Police urged to re-investigate Sharron Phillips murder

Believed murdered: Sharron Phillips. Photo: SuppliedPolice are being urged to re-investigate the 1986 disappearance and suspected murder of Brisbane woman Sharron Phillips, as new allegations continue to emerge.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said cost would not impact a decision to reopen a cold-case investigation where life had been lost.

That comes despite comments from a senior cold case officer on Thursday, who said land next to the Phillips’ household might prove too costly to search.

Commissioner Stewart said he would need to consider suspicions raised by members of the Phillips family, and was happy to take their views into account.

He said there was a cold case process, and no decision had yet been made whether to reopen the case.

He would not comment on whether the investigation had been botched, despite suggestions the alibi of Bob Phillips may not have been corroborated.

Bob Phillips’ eldest siblings on Friday questioned his father’s alibi, saying he did not own a truck in 1986.

They did not accuse him of Sharron’s murder but want aspects of the 30-year-case re-examined.

Mr Phillips told police he went to Gilgandra to pick up “one of our trucks”, returning by “4am or 5am”, when Sharron disappeared.

The minimum time to complete the would be 17 hours.

A second retired homicide detective David Danslow, who took over the case from detective Bob Dallow in 1994, said there was nothing on the police file questioning Mr Phillips’ alibi.

“All the statements I read had Bob and Dawn going down to TNT in Brisbane and then going down to New South Wales, Gilgandra or something like that,” Mr Danslow said.

However Mr Danslow – who retired in 2015 – said he had not seen any corroborating statements on the police file about the trip to Gilgandra to collect a truck.

“Look I will keep an open mind about everything, but I would really be surprised if Bob Phillips has killed his daughter.

“Well, it was never done then. Believe me there were a lot of things that should have been done, that probably didn’t happen back then.”

Mr Danslow said there was no reason to suspect Mr Phillips.

“I have never seen anything to implicate the family,” he said.

“The family were the greatest critics of the police and always up the police almost every day.”

Mr Danslow questioned the need to search the block of land near the family house at Riverview without direct evidence.

He doubted the land had ever been searched.

“I would suspect not, because there was never anything to implicate the family,” he said.

The ability to reinvestigate can be impeded by time, Commissioner Stewart said.

“But on the upside, we have a whole raft of technology in our favour.

“Cost is rarely an issue.”

Fairfax Media is aware investigations by detectives into the Sharron Phillips the case are now active.

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Officer kicked in the face during ‘AVO breach’ arrest

VIOLENT ARREST: Extra police from Armidale were called to back up officers during the operation in Glen Innes. Photo: Craig ThomsonA MAN has been refused bail, charged with kicking a police officer in the face during a violent arrest in Glen Innes.

Richard William Fields will remain in custody in Tamworth Correctional Centre on six charges following a police operation earlier this week.

The 33-year-old is accused of threatening police who were investigating an alleged breach of an apprehended violence order in Glen Innes on Tuesday night.

Extra police, including officers from the Dog Squad, highway patrol and detectives, were deployed to Glen Innes on Wednesday to back up general-uties police who moved into arrest Fields in West Ave.

Police allege Fields was armed with a lump of wood when he walked out into the front yard of a home and then allegedly kicked the officer and resisted police, but was eventually subdued and taken to Glen Innes Police Station.

“There was a struggle when he was arrested and he allegedly assaulted a male officer in the face,” New England Inspector Chris McKinnon said.

“The officer suffered lacerations and bruising to his face, and was taken to Glen Innes hospital and later released.”

Following a Telstra outage in Glen Innes, which saw a loss of phone and internet communications, Fields was transported to Armidale Police Station and questioned.

He was charged with breaching an AVO, intimidating police, ass- aulting police causing actual bodily harm, two counts of resisting arrest and being armed with intent.

He appeared in Armidale Local Court on Thursday, but the bail determination was ad- journed following outbursts from the accused and members of the public in the courtroom.

On Friday, Fields appeared via video link from Tamworth prison in court, where he was denied bail by Magistrate Michael Holmes, who found the 33-year-old was an unacceptable risk of committing further serious offences and endangering the safety of victims, individuals and the community.

Fields pleaded not guilty to all six charges and was remanded in custody to reappear in court later this month.

