Leslie Ball, then aged 71, went missing from Townsville in April 18, 1993.
Leslie Ball, then aged 71, went missing from Townsville in April 18, 1993.

‘Cold case killer confessed to me’

A REOPENED inquest into the 1993 suspected murder of a Townsville man will hear evidence from a man who says the murderer confessed to him before he died.

Homicide detectives believe Leslie Ralph Ball, 73, who was reported missing on May 22, 1993, was murdered by his son-in-law, David Phillips, who died in 2015.

Brisbane Coroners Court today was told a witness told police that Mr Phillips confessed to him that he killed Mr Ball.

Megan Jarvis, counsel assisting Deputy State Coroner John Lock, said police believed the witness was credible, as he had information he would not have known if Mr Phillips had not told him.

Police have asked Mr Lock to consider finding that Mr Ball was murdered at the premises of Mr Phillips and Mr Ball's daughter, Leanne Phillips, in April, 1993.

Police have also asked Mr Lock to find that David Phillips was likely responsible for the murder.

"Police believe the motive for the murder was financial," Ms Jarvis told Brisbane Coroner's Court.

"There is evidence suggesting Leanne and David Phillips were reliant on Mr Ball for money to live and for various costs."

Mr Ball had just put a deposit on a Cardwell property he intended to move to, Ms Jarvis said.

But Mr Phillips had apparently discussed plans for Mr Ball to help the couple build a house where they would all live together.

Ms Jarvis said police allege Leanne Phillips had knowledge of the circumstances of her father's death, but had not provided truthful accounts to police.

An inquest into Mr Ball's disappearance, in 1994 and 1995, heard Leanne Ball said she last saw her father when he visited her at a Brisbane hospital on April 21, 1993.

A train ticket purchased on April 19, 1993, in Mr Ball's name, for travel from Townsville to Brisbane on the next day, was described by the coroner as a fake.

No one travelled in that seat on that journey, according to the coroner.

Mr Ball's Valiant sedan, which he kept at daughter Leanne's home, was found at Townsville railway station and burnt remains of his trailer and personal belongings were found 10 kilometres from Mr and Mrs Phillips' home.

"The investigating coroner found this to be evidence that a person or persons unknown has attempted to conceal the whereabouts of Mr Ball's trailer and personal effects," Ms Jarvis said.

The coroner was not prepared to find Mr Ball's disappearance was because of foul play, but said evidence indicated his absence was not of his own making.

Two further reviews of Mr Ball's disappearance were conducted by homicide detectives.

On the basis of fresh evidence from the new witness, in relation to the alleged confession, the Attorney-General directed the inquest be reopened.

It will be held in Townsville on July 15 to 19.

The new witness who claims to have heard Mr Phillips's alleged confession to the murder will give evidence,

The court heart that Leanne Phillips and a friend of her and her late husband, whom police suspect may know of Mr Ball's killing, will also be called to give evidence.