THE family of missing Ayr police officer Michael Isles cannot shake the belief that he may have been murdered, and are hoping Coroner Michael Barnes returns an "open file" when he delivers his findings on Friday.
Senior Sergent Isles, who had previously been stationed near Warwick, had been cleared of corruption, had beaten cancer, and was in the process of returning to full time work when he vanished while on route to training in Townsville on September 23, 2009.
His son Steven said his father was also looking forward to his retirement in coming months and buying a caravan to go travelling with his wife, possibly joining the fruit picking circuit.
Snr Sgt Isles had suffered bouts of depression and anxiety due to his professional and personal challenges, but it was being treated with medication and his condition had improved significantly.
His son told the coroner's court that he was upbeat and "forward thinking" at the time of his disappearance.
"He had just finished polishing his shoes, had a haircut the day before, and he made approaches to me, 'Can I swap my sunglasses with yours', immediately before he drove off, 'because these have slight blemishes in them'," Mr Isles said outside court.
"Are these actions consistent with someone driving with the intention of taking one's life?" he had asked earlier during his family's submission to the coroner.
The unmarked police car that Snr Sgt Isles had booked out on the day had been found undamaged in a remote area, but a significant search failed to find any trace at all of the missing man.
While an old shotgun was missing from the family's gun cabinet, and ammunition was found in the car, there was also a witness account that Snr Sgt Isles was followed out of town by two four-wheel drives, which have never been identified.
"There are too many unanswered questions and the appropriate thing is to record an open finding," Mr Isles suggested, "until such time as more evidence comes up to support suicide or foul play."
Coroner Michael Barnes had heard just under two days of submissions.
Among them, Wayne Kelly, Counsel representing the Commissioner of Police, noted that the search zone was some 7km by 9km in size, and it was possible that Snr Sgt Isles had walked outside that area.
"He has committed suicide, or he hasn't committed suicide and has perished," Mr Kelly submitted.
The Isles family had expressed concern throughout the investigations that the police were more intent on protecting the image of the police force rather than the outcome.
"Dracula in charge of the blood bank is always a concern when you have police investigating themselves," Mr Isles said.
Mr Kelly assured that there was "no bias in relation to how the investigation was done".
Mr Barnes will and down his findings at 10am Friday.