DATES for a long-awaited inquest into the mysterious disappearance of Gold Coast schoolteacher Marion Barter have been announced, with the hearing to be held in NSW next year.
In 1997, Ms Barter quit her job at The Southport School (TSS), sold her house and told her family she was going on the trip of a lifetime to Europe and the UK.
She flew out of Australia later that year and contacted her daughter, Sally Leydon, a number of times from overseas in the initial few months, but there have been no confirmed sightings of her since.
After a sustained push by Mrs Leydon for renewed investigations, and for her mother's name to be returned to the national missing persons register after police marked her case "located" in 2011, the NSW Coroners Court today announced the inquest into the full circumstances of the woman's disappearance has been scheduled for June 2021.
On Tuesday, in a post on the Facebook page Missing Person Marion Barter, Mrs Leydon announced the inquest dates, thanking the public for "following along on my journey to find my mum".
It comes after The Lady Vanishes podcast by Channel 7 was launched last year and police said they were reviewing the case.
"I'm pleased to advise I have been given the dates for the Inquest into my mum's disappearance," the post read, saying the inquest sittings would be held over two weeks in June and July next year.
The sittings are expected to be held in Sydney, Ballina and Byron Bay - where large sums had been withdrawn from Ms Barters account more than 20 years ago.
The withdrawals were all in amounts of $5000 at a time, daily for more than three weeks.
For three days, the money was withdrawn from bank branches at Burleigh Heads.
Police discovered Barter had secretly changed her name by deed poll, before going on her travels, to Florabella Natalia Marion Remakel.
Ms Barter's name was removed from the missing persons register after a Byron Bay police officer investigating the case previously determined the woman's behaviour led him to believe she was "trying to remove herself from the family".
"My mum left for the trip of a lifetime on June 22nd 1997. It's only taken me 24 years (I'm 48 next May - so half my life) to get to this point of finding out what has happened. I really appreciate all your support and kindness during this process and during the months ahead," Ms Leydon wrote.
Speaking to the Bulletin, Ms Leydon said she felt mixed emotions about the inquest finally being scheduled because the passing of time meant there had been a number of missed opportunities to get hold of information.
However, she said it was an important milestone to finally see the probe into her mother's disappearance listed.
"The inquest, that was the pinnacle for me," Ms Leydon said.
"If we could find her and we could get some answers to what has happened and tick that box, then I can work toward my next process of what I need to do.
"My gut feeling is that after a year of the homicide squad investigating the disappearance and not yet finding her, I'm not confident and prepared for the worst but hope for the best."
Ms Leydon said if the Coroners Court returned an open finding into the mystery, she did not know whether she would be able to stop looking for her mum.
"I'm not sure if that happened, if I could just let that rest or let it be because it's my mum, at the end of the day.
"But I do know I can rest my head knowing everything I possibly could do, I have done. I have an army of sleuths behind me and they have told me they will keep looking as long as I want them to keep looking."
Originally published as Dates for inquest into missing Gold Coast teacher announced