News

Missing girl's parents break down

Rahma El-Dannaoui
Rahma El-Dannaoui Supplied/Daily Telegraph

UNCONTROLLED sobbing from the parents of missing Sydney toddler Rahma El-Dennaoui brought the inquest into her death to a halt on Thursday.

Rahma's father Hosayn, who was the last person to see the 20-month-old when he put her to bed at 2am on November 10, 2005, was the first to take the stand on an emotion-charged day.

Language barriers and repetitive questioning made for a tense morning, but it was the playing of the 000 call made on the day of Rhama's disappearance which finally brought both parents undone.

In the recording Mr El-Dennaoui can be heard telling the female operator in broken English that his daughter is missing.

He tells her she has short blond hair and was last seen wearing pink pyjamas with "puppies" printed on them.

Family and friends comforted Rahma's mother Alyaa, who cried audibly throughout the recording.

When Mr El-Dennaoui asked for a "moment" after the recording had been played, Magistrate Sharon Freund said "I think your wife needs a break too".

With his head in his hands Mr El-Dennaoui stomped his foot and cried out words in Arabic as his wife was led out of the courtroom.

An hour later counsel assisting the Coroner Robert Bromwich asked Mr El-Dennaoui about the contrast in his behaviour in the courtroom compared to his "seemingly calm" tone on the 000 call.

Clearly offended Mr El-Dennaoui replied through his Arabic interpreter: "If I was crying (in the recording) would it be all right?"

Mr Bromwich said he had not intended to cause offence, but was attempting to understand why Mr El-Dennaoui became "very upset" in court but, to an "objective listener seemed very calm" during the 000 call.

Mr El-Dennaoui said it was because at the time, he believed Rahma would be found.

The inquest was expected to finish on Thursday, but will now stretch to at least another day.

While police have no clear leads on Rahma's disappearance, Detective Sergeant Mick Sedgwick confirmed police were investigating whether it was possible she fell into the hands of a pedophile ring.

Mr Bromwich has also suggested to the court a call traced to Lebanon the day before Rahma was missing may have "predicted" her abduction.

The NSW Government has offered a $250,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Topics:  inquest, rahma el-dannaoui


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