Coroner's Court of Western Australia

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Peta Simone WEBER

Inquest into the Suspected Death of Peta Simone WEBER

Delivered on :  September 2023

Delivered at : Perth

Finding of : Deputy State Coroner Linton

Recommendations : N/A

Orders/Rules : N/A

Suppression Order : N/A

Summary : Peta Weber (Ms Weber) was last confirmed to be alive on the weekend of 21 to 22 June 1997. Ms Weber was reported missing by her husband, Richard Weber, early on the morning of 22 June 1997. He told police they had gone fishing at the Gap early on the Sunday morning and Ms Weber had disappeared after saying she was going to the toilet.

A full scale land and sea search at the Gap was conducted, including an underwater search by divers, but no sign of Ms Weber was ever found.

Attending police officers quickly formed a suspicion that Richard’s account of events was not true. There was evidence the marriage had been troubled. The couple had separated for several months and had a custody dispute over their daughter. They had only recently reconciled, but Ms Weber had recently told friends she was planning to leave Richard again. A criminal investigation by Albany detectives commenced immediately, including a forensic search of the family home and a criminal interview under caution with Richard the following day. It was put to Richard in the interview that he had done something to cause Ms Weber’s death and concealed her body, which he denied.

For the next few years, the police continued to view Richard as a suspect in Ms Weber’s disappearance. The investigating officers believed Richard had the means, motive and opportunity to have harmed Ms Weber and concealed her death, but no evidence was found to support any charges against him. In 2000, the police commenced further investigative actions with the hope of obtaining evidence to either eliminate or incriminate Richard in Ms Weber’s disappearance. Covert surveillance was commenced, with a plan to ultimately introduce an undercover operative, but these plans abruptly ceased when Richard committed suicide on 29 June 2000. Further police reviews of the investigation in 2015 and 2018, including searches of a rural property where it was believed Richard may have concealed Ms Weber’s remains, did not find any further evidence that could prove or disprove the belief held by police that Ms Weber met with foul play and never made it to the Gap on that Sunday morning. A number of witnesses did, however, come forward to add information to add to the suspicion Richard was involved in Peta’s disappearance and likely death.

An inquest was held on 15 August 2023. Many of the relevant witnesses who might have been called at the inquest were unfortunately either deceased or unable to give evidence, including Ms Weber’s husband Richard. Evidence was heard from the original investigating officer, Commander Seivwright, and Det Sgt Taylor, who were involved in the police investigation and review of the case. Both police officers gave evidence they believed Ms Weber was deceased, having died on or about 22 June 1997, and that she met with foul play at the hands of her husband, Richard.

The Deputy State Coroner was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt Ms Weber is deceased and was deceased in relative proximity to the time of her disappearance in June 1997.  The Coroner was unable to determine how Ms Weber died and the Deputy State Coroner made an Open Finding as to the manner of her death.

Catch Words : Long Term Missing Person : The Gap: Homicide Investigation : Open Finding

Last updated: 8-Nov-2023

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