'Likely' killer wants findings overturned
A HEARING into a coroner's decision to name Robert Hytch as the man responsible for the death of Bowen schoolgirl Rachel Antonio is under way in the Supreme Court.
Rachel was 16 when she disappeared from her hometown in North Queensland on Anzac Day, 1998.
Her mother had dropped her at a local cinema but she never made the movie.
Her body has never been found.
In 2015, Hytch, a former lifesaving captain 10 years Rachel's senior, was called to give evidence at an inquest into her disappearance.
The court heard Hytch had been in a secret relationship with Rachel and it was submitted he had lashed out after discovering she had pretended to be pregnant. Blood belonging to Rachel was found on Hytch's sandals.
Following the inquest, Coroner David O'Connell found Hytch had had a violent altercation with the schoolgirl that resulted in her death.
It was found that he then hid her body.
Mr O'Connell recommended the Director of Public Prosecutions consider charging Hytch with perjury for lying during the inquest.
Glen Rice QC, who is representing Hytch, today said he will argue that the 2015 inquest was conducted using the wrong Coroner's Act.
He said Coroner David O'Connell had made an error in holding proceedings under the 2003 Coroner's Act instead of the 1958 Act which was in use at the time of Rachel's 1998 disappearance.
He will also argue Mr O'Connell's findings were an unreasonable use of power and there was no justification for the decisions reached.
Mr O'Connell found Rachel "died following a physical altercation between her and Robert Paul Hytch, which altercation caused bodily injury to Rachel, and she died from the injury or injuries suffered during that altercation".
He said diary entries and letters written by Rachel detailed the teen's secret relationship with Hytch. The material was not able to be used during earlier criminal trials but Mr O'Connell referred to it as evidence Hytch had lied at the inquest.
"The result is that I believe that Mr Hytch, in denying the nature of this relationship before this inquest, made statements which were deliberately false," Mr O'Connell stated in his findings.
Hytch is fighting the Coroner's findings and applied for a judicial review.
He particularly wants the determination that he was responsible for Rachel's death to be overturned.
Rachel's parents, Ian and Cheryl Antonio, hope the hearing will be the end of a decades-long legal saga that saw Hytch initially tried and convicted of manslaughter, only to be acquitted at retrial.
In a recent interview with The Courier-Mail, Rachel's parents said they only wanted to know the truth of what happened to their daughter.
"This is never ending for us," Mr Antonio said.
"How long is it going to go on for? Everyone is broken hearted for us. Really, all we want is the truth."