Paedo spoke of 'dead human smell': Tyrrell inquest

Convicted paedophile Frank Abbott's fascination with the disappearance of William Tyrrell was getting on peoples' nerves - as were his constant comments about the smell of "dead human" in bushland and a murder charge he beat, a court has heard.

The coronial inquest also heard Abbott's mate suspected he could be responsible for other disappearances - including William Tyrrell's - and tried to get a message to investigators.

The Anderson family, who owned a takeaway shop in Wauchope, gave evidence they were wary of Abbott around their kids and didn't trust him after money went missing from their previous store.

But their suspicion turned to frustration after three-year-old William Tyrrell went missing from the town of Kendall on the NSW Mid-North coast in September 2014, they told the NSW Coroner's Court on Thursday.

Dean Anderson, whose parents ran the takeaway, said Abbott would talk about the case when it was reported in newspapers or on radio.

Dean Anderson outside Taree Local Court today. Picture: Nathan Edwards
Dean Anderson outside Taree Local Court today. Picture: Nathan Edwards

The builder told the court Abbott, who did odd jobs at his parents' shop, piped up the day news broke detectives were searching the home of former person of interest, Bill Spedding.

"Frank made a comment (police) were searching the wrong spot for William Tyrrell," he said.

"It seemed like a very strange comment to make."

Neither Abbott or Mr Spedding were ever charged with William Tyrrell's disappearance and Mr Spedding is not a person of interest in the case.

Dean, his sister and mother all told the court Abbott spoke often about a "bad smell" emanating from dense bushland just north of Kendall, near the turn-off to his caravan home.

"He kept going on about the smell," Mr Anderson said.

"We said it's probably a dead kangaroo. He said 'nah nah, I know the difference between a dead kangaroo and dead human smell'."

"I said 'how would you know what a dead human smells like anyway?'."

"He ended the conversation there".

William Tyrrell.
William Tyrrell.

Mr Anderson said Abbott talked so much about the Tyrrell investigation he ended up snapping and "bluntly" telling Abbott to talk to the police or shut his mouth.

"I got quite angry with him constantly beating on about it," he said.

"I told him to go to the f***ing police or shut the f*** up about it."

The court heard Abbott told people in Wauchope he had beat a murder charge in Sydney and wore it as a "badge of honour".

That was a reference to his two trials in the 1990s for the murder of a schoolgirl more than 25 years earlier.

Abbott was acquitted of the murder.

He is currently locked up for sexual offences against children and is legally representing himself via audiovisual link at the inquest.

Local antique dealer, Elizabeth Rowley, said Abbott used to come into her business trying to sell bits and pieces.

Another regular customer of hers, who she knew as Dooley, told her he held concerns Abbott may have been hiding troubling secrets after he drove a woman and child to Tamworth.

"Did Dooley tell you he believed Frank got off a murder before and may have been responsible for someone going missing in Johns River?," Counsel Assisting Gerard Craddock SC asked Ms Rowley on Thursday.

"Yes he did," she responded.

"Did Dooley tell you, based on those things, and the timings of the trip to Tamworth and talking about the boy, it may be related to William Tyrrell's disappearance?" Mr Craddock continued.

"That was his concern, yes," Ms Rowley said.

Ms Rowley said Dooley wanted her to tell her husband, a local police officer.

The inquest continues tomorrow with a police officer to give evidence alongside two women who are using pseudonyms.


Frank Abbott’s arrest in 1991.
Frank Abbott’s arrest in 1991.