Louise and Charmian FAULKNER
Names - Louise FAULKNER & Charmian FAULKNER
Circumstances: Louise Faulkner, age 43 years and her daughter Charmian age 2 years were last seen in Melbourne. The mother and child were last seen leaving their St Kilda flat in a white ute driven by an older man on April 26, 1980.
Pensioner denies link to missing mum
Russell Robinson - Herald Sun
AN 85-year-old pensioner named as a prime suspect in the disappearance of his lover and her toddler daughter claims he is the fall-guy.
"I'm the pigeon," George Sutherland told the Herald Sun.
"I didn't do it, so I can't be found guilty of something I didn't do."
Louise Faulkner, 43, and two-year-old Charmian vanished 26 years ago and are believed to be dead.
Charmian was widely believed to have been Mr Sutherland's child, although he denied it at the time.
The mother and child were last seen leaving their St Kilda flat in a white ute driven by an elderly man on April 26, 1980.
Police believe the driver was George Sutherland, then 60.
Police searches failed to find any trace of Ms Faulkner and Charmian, and the case remains one of Victoria's enduring criminal mysteries.
Just what happened to them will be the subject of a coronial inquiry in August, in which Mr Sutherland will be a key witness.
He always denied he was Charmian's father, but yesterday conceded it may be the case. "I had sex with Louise, so did a few others," he said.
"I doubt that I was (the father), but then again there is a possibility."
Louise already had three children to her husband Barry, a scientist.
The affair with George Sutherland began in 1975 when they were work colleagues. He was a manager and she was a typist at a North Melbourne auctioneering firm.
It caused both their marriages to end in divorce, although the two lovers never lived together.
In 1977, Louise became pregnant and refused strong demands by Mr Sutherland to have an abortion. He continued to see Louise and paid the maternity hospital bills.
A year later, his ex-wife Beryl moved from the Glen Iris home they once shared and joined him at their Gippsland weekender near Erica, north of Traralgon.
But Mr Sutherland contin
ued his affair, driving to St Kilda from his Gippsland base, where he grew potatoes.
One statement to police details how at a child's birthday party on April 25 -- Anzac Day -- Louise "expresses her excitement about going away with her 'potato farmer' boyfriend the next day and how she was expecting to have a good time".
The same witness recalled speaking to Louise the following evening as she waited outside their block of flats.
She recalls Louise telling her they were "going to the farm" just as a Holden ute pulled up. The witness assumed the driver -- "an older Australian male and thick set" -- was Louise's potato farmer boyfriend.
After placing her backpack in the rear tray, Ms Faulkner and little Charmian climbed into the front seat. That was the last sighting of the pair.
Mr Sutherland, who now lives with Beryl in Burnie, denies he was the driver.
He rejects police evidence that he was seen several times driving a white ute belonging to a local farmer.
He said he spent Anzac Day 1980 at the Erica Hotel, and worked on his property the following day.
Several weeks after the two were listed as missing, police visited George Sutherland at his Erica property where they took a statement.
The following month he and his wife sold their Gippsland home and flew to the United States to stay with their daughter and travel. They were away for three years.
In 2001, the homicide squad missing persons unit re-opened the investigation and interviewed the Sutherlands.
"I'm one of the possible suspects," he told the Herald Sun. "I was in no way involved in their disappearance."
Like family, friends and police, Mr Sutherland believes Louise and Charmian are dead.
"Something drastic happened to Louise and to put it bluntly, she is no longer living -- in my opinion," he said.