Barclay case comes in from the cold

Tuitania Barclay, also known as Tui and Tania Barclay. Photo: Supplied/NZ Police
Tuitania Barclay, also known as Tui and Tania Barclay. Photo: Supplied/NZ Police
Police are hoping a television programme will help them crack the case of a Dunedin mother missing for more than 15 years. The detective in charge spoke to police reporter George Block ahead of the show airing tomorrow evening, and revealed a crucial new development in the cold case.

There have been no confirmed sightings of Dunedin woman Tuitania Barclay since September 17, 2002.

On that date, according to her then partner Bill Brown, Ms Barclay, also know as Tui and Tania, walked out of the house they were renting in Wakari Rd.

Mr Brown would later tell police he believed the mother of three, including two children with him, had simply walked out and left them.

About a month earlier, she had indicated she was going to end the relationship.

The police investigation began when he reported her missing four months later, in January 2003.

On February 28, 2003, a missing person file was opened.

Little snippets of evidence would seem to show she was active for at least a short period after she left the Wakari Rd house.

An envelope date-stamped September 26, 2002, on which Ms Barclay wrote "Here the ring back who wants to Marry a mental Bitch, [sic]" suggests she was alive nine days after that last confirmed sighting.

On October 15, 2002, her eftpos card was used to withdraw a few hundred dollars.

Then all activity stopped.

A police dive squad searches for clues about Tuitania Barclay’s disappearance at Ross Creek in...
A police dive squad searches for clues about Tuitania Barclay’s disappearance at Ross Creek in Dunedin in 2014. Photo: Supplied/NZ Police
At the time, Mr Brown assisted police with their investigation but no significant leads were generated.

Previously involved in Dunedin’s underworld, Ms Barclay, who also went by a variety of other names, had been a sex worker and drug addict who had spent several months behind bars.

But in the four years before her disappearance, she appeared to have worked hard to turn her life around.

Late in 2003, police said strong leads suggested she went to Christchurch and linked with a local gang. Also at that time, they said they had to consider there was a reasonable possibility she could be dead. Forensic samples taken from a Christchurch gang headquarters led nowhere.

Fast forward to 2014, and police, led by Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis, reopened the cold case, saying police suspected foul play.

Her past residences were searched and the police dive squad checked Ross Creek reservoir, a place Ms Barclay frequently visited.

Nothing was found.

They also investigated a tip-off from a gang prospect: that Ms Barclay may have been killed by a Christchurch-based gang. Later that year, police offered a $50,000 reward for information, which expired in January 2015.

Det Snr Sgt Inglis, now based in Queenstown as head of the Otago-Lakes Central CIB, will front an episode of TVNZ programme Cold Case tomorrow  at 8.30pm, narrated by Hilary Barry.

Senior Sergeant (now Detective Senior Sergeant) Malcolm Inglis speaks to media in 2014 after the...
Senior Sergeant (now Detective Senior Sergeant) Malcolm Inglis speaks to media in 2014 after the Barclay case was reignited by new information. Photo: Peter McIntosh
He has been the officer in charge of the Barclay case for more than four years, and said he hoped the television programme would spur people to come forward.

"It’s been a long time.

"We’ve tried numerous tactics in the past, with the reward, and we’ve reinvestigated and re-looked at the whole file again, and the Cold Case programme will give a good outline of that.

"There will be some leads out there.

"It’s really that people are in different circumstances now, lives have changed, they may know more than they’ve told us in the past."

The programme would reveal several new pieces of information on the case,  including that police officers flew to England in February last year and interviewed Mr Brown, he said.

"There are some new revelations in relation to it, we’ve been to the UK ... and spoken to the ex-partner."

There was no evidence to indicate Ms Barclay was still alive, and it would not take much more information for police to solve the mystery, Det Snr Sgt Inglis said.

"I’m quite confident she’s deceased ... there’s no evidence anywhere that we can locate to indicate she is alive.

"We’re really just missing one or two pieces in the puzzle.

"It depends on help and people assisting us as much as they can."

"Family and friends would love to know what happened to her, and bring closure."

Neither her three children, Mr Brown nor any other family would appear in the programme, but they were aware it was screening.

A friend of Ms Barclay’s is understood to be appearing in the programme.

Ms Barclay, who had adoptive parents, had also gone by the names  Tuitania McIntosh, Tuitania Brown and Sandra Williams.

• Dunedin police (03) 471-4800, Crimestoppers 0800-555-111.

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