FOR a long time now there’s been an empty place at the Devitt’s family Christmas table.
It’s almost ten years since Michael Devitt disappeared in the Whitsundays region.
Normally, Michael, a 48 year-old, father of three, a happy-go-lucky truck driver would make it back to Brisbane for Christmas get-together with his older brother Gary and the rest of the extended family.
“We all meet on Christmas Day, like all families,” Gary, a groundsman at Holy Spirit Primary School in New Farm, said.
“He (Michael) would pop in. I’d look after him and all that, give him a roof over his head.”
But when Michael did not arrive for Christmas 2009, his four siblings, and his three children started to get concerned.
About a month later Michael’s disappearance was reported to police, after he missed the birth of his grandchild.
Phone calls went straight to message bank and it was found his bank accounts had not been accessed.
An initial police investigation turned up little.
Michael had moved to the Whitsundays in north Queensland to help a friend with his trucking business.
He was last seen on the January 27, 2010 when a friend dropped him off at an address in Cannonvale in the Whitsunday region.
Police investigated reports an incident took place at the Grand Central Hotel in Proserpine the night before he vanished.
The case was handed to the coroner in 2015, and since then police “lines of investigation” have meant “little bits of pieces pop up”, according to Gary Devitt.
“I got a message from the coroner the other day that police had got another line of investigation,” he said.
“We’ve just got to wait it out.”
“It’s happened a few times since inquiries were reopened, and each time it’s a difficult mixture of hope and pain.
“I try and shield them all. I think it opens it up again.”
Mr Devitt admits his interest sharpens every time there is a police move and “every time they find another body or something like that”.
“You see some of the cases they (the police) are solving now and they are 30 years old,” he said.
“I think they know a lot more, but it’s proving it.
“They can’t release any information, but I think they’ve got a fair idea when and where, why and who, but it’s just getting enough evidence.
“I think there’s a hope that somebody will use it as bargaining power somewhere down the track.
For the sake of the family, Gary said he would like the coroner to return an open finding.
Meanwhile he is planning a family memorial for Michael in 2020 – probably at Rainbow Beach where Michael was a lifesaver, and there are a lot of family memories.
“On his tenth year,” Gary said.
“That will give closure to his kids.”