Calls for new Sam Knight search

22:28, Jun 22 2013
Samantha Knight
BODY STILL MISSING: Samantha Knight.

A new search should be conducted for the remains of Samantha Knight, the nine-year-old Bondi schoolgirl snatched by a paedophile in 1986, according to a woman who knew and helped convict the child's killer.

Samantha was killed by paedophile Michael Guider, who doped numerous child victims with Coca-Cola laced with the stupefying drug Normison, and who is eligible for parole next June.

Denise Hofman, who knew Guider before his arrest, says he should never be released, and she believes another search of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron grounds, where he claimed to have buried Samantha, should be considered.

One theory is Guider may try to trade information about the location of Samantha's remains before a parole bid, knowing they are now unlikely to yield anything of forensic value. Ms Hofman believes he will reoffend and will seek parole ''quietly without any fuss''.

The warning comes as the State Parole Authority is under the spotlight after it emerged the family of murdered Sydney teenager Vanessa Hoson asked it to reconsider the release of Terrence Leary. Ten months after being granted parole, he is accused of trying to rape a 30-year-old woman and stabbing her with intent to kill at a Hunters Hill bus stop on Wednesday.

Adrian Bayley, jailed for life on Wednesday for the Melbourne murder of ABC employee Jill Meagher, was also on parole.


Ms Hofman said of Guider: ''You wouldn't want to let a paedophile out, a paedophile who is also a sociopath and who is going to prey on kids again.''

Guider was serving 16 years for child sex offences when he finally admitted the manslaughter of Samantha and received a 12-year sentence. When a detective visited Guider in Goulburn jail in 2003 he revealed he had put her body in his car, driven to the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron at Kirribilli - where he worked as a gardener - and buried her in a flower bed.

The location was examined with police using cadaver dogs but the search was done during a torrential downpour, Ms Hofman says.

''It was pouring with rain. It was the heaviest rain we'd had in years, so how dogs could work in those conditions I have got no idea.

''There should definitely be another search there. If it was my child I would have a look there.''

In Forever Nine, a new book co-edited by Ms Hofman and former Fairfax journalist John Kidman, she writes: ''The police, as other cases have demanded, have moved on. I still feel though, that things aren't over. He [Guider] is still withholding information. I know he could lead the police to the exact burial place, and I'm hoping one day he'll write to me again, directing me to that place.''

A mother whose two daughters were abused by Guilder said she had been through rough years. ''It is my belief Guider should never ever be released,'' she said.

''Why are we paying for him to do university degrees and research while he is in jail? This is an outrage that others have to struggle to pay fees and he has got it all for nothing. This is absolutely the one thing that makes my girls furious.''

Inspector Darren Sly, who led the inquiry, said the weather had no bearing on the effectiveness of the first search. ''I would be very hesitant to undertake another search there unless Mr Guider was forthcoming in giving us more information or was prepared to come out and show us himself,'' he said.

''The land had been disturbed so much putting in the underground car park there was every chance that if Samantha was there she may no longer be there. Very extensive earth-moving equipment was used to put the underground car park in. He made complaints to council and to land and environment to try to have the construction stopped. It would be my assessment he has removed her or that unfortunately the construction site has done it for us. He is the keeper of the information of where she was laid to rest, and I would hope that at some stage he feels the courage to come forward and tell us where she is. I think the family deserve that.''

Tess Knight, Samantha's mother, declined to comment on a new search or on the book. ''I have spoken about it with Inspector Sly, and he's the best person to answer that,'' she said.

Sydney Morning Herald