A coronial inquiry into the vanishing and suspected slaying of Leslie Ralph Ball, a Townsville resident, three decades ago, has yielded no fresh insights into his fate except his demise.
Leslie Ball’s disappearance was reported in the midst of 1993, and his remains have never been located. A magistrate declared that there exists “insufficient” information to ascertain the circumstances. Allegations suggesting involvement of Mr. Ball’s son-in-law in his demise lack the requisite proof. Le-Chelle Lesley, his daughter, reported the 71-year-old World War II veteran missing during the mid-1993 period.
Residing in Townsville with another daughter, Leanne Phillips, and her late spouse, David John Phillips, Mr. Ball had retired.
While his car was left abandoned at Townsville Railway Station and his trailer discovered scorched within the neighboring woods, his body has evaded discovery.
Mrs. Phillips informed law enforcement that she last encountered her father during her recuperation in a Brisbane hospital following an operation.
Nonetheless, a 1994 coronial investigation revealed a fabricated train ticket from Townsville to Brisbane in Mr. Ball’s name, hinting that he never departed from North Queensland.
Fresh details unveiled during the case review, including evidence implicating Mr. Phillips in Mr. Ball’s disappearance and his spouse’s awareness, compelled the inquiry to reopen in 2019.
A two-day session took place in Brisbane the prior year.
Regrettably, Mr. Ball’s remains are yet to be located. In the Coroner’s Court, she conveyed that the substantiating evidence was “insufficient” to establish “definitive conclusions” regarding Mr. Ball’s circumstances, save for his passing.
“It is beyond my capacity to ascertain the manner of Mr. Ball’s demise,” Ms. Gallagher stated.
“This is an unfortunate predicament and undeniably a profoundly distressing one for Mr. Ball’s kin, particularly his daughter Le-Chelle, who has tirelessly sought answers about her father’s fate.”
Ms. Gallagher ruled that it was probable that Mr. Ball met his end in or around Townsville in April 1993.
“Determining the root cause of his demise remains outside my capacity,” she conveyed to the court.
Alleged confession of son-in-law to homicide During the preceding year’s inquiry, evidence was presented that Mr. Phillips—a former Victorian detective—purportedly confessed to brutally assaulting his father-in-law to death due to a belief that he had engaged in inappropriate conduct with an acquaintance.
Brian Murphy, a close associate of Mr. Phillips, offered testimony concerning a conversation that ensued post the initial inquest.
“He conveyed: ‘I cornered him in the shed, communicated what I discerned… then I pummeled him mercilessly’,” Mr. Murphy recounted.
“I subjected him to a severe thrashing – pressed him against the wall, almost extracted his windpipe,” Mr. Murphy quoted Mr. Phillips as stating.
Inquest reveals alleged son-in-law’s murder confession The reopened inquiry into the decades-old disappearance of a man from North Queensland hears a confession of murder from his son-in-law, who disclosed to a friend that he slew the man and another individual before burying them “in the same sepulcher.”
Mr. Murphy informed the court that Mr. Phillips subsequently admitted to also slaying a second individual he had enlisted to assist in disposing of Mr. Ball’s remains on the same day.
“He divulged he dealt with the elderly gentleman and interred both… he uttered: ‘I placed them within the same sepulcher’,” Mr. Phillips disclosed.
Ms. Gallagher concluded that the evidence available was inadequate to substantiate the allegations against Mr. Phillips.
“Le-Chelle and her mother, Ett Ison, have presented extensive written submissions through their legal representatives, outlining grounds for the court to conclude that Mr. Ball met his demise due to a violent act and that David [Phillips] bears responsibility for his passing, or alternatively, that David and Leanne [Phillips] endeavored to conceal the death,” Coroner Gallagher expounded to the court.
“Nonetheless, I am disinclined to accept the submission that the evidence presents a compelling circumstantial case.
“Other possibilities persist.
“At this juncture, the evidence is lacking to make definitive determinations, other than the fact that Mr. Ball is no more, and an unidentified individual or individuals may have played a role in his demise.”
Train locomotive hauls open carriages laden with freshly harvested sugarcane, traversing from the plantation to the sugar mill in tropical Queensland. Read more Mrs. Phillips testified during the hearing and refuted accusations of deceiving the police regarding Mr. Ball’s visit to Brisbane during her hospitalization.
“I am entirely certain that he paid me a visit,” Mrs. Phillips asserted.
Mrs. Phillips apprised the court of her “ordinary” relationship with her father and vehemently negated any awareness on her or her late spouse’s part concerning his fate.
Megan Jarvis, the legal counsel aiding the coroner, imparted to the hearing that law enforcement harbored a belief that Mr. Phillips was “likely the perpetrator of the homicide,” with suspicion of a financial incentive, as Mr. Ball had been supporting Mr. and Mrs. Phillips’ living expenditures.
“We are bereft of answers”: The Ball Family Ms. Lesley, the departed’s daughter who initially reported his absence, alongside her mother, Ms. Ison, addressed the media outside the court, expressing their lack of astonishment at Coroner Gallagher’s findings.
“The outcome mirrors previous inquests… many matters remain unresolved,” remarked Ms. Ison.
“The modus operandi of the Queensland justice system perplexes us.”
“As far as I am concerned, today has yielded no resolution… yet life persists,” she concluded.
Le-Chelle Lesley and Ett Ison standing outside a courtroom Le-Chelle Lesley (left) mentioned that she and her mother, Ett Ison (right), intend to progress despite being unaware of the truth. (ABC News: Ciara Jones) “[An inquiry is] a protracted endeavor, one that necessitates revisiting repeatedly.
“His demise was a dreadful occurrence, but one cannot eternally reside in sorrow.”
Ms. Lesley communicated her absence of sorrow or distress on the present day.
“The incident transpired three decades ago; it is now a closed chapter.”