Former A-grade cricketer's 30-year cold case reopened
AN A-grade cricketing legend who left his mark on Rockhampton in the 1980s is the subject of a 30-year-old cold case which has been reopened in Sydney.
Taxi driver Melcom Cross, who disappeared after a cab journey in Woolloomooloo in 1988, left many wondering what happened when he left the sunshine state more than three decades ago.
One friend who knew him during his Queensland cricketing heyday said he had "the shock of his life" when he saw that Kings Cross detectives were probing his suspicious vanishing after 31 years this week and believes his time north of the NSW border may hold the key to solving the case.
"When this came up the other day I said there would obviously be a number of people here (in Queensland) who want to help give the family closure," Phil Ilott said.
Detectives from Kings Cross are re-opening the case that has long eluded top cops in Sydney. The only trace of Melcom Cross was his cab that was found abandoned on McElhone St, Woolloomooloo - though his credit card was used in Adelaide to purchase personal items not long after he vanished.
Mr Ilott, who spent years playing cricket with Melcom at Easts in Rockhampton, remembered the 40-year-old as a "larrikin" who "wouldn't hurt a fly".
Since news of the renewed appeal from Strike Force Grovenor, he said he and a number of mates from the nearby town of Emerald had been stunned to learn that Mr Cross vanished less than two years after winning an A-grade title in Central Queensland together.
"It was a shock to me because people always said there was a story about what happened to Mel Cross," Mr Ilott said.
"It's just a shame it has taken so long, I had the shock of my life when I found out.
"As far as I know he wasn't an aggressive guy looking for trouble, he was really laid back ... he was a terrific bloke."
When news of Melcom Cross' disappearance broke in 1988, more than 4000 Sydney cabbies took to the streets to join the search. Police at the time feared he was robbed and abducted after learning he carried his savings with him and that the cab he was driving had been fleeced of any cash.
Friends and colleagues were convinced he met with foul play, according to 1988 reports.
Mr Cross left behind two young children in Rockhampton when he disappeared.
"The fact the purchases made on this credit card were personal items, it was like he was starting afresh," his daughter Michelle Farrell said.