Patrick "Paddy" MORIARTY

A kelpiePaddy Moriarty holds a beer in a pub.A man sits on a motorised EskyPicture of a group of men sitting at a bar

A poster for a missing personMissing Person Paddy Moriarty

Paddy's houseMissing Person Paddy Moriarty

PHOTO: Paddy Moriarty's house in Larrimah, with this neighbour Fran Hodgetts in the background. (ABC News: Kristy O'Brien)

Missing since: 
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Last seen: 
Larrimah NT
Responsible jurisdiction: 
NT
Year of birth: 
1947
Gender: 
Male
Height: 
178cm
Build: 
Medium
Hair: 
Grey
Eyes: 
Blue

Circumstances

Paddy was last sighted at dusk on 16 December 2017 when he left the Larrimah Hotel with his dog on his red quad bike.Paddy is approximately 178cm tall with black and grey hair.  He was last seen wearing a singlet, dark shorts, silver watch and black thongs.A comprehensive search of Paddy’s property, including Larrimah and surrounding areas failed to locate any sign of him or his dog.Paddy walked his dog each morning and attended the Larrimah Hotel each afternoon. He had a regular routine and his disappearance is out of character. Paddy’s dog is a female red and brown kelpie named ‘Kellie.’NT Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding his disappearance. If you have information that may assist police to locate Paddy please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

 

 

 

'It's kind of like Wolf Creek': Where are Paddy Moriarty and his dog Kellie?

In Larrimah in the Northern Territory, feuds run deep and grudges hold fast. In the case of missing person Paddy Moriarty, police suspect foul play and that his missing dog Kellie holds the key to unravelling the mystery.

 

7.30
By Anna Henderson and Kristy O'Brien

Updated 

At dusk on a stinking hot afternoon late last year, Mr Moriarty and his red kelpie cross Kellie left their local, the Pink Panther Hotel, in the remote town of Larrimah and vanished into thin air.

It was December 16.

Despite an extensive search of the area, police haven't shed any light on the disappearance and fear he may be dead.

Some of the dozen or so residents —who have a history of long-running feuds — are concerned the 70-year-old Irishman may have been killed.

Police have no suspects, but they have turned to a new focus. The loyal red dog Kellie.

The officer in charge of the case, Detective Sergeant Matt Allen, hopes the dog might have been dumped with a shelter or a vet and will lead them to find out what's happened to Mr Moriarty.

The town's mechanic Mark Rayner is on the same page as police.

"The key to this is the dog, the dog hasn't come back," he said.

"Find the dog, you find Paddy, we think."

'It's kind of like Wolf Creek'

The isolated town of Larrimah has been beset by deep enmities for many years, where residents living hundreds of metres apart completely ignore each other.

Police are treating the disappearance of the pensioner — who came to Australia at 19 — as suspicious, although they stress there are no suspects identified at this time.

But the town's other dozen residents are left on edge: has Mr Moriarty met a grisly end? Have the simmering tensions of the town's long-running feud boiled over to violence?

Town publican Barry Sharpe doesn't think there's a "psychopath" on the loose; he thinks it's a targeted attack.

Mr Rayner told the ABC he felt safe, but "a lot people are talking that it's kind of like Wolf Creek at the moment".

Sifting fact from rumour

Mr Moriarty has been described by friends as a jolly larrikin with a sense of humour who would do anything for his mates.

But the 70-year-old pensioner also had enemies. Two residents in the community have openly admitted in interviews with the ABC that at times they had wished him harm — but they both add the caveat that they certainly haven't had anything to do with his disappearance.

This is a story with many layers in an isolated world whose inhabitants live differently to most Australians.

There are stories of sabotage. Pet peacocks fed to a crocodile. Roadkill used for retribution. Rivalry over the sale of meat pies.

Police now have the difficult task of sifting fact from rumour and innuendo as they investigate the case.

A town plagued by a feud

Larrimah is perched six hours' drive south of Darwin on the edge of the almost 3,000km-long Stuart Highway.

The road is internationally notorious for missing persons cases, especially since the disappearance of British backpacker Peter Falconio 17 years ago.

Dozens of others have gone missing on this stretch of road over the years.

Relics from its time as a transport hub during World War II are everywhere, and so are the hidden and forgotten caverns and crevices.

The town has become neglected and run down. It's a tiny blip to the travellers passing through and the competition for their attention is fierce.

The fight over pies

Passions run deep in the town and grudges hold fast. Take the meat pie war, for example.

Larrimah's two main tourist businesses — The Pink Panther Hotel and Fran's Tea House — are separated by a few hundred metres and a lot of bad blood.

Fran Hodgetts serves Devonshire tea and is proud of her reputation for selling meat pies.

Years ago, when publican Barry Sharpe decided the pub's pet crocodile wasn't enough of an attraction, he started to sell meat pies in direct competition. Mrs Hodgetts was not impressed.

"There's no claim to saying, 'I sell pies so you can't sell pies'. It's like saying to you, 'I sell soft drinks so you can't sell them'. It's ridiculous," he said.

Mrs Hodgetts' business is across the road from Mr Moriarty's house. The neighbours were once amicable but things turned sour.

Mrs Hodgetts accused Mr Moriarty of waging a vendetta against her in an interview with the ABC before Christmas.

"I stopped him coming here and that's where all the trouble started. He started pinching stuff, pinching umbrellas from here, damaging my property and give me big heaps of cheek and telling customers not to come in, putting broken glass under car wheels…" she said.

They'd pull up in front of his place and he'd tell them not to come in here, nothing was homemade. I mean, I'm not rubbishing the man!

'The dog wouldn't eat Fran's pie'

In a never-before-seen ABC interview with former ABC senior journalist Murray McLaughlin from 2011, Mr Moriarty spoke about Mrs Hodgetts. He was disparaging about her pie shop.

"Fran's got the worst pies. And I'll f***ing tell you that," he said.

They were shit over there, I used to go over there and the dog wouldn't eat Fran's pies.

More recently, Mrs Hodgetts accused Mr Moriarty of putting a dead kangaroo under her house.

Before Christmas, Mrs Hodgetts spoke to reporters about the missing persons search.

