Brendan Collins, the biological father of missing toddler William Tyrrell, has broken his silence for the first time since his son mysteriously disappeared without a trace in 2014.
Collins, who was recently released from prison, admitted to the Daily Telegraph in an exclusive interview that he started digging in bushland two weeks ago for his little boy. An emotional Collins, who is also known as Brendan Clifford, told the newspaper he thought his son was dead.
“I’ve been out looking for you with a shovel digging in bushland … I know there’s no point,” he said. “I think you’re dead, I think someone has hurt you bad. I’m so sorry I couldn’t help you.”
He told the Daily Telegraph he tried to run away with William when he was just nine months old before he was taken into care by the department of community services (DOCs). Collins admitted he has a history of drug problems, but that he’d never hurt his child.
Australians only found out last year William was in state care at the time of his disappearance. Originally, before a court order was lifted, it was thought the then-three-year-old was snatched from his grandmother’s home, but it turned out to be his foster grandmother. When that news, along with information about his biological parents was made public as a matter of “legitimate public interest”, it was revealed Collins was sentenced to seven months in prison after he was convicted of eight charges of having stolen bank cards, toys, novelty items and clothing in addition to minor drug possession.
Williams mother Karlie was also convicted of three serious assaults, including two against female police officers, as well as destruction of property, according to a Newscorp Report.
Collins’ message for his son comes a day after New South Wales Police launched a large-scale forensic search for William. The search of bushland at Kendall, not far from where William disappeared on 12 September 2014, is expected to take up to four weeks and will be different to the initial search which aimed at locating the lost boy.
The Homocide Squad’s Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin said the new investigation would be thorough.
“This search will be detailed and documented, and we don’t know if we will find anything relevant, but we want to outline exactly what areas have been searched, who searched the area, and how it was searched,” he said in a statement.
There is currently a $1 million NSW Government reward on offer for information that leads to the recovery of William. Meanwhile, Jubelin added police were still hunting for persons of interest in the case.
“It is important I reiterate our commitment to finding William and reassure the community that we are continuing to investigate potential persons of interest with the same tenacity as we did right from the beginning,” he said. “We welcome any information that may assist the investigation and remind those who have information that may not have been inclined to come forward: now is the time to speak to us.”
At present, there is nothing to suggest William’s foster or biological family were responsible for his disappearance.