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Husband centre stage at Caddick inquest

The second week of an inquest into the disappearance and suspected death of NSW conwoman Melissa Caddick included sometimes confusing evidence from her husband.

October 1, 2022
By Greta Stonehouse
1 October 2022

Melissa Caddick’s husband said he was doing his best to answer questions at her inquest, but after becoming distressed and confused his evidence became so unhelpful the coroner had to ask him to step down.

After a longer than normal morning tea break, Anthony Koletti returned to the NSW Coroner’s Court with bloodshot eyes fresh from crying after, according to his lawyer Judy Swan, speaking with a social worker.

The dramatic breakdown followed a week of evidence that uncovered apparent inconsistencies between Mr Koletti’s Koletti’s police statements, recorded interviews, a $150,000 paid channel 7 Spotlight program interview and recent court documents.

These weren’t “minor details,” counsel assisting the coroner Jason Downing SC told Mr Koletti, 40.

The first part of the inquest into his 49-year-old fraudster wife’s disappearance and suspected death drew to a close on Friday after Mr Koletti’s evidence took centre stage for four days.

The hairdresser and part-time DJ maintained he had no inkling his wife was defrauding family and friends of between $20 million and $30 million.

And he never asked her why federal police and corporate watchdog investigators suddenly turned up to search their Dover Heights home in Sydney’s fashionable east and seized their most valuable possessions over 12 hours on November 11, 2020.

This was the last verified sighting of the conwoman before she vanished without a trace. 

Her decomposing severed foot later washed up in a sports shoe on Bournda Beach on the far south coast of NSW in, February 2021, sparking lucid conspiracy theories that she might have cut her own foot off and escaped the law.

Mr Koletti had reported the 49-year-old as missing some 30 hours after he says she walked out of their home for the last time to exercise on November 12 at about 5.30am.

His recollection of that day is now “all a bit of a blur”, and “quite hazy,” he said in evidence.

“I didn’t think anything of it … she’s just gone for a walk which she does every day, not a problem,” he told police in an interview.

But in court, Mr Koletti agreed his wife had no habits, her exercise regime was irregular and by then she mostly jogged on the treadmill. 

That day, he left the house in 20-minute bursts to investigate “special spots” and at one point had the windows down “pumping” his own Paws Off beats to “lure her out” of hiding.

At 8pm that night he drove to a friend’s place in Rose Bay “to get an e-cigarette”.

Mr Downing put it to him that it was in fact to “smoke a joint” and that he then deleted the text message exchanges. Mr Koletti said this was because it mentioned marijuana. 

His level of concern bounced between zero to 100 over the ensuing hours. He phoned Ms Caddick’s brother Adam Grimely but didn’t mention she was missing. He called her best friend and said she was sleeping beside him to elicit an “honest response”.

“I didn’t want anybody to be alarmed,” he said in explanation.

During the inquest this week, there were many occasions when Mr Koletti told the court he was just too confused by counsel’s questions, saying they were “going around in circles”.

“The way you talk is not the way my mind works,” he told Mr Downing. 

“Your Honour, I don’t want to waste the court’s time … I don’t see any relevance of this really,” he said. 

Later, Mr Downing asked him if he delayed “reporting her missing in order to give her time to try and go somewhere … or end her own life”.

“I did not,” Mr Koletti said.

He denied playing any role in his wife’s disappearance.

After Ms Caddick’s foot was discovered her mother gave a police statement blaming Australian Securities and Investments Commission investigators for causing her daughter distress and denying her food and water on the day of the raid. 

In an earlier statement to the court, Mr Koletti wrote: “I believe she died as a direct result of ASIC’s negligence, cruelty and inhumanity.”

There is no evidence was Ms Caddick mistreated. That morning she made herself a protein smoothie and was served several coffees by her husband during the day, the inquest heard.

ASIC lead investigator Isabella Allen gave evidence that during the raid Ms Caddick was observed filing her nails “from time to time” and taking a nap in the afternoon.

She did not appear anxious at all and only showed emotion – a “look of horror” – when her wedding rings “clanged” as they were put into a ziplock bag, she added.

Ms Allen confirmed Ms Caddick’s brother asked how she felt “being responsible for Melissa’s death,” to which she said she was just doing her job.

Expert evidence has found Ms Caddick suffered from a narcissistic personality disorder and the shame and humiliation suffered from being exposed could have caused intense psychological distress, and potentially suicide.

One of her victims, who managed to claw back their sizeable investment of $2.5 million plus a purported $380,000 in profit, met Ms Caddick in an apartment she pretended to own in Aspen, Colorado.

Dominique Ogilvie was interviewed by ASIC not long before Ms Caddick booked a shredding service at her home. She has denied tipping her off.

But why Ms Caddick needed another document destroyer after Mr Koletti had already purchased her one for more than $3000 in July 2020 year is one of many questions that remain before the inquest.

“Melissa said ‘can you buy me a shredder’, so I bought her a shredder,” Mr Koletti said, alluding to the dynamic of their relationship.

He later agreed she was the “principle decision maker” in the marriage. There was a 10-year age gap between them.

For years Mr Koletti believed his wife was a “straight shooter” and a competent and highly organised financial adviser.

But he now accepts she was pretending to be honest and diligent while stealing millions from her family and friends.

“You now accept you too were deceived by Ms Caddick?” Mr Jordan asked him.

“Yes,” Mr Koletti said.

Ocean expert Dr David Griffin said it was entirely possible her body entered the water when she was last seen in November 2020 and floated close to the ocean floor in strong currents for about 93 days before resurfacing in February 2021.

This would explain the goose barnacles that had grown on her shoe, revealing it was floating on the surface for three to seven days before it was found. 

Three months prior, Mr Koletti discovered his wife’s phone at home and left a post-it note and a pair of earrings beside it.

“Melissa, I no [sic] our love is deeper than pocessions [sic]. Thought you might like one of your Christmas [sic] early,” it read.

In a 110-page affidavit tendered at the inquest, Mr Kolettie said: “I have been described as an ‘arsehole’, ‘a creep’, ‘a f***wit’, ‘a toyboy’, ‘a handbag’ and even as ‘stupid’ by my father”.

“I do not know what the future holds for me.”

The inquest was suspended on Friday and will resume on November 28 for a final two-day hearing in Sydney. 

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