Maureen Braddy allegedly told her grandmother she was “in trouble” and said something happened at home that made it imperative to get away, shortly before her disappearance in 1968, an inquest has heard.
Maureen’s aunty Valerie O’Donoghue told the Coroner’s Court she believed her mother, Charlotte Braddy, helped teenagers Maureen and Allan Whyte flee Bendigo to start new lives. The new claims raised yesterday added another alternative explanation to what happened more than 44 years ago.
Mrs O’Donoghue said Maureen expressed her concerns to her grandmother, Charlotte, who arranged for her and Allan to be moved to an undisclosed location.
She said her mother had asked her not to reveal where the pair had gone and that it was a long-guarded secret she had “kept in confidence”.
The information was not included in Mrs O’Donoghue’s initial statement to police.
She told the inquest that she only told police “what I thought they needed to know”.
Defending her decision not to disclose the information, or explain how the escape plot was carried out, she said: “If Maureen wanted to disappear that’s her business.”
Mrs O’Donoghue told the inquest she was confident her brother Stan Braddy – the only suspect in the homicide investigation – was not involved “in any way” in their disappearance.
She said she still saw her brother occasionally but they had not spoken in recent years.
“He’s stopped talking to me because I spoke to police. He doesn’t like the fact that I’ve corroborated with their investigation.”
Detective Sergeant Allan Birch told the inquest on Monday that Mr Braddy believed the couple were abducted as part of a “slavery trade arrangement”.
Adding to the twists in the case yesterday, Karen Ray, who taught the Braddy children bible studies, said she recalled Mr Braddy and his mother Charlotte having a “nasty argument” on the afternoon of the teenagers’ disappearance.
“I saw them standing in the kitchen and they were having a really heated discussion,” she said.
Mrs Ray included the evidence on top of her official police statement, which detailed suspicions that Mr Braddy was involved in the teenagers’ disappearance.
Stan Braddy, 82, is expected to be called as the first witness as the inquest resumes today.