Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Edward John GIBBARD

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Edward John GIBBARD

Delivered on : 27 May 2020

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Coroner Vicker

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : On 23 December 1976 Mr Gibbard left the Lake Argyle Inn following farewell drinks with a group of friends. He intended to drive to Kununurra where he was due to stay overnight at the Hotel Kununurra before boarding a flight to Perth on the morning of 24 December 1976. While there were alleged sightings of Mr Gibbard over the following two months his family and friends never heard from him again.

Mr Gibbard was intending to visit his parents in Perth for Christmas in 1976 and was looking forward to the event. This is confirmed by Mr Gibbard’s mother who advised in a letter that she last heard from her son on 21 December 1976 who confirmed he intended to come to Perth to spend Christmas with them. Mr Gibbard had made arrangements with his employer and obtained his holiday pay together with booking his hotel night in Kununurra and his flight for Perth in the morning of the 24 December 1976.

On the evening of the 23 December 1976 Mr Gibbard and his associates had a farewell drink together before Mr Gibbard went to his room and packed his bags for his intended trip. He also left some of his personal belongings in his ready for his return in February 1977. Prior to leaving his room he secure the door with a chain and padlock. Mr Gibbard was observed to drive from the Argyle Inn at approximately 10.20 pm.

Mr Gibbard failed to board his flight from Kununurra to Perth on the morning of 24 December 1976 and Mr Gibbard’s motor vehicle was found on a slip road to Lake Argyle, approximately 10 kilometres from the Inn. The car was locked with no sign of Mr Gibbard. Kununurra Police were advised that Mr Gibbard’s vehicle was abandoned and he was missing.

Police travelled to the site where Mr Gibbard’s vehicle was located and following examination of the vehicle, police instituted a search with emergency services, other government agencies, Department of Agriculture and a number of vehicles to effect a search for Mr Gibbard. In addition an aeroplane was involved in the search together with Aboriginal trackers, but were unable to locate any trace of Mr Gibbard.

The Coroner was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt Mr Gibbard is deceased and died around the time frame of his disappearance from the Lake Argyle Road in late December 1976. The Coroner was unable to determine how the deceased died and made an Open Finding as to the manner of Mr Gibbard’s death.

Catch Words : Long Term Missing Person : Land and Air Search : Open Finding

Last updated: 16-Jul-2020

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