Coronial inquest held into disappearance of Brooms Head man
A CORONIAL inquest has been held into the disappearance of a man who was last seen fishing near the remote village of Sandon in 2018.
Kenneth Parker, 72, was last seen around 1.30pm near Sandon village on June 14, 2018 reportedly to go fishing. Despite extensive land, air and sea searches of the surrounding area in the days after he was reported missing, police have been unable to find any trace of Mr Parker.
In Grafton Coroner's Court on Tuesday, Coffs/Clarence Police District Senior Constable Michael Rheinberger gave evidence that on June 11, 2018, Mr Parker left the Brooms Head home he shared with Kay Parker, his wife of more than 40 years, to stay with a friend at Sandon, Alan Bardsley, to do some fishing.
Snr Constable Rheinberger said Mr Bardsley had left Sandon to go to Tweed Heads on the morning of June 13, and saw Mr Parker before he left. When Mr Bardlsey returned home the following day at around 6.30pm there was no sign of Mr Parker at the self contained unit on the property where he would stay during visits to Sandon.
Snr Constable Rheinberger told the court he was on duty at Grafton Police Station on the night of June 14 when he received the call from Mr Bardsley who had concerns for Mr Parker's welfare. Snr Constable Rheinberger took the report before he and another officer travelled to Sandon via Minnie Water and along the beach that night to begin the search for Mr Parker.
Upon arrival at the property Snr Constable Rheinberger examined the unit on Mr Bardsley's property where Mr Parker was staying and found nothing suspicious or missing.
A doorknock of neighbouring properties resulted in one witness saying they had seen Mr Parker around 1.30pm that afternoon with fishing gear near a gate at Sandon Back Trail. The witness said Mr Parker told him he was going fishing for bream in Sandon River.
Mr Parker had travelled from Brooms Head to Sandon via boat, which was still tied to the jetty.
Snr Constable Rheinberger said they searched the village, and the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter also did a sweep of the area but turned up nothing. A 10km search of the fire trail from Sandon to Minnie Water also revealed nothing.
Over the next four days an extensive search of the area was conducted by NSW Police, SES, Marine Rescue, NSW Surf Life Saving and Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter of the Yuraygir National Park, Sandon River and around 3.4km out to sea.
Snr Constable Rheinberger said the bushland surrounding the village was hard to search and while some objects were found they were determined not to belong to Mr Parker and no sign of Mr Parker was found.
Magistrate Kathy Crittenden said on the evidence there were no signs of mental health problems or of suspicious circumstances surrounding the disappearance.
"Fishing can be a dangerous activity … It is more than likely that Mr Parker experienced some misadventure of an unknown type while fishing alone," she said.
"On the evidence before me in this inquest I find that Mr Parker died near the area surrounding Sandon village. As to the precise date, place, manner and cause of death the evidence does not allow me to say."
Ms Crittenden commended the NSW Police and assisting agencies on their search for Mr Parker and expressed her condolences to his family and friends.