Andrea Frances WHARTON
(photo above right has been age progressed to 2006)
|Appendix scar and small scar over one eyebrow
On 19 February 1984 Andrea Wharton left her Gold Coast QLD residence to visit
friends at Byron Bay, NSW. She contacted family by phone and forwarded a
letter a couple of days later stating she was confused and was staying away
for a month longer. She failed to contact family or friends ever since.
Missing for 20 years
Renee Viellaris - Courier Mail
August 03, 2006
THIS is how experts believe Andrea Wharton would look
20 years after her disappearance.
For the family of the missing Gold Coast woman, the age progression image is
bittersweet and a reminder they may never know the truth.
Andrea's family believes she is dead but lives in hope she is still alive.
This week, the youngest child of three who has not been seen since she was 24,
would have celebrated her 46th birthday.
"In my heart I believe she is no longer with us and maybe at long last mum and
dad have some finality and they are all with each other," said sister Paula, who
did not want to reveal her surname.
The composite, specifically done for The Courier-Mail for Missing Persons Week,
required specialised skill and took hours to complete.
Forensic artist Senior Sergeant John Garner painstakingly created the image
after studying photographs of Andrea's family and their physical attributes.
Paula hopes the image may provide some closure into the whereabouts of her
"beautiful, vivacious, articulate" baby sister.
Andrea was last seen at her mother's Gold Coast house and some of the last words
exchanged with her family were emotionally charged.
After speaking with her mother, Andrea sent a letter from Sydney.
"For some unknown reason she accepted a shot of heroin on her 16th birthday. She
struggled with her drug addiction," Paula said.
"She wrote a letter apologising for all the grief and she was going away for
short period of time.
"The private detectives my parents hired believe Andrea was murdered."
Paula said her now deceased mother had begun planning a memorial service for
Andrea 14 years ago until an acquaintance found out her missing son of more than
a decade was alive.
From that moment her mother stopped planning and lived in hope until she died.
Sen-Sgt Garner, believed to be the only officer in Queensland skilled to perform
age progression images after studying in the US, said he expected more grieving
families to ask for composites of their own missing loved ones.
Although he stopped short of calling age progression images an exact science, he
said it was based on known facts and observation.
Sometimes the images were uncanny.
However, police could not predict if someone had put on or lost large amounts of
weight – which would dramatically affect their appearance.
John Kidman - SMH
August 3, 2008
DETECTIVES reinvestigating the 30-year-old murder of Sydney
Trudie Adams are to question disgraced
Insiders say the move is designed to determine the nature of
the jailed law enforcement boss's long-term friendship with John
Anderson, one of the key suspects in the slaying of the
18-year-old business college student.
Career criminal Anderson is also considering a deal with
prosecutors after the sudden postponement of his sentencing on
unrelated drug charges, The Sun-Herald has learned.
The developments follow the announcement of a $250,000
police reward for information leading to a conviction over Ms
Adams's murder and a series of rapes on Sydney's northern
Sources have also revealed the case is linked to a string
of unsolved killings, including the 1984-85 murders of
Andrea Wharton and Ante Yelavich,
and the 1991 execution of former Australian light-heavyweight
boxer and heroin dealer Roy Thurgar. Insiders have likened the
scenario to "an underworld mosaic", with the chances of solving
the long-cold homicides hinging on what Anderson reveals.
On June 2, ******* was accused of involvement in a $120
million global drug conspiracy and arrested by federal police.
Anderson, 68, who is understood to be suffering from
hepatitis C and dementia, was charged with trying to smuggle
27kilograms of cocaine into Australia chained to the hulls of
cargo ships, including the Tampa, in 2006. His son Michael, 30,
has been convicted over the same matter, with the potential
length of his jail sentence allegedly crucial to any deal in the
Adams case, sources say.
Ms Adams was last seen with a group of men outside Newport
Surf Life Saving Club on June 24, 1978.
Her body has not been found. After she disappeared, a
stream of young women came forward to report being kidnapped and
assaulted in the previous 10 months, by two armed men aged in
their 30s along Barrenjoey Road.
While not prepared to name Anderson or his accomplices,
homicide squad commander Detective Superintendent Geoff
Beresford said last week there was little doubt the attacks were
connected. "Based on that link, if you like, it makes us
confident that the same offenders are responsible for all those
offences," he said.
At the time, some detectives were so convinced more could
have been done to prosecute Anderson - also known as Neville
Tween - and his alleged co-offender that a complaint alleging a
lack of support in the matter was lodged with the Police
Integrity Commission. It is still being examined.
Inquiries by detectives at Manly this year into the murder of
Mr Yelavich identified Anderson as the last known person to see
him, outside the Manly Pacific Hotel on September 2, 1985.
Routine inquiries into Anderson's background then found
*******'s son staying in the home of Anderson's
estranged wife Susan.
There is no suggestion ******* was aware of Anderson's
activities. It was also established ******* had
been a close friend of Anderson for at least 30 years and a
regular visitor to his Central Coast home.
Mr Yelavich's girlfriend, Ms Wharton, was last heard from
on February 19, 1984, when she rang her mother to say she was
staying with friends at Byron Bay.
