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Coroner refers Rahma El-Dennaoui's disappearance back to homicide police

A coroner has referred the disappearance of Rahma El-Dennaoui back to homicide police - declaring the child did not "simply vanish into thin air". Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund delivered her findings this morning following a long-running inquest into the toddler's disappearance.
Rahma El-Dennaoui disappeared seven years ago.
She said there was "no conclusive evidence" to show the 20-month-old's family staged her kidnapping more than seven years ago, but there were a number of "troubling" aspects to their versions of events.
Telephone intercepts of the family's calls made during the inquest revealed "puzzling" behaviour, which the coroner said was inconsistent with what would be expected from a grieving family.
"In particular, the joking and laughing by Rahma's parents with third parties about the kidnapping and the splitting of the reward money, the specific references to avoiding talking about the inquest on the telephone and actually talking in code," she said.
Ms Freund said she couldn't support the family's calls that she find an unknown person had abducted Rahma and that the girl's relatives had no involvement in the disappearance.
But she said a number of other possibilities remained open, including that a stranger kidnapped the child to raise as their own or a criminal took her with intent to hurt the young girl.
"Rahma El-Dennaoui did not simply vanish into thin air. Unfortunately, this inquest was unable to narrow the reasons as to why and how she came to disappear."
Rahma's father Hosayn El-Dennaoui told the inquest he last saw his daughter about 2am on November 10, 2005, when she was put in a bed she shared with two older sisters. Her siblings woke to find her gone and a large hole cut in the fly screen above her bed.
The inquest heard that police now believe she probably died accidentally at home before her family disposed of the body in an unknown location.
Outside the court, Mr El-Dennaoui said last Saturday was the seven-year anniversary of his daughter's disappearance and her family still wanted to find out what happened to her.
"We would like to know - we were not involved, me and my wife, we haven't done anything to Rahma," he said. Detective-Sergeant Nick Sedgwick, who led the police investigation into the disappearance, said enquiries into the incident had been thorough and would continue after the inquest.
"There is a frustration with a long investigation like this, but the police service won't stop until we know what happened to Rahma," he said.
In her findings, Ms Freund said the police investigation into one potential abductor - a suspected pedophile who lived close to the El-Dennaoui home - had a "number of shortcomings and issues".
There was an 18-month delay before the man's caravan, where police believed the toddler may have been taken, was forensically examined, the inquest heard.

www.news.com.au (15-11-2012)
http://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/coroner-refers-rahma-el-dennaouis-disappearance-back-to-homicide-police/story-fndo4bst-1226517237357


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No proof of staged abduction of toddler Rahma El-Dennaoui

NO concrete evidence has been found that Rahma El-Dennaoui's family staged her abduction and any theory that they hid her body after a "mishap" in their home was pure speculation, an inquest was told yesterday.
Lawyer David Evenden, representing Rahma's father Hosayn El-Dennaoui, said the family denied any involvement in her disappearance and still hoped their little girl would one day be found."For all these years, (Mr El-Dennaoui) and his family have been hoping for information that might lead to Rahma being found alive," he said.
Today is the seven-year anniversary of the 20-month-old going missing from her family's Lurnea home.
Mr El-Dennaoui said he last saw his daughter about 2am when she was put in a bed she shared with two older sisters. Her siblings woke to find her gone and a large hole cut in the fly screen above her bed.
Mr Evenden said it had been clear since early in the inquest, which was "confrontational, to say the least", that the El-Dennaoui family was now suspected of hiding the toddler's death.
"(Mr El-Dennaoui) has never accepted the suggestion that his family is involved in a cover-up," he said.
"He has been co-operative with the police, he has been highly involved in the investigation - and he has always been seeking information."
Police now believe Rahma's abduction was probably staged and her body disposed of after she died accidentally at home, the inquest was previously told.
But Mr Evenden said there was no forensic evidence and only speculation to back investigators' theories. He said there had been no phone traffic from the El-Dennaoui home after about 7.30pm - at which time Rahma was almost certainly still alive - when "frantic" calls for relatives' help to cover up the death could be expected.
The family called on Deputy State Coroner Sharon Freund to find that Rahma had been abducted and for a suspected paedophile who lived near the family to be further investigated.
"Not a lot was done (to investigate him) ... and what was done was done too late," Mr Evenden said.
In 2006, one of Rahma's sisters gave a description broadly fitting the suspect's appearance as the person she saw take her sibling.
Ms Freund will deliver her findings on Thursday.
A $250,000 reward remains for any information provided to police about the disappearance.