"I don't know where he is and I'm not sad that he's gone. But I hope they find him because I've had so much trouble with him," she said.

When the ABC approached Mrs Hodgetts this week, she declined an interview.

"I don't know nothing … the lawyers said not to say nothing, we don't say nothing."

It's just one of the major feuds the town has seen. In an earlier scrap with a now defunct petrol station, the pub's pet peacocks were fed to a crocodile in retaliation for the death of a pet buffalo that was turned into pies.

News: Kirsty O'Brien)

 

Life at the country pub

There is more drama at the pub too. Mr Sharpe is ill and wants to sell up.

He has been trying to sell the pub for some time, and plans to put it up for auction in March so he can focus on his treatment.

Mr Moriarty's daily routine was to help Mr Sharpe clean the toilets and shower cubicles out the back before settling in at the bar for the afternoon.

He usually bought eight mid strength beers. On the day he went missing, Mr Sharpe says he had consumed about 10 XXXX cans.

That's backed up by bartender Richard Simpson, who has lived in Larrimah several times and recently returned to work in the pub when he heard Mr Sharpe was unwell.

He says Mr Moriarty had a bit of a "wobbly boot", but was not intoxicated when he left.

Mr Simpson is pretty sure he knows what happened, but he does offer an alternative theory.

"OK, 2 per cent it might be aliens right," he said.

"There ain't no f***ing aliens that have captured Paddy and if they had have done they would have dropped him back by now, cause he would have talked them into it."

'His own worst enemy'

Mrs Hodgetts wasn't the only resident to have frustrations with Mr Moriarty. Barry "Cookie" Burke said he "was his own worst enemy" and would "make trouble in an empty house".

He said despite their falling out, it wasn't motivation to kill him.

"I'm flat out here doing what I'm doing. I got no time to muck around going down there and doing freaking stupid things like that," he said.

I'll be honest with you, I felt like breaking the guy's neck sometimes, but it never happened.

The ABC asked every resident who was interviewed whether they had anything to do with Mr Moriarty's disappearance — each one said no.

Billy Hodgetts met Mr Moriarty 30 years ago working on stations — he's also Fran's ex-husband.

"I think someone has killed him, for sure, if he was going somewhere he would have taken his car, wouldn't he, and he never went out without his hat," Mr Hodgetts said.

The only missing thing

Mr Sharpe at the pub raised the alarm with police when Mr Moriarty and his dog failed to turn up for their usual afternoon beers.

Detective Sergeant Allen has confirmed police are investigating the feuds as part of their missing persons inquiry.

"If the feud leads to working out what happens to Paddy, so be it. But it's not the only thing we are investigating," he said.

Kellie is the only thing missing from Mr Moriarty's house: his car is in the drive and his reading glasses, wallet and hat — which he always wore because he was bald — are all accounted for. He hasn't accessed his bank accounts.

Mr Moriarty got the dog about three months before he disappeared, not long after his last dog Rover had to be put down. The pair went everywhere together; kelpies are known for their loyalty.

The last known person to see Mr Moriarty is a backpacker, who gave him a chicken as a gift for Kellie. The wrapper and chicken were still in the microwave when police searched Mr Moriarty's house.

A thorough investigation

Police have interviewed every resident, tourists who passed through the town, people who live on the sprawling cattle stations around the town and some previous residents.

They've scoured the surrounding area. The local tip has been sifted, an area Mr Moriarty was known to visit on his regular morning walks with his dog.

Police investigated the possibility of sinkholes in the limestone rock around the region, but ruled them out.

A car linked to one resident was taken away and forensically searched. It has since been returned.

Police have failed to find any relatives of Mr Moriarty, despite reaching out to the Irish police and notifying Interpol that he is missing. They haven't located any next of kin in Australia either.

They can't rule out that their extensive searches of the surrounding bush have missed something and concede there are many places where Mr Moriarty's body could be hidden or lost.

Detective Sergeant Allen says the evidence is not pointing to misadventure or a suicide at this stage.

He is worried this could turn out to be something more sinister.

The search for Kellie

Detective Sergeant Allen hopes the dog is still alive and it may have been taken to a dog shelter interstate, or adopted by an unsuspecting new owner.

"I want to reach out to all dog shelters, animal shelters, vets or any person who's come across or is a new owner of a red kelpie cross, about 12 months old, anywhere in Australia," Mr Allen told the ABC.

Police describe Kellie as having big ears, a white chest and a small white patch on the nose.

Detective Sergeant Allen also called for anyone who travelled in the area on December 16 who hasn't spoken to police to get in touch.

If you have any information, call Northern Territory Police on 131 444.

Credits

Paddy Moriarty: A timeline of his disappearance

By Kristy O'Brien - ABC

Posted 

Northern Territory resident Paddy Moriarty goes to the Pink Panther pub in Larrimah for a beer and is not seen again. Here is a timeline of his disappearance.

As the locals grow increasingly worried, police start looking for clues into his disappearance.

Here is a timeline of the events that unfolded:

December 16, 2017

Paddy Moriarty goes to the Pink Panther pub with his dog Kellie for his usual eight beers.

Barman Richard Simpson says he consumes a few more than normal but is not intoxicated.

He leaves the pub just before dusk and says he will be back in the morning to borrow the lawnmower.

A tourist gives Paddy a cooked chicken to take home for his dog.

December 17, 2017

Mr Moriarty does not show up to collect the lawnmower. His friends are not too worried, figuring he had changed his plans.

He then does not show up for their regular drinks at the Pink Panther.

Publican Barry Sharpe decides he will check the next day.

December 18, 2017

Mr Sharpe is concerned as he still has not heard from his friend, so goes to his house and looks around.

Mr Moriarty is not at home and his car, quad bike and hat are all still at the house.

Mr Sharpe feels worried but does not want to panic so does not call police.

December 19, 2017

Mr Sharpe is very worried now, he goes over to Mr Moriarty's house and still cannot find any sign of him. He calls police at 4:00pm and speaks to the Darwin call centre.

December 20, 2017

Worried, Mr Sharpe calls police again and urges them to contact the police at the Mataranka station, 80 kilometres away from Larrimah.

