Concern for the protected great white shark prevented police from running an experiment to see how a body could travel in the ocean using pig carcasses equipped with location trackers.
An investigation into the disappearance of Sydney fraudster Melissa Caddick, which resumed on Monday, had previously heard that the experiment was being discussed, but it was unclear if it took place.
NSW Police Detective Chief Inspector Glen Browne, manager of the NSW missing persons register when Caddick went missing, said the idea predated Caddick’s disappearance.
“Too many people go missing along the coast…usually we don’t recover the bodies at all,” he said.
Sydney scammer Melissa Caddick (pictured) disappeared on 12 November 2020 after ASIC officers and Australian Federal Police officers raided her home in Dover Heights.
The experiment was never carried out due to concerns that the tracking devices could harm the sharks.
Before becoming one of Australia’s most intriguing and high-profile missing persons cases, Caddick was just one person among dozens reported missing each day.
Det Insp Browne said the registry handled just under 10,000 new reports each year.
Two days after corporate watchdog ASIC and Australian Federal Police officers raided her home in Dover Heights, Caddick was reported missing on November 13, 2020 by her husband Anthony Kolletti.
Det Insp Browne did not find out for four days.
Other police officers were investigating and formed the opinion that she was on the run.
In a conversation with the initial officer in charge, Detective Sergeant Michael Kyneur, Detective Inspector Browne reminded him to keep an open mind.
“I got the feeling from the conversation that the main line of investigation is that Melissa was avoiding being located,” Browne said.
The theory was ‘giving more importance than others’.
There were also concerns that she herself had been killed or injured, but these were not given as much weight as the fugitive theory.
Police revealed in an investigation that they considered conducting an experiment involving attaching tracking devices to pig carcasses and dumping them into the sea (file image)
NSW Police Detective Chief Inspector Glen Browne (pictured) claimed at the inquest into Caddick’s disappearance that the detectives’ “main line of inquiry” was that the fraudster was on the run.
Detective Sergeant Kyneur told the inquiry that searches began almost immediately with helicopters and boats searching for Caddick’s body around the cliffs near his home.
He also called the homicide squad, but not until more than a week after Caddick was reported missing.
However, other lines of research have not been abandoned.
“I had an opinion at the time about what happened, but I don’t think it was to the detriment of any other lines of investigation,” said Sgt Kyneur.
He was replaced as commanding officer a short time later.
When asked if he considered the phone call a formal notification from the homicide squad as set out in the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for missing persons cases, Sergeant Kyneur said that “a notification is a notification.”
“I don’t know if I thought back to SOPs in particular, but the point of the phone call I had…was to notify them of what had happened,” he said.
Helicopters and boats searched for Caddick’s body around the cliffs near his Dover Heights home almost immediately after he went missing, according to Sgt. Kyneur (pictured, Dover Heights)
Det Insp Browne said Caddick’s disappearance and subsequent investigations prompted changes to the SOPs.
Despite being predominantly responsible for creating standard operating procedures, he himself was confused.
More than three months after Caddick’s disappearance, police had only reviewed around 20 per cent of the CCTV footage gathered in an attempt to track his movements.
Det Insp Browne said it was not necessarily a significant fault.
The police can visit a house several times before finding someone nearby and they may not know how the CCTV system works.
The police may also have difficulty reviewing the footage.
“Very often you can’t play it because you don’t have the right software,” he said.
SES Ulladulla workers helped police with their investigation by assisting them in a search along the south coast of New South Wales.
Caddick defrauded family and friends of between $20 million and $30 million in a Ponzi scheme before disappearing (pictured with husband Anthony Koletti)
Caddick defrauded family and friends of between $20 million and $30 million in a Ponzi scheme before disappearing hours after authorities raided his home in Dover Heights in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
In February 2021, his decomposing foot washed ashore in a running shoe at Bournda Beach on the south coast of New South Wales.
The investigation is due to conclude on Tuesday.
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