Wendy Margaret DARVILL
DARVILL Wendy Margaret
WENDY MARGARET DARVILL
The Minister for Police and Corrective Services has approved a
reward of $250 000 be offered for information which leads to the
apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for
the disappearance and suspected murder of Wendy Margaret DARVILL.
In addition, an appropriate indemnity from prosecution will be
recommended for any accomplice, not being the person who actually
committed the crime, who first gives such information.
The allocation of
the $250,000 reward will be at the sole discretion of the
Commissioner of the Police Service.
Some time after 11.00am on Thursday 8 August 1996, Wendy Margaret
DARVILL, 35 years, went missing from her residence at 60 Tristania
Way, Mt Gravatt.
Her vehicle, a
silver, Toyota Camry Sedan, Reg No. 020-BXC, was located on Saturday
24 August 1996 in a Citybus Park and Ride adjacent to Bus Stop No.
34 in Logan Road, Holland Park.
Police are of the view that she has met with foul play.
Any member of the
public with information which could assist Police is asked to
- the Homicide Investigation Group, Brisbane, Phone (07) 3364
- any Police Station; or
- Crime Stoppers, Phone 1800 333 000.
|Office of the Commissioner of the Queensland Police
Wendy Margaret DARVILL Last seen:
August 1996 Year of Birth: 1960 Sex:
Female Eyes: Blue Hair: Blonde
Height: 157cm Build: Slim
Complexion: Circumstances: Wendy
was last seen on Thursday 8th August 1996 at her home at Mt Gravatt East. She
was last seen by her husband before she went to pay a fine at the Brisbane
Wendy Margaret Darvill went missing from her home in Tristania Way, Mt Gravatt, on August 8, 1996. She left home to go to the city
and was never seen again and she failed to pick up her children from school as
arranged. Her vehicle, a silver Toyota Camry sedan was located on August 24 in a
Citybus Park and Ride area in Logan Road, Holland Park. Wendy is described as
157cm, blue eyes, blonde collar length hair, fair complexion, slim build. She
has a small scar near her navel and was wearing an engagement and wedding ring
on her left hand, a Seiko watch and a small gold chain bracelet at the time of
her disappearance. A $250,000 reward is offered for information which leads to
the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for Mrs Darvill's disappearance and suspected murder.
Wendy's legacy -
Search continues for woman's remains
Police and SES volunteers will continue searching bushland on Brisbane's
southside today for the remains of a woman who has been missing for seven years.
Wendy Margaret Darvill disappeared from her home in Mt Gravatt East in 1996.
The 25-year-old mother was travelling to the city but never returned home.
Her vehicle was found days later in a nearby suburb.
Last week, the Seven Hills Bushland Reserve became of interest when a
44-year-old man was found wandering around the area in a dishevelled and
confused state - three days after the seven-year anniversary of Ms Darvill's
Police say the man was a focal point of their initial investigations.
About 15 SES volunteers, police and search dogs yesterday scoured the area and
forensic experts have confirmed that bone fragments discovered during the search
were not human.
Qld: Search to continue for missing woman.
BRISBANE, Aug 15 AAP - Police and SES volunteers will
continue to search for clues in Brisbane bushland today for a woman who has been
missing for seven years.
Police said new information
led to them renewing the search for Wendy Darvill, 25,who left her home in
Tristania Way, Mt Gravatt East, on August 8, 1996, and was never seen again.
Her case was reopened
after a 44-year-old man was found wandering in a confused manner around Seven
Hills recreation park in Brisbane's south on Monday night.
"He was dirty, unclean
and, as I said, confused," Detective Inspector Mick Condon told journalists.
SES volunteers scoured
bushland yesterday looking for a gravesite, and uncovered bone fragments that
may be human.
They were taken to the
John Tonks centre for forensic examination.
disappearance has baffled family and friends.
Her father, Barry Ffrench
(Ffrench), told Channel Ten he was sure his daughter was dead.