Police sources say she became embroiled in a fatal dispute
with an underworld associate of Anderson over an alleged drug
rip-off and that, in the weeks before she vanished, she was
warned off by hitman Christopher Dale Flannery. Detectives
believe Mr Yelavich was killed after subsequently threatening
Inquiries have also revealed that the other man suspected
of Ms Adams's murder is a person of renewed interest in the
slaying of Thurgar, who was shot dead outside his wife's
laundromat in Alison Road, Randwick, in May 1991.
ANDREA Wharton was just 23 years old when she vanished
without a trace.
The Gold Coast woman had told her family she was going to visit
friends in Byron Bay and was never seen or heard from again.
But police believe her frequent use of drugs and regular visits
to Kings Cross were proof she fell victim to foul play in the
1980s underbelly of Sydney.
Andrea was just 16 when she had her first taste of heroin and
for the next eight years the drug held her captive, controlling
her life and ruining relationships.
Then in February 1984 the pretty blonde disappeared and one year
later so did her boyfriend, Ante Yelavich.
There is believed to be a strong link between the disappearance
of Andrea and Yelavich, who was also involved in drugs.
Until recently it had been thought Andrea disappeared from Byron
Bay, the last reported location she was seen alive.
But it is now thought Sydney is probably where she vanished, a
city she frequented to visit Yelavich.
Andrea met Yelavich in 1981. He was a few years older and, like
her, was a heroin addict. He was also a criminal and known drug
The pair met on the Gold Coast and continued their relationship
when Yelavich was extradited to NSW in September 1983 to serve a
prison term in Long Bay Gaol.
NSW Detective Chief Inspector John Lehmann said at the time of
her disappearance Andrea was under Queensland Probation and
Parole supervision for drug-related offences.
“There is some information to suggest Ms Wharton’s involvement
with heroin is a key factor in her suspected murder,’’ he said
“There is information that persons Ms Wharton had associated
with during her visits to Sydney were also known to Mr Yelavich.
“Investigators cannot rule out a possible link in the
disappearance of Ms Wharton and Mr Yelavich, even though their
respective disappearance occurred 19 months apart.’’
On February 19, 1984 Andrea stormed out of her parents’ Coast
home after an argument.
She told her now-deceased mother she was travelling to Byron Bay
with a friend and several days later called home to say she was
not ready to return.
On February 29 the Wharton family received a letter from Andrea
indicating she was still not ready to return. The letter was
postmarked Darlinghurst, NSW.
New information obtained by police indicates Andrea had no
intention of travelling to Byron Bay and flew straight to Sydney
from Coolangatta to see Yelavich.
“There is suggestion that Ms Wharton was in contact with Mr
Yelavich while she was in Sydney and that she was frequenting
the Kings Cross area,’’ Det Lenmann told the Bulletin in 2011.
“It is believed that Ms Wharton was still using heroin at this
There have been no sightings or any other information regarding
Andrea’s whereabouts following the letter she wrote to her
According to one of her close friends, Andrea travelled to
Sydney, not Byron Bay, because she knew where a “secret stash’’
of heroin was hidden and it is believed she planned to steal the
A 2007 coronial report into Andrea’s disappearance was unable to
determine whether she was alive or dead.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on
1800 333 000.
What none of the boys in that wonderful black and white photograph could have
known was that Neville Tiffen (as he was known then) already had a police
His offending started four years earlier, when he was charged with break, enter
and steal. At the ripe old age of nine, the crime landed him in Kalgoorlie
Children’s Court in Western Australia.
His criminal record is among thousands of pages of never-before-released NSW
Police documents obtained by the Unravel True Crime team during their
investigation into the 1978 disappearance of northern beaches teenager Trudie
Tiffen was cautioned on each charge and ordered to pay restitution of 21
shillings and sixpence.
But while young Neville might have started out pinching pocket money, by the
time his family arrived in Leeton, he was on the cusp of a life in crime that
would involve more than 100 charges and a grand assortment of illegal
activities. His career would span prime ministerships from Ben Chifley to John
Howard, making him one of Australia’s most prolific, dangerous and vicious
The list is almost endless: Break and enter, assaulting a police officer,
possession of firearms and explosives, escaping jail, drugs charges, safe
breaking, and, most revealing for this story, a shocking sexual assault on a
There is also bribery and fraud, plus some more unusual charges like possessing
wigs and false beards.
The latter might sound fairly innocuous but, as you’ll see, it will provide a
compelling piece of a still unsolved mystery.
Some of the charges he beat but, over the decades, he was in and out of jail in
NSW, South Australia and New Zealand. And there were times he seemed to
disappear off the police radar.
Then, in 2006, it all came to a crashing end. He was convicted of conspiring to
import 27 kilograms of cocaine secured to the hulls of ships, one of which was
the infamous (for other reasons) MV Tampa.
Horrific crimes. At least one of them was a murder, that of 18-year-old Trudie
Adams, last seen hitchhiking on Barrenjoey Road, in Newport on Sydney’s northern
beaches in late June 1978.
He was most probably also involved in the murder of a fellow drug dealer, Tony
Yelavich, who disappeared after arranging to meet Tween near the beachfront in
Manly in 1985, apparently to settle a drug debt.
Then there was a third killing, that of Yelavich’s girlfriend,
also involved in drugs.
