The wife of a Ballajura businessman who vanished nine years ago while negotiating a million dollar diamond deal has spoken publicly for the first time about how her husband’s investors dissuaded her from reporting his disappearance to police.
Wayne Dennis George Drewett was 57 when he disappeared in April 2003 after leaving a getaway with his wife Joyce at Scarborough’s Observation City Hotel to carry out arrangements for a diamond deal on which he had been working.
It was the last time Mrs Drewett saw her husband of almost 40 years alive and a coronial inquest is now investigating whether he may be dead and if so, how he may have died.
The Coroner’s Court was told today that in the months before his disappearance, Mr Drewett, who spent 20 years working in the armed forces as well as time in the SAS before he retired, became involved in a network marketing business and was attempting to raise a large sum of money to purchase diamonds.
Counsel assisting the coroner Kate Ellson said Mr Drewett told potential investors he was raising money on behalf of a “facilitator” who would perform an exchange and resell of the diamonds to “yield a substantial profit for those who invested in the deal”.
The inquest was also told of a Romanian-born man Nick Stuart, who is also known as Niculae Stoian, and is wanted in Romania for allegedly being involved as the “facilitator” in a Bucharest diamond deal in 1996 in which a man who had the cash for the transaction disappeared and his car was found abandoned.
Police were led to Mr Stuart after he was registered as making a phone call on April 2, 2003 to a mobile phone, which was obtained by Mr Drewett under a false name.
Between April 16 and 23, Mr Stuart booked a flight to Romania, sold his car and accessed a safety deposit box in the same bank as one held by Mr Drewett before flying to Romania.
A police raid of his home in May and June 2003 uncovered rifles, shotguns, a revolver, ammunition and a book called “Be Your Own Undertaker: How to Dispose of a Dead Body”, the inquest was told.
Mr Stuart has not returned to Australia since he left in 2003 and he is still wanted for questioning by Romanian authorities.
Mrs Drewett’s first public account of her husband’s disappearance came as she today gave evidence at the inquest into his suspected death.
She revealed that after she last saw her husband on April 14, 2003, she tried unsuccessfully for several days to reach him by phone and she eventually contacted his friend and one of his investors, Peter Swain, to ask him if he knew her husband’s whereabouts.
Mr Swain and three other investors, Raymon English and Anita (nee Corver) English and Don Michel, went to Mrs Drewett’s Ballajura house on April 18, 2003, where she was convinced not to call police.
“In fact, over the next two weeks, Mr and Mrs English and others made repeated efforts to try to convince Mrs Drewett not to call police,” Ms Ellson said.
It wasn’t until May 4, 2003, nearly three weeks after Mr Drewett went missing, that his wife reported his disappearance to police.
Mrs Drewett said today she did not know much about her husband’s business deal but she was told it expected to take several days and if police were involved, her husband would have been in danger.
She said she was made to feel that if she did go to police, she “wasn’t going to see Wayne again”.
Mr Michel testified that he believed the deal may not have gone through if police became involved while under questioning, Mr Swain admitted that Mrs Drewett may have been pressured “a little bit” by the English’s not to call police although he recalled them suggesting that there was no need to worry about Mr Drewett.
During their investigations, police visited Mr Drewett’s house twice to gather evidence, finding a hard drive had been removed from his computer and his pajamas were missing from the house.
His passport was still in the house as was his medication to prevent him from having a heart attack. His car was found abandoned at Perth domestic airport.
Dr Geoffrey Shulman today told the inquest Mr Drewett, who had ischemic heart disease, would not have been able to survive “more than a few years” without the medication and it was unlikely he’d be alive if he had been without his medication for nine years.
The inquest continues.