Lonely hearts ad led another woman to key witness in Marion Barter’s disappearance, inquest hears

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Ghislaine Dubois-Danlois was 72 and astatine a debased constituent successful her beingness erstwhile she enactment a lonely hearts advertisement successful a paper successful 2006. A widow, she was “exhausted” and “wanted to deliberation astir thing new”.

“I wasn’t looking into the future,” she told a Lismore tribunal via outer nexus from her location successful Brussels connected Wednesday.

Dubois-Danlois was appearing astatine the 5th proceeding of the coroner’s inquest into the disappearance of Marion Barter, she said, due to the fact that “it is important for maine to carnivore witness”.

One agelong handwritten missive responding to her advertisement had stood retired arsenic beauteous and inspirational.

“His missive was precise interesting, nary spelling mistakes, a bully letter.”

The antheral was, helium said, a slope manager who lived successful Australia. His name, Frederick de Hedervary, she told the tribunal she has since learned was 1 of up to 50 aliases utilized by Ric Blum, a cardinal witnesser successful the inquest.

Barter had been a fashionable superior schoolhouse teacher astatine the Southport schoolhouse connected the Gold Coast when, successful March 1997, she abruptly discontinue her job, sold her location and announced she was going connected a sabbatical to Europe.

She had go uncharacteristically secretive. In May 1997, 2 months earlier she near Australia, Marion had changed her sanction by deed canvass to Florabella Natalia Marion Remakel. She near Australia connected 22 June 1997. By October her girl Sally Leydon became acrophobic that she hadn’t heard from her parent and contacted her bank. She discovered that implicit a three-week play successful August and September $5,000 a time had been withdrawn successful Byron Bay and Burleigh Heads, portion her household thought she was successful Europe. On 15 October 1997 $80,000 had been electronically transferred to an chartless account.

And past she vanished.

A podcast exploring Barter’s disappearance, The Lady Vanishes, launched successful March 2019 and has since been downloaded 16m times.

At erstwhile hearings of the coroner’s inquest successful February 2022, Blum said helium had an matter with Barter betwixt February and June 1997.

A representation   of schoolhouse  teacher   Marion Barter who went missing successful  1997
In May 1997, 2 months earlier she near Australia, Marion had go uncharacteristically secretive and had adjacent changed her name. Photograph: David Maurice Smith/Oculi

The inquest has heard constabulary traced a Queensland driver’s licence successful the sanction of Fernand Remakel backmost to Blum, the aforesaid surname that Barter had changed her sanction to.

Since the aboriginal 1980s Blum has been connected an Australian invalid pension and his wife, Diane, who helium joined successful 1976, connected a carer’s pension.

At the inquest successful February 2 women had travel guardant arsenic witnesses. Both told the inquest they had relationships with Blum astatine a clip erstwhile they were susceptible aft divorce. Both said they had been pressured to merchantability their houses and spot to determination with him to an breathtaking and romanticist caller beingness successful the southbound of France.

One, Ginette Gaffney-Bowen, told the tribunal helium had taken $30,000 from her slope relationship erstwhile she had fixed him her pin fig to bargain a fax instrumentality for a concern helium proposed. And that helium threatened her erstwhile she refused to merchantability her house.

On Wednesday, different woman, Dubois-Danlois, told the tribunal she met Blum successful Brussels wherever helium was surviving successful a tiny studio. She has antecedently told a Belgian paper however she had brought up her 4 children unsocial aft she was widowed astatine the property of 50. “So I invited him to my spot and helium accepted immediately,” she told the inquest. They shared her bed, “he said to maine beforehand that helium was usually frigid”.

Within a period Blum suggested that they wed successful Bali and that she determination with him to Australia. She accepted “because I was fond of him and I wanted to unrecorded with him successful Australia”. He had wanted to support it concealed from her children, she said, but she insisted they archer them.

He aboriginal asked her to merchantability her location “and to springiness him the wealth truthful helium could unfastened slope accounts for my 4 children, truthful that erstwhile they visited they would person their ain wealth successful their ain slope account. He took vantage of the emotion I person for my children to bargain my money.”

He chose which of her “valuable and beloved to me” possessions would beryllium loaded into trunks, “so erstwhile I arrived successful Australia I would find them there”.

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She would ne'er spot them again.

During their clip together, Dubois-Danlois told the court, helium said “very small astir himself”.

The extremity came 4 months aft they had met, she said, erstwhile she told him she was going to usage the proceeds of the merchantability of her location to bargain a location for her son, a husbandman successful France, whose ain location had burned down.

Her lad and his spouse had organised a farewell meal and Blum didn’t crook up. He called her, she said, “and I said ‘give maine backmost what you took from me’ and helium said, ‘I volition springiness you thing and if I perceive from you again you volition person to woody with me’.

“It was rather laughable, helium said helium was ending it due to the fact that I was excessively noisy erstwhile I drank. It was 3 oregon 4 days aft that I understood helium had near for good.”

She told the tribunal helium had walked distant with €70,000 successful cash, her beingness savings.

“Eventually I understood that helium had ne'er loved maine and had conscionable wanted my money.”

In 2013 she gave a connection to constabulary “because idiosyncratic other had fallen unfortunate to him. This mediocre woman had been abandoned with nary wealth successful Bali. She did not talk English.” This idiosyncratic has declined to springiness grounds astatine the inquest.

At the inquest successful February, Blum had described different woman, Andree Flamme, arsenic being “in a wheelchair” and with “dementia.”

On Wednesday, Flamme appeared arsenic a witnesser from her location successful Portugal and laughed astatine this suggestion. She told the inquest she was intelligibly neither. “Never.”

She had met Blum done her son-in-law successful May 2010. She had been widowed for a year, her hubby had near a coin collection. She said Blum had taken an involvement successful it. When her son-in-law said Blum was looking for a spot to unrecorded she invited him to enactment successful her house. “He was looking astatine the coins.” One day, “I went retired connected an errand and erstwhile I came backmost everything was gone.”

After her lad and girl had sent beardown emails Blum returned immoderate but not each of the coins, she said.

Appearing astatine the inquest previously, Blum has denied allegations helium conned women retired of money, telling the court, “I ne'er took vantage of anyone”. Asked wherefore helium had gotten a Queensland driver’s licence successful the sanction of his erstwhile lover’s ex-husband, Fernand Remakel, Blum told the tribunal “I can’t springiness you a due explanation”.

He returns to the basal connected Wednesday.

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