Three people, vanished. None of their bodies ever found.
What we do know is that just days after the high-profile 1978 disappearance of
Trudie Adams, a bright, vivacious and strong-willed young woman, the NSW police
dropped a bombshell.
Detectives revealed that young women had been coming forward to report sexual
assaults they had previously been too scared to talk about.
The women were coming forward in the hope that what had happened to them might
shed some light on what had happened to Trudie.
They told police they had been picked up while hitchhiking or abducted off the
street at gunpoint by two men.
Their eyes had been covered with tape, they had been handcuffed and taken into
the bush and viciously raped. Two of the victims were just 14 years old.
Detectives soon found that at least 14 girls and young women had been sexually
assaulted between 1971 and 1978 while hitchhiking, just as Trudie Adams had
been, along Barrenjoey Road or areas nearby.
Police suspected Neville Tween could be responsible for these attacks right from
the beginning, but they decided they needed more evidence before they could
Years later, when NSW cold case officers tried to re-investigate, many of the
women remained traumatised by the assaults.
To this day, those cases are unsolved. And serious questions remain about why
the sexual assaults were not more vigorously pursued by NSW Police.
Unravel has discovered that, incredibly, Tween was never asked a single question
about those matters until 2009, 30 years after some women had picked out his
photo and said: ‘It was him.’
It was the same with the Trudie Adams case. Not one question asked, despite him
being a prime suspect.
What we do know is that after Trudie’s disappearance, Tween left the northern
beaches and moved to the NSW Central Coast. That’s when the serial sexual
For many years, according to his criminal record, Tween escaped any charges or
convictions. This changed in the early-to-mid-nineties when he came to the
attention of the then-National Crime Authority (NCA), which investigated serious
Neville Tween was anything but stupid — like a good footballer, he could read
the play. So he became an informant, providing information to an up-and-coming
Australian Federal Police officer, Mark Standen, who was then working at the
Standen rose to be one of the most powerful law enforcement officials in the
country until 2008, when he had a spectacular and headline-grabbing fall from
grace. He had jumped the fence and become a drug importer, charged with
conspiring to import millions of dollars worth of pseudoephedrine, the precursor
to the drug ice.
After he went to jail, it emerged that as far back as the late nineties
colleagues had questioned his ‘cowboy’ methods and his gambling habits. The
naysayers, though, were drowned out by Standen’s undeniable success in locking
up serious crooks and confiscating their assets — luxury houses, cars, boats and
millions in cash.
So, here’s the rub…
The connection between Mark Standen and Neville Tween leads to questions that
no-one in authority seems to want to ask. It’s the rock that no-one wants to
lift up and look under.
Did Standen protect Tween — the suspected murderer and rapist — in order to gain
convictions on other major criminals?
Did their relationship — which Unravel can now confirm became extremely close —
impact on investigations into the northern beaches rapes or the murders?
Mark Standen has denied his relationship with Tween was improper in any way.
But these are questions worth asking because, to this day, there has been no
justice for the 14 young women who police believe were viciously attacked by
Tween and one or two of his associates.
Nor has there been any justice for 18-year-old Trudie Adams, her family and her
close-knit circle of friends.
The crucial question is: Why?
Who was Trudie Adams?
The world was at her feet. A bright student at Barrenjoey High School — just
metres from the sparkling surf — she finished her studies in the top 25 per cent
of students in NSW. University beckoned, but it seems Trudie Adams had other
ideas. She was good at just about everything she turned her hand to. Ballet.
Drawing. But perhaps her greatest talent was making — and keeping — friends,
both male and female.
She was at the centre of a group of about 12 or so young women — “the glue”, one
of them later said, that helped keep them together. You can see her at the front
of the group in many photos — always with a smile.
She enjoyed life on Sydney’s seemingly idyllic northern beaches — the sand, the
surf, the parties at the homes of friends, the dances at the Newport Surf Club,
drinks at the Newport Arms Hotel.
In the seventies, most people who grew up there didn’t move very far from where
they were born. Why would they? It was more like a series of villages, where
people knew each other from school, the beach or via friends of friends. It
wasn’t called “the insular peninsula” for nothing — and the locals liked it that
Men were known to trawl the relatively isolated beaches in their cars on the
lookout for vulnerable young women hitchhiking to a dance or a party or to a
friend’s house. Girls hitchhiking home, sometimes late at night, or just getting
off a bus.
The NSW Police running sheets from 1978-79, obtained by Unravel, make for
fascinating and confronting reading.
They record how one alert bus driver reported to police that every Friday as he
drove from Wynyard in Sydney’s CBD to Palm Beach, he noticed a VW station wagon
following him around Collaroy.
The bus driver told an officer “this car just follows the bus and speaks to
female persons that alight.” Alerted to the number plate of the VW, police found
the driver to be a known sex offender with serious form for indecent exposure
and obscene behaviour dating back to 1965.
Another woman reported to police it was not unusual to encounter, in more
isolated areas of the beaches, men masturbating in front of them. Yet another
described being picked up along Barrenjoey Road, having to refuse the driver’s
request for sex, then witness him start to masturbate. He let her out at Whale
But it appears these disturbingly common things were not talked about, or, if
they were, they remained the peninsula’s dark secret. As for hitchhiking, well,
in those days, as Trudie’s friend Leanne Weir said: “Everybody did it.”
