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Why Don Hazell came to see me ...

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Don Hazell ... camera rolling

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Don Hazell arriving at author’s residence at Orford

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Don & Tapp

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Elliott Note:  ‘something you need to know’

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Hazel Bros nation-wide website

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Lucille composite

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Lucille Cover

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Lance Lesage, says he buried Lucille at Kingston. Don Hazell is convinced he dug her up.

And so last week started with a message. It was from a man that I may have interviewed a long time ago, making his way up the business ladder. He owns trucks. The message is handwritten by an Orford businessman and delivered early Monday 21 July by his wife.

The message states; “...had a phone call from Don Hazell. There is something you need to know. Please call him (his mobile number supplied). I had a phone call from him and asked me to pass on this message.”

And so Don, what is it you want me to know, I muse? Have you read my piece in the Tasmanian Times about my objection to Glamorgan Spring Bay Council’s industrial vision? Factories and trucks, factories and trucks? Well why should I ring you just to get an earful? And so I don’t ... for a few days.

Don Hazell must be getting on now. A website search shows a business that leaves its tracks in most States. Hazell employs 600 and is one of the biggest infrastructure firms in the country. In context he is a Kerry Packer or a Rupert Murdoch of the earthmoving/infrastructure industry. You’ve done well Don, but how old are you, you old bugger and what is it you want me to know? The call is made and my contact number is left on the earth-moving patriarch’s message bank.

Two days pass with silence. Don Hazell has probably thought about the futility of giving me an earful about my stance on factories and trucks, trucks, trucks.

But how little I know about this man. We should never second-guess stuff like this. Don has not forgotten my call. He wants to add something to ‘something I need to know’.

He is somewhere in Kingston, with a concrete-cutter and one of his four sons, who now run the monolithic Hazell Bros. He has been given permission by Kingborough Council to cut through a concrete footpath. He found something there years ago. He is praying he can find it again. But it’s not there. The area of his interest is now a confusion of communications cables that connect the rapidly expanding Kingston subdivisions with the world. But what he is looking for, what has troubled him for decades, is not there.

But Don is now here, in my home. It is one week later, Saturday July 26, 2014. He has made contact and has agreed to my interviewing him. Don Hazell, one of Tasmania’s most respected residents, wants to tell me something. What he was looking for.

He stepped out of his black Jag and made sprightly way into my living room. My wife has left the building. She wants no part of any more of my ventures into mystery unraveling. She was under ordeal at the 2000 Gilewicz Commission of Inquiry where she had to give evidence as to living with a retired journalist who won’t put down the pen. She no longer wants to be privy to revelations from her husband of 48 years who to some is known as ‘Conspiracy Paul’. She has left lunch, homemade egg and vegie pie, homemade beef broth ...and is gone a few minutes before Don Hazell arrives.

We small talk. Don would have contacted me much earlier but read my death-notice in The Mercury, a name-sake whose passing still brings sympathy hugs to my wife and pale-faced expressions at my arrival at occasional social venues.

Don Hazell is 87 years old. He is slightly awkward in gait, but confident. He has driven from Kingston after feeding a herd of cows. He has not wasted any time in getting here. He has the demeanour of a business-man who wants to get down to business. Talk first, eat later. At his age, when might his next words be his last?  He wants to tell me something I need to know. I seat him before my camera on its shaky little tripod. The scribbled sign on the door, says ‘Interview In Progress’ in case of visitors. In Don’s hand, papers from a printout of a series of my stories published earlier in the Tasmanian Times. Camera rolls. Don gets to it. His eyes are slightly liquid, both with reflection and triumph. The triumph of a man, getting something off his chest, something I need to know. Something the public needs to know. About a man on a machine a long time ago, putting in the first Housing Department estate in Kingston, south of Hobart. In the same place that another man, Lance Lesage had confessed to this writer, of burying the little lost girl, Lucille Butterworth in 1969.

Don Hazell is working the area several years later and stops his machine. An employee and he together move to the disrupted soil before his machine bucket. What has he dug up? Something that has pulled his work to a stand-still. Something that summons those human instincts that something at his feet needs explanation. He has worked sites before. He has dug up kangaroo, possum, sheep. But what is before him, he suspects, is human. Part of a torso of a human being. A rib-cage.

Camera rolling catches the glint of deep satisfaction in an aging man whose burden has lifted from his life, as a distant hill glows incandescent from a lifting cloud. 

Don is not far from tears. He pauses and fights them off.

He has never spoken in a public way of this before this day and my camera is rolling. He has told someone.

“I to this very day, I am convinced that I dug up part of the remains of Lucille Butterworth.”

Author’s note:

Because of time constraints and much material yet to be processed and checked, I have offered this piece as a hold-story in time for exclusive publication in Monday’s fresh-news edition of the Tasmanian Times. 

On completion and checking with Tasmania Police on some aspects of the long and detailed interview with Don Hazell, I will make available to readers of the Tasmanian Times a full transcript of the interview.

This interim story is to give notice of the continuing saga involving the mystery of Lucille Butterworth. I have already placed on YouTube an interview with the man who professed to picking Lucille up from the Claremont bus-stop in 1969 in company with another man.

Lance Lesage insists he drove her to a concealed area outside the nearby Cornelian Bay Cemetery. Lucille of her own volition allegedly got into the back seat of the car and was joined by the other man, a noted footballer. Lesage contends he was told to go for a walk, and so went for a smoke.

On returning to the car, he contends that Lucille was on the back seat of the car, covered by a Tartan-type blanket. In the company of the other man, Lesage says he drove to Kingston, where he dug a grave and buried Lucille.

In 1986, Lesage and the other man were allegedly interviewed by police. Lesage says they were charged with murder, the charges adjourned sine die after a police excavation search of the area failed to locate a body.

The interview with Don Hazell is helpful in understanding the failure of the 1986 police search. Hazell’s preparation for a subdivision and the discovery of what he believed to be human remains was just a few years after Lucille’s disappearance and many years before the failed 1986 police search. This material is placed on Tasmanian Times in the deep public interest.

As a more comprehensive version of my interview with Don Hazell is prepared and posted, it is important that in the interim, for every member of the Tasmanian Parliament to address this issue without vacillation, given the credentials of Don Hazell and his standing in the Tasmanian community.

Time is running out. Witnesses are still alive, but for how much longer? Don Hazell wants to go before a statutory inquiry, perhaps a formal inquest to give testimony into Tasmania’s singular most mysterious disappearance.

It is now time for individuality, not conservative party politics to bring this matter before an appropriate statutory authority. My interview with Don Hazell suggests other dimensions of foul-play that should go before a coroner. Dimensions, if only in conjecture that I cannot with any semblance of responsibility, post onto a public website.

Lucille Butterworth is calling from her grave…’find me’. Her plaintive cries are being heard beyond the grave. In the past several months I had put down the pen for reasons that I am not prepared at this stage to make public.

I have absolute confidence in the integrity of Tasmania Police in the matter of Lucille Butterworth. But Lucille has again called from her grave and I again have taken up the pen. It is expected of me, for sometimes it is easer for witnesses to talk to a journalist , working or retired, in the interim, than it is to speak to police. That is the basis of the beginning and growth and very existence of our profession…that of the Fourth Estate.

Paul Tapp on Tasmanian Times, including earlier special reports on Lucille Butterworth, including the ‘Find me ...’ report which recounts Paul’s meeting with a man who says he knows where her body is buried ...