‘I had hope’: Foster dad’s frantic search
Worried how little William Tyrrell would survive in the wilderness, the boy's foster father said "I had hope" during four days of desperate bushland searching.
Wearing a pale pink shirt with a "where's William" pin on it, the foster father remained composed as he told an inquest how he darted from house to house with "method to my madness" on September 12, 2014.
He had arrived back at his mother-in-law's mid north coast home just after 10.30am after taking a work conference call nearby.
He said his wife asked in a panic "Is William with you?" to which he replied "No, why would he be with me."
Confident his wife had already have searched the home he set off "very quickly" up sloping Benaroon Drive.
"I was considering where he might well go … paths of least resistance," he said.
"I was more concerned about him going towards trees … drains, that sort of thing" he said, adding he hoped they would "find him quickly".
He described rushing along Benaroon Drive and Ellendale Crescent, bounding over fences at times.
"Everything, pits, sheds, garages … If I could have got access to it I would have searched it," he said.
That afternoon he explained being worried how William might survive in the bush.
"I was beginning to worry about food, water, shelter if he was lost," he said.
"I had hope, I had hope."
In the state-of-the-art new coroner's court at Lidcombe this week, William's biological and foster families have sat on opposite sides of the public gallery throughout three days of hearings before Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame.
On one side William's biological father, uncle and grandmother have supported one another; on the other his foster parents have sat near detectives in charge of the case.
As they watched others give evidence, the foster parents sat close - at times William's foster mother kept her arm around her husband's shoulder.
Senior Constable Tim Williams led the very first search for William and told the inquest police on foot, horseback, motorbikes and in a helicopter were all on site from day one.
"On day one I made calls to every resource that was available in the NSW Police Force and that included the mounted unit and they were more than happy to come," Sen-Const Williams said.
SES commander Paul Burg said volunteers from "Coffs Harbour to Newcastle" came to help in the search including surf lifesavers and off-duty firefighters.
James Opdam, a nearby resident with 13 year SES experience said one line-search carried out on the day was "haphazard"
"People had decided to go in their own directions," Mr Opdam told the inquest.
He said police returned to his home the day after William's disappearance to search it.
"The ceiling, under the house, in the cars, the garage, everything, the whole lot, they were very thorough."
The hearings continue on Thursday with William's biological parents due to give address he inquest before the end of the week.