Saturday May 25, 2002:
|The Man Who Just Vanished|
|'Mr Brown' and riddle of the man who just vanished|
A coronial inquest next month will investigate the fate of an English migrant who vanished in Sydney 32 years ago.
After landing in Perth in May 1969, Bill Day, 23, made his way to Sydney where he crossed paths with another Englishman, Peter Macari.
Two years later Macari would hit the headlines as Mr Brown, the infamous extortionist who extracted $500,000 from Qantas
, claiming he had placed a bomb on a plane.
But by then Bill Day had disappeared.
After arriving in Perth Mr Day and fellow migrant, David Burt, set out to explore Australia. In the Northern Territory they went separate ways, with Mr Burt heading for Sydney to visit another friend, Ivan Jay, living in Bondi Junction.
|Day wrote saying he had a job|
According to a statement Mr Burt gave British police more than 20 years ago, a stranger he later learnt was Peter Macari opened the door, saying Mr Jay was home.
After visiting the house "six or seven times" Mr Burt left for Bougainville. However, he wrote to Mr Day, giving him Mr Jay's address "so at least he would have somewhere to stay for a couple of nights" in Sydney.
In mid-1970 Mr Day wrote back, saying he had a job driving a bus and was staying in Bondi Junction.
"He told me that he was going to finish the job driving the bus and head up to Queensland with [Peter Macari] in his ... van, which they had fitted out for camping," Mr Burt told police. "That was the last I heard from Bill."
On May 26, 1971 Qantas received a call from "Mr Brown" claiming he had planted a bomb on a Hong Kong-bound jet and he wanted $500,000. After Qantas paid the money Mr Brown called again, confessing the bomb was a hoax.
|Macari used bank accounts in Day's name|
Police tracked down Macari, finding more than $138,000 hidden in an Annandale property. Sentenced to 15 years' jail, he served nine years before being deported to England, where he still lives.
That November, while reading a newspaper account of the arrest, Mr Burt suddenly realised Mr Brown was the man he had met in Bondi Junction.
"I ... was really stunned to read that Peter Macari, alias Mr Brown, had bought an E-Type Jaguar in the name Bill Day."
He contacted police but they never called back. Although Macari used bank accounts in William Day's name, police assumed it was one more alias.
In 1995, after Mr Day's family renewed pleas for help, Detective Sergeant Mark Murdoch, of the homicide squad, flew to England to interview Macari, who denied involvement in Bill Day's disappearance.
|A known person could be linked to Mr Day's disappearance....|
Mr Murdoch, now an acting superintendent and local area commander for the eastern suburbs, later sent a 300-page report to the coroner, recommending an inquest.
This week the Glebe Coroner's office finally confirmed the inquest would be held on June 28.
Commander Murdoch told the Herald: "A known person could be linked to Mr Day's disappearance."
Speaking from his home in Ipswich, south-east England, Bill Day's brother, Tony, 47, said his family needed to know what happened.
Although police never believed Bill Day was involved in the Qantas extortion, "we think he has been murdered ... we think he knew too much."
His parents, Betty and Jim Day, began worrying when Bill stopped writing home. His last letter told how he was getting a lift to Brisbane with a man named Brown and would send a forwarding address. It never came.
"My father went to see the local police," said Tony, adding all inquiries hit a dead end. Jim Day died last year, aged 80. But Tony hopes his mother, 79, will learn what became of her son.
Tony Day said although he had been told Macari would be "invited" to the inquest police had no power to compel him to attend.
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