News

Key suspects in Stace murder

Detective Senior Constable Tony King addresses members of the national media before a coronial inquest into the death of Lee Ellen Stace.
Detective Senior Constable Tony King addresses members of the national media before a coronial inquest into the death of Lee Ellen Stace. The Daily Examiner

THE Coronial Inquest into the 1997 death of Brooms Head teenager Lee Ellen Stace has named three men as the main suspects in her murder.

Yesterday’s hearing was taken up by the evidence of the officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Senior Constable Tony King.

In the final session of the hearing, Det King began giving evidence about the prime suspects in the case: Gregory John Davis, Anthony Charles Apps and John George O’Leary.

Of these suspects Apps, who is in jail for the 2003 murder of his friend Christopher Lamb, is the key suspect.

Det King said Brooms Head residents nominated Apps as a person of interest at the start of the investigation.

“He was described as a suspicious person who beat his parents and bashed his wife,” Det King told the court.

He said at the time of the disappearance Apps was 22 years old, a user of illicit drugs, and convicted of property thefts and assaults. He was also under investigation for a number of sex offences.

The court heard that Apps befriended Lee Ellen Stace and her best friend and next-door neighbour Terri Mackay when he lived near them in 1996.

In summary, these are the claims put to the court yesterday.

In an interview with police Apps said he was only an acquaintance of Lee and did not know her personally.

This was one of a number of contradictions in Apps’ description of his relationship with Lee, including a discrepancy about the last time he saw her alive.

Apps had previously claimed he last saw Lee before her death in Maclean, but in another interview said he saw her on the beach at Brooms Head in July 1997.

Apps was interviewed a number of times by police after the disappearance and there were other contradictions in his statements.

Apps also had trouble accounting for his movements on the day of Lee’s disappearance.

A housemate, Heather Young, told police Apps had abandoned her at the Ulmarra Hotel on September 2, 1997, and did not return until late in the afternoon.

She remembers the day clearly because two weeks later she threw him out of the house.

Police records show that on September 16 Apps was charged with assaulting the housemate.

Later in his evidence Det King talked about covert police operations in 2001 that involved recordings of prison cell conversations involving Apps and O’Leary, as well as interviews with jail informants.

Several times Apps was implicated in the murder of Lee Ellen Stace and, according to two informants, admitted to her murder.

Det King’s statement mentioned sightings of Lee on the day she disappeared in Yamba and Maclean.

Many of these witnesses will be called to give their evidence later in the inquest.

He also told how Lee’s remains were discovered at Red Cliff on October 17 by a couple of campers.

Although a cause of death could not be determined, a lump of sawn timber found near the remains and covered with her hair and blood was probably the murder weapon.

He said the fact Lee’s clothing had been removed showed it was likely she had been sexually assaulted.

One witness said a table near where the body had been found was covered in marks similar to those an axe would leave, along with a dark substance he did not think looked ‘hygienic’.

Some of Lee’s remains are still missing, but the evidence indicated her death was extremely violent.

Earlier in his evidence Det King painted a picture of Lee as a normal teenage girl who disliked school but loved the beach, music and videos, and was popular with friends.

She used cannabis and smoked cigarettes.

She had gone out briefly with one boy but was not sexually active. She left school at the end of 1996 and had dropped out of a TAFE course.

This had prompted friction with her parents and she moved out of home briefly.

In August 1997 she secured a job at Yamba BI-LO as a checkout operator. This resolved the family problems.

At the time of her death she was looking forward to her first payday and a trip on the next weekend to Dreamworld.

The inquest continues today in Grafton Court House.



Your newspaper just took out three global gongs!

News Corp's Hey Mumma named best in the world!

Hostage accused to face court tomorrow

Eyewitnesses huddle together outside the scene of a hostage situation at the Hotel Cecil in Casino.

50-year-old man remains in custody

Man charged with online grooming, procuring child for sex

A man was arrested in the Coffs Harbour area on Tuesday by Strike Force Trawler detectives.

Coffs Coast arrest after investigation by Sex Crimes Squad.

Local Partners

Servant Or Slave to screen in Grafton on Sorry Day

Movie screening for National Sorry Day this week at the Saraton Theatre


Hemingway unearth another dimension to Yamba stage

UNIQUE SOUND: Hemingway will be at Yamba's Pacific Hotel next Saturday night.

Brothers' "do or die” pact to make a career out of the music

Father Riley's message for Reconciliation Week

A supplied photo made available Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009 of Bill Onus, President of the Victorian Aborigines' Advancement League (right), participating as the only Aboriginal in the march for Aboriginal Rights referendum on May 29, 1967. The photo is part of 'From Little Things Big Things Grow', an exhibition on indigenous rights which opens at the National Gallery of Australia today. (AAP Image/National Library of Australia) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

National Reconciliation Week to be held from May 27 to June 3

Love, lies and leading ladies in extraordinary free concert

DOUBLE ACT: Catherine Britt and Amber Lawrence are touring together.

Award-winning female country artists team up to tour latest music

Rebel Wilson says she didn’t have to lie to make it

I’M not glamorous, but that doesn’t make me a liar: that’s the message from Rebel Wilson on her second day in the witness box.

Kim Kardashian slammed over Manchester tribute

Kim Kardashian's tribute to Manchester didn't go down well

Top Gun 2 movie is happening, Tom Cruise confirms

Tom Cruise in a scene from the movie Top Gun.

TOM Cruise delights fans with announcement on Sunrise.

The first Baywatch movie reviews are in

From left, Jon Bass, Alex Daddario, Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera in a scene from the movie Baywatch.

Critics were less than impressed.

Boyfriend loses it over sex lie

Stacey Louise’s sex lie destroys her relationship.

SEVEN Year Switch’s Stacey told a fib about her sex life.

Why Crowe’s thankful for those ‘bulls**t’ rumours

Russell Crowe and Terri Irwin in 2007.

Crowe and Terri Irwin have been dodging dating rumours for years now

Stars line up for writers festival

POPULAR: Byron Writers Festival 2016 recorded the biggest crowds in 20 years of the event.

John Safran, Deng Thiak Adut and Dava Sobel among others

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

REVEALED: Where it's cheaper to pay off a mortgage than rent

6/190 Ewing Rd, Woodridge, is listed for offers $215,000. Picture: realestate.com.au

Brisbane suburbs where it is cheaper to buy than rent

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!