He spoke “a lot” about William’s disappearance, Mid North Coast resident Sheree Hamilton told the inquest, being held in Taree, on Thursday. Abbott did casual work for her parents.
“I would say he was interested,” Ms Hamilton said when counsel assisting the coroner Gerard Craddock, SC, asked if Abbott was “particularly interested” in the case.
After William disappeared, Abbott spoke often about a strange smell in the hills around Logans Crossing, a 10-minute drive from the yard from which William vanished, Ms Hamilton said.
“That smell … he said it wasn’t a dead animal. We were all annoyed about how he just carried on about it,” she said.
Her brother Dean Anderson told the inquest he said he told Abbott to either “go to the f—ing police about [the smell] or shut the f— up” about it.
“We said it was probably a dead kangaroo and he said, ‘Nah I know the difference between a dead kangaroo and a dead human.’
“I said, ‘How would you know what a dead human smells like?’ “
Abbott did not go to police, Mr Anderson said.
On another occasion, Abbott said the police were searching for William in the wrong location.
“When they were searching Bill Spedding’s property, Frank made a comment that they were searching the wrong spot for William Tyrrell, which seemed a very strange comment.”
Bill Spedding, a whitegoods repairman, was a person of interest, who was last year found to have been at a school assembly at the time of William’s disappearance.
The court also heard that Ainslie Northam, nicknamed “Dooley”, a good friend of Abbott, told a local policeman’s wife, Elizabeth Rowley, that Abbott could have been involved in William’s disappearance.
“Did Dooley tell you Frank got off a murder before and may be responsible for someone disappearing from Johns River?” Mr Craddock asked Mrs Rowley.
“Did Dooley tell you, based on those things… and talking about the boy, that it might be related to William Tyrrell’s disappearance?” he asked.
“That was my concern, yes,” Mrs Rowley said, adding she told her husband.
This week, the inquest heard that Abbott was twice tried for the murder of a teenager but was acquitted.
The inquest also heard that Abbott was seen with scratches all over his arms the day after the body of Taree woman Margaret Cox was found in the Manning River at Old Bar.
Abbott has not yet given evidence at the inquest.
The inquest continues.
Sally Rawsthorne is a Crime Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.