No closure for family after ‘suspicious’ death finding

Cheryl Goodenough |

Constance Watcho’s remains were found at the bottom of a cliff 10 months after she was last seen.
Constance Watcho’s remains were found at the bottom of a cliff 10 months after she was last seen.

The heartbroken family of Constance Watcho whose remains were found in a bag will keep fighting for closure after a coroner was unable to determine the cause of the Aboriginal mother’s death.

The 36-year-old was last seen in South Brisbane in November 2017.

Ms Watcho’s brothers reported her missing in February 2018 after travelling from Cherbourg as the family had not heard from her for some time which was unusual.

About 10 months after her disappearance Ms Watcho’s remains were found – some in a bag and others nearby – at the bottom of a cliff at Kangaroo Point.

Handing down inquest findings in the Brisbane Coroners Court on Thursday, Deputy State Coroner Stephanie Gallagher said the place and cause of Ms Watcho’s death remained unknown.

The precise circumstances of the death of the mother-of-10 were unknown but suspicious, Ms Gallagher found.

Ms Watcho’s heartbroken family were devastated the case had not been solved and would not stop fighting for justice, Mervyn Riley said outside court.

“We are going to keep going – not for us, for her children because her children need closure. We didn’t get that today.”

He called for a meeting with the police commissioner to ensure the investigation continued.

“This has gone on for too long.”

Ms Gallagher said her finding that Ms Watcho’s death was suspicious was based on the remains being partially disarticulated, the manner of their disposal and the length of time between when she was last seen and the bones found.

“However, I make this finding alongside the possibility that Constance died from some other unknown cause.”

At the time Ms Watcho was last seen she was in a relationship with Przemyslaw “Sam” Sobczak. 

Constance Watcho (file image)
Constance Watcho’s remains were found at the bottom of a cliff 10 months after she was last seen. (HANDOUT/QUEENSLAND POLICE)

The couple shared an itinerant lifestyle, were unemployed and either couch surfed or slept rough on the streets.

Ms Watcho and Mr Sobczak occasionally stayed in a Kangaroo Point unit with two men, one who discovered the bones that were found to be Ms Watcho’s remains, in long grass at Lower River Terrace.

The inquest heard he reported the discovery to police two days later.

The two men and Mr Sobczak denied any involvement in Ms Watcho’s death.

Ms Gallagher said three people of interest were identified through the exhaustive police investigation and the inquest.

“However, given the lack of compelling evidence and the weight of the evidence available to me, I am unable to identify any person as a person who was involved in the death of Constance May Watcho.

“Based on the state of decomposition at the time her remains were found, what caused Constance’s death may never be known and caution must be exercised in drawing inferences from the circumstances and largely unreliable evidence available.”

Ms Gallagher recommended the police commissioner ensured the investigation into Ms Watcho’s death remained open to allow for timely investigation, review and monitoring of any new information that may come to light.

She said the anguish of Ms Watcho’s family would be compounded by the way in which her body was found and interfered with, contributing to a sense of ongoing and unresolved grief.

One person shouted “no justice” and another swore at Ms Gallagher as inquest proceedings were closed.

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