Gerard Baden-Clay Allison Baden-Clay. Photo: Queensland Times
Police were immediately suspicious of the scratches on Baden-Clay’s face. Photo: Supplied
One of the first police officers to attend the home of Gerard Baden-Clay on the morning he reported his wife missing two years ago immediately sensed something was not right.
Baden-Clay appeared calm and composed and was dressed in business attire.
But he had three scratches on his right cheek.
If not for the intuition of first-response police officer Constable Kieron Ash the investigation into the disappearance of Allison Baden-Clay might have taken a very different direction.
Constable Ash phoned his supervisors back at Indooroopilly Police Station soon after arriving at the Brookfield property to tell them of his suspicions.
“At that point, being a police officer and a first response police officer, I thought it possible that perhaps domestic violence had taken place,” Constable Ash told Brisbane’s Supreme Court last month.
The next officers to arrive at the house, Senior Sergeant Narelle Curtis and Sergeant Andrew Jackson, were also concerned by the scratches on Baden-Clays’ face.
“Gerard, I have to ask this question – those two marks on your face could be consistent with being scratched,” Sergeant Curtis said.
Baden-Clay dismissed the injuries as shaving cuts, but Sergeant Curtis was dubious of his claims.
She phoned the Indooroopilly Criminal Investigation Branch, flagging the case as a possible homicide investigation within three hours of Allison being reported missing.
On Tuesday, a Supreme Court jury found Baden-Clay guilty of murdering his wife at their home in the affluent western Brisbane suburb of Brookfield on April 19, 2012, and dumping her body on the muddy banks of Kholo Creek at Anstead, about 14 kilometres away.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars without parole.
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said the investigators used some “unique ideas” to gather evidence when he was asked if officers had bugged flowers at Mrs Baden-Clay’s funeral in hopes of eliciting a confesssion from her husband.
Detective Superintendent Mark Ainsworth, who oversaw the lengthy police investigation, praised the efforts of the team of police who worked tirelessly to bring justice to Allison, her three young daughters and her family.
He emerged from the Supreme Court flanked by the investigators involved in the case to praise the work of the first-response, uniformed officers.
“The work that they demonstrated was nothing short of outstanding,” he said.
“They formed a suspicion very early in the piece, contacted their supervisors, who again performed some outstanding work notifying the Criminal Investigation Branch at an early stage.
“The detectives from Indooroopilly CIB that responded and ramped up this investigation up to a high level at a very early stage are to be commended in relation to their activities.”
Superintendent Ainsworth said he never seen such dedication from police during the 10 day search for Allison.
“Police officers giving up days off, public holidays, police recruits doing the same, working hand in hand with the State Emergency Service, the Queensland Fire Service, the Brisbane City Council … everyone determined to find Allison,” he said.
“One disappointment out of this investigation, if anything, was the time it took us to find Allison.”
The mother-of-three was found dead on the banks of Kholo Creek on April 30, 2012 – 10 days after her husband reported her missing.
Superintendent Ainsworth said the investigation into Allison’s death never wavered, with detectives from Homicide, Indooroopilly CIB, State Crime Operations Command and Metropolitan North and Metropolitan South joining forces.
“Initial stages had in excess of 60 detectives,” he said.
“It’s the team behind me that need to be thanked for their untiring efforts and the work they put in behind the scenes. I’ve never seen [such] a committed bunch.”
Police had more than 1500 lines of inquiry during their investigation, before compiling a brief of evidence comprising more than 2000 pages.
Superintendent Ainsworth also thanked the members of Allison’s family.
“Throughout the whole duration of that search the Dickie family were present, not only the immediate family, but the long-extended family of the Dickies. The support that family gave us under the circumstances, I’ve never, ever seen before,” he said.
“It was overwhelming and encouraged the police to conduct their search in the manner we did.”
He also thanked the members of the public, particularly the Brookfield community.
“The support that we had from the public out there – the Brookfield community – again was overwhelming,” Superintendent Ainsworth said.
“We had young children drawing photos and coming to the forward command post and asking for photos to be hung up, encouraging the police.
“We had people bringing food to the police and words of encouragement. It was absolutely sensational.”
Finally, he spoke of Allison.
“We never got to meet Allison, but dealing with the Dickie family and extended family, after this lengthy investigation, I’m sure I not only speak for myself but the other investigators, I feel we know her,” he said.
“We should all agree that Allison was nothing short of a wonderful person, a wonderful mother, friend and daughter.
“It’s now up to the Dickies to look after these three wonderful children. And I’m sure none of us would like our children to go through what they’re going through at the present time.”
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