NSW Detectives show Matthew Leveson’s parents Mark Leveson (right) and Faye Leveson (2nd from right) where there may be the burial place of their son Matthew Leveson in the Royal National Park at Waterfall, NSW. 31st May, 2017. Photo: Kate GeraghtyWith her hands slightly shaking, Faye Leveson stood up from her seat in the NSW Coroner’s Court witness box and reached for her laminated photos.
One showed a beaming, bright-eyed young man: her son Matthew Leveson.
Next to it was a confronting photograph of “Matty’s” skeleton, laid out on a piece of blue plastic at the morgue.
An emotional Mrs Leveson brandished the haunting photographs in the direction of the bar table, where the legal team for the man who buried her son sat silently and stared.
The courtroom on Friday morning fell silent as the grieving mother painfully explained how she found her son, nine years after Michael Peter Atkins buried his body in bushland.
“At first all we saw was his pelvic bone and two leg bones,” said Mrs Leveson, dressed in her son’s favourite colour, purple.
“I keep seeing my beautiful Matty reduced to bones being taken out of his makeshift grave piece by piece.
“I cannot and never will get those images out of my mind, they are burned into my mind forever.”
The long-running inquest into Mr Leveson’s disappearance reached an emotional boiling point after Mr Atkins was excused from having to answer questions about his startling admissions.
It was the first time the inquest had resumed since police, led by information from Mr Atkins, uncovered Mr Leveson’s skeleton in the Royal National Park on May 31.
Six months earlier, Mr Leveson’s ex-boyfriend, Mr Atkins, 54, changed the story he had maintained for years. He told police he knew what happened to Mr Leveson when he disappeared in September 2007.
In a statement released by the court this week, Mr Atkins claimed he buried his former boyfriend’s body after finding him dead from a “drug overdose”.
Mr Atkins, an electrician by trade, was worried about what the death, and his involvement in drugs, would do to his reputation.
“I thought I could bury the body and nobody would know,” he told homicide detectives.
It was only after police promised Mr Atkins’ induced statement wouldn’t be used against him that he agreed to tell them about the grave site.
The NSW Attorney-General had also granted Mr Atkins immunity from perjury charges, after he lied under oath at the inquest, if he helped police find Mr Leveson’s body.
He had been lying for nine years, claiming he woke up on the morning of September 23, 2007, and found Mr Leveson had mysteriously disappeared.
One of the central issues at this week’s hearing was whether Mr Atkins, who provided the crucial information after the promise of immunity, would have to give evidence about his revealing statement.
Citing his lack of credibility as a witness and history of lying to police, Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott found there would be little point.
Ms Truscott said Mr Atkins gave police an induced statement believing he wouldn’t have to give evidence about it.
“Mr Atkins’ induced statement and assistance in locating Matthew’s remains was not altruistic,” Ms Truscott said.
“It was entirely self-serving.”
Ms Truscott found it was “more likely than not” if Mr Atkins was called back to the witness box to show he lied in his early evidence, he would be liable for perjury.
But calling him to give evidence to expose him to potential perjury charges “falls well outside my statutory functions”, she added.
The subpoena that was hanging over Mr Atkins’s head was discharged. It is highly unlikely he will face any charges over Mr Leveson’s death.
The discovery of his bones didn’t provide any further evidence as to how he died. Mr Atkins was acquitted of Mr Leveson’s murder and manslaughter in 2009.
Faye and Mark Leveson believe they will never really know how their son died and believe Mr Atkins lied about his final moments.
“Michael Peter Atkins, a known liar and a perjurer, has tried to stop this inquest saying it was unlawful,” Mrs Leveson told the court.
“His actions after Matt was deceased are not of a grieving partner but rather of a cold calculating individual that doesn’t know the meaning of love nor sorry.”
The inquest will hear final submissions on September 26.