It was just part of the lifestyle. And really, there wasn’t much choice because
not many teens had cars and public transport. Particularly at night, buses in
the area were virtually non-existent.
For the predators, it made for an ideal hunting ground.
Some came from outside the northern beaches — “Westies” — resented by the locals
for even being there, even if just for an innocent surf. But others were locals
who knew the area well, and not just the beaches and the roads winding up and
around the headlands.
They also knew the vast tract of dense bushland known as Ku-ring-gai Chase
National Park, much of its 150 square kilometres only accessible via fire trails
and tracks, some big enough for vehicles to make their way well into the park
and out of sight.
If you didn’t know the park it was easy to get lost. If you did, it was easy to
access for almost anything, from an innocent tryst with a girlfriend in the back
of a car, to a party with friends in a small clearing, sharing drinks and a few
The good thing was the privacy. There was nobody around. No nosey coppers
shining torches into the backseat, no parents to stickybeak. You could make as
much noise as you liked, there was no-one to complain.
Neville Tween, aka John Anderson, would have known that better than most because
in the 1970s he was a local, living at Terrey Hills, just a stone’s throw from
the national park.
A bloke could get there in a few minutes by car. An agile, athletic bloke,
running hard, could be there not long after.
If the dark side of this Home and Away-like idyll was hidden for years, it came
bursting out into the open in 1978 when Trudie Adams left a dance at the Newport
Surf Club. Just after midnight on Sunday, June 25, she was seen walking to
Barrenjoey Road to hitchhike the few kilometres to her home in Central Road,
Her boyfriend, Steve Norris, later told police he saw a 1970s fawn or beige
Holden panel van pull up near the corner of Barrenjoey Road and Neptune Road
where she was standing. The van drove off. Trudie was gone.
Steve Norris was an immediate suspect in her disappearance.
After all, he and Trudie were in the process of breaking up — he wanted to go
“steady” whereas she didn’t want to be tied down.
They’d had an argument the week before. And he was the last person to see her
alive. Plus it’s always the husband or boyfriend “whodunnit” isn’t it?
Her mother, Connie, reported her daughter missing about 9:00pm on the Sunday
By the Monday night, NSW Police had sent out a radio message, based on
information given to them by Connie, stating Trudie was last seen getting into a
The running sheets record the brief message which ends: “Fears for safety.”
The next day, another message went out, based on what Steve Norris had seen,
stating she was spotted getting into the Holden panel van.
How this significant difference in the make, model, and colour of the car came
about remains a mystery.
Steve Norris maintained then, and to this day, he has no idea how Connie came up
with the green Kombi. Perhaps just plain confusion.
We’ll never know because Connie Adams died 11 years later, never knowing what
happened to her little girl
At the very beginning, to police, she was just a missing person, a teenager who
might have run off to a friend’s house for whatever reason. In fact the running
sheets initially suggest she might have “gone to a friend’s place in
The theory was quickly dismissed — it was completely out of character for her to
have run away. Searches of local beaches by police started on the morning of
June 29. At the same time, four Homicide Squad detectives were called in.
The landscape of the investigation changed dramatically later that afternoon. An
anonymous man phoned Connie Adams at home and said: “The body is half way up
Mona Vale Road, it was an accident.” Not long after, a similar call was made to
Mona Vale police station.
Whether it was genuine, or a hoax designed to throw police off the scent, nobody
really knows. But a detective who worked on the original investigation said
police had little choice other than to take it seriously.
“It could have been made by the offender to throw us off the scent, or it could
have been someone who had genuine pangs of guilt or remorse, and wanted us to
find the body. So we took that as a lead.”
The call led to a huge search by NSW Police of bushland on both sides off Mona
Vale Road, which runs from the beachside suburb of Mona Vale, inland towards St
Hundreds of people — police, police cadets, bushwalkers, volunteers, friends and
family — were involved. Charles Adams, Trudie’s dad, searched alongside Steve
Norris. It ranged over 15 days through late June, July and August.
There was no trace of Trudie or any of her clothes or belongings. Divers were
sent down an old coal mine. Nothing. Waterways were searched. Also nothing.
While all this was happening, Steve Norris was interviewed at length more than
“I would have been pulled in for about four or five interviews and sometimes
(at) two o’clock in the morning they would ring me up and say can you come in,
we need another statement,” he tells Unravel, recalling the painful memory of
being a suspect in his girlfriend’s likely murder.
Each statement was consistent. Soon the Homicide detectives turned their
attention to another suspect, and with good reason.
A few days after Trudie disappeared, a teenage girl turned up at Mona Vale
police station with a terrifying story.
She told police that, three months earlier, two men in a car picked her up while
she’d been hitchhiking on Barrenjoey Road.
Once she got in the car, they threatened her with a pistol, handcuffed her and
taped her mouth and eyes.
The men took the girl to bushland, to a spot where she could hear overhead
They raped her.
Afterwards, having gone through her handbag to find her address, they dropped
her home, warning that if she told anyone they would come back for her.
Fearing for her life, the teenage girl kept quiet.
