Bernard Gore, 71, had been in Sydney visiting his daughter when he disappeared.
Bernard Gore, 71, had been in Sydney visiting his daughter when he disappeared.

Cop’s ‘grave concern’ over body in stairwell

NSW's missing persons boss would have been "gravely concerned" at receiving a report like the one made by the family of Bernard Gore, found dead in a Sydney shopping centre three weeks after he disappeared, a court has heard.

Detective Inspector Glen Brown said investigations into missing persons had been overhauled in the years since the grim discovery of Mr Gore's body in a locked stairwell at Westfield Bondi Junction in early 2017.

A dementia patient from Tasmania, the 71-year-old had left his daughter's apartment in Woollahra on January 6 to meet his wife outside the Woolworths at the centre at 1.15pm but never made it.

Bernard Gore had early onset dementia.
Bernard Gore had early onset dementia.

He was reported missing about 8pm, before two junior officers from Rose Bay police took over the search.

The NSW Coroner's Court heard this week the search was under-resourced and "consumed" its lead, Constable Rebecca Daniels, and her colleague Constable Ramon Gilarte, who had no missing persons experience.

On Tuesday, Detective Brown was asked to speculate how he would have reacted had he received the same report.

"I would be gravely concerned for that person and my immediate consideration would be to engage in a suitable search to try to gather together the proper resources to conduct that search," he said.

Bernard Gore went missing on January 6, 2017.
Bernard Gore went missing on January 6, 2017.

The search would include "any area where Bernard may have travelled to", he said, such as the Westfield and routes he might have taken there.

Detective Brown said when he became boss of the NSW Missing Persons Registry in 2019 he began reviewing old cases but "struggled to find records I would have expected that we had".

"When I was given this position to build this missing persons registry … it simply was the case I thought we needed a greater level of expertise within each command," he said.

 

Inside the stairwell on level three at Westfield Bondi Junction.
Inside the stairwell on level three at Westfield Bondi Junction.

Among the changes has been the implementation of a missing persons co-ordinator, a role usually given to a senior detective, to oversee such investigations at every police command and district.

He said the register had created a "one-stop-shop" informing police of their duties and the tools at their disposal when investigating a missing person or the discovery of remains.

Police have also been offered greater training and issued directives on immediate and detailed record keeping, ensuring critical information is passed on shift-to-shift, the former homicide detective said.

The inquest continues before deputy state coroner Derek Lee.

Originally published as Cop's 'grave concern' over body in stairwell


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