17-year-old Angela Mealing disappeared after leaving a Cairns party on April 2, 2000. Mealing was not known for this type of behaviour and foul play was suspected due to a bank cheque that had been deposited into her bank account remaining untouched in the days following her disappearance.
Photo: This single small photo is the only one available to the public.
Six months later on May 15 Angela’s badly decomposed body was found on the banks of Behana Creek, approximately 30km south of Cairns. A noose was found hanging in a tree by the remains and a note had been carved into a tree saying, ‘I’m sorry mum be strong not your fault’.
The family refused to believe that Angela had killed herself, and police initially cautioned that the crime scene may have been staged. A coronal inquest was unable to determine a cause of death due to the state of decomposition, however they concluded that they did not believe the remains showed evidence of a death by hanging and despite evidence suggesting a suicide they were unable to rule out the scene was staged.
Constable Adrian William Deemal came forward four days after Mealing was reported missing admitting that he was most likely the last person to have seen the girl alive. The off-duty officer claims to have picked Mealing up outside the Cairns Gold Club – along Mulgrave Road – early Sunday morning after seeing her stumbling up the road in a distressed state on the outskirts of the city, looking to be in some sort of trouble.
Deemal described that when Mealing had got into the car he noticed blood on her clothes and had she revealed to him that she had been assaulting during the evening. Notably, the Coronal Inquest confirmed that Mealing had been assaulted twice that evening – once by three girls at a party in Mooroobool, and then by a young male who was identified as her boyfriend. There is nothing available to the public regarding these assaults and whether they were serious or connected, however it does not appear that any of the assailants were ever regarded as suspects.
Deemal told investigators that he had dropped Mealing off at her request near the Caltex service station in Gordonvale, 25km south of Cairns. The security footage obtained from the service station however, showed his Toyota Lexcen continuing along the highway instead of turning onto Riverstone Road as he had suggested.
After being unable to explain gaps in his account of the night that he claims to have picked up Mealing, just hours before her disappearance, and for lying about his movements, Deemal was dismissed from the Queensland police service and was jailed for perjury and sentenced to one year in prison. Deemal however, has never been charged for Mealing’s death and the case still remains unsolved.
There are a number of possibilities of what could have occurred that evening. Was Angela Mealing involved in an altercation with the off-duty officer? Was the officer just seeking attention by claiming to have seen her that evening? Is it possible that this is an unfortunate suicide after an evening of fighting with her friends and boyfriend – teenagers that have been drinking excessively have heightened emotions and may be vulnerable in this way.
With very little information about the investigation available to the public it is unlikely that we will ever know the answers to these questions, but hopefully someone with information will come forward to help get justice and answers for the grieving family.
There is currently a $250,000 reward for information in regard to solving the crime. If you know anything, please call CrimeStoppers.