Search for Matthew Leveson’s body concluded in Royal National Park

Mark Leveson (centre) with his wife Faye Leveson and son Peter Leveson flag spots in the Royal National Park. Photo: Kate Geraghty Police search for the remains of Matthew Leveson in bushland in the Royal National Park at Waterfall on Thursday. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Police conduct a line search in the Royal National Park for the remains of Matthew Leveson. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Mark Leveson comforts his wife, Faye, as the search for their son Matthew’s body in the Royal National Park is called off. Photo: Jessica Hromas

As the excavator backed away from where it had been digging for her son’s remains, Faye Leveson put her hands on her knees before covering her face with both hands.

It was 1.37pm on Thursday and she had just witnessed the final moments of a seven-day police search for the body of Matthew Leveson, 20.

Not long afterwards, Mrs Leveson cried as she clutched onto a laminated picture of her son, which she had planned to place on the ground when his body was finally found.

But it was not to be.

Mrs Leveson read the caption of the picture aloud at the search site and said, “Matt our beautiful son and brother, we made a promise to you nine years, one month and 24 days ago to find you and bring you home. Today we get to bring you home to where you belong. Shine bright in the sky our gorgeous boy and fly free with the angels, you can dance all night now without a care. We will never let you be forgotten. Love you now, always and forever – Mum, Dad Pete and Jase.”

Then she said: “But I can’t really say that now, can I, because we didn’t find him and we haven’t fulfilled our promise to him yet – but I promise you we will bring you home.”

The search for Matthew Leveson’s remains was called off on Thursday afternoon after an extensive search of bushland at Waterfall in the Royal National Park.

Homicide detectives were led to the site by Mr Leveson’s former boyfriend Michael Atkins, who had previously been acquitted of murder by a jury.

Mr Atkins, struck a deal last week with NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton that granted him immunity from prosecution for perjury or contempt of court in exchange for leading police to Mr Leveson’s body.

On Thursday, Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin addressed the media, saying that the search of the area had concluded.

“The search conducted by NSW Police in this area has now concluded – we are going to continue in our efforts to locate Matthew Leveson,” he said.

“I can’t talk details of the investigation subject to the current coronial inquiry … I would just like to pay tribute to Matt’s family and the way they have conducted themselves in the past seven days in very traumatic circumstances – it’s been difficult for them and it’s been a privilege to work with them on this investigation.”

Mark Leveson, Matthew’s father, then addressed the media, thanking all those involved in the search.

“I want to also convey a formal thanks to the National Parks and Wildlife staff, they’ve done a fantastic job at this potential crime scene; to the police, Gary and his team, the forensic police that have been here, the Dog Squad. They’ve done a phenomenal job.

“Although there are no results here, what this does, it only strengthens our resolve. So we are even more determined to find Matt.

“Atkins – look over your shoulder.”

On the last day of the search, police handed the Leveson family white flags to place in the ground to indicate the last places they wished to be dug up by an excavator on site.

The family looked under shrubs, pointed at trees and a flagged a large plant in the middle of the search zone.

The search area to the side of McKell Avenue had been extensively searched throughout the past week.

Earlier on Thursday, NSW Police Public Order and Riot Squad did line searches, concentrating on some areas with shovels.

As police took down the white and blue crime scene tape, Faye and Mark Leveson placed bunches of flowers around a picture of their son, and propped them up against a rock at the perimeter of the search zone.

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