THE man who is said to have talked about Joedan Andrews dying in a car accident and being beheaded denied he had even been at the Dareton Aboriginal mission the day the toddler disappeared.
Tim Mitchell yesterday told an inquest that his former girlfriend’s claims that he had told her of a rusty chicken knife being used on Joedan after he died in a car accident were “a load of lies – I wasn’t there”. Mitchell said his girlfriend could not have seen him at the wheel of a car that night, with Joedan in the back seat, because he did not have a licence and could not drive.
He said he was drinking in Mildura with friends and family on the day in question and knew nothing of Joedan’s disappearance until he was told the following day. As for the rusty chicken knife, “I didn’t even know they had chooks out there”.
Mitchell is in jail on remand and was handcuffed while he gave evidence at Wentworth Local Court.
A day earlier, his former girlfriend, Kathleen Brown, told the court she had seen him drive off into scrub at the mission with Joedan and the toddler’s stepfather at the time, Colin Moore.
She said Mitchell had returned angry and with blood on his eyebrow and shirt. Ms Brown said he had told her that Joedan had died when the car in which he was travelling hit a tree – because its brakes were faulty – and that the child’s body had been buried in pieces.
Joedan was two when he was reported missing by his mother, Sarah Andrews, on December 15, 2002. They had only recently moved in with Colin Moore in Dareton, NSW, having previously lived in Mildura, where notifications had been made to Victorian child-protection services by people concerned about Joedan’s safety.
Another man told the court how he helped find the place where police now believe some of Joedan’s remains were stored. Clinton Rose, a former resident of the mission, said that just before New Year’s Eve in 2002, he had run into Colin Moore’s brother, John “Johnnyboy” Moore. “He told me to come out back ‘cos he wanted to tell me something,” he said.
Mr Rose agreed under questioning by lawyer Stephen Rushton, SC, that he had told police that “Johnnyboy” claimed he had found Joedan’s body while walking near the mission’s tip. Mr Rose said “Johnnyboy” had pointed towards the tip and said: “We put him underneath a couch. The dogs had been chewing at him.”
John Moore also allegedly said: “Every time I look at my son, I think of the little feller.”
Mr Rose said he told a local Aboriginal liaison officer, Buddy Parsons. They went to the tip and found a bone-coloured lounge chair that had a rotten smell and a red blanket on it.
The inquest continues before deputy state coroner Malcolm Macpherson.
First published in The Age.