Larrimah may be home to a killer, inquest told

There was standing room only for media inside the Katherine Local Court today.
There was standing room only for media inside the Katherine Local Court today.

Larrimah may be home to a murderer.

That’s what police indicated to today’s opening day of an inquest into the mysterious disappearance of Paddy Moriarty just before last Christmas.

At least police suspect someone knows a lot more than they are letting on.

Police believe Paddy is deceased, the results of their investigation led to no other conclusion, they said.

And if someone in the town is not his murderer, then they are an accessory to his demise.

In opening the inquest, counsel assisting the Coroner, Kelvin Currie, said while no sign of Mr Moriarty has even been found, it was “likely someone in Larrimah has evidence that may be helpful in establishing what happened to Paddy”.

But police failed to produce a smoking gun on the first day as resident after resident gave evidence about many hatreds bubbling over in the small town.

There was a long-running dispute between Larrimah neighbours which included death threats, the inquest was told.

The biggest of them all was the ongoing and bitter dispute between Paddy and his neighbor, Fran Hodgetts.

“She used to say she would kill Paddy,” a Larrimah local said today.

Despite the absence of a body, an inquest began today before Judge Greg Cavanagh in Katherine Local Court.

Mr Moriarty was last seen at the Larrimah Hotel at 6pm on Saturday, December 16.

Mrs Hodgett, who has legal representation at the inquest, is due to give evidence before the inquest tomorrow morning.

The final witness is listed to be her employee, Owen Laurie, who also has a lawyer.

Many residents spoke today of the hatred between Mr Moriarty and Mrs Hodgett.

Mrs Hodgett has told the Katherine Times several times she knew she was the chief suspect but vehemently denied any knowledge of Mr Moriarty’s whereabouts.

Other residents today spoke of clashes between Mr Moriarty and barman at the town’s only hotel, Richard Simpson, who now calls Katherine his home.

Mr Simpson denied the claims, saying he had “never had a cross word with Paddy”.

He later said people would be “goddamned fools if they thought I had anything to do with his disappearance.

“Paddy was my mate, why would I?

“I don’t have anything to do with Fran, she runs all my friends down,” he said.

Mr Simpson, who told the inquest he had “smoked a bit of a weed” and had abused prescription drugs, said he could categorically rule out rumors Paddy was involved in selling drugs.

Other residents also said the same.

Maurice Darby from Elliott said he once worked for Mrs Hodgett but left “when she started to rip off customers”.

He claimed she was selling “home-made” pies from her tea-house for $13 which had been bought from a supermarket for under a dollar.

“She used to swear and yell at him (Paddy),” he said.

“They detested each other.”

The inquest continues at 10am tomorrow.