The family of an Indigenous man has made an emotional plea for justice as the coronial inquest into his 2021 disappearance begins in Queensland.
27-year-old Jayo Rivers was travelling between New South Wales and Queensland with a group of males in late October of that year.
He went missing around Wippo Creek, about 20km south of Noccundra, and was presumed deceased following an extensive, but unsuccessful, search effort.
Mr Rivers mother, Joanne, spoke of her heartache as the inquest, led by Coroner Donald MacKenzie got underway in Brisbane on Monday.
“I just want my son home,” she told the assembled media through tears.
“I want him home, and I want justice for him.”
First witnesses take the stand
The inquest is scheduled to last until Friday and will hear from the men who were travelling with Mr Rivers at the time of his disappearance.
The prospect of foul play, as well as the competence of the police investigation, are also expected to come under scrutiny.
Under cross-examination on Monday, Joe Joe Kantilla-Gaden, one of Mr Rivers’ companions, rejected suggestions that a fight had broken out the night before the latter disappeared.
Stewart Levitt, counsel for the Rivers family, put to Mr Kantilla-Gaden that Mr Rivers had discovered the true reason for the trip: the transportation of a large amount of cannabis.
“Jayo found out about the drugs and wanted out and you said you can’t get out because you wanted a share of the $72,000 you’d make from selling the three pounds,” Mr Levitt said.
“There was an argument between him and everyone else and I suggest that caused everyone to be angry with him.”
The inquest will also hear from other members of the travelling group.
The pre-inquest conference, which summarises the known elements of the case, details the group’s delay in alerting police to Mr Rivers’ disappearance.
At the time, they informed police their wish to avoid the hefty fine for travelling interstate while COVID restrictions were in place was the reason for the delay.
The inquest continues.