"I don't think you could
stay disappeared seven years," he said.
"I don't think she would
want to stay disappeared. I know she wouldn't.
"We're hoping something
happens to get us some release. There would not be a day when we don't think of
GARY Darvill stumbled out of the scrub.
He was dazed and confused and dishevelled.
It was 2003. Just over seven years had passed since his wife Wendy vanished
into thin air, and his bizarre appearance and behaviour around the anniversary
set off alarm bells at Brisbane’s police headquarters.
What was he doing wandering around the rocky bushland in the 52ha Seven Hills
reserve? Where, precisely, had he been?
Detectives had long been interested in Gary, and now he had their attention
WENDY Darvill was accustomed to being in the news.
As a Family Planning Queensland education officer and spokeswoman, she had
boldly faced the press to confront sensitive, even taboo, issues.
Wendy thought high school students should know about the morning after pill,
RU486. The fact was, Wendy argued, kids had unplanned sex and 40 per cent
weren’t using contraception the first time. Inevitably, there were unwanted
It was back when the conversation about the product was still heated and the
stance was controversial.
The Australian Family Association, for one, urged Darvill and Family Planning
to butt out. And the separate Queensland Right to Life group said the plan to
educate students about the RU486 was akin to supporting abortion, not
Vivacious and extroverted, Wendy didn’t shy away from addressing other
A book she co-wrote, What
Shall We Tell The Children, recommended, among other things, that before
children enter school, parents should tell them the correct names of genitalia,
what intercourse was and that sex was a normal part of a relationship and not
just to make babies.
Not everyone was thrilled with her progressive ideas.
Wendy and Gary had two young children. They all lived in an ordinary suburban
house on Tristania Way in Mt Gravatt East.
But Wendy was about to have to deal with a surprise of her own.
A letter arrived in the post.
There wasn’t much to differentiate it from the rest of the mail in the
letterbox, but when Wendy opened it she discovered it had life-changing news.
She had been fined for failing to submit tax returns relating to her
husband’s computer consulting business.
Rapidly sifting through the piles of paperwork at home, she came across more
startling information. Gary had been concealing the state of their finances from
He hadn’t lodged the tax returns and they had a debt of $120,000.
Wendy, at 35, had discovered her devoted husband had been keeping secrets.
Everything was at risk. Their home. Their future.
At first she must have been stunned, but she quickly sprang into action.
Her loving husband must have been having a breakdown, she reasoned.
Straight on the phone to the couple’s financial adviser, she heard a story of
financial doom and gloom.
There was no time to waste. The next day, she resolved, she would go to the
court to pay the fine and visit the tax office to arrange repayment of the
outstanding tax. She arranged a couple of days off work to get it sorted.
But she never made it.
That next day, August 8, 1996, Wendy vanished.
Gary reported her missing that evening. He’d gone for a walk to clear his
head and when he came home, his wife and her car were gone, he told police.
Her silver Toyota Camry was found abandoned at a Holland Park bus stop weeks
Gary was standing next to the car when police arrived.
Shockingly, after a cursory police search, he was allowed to drive the car
home without a scientific examination.
Police suspicions were rising, however, and two days later he was called in
for an interview with homicide detectives.
By then, the car had been thoroughly cleaned inside and out.
He denied any involvement in his wife’s disappearance.
His lawyer was one Terry O’Gorman, a vocal advocate who would lend him
support publicly in the years that followed.
O’Gorman cut short Gary’s only interview with police, crying foul at the
treatment of his client. The lawyer claimed detectives had delayed his access to
Gary, and advised him against further police interviews.
O’Gorman also went public to explain the car cleaning – he said police had
been asked before the spit and polish job.
Gary had another important ally. Wendy’s mum, Val French, didn’t suspect him
and said so publicly.
“As his mother-in-law, I’ve told police that is so impossible and
incomprehensible,” she said, in the weeks after her daughter went missing.
