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Sharron Phillips inquest: Suspect claimed attack was his 'five minutes of fame'

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The prime suspect in the disappearance of Queensland woman Sharron Phillips more than 30 years ago claimed it was his “five minutes of fame”, an inquest has been told.

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Queensland’s state coroner reopened the inquest into the 1986 disappearance of Ms Phillips after taxi driver Raymond Peter Mulvihill was unveiled as the number one suspect by police.

Phillips, 20, vanished on May 8, 1986, while waiting for her boyfriend after running out of petrol in Wacol, in southwest Brisbane.

Mulvihill drove a cab that was based at Wacol, where Phillips was last seen.

An inquest in 1988 found there was insufficient evidence to commit anyone to trial and in a cruel twist for the Phillips family, Mulvihill died in 2002, more than 15 years after their daughter and sister vanished.

In previously unheard testimony, Mulvihill’s former sister-in-law Allison Clancy told coroner Terry Ryan on Monday that he had admitted attacking Ms Phillips at a family christening in 1992.

“He said straight out – Sharron Phillips, my five minutes of fame,” Clancy said.

“He had parked the taxi. He said he had gone to the phone box to meet (stepson) Ian (Seeley), where he went every night to meet him after his shift and he said she came out of the phone box – she was an attractive girl, nicely dressed.

“He was hesitant about her being out late at night, so he decided to lure her back to the taxi while he called for someone to bring some petrol down for the car.

“He told her to sit in the back seat while he made the call on the radio and the next thing – bang, he was on top of her.”

Phillips fought desperately for her life.

“She apparently came up fist-fighting … he told me to stop her from screaming that he just knocked her out.”

Clancy claimed Mulvihill told her he had asked his son to help transfer her from the taxi to his car and dump the body.

Phillips regained consciousness and started banging while in the trunk, Clancy said.

“Raymond said: ‘When I heard the thump in the boot … I s*** myself.”

She claimed Phillips was still alive when Seeley dumped her in a mine shaft after dropping his father at home.

“It has been 30-something years, and I still remember every word that man said to me,” she told the coroner on Monday.

Earlier, cold-case detective Scott Chapman said the investigation focused on Mulvihill following a tip-off from Mr Seeley in 2016.

Seeley, who will be called to give evidence, told police his father attacked Ms Phillips, Detective Chapman said.

He admitted being with his father the night Phillips disappeared and claimed his father made a deathbed confession to her murder.

Seeley gave numerous statements and gave details of the location of Phillips’ remains, prompting an unsuccessful search of council-owned industrial land at Carole Park in 2017.

“We believe Raymond Mulvihill played a significant role in her disappearance and that Ian Seeley potentially played a role as well,” Detective Chapman told the coroner.

The inquest continues.

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