Former person of interest’s latest claim to fame
THE ex-cop who was a person of interest in the 20-year-old unsolved death of Cairns teen Angela Mealing has appeared in an online video commercial and confessed he has trouble sleeping.
Off-duty police constable Adrian Deemal, now a road train driver at Port Hedland, was the last to see the 17-year-old alive when he picked her up in his car as she walked home from a late-night party on April 1, 2000.
Six weeks later, her badly decomposed body was found in an apparently staged suicide, strung up by the neck with a piece of rope on a thin sapling, on the bank of Behana Creek, 36km south of Cairns.
Deemal spent a year in jail convicted of perjury after he lied to police investigators about his movements on the night she disappeared, and a coronial inquest was unable to determine the cause of death.
The third-year constable was never charged over the death and denies any involvement.
With a $250,000 reward, the suspected unlawful killing of the schoolgirl two decades ago is one of the state's most enduring and baffling cold cases.
Her brother Arron Mealing and cousin Simone Arnol are appealing for help to solve the case through an Angela Mealing page on Facebook.
"It's been 20 years, we want justice,'' Mr Mealing exclusively told The Courier-Mail.
"We know someone out there knows the truth.
"Angela was a sweet, innocent young girl who had her life stolen from her. We're appealing to police to open a cold case review and put whoever did this behind bars for the rest of their life."
Ms Arnol has visited Behana Creek, in lush green canefields, where the body of her "sister" was found underneath a hangman's noose with a suicide note suspiciously carved into a tree, days after a raging flood had swept over the site.
"Angela did not kill herself. I believe she was raped, murdered, and her body dumped, and when the flood came and flushed her body out, someone went back and staged the suicide,'' Ms Arnol said.
"She couldn't even tie a fishing line to a hook.
"Where is she going to find a piece of rope to hang herself, and a knife, to climb a tree and carve a suicide note signed with the name "Ang", which she never used, in the middle of nowhere at night?
"I promised Mum and Aunt Jackie (Angela's mum) on their deathbeds I would never give up their fight for justice."
Deemal appeared in a video ad a year ago promoting a product for sleep apnoea because he has trouble sleeping at night.
His brother Ivan Deemal told The Courier-Mail the former police officer was now living in the Pilbara in Western Australia and did not wish to talk.
Senior police investigators also declined to be interviewed.
Retired Detective Inspector John Harris, who headed up the homicide investigation, said he was still haunted by the unsolved killing.
"We just did not have enough evidence at the time to put together a brief to press any charges,'' Mr Harris said.
"But these days with fresh eyes and new technology anything is possible.
"It is definitely worth a cold case review.''
Originally published as Former person of interest's latest claim to fame