William Tyrrell’s foster mother fought to keep secret the truth about the missing toddler, arguing that revealing he was a foster child would intensify publicity and force her family into hiding.
The now 57-year-old was part of the court battle waged to keep a veil of secrecy over William’s foster status in the years after he vanished without trace.
Daily Mail Australia has obtained an affidavit written by the foster mother two years after William vanished from her mother’s house in the NSW Mid North Coast town of Kendall on September 12, 2014.
In the document designed to keep William’s foster care past under wraps, the foster mother claimed disclosure ‘will lead to intense interest from the public and a much larger number of people will learn William was in foster care’.
This was despite the fact the foster mother and father were actively engaged in the massive ‘Where’s William’ publicity crusade with former lead detective Gary Jubelin.
The PR campaign, which raised more than $1 million in public donations, had as its main objectives ‘to manage public consciousness surrounding the disappearance’ and ’empower William’s Parents as the foremost voice for William’.
This referred to the foster mother and foster father rather than William’s parents, at a time when the toddler’s out-of-home care when he disappeared was one of the legal community’s worst kept secrets.
‘I am responsible for determining the appropriate media strategy (which) takes into account the views of … the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS),’ Mr Jubelin said in a court affidavit also obtained by Daily Mail Australia.
William Tyrrell’s foster mother fought to keep the toddler’s status as a foster child secret and argued that revealing it might send her family into hiding
The foster mother said disclosing the fact that William had ben taken from his birth parents and placed with her and the foster father put her and her relatives at risk
The foster mother (above) the FACS department and head cop Gary Jubelin all argued that revealing the truth about William would be bad strategically, but a judge disagreed
He said information should be revealed ‘in a managed way’ and revealing that the missing toddler had been removed from his biological parents and placed with the foster couple ‘would be damaging to the investigation’.
The details of the court battle to shed light on William’s status can be revealed as the foster parents are due to be listed for a two-day hearing on charges they stalked, intimidated and assaulted a child.
Separate lawyers for the foster couple appeared on Friday in Hornsby Local Court which heard police have ‘a large amount of surveillance device material’ on the couple and up to ten witnesses for the prosecution.
Lawyers Sharon Ramsden for the foster father and Lauren Macdougall for the foster mother told the court they each had one witness for the defence.
The child police allege the foster mother and foster father assaulted and then stalked is the same child mentioned in the foster foster mother’s affidavit.
In the document the foster mother contends that exposing William’s foster status would put that same child at high risk of ‘security issues’ and ‘long term psychological impacts’.
Lone child advocate Allanna Pearl Smith represented herself in the fight against the department to expose William’s true status and won, though at a personal cost to her
Former task force boss Gary Jubelin, who quit the force after he was charged with offences, claimed he controlled publicity over William Tyrrell via a massive PR campaign
William’s foster mother (above) at the inquest into the toddler’s disappearance wearing a blue-and-red Where’s William ribbon, part of the PR campaign merchandise
The foster mother says the child, who had lived with her at the time, was at risk of being recognised, then targeted and harassed.
This would ‘probably lead to a lot of unwanted attention … could potentially have security issues (and) longer term psychological impacts’.
The foster mother’s statement was among the documents in the action taken out by FACS to obstruct a lone child advocate’s bid to make public William’s status.
Armed with senior lawyers, the now defunct department desperately fought to silence advocate Allanna Pearl Smith, but instead suffered a stinging loss in the Supreme Court and again in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal.
The foster mother said in the affidavit that many details about her and the foster father were on social media and that FACS’ lawyers had told her Ms Smith wanted the foster fact out there.
‘Ms Smith intends to publish the fact that William was in foster care in the internet,’ she says in the affidavit, ‘she also wants to circulate a petition calling for an inquest.
‘If she is allowed to do that … if a much larger number of people become aware that William was in foster care .. . the more likely it is that people “will be able to put two and two together” and identify and locate us.
‘People will assume that (we) were involved in William’s disappearance … we will be harassed.
The foster mother (above) will apply to have assault and stalking charges against a child be heard under the Mental Health Act which requires a mental assessment to be delivered soon
William Tyrrell vanished from the house (above, being searched by police last November) owned by the foster mother’s own mother in Kendall on the NSW Mid North Coast
‘It is likely that we would have to move from our home, probably change jobs and we may need to take steps to change our identity.’
She said it was the ‘mainstream media’ which had called them William’s ‘parents’ and they had ‘followed police advice’ about how to handle publicity.
In his statement supporting FACS’ continued concealment about William’s foster status, Mr Jubelin said the Tyrrell strike force’s media strategy ‘takes into account the views of (FACS) and accommodates these views where possible’.
He conjectured that releasing the foster information ‘in an unmanaged way … is likely to provoke significant interest and lead to intense speculation and rumour in the media and among the general public’.
He warned the foster revelation ‘may also divert police resources away from the investigation’ to respond to that rumour.