But when she saw the Trudie Adams media appeal, she thought maybe her
information could help.
A few days later, another woman came forward to police with a startlingly
similar story … then another … and another.
With dawning horror, police realised that there had been a series of brutal
rapes on the northern beaches between 1971 and 1978.
The two men sometimes pretended to be police officers, handcuffing the victims,
threatening them with a handgun and taping their eyes.
The men sometimes wore a disguise, like a wig, fake beard, or dark glasses.
It seemed they had a specific spot, in bushland near the northern beaches, where
they would take the victims to rape them. Sometimes, they took Polaroid
photographs. They might also talk to the victims, offering them money, a beer,
or a joint.
The attacks had become more frequent in the lead-up to Trudie’s disappearance in
June. There was one in January ’78. Another in February. One in March. Then
there were three in April.
At least 14 women had been attacked, probably more. And possibly men as well.
Some told their families and police but most didn’t, until Trudie disappeared.
The reason they were coming forward now was that, while they had been sexually
assaulted and scared beyond belief, at least they had escaped. Trudie had not.
They wanted to help find her killer.
One of the first women to be attacked, in the early seventies, reported her rape
to Manly police the very night it happened.
Tragically, police on the front desk of the station told her to go home, saying
that because her clothes weren’t ripped, nothing bad could have happened to her.
The police report, obtained by Unravel, calls her complaint “doubtful” … twice.
If this first attack had been treated differently, could the rest have been
prevented? Would Trudie still be here today?
Police set about identifying a suspect. They had a good starting point.
In the weeks after Trudie’s disappearance in June 1978, some women had
identified Tween and an associate, Ray Johnson, to police.
As Unravel has discovered, four months later, Tween and Johnson were arrested in
Sydney in possession of loaded handguns, wigs and false beards. It should have
been a crucial clue, but it appears officers investigating Trudie and the rapes
were not told this vital information.
In those pre-computer days, those arresting Tween on these charges simply didn’t
know the men they had in custody were suspects for far more violent crimes.
Neville Tween not only had a lengthy criminal history, he lived in Terrey Hills,
just a few kilometres from the bushland where the attacks had taken place. Also
of interest was his car — he drove a light-coloured Holden panel van, similar to
the one identified by Steve Norris.
And, apart from all his other offences, Tween had form.
In 1975, he and another associate, Gary Batt, committed a terrifying sexual
assault on a 19-year-old man who had ripped Tween off in a minor drug deal.
The revenge plot involved Tween arranging to meet him in the national park at
night, and it quickly spiralled into a nightmare scenario.
The young man ended up telling police about Neville Tween and what had happened
in the bush.
As local police investigated, they found parts of a safe — obviously from a
robbery — at the site of the attack.
Detectives from a NSW Police squad specialising in safe-breaking were called in,
one of them a tough investigator named Bob Inkster.
Interviewed earlier this year for Unravel, the former detective said Tween was a
name that featured in unofficial criminal rankings as “right up there amongst
“Neville Tween was a very, very active and violent criminal. He had a
disposition towards the most serious of crime. I could only really
describe him as an extremely evil man.”
Armed with a sledgehammer and shotguns, Mr Inkster and fellow detectives burst
into Tween’s Terrey Hills home at dawn.
Later, Tween went to jail for six months for the vicious assault on the
19-year-old. More than 40 years later, the leniency of the sentence still
disgusts Mr Inkster.
Tween and his associate didn’t have much choice but to plead guilty. Police had
found the Polaroids in his home.
Even from a very young age, Neville liked to be close to his trophies.
Making of a Monster
It’s hard to know how to describe such a lengthy and varied criminal history —
more than 100 charges, spanning 57 years. For a fellow criminal, it might be
“impressive”. For a police officer, “extraordinary”. But, for the general
public, there are any number of words. “Appalling” most readily springs to mind.
And remember, these are just the offences Neville Brian Tween (born 29/6/1940)
was actually charged with. The big unknown is: How many more did he get away
We now know him as Tween, but there were many aliases and age changes along the
way: Neville Brian Burn, Neville Brian Fraser, Neville Brian Tiffen, John
Andrews (born 29/6/1941), Neville Brian Anderson (born 29/6/1936) and John David
He was a man of many names and many crimes which escalate in seriousness from
his childhood break, enter and steal in Kalgoorlie to the one that finally put
him away for good — conspiracy to import cocaine in 2006.
His original family history and the reasons for him starting a life of crime are
lost to time, or at least are not in any of the thousands of pages of police
documents obtained by Unravel.
At some stage he left the West and moved to Leeton. The football photo at the
beginning of this story is from 1953. He appears in Leeton Petty Sessions for
break, enter and steal in May 1954, and again in 1955 at which point the
patience of the law runs out and he is sent to an institution.
That institution was almost certainly Mt Penang, a boys’ home near Gosford on
the NSW central coast, dubbed by one former inmate as “the monster factory”.
It was there he met Gary Batt, who would later become an accomplice in the
sexual assault of the young drug dealer.
We know this because, in 2008, after Tween’s trial on the cocaine charges, Batt
struck up email communication with Fairfax journalist John Kidman.
“I was mixed up with John Anderson (Tween) over many years,” he told Kidman.