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Memories found in hideaway drawer tell a fascinating story

WAR WORDS: Melinda Gill and Jan Morris with the World War II signed banner cloth discovered in a bottom drawer at the local historical society office in Tamworth. Photo: Gareth Gardner 100516GGA01HISTORY often offers up coincidences of a spooky kind, but a search this month through the historical records in Tamworth collided in a happy stroke of luck.

The fluke has resulted in a wonderful windfall for the Tamworth Historical Society and uncovered a piece of our history that really does echo some old stories of the social fabric of the city.

On the same day that the society was reaching out to The Leader to help find anyone with details about a missing war relic, by sheer chance another society member found some unnamed and unknown objects in a hideaway drawer.

When Melinda Gill turned up at the society’s workday office last week, she had with her something she’d uncovered in a bottom drawer.

She didn’t know what it was, but when she handed it to another researcher, Jan Morris, Mrs Morris nearly fainted with surprise.

“It was just the most amazing coincidence,” Mrs Morris said.

THEN: A 2/30th Battalion march down Peel St probably around 1940 and from historical records.

“I didn’t have any inkling but as soon as I saw the wrapped piece in Melinda’s hands, I just knew exactly what it might be. I’d spent since February trying to track down details about it, and just as we’re talking about a story to find anyone with any information about it, Melinda turns up with it.

“I couldn’t stop smiling.”

The Morris search began last February after an old typed sheet referred to a pennant made in June 1940 when the Tamworth showground was commandeered as a training camp for the 2nd Australian Infantry Force.

A battalion was formed there under the command of Colonel William S Forsythe.

SHOW PARADE: Another 2/30th Battalion image and what is most likely taken on the Tamworth showground.

Mrs Morris says her re- search discovered that a Mr AH Daniel of Tamworth, who’d been a veteran of World War I, re-enlisted as pioneer sergeant on the camp staff and his wife embroidered a pennant which centred a beautifully executed large replica of the Australian Army badge and the words “Australian Commonwealth Military Forces”.

“Sergeant Daniel subsequently procured the signatures, on the flag, of a large number of the officers, NCOs, and men who were in camp at the showground, many of whom later served in the Middle East, Malaya, and the south west Pacific area,” Mrs Morris said.

“Later, after the Second World War, Mr and Mrs Daniel presented the pennant to Colonel Forsythe, who decided that its permanent repository should be in the War Memorial Town Hall at Tamworth.”

A subsequent and thorough search of council re- cords and collections fail- ed to find the pennant, or any reference to it.

And an appeal to Tamworth RSL Museum manager Bob Chapman showed he’d never seen it but he had a keen interest in adding it to his collection if it was found.

ATTENTION: This image from The NDL files is believed to have been taken at the showgrounds during the days of the training camp.

So, just as the society was asking The Leader to publicise the lost relic it turned up, but the society is just as keen to find any remaining family members or anyone who knows more about the story of the pennant.

You might also call it a flag or a banner it was, after all, stored with tablecloths in that long lost drawer.

Along with other names are army numbers and in some places, place names. Ten 10 are from Tamworth, but there are many from other North West and Northern Rivers towns, as well as Newcastle, Sydney, interstate and even England and Scotland, which might be birthplaces.

Robert McKenzie Fraser, George Hume Henry, Sergeant Roy Somerville and Thomas Sholto Douglas were among a few who listed Tamworth alongside their names.

The Tamworth Historical Society would love to hear from anyone who has more information or from family members of those involved.

Phone Jan Morris on 6765 9478.

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Shotgun, drugs seized in Dungowan raid

UNDER THE BED: The illegal shotgun which police allegedly found hidden in the Ogunbil Rd home at Dungowan. 200516BCA01AN ILLEGAL shotgun, as well as more than $100,000 worth of drugs, have been seized in a police raid near Tamworth.

A tip-off to Crime Stoppers triggered the search warrant at Ogunbil Rd in Dungowan on Thursday afternoon, which saw a team of officers from Oxley detectives and the Tamworth Target Action Group comb the property, home and surrounding sheds.

During the search, police discovered more than 10kg of what is believed to be cannabis leaf, as well as 14 cannabis plants and Oxley Acting Inspector Geoff Sharpe told The Leader the drugs have an estimated street value of $118,000.

“A 47-year-old male occupant, was spoken to at that address. He then assisted police in relation to that search,” he said.

BUSTED: Fourteen cannabis plants, pictured, along with more than 10kg of what is believed to be cannabis leaf was seized during the Dungowan raid. Photos: Breanna Chillingworth 200516BCA05

“A firearm, an unregistered shotgun, was located underneath the bed inside theresidence.”

