Dulcie Birt
Dulcie Birt Contributed

Missing, presumed dead: What happened to Dulcie Birt?

HOW did an Ipswich mother of two who has been missing for more than four years die and who is responsible for her death?

Those are the questions Queensland State Coroner John Lock will endeavour to answer.

The inquest into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dulcie Isabelle Birt, 31, opened yesterday in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

Ms Birt was last seen alive on October, 21, 2009, at her home she shared with her sons, a boarder and her new lover in Old Ipswich Road at Riverview.

Her eldest son Shaun Birt reported her missing three days later.

Counsel Assisting the Coroner Emily Cooper told the court Ms Birt's disappearance sparked a massive search of bushland and surrounding waterways.

Ms Cooper said on October, 25, 2009, her former lover Alwyn John Gwilliams, 44, gave a statement to police denying he knew where the missing mother was.

SEARCH SCENE: Police drained Green Lakes, at Collingwood Park, in 2009 in a failed attempt to discover Dulcie Birt’s body.
SEARCH SCENE: Police drained Green Lakes, at Collingwood Park, in 2009 in a failed attempt to discover Dulcie Birt’s body. File

She said after a second interview with police Gwilliams was arrested on February 17, 2010, and charged with Ms Birt's murder.

Ms Cooper said during an interview with police Gwilliams admitted he had unlawfully killed her in a drunken car crash at Riverview.

Gwilliams told police he "panicked" and disposed of her lifeless body in Jacobs Well.

Despite an extensive search, which included draining several waterways in the area, her body has never been recovered and cause of death never determined.

Ms Cooper told the court Gwilliams was initially charged with murder and interfering with a corpse, but on the first day of his Brisbane Supreme Court last year he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

The last sighting of Dulcie Birt on CCTV in 2009.
The last sighting of Dulcie Birt on CCTV in 2009.

During his sentencing on February 22, 2013, the Supreme Court was told of Gwilliams criminal history which included including a prior conviction in 2003 for the assault and torture of a former partner at a quarry in NSW, described by the sentencing judge as "savage and brutal."

Gwilliams is currently serving a 10-years sentence at the correctional facility in Gatton.

Ms Cooper told the court she intended to call 18 witnesses during the inquest including Gwilliams and Ms Birt's eldest son Shaun.

She said given Gwilliams was in custody arrangements were being made for the inquest to be held in a court room which had a dock.

Coroner John Lock ordered all parties had until January 31 to present their submission and ordered Queensland Police Service locate and serve summons to people on the witness list who are yet to be located.

He adjourned the hearing until February 24.

The inquest is expected to last a week.



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