Detective Chief Inspector David Laidlaw is in charge of the William Tyrrell case

Detective Chief Inspector David Laidlaw is leading the search for William Tyrrell
Detective Chief Inspector David Laidlaw is leading the search for William Tyrrell

The man heading the search for William Tyrrell led the investigations into some of the NSW Illawarra region's most sickening crimes.

Australia has watched from afar as investigators search for William's remains. Forensic investigations are focusing on the balcony and gardens of the Benaroon Drive home at Kendall on the NSW Mid North Coast where William disappeared.

The man in charge of the investigation is Detective Chief Inspector David Laidlaw who has tackled some of the Illawarra's most horrific cases.

Ch Insp Laidlaw was put in charge of the investigation into William Tyrrell's disappearance in January 2019 after the previous officer in charge, Gary Jubelin, was removed. He told a 2020 inquest that information, not resources, was what was needed to crack the case.

Specialist forensic teams with cadaver dogs are examining a nearby site for soil disturbances or items of interest.

A car formerly owned by William's foster grandmother has been seized for forensic investigation.

Tackling one of the most heart-wrenching mysteries in NSW is a far cry from Ch Insp Laidlaw's humble beginnings as a Constable at Port Kembla Police Station in 1981.

In 1985 he worked from Lake Illawarra Police Station as a Detective, before reopening the Port Kembla Detectives Office in 1989.

IN CHARGE: Detective Chief Inspector David Laidlaw has investigated some of Wollongong's most high-profile killings, and now leads the search for William Tyrrell. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

IN CHARGE: Detective Chief Inspector David Laidlaw has investigated some of Wollongong's most high-profile killings, and now leads the search for William Tyrrell. Picture: Sylvia Liber.

In 1995 he joined the Southern Region Homicide Squad, where he lead the investigation into the vicious 1998 murder of former Wollongong Mayor Frank Arkell.

His head was smashed in with a bedside lamp, the cord wrapped around his neck. Tie pins were stuck in his eyes and cheeks.

Mr Arkell was embroiled in child pornography and paedophilia scandals in the years leading up to his death; police acknowledged at the time it was impossible to know how many victims he had left in his wake who may have wished him dead.

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A young man named Mark Valera - who changed his name form Mark van Krevel - was a 19 year old local who had never come under police notice, before he confessed to Mr Arkell's murder, and was jailed for life.

Ch Insp Laidlaw continued to rise through the ranks to become a Detective Inspector in Homicide in 2007, and was the lead investigator into the gang-related killings of Lake Heights man Saso Ristevski in 2011 and Berkeley man Darko Janceski in 2012. Both matters remain before the courts.

Strike Force Calligan continues to investigate the related disappearance of Unanderra man Goran Nikolovski in 2011. Ch Insp Laidlaw also lead the investigation into the unsolved murder of Warilla teen Jye McWatters in 2015.

This story The cop leading the search for William Tyrrell first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.