The Daily Telegraph (10-11-2012)
Peter Bodkin
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/no-proof-of-staged-abduction-of-toddler-rahma-el-dennaoui/story-fndo317g-1226513983026


Missing child's family 'spoke in code'

The family of missing toddler Rahma El-Dennaoui spoke in "coded references" when discussing the evidence being given at an inquest into her disappearance, phone taps have revealed.
In Glebe Coroner's Court today, Rahma's aunt Rouba Dennaoui admitted using the phrase "cutting the grass" when talking to relatives about the inquest, which held hearings in April and May.
Police secretly bugged the phones of the El-Dennaoui family and their friends during the inquest and for a month afterwards.
Counsel assisting the coroner, Robert Bromwich, SC, said the use of "coded references" and the descriptions of people to avoid using their names "gives a rather suspicious flavour" to the conversations.
Ms Dennaoui said, "I have nothing to hide". She vehemently denied that her husband, Ahmed Dennaoui, "went missing" for a couple of hours on the night Rahma went missing from her family's Lurnea home.
"I'm 100 per cent sure that my husband did not leave home that night," she said.
However Mr Bromwich suggested she couldn't vouch for his whereabouts while she was asleep.
Ms Dennaoui agreed she wanted to keep the rumour that her husband was not at home that night "out of the public domain" because "it might suggest that Ahmed had something to do with it [Rahma's disappearance]".
Earlier today, a witness told the inquest that the aunt of missing toddler Rahma El-Dennaoui was at the El-Dennaoui house on the night the girl disappeared.
The witness, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said that Wahide Dennaoui said she was at the El-Dennaoui's home in the Sydney suburb of Lurnea until about 2am on November 10, 2005.
The testimony contradicts the account given by Rahma's father, Hosayn El-Dennaoui, and his wife, Alyaa, that Wahide was not at their home late on the night the child disappeared.
Rahma has not been seen since the early hours of November 10, 2005, after her parents put her to bed about 2am.
Wahide Dennaoui is the sister of Hosayn El-Dennaoui.
The witness said she saw Wahide two days after Rahma disappeared.
"Wahide said Rahma was sick that night and she [Wahide] stayed at her place until 2am and the next day the girl has [sic] disappeared."
Yesterday another witness, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court that the day after Rahma disappeared, she spoke to Maymouna Dennaoui, the mother-in-law of Wahide Dennaoui.
The witness testified that Maymouna told her Rahma had been very ill with a fever on November 13 and that Wahide was at her brother's house until late helping care for Rahma.
The witness claimed Wahide denied this days later and told her not to speak of it again. The witness said she complied until she was approached by police in June or July this year.
The inquest continues.

www.smh.com.au (24-10-2012)
Louise Hall
http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/missing-childs-family-spoke-in-code-20121024-284ob.html


Disappearance Of Sydney Toddler Rahma el-Dennaoui

The best hope of solving the mystery disappearance of Sydney toddler Rahma el-Dennaoui now lies in a member of the public coming forward with information, police say.
Police believe she may have been abducted after an exhaustive search of the south-western Sydney neighbourhood in which she vanished from her home on November 10 has failed to find any trace of the 19-month-old girl.
Rahma was last seen sleeping between her sisters in her Lurnea bedroom about 2am (AEDT) on November 10.
An extensive search of the area, including nearby dams, marshes and creeks was called off last Monday after it failed to find any sign of the toddler.
Detectives are continuing to doorknock the area and speak to residents, as well as questioning members of Rahma's large extended family.
They have not given up hope of finding her alive, a state crime command spokeswoman said.
"From our point of view we're hopeful she's still alive and so's her family," the spokeswoman said.
"They're praying a lot and doing pleas to the public (along with) some media in the hope that it will generate interest and that the community are aware."
It appeared increasingly likely Rahma had been abducted, with police probing the possibility she had been taken by a childless couple or woman, she said.
"That's where help from the public is obviously crucial," she said.
"Members of the public would notice that there was a child where there hadn't been a child before, people might hear a child crying where they might not have heard a child crying before."
The results of forensic tests on the torn flyscreen from Rahma's bedroom window were also expected in the next few days, she said, but were only one of a number of avenues police were following.

