A Jetstar pilot today spends his third day in custody without charge in connection with the disappearance of missing campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay.
- Campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay were last seen in March 2020
- People can be remanded in custody in Victoria for a “reasonable” period, with police being able to apply for an extension if necessary
- However, a Melbourne lawyer says it is not the norm to see anyone detained for so long without charge
Police officers on Monday afternoon arrested 55-year-old Greg Lynn from Caroline Springs in the western part of Melbourne, where they seized his Nissan Patrol for forensic testing.
Lynn is in police custody and is being questioned at Sales police station, but no charges have been filed against him.
This is the first arrest that has been made by officers investigating the case since Mr. Hill and Mrs. Clay disappeared while camping in Victoria’s High Country last March.
Melbourne Criminal Defense Attorney George Balot said that while under Commonwealth law there was a fixed period during which a person can be remanded in custody without charge, there was no such fixed period under Victorian law.
“A person can be remanded in custody for a reasonable period of time. What is reasonable is open to interpretation,” Mr Balot said.
Victoria Police are able to apply for an extension of time to complete their interrogation, with extensions more likely to be granted by the courts in cases involving loss of life.
But Mr Balot said it was not common to see anyone detained by authorities without charge for such a long period of time.
“I can not say that I have seen anyone detained, other than terrorist cases, for more than 72 hours without charge,” he said.
Narelle Fraser, a former detective in the Missing Persons Unit who served as a member of the Victoria Police for 27 years, said in her experience that long periods in custody were not unusual.
“We have had people in custody for days. If they get tired, we have to give them time to rest. We have to give them food and drink and basically take care of their human rights,” she said.
Fraser said police could not hold a suspect in custody if they waited for new information or developments, and that procedural justice was at the top of every officer’s mind.
The arrest follows an 18-month investigation
Sir. Hill and Mrs Clay were last heard from on March 20, 2020. They were camping in the remote Wonnangatta Valley in the Victorian Highlands, northeast of Melbourne.
Mr. Hill was an experienced bushman and knew the area well, as he had previously helped build one of the tracks into the valley.
Their campsite was found burnt out with Mr. Hills four-wheel drive untouched.
An 18-month investigation followed as police used CCTV footage and witness interviews to track down and identify vehicles in the area at the time of Mr. Hill’s and Ms. Clays disappear.
Lynn was arrested by Victoria Police at a campsite near Moroka Road at Arbuckle Junction on Monday afternoon and had her Nissan Patrol seized by special operations police.
On Thursday morning, no charges had been filed.