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Emotional start to Kangaroo Point bag-of-bones probe

The family of an Aboriginal mother whose remains were found at the bottom of a cliff are hoping an inquest will succeed where investigators failed and finally deliver closure.

Sep 05, 2022, updated Sep 05, 2022

Attempts to find out what happened to mother-of-10 Constance Watcho before her decomposed remains were found in a sports bag in September 2018 have not resulted in any arrests.

Her detached limbs were also found near the bag when officers arrived at the scene at Kangaroo Point – a popular inner city suburb near the Brisbane River.

There was a strong family presence in Brisbane Magistrates Court during an emotional opening to a five-day inquest to hear from more than 20 witnesses.

They won’t be at peace until the those responsible were held accountable, coroner Stephanie Gallagher was told in a statement read to the court before proceedings began.

“Mum you were taken away from us too young and too soon, with no understanding of what happened to you or even why,” the inquest was told.

“We have the right to know what happened to you, we have the right to hear the truth about your murder.”

Watcho last accessed her bank account in November 2017 after being released from prison on parole a few days prior.

She was known to couch surf and sleep rough, and had been staying at an apartment in Kangaroo Point with her partner Sam Sobczak, the inquest was told.

Two other men lived in the unit – one of whom would go on to find her remains in September 2018 and not report it to police until two days later, a pre-inquest hearing was told.

Among Monday’s witnesses was the first officer on the scene when the bones were found, Senior Constable Warren O’Brien.

Body-worn police footage shows dense bushland and long grass, and O’Brien can be heard swearing as he finds the bones and again when opening the bag.

He described a makeshift path through the long grass leading directly to the remains.
The area surrounding the bones and the bag also appeared to be cleared, as if the grass had been stamped down or stood on, he said.

The man who told police where to find the remains, Paul Maclay, was at the scene with O’Brien.

The officer agreed there was a strong drug scene at the unit complex where Maclay lived.

He also had previous dealings with Watcho, but wasn’t aware Maclay’s unit was also her last known address.

Also appearing on Monday was forensic pathologist Dr Andrew Reid who performed the autopsy.

It would have taken a degree of skill to separate Watcho’s remains in the manner they were found, he told the inquest.

It wasn’t done “randomly or recklessly”, and the lower limbs were dissected at the knees and elbows as opposed to being “chopped off”, Reid said.

Minimal marks were found aside from a small cut on the lower thigh likely caused by a sharp tool, he said.

No evidence of an injury that could have caused death was found.

There had been an open missing persons investigation after Watcho’s brothers, from Cherbourg, reported her missing in February 2018.

A $250,000 reward offered by police also failed to yield any conclusive evidence.

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