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Investigation reopened: Fresh evidence in Sharron Phillips cold case

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A cold case investigation into the 1986 disappearance of Sharron Phillips is set to reopen after new evidence emerged from the son of a taxi driver, who claims his father may have killed the 20-year-old Brisbane woman.

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An inquest into the 1986 disappearance of Sharron Phillips will hear evidence from multiple witnesses that may back up claims a taxi-driver murdered the 20-year-old Brisbane woman.

Phillips was last heard from on the evening of May 8, 1986 when she telephoned her boyfriend from a public phone box after her car ran out of fuel on Ipswich Road at Wacol.

Her remains have never been found.

At the time of her disappearance, Phillips had been driving home after late night shopping with a friend.

Her yellow Datsun Bluebird was found abandoned on the side of the road, and her purse and shoes in a nearby drain.

Three years ago, then state attorney-general Yvette D’ath directed the state coroner to reopen the inquest into Ms Phillips’ death.

The move came as a result of new information provided to police by Ian Seeley, who told officers he believed his father, taxi driver Raymond Peter Mulvihill, killed the young woman.

Seeley told police he believed he became an unwitting accomplice to his father, who called him to come and pick him up as he had finished his driving shift for the evening.

At a pre-inquest hearing on Friday, counsel assisting the inquest, Rhiannon Helsen said Seeley had told investigators when he arrived at the Wacol address, “Mulvihill told him to wait in the street whilst he reversed Seeley’s vehicle down the lane way” to where the taxi was parked.

“It was at this time he [Seeley] claims he heard his father state something along the lines of ‘get in there, get in the f***ing boot or I’ll kill you’,” Helsen said.

The hearing was told Seeley heard banging coming from inside the boot while driving home, but was told by Mulvihill not to worry.

“When they arrived home they parked around the corner and Mr Seeley went inside the residence and Mr Mulvihill took the Holden and didn’t return until 4:00am the following morning,” Helsen told the hearing.

The inquest is expected to hear further evidence from Seeley about a black handbag and shoes he later found in the vehicle.

Seeley is also expected to give further detail on his father’s 2002 deathbed confession, when the taxi driver allegedly admitted to burying Phillips’s body in sand near “the Cascades at Carole Park”.

The site, including two large concrete drains, was excavated and examined by scientific officers in May 2016, but no human remains were found.

Helsen told the inquest a review of the cold case investigation had resulted in further information deemed to be significant to the investigation.

Witnesses will include a police officer who intercepted Seeley on his way to Wacol to pick up his father, as well as retired homicide detective Bob Dallow, who worked on the case in the late 1980s.

The witness list will also include Mulvihill’s daughter, and the wife of the taxi’s owner who will describe a disturbance she heard outside her Wacol home around midnight on the evening of Phillips’s disappearance.

Another couple will say they saw a taxi parked in long grass and when they stopped to offer assistance, they saw a man fitting Mulvihill’s description exiting bushland with a shovel.

They believed the actions were suspicious and reported the incident to police.

Phillips’s parents Bob and Dawn both died without knowing who was responsible for their daughter’s death.

The inquest is set down to begin on March 22, 2021.

– ABC / Dea Clark

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