW Coroner ahead of an inquest into William's disappearance, Detective Senior Constable Louise Rodden told the court on Monday.

Much of the discussion centred around "the Savage strategy" police would advance before the inquest.

Savage, a 75-year-old widower, lived across the road from the home on Benaroon Drive where William vanished in Kendall on the Mid North Coast in September, 2014.

Savage has consistently denied any involvement in William's disappearance and has not been charged.

At the meeting in July, 2018, Jubelin began wrapping up by saying "is everyone happy with that?".

Detective Senior Sgt Lambert was the only one to respond "no", Det Snr CST Rodden said.

The pair began arguing before Jubelin asked everyone else to leave, the court heard.

About two to three minutes later Det Snr CST Rodden heard yelling and saw the senior officers being pulled apart in the hallway.

"Did you hear Mr Lambert say 'I'll take you anytime, I'll take you at PCYC come on'?" Ms Cuneen asked.

"Yes," the officer responded.

A police officer with a dog investigates a sawmill during the search for William Tyrrell. Picture: AAP
A police officer with a dog investigates a sawmill during the search for William Tyrrell. Picture: AAP

 

Ms Cuneen read from Det Snr CST Rodden's statement which said she had been "frustrated" by officer-in-charge Lambert's "lack of communication" and lack of "alternatives" to Jubelin's focus on Mr Savage.

"Through the investigation I was frustrated that while (OIC Lambert) was not agreeing … was not providing an alternative approach or other persons of interest or line of inquiry," Ms Cuneen read.

"There was little communication between staff and Lambert."

Ms Cunneen asked Det Snr CST Rodden if she knew her boss, Homicide Squad Detective Superintendent Scott Cook, felt "no success was to be achieved and things should be discontinued" with Strike Force Rosann.

"Yes," she replied.

Amid the dysfunction and tension, Jubelin was removed from the investigation, after spearheading it for four years, in early 2018.

He learned he was the subject of a Professional Standards Command investigation and accused of illegally recording conversations with Savage in 2017 and 2018.

He claims he had a lawful interest in doing so and for three of those conversations, there were listening devices also inside Savage's home.

However, Savage had previously told the hearing he didn't know Jubelin was recording their conversations.

The court heard Jubelin was plucked out of the Homicide Squad office, his work phone removed and he was placed in an office near the Assistant Commissioner.

The last known photo of William.
The last known photo of William.

During an interview with PSC, played in court yesterday, Jubelin claimed it was "humiliating" a 33 year veteran of police would have to sit outside the "headmaster's office".

He was initially interviewed about the allegations in February, 2019.

Then a month later, he was interviewed again and told there were three fresh allegations against him for recording conversations.

One was a conversation with Savage in December, 2018, another in an unrelated court matter and the third with Mark Leveson.

Mr Leveson is the father of Matthew Leveson, whose death Jubelin investigated until finding his remains buried in the Royal National Park in 2017.

Jubelin said Mr Leveson was a chartered accountant and provided advice while he was going through a complicated divorce and property settlement.

"The purpose of me recording the call I was being instructed on dividends, franking credits loans, all sorts of things I was really out of my depth," he said.

"The purpose of recording that conversation was for my own records."

The court heard when police later spoke to Mr Leveson, he didn't have an issue with his phone call being recorded.

Jubelin considered Mr Leveson a "friend" but stressed the advice was provided after the investigation into his son's death.

Confronted with the allegations in the interview in March, 2018, Jubelin said "this was the very thing I was concerned about".

"With the allegations I would like to reiterate, I can't help but feel … like it's a witch hunt and the NSWPF (is) trying to justify their actions against me," he told the detectives.

"Clearly the public have recognised it's derailed the Tyrrell investigation.

"The only way NSWPF can come out of this not being overly criticised is to find a criminal charge of misconduct to justify their actions against me."

Jubelin and his lawyer wrote to the NSW Police Commissioner's office, highlighting the "heavy handed" treatment.

Det Snr CST Rodden told the court the Strike Force was badly understaffed and unable to pour over the volumes of evidence it was collecting.

"All products, that is pieces of information uncovered by detectives or submitted by the public, couldn't be followed up," Ms Cuneen said.

"And as for listening devices, listening to them was falling days and weeks behind wasn't it?"

"Yes," the officer responded.

A second Rosann officer, Sergeant Scott Jamieson, said he understood one of the alleged illegal conversations had already been recorded and transcribed. Jubelin's recording, he understood, was to "ensure accuracy".

"(The conversation) had already been transcribed, that (the phone recording) was to enhance that conversation," Sgt Jamieson said.

The need to "enhance" the transcript, according to both officers who gave evidence on Monday, was because the listening devices hidden in Mr Savage's home were notoriously unreliable.

The batteries would run down or their signal would drop out and hours of conversation was missed. And police listening in to the hours of recordings also found them difficult to transcribe because Mr Savage had a habit of listening to his radio.

Det Snr CST Rodden told the court she was upset during one strike force meeting with William's family because she'd "worked on the job for two years" but still couldn't tell them where the boy in the Spider-Man suit was.

The hearing continues.


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