Detective Senior Constable Tony King addresses members of the national media before a coronial inquest into the death of Lee Ellen Stace.
Detective Senior Constable Tony King addresses members of the national media before a coronial inquest into the death of Lee Ellen Stace. The Daily Examiner

Suspect seen with Lee Ellen

THE Coronial Inquest into the 1997 death of Brooms Head teenager Lee Ellen Stace has heard from a witness who put the key police suspect with the victim on the afternoon of her disappearance and death.

However, it appears certain the coroner will return an open finding when the inquest resumes today.

After hearing from all the witnesses Deputy State Coroner Carl Milovanovich previewed what will happen today as the inquest winds up.

He told the Stace family and friends that this was their chance to have their say about the investigation into Lee’s murder.

“Don’t feel constrained in any way in holding back as to what you’ve got to say,” Mr Milovanovich said.

“If you feel the investigation has not been proper and thorough and that it has taken too long, I know that is not a personal criticism of (head of the investigation for the past eight years) Detective (Tony) King, because in my view he has done an excellent job on this, on his own.

“If it is a criticism of the police force, I probably share in those views and there maybe something I have to say about that when I hand down my findings.

“I think you can probably anticipate that tomorrow is not going to be a satisfactory day for any of us, because, there is really no answers yet and it will be most likely that I will be compelled, on the evidence that has been presented, to return what’s called an open finding.”

The coroner also previewed making further recommendations including increasing the reward for information to $200,000 and encouraging Homicide Cold Cases to take on matters a lot sooner.

Fresh evidence turned up in court yesterday as a direct result of this inquest, when Bruce Dobbin, was called.

Mr Dobbin, whose name came up in evidence on Monday, told the inquest he saw police key suspect Anthony Apps attempt to pick up Lee Stace in front of his home in Jubilee Avenue, Townsend, on the afternoon she disappeared.

He said he saw a girl he recognised as Lee Stace hitchhiking outside his home when a car pulled up in front of the girl and Apps leaned half a body length out of the passenger window.

Mr Dobbin said he couldn’t hear all of the exchange, but it concluded with Apps yelling profanities at the girl and the car driving off.

The inquest also heard evidence from two other people who had possibly seen Lee and witnesses who were in the vicinity of Red Cliff, where Lee’s remains were found.


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