The foster mother (left) is facing two charges of stalk and one charge of assaulting the same child, while the foster father (right) has been charged with one count each of stalking and assaulting a child
William Tyrrell’s removal from his birth parents and placement in the foster system was secret until child advocate Allanna Smith took on the NSW Government to fight for his rights
The foster father (right) with a detective does a walk through the grounds of the Kendall house from which William vanished as a three-year-old almost eight years ago
Then FACS director Bryony Foster said in her affidavit filed to argue its case that the department ‘and police were concerned that at the time saturating the media might not be beneficial as it could drive the abductor underground’.
FACS tried to silence Ms Smith and the Facebook group, Walking Warriors 4 Missing Children, with an injunction, arguing that identifying William would have a ‘stigmatising’ effect.
At the time the Walking Warriors group was seen as a fringe rival by the Where’s William campaign, which had logos and merchandise featuring William’s face and the Spiderman suit he was wearing in his last known photograph.
In a stunning victory for Ms Smith 2016, Justice Paul Brereton ruled William could be revealed as a foster child, but his judgment could not be revealed as FACS immediately appealed.
The department lost again in August 2017, when the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal upheld Justice Brereton’s decision and only then did the truth finally come out.
His Honour said it was inexplicable why William’s carers (the foster parents) had been represented as William’s parents.
Allan Smith is critical of the PR campaign started by Gary Jubelin and ’empowering’ the foster parents as ‘the foremost voice’, saying it had turned a missing boy into ‘a brand’
William’s foster mother (above) will apply to have charges against her of stalking and assaulting a child hear under the Mental Health Act after an assessment is made by psychologists
He said it was probable that William had died, there was a substantial public interest in the foster care system and Ms Smith had the ‘right of free expression’ about it.
About the repercussions of revealing William’s foster status, Justice Brereton said ‘I am quite unpersuaded that it would hinder it (the police investigation)’.
Ms Smith applauded the court victory and later said she had a ‘primal connection’ to help his birth mother.
This stemmed from the fact she herself had been separated from her real mother in the foster system, in which she was abused.
‘I asked the court to ask William’s biological parents what they thought and it came back that they did not oppose the publication of the fact William was in foster care,’ Ms Smith told Daily Mail Australia.
Gary Jubelin (above with his lawyer, Margaret Cunneen) led the PR campaign Where’s William until his own career was derailed by offences under the Surveillance Devices Act of which he was convicted
Rural fire service officers search bush last December around 700m from the Kendall house where William had disappeared seven years earlier
Detectives and forensic experts stand on Batar Creek Road in Kendall on the final day of the four week search Strike Force Rosann made in bushland to find the remains of William Tyrrell
She said she believed the FACS case was hollow and more about the need to keep secrets, and about the prestige of holding special knowledge that others didn’t have.
“It was like a club. Tell me where they talk about the need for William to be found in any of the statements?’
Her motivation had been to stand up for the birth mother who she didn’t know, although she and Ms Smith have since met in the course of the William Tyrrell inquest she had also fought for.
‘I feel her loss, that primal loss, through no fault of her own,’ Ms Smith said.
‘The only thing she did wrong was being young, with no support of her own… I feel for that young woman and I have never even met her.’
Mr Jubelin stated publicly after Ms Smith’s court win, that the foster revelation had not damaged his investigation.
He left the NSW police Force in 2019, after being removed from the Tyrrell strike force and charged with breaching the Surveillance Devices Act for illegally recording a Tyrrell case person of interest.
Mr Jubelin was convicted of four four counts of recording a person without permission, and fined $10,000. He later lost an appeal against conviction in the NSW District Court.
The publicity campaign he launched with FACs and the foster parents, using PR firm Insight Communications, had helped double Strike Force Rosann’s funds from state coffers and establish a $1 million reward by the State Government.
Although no-one has collected the reward, or been charged over his disappearance, ‘Where’s William Tyrrell? Bring Him Home’ helped make him Australia’s most high profile missing child.
Ms Smith, who remains frustrated to this day about the lack of success in finding William’s likely abductor or killer, is highly critical of PR strategy.
‘What, William’s face was used to develop a brand? A brand of a cute kid lost in a SpiderMan suit?’ she said.
‘It hasn’t helped find him has it, and where’s the investigation gone? William’s (birth) parents have no answers and it’ll be eight years in September that he vanished while in the care of the state foster system.’
Between 2014 and 2016, Ms Smith went out every weekend to colllect the 10,00 signatures required to petition the NSW Government to hold an inquest into William’s case.
She has gathered around 8500 when police finally agreed that an inquest was needed, with that inquest starting in 2019 but yet to conclude.
Earlier this month, William Tyrrell’s foster mother was charged with allegedly lying to the secretive state Crime Commission.
This followed a the foster father being charged with two counts of falsifying information to the commission, after appearing before it last November.
This was days before Detective Chief Inspector David Laidlaw, the police commander who took over Strike Force Rosann from Mr Jubelin, launched a new search for the boy’s remains near his foster grandmother’s Kendall house.
Police revealed at the time that the foster mother and her mother were persons of interest in William’s disappearance.
The foster parents are due to face court in late May on the lying allegations.