“I first met him in 1956. That was at Mt Penang, Gosford. He was a hard, tough
“His name was then Neville Brian Tween but we used to call him ‘Tubby.’”
Mt Penang, like many boys’ homes of its era, is now notorious.
Like Tween, its alumni went on to bigger, but usually not better, things.
Another man, Mark Merriman, who also went to Mt Penang though not at the same
time as Tween, has horrific memories of the place.
Merriman was first institutionalised, he says, at the age of eight.
“Mate, I was beaten like a rabid dog,” he tells Unravel.
“You know what I mean, I was beaten, punched, knocked out.”
And it’s clear, according to Merriman, what this kind of treatment produces.
“Look, they’re monster factories … Because that’s all they turn you into
is … a monster.
“If you’re going to be treated like an animal, how are you going to come out?”
Mick Kennedy is a former NSW detective and now academic at the University of
Western Sydney. Working out of Bankstown in Sydney’s south-west in the 1980s, he
investigated Neville Tween’s drug dealing.
Kennedy has no sympathy for Tween but has strong views about what places like Mt
Penang did to the boys who grew up there. It left some of them beyond
“We shouldn’t be surprised that they were just absolutely psychopaths, who had
no conscience, would’ve done anything, and that they enjoyed it.”
Whatever Mt Penang did to Tween, it appears he had no fear of, and no respect
for, the police and the law and the normal rules of society.
Another former school friend, Brian McVicar, remembers bumping into Tween in
Sydney years later.
It was around 1971. By then, McVicar was a detective although Tween didn’t know
Seeing him in the street, McVicar greeted him: “G’day Neville, how are you?”
Tween, he says, didn’t blink.
“My name’s not Neville,” he said.
“Come on, Neville,” responded McVicar, “we went to school together.”
“You’ve got the wrong person,” the crim shot back … then walked off.
The Unholy Relationship
A criminal running his own race in Sydney’s underbelly is one thing. But a
criminal in league with one of the most powerful law enforcement officers in the
state is a far more disturbing proposition.
We don’t know exactly when Mark Standen met Neville Tween.
Intriguingly, Standen’s name pops up in the 700 pages of NSW Police running
sheets from 1978-79 which recorded the day-by-day events of the unfolding
At that stage, Standen was in the Narcotics Bureau and just starting his career.
A running sheet from the Trudie Adams investigation, dated May 16, 1979, says: Detective
Mark Standen has been spoken to on a number of occasions at his office at the
This was a time when it was common for local surfers to bring back ‘buddha
sticks’ of marijuana in surfboards from overseas trips. The afternoon tabloid
newspapers were full of stories about young women being recruited as drug mules.
And there was talk on the northern beaches that Trudie’s upcoming holiday to
Bali was maybe not as innocent as it seemed.
But the documents show Standen poured cold water on the drug rumours, with an
early investigator noting, He
has informed me that he can find no association between the missing girl Adams
and any of the Narcotic Bureau’s inquiries.
Mark Standen is currently serving out his 22-year sentence.
In August this year, Unravel wrote to him with a series of questions about Tween
and Trudie Adams.
Within a few weeks, Standen responded.
He confirmed his involvement in the case but said it was limited to
investigating whether Trudie might be involved in the drug trade.
Standen told Unravel that in 1979 he had never heard of Neville Tween, and
there’s no evidence to suggest otherwise.
It seems Standen’s cameo appearance in the Trudie Adams story was a tantalising
Some 13 years later, though, it was a very different story. Standen would
re-appear on the stage, this time it would be more than a fleeting role.
Indeed, it was the beginning, according to several former NSW detectives,
including Mick Kennedy, of what they called “the unholy relationship”.
In correspondence with Unravel, Standen says Tween first came onto his radar
around 1991, when it is believed Tween’s drug dealing came to the attention of
the National Crime Authority.
The two men and their families had moved to the NSW Central Coast. By then,
Tween was known as John Anderson. He was just over 50, re-married with kids and
Mark Standen told Unravel that when Anderson came to the notice of the NCA he
took it upon himself to introduce himself to the career criminal.
“I formed the view that he was a retired old school criminal looking for a quiet
life on the coast,” Standen writes.
He insists socialising was innocent and hard to avoid. He and Tween were living
close together in a small community, just a kilometre apart.
“Between our respective homes there was a dog-friendly reserve where my kids and
I exercised our German shepherd. The Andersons used the same reserve to exercise
“My kids and I also frequented the public tennis court that was only 80-100
metres from Anderson’s home. Socialisation was unavoidable.”
But these answers raise many more questions … questions first raised by a NSW
detective, Jayson McLeod.
In 2008, McLeod was given the cold case of missing drug dealer Ante (Tony)
Yelavich, last seen heading to a meeting with Tween in Manly in 1985.
Seeing that Tween had also been a suspect in the disappearance of Trudie Adams
and the multiple rapes, he sought to link the cases, and to use the resources of
the powerful NSW Crime Commission, which could hold secret hearings and compel
witnesses to answer questions.
He turned to Mark Standen, not knowing that the Crime Commission’s top
investigator knew Neville Tween very well indeed.
“I provided Mark Standen with my investigation plan, as to how I was intending
to gather evidence against Tween,” he told Unravel.
