During a two-week hearing at Downing Centre Local Court, Assistant Commissioner Scott Cook has been criticised for comments he is alleged to have made while he was head of the homicide squad, including pointing at a photo of William and saying “no one cares about that little kid, get him off the books, get him to unsolved homicide”.
William’s foster-mother gave evidence on Thursday that Assistant Commissioner Cook told her, during the inquest into the boy’s disappearance last year, that the case will be moved to unsolved homicide and her family are not the only victims of crime.
Speaking on behalf of William’s foster family outside court, Alice Collins said the hearing raised concerns about police management of information provided to the Coroner.
She said an “incredibly dedicated group of police, led by Gary Jubelin” have consistently demonstrated professionalism and integrity “whilst trying to manoeuvre the internal politics going on behind the scenes”.
“Overall, we hold grave concerns regarding the cavalier way in which police leadership have viewed William’s abduction over the past two years,” Ms Collins said.
“We hold deep fears for those families coming behind us and question how they might trust senior police to put their personal agendas, ambitions and bias aside to focus on solving these horrendous crimes.
“There needs to be greater transparency and accountability within NSW Police which can only be achieved through institutional change.”
A NSW Police spokesperson said they were unable to make a comment on the remarks by deadline.
On Friday, Mr Jubelin’s barrister Margaret Cunneen, SC, said in closing that her client’s persistence in staying on the investigation may have “set [him] up as a problem” and led to senior police pursuing him over the recordings.
“He perhaps was not as numbers and economics-driven as other senior officers. And that may be the basis for what is really an extraordinary prosecution,” she said.
She said warrants were in place during some of the conversations and listening devices were already in Mr Savage’s home, meaning the conversations recorded weren’t private.
Ms Cunneen said Mr Jubelin’s evidence that he made the recordings to protect himself against potential accusations by Mr Savage should be accepted.
Crown prosecutor Philip Hogan said a police officer recording conversations to protect their lawful interest “completely defeats” and “makes absurd” the accepted process of officers applying for warrants.
He said if the court found Mr Jubelin not guilty, “every police officer in every situation” could claim they had a lawful interest to record because “someone might complain somewhere down the track”.
“No individual police officer is above the law, no matter how serious the crime that’s being investigated,” Mr Hogan said. “The Crown case is that Gary Jubelin violated Mr Savage’s rights in circumstances where he didn’t care if he was breaking the law or not.”
As he left court, Mr Jubelin said he has “no animosity towards the NSW Police” but does have issues with “people within the police force that put ambition above their duties.”
“I stand here and my frustration is the fact that we still don’t know what happened to William Tyrrell,” Mr Jubelin said.
“I look at the resources that have been put in to prosecute me and I just can’t help but think that would have been better if those resources were put in to finding out what happened to William.”
Magistrate Ross Hudson will deliver a decision in April.
Georgina Mitchell is a court reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.