“If I could find a man with Gary’s qualities, I would get married again.”
Val thought there could be a link to her daughter’s outspoken lobbying about
the morning after pill and teenage sex education.
There had been anonymous, threatening phone calls to Wendy’s work before her
Val also thought it possible her daughter had a breakdown or loss of memory.
Wendy had recently been through minor surgery and was run down.
“She had a husband who absolutely adored her. It was a matter of envy that
two people could be so happy together,” said Val at the time.
“Gary is the most devoted and protective husband and father. I was in the
house all night (after Wendy disappeared). None of us slept. I saw for myself
how frantic and distraught he was, searching for her and then having to report
Wendy’s father, former part-time Criminal Justice Commissioner Barrie Ffench,
who was divorced from his wife, had been the one to hire O’Gorman to represent
Barrie would reveal that he had spoken to Gary by phone during his police
interview, and realised he was not in a good way.
“I asked Terry to go in there as Gary was emotionally exhausted and had been
in a room for six hours to eight hours with police and I don’t think he had been
told he was entitled to leave if he wanted to,” he said later.
THREE years after the disappearance, Detective Inspector Peter Scanlan, who
had worked the case since the start, called it “the perfect murder”.
He revealed shortcomings in the initial police investigation.
“The car was not examined because at that point Wendy was simply listed as
missing,” he said at the time.
“We do not have blood samples or a body but we believe she met with foul
Deputy State Coroner Wendy Clements examined the case, looking closely at
Wendy’s discovery of her husband’s secrets about their financial affairs.
“There was evidence that Mr Darvill was quiet and uncommunicative, but not
demonstrating any hostility or anger towards his wife,” she found after an
Ultimately, Clements couldn’t say when, how or where, but concluded Wendy had
met her demise.
“Unfortunately, the most likely outcome of all the information available is
that Wendy Darvill is dead,” Clements found.
There wasn’t enough evidence to put anyone on trial, and an offer of a
$50,000 reward yielded no more information.
IT was Wendy’s mum who suggested the bush walk.
When Gary emerged from the Seven Hills reserve in Brisbane’s east, he was
covered in dirt.
Police conducting routine patrols found him that Monday night. Background
checks quickly revealed his link to the baffling disappearance of his wife, and
a red flag was raised.
Had Gary revisited his wife’s bush grave?
Police launched a massive search of the reserve, looking for Wendy’s remains.
Cadaver dogs were brought in and State Emergency Service volunteers fanned out.
At a media conference, a detective referred to Gary as a “focal point” of the
police investigation into his wife’s disappearance.
A newspaper photographer found a bone, sparking hope of a breakthrough, but
it was soon confirmed that it belonged to an animal.
His lawyer, O’Gorman, said he wasn’t a well man – Gary had recently been
diagnosed with a neurological condition, had suffered a spasm at the base of his
brain and had been put on life support.
The bushland incident was the result of a relapse, O’Gorman said, and Gary
had been forced back to hospital.
His mum added that he hadn’t been the same since.
And still, Wendy’s mum Val French – a journalist who founded Older People
Speak Out - supported him.
He had fallen in the bush and lay unconscious for hours, she said.
She had never believed her son-in-law was involved in her disappearance, she
said at the time.
Wendy’s father had accepted his daughter was no longer alive, but wanted
He was certain she had not taken her own life.
“Wendy was in charge of her life, she was making decisions,” he said at the
“We want some closure; there is no doubt she is dead, but I would like to
know how and where.”
With the pressure mounting, Gary cracked.
In September 2003, three weeks after his strange bushland trek, he was found
dead in the family home.
At 44, he’d taken his own life.
A discovery had been made in the bushland tracks of the Seven Hills reserve –
an abandoned bag.
It contained a book of poetry with a handwritten note, later linked to Gary,
with the message: “I’m sorry for what I’ve done.”
Wendy Darvill’s disappearance has never been resolved. Anyone with
information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.