Coroner: Missing teen in 'violent' altercation before her death in 1998

A teenager who vanished from a north Queensland town in 1998 was involved in a “violent” altercation with person of interest Robert Hytch prior to her disappearance, the coroner has found.

Mr Hytch was found guilty of 16-year-old Rachel Antonio’s manslaughter in 1999, but he was later acquitted after a retrial.

The coroner’s findings, which were handed down on Thursday, confirmed the teenager was involved in an “intimate” relationship with Mr Hytch – despite his denials of a sexual relationship with the teenager.

Sixteen-year-old Rachel Antonio. Source: 7News
Sixteen-year-old Rachel Antonio. Source: 7News

The findings implicated Mr Hytch in Rachel’s death and that evidence has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Rachel was last seen by her mother when she was dropped off to watch a movie in Bowen on Anzac Day in 1998.

Coroner David O’Connell found a physical altercation occurred between Rachel and My Hytch, who was nearly 10 years her senior at the time, on that night.

Mr O’Connell said the physical altercation “likely caused a serious, potentially fatal injury” to the 16-year-old, whose body has never been found.

Mr O’Connell told the hearing Mr Hytch told “deliberate untruths” about his relationship with the teenager in a “desperate” and “unconvincing attempt to deflect suspicion”.

The inquest was also provided with excerpts from Rachel’s diary that was later categorized as “not a work of fiction”.

After hearing from 60 witnesses, the inquest was unable to establish how Rachel died or where her body was.

Outside the court, Rachel’s father Ian Antonio said the family were still hopeful of answers.

“Eventually somebody will come forward … I am sure of it,” he said.

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