The message is passed on and the local police officer, Sergeant Tom Chalk, attends within a few hours.

Meanwhile, local residents who are friends with Mr Moriarty start searching around the close bushland and the track he walks every morning.

December 21, 2017

A search and rescue team, police officers and the Tactical Response Group arrive to search the bushland.

This search is conducted broadly to look for signs of life.

NT Police release a statement to media, asking for public assistance to locate Mr Moriarty.

His house is also searched and routine police checks of his accounts and other databases commence.

The cooked chook is located in the residence, dated December 16, 2017.

December 23, 2017

Police suspend the search and rescue operation for Mr Moriarty as they assess that the timeframe in which they expect to find a person alive has expired.

December 25, 2017

NT Police release a statement, saying they are still investigating the circumstances surrounding death.

A number of interviews are conducted with residents of Larrimah, everybody is spoken to.

Meanwhile, police are still trying to locate everybody who passed through Larrimah on the evening Mr Moriarty went missing.

December 28 to 30, 2017

Police launch a second intensive search for Mr Moriarty.

Media are invited on December 29, 2017 to Larrimah. They film a search party of more than 20 police officers and volunteers.

This search involves a more refined phase which includes shoulder-to-shoulder searches surrounding Mr Moriarty's residence, dirt tracks and bushland.

Some vehicles and residences are also searched at this time.

As a result of both search phases, the total area covered reaches 85 kilometres from Mr Moriarty's house.

Police seize a car for forensic testing with no evidence located.

January 4, 2018

NT Police conduct an extensive search of the Larrimah rubbish tip.

Police say the dump needs to be searched with an excavator as residents burn their rubbish in the town using incinerators before dumping it there.

This is also the place Mr Moriarty would walk his dog Kellie every morning. No evidence is found.

February 1, 2018

Police renew calls for anyone with information about a 12-month-old red kelpie recently acquired, including animal shelters, vets and anyone who may have found the dog.

Police say this is a critical clue that may help solve the case.

Also, detectives still wish to speak with anyone who travelled through Larrimah at dusk on December 16, 2017 who may have sighted Mr Moriarty, his dog or anything unusual.

 

 

Chances of finding missing Irishman Paddy Moriarty alive in remote NT 'unlikely', detective says

By Anna Henderson - ABC

Updated 

The detective in charge of a missing persons case in which 70-year-old Irishman Paddy Moriarty went missing in the Northern Territory last December says police have unable to find any family members in Australia or Ireland.

Mr Moriarty was last seen on December 16 at a hotel in Larrimah, about 430 kilometres south-east of Darwin.

Detective Sergeant Matt Allen has compiled a profile of a confident character and fit man who worked most of his life as a stockman and even won a rodeo in Darwin. He has no substantive criminal record.

Detective Sergeant Allen acknowledged that despite the thorough search effort around the community in an attempt to locate Mr Moriarty, there are still places that could not be checked.

One of the main reasons his disappearance is suspicious is his strict daily routine; attending the pub, drinking eight beers, coming home before dusk.

Here is an excerpt of the interview with Detective Sergeant Allen:

Can you go into more detail about what is it about the scene and your enquiries that have led you to think a crime has been committed?

"The physical evidence at the scene is completely undisturbed. So, the assessment is he's voluntarily left his residence. The bed was made, he had food on the table, he had dog food for his dog Kellie," Detective Sergeant Allen said.

"He had a calendar that he crossed off each day. And the last date that was crossed off was the 15th. He had a water gauge that he checks in the morning that wasn't checked.

"So, we believe he's voluntarily left his residence and because he's set in his ways and he's a local and he always does the same thing — like attends the pub — when he walks his dog he walks the dog in the morning, and based on that we're treating it as a worst case scenario."

Who was the last person to see him before he went missing?

"Our investigation established there was a tourist passing through, staying that night at Larrimah, and they had contact with Paddy and actually gave Paddy's dog Kellie a chicken, a cooked chook, just to give it to the dog for dinner," he said.

"And that was when Paddy was leaving, just about dusk on December, 16 2017."

Is there any further evidence you can speak about that links up to that version of events?

"We located that chicken wrapper actually in the premises of Paddy's," Detective Sergeant Allen said.

Do you think Paddy Moriarty is still alive?

"No, I don't. We conduct routine checks. We check banks, we check transport companies, we check Centrelink where he was on some sort of pension where he gets regular payments," he said.

"All those signs of life have been checked with unfortunately negative results. There is a remote possibility but I would say it's unlikely."

Can you also give me a sense of thoroughness of the search, because I understand some closed areas of the community have been searched through (septic tanks). Are there a lot of places to hide a body and do you think you've looked in all of them?

"We've done a comprehensive search of the community, obviously we need information to act on to search private property, but the residents of Larrimah have assisted with our enquiries," Detective Sergeant Allen said.

"We've conducted consensual searches at a number of locations. The specific nature of those locations I want to keep close to the investigation team at this time, but yes, we've done not just the surrounding area but we've searched a number of locations in the area."

You put a call-out about a van. Why did you do that — what was the significance of that?

"The Delica van, or a van that looked like a Delica, was sighted in the area about a Thursday after his disappearance, and people who are station owners and residents hadn't seen that vehicle previously," he said.

"We don't know what the link is with that vehicle. It could be nothing, but during the course of our investigation we speak to everybody that's travelled through Larrimah before, during the time of the disappearance, and afterwards.

"[We are] trying to get a pattern of their movements, and that's one particular van amongst many that we are trying to identify who the driver is or the occupants."

And that's still outstanding?

"Yes," he said.

Have you thought about dredging Warloch Ponds, which is a significant body of water that's not too far away?

"No, we haven't. We don't have information to do that," Detective Sergeant Allen said.

Have you searched the animal enclosures out the back of the pub?

"No, we haven't. We've consensually searched a number of areas there with the assistance of staff members. But, no," he said.

There is a crocodile there, quite a big croc. It's been fed whole chickens. Is it possible this man has been fed to the crocodile?

"We don't have any information to suggest that," he said.

Police are no longer in Larrimah. Has this investigation at this point gone cold? And I should say residents say they feel uneasy there. Do you recognise there could be a danger?