Sydney Morning Herald (12-11-2005)

Kidnapper Childless, Police Say

Missing Sydney toddler Rahma El-Dennaoui may have been taken by a couple or a woman desperate for a child, police say.
"We would like the public to keep an eye out for any out-of-character behaviour," chief investigator Detective Superintendent Peter Cotter said.
"If they notice a small child at their neighbour's home when before there wasn't one, we would like to know about it."
The 19 month old has been missing for 10 days. She was last seen by her parents at 2am on November 10 when they checked her as she slept on a double bed with two of her sisters.
The family posed for photographs yesterday for the first time as police dismissed any suggestion they were involved in Rahma's disappearance.
Investigations have focused on a large tear in the flyscreened window above Rhama's bed and the back door, which was unlocked the night she vanished.
Superintendent Cotter said police were treating the case as "absolutely genuine".
"There is no suggestion the family is involved in any way in the child's disappearance," he said.
"They are a decent, loving family. They are devastated and deserve the public's sympathy."
Rahma's father, Hosayn, said yesterday the family was still in shock.
"I feel like I am walking around in a dream. It is like I cannot wake up," he said.
"Now I make sure all the doors are locked and I don't let my children out of my sight."
Mr El-Dennaoui said Rahma's seven young siblings had written letters to their missing sister.
The heartbreaking notes contain messages such as: "Rahma is the most beautiful sister" and "Rahma, where are you?"
One of the youngest children had simply written Rahma's name repeatedly in capital letters.
Mr El-Dennaoui said the children had had trouble sleeping since their sister vanished. "They are frightened, especially my oldest. She is too scared to go out."
Mr El-Dennaoui's sister, who did not want to be named, said the family were praying that Rahma was being cared for by somebody.
"But it has been 10 days now.
"I can't think about that too much. It's so hard to stop yourself from thinking the worst," she said.
"I think somebody has taken her. If she was lost, somebody would have picked her up and taken her to the police station."

Sunday Telegraph (20-11-2005)
Marnie O'Neill

No Clues On Toddler

Police today will review the search for a 19-month-old girl missing from her Sydney home since Thursday, saying they have not uncovered a single clue as to her whereabouts.
The toddler, Rahma el-Dennaoui, disappeared from her home in suburban Lurnea some time after 2am on November 10, when her parents last checked on her. She had been sharing a bed with two young sisters and they woke about 8am to find Rahma missing.
One hundred police, Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service workers searched creeks, marsh, and scrubland yesterday.
But Detective Superintendent Peter Cotter said police had been unable to find any evidence that might provide a clue as to what happened to Rahma.
He said the search would continue until today before officers reassessed the situation.
"We will be continuing, but of course, you can only go over the same ground so many times," he said.
On Friday, Rahma's father Hosayn el-Dennaoui made a public appeal to the public for help to find his "beautiful girl".

Sunday Mail (13-11-2005)

Toddler Still Missing

The distraught father of a 19-month-old Sydney girl who disappeared from her bed has made a desperate appeal for public help, as police admit they are baffled by the case.
Rahma el-Dennaoui has been missing from her home in Hill Rd, Lurnea, since after 2am on Thursday, when her parents last checked on her.
When her siblings woke about 8am, the little girl, who had been sharing a bed with her young sisters, was gone.
Her disappearance has confounded police, who are at a loss to say if the girl was abducted or if she simply wandered off. As the search for Rahma, last seen in her pink pyjamas, continued yesterday plice said at this stage there were no signs of foul play.

Adelaide Advertiser (12-11-2005)







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