Police dig up ground after elderly woman charged with murder

 

Police and external "experts" have begun digging up the ground out the front and under the house of an Inala home as they search for a child's remains.

The search follows an elderly grandmother making a brief appearance in court this morning, charged with the murder of her young autistic son more than 50 years ago.

Forensic investigators and homicide detectives are at a home in Inala today searching for the body of Peter John Enright, who police believe was murdered aged three or four, some time in 1968 or 1969.

Peter, the fourth of 11 children, was never reported missing. Police said his siblings had been told various versions of what had happened to him.

Maureen Enright (left) with a man believed to be her husband Michael. Picture: Supplied
Maureen Enright (left) with a man believed to be her husband Michael. Picture: Supplied

Maureen Anne Enright was last night taken into custody and charged with murder following an investigation that began when someone contacted police with information in August.

Homicide Detective Inspector Damien Hansen said Peter was born on June 17, 1965 to Michael and Maureen Enright.

Homicide detectives have executed a crime scene warrant on an Inala residence in relation to the suspected death of a child 50 years ago. Picture: Annette Dew
Homicide detectives have executed a crime scene warrant on an Inala residence in relation to the suspected death of a child 50 years ago. Picture: Annette Dew

He said the family moved to the home at 35 Polaris St in 1966.

"Yesterday evening Maureen Enright, Peter's mother, was taken into custody and she was charged with Peter's murder," he said.

Det Insp Hansen said Maureen had given police "a number of versions" of events.

He said Peter's siblings were aware of his existence and had "heard stories" about him.

"All members of the family have been questioned in relation to this, yes," he said.

"There was 11 children in the family and he was number four in the family.

"They were aware that Peter existed and they've given us versions for that.

"It's just a shocking thing that these things can happen but processes back in the 60s were obviously very different to what they are today.

"This is the first time I've come across something like this."

Det Insp Hansen said police had obtained records of Peter's existence, including birth certificates.

A mountain of miscellaneous items - including Rusted tools, styrofoam boxes and an old washing machine - has piled up in front of the Enright house.
A mountain of miscellaneous items - including Rusted tools, styrofoam boxes and an old washing machine - has piled up in front of the Enright house.

"They (the family) are quite well known, some of the neighbours have been here for a long time too and we've managed to track down some people who did live in the street and knew the Enrights, had gone to school with Enright siblings and have made contact with us," he said.

"If there are people out there ... who have information please contact us."

Det Insp Hansen confirmed police were searching for Peter's remains. He said they were "optimistic" but soil acidity and other environmental factors can impact on the preservation of remains.

Homicide detectives are digging up an Inala property in a search for the remains of a child. Picture: Annette Dew
Homicide detectives are digging up an Inala property in a search for the remains of a child. Picture: Annette Dew

The 76-year-old grandmother appeared briefly before the Richlands Magistrates Court this morning.

Maureen, a frail elderly lady with shoulder-length grey hair, had to be helped up the step to get into the court dock by a corrections officer.

"There's clearly no application for bail today and we are seeking to have the matter adjourned to the committal stream," her lawyer, Jyoti Pant said.

Magistrate Aaron Simpson said the police brief will be due on November 27 and the case was adjourned for a committal mention on December 11.

Enright will not be required to appear at the next mention.

When asked if she understood what was happening, Maureen quietly replied "yes".

An undated picture of Maureen Anne Enright, a 76-year-old from Inala.
An undated picture of Maureen Anne Enright, a 76-year-old from Inala.

Three women were at the court to support her and spent some time talking with Ms Pant.

Outside court, Ms Pant said Maureen would apply for bail in the Supreme Court.

"My client is an elderly member of our community," she said.

"She is frail, she is vulnerable and so understandably they're (her family is) very concerned, she's concerned, we're concerned.

"Our primary concern at the moment is to get her out on bail and back home with her family.

"We've just been provided material in relation to the charge and we'll be going through that later today."

Police are searching for the remains of a young Inala boy who disappeared 50 years ago. Picture: Annette Dew
Police are searching for the remains of a young Inala boy who disappeared 50 years ago. Picture: Annette Dew

At the Inala home, a mountain of miscellaneous items - including rusted tools, styrofoam boxes and an old washing machine - have been piled up in the front garden by police.

Det Insp Hansen said investigators had pulled the items from under the house in the search for Peter's remains.

"It's been removed from beneath the house, that's where we're starting our initial search," he said.


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