"I don't have any information that there any dangers there to any other resident. If anybody has information, feel free to contact me," Detective Sergeant Allen said.

"The investigation is ongoing, whatever it takes, as long as it takes. We are not going to give up looking for Paddy and his dog Kellie."

How hard is it to investigate a missing persons case in the NT outback?

"This particular case is challenging because Paddy lives on his own, there's nobody present to corroborate his movements," Detective Sergeant Allen said.

"Paddy also doesn't engage with modern technology, telecommunications, social media and the remoteness of Larrimah is very challenging.

"Larrimah itself doesn't have significant infrastructure, so CCTV [and] a lot of other things like that where police are able to track peoples movements. It's a very challenging place.

"If you stand on Stuart Highway, cars might not come past for 10 minutes or half an hour.

"In this particular investigation we don't have any direct witnesses to the disappearance of Paddy, which makes everything very challenging."

Clairvoyants, water diviners and private detective keen to investigate Paddy Moriarty's disappearance

By political reporter Anna Henderson - ABC

Updated 

Police are following up reported sightings of a missing Northern Territory man, and have been offered help from clairvoyants and water diviners, but remain convinced it is unlikely he is still alive.

A private detective has apparently packed his bags and is driving from his home state of Tasmania to the Northern Territory offering to help with the search.

Paddy Moriarty, 70, went missing from Larrimah, six hours south of Darwin, in December.

Mr Moriarty was last seen leaving his local pub, the Pink Panther Hotel, on December 16.

His house is deserted, his car and quad bike are parked on his property, and his bank accounts have not been accessed.

Police are treating his disappearance as suspicious and it is under investigation by the NT Police Major Crime unit.

Larrimah is a tiny town of about a dozen residents and some of Mr Moriarty's neighbours are concerned he may have been murdered.

Police are investigating whether a feud between Mr Moriarty and his neighbour Fran Hodgetts had anything to do with his disappearance.

The pair were locked in a battle over her Devonshire tea and pie house.

Mrs Hodgetts has accused Mr Moriarty of trying to destroy her business by warning customers not to buy her produce, and trying to sabotage her garden.

Tonight Mrs Hodgetts told 7.30 that police searched her house, pumped her septic tank, and scraped through her incinerator during their investigation.

"They didn't find anything," she said.

"They poked holes in all the gardens. They didn't find anything. They went through my car, they didn't find anything."

She said she has provided about 12 hours of statements to police.

"And I speak the truth. I don't bullshit. I tell the truth and don't lie," Mrs Hodgetts said.

The 74-year-old said despite Mr Moriarty throwing a dead kangaroo under her house and years of other attempts to sabotage her business, she has "never retaliated".

"I can honestly swear on my mother's and father's grave … and I'll take an oath on my life going to Katherine and back, I know nothing about the disappearance of Paddy Moriarty."

'We are yet to identify any signs of life'

Last week Detective Sergeant Matt Allen, who is heading the missing person's investigation, appealed for more public information.

He says the police are now investigating reports of fresh sightings of Mr Moriarty after the date he went missing, but so far they haven't come to anything.

"It's now been 54 days since Paddy went missing," Detective Sergeant Allen said.

"We are yet to identify any signs of life for Paddy.

"He has not (to our knowledge) accessed his bank accounts, contacted any friends, made any telephone calls, returned to his residence or travelled in any capacity."

Police have been trying to locate Mr Moriarty's red kelpie Kellie, which is also missing.

Detective Sergeant Allen remains convinced that the dog may still be alive, and could help police find Mr Moriarty's body.

"I still encourage people to give NT Police a call, regardless how trivial they believe the information may be, as it might be one small piece of the puzzle detectives need to locate Paddy and his dog," he said.

"A couple of clairvoyants have contacted me, including someone from the science of water divining."

"Detectives rely on fact and evidence, however, every piece of information received or possible theory is recorded for information by the investigation team."

Originally police had drawn a blank in trying to locate Mr Moriarty's family, but the story gained prominence over the past week and was reported in the English and Irish press.

Police have now received information confirming Mr Moriarty grew up in Limerick.

"We received information that Paddy was born and raised at Abbeyfeale in Ireland and his mother's name was Mary," Detective Sergeant Allen said.

No other family members have been identified.

 

Police question reclusive gardener in search for missing NT man Paddy Moriarty

7.30 
By Anna Henderson - ABC

Updated 

A reclusive gardener is among those being questioned in relation to the disappearance of Paddy Moriarty in the remote Northern Territory outback.

Key points:

 

The man known as Owen has been living and working in Larrimah, where Mr Moriarty was last seen.

He has been residing on the property owned by Devonshire Tea House proprietor Fran Hodgetts in exchange for work he completed looking after the tourist attraction's garden.

This week on 7:30, Ms Hodgetts said she had been questioned by police and had provided statements over a period of about 12 hours so far.

She confirmed police had thoroughly searched her Larrimah property, including the garden, septic tanks and other areas.

Gardener keeps to himself

Over a number of interviews with ABC News, she has also confirmed her gardener had been questioned.

"He don't like people, he don't like media," Ms Hodgetts said when contacted as the ABC tried to reach the gardener directly.

Ms Hodgetts defended Owen, saying there was "no way known" he had done anything wrong.

"He's just a loner, he's a bushie," she said.

"And he's quite happy living here with his little garden and his dog.

"He's happy. He's a happy chappy.

"He's a real tough old boot, that's even what the detectives said."

She told the ABC that she wanted to protect him from unfair police and media scrutiny, and said she had known him for about six months.

"I trust him with my life. He is so honest. He doesn't like liars," she said.

"I said to him, 'If anything happens I'll stick with him all the way'.

"But nothing's going to happen."

There is no mobile reception in Larrimah. The ABC called Ms Hodgetts to request an interview with Owen, but she declined on his behalf.

Police looking for leads

Police are treating Mr Moriarty's disappearance as suspicious, but do not have any suspects.

They have interviewed all the residents of the tiny isolated outpost and many former residents as they try to piece together what has happened to him.

