News

Skeleton in car: The moment fisher found underwater tomb

UPDATE: THE car winched from Borumba Dam on Thursday has been confirmed as that of missing person Stuart Gatehouse.

But Sunshine Coast Crime Group officer Detective Inspector Dave Drinnen said results of forensic examinations being conducted on skeletal remains found inside would need to be finalised before they could confirm whether or not they had found the man missing for 13 years.

Mr Gatehouse would have turned 58 on Thursday.

"At this stage it is far too early in the investigation to be making any speculation as to who the deceased person that was located in that vehicle," Det Insp Drinnen said.

He said a post mortem examination was also being conducted to determine the cause of the occupant's death.

"We have not been able to establish what has transpired in relation to the vehicle that has been located submerged in the dam."

Depth sounding images show a car resting on the bottom of Borumba Dam. The car was later found to contain human remains.
Depth sounding images show a car resting on the bottom of Borumba Dam. The car was later found to contain human remains. Terry Allwood

He would neither confirm nor deny reports a firearm was also retrieved from the submerged car.

The red VL Holden Commodore was identified by a fisherman using a depth sounder during a contest on the dam on March 25.

It was reported to police later that day.

Basstasstic Fishing Club competition organiser Russell Nowland was on the water when one of his fellow club members came across it.

"We've come across all sorts of stuff with the electric sounders," Mr Nowland said.

He was shocked to learn on Thursday the car had a body in it.

"It is terrible find you find out someone is in the car," Mr Nowland said.

Depth sounding images show a car resting on the bottom of Borumba Dam. The car was later found to contain human remains.
Depth sounding images show a car resting on the bottom of Borumba Dam. The car was later found to contain human remains. Terry Allwood

He was also surprised by the length of time between the car find being reported and its retrieval.

Det Insp Drinnen said heavy rain and flooding had delayed the retrieval of the car.

"You have to remember that we went through a fairly major weather event over that period," Det Insp Drinnen said.

"The information at the time... all we had was an object that was in the water and its quite deep out at the dam there.

"So when we get divers up here this is where we come to."

He was unaware if a police search of the dam had been conducted in the 13 years since Mr Gatehouse went missing.

Clayton's heavy recovery equipment recovered the car from the dam yesterday afternoon. 

Anyone with information on the disappearance is urged to contact police on 1800 333 000.


EARLIER: POLICE have retrieved a car from a Sunshine Coast dam in a possible break through to a 13-year missing person investigation.

Police divers and tow truck drivers winched a red VL Holden Commodore from Borumba Dam near Imbil on Thursday afternoon.

The car was submerged in the vicinity of a boat ramp.

Sunshine Coast district crime services officer Detective Acting Inspector David Somerville said a fisherman had located a large object underwater a few weeks ago.

Det Act Insp Somerville said there were skeletal remains inside the car.

Police divers have retrieved a red VL Holden Commodore from Borumba Dam near Imbil. Photo: 7 News
Police divers have retrieved a red VL Holden Commodore from Borumba Dam near Imbil. Photo: 7 News 7 News

They have been taken for forensic examination.

The car has also been taken for scientific examination.

Det Act Insp Somerville said because the investigation was in such early stages police could not confirm whether or not the remains were those of missing person Stuart Gatehouse.

He said the car did have number plates attached but police were still working to get in touch with family members with links to those plates.

Mr Gatehouse was 45 years old when he went missing when on a trip to Gympie in 2004.

The Tasmanian man had been living in Kenilworth before his disappearance.

Missing man Stuart Gatehouse was last seen in 2004.
Missing man Stuart Gatehouse was last seen in 2004. Contributed

Family members previously said Mr Gatehouse had been on his way to Maryborough to visit a relative but never arrived.

Police said he had been driving a red VL Holden Commodore at the time.

An extensive land and air search was conducted after his disappearance but Mr Gatehouse was never found.

Det Act Insp Somerville said officers were working to determine how the vehicle ended up in the water.

The State Homicide Squad is assisting Sunshine Coast Criminal Investigation Branch detectives with the investigation.

Anyone with information which they believe could be relevant to the investigation is urged to contact police on 1800 333 000.

Topics:  borumba dam editors picks missing person remains search sunshine coast



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