According to McLeod, who is now out of the police, Standen initially seemed
interested. But as the weeks passed, he seemed to be delaying, putting off any
Furthermore, McLeod says Standen told him Tween, who by then had been Standen’s
informant for a number of years, had “softened up” in his old age, implying he
was no longer a serious criminal.
It was during this process in 2008, that McLeod claims to have discovered that
Standen’s son, Matthew, had applied to join the NSW Police Force.
According to Jayson, a reference provided on his application was none other than
Neville Tween, at that time known as John Anderson.
Jayson McLeod does not believe that Matthew Standen knew Neville Tween had a
For the next few weeks, McLeod began to feel like he was living in an alternate
His superiors didn’t seem to be interested. He couldn’t figure out why, but
knowing about Tween’s violent history, he felt isolated and fearful not just for
his career, but for his safety.
After all, he’d discovered that a major criminal had a close relationship with
one of the most senior law enforcement officers in the country.
But unknown to Jason McLeod, the Australian Federal Police were also closing in
on Mark Standen.
Over the years, there has been speculation about the exact nature of the
relationship between Mark Standen and Neville Tween but, until now, none of it
has been confirmed.
Through interviews, property searches and communication with Standen himself,
Unravel has discovered that their relationship through this period developed
into something far beyond that of a police officer running an informant.
And now, Unravel had the chance to get Mark Standen’s response.
On the issue of Matthew Standen’s 2008 application to join the NSW Police,
Jayson McLeod is adamant the recruitment officer who received the application
read it to him “verbatim” over the phone.
But both Mark and Matthew Standen deny Matthew ever used Anderson/Tween as a
reference, declaring the story completely untrue.
There is another curious piece of the puzzle McLeod uncovered during his
He says the job application also revealed the two families had shared an address
— a house in Lakin St, Bateau Bay.
Standen confirmed this to Unravel, explaining that Tween and his wife suggested
the Standens move in to the house directly after they themselves had moved out.
It turns out it was all about the dogs. The Tweens knew the Standens needed a
property with a high fence to contain their German shepherd.
Standen insists the two families never lived under the same roof at the same
Nevertheless, taken all together, it indicates an unusually close relationship
between a copper and his informant.
According to former detective and academic Mick Kennedy, it’s hard to fathom
what Standen was thinking when crossing this line. Kennedy’s response is blunt.
“How can he possibly be a family friend? How the f*** could you even let him in
your house knowing what he’s done?
“And that would have been the average copper’s response to Mark Standen trying
to explain why he’s friendly with Neville Tween.”
But there’s more.
One of Mark Standen’s brothers also had a close association with Neville
Australia Security and Investments Commission records reveal that in 1993, Glenn
Standen was a director of a company called JAGS Imports.
The other directors included John Anderson (Tween) and his wife, Susan Anderson.
The ASIC records have not previously been made public.
Mark Standen confirmed his brother met the Tweens when doing some landscaping
work for them. They went into business together, a lingerie home party business.
Standen insists his family knew nothing of John Anderson/Neville Tween’s
criminal background and that there was nothing improper about any of this.
He says his brother withdrew from any business relationship after Tween was
charged in 1994 with cultivating and possessing cannabis and possessing a
We know that Mark Standen turned up at Wyong local court on the Central Coast to
see his man appear. Unravel has also been told that, around this time, Anderson
was registered as an informant.
According to his criminal history, the ‘retired’ old villain was sentenced to 18
months’ jail on the drug charges. The firearms charge was dropped by the
Director of Public Prosecutions.
Remarkably, it was the last time Tween was charged with any major offence until
the cocaine shipment 12 years later.
Mark Standen told Unravel that there was nothing corrupt about his relationship
with Tween and that the allegation that he was protecting Tween is “uninformed,
demonstrably untrue, mischievous and offensive.”
There are others who see it differently and wonder why the authorities never
fully investigated what was a very close bond between a powerful law enforcement
officer and one of Australia’s most prolific criminals.
Facing the Music
By the time Mark Standen was arrested and charged in June, 2008, Tween had still
never been interviewed about the 14 sexual assaults from the 1970s, or about
Trudie Adams. It seemed like he never would be.
But then, in 2008 a NSW cold-case detective named Gavin McKean took over
Trudie’s case. He would go on to spend the next two years re-investigating in
preparation for a coronial inquest in 2011.
Along with his partner, Nicole Jones, McKean re-interviewed some of the women
And he also did something no-one else had ever done before. He finally
interviewed Neville Tween.
McKean has now left the police to become a defence lawyer, but it’s clear that
the unsolved case still plays on his mind.
He believes there was enough evidence back in 1978-79 to pursue Neville Tween
far more vigorously over the rapes.
There’s little doubt in Gavin McKean’s mind that Neville Tween was responsible
for the death of Trudie Adams.
While recognising the difficulties, he points to the IDs of several of the women
provided, and the similarities between the attacks on the women and on the
19-year-old man, the one Tween was eventually convicted over.
“I think [that], coupled with the fact that he lived nearby and he owned cars
that were similar to the victims’ descriptions, it probably could have been
enough for a prima facie case.”
McKean set about trying to mount a fresh case, contacting the women who were
He found many of them, more than 30 years later, were still deeply traumatised.
