Melissa Caddick: missing financial adviser found dead months after disappearance | New South Wales

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Police have found the remains of missing businesswoman Melissa Caddick on the NSW south coast months after she disappeared following raids on her home late last year.

At a hastily arranged press conference on Friday, the NSW police assistant commissioner Michael Willing confirmed part of Caddick’s body had been discovered at a remote beach on the state’s south coast.

In what he called a “significant breakthrough”, Willing said that on Sunday campers at a location south of Tathra had discovered a shoe and “decomposed” foot washed up on a remote beach.

“Last Sunday, 21 February, a shoe was located on the shore line of the Bournda National Park south of Tathra by campers,” Willing said.

“Within that shoe were the remains of a human foot. That foot and shoe … matched the description and size of a shoe that Melissa Caddick was seen wearing during the execution of the Asic search warrant [on 11 November].

“DNA from the foot was last night matched to a DNA sample of Melissa Caddick’s toothbrush and family members.”

Caddick disappeared in November within hours of the financial watchdog, Asic, and the Australian Federal Police raiding her home in the plush Sydney suburb of Dover Heights on the suspicion that she had stolen millions of dollars from investors.

The last suspected sighting of her occurred the next morning, on 12 November, when her son heard a door close at about 5.30am and believed it was Caddick going for a run. She had left behind all of her belongings, including her mobile phone.

Willing told reporters that Caddick’s family had been informed of the DNA match last night and were “obviously distressed”.

Her disappearance had been “distressing for many people including her alleged victims and of course her family and friends”, Willing said.

Though the circumstances around her disappearance are still subject to ongoing investigations, the discovery of Caddick’s body on the state’s south coast matched drift modelling conducted by police marine command, Willing said.

The modelling had raised the “possibility” that if a body had entered the water near Dover Heights around the time of her disappearance it would likely reach the shore somewhere near the south coast town of Bermagui.

Willing said that despite exhaustive inquiries there had been no confirmed sightings of Caddick since her disappearance, and that despite an extensive review of CCTV footage her exact movements after she left her home remained unknown because the footage “does not cover the entire area of where she disappeared”.

“Exactly how Melissa came to enter the water is still a mystery and subject to ongoing investigations,” he said. “Police have always kept an open mind in relation to the circumstances of her disappearance, including the fact Melissa may have taken her own life,” Willing said.

The exact “manner, time and cause of death is a matter for the coroner”, he said.

More than 60 people are suspected to have lost about $13.1m investing with Caddick, according to the Australian financial watchdog Asic, but lawyers for some investors believe the figure is $25m, and that “could be an extremely conservative assumption”.

Asic suspected that after Caddick signed on clients to manage their investments she transferred their cash to her bank accounts to fund her own luxurious lifestyle.

She is suspected of then falsifying documents to present to them, which made it appear her shrewd decisions had built lucrative portfolios.

One of her victims, Cheryl Craft-Reid, told 2GB Radio the discovery of her remains was “a sad, tragic” outcome for Caddick’s teenage son.

“That’s a sad tragic outcome for her son but it’s also just a sad tragic outcome for us because we just don’t get closure,” she said.

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