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Bill Spedding: The forgotten life forever changed by William Tyrrell's disappearance.

William ‘Bill’ Spedding was having coffee with his wife Margaret in a local cafe on the morning that would change the course of his life.

They ordered a ham and cheese croissant, a citrus tart and two large cappuccinos.

It was spring, September 12, 2014, and the pair were attending a school assembly at 10:30am across the road, to watch one of their grandchildren receive an award.

The Speddings were seen there by a witness who was willing to testify.

But for years, it was as though Bill Spedding was in two places at once: At a school assembly in Laurieton, on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, with his family. And 20 minutes away, in Benaroon Drive, Kendall, with a little boy named William Tyrrell.

Sunday Night investigates William Tyrrell disappearance. Post continues below.

Video by Seven News

“That’s awful close to home.” How Bill Spedding learned of William Tyrrell’s disappearance

We know now that Spedding, a washing machine repairman, was precisely where he said he was on that Thursday morning in September.

There’s a receipt from the cafe. His wife has been questioned at length. And then there’s the witness.

Spedding told the inquest into Tyrrell’s disappearance that he first learned the three-year-old boy was missing when he saw an alert flash up on the nightly news.

It was reported that Tyrrell had disappeared from his grandmother’s (later to be reported as foster grandmother’s) home at 10:30am on September 14. He had been dressed in a Spiderman costume and playing in the front yard, when suddenly everything went quiet.

It was as though he had vanished into thin air.

“Our ears pricked up and we said, ‘that’s awful close to home’ and we really tuned in,” Spedding said during the inquest.

The then 63-year-old didn’t realise, however, that he had been inside that very home only days prior.

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A repairman, Spedding had been called to the home in Kendall on September 9 – three days before Tyrrell’s disappearance – to fix a broken washing machine. He had ordered the parts but had not yet been back.

Reports surfaced at the time that Spedding was due to return on the day that Tyrrell went missing.

A few days into the search, Spedding was brought into Port Macquarie Police Station for questioning. It would take months for them to investigate his alibi.

The first and only ‘person of interest’ identified by police

Spedding was the first and only person formally identified by police as a ‘person of interest’.

In early 2015, Spedding’s Bonny Hills home was searched and eventually excavated. His business was raided by police, and the bushland surrounding his residence was thoroughly searched. Sniffer dogs and forensic specialists were brought onto the premises, and a septic tank was drained. Spedding himself was also subject to DNA testing.

Items were taken for testing, but no forensic evidence was ever found linking Spedding to Tyrrell.

Just days after the raid, child welfare authorities took Speddings’ grandchildren away from him.

In an exclusive interview with Nine News following the search of his property, Spedding said he and his wife were “cooperating with the police fully” but were “close to a nervous breakdown” due to the intense media scrutiny associated with the case.

The historic, unrelated child sex offences

In April 2015, a few months after the search of his home, Spedding was charged with child sex offences that had allegedly taken place 30 years prior.

It is now claimed that those charges had been “discredited and dismissed” by authorities at the time they were made.

He was released in June due to “substantive issues” with the case against him.

A Spiderman toy discovered in Spedding’s car

It was reported by News Corp in June 2015 that a Spiderman toy had been found in Spedding’s work van during a police search.

This was believed to be relevant, due to the fact Tyrrell was wearing a Spiderman costume at the time he went missing.

Mia Freedman interviews Caroline Overington, host of ‘Nowhere Child’, about the unsolved disappearance of William Tyrrell. Post continues below. 

According to Margaret Spedding, that toy belonged to one of Bill Spedding’s grandchildren who was in their care.

“I have no involvement.” The release of a YouTube video

In a YouTube video released 12 months on from Tyrrell’s disappearance, Spedding said:

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“My wife Margaret and I offer the Tyrrell family our sincere commiserations in the disappearance of William Tyrrell.

“I wish to state that I have no involvement in the disappearance of William Tyrrell.

“The media have reported that I was supposed to have attended the Tyrrell house on the 12th September 2014, this being the day of William’s disappearance.

“I wish to make it perfectly clear this claim is completely false.”

“We’re going to get you.” The alleged threats made against Spedding

On Monday’s episode of Four Corners which will air on the ABC, Spedding recalls a six-hour-long interview at the police station that ended with a detective saying: “We know you did it. We’re going to get you. I’m going to come and arrest you.”

Spedding tells the program he responded, “I haven’t done anything. What are you talking about?”

A media pack saw Spedding be led away by police, which further added to his public connection to the Tyrrell case.

Spedding’s claims against Detective Gary Jubelin

In February 2015, Detective Gary Jubelin took over the Tyrrell investigation.

According to Spedding, speaking to Four Corners, “Gary Jubelin said to me ‘Mr Nice-Washing-Machine-Man, we’re going to ruin you’.

“And at another point of time he said, ‘Whenever they talk about William Tyrrell, your name’s going to come up as well. And when they’re talking about you, William Tyrrell’s name is going to come up’.”

Detective Jubelin is no longer working on the Tyrrell case.

Spedding is suing the NSW Police

Spedding is now suing the NSW Police for the malicious persecution of historical child abuse allegations brought against him in 2015.

Speaking to Four Corners, Spedding reflects that “the ordeal [of being associated with Tyrrell’s disappearance] has destroyed my life.”

“Basically the business no longer exists, up until this point we’ve had no life at all. Basically we’ve got to restart all over again. The publicity was worldwide… and that is damage that can never be repaired,” he says.

His wife Margaret is appealing for an apology from the police, who told Spedding they’d ruin him. And then did.

Spedding describes the “devastating impact” being named as a person of interest has had on his livelihood, and says his life is “shattered”.

“Describing the feeling is very difficult, but it’s sad. We just don’t know, when someone’s going to pop out of the woodwork, and grab me around the throat again, and say, ‘You’re Bill Spedding. What’d you do with William?'”

Watch the full investigation on Four Corners at 8.30pm tonight on ABC TV.

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