Arnna, Grant and Jane Beaumont, who disappeared without a trace from Glenelg beach on Australia Day 1966.
Arnna, Grant and Jane Beaumont, who disappeared without a trace from Glenelg beach on Australia Day 1966.

‘Witness’ comes forward with new Beaumont claims

POLICE were at the crime scene just hours after the Beaumont children were killed, claims a man who has provided a statement to SA Police's Major Crime branch.

Detectives are now examining the man's claims - the latest among hundreds made as the 52-year-old cold-case mystery continues to baffle authorities.

The man, who for legal reasons cannot be identified, first told police late last year that, as a child, he not only saw Jane, Arnna and Grant Beaumont playing with three men at Glenelg Beach on January 26, 1966, but he later walked in on two of those same men as they abused the children.

He has claimed the children were taken to his family home and were abused and killed in his bedroom and that he himself narrowly escaped also being killed that day.

But the boldest of his claims, that two members of the Women's Police Branch came to his rescue and took him from the home to their Angas St base in the city that night, will be critical in validating or eliminating the man's claims.

Arnna, Grant and Jane Beaumont, who disappeared without a trace from Glenelg beach on Australia Day 1966.
Arnna, Grant and Jane Beaumont, who disappeared without a trace from Glenelg beach on Australia Day 1966.

Now 63, he says fear for his life and post-traumatic stress, for which he is now getting counselling, had stopped him from revealing his astonishing claims until now.

He claims that, after witnessing the harrowing crime, he was fed sleeping pills and left alone in the house to die. However, one of the attackers, a relative, called the women police to come to his aid.

Disturbingly, the man claims the bodies of the children were hidden in the garage overnight with plans to dispose of them the following day at a site the man has also revealed to police in detailed statements made during a number of lengthy interviews.

He details one of the women police searching the house for other people while another officer tended to him, covered in vomit.

He was taken to the police station and given a shower and change of clothes before being taken to his single mother, who was staying with relatives due to the violent and abusive nature of the two men living in her home.

His writings about his claims say: "I saw the children in the house and I stared into Arnna's eyes, not knowing who she was and little Grant … and I can see him too.

"I feel responsible because I didn't know what was about to take place. This is all my fault because I was drugged and had no recollection of what I heard or saw for so many years after.''

A police missing persons poster issued in the search for the children.
A police missing persons poster issued in the search for the children.

 

The children pose for a family photo.
The children pose for a family photo.

Major Crime police have acknowledged they are examining the man's claims.

The man says when he first made his videotaped statement to Major Crime last year during an ongoing investigation of claims made about his own abuse at the hands of the two men, he held out his arms and gestured for police to handcuff him for "holding the secret for so long".

Earlier this year, the man contacted Leave A Light On chair Suzie Ratcliffe - sister of Joanne Ratcliffe, 11, who was abducted from Adelaide Oval in 1973 with Kirste Gordon, 4 - after he had made his statements to police.

Ms Ratcliffe, who campaigns for increased support for families of long-term missing persons, is also administrator of a Facebook memorial page for the Beaumont children and has ongoing contact with members of the Beaumont family.

Last year, SA Police Major Crime officers gave Ms Ratcliffe and Leave A Light On colleagues an undertaking they would do a full review of materials and information regarding the Beaumont case that has been passed to them as a result of the probing work of Leave A Light On members and private investigators over the past three years.

Veteran Major Crime detective Mark McEachen has been put on the case as a "new set of eyes" and it is understood another detective is now investigating these new claims.

"I feel so ashamed that I have not come forward earlier … that I have not understood or seen clearly what it was that happened that day,'' the man told Ms Ratcliffe.

"I don't lie. I have to have faith in police that they are investigating it … This is the truth.''

Ms Ratcliffe has appealed to police to vigorously investigate the man's claims.

"Police continue to appeal to people to come forward with any information they have on cold case crimes,'' Ms Ratcliffe said.

"I implore police to take on board what it is this brave man has presented to them and unless they can without doubt rule out his claims, police should work with him with a view that, together, we can bring a close to this most baffling of crimes and deliver answers to the Beaumont family while we still can.''

The claims follow a failed search for the remains of the Beaumont children at the New Castalloy factory in North Plympton in February.

Part of the site was excavated after new claims emerged linking businessman Harry Phipps, who owned the site, to the children's disappearance.

The new witness's claims of who he believes responsible for the abduction have been corroborated to some extent by two other men who have also given statements to Major Crime.

All three men - the new witness, David Smith and Andrew McIntyre, none of whom are known to each other - have named one person in common as a person of interest in the case.

Mr Smith was days away from Army life and on a path to the horrors of Vietnam when he took a lunch break at the Glenelg foreshore on January 26, 1966.

He had on his mind saying goodbye to girlfriends and mates at the time and took not much notice of the benign conversation he had with a young man with three children in tow at the foreshore.

In February 2015, and after seeing a missing persons poster in a police station, Smith told police about that encounter, his chat with the man and the eldest child and also an old couple seated nearby.

Smith, who says the horrors of Vietnam troubled him for decades, believes it was Jane Beaumont he spoke with, as well as the man responsible for the abduction.

He has provided a statement to Major Crime which includes identifying the man he saw with the children.

"I never gave it any thought before … I simply didn't realise I had been a witness to something that could be important," Mr Smith said.

PHOTO GALLERY: THE BEAUMONT CHILDREN MYSTERY

"I went away for Army training in the days after, then to war. I didn't know anything about the missing kids and when I got home from Vietnam I, like many, was not in great shape.

"The girl was looking at my lunch and I asked her if she wanted some … she said the man had bought them lunch.

"I spoke to the man, he was about my age and so I asked if he'd got a call up for service … he said no. End of conversation."

Mr Smith said the man and three children left in a dark blue convertible sports car.

The elderly couple on a nearby bench told Mr Smith the children had been hanging around the area without an adult over recent days and they were not the man's children.

Police have acknowledged they've taken statements from Mr Smith before.

Andrew McIntyre has over the past decade claimed his father was involved in the crime and has provided statements to police outlining his claims.

Andrew was the victim of horrific child sex abuse in the 1960s. The perpetrator of those attacks was jailed in recent years and is also named in Andrew's statements to police as being involved in the abduction and murder of the Beaumont children.

The second person the new witness claims to be a Beaumont children abductor is serving a jail term for historic child sex abuse dating back to the 1960s.

A long-term business partner of the convicted paedophile, who can be linked to him as far back as 1967, is also now facing 80 counts of historic child sex abuse in Queensland. He was extradited from rural SA earlier this year.



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