River sweep forms part of search for suspected victim

Maeve Bannister and Samantha Lock |

Police have begun a land and water search for missing missing man Daniel Copeland in northern NSW.
Police have begun a land and water search for missing missing man Daniel Copeland in northern NSW.

Search crews are combing a river in northern NSW for clues that may lead them to a man who disappeared in suspicious circumstances on Father’s Day.

Daniel Copeland, 40, was last seen in Maclean, about 15km west of Yamba on the NSW north coast, on the afternoon of September 3, 2023.

Officers initially treated the incident as a missing persons case but soon handed the investigation to the homicide squad.

A two-day water and land search is underway with detectives, divers, the dog squad, PolAir and the NSW State Emergency Service.

Missing man Daniel Copeland, 40.
Daniel Copeland, 40, has been missing since September and homicide police are investigating. (HANDOUT/NSW POLICE)

Homicide Squad Commander Danny Doherty said information had led detectives to the Wooli Wooli River and its islands.

“While the investigation has led us to Wooli, we also believe Daniel may have ties to Toowoomba in Queensland and we’re appealing to anyone up there to also come forward with information that could assist,” he said.

“We’re also continuing to appeal to anyone who may have seen anything suspicious around the time of Daniel’s disappearance.”

Detectives released more images of Mr Copeland, as well as CCTV showing his last known whereabouts about 2.30pm at a bottle shop in Maclean.

Police previously released images of a silver 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer they believe Mr Copeland was travelling in on September 4.

They suspect Mr Copeland was likely with another person at Wooli when he went missing.

“We believe that Mr Copeland did meet with foul play … we don’t think he travelled alone to get to the Wooli area and we believe (his disappearance) is linked to the Mitsubishi silver Lancer,” Supt Doherty said.

“Ultimately this is an exercise in trying to find answers for the family, friends and loved ones of Daniel Copeland.”

Mr Copeland is described as being Caucasian, about 165cm tall, of solid build, with a blond mohawk and a full sleeve tattoo on his right arm.

He had moved from Toowoomba to Maclean to work as a labourer.

He was last seen wearing North Queensland Cowboys NRL shorts, a green long-sleeve shirt and a black hoodie.