Caddick's death remains mystery after inquest findings

·3-min read

A captivating case involving a vanished conwoman, an evasive husband and a washed-up severed foot could remain a mystery forever.

The lengthy inquest into the disappearance of Sydney fraudster Melissa Caddick has made just one concrete finding: she is dead.

Forensic pathologists, family members and even orthopaedic surgeons were among those called to give evidence into the woman's disappearance in November 2020.

However, Deputy State Coroner Elizabeth Ryan has been left scratching her head about what happened in the days surrounding Ms Caddick's shock disappearance.

The coroner dismissed a suggestion that a raid by corporate watchdog ASIC on the fraudster's home days before she vanished was conducted inappropriately, despite objections from her family.

"I believe (Caddick) died as a direct result of ASIC's negligence, cruelty and inhumanity," her husband Anthony Koletti told the inquest last year.

Mr Koletti, a part-time hairdresser and DJ, said he and his wife were not offered food, water or medicine during the 12-hour raid of their Dover Heights home.

However, the inquest heard Ms Caddick was outwardly calm during the search warrant, even taking an afternoon nap.

Much of the coroner's criticism was instead reserved for Mr Koletti himself, who was found to have purposely withheld information relating to his wife's disappearance.

Ms Ryan said he could not be ruled out as being involved, calling his consistently murky evidence "regrettable".

"It is fair to say that when he was not creating further inconsistencies, he was attempting to account for them with opaque and at times unintelligible explanations," she said on Thursday.

Mr Koletti continuously contradicted himself during the inquest, including suggesting Ms Caddick was a keen runner and had potentially gone for a jog the morning of her disappearance, despite CCTV footage showing she had not run in weeks.

"Explanations which he offered for the many contradictions simply did not make sense," Ms Ryan said.

His lawyer, Judy Swan, put his unintelligible evidence down to "his limited intellectual capacity", however, Ms Ryan did not agree.

"His discrepancies are too numerous and too persistent to be attributable to stress and lack of intellectual sophistication," she said.

She found Mr Koletti had "some awareness" of Ms Caddick's movements during the days before and after her disappearance, but made a conscious choice "not to disclose it".

The lack of police referral of the missing person case to the NSW homicide squad and the "early dismissal" of the possibility that Ms Caddick had been harmed by someone else created a risk of losing key information, Ms Ryan said.

While the coroner could not rule out murder, she also could not rule out suicide, arguing Ms Caddick "could well have regarded suicide as her only escape from her personal and professional catastrophe".

The 49-year-old self-styled financial adviser preyed on mostly friends and family to steal up to $30 million through her investment scam, using the money to fund her lavish lifestyle before disappearing in November 2020.

Months later, her badly decomposed right foot, still attached to a running shoe, washed up on a beach on the south coast of NSW, leading authorities to presume her dead.

The inquest found, while "unlikely", it was possible Ms Caddick had cut the foot off herself or with the help of someone else.

Ms Ryan took less than two hours to deliver her 54-page-long findings, concluding by apologising to the family Ms Caddick left behind.

"I wish the inquest could have provided the sense of peace that can come from these findings," she said on Thursday.

"I regret that positive findings cannot be made as to the cause and manner of Melissa Caddick's death."

Outside court, Ms Caddick's brother leant on the horn of a car as Mr Koletti pushed his way through a media scrum to take the passenger seat.

The pair drove off with Ms Caddick's parents in tow, none the wiser about the circumstances of their daughter's death.

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