Crucially, they have not been provided with any witness accounts beyond Mr Moriarty's last confirmed sighting, leaving the Pink Panther Hotel in Larrimah on his quad bike with his red kelpie Kellie.

The pub's staff estimated he had consumed 10 mid-strength beers.

At his house there was no sign of a struggle. But his hat, wallet and reading glasses were inside, leading police to surmise that sometime on the night of December 16 he voluntarily left his home, never to be seen again.

Gardener's car searched

The gardener's car was taken away by police and forensically searched after Mr Moriarty went missing.

Police found a small amount of blood in the car, but have confirmed since that they found no link between the vehicle, Mr Moriarty or his dog.

His computer was also taken, but Ms Hodgetts said it was being returned.

"If they found anything, he'd be gone," she told the ABC.

"If he wanted to, he could take off in his car, and sell his car and he'd be fine because he's a bushie.

"He's a lovely man. I love him to pieces as a person."

Ms Hodgetts also described him as a canine lover who would never hurt a dog.

She said the gardener had kept people off her property and was very loyal to her.

Bitter feud in small town

Ms Hodgetts was Mr Moriarty's neighbour across the Stuart Highway.

The pair were locked in a bitter feud going back many years over tourism in the town.

There was recent court mediation between them.

Mr Moriarty is accused of sabotaging her business, stealing items from her shop, putting a dead animal under her house and warning prospective customers they would get food poisoning from eating at her restaurant.

While police have no suspects at this time, Owen is one of a number "persons of interest".

Ms Hodgetts laughed at the suggestion he could have done anything wrong.

"He won't take any money or food or even Christmas presents," she said.

In an interview with 7:30 this week, Ms Hodgetts confirmed police searched her house, pumped her septic tank, and scraped through her incinerator during their investigation.

"They didn't find anything," she said.

"They poked holes in all the garden. They didn't find anything. They went through my car, they didn't find anything.

"And I speak the truth. I don't bullshit. I tell the truth and don't lie."

The 74-year-old said despite Mr Moriarty throwing a dead kangaroo under her house and years of other attempts to sabotage her business, she has "never retaliated".

"I can honestly swear on my mother's and father's grave … and I'll take an oath on my life going to Katherine and back, I know nothing about the disappearance of Paddy Moriarty."

When the alarm was first raised about Mr Moriarty's disappearance, police conducted an extensive search around Larrimah, concerned he may have met with misadventure while walking his dog.

The investigation is now being handled by the NT Police major crime unit.

Detective Sergeant Matt Allen said he was still hopeful someone with new information about the disappearance would come forward.

Case goes international

Recent international media attention on the case has helped police identify that Mr Moriarty was born in Abbeyfeale, in Limerick, Ireland.

There have also been a number of reported sightings of Mr Moriarty after he went missing. None have been confirmed.

"We are yet to identify any signs of life for Paddy," Detective Sergeant Allen told the ABC this week.

"He has not [to our knowledge] accessed his bank accounts, contacted any friends, made any telephone calls, returned to his residence or travelled in any capacity.

"For these reasons combined with the nature and circumstances of his disappearance, I believe Paddy is unfortunately deceased."

Police have also renewed their calls for anyone who has come across a red kelpie — around a year old — to get in contact.

"Kellie is a female red kelpie cross with particular whitish/tanned markings and is only just over 12 months old," Detective Sergeant Allen said.

"I don't want members of the public to get confused with Paddy's previous dog Rover, which was a male black and white border collie kelpie cross well over 10 years ago."

Clairvoyants, private searchers involved

A private investigator with experience on missing person's cases has contacted the Pink Panther Hotel and is said to be travelling from Tasmania to conduct his own investigations.

Police have also been contacted by clairvoyants and a water diviner.

"Detectives rely on fact and evidence, however every piece of information received or possible theory is recorded for information by the investigation team," Detective Sergeant Allen said.

"The facts remain that Paddy and his dog are still missing.

"Detectives remain focused on finding both of them, as long as it takes, whatever it takes.

"Someone out there must know what happened to Paddy."

Friends suspect foul play

Mr Moriarty's friends at the pub believe he has been murdered.

But some other residents are not so sure.

Ms Hodgetts has questioned the police search of the area, conducted by helicopter, quad bike and on foot.

She said police should have been on horseback so they could have covered a wider search zone.

She also said Aboriginal trackers should have been engaged to look for Mr Moriarty.

She suggested he could have lost control of his young dog, and in trying to find the dog become lost and disorientated and perished.

Mr Moriarty was last seen on December 16 but his disappearance was not reported to police until he failed to show up at the pub for his regular afternoon beers for two days.

It then took further time for police to act and begin the search.

Ms Hodgetts maintains the window of time to find him alive, if he was lost in the bush, was already fast closing when police began to look for him.

When the ABC visited Larrimah two weeks ago, there was a general unease about the mystery.

Town mechanic Mark Rayner said there had been some discussion about whether Mr Moriarty, who he described as a "top bloke", had gone missing around the same time as others in Queensland.

"A lot people are talking that it's kind of like Wolf Creek at the moment," he said.

At the same time he said he and his partner felt safe.

Police say they have no evidence to suggest Mr Moriarty's disappearance is linked to any other missing persons cases.

Another resident, Bobbie Roth, said it was "odd" and unsettling that Mr Moriarty was gone but she also said she still felt safer in Larrimah than in the nation's big cities.

NT Police leave door open to reward over Paddy Moriarty's baffling outback disappearance

By political reporter Anna Henderson and Nick Hose - ABC

Updated 

A reward may be offered as police continue to investigate the ominous outback disappearance of Irish-born stockman Paddy Moriarty.

Key points:

 

Mr Moriarty disappeared from the Pink Panther Hotel in the remote territory community of Larrimah, on the Stuart Highway, in December last year.

His disappearance is being treated as suspicious but police have no suspects. His red kelpie Kellie is also gone.

The isolated community — which is out of mobile range — is about six hours' drive south of Darwin.

The town has only about a dozen residents, who have all been interviewed by police.

Mr Moriarty had about 10 mid-strength beers on December 16 at his local pub. The publican said, after that he, "vanished into thin air".

