Rachel Antonio.
Rachel Antonio. Contributed

Witness told police of suspicions about a ‘Gary McDonald’

A WITNESS has pointed the finger at a commercial fisherman named "Gary McDonald" as having something to do with Rachel Antonio's disappearance.

Darren Armstrong appeared yesterday via video link.

In his statement to police on July 25 in 1998, he'd said he'd had a conversation with Gary McDonald on or about the April 22 and Gary claimed he had a date with a 16-year-old school girl on Saturday, April 25 in 1998.

Mr Armstrong said Gary had said, "There's a picture theatre... I'm taking her to the movies", the Coronial Court was told. Counsel assisting the Coroner John Aberdeen asked if Mr Armstrong had posted on the internet about Gary McDonald.

He Admitted to writing a post on the internet which read, "I've said it before and I'll say it again. A week before Rachel Antonio disappeared, commercial fisherman Gary McDonald from Brisbane said he had a date with a 16-year-old school girl in Bowen on the 25/4/98. I informed the police but they didn't act on this information because they had already arrested another person. Now that person has been acquitted."

Former Bowen resident Geoffrey Howie told the court he'd seen Rachel at a soccer function at the Bowen sports complex on the night she disappeared. Rachel was with two other girls, who were shorter and looked younger, and came within two to three metres of the group Mr Howie was with, he said yesterday.

Mr Howie said he'd seen Rachel on the beach when she was performing lifesaving duties and had no doubt it was her.

Barrister Bronwyn Hartigan suggested that any glance would have been "fleeting" and that, "The girl you saw at the soccer club that night was not Rachel Antonio".

"I disagree," he said.



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