The man was arrested and taken to Tamworth Police Station, where he was questioned by investigators and charged with six offences.

“Police allege he made full admissions to the cultivation of the plants, possession of the leaf, and he was charged in relation to supply cannabis and cultivate plants and possession of an unauthorised firearm and ammunition,” Acting Inspector Sharpe said.

The man was released on conditional bail to front court next month.

The firearm – the fourth illegal gun seized since Tuesday in the Oxley Command – will now undergo forensics and ballistics testing.

“It’s a serious matter in so far as people that are engaging in criminal activity through the ongoing supply of prohibited drugs are arming themselves with unregistered firearms, which is a concern,” Acting Inspector Sharpe said.

“Any information in relation to firearms we take very, very seriously and we do everything we can to try and get those firearms off the streets.”

Acting Inspector Sharpe said this particular raid was a result of the public contacting Crime Stoppers.

“Those files do get actioned and, if it wasn’t for Crime Stoppers, we wouldn’t have been able to get this amount of drugs or the firearm off the street,” he said.

“It is a significant quantity of cannabis and this, combined with the raid earlier in the week, shows that if we do get information about crops being cultivated on some of our rural properties, we will respond.”

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Hills street hold-up: safety policy drives council to close Forest Rd as crest gets the cut

TOP SPOT: It’s been an accident waiting to happen, but the hilltop will be shaved off to flatten the crest on Forest Rd next week. ONE of the busiest roads linking the Forest Hills and Hills Plain residential areas with inner Tamworth will be closed for nearly a week – partly so that two metres of dirt can be lopped off a hilly crest and make the roadway safer for motorists.

Tamworth Regional Council will close part of Forest Rd so it can do the final stage of a $2.58 million road upgrade project, this time in the stretch between the Tamworth landfill site and the roundabout at Browns Ln at Forest Hills.

The council said the full road closure decision was made on the basis of safety and cost savings against keeping one lane open while the works were undertaken.

But the gravity of the works – including cutting two metres off the top of the hill where Forest Rd reaches its highest point, and upgrading the length of the roadway – decided TRC engineers to go for the full closure.

TRC director for regional services Peter Resch said keeping part of the road open for such major works would have compromised the safety of workers and motorists, and extended the time it would take to complete the road, adding to the budgeted cost.

He said the saving in monetary terms was well over $100,000 – a saving for ratepayers that could be used elsewhere.

The council has letter dropped over 400 homes in the rural residential subdivision to alert them to the fact the road will be closed to traffic from early next Monday morning for six days until Sunday and will then reopen with one lane of traffic for about another four weeks.

“Forest Rd is a busy road with between 1500 and up to 2750 vehicles using it on any one day, so we know residents will see the impact but we’re asking them to be patient, take a different route so we can finish this road more quickly,” Mr Resch said.

“They’re going to get a you-beaut road and that to me is the issue, it’s a no-brainer. I don’t think the alternate route will be too bad – if they use Johnston St or Piper St.”

“I’d encourage them to use Johnston and Piper from Moore Creek Rd and avoid the Tribe St intersection.”

Mr Resch said the project included reducing the height of the crest and a realignment of the road approaching it to improve the line-of-sight for motorists.

It was the next step in an overall upgrade of Forest Rd, including a $280,000 reconstruction of a 600m section from Monteray St near the MET school to near Reeves Creek Bridge over Spring Creek just below the landfill.

The first stage included the new $1.3 million Reeves Creek bridge and the widening of the road there.

Mr Resch said the priority had been to fix the bridge and widen a once-narrow road, particularly when lots of trucks used the landfill and the road. The works to flatten out the top of the hill – using a scraper and big machinery – get under way Monday.

The project engineer for the job has estimated the material being moved from the two-metre “shaving” equates to digging out a football field, 68 metres by 100 metres to a depth of four metres – creating a pile of 2400 cubic metres of dirt.

Mr Resch said the fill would be used to reinforce the shoulders and batters of the road and the neighbouring mountain bike club had asked for some leftovers to be used on their tracks.

Tamworth mayor Col Murray has added his voice to the project, pleading for patience over the disruption.

In the end, the Hills residents were getting a better, safer road, he said, and that was worth a lot more than a few minutes extra travel for a few days.

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