Northern Territory Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said a potential reward to help them gather more information about the missing man was a matter for his Major Crime Unit.

"We've done that in the past, I think there'll probably be a point in time where there probably will be some sort of serious consideration about offering a reward," Commissioner Kershaw said.

He said the widespread media attention on the case meant information about the disappearance had been widely reported.

But police remain stumped, and have not been able to pin down any of their leads.

The police officer in charge of the investigation, Matt Allen, previously said despite a large-scale search and questioning of residents, friends and even contact with Irish police and Interpol, police were unable to establish what had happened.

Detective Sergeant Allen had conceded Mr Moriarty might have perished in the bush outside of Larrimah, but he was also investigating whether feuding in the town over meat pie sales and neighbourly disputes could be related to the disappearance.

Mr Moriarty had been engaged in court mediation with his neighbour and Devonshire Tea shop operator Fran Hodgetts.

Mr Moriarty was no fan of the pie shop, saying previously the pies were overpriced and unhealthy and his dog would not eat one.

Mrs Hodgetts told the ABC she knew nothing about his disappearance, but she was glad he was no longer in Larrimah.

Her gardener, who also lives on the tea house premises, was questioned by police along with all other residents.

The gardener, known only as Owen, had not spoken to the ABC, but Mrs Hodgetts described him as a kind man, and a "bushie".

His car was taken for forensic testing and later returned, police found no evidence to link the vehicle to the disappearance.

Warning of Stuart Highway dangers

Police are investigating a number of missing persons cases on the 3,000km stretch of the Stuart Highway, which runs from Darwin in the Northern Territory to Port Augusta in South Australia.

It is the same highway where British tourist Peter Falconio disappeared in 2001.

There are missing persons posters at the Darwin police headquarters for a number of other people.

Rebecca Hayward, 35, was last seen walking on the Stuart Highway about 10 kilometres north of Alice Springs in January 2017.

Another missing person is Richard Roe, a 40-year-old man who went missing on November 2, 2016.

His vehicle was later found abandoned on the Stuart Highway near Lake Bennett, about 80 kilometres south of Darwin.

Commissioner Kershaw was asked whether there was a pattern of concerning disappearances on the notorious inland stretch.

"It's an interesting one," he said.

"We're a huge expanse, you know, where people can just go missing.

"I know here in the past, down here in Alice [Springs], we've had people walk off into dry lakes — and their footprints disappear into the sand.

"It's something we monitor and it is a big expanse out there."

He reminded tourists and residents travelling on the remote road to take necessary steps to ensure they were prepared for the tough conditions in the outback.

"Not having enough water and thinking about their trip is something we constantly remind people, 'Just don't jump in your car and sort of think that you can go 400 kilometres without having to worry about water and other supplies'," he said.

 

 

Paddy Moriarty's Irish family comes forward as NT police request DNA tests to confirm link

By political reporter Anna Henderson - ABC

Posted 

Northern Territory Police believe they have made a breakthrough in locating the family of missing Irish-born man Paddy Moriarty, as locals raise concerns his house is being damaged by scavengers.

Mr Moriarty disappeared on December 16 last year from the Pink Panther Hotel in the remote town of Larrimah, about six hours south of Darwin.

Police are treating it as a suspicious missing persons case, and some people in the community believe he has been murdered.

There is no evidence to support those claims and police have no suspects.

Police have acknowledged that while they have comprehensively searched the bush in the area, it is still possible he went walking outside Larrimah and became lost or injured and has perished.

Some of Mr Moriarty's friends want to access his house to mow the lawn and remove rotting food from his fridges.

They are also concerned that petrol and other personal items belonging to Mr Moriarty have been taken by people scavenging from the abandoned house.

Irish family comes forward

After the ABC was interviewed by Sean O'Rourke for his morning current affairs program on Irish radio station Raidio Teilifis Eireann, a member of the Irish Moriarty family did some digging.

A group of people with links to the Moriarty family tree now believe Mr Moriarty is a relative.

Northern Territory police have requested DNA samples from some of them to establish whether they are blood relatives.

Mae Screeney has contacted the ABC, and believes she is the cousin of Mr Moriarty's mother, Mary Theresa.

Mary passed away in 1995. If this is established, Mr Moriarty was a member of a large extended family.

Mary was from Abbeyfeale in the Irish county of Limerick, but there is no father listed on Mr Moriarty's birth certificate.

That part of the story remains unknown, but has led Ms Screeney to believe the missing Irish-born man was born out of wedlock.

"She [Mary] obviously called him Patrick Joseph because that was the family name," Ms Screeney said.

"Nobody knew of this Paddy Moriarty."

She said given Mary was unmarried, it is possible Mr Moriarty was adopted.

"Nobody knows of this child, so what happened to Patrick Moriarty? He wasn't bought up around Abbeyfeale," Ms Screeney said.

"None of our family know anything about him."

Ms Screeney said Mary moved to the island of Jersey near the coast of Normandy, and it was not clear what happened to Mr Moriarty in his early years or where he grew up.

As a teenager in the 60s, Mr Moriarty left for Australia, where he worked on stations as a "ringer" and was effectively a stockman.

There are other likely extended family links in the United States where other members of the Moriarty family relocated.

"Most of them — 10 of them — emigrated to New York," Ms Screeney said.

She said the Moriarty family recently had a family reunion and established there were about 50 first cousins and over 100 more distant relatives in the US.

Friends want access to Moriarty house

Bartender and friend of Mr Moriarty, Richard Simpson, said he hoped the next of kin could be confirmed soon, so that police could grant permission for Mr Moriarty's house and yard to be cleaned up and cared for.

Fran Hodgetts, who had a long-running feud with Mr Moriarty, is also hoping he is found.

The disagreement centred on a rivalry over who was rightfully able to sell meat pies to tourists.

Mrs Hodgetts' Devonshire Tea House had long sold meat pies, but in the past decade the Pink Panther pub also purchased a pie warmer and was selling the popular roadside snack.

Mrs Hodgetts has previously said that while she did not get along with Mr Moriarty, she had nothing to do with his disappearance.

She has also confirmed that a gardener, known as Owen, who tends to the plants around her tea house had been questioned by police.