And he suspects there are more victims out there.
“Because they were so badly threatened and so badly terrorised, it would be
understandable that they never came forward,” he said.
“Particularly given that this character, Neville Brian Tween, told them that he
was a police officer. So the women were fearful, very fearful.”
Gavin McKean arranged to interview Neville Tween, who was by then in jail on the
For the first time, Tween was going to be asked by police if he had anything to
do with the rapes on the northern beaches. And Trudie Adams.
“We wanted to just go there and see if he was willing to hear the allegations,
and willing to respond,” McKean told Unravel.
When McKean turned up at Silverwater Jail Tween at first refused to talk to him.
It took all the charms of his female partner to convince the old crook to open
“I think he was a person that didn’t like people that he was intimidated
by … he was a bit of a coward.”
“He was definitely more interested in trying to play games with her being a
female. I think he was interested in that. It was part of his mental state, I
Tween denied any involvement in the rapes or Trudie’s disappearance.
But there were a few interesting things that happened during this interview.
Tween was asked if he knew anything about “Ku-ring-gai jobs” — a reference to
the attacks in the park.
But he didn’t ask what a “Ku-ring-gai job” was, he simply denied involvement.
And, when he was asked about the rapes, he knew — before it was put to him —
there was more than one perpetrator.
But, sadly, none of these things proved his guilt.
Right at the very end of the interview, though, after the tape was turned off
and McKean and Jones turned to leave, there was another telling moment.
“I put to him … we believed it was mostly likely a mishap or an accidental death
that Trudie suffered,” McKean said.
“I wanted to compromise with him and say, ‘if you’ve done this, we understand
that it was most likely an accident, not a premeditated malicious murder’.”
According to the detective, Tween’s entire demeanour changed when he heard the
“I felt that there was a level of acceptance to that hypothesis, although not
verbalised to that extent.
“I felt, at some level, an acknowledgement that he knew that had happened. I
felt it, without him actually saying it.”
Obviously, a facial expression isn’t grounds to charge a man.
“I felt like it was pretty close.
“But it wasn’t close enough, unfortunately.”
Three years later, the coronial inquest into the death of Trudie Adams didn’t
manage to get much closer.
Neville Tween gave close to five hours of testimony to the inquest. It was the
last time he was questioned about Trudie. He died in jail in 2013.
Trudie’s dad, Charles, often known as ‘Edge’ because of his middle name
Edgecombe, attended, as did her brother John and ex-boyfriend Steve Norris.
A group of her friends were also present to hear evidence, hoping that something
new would be found, something that might help solve the disappearance of Trudie
— “the glue” that had bound them then, and for all these years.
The counsel assisting the coroner, Peter Hamill, SC, now a NSW Supreme Court
judge, remembers Tween as “an evil old man” bereft of empathy for Trudie’s
family, or anyone else.
“To have someone come along and treat the process with a kind of contempt … that
must be pretty devastating for a dad who doesn’t know what happened to a little
girl decades earlier,” he said.
Trudie’s friend Leanne Weir remembers Neville Tween death-staring them all. They
“We leant forward and gave it back to him, because we knew that he was evil.
“He had blue eyes … balding. Had a comb-over. And he was scary. In a word.
Scary. Scary looking. And I think he knew it … and he actually played on that,”
Gary Batt, convicted along with Tween of the 1975 assault on the young man, also
gave evidence, which was a surprise to many police who thought he was dead.
In fact, after serving his time, Batt dropped out of sight completely, with good
The two men had a falling out and Tween, he said, had told him to “disappear or
I’ll make you disappear.” Tween had managed to scare him straight.
In the witness box, Tween displayed his contempt for the court and Trudie’s
family and friends, pretending to not understand, obfuscating, playing dumb.
If he was involved, why hadn’t the police questioned him back in the seventies?
It wasn’t a bad question, given this was a man who had started his career in
crime at the age of nine and had progressed to safe breaking, assault and
cocaine importation. A man convicted of sexual assault. A man who was the prime
suspect in the murders of Trudie Adams and Tony Yelavich, and at least 14
Leaving court, Tween was snapped by a photographer in the back of a paddy wagon.
Justice Peter Hamill knows the photo well — he’s kept a scrapbook which
documents the entire coronial inquest into Trudie’s death.
Head down, hair receding, handcuffed, heading back to jail.
It was a long, long way from Leeton.
The second episode of the three-part investigative documentary series,Barrenjoey
Road, airs tonight at 8:30pm on ABC TV and iView.
To follow Unravel’s ongoing podcast investigation into the disappearance of
Trudie Adams, listen to Unravel
Season 2 online, on the ABC Listen app or wherever you get your podcasts.
Reporters: Neil Mercer & Ruby Jones
Researchers: Ellen Leabeater & Cheyne Andersen
Supervising Editor: Dewi Cooke
Unravel Digital Editor: Gina McKeon
Digital producer: Ange McCormack
Video & Photography: Marc Radomski (Wildbear Entertainment)
Archival Photos: Steve Otten & Anita Starkey
Illustrations: Simon Rankin
Unravel Executive Producer: Ian Walker
Thanks: Alan Erson (Wildbear Entertainment), Leo Faber, Tim Leslie,