Gympie hit-and-run inquest told police had suspect in sights
THERE was a dramatic start today to the resumed coronial inquest into the death of Gympie cyclist Brad Edwards, who was killed in an alleged hit and run crash in Corella Rd nearly 20 years ago.
The vehicle claimed to have been involved had been reported stolen, the inquest was told.
Police witnesses told Deputy State Coroner John Lock they believe they know who did it, but have never had evidence to the standard required for a prosecution.
They told the inquest of links which may exist to a car-stealing ring then operating between Gympie and the Sunshine Coast.
The group would steal a car at the Sunshine Coast and drive it to Gympie, where they would then steal another vehicle to take back to the Coast.
This was to avoid police attention, so they would not be returning to the Sunshine Coast in a car which Coast police would be looking for, witnesses said.
Mr Lock announced at yesterday's opening that the inquest was a continuation of one which had been adjourned, after preliminary findings in 2002.
"Eventually it came to my investigative team and detectives asked for the Attorney General to re-open the inquiry," Mr Lock said.
Police witnesses identified the car stealing ring as also involving associates involved in drug offences.
Police officers David Marks, now stationed at Coolum, Mark Woitowitz, now at Dalby and Gregg Davey, now officer in charge of Gympie station, told the inquest of their experiences investigating the fatal crash.
Then Constables Woitowitz and Marks attended the scene and noticed it had been raining.
They reported seeing Mr Edwards in a distressed and badly injured state, just clinging to life, at the roadside near Bonnick Rd, on the Saturday night of November 6, 1999.
Then Cnst Davey said his investigations led him to believe he knew who was driving, after police received an anonymous phone call naming the alleged driver.
In those days, telcos had limited facilities for storing data which would have allowed police to trace such a call from a mobile phone.
He believed that data may now have been destroyed and would have been "dumped" possibly within hours of the call being made.
Another person he had interviewed from the suspect group had told him: "Man, it's not right what happened to that fellow."
He believed it was a reference to Mr Edwards.
"He seemed visibly upset, as in crying," Snr Sgt Davey said.
However, the informant appeared to have "steeled himself" and recovered his composure before he could be formally interviewed; he had then declined to make any further comment.
Mr Edwards' mother Yvonne Hayes was at the bar table as an interested party.
Sobbing she had only with difficulty regaining her composure as she introduced herself to one witness, saying: "I am here to try to find out how my son was killed."
Speaking outside the old Gympie courthouse, where the inquest is being held, Mr Edwards' father, Arthur Edwards said nothing could bring his son back, but he was hoping for closure.
The inquest is continuing.