The foster parents of missing boy William Tyrrell will plead guilty to a lesser regulatory charge after they had someone make fake bids at an auction for their Sydney property.
The 56-year-old man and 58-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded not guilty to one charge each of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception.
The couple will admit they engaged a man to make false bids at an auction for their Sydney property in early December 2020.
The northern Sydney property sold for $4.1m, which police allege was in part due to the dummy bids.
According to court documents, the man was hired to help inflate the property’s sale price between December 10 and 12, 2020.
It’s understood evidence of the dummy bidding emerged after listening devices were placed by detectives investigating the disappearance and suspected death of William Tyrrell.
The toddler’s foster parents were due to face a contested hearing at Parramatta Local Court on Friday, but the court heard the matter had been resolved.
The court was told the police had received authorisation from the Department of Fair Trading to proceed with regulatory charges against the couple.
The 56-year-old man and 58-year-old woman will be charged with procuring a third party to make dummy bids, in contravention of the state’s real estate legislation.
Once the regulatory charges are laid against the couple, the police prosecutor said the fraud charges will be withdrawn.
Their lawyer Phillip English confirmed the couple would enter guilty pleas to the real estate charges when they returned to court on September 4.
“I anticipate the proceedings will proceed to finality,” he said.
The couple would have been facing a jail sentence if found guilty of the fraud charges, which has been downgraded to a maximum penalty of $27,500 each.
Both the 56-year-old man and 58-year-old woman refused to comment outside court.
The charges are not related to the mysterious disappearance of the couple’s foster child, William Tyrrell.
The toddler was only three years old when he vanished from his foster grandmother’s house at Kendall on the NSW mid North Coast on September 12, 2014.
The case attracted national attention and has become one of the state’s most notable cold cases.
No one has been charged over William’s disappearance and suspected death, and his foster parents have continued to deny any wrongdoing.
Police sent a brief of evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions last month to recommend they charge the 58-year-old woman with the toddler’s accidental death.
The woman’s lawyer Sharon Ramsden urged police to “expeditiously determine whether charges are to be laid”.
She also called for authorities to release the evidence which they believe warrants criminal proceedings.
“The foster mother has always, and maintains, she has nothing to do with William’s disappearance,” Ms Ramsden said.
“She desperately urges the police to resume the investigation into finding out what happened to William.”
The DPP have been contacted for comment.
In November last year, the 58-year-old woman was acquitted of knowingly giving false or misleading evidence during a secret hearing about the boy’s disappearance.
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