Missing cult leader alive, inquest hears

A woman who lived in a harem arrangement in Perth with a religious cult leader who disappeared with three other people in 2007 believes the quartet are still alive.

Justine Anne Smith has described how self-styled spiritual leader Gary Felton, who went by the stolen identity of Simon Kadwell, was the head of a household that included three women he was in sexual relationships with.

The 45-year-old fathered children with two of them, including Chantelle McDougall.

She went missing with him at the age of 27, along with his five-year old daughter Leela and friend Tony Popic.

The police investigation failed to find any trace of the four, whose bank accounts were never touched, leading to the belief they were dead.

However, Ms Smith said suicide was never a spiritual driver for Mr Kadwell and his beliefs, although he had written of planning a suicide pact and had attempted it in his youth.

"I believe it is more likely they are in hiding," she told a coronial inquest in Busselton.

"It is strange they would want to hide their suicide."

She believes Mr Kadwell was running from something in his past, possibly involving stealing money and the stolen UK identity, and he had a previous minor fraud conviction.

She believed a note left at the Nannup farmhouse they disappeared from, which said they were moving to Brazil, was a deliberate "misdirection".

Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Balfour told the inquest he could strongly argue theories both for and against the group being alive.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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