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Australia Marion Barter was 'definitely' seen at bank months after her disappearance, inquest told

11:21  22 june  2021
11:21  22 june  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Marion Barter pictured before her disappearance in 1997.  (Supplied.) © Provided by ABC NEWS Marion Barter pictured before her disappearance in 1997.  (Supplied.)

The father of missing woman Marion Barter was told by the Salvation Army that his daughter had been seen at a bank in Queensland months after she went missing, an inquest has heard.

Today is the 24th anniversary of the disappearance of Sydney-born Ms Barter who was last seen alive at a bus stop in Southport, Queensland on June 22, 1997 — the same day she left Australia for a working holiday to the UK.

Her family didn't know she had already changed her name to Florabella Natalia Marion Remakel and would return to Australia about a month after leaving the country and not tell them.

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Former director of the Salvation Army's family tracing unit Betty Brown told the Coroner's Court she wrote to Ms Barter's father, John Wilson, in 1998 to say Ms Barter had "definitely" been sighted at a Colonial Bank branch in Ashmore, Queensland on October 5, 1997.

"Police missing persons … contacted security at [the] bank and after lengthy conversations were able to advise it was definitely Marion who went to withdraw the balance, and spoke of starting a new life," the letter to Mr Wilson read.

Ms Barter's account had a $80,000 withdrawal at the Ashmore branch on October 5 but David Martin, who was the bank officer in charge at the time, told the court they never had any security working there.

Yesterday, the inquest heard from detective Gary Sheehan who led the case for about 10 years who said the case wasn't investigated adequately and "slipped through the cracks".

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The last time Ms Barter spoke to her daughter Sally Leydon was on July 31, 1997, but the payphone kept running out of money and Ms Barter could not give another number to be contacted on.

Ms Leydon believed she was in an airport.

Ms Leydon raised the alarm with Byron Bay police after Ms Barter failed to contact her son Owen for his birthday, but police didn't register her as a missing person and only recorded Ms Leydon's concerns as an "occurrence".

An investigator from the Commonwealth Bank, Graeme Smith, also gave evidence to the inquest today and said much of Ms Barter's banking history had been lost due to a seven-year expiration on statements.

Mr Smith said police never contacted him about Ms Barter's accounts and it was he who reached out after receiving a media enquiry relating to the popular podcast The Lady Vanishes.

He said he thought it was "a little bit unusual" that Ms Barter would vanish without a trace and leave $14,000 in a bank account.

"In my time I've had many enquiries in relation to missing persons but none that sort of fit this frame where large sums of money are left over," Mr Smith said.

The inquest will run for two weeks and will investigate whether Ms Barter is still alive.

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