She said police had forensically examined his car and found no link between the vehicle and Mr Moriarty or his kelpie dog Kellie, who has not been seen since December 16 either.

Police have questioned all of the dozen residents in the town and searched a large radius around Larrimah on foot, quadbike and helicopter.

They have also sifted through the local tip, where Mr Moriarty often walked his dog.

Officers have spoken to hundreds of people and the case has garnered international attention, covered by news agencies in England and Ireland.

Police have notified Interpol and have been working with An Garda Siochana — Irish Police — to try and find more about Mr Moriarty's history.

Paddy Moriarty investigators seize hammers and hacksaw from Northern Territory pie shop

By Anna Henderson  - ABC

Updated 

A Northern Territory pie shop owner says police have seized a hacksaw and two hammers from her property, but maintains she had nothing to do with the disappearance of a missing man.

Fran Hodgetts was a neighbour of Irish-born stockman Paddy Moriarty, who vanished in December.

Police have no suspects but believe his disappearance may be suspicious.

He was last seen at his local pub, the Pink Panther Hotel, in Larrimah.

The tiny isolated outpost has about a dozen residents who have all been questioned. Many properties have been searched.

Pie shop freezer searched

On the weekend, officers with a warrant returned to the property where Mrs Hodgetts and her gardener Owen live.

The 74-year-old says police searched a meat freezer and took the hammers, saw and a pair of shoes.

"They found this hacksaw and they named it and put it in a bag," she told the ABC.

"They took his (Owen's) shoes, they wanted to leave him a pair of shoes but he said, 'no, I don't want your bloody shoes'. He'd had enough.

"I heard them lift the lid off the freezers and heard them lift the lid down.

"But they've found nothing, there's nothing there."

Mrs Hodgetts has written a letter to the editor of the local paper outlining her innocence.

"No, I did not have anything to do with the disappearance of Paddy Moriarty. No, I don't know where he is. Yes, I would like to have him found so I can sit back and say, 'Yes I told you so'," her letter said.

She said the gardener does not want to speak to reporters.

"I'm angry because it's a lot of bullshit," she said.

"He is an old man, he wouldn't hurt anybody.

"We know nothing."

Mrs Hodgetts has also criticised the police investigation because the search did not include officers on horseback.

"They probably would have found him, but he probably would not have been there very long because they've got a lot of wild pigs here and a lot of wild dingos," she said.

Possible family member found

Police have made a breakthrough in identifying possible next of kin, after a woman came forward with a possible familial link after the story was discussed on an Irish radio station.

Mae Screeney said she would be happy to provide a DNA sample to check if she is related, and if so Mr Moriarty has family in the UK and the United States.

Mr Moriarty's friends are hoping they can get permission to access his house and yard to mow the lawn and protect his belongings from scavengers.

Tiny town of Larrimah torn by a long-running feud and a missing man

The exasperated owner of a landmark Northern Territory pie shop has told how police privately ­accused her of knowing where to find the body of missing man Paddy Moriarty.

Fran Hodgetts says she has been an open book with police since they began investigating Mr Moriarty’s disappearance from Larrimah, about 500km south of Darwin, more than two months ago. Denying any knowledge of what happened to Mr Moriarty, she has been peppered with questions from detectives about her live-in gardener, a reclusive “bushie” known only as Owen.

In repeated searches of her property, police have drained her septic tank, scoured her garden and examined her incinerator. Last weekend — when she was doing a crossword and Owen was “singing to the flowers” — police turned up again. This time they had a warrant to seize hammers and a pair of light-tan shoes. “Nobody wears shoes in the Territory,” she scoffed, in an interview with The Australian. Police left with two hammers and a hacksaw, which she says Owen used to cut up turkey and beef.

“They went through Owen’s place, they went through my place again, all through me knicker drawer, all through me bag, they went through everything.

“They went through me tea house — I think they must have thought I had Paddy pies in my freezer or something, all jokes aside. They opened me freezers and looked in me freezers in the shop.”

Although its population can be counted on two hands, Larrimah has been beset by long-running feuds, with Ms Hodgetts and Mr Moriarty at loggerheads for years.

Days before Mr Moriarty went missing, Ms Hodgetts looked out her window and saw him dragging a dead kangaroo by the tail and dumping it in front of her home. She says when she went to provide police a statement last month, a detective insisted: “You know where Paddy’s body is.”

Police have since told her she has been cleared and know she had nothing to do with Mr ­Moriarty’s suspected death, Ms Hodgetts says.

That hasn’t eased the concerns of the 75-year-old. Police told her last month that her gardener refused to talk to them and one line of inquiry was whether Owen’s dog, a pit bull, fought with Mr ­Moriarty’s dog, a red kelpie cross.

“I said, ‘do you know why he doesn’t talk to media and to the police? Because he doesn’t know anything, he never done anything’,” Ms Hodgetts said.

Ms Hodgetts has developed a firm friendship with Owen since he responded to her job advertisement and came to work for her in exchange for board about six months ago.

But as to whether there was anything more between them, she says she “laughed my f..king head off” when police asked if they were in a romantic relationship.

“You haven’t seen Owen. He’s 71,” said Ms Hodgetts. “He lives in his house, I live in mine. There’s nothing between us. He’s just a worker.

“They’ve been trying to turn me. I’m cleared. They told me they trust me, they believe me. They’re trying to break me up with Owen. I said no. Owen’s only been here six months but he’s trustworthy, he’s honest. You work with somebody, you know them.”

With no body, it’s not clear yet whether this a murder-mystery or just a mystery. Mr Moriarty, 70, went missing from his home, across the road from Ms Hodgetts’ shop, after earlier consuming 10 cans of beer at Larrimah’s Pink Panther Hotel on December 16.

He left behind his car, reading glasses, wallet and hat. Searchers around the outback town did not find any trace of him, or his dog, Kellie.

Ms Hodgetts says she read up on the case on a computer at her solicitor’s office because she doesn’t have one of her own.

The most likely explanation was that Mr Moriarty took his dog for a walk and became lost, she says. “Man leads dog. Man takes dog in the bush for a run. And he lets it off the leash.

“Dog didn’t come back. Man goes looking for dog. They can’t find the dog, they can’t find the man and they can’t find the lead.

“If anybody’s going to bump Paddy off, they’re not going to worry about a dog.

“Who would kill a dog? C’mon. I know I couldn’t. I know Owen, he loves animals. He loves dogs.”

For many years travellers on the Stuart Highway have stopped at her business, Fran’s Devonshire tea House, for her homemade goods including her famous buffalo, camel and crocodile pies.

She says Mr Moriarty harassed many of those customers, telling them to eat elsewhere.

It went back to bad blood ­between the pair over false and malicious rumours she says Mr Moriarty spread around town about her business being unclean.

“I was going through hell. But that doesn’t give the right for anybody to do anything to Paddy,” she said.

Pink Panther publican Barry Sharpe doubted Mr Moriarty, an experienced bushman, became lost. “He’s lived his whole life in the bush. He come out when he was 19 from Ireland and went straight to a cattle station,” he said. “No, he got into trouble with somebody and somebody got the better of him, I’d say.”

Mr Sharpe ruled out any ­involvement of his own 3.5m pet crocodile, Sam, who lives in a pen behind the pub.

“I’ve heard the theory someone’s thrown him to the croc. That didn’t happen,” he said.

“Nobody can get to him — he’s in a well-made pen, locked.”

He played down the conflict in the town. “Everything’s all right. A lot of things have been put out of context. We don’t spend our day going around fighting with the neighbours.”

NT Police said in a statement they “still don’t know what happened to Paddy and Kellie” and the priority remained for investigators to find them.

 

Paddy Moriarty investigation continues following police search of Larrimah Dam

Updated 6 Mar 2018, 12:34am - ABC

NT Police will begin searching other "sites of interest" after divers scoured the Larrimah Dam but found no trace of Paddy Moriarty, who has been missing for almost three months.

Mr Moriarty was last seen on December 16 last year at Larrimah's Pink Panther Hotel, six hours south of Darwin on the Stuart Highway.

His kelpie Kellie is also missing.

Although police do not have any suspects, they are treating the case as suspicious.

Some of the dozen or so residents — who have a history of long-running feuds — believe Mr Moriarty was murdered.

On Monday, Detective Sergeant Matt Allen said police had searched the Larrimah Dam during the past week but found no trace of him.

He said investigators would now move on to "the next site of interest".

"Over the last week police divers, detectives and forensic investigators searched Larrimah Dam, which is located approximately 1 kilometre west of Larrimah," Detective Sergeant Allen said.

"The dam can now be eliminated as a possible place Mr Moriarty could be.

"Our priority at this stage is finding Paddy, we continue to ask anyone who was in or travelled through Larrimah on December 16, 2017, and who hasn't yet spoken to police to please contact us."

Police can be phoned on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Paddy Moriarty inquest: Larrimah local told 'don't do anything stupid' after argument

By Lucy Marks - ABC

Updated 

Fran Hodgetts, owner of the Larrimah tea house, has told an inquest into the disappearance of Paddy Moriarty that she told a companion "not to do anything stupid" after he had an argument with Mr Moriarty days before his disappearance.

Mr Moriarty, 70, was last seen leaving the local pub on December 16, 2017.Yesterday, an inquest into his suspected death

heard Mr Moriarty was a happy-go-lucky man but he had an ongoing dispute with Ms Hodgetts, whose tea house was across from Mr Moriarty's property on the Stuart Highway.

Witnesses told yesterday's hearing the pair detested each other, and would frequently hurl abuse at one another.

On Friday she told the inquest the pair had been "neighbourly", but things turned sour when Mr Moriarty stole her sun umbrella in 2010, although police did not find evidence that this happened.

'He was angry'

Ms Hodgetts said Mr Moriarty then began to scare her customers away from the tea house.

"He started abusing my customers, threatening tourists and scaring them away from [my] business," she said.

Ms Hodgetts testified that "she'd been to hell and back" over the next 10 years, with a series of accusations of property damage and theft.

"I've never abused him and I've done nothing for what he did to me… Years ago I went crook at him, once," she said.

Four days before Mr Moriarty's disappearance, Ms Hodgetts accused him of dragging a dead kangaroo over to her property, but denied she retaliated.

"I swear to god, I never, I couldn't move a kangaroo," she said.

The following day, the inquest heard her companion, Owen Laurie, got into an argument with Mr Moriarty over their dogs.

"I told him 'don't do anything stupid'," Ms Hodgetts told the inquest.

"Yeah he was angry, because of the things that have happened in the past."

She told the court Mr Laurie had said "there's going to be trouble" on the day of the argument about the dogs.

"And I said, 'don't do anything stupid … I don't want to come back and see you in jail'," she said.

Mr Laurie has denied the argument was aggressive on either side and described Ms Hodgetts' account as "embellishment".

"I wasn't angry or aggressive about it," he told the inquest.

Mr Laurie told the inquest he was joking when had earlier told Ms Hodgetts "if anyone touches my plants, it'll be the first murder in Larrimah".

"I had no intention of murdering anyone over a garden," he told coroner Greg Cavanagh.

"People have been murdered for a lot less, sir," Mr Cavanagh said.

Mr Moriarty was last seen on his quad bike, leaving the Pink Panther about 6:00pm, and half an hour later Mr Laurie made two phone calls from a public phone box, the inquest heard.

Counsel assisting the coroner, Kelvin Currie, suggested to Mr Laurie that must have seen Mr Moriarty on his quad bike from the phone box, but Mr Laurie denied he saw him.

Ms Hodgetts broke down in the witness box when denying she was lying about her testimony, and said neither she nor Mr Laurie knew anything about Mr Moriarty's disappearance.

The inquest was told Mr Moriarty was a creature of habit, and when he did not turn up at the pub one day, and his home appeared as though he had never left it, virtually everybody in the community thought something was amiss.

An extensive search has failed to uncover any sign of Mr Moriarty's whereabouts, or that of his dog.

Almost the entire population of Larrimah, which has around 12 residents, were called as witnesses at the inquest.

The inquest was due to finish on Friday but has now been adjourned to a later date.