A father’s nightmare: ‘I just lived through 16 hours of hell’:
THE father of missing Port Douglas woman Jessica Hamill has recounted the living nightmare he was put through yesterday.
Not only was his beloved daughter missing, but she was presumed to be with a man capable of doing her harm.
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An emotional Scott Hamill spoke of his family’s agony upon learning Jessica – an ambitious young Real Estate professional in Port Douglas - had allegedly been kidnapped.
“I just lived through 16 hours of hell,” he said fighting back tears.
“As a any parent would know, if (a) son or daughter was missing, it’s the most traumatic time of your life.
“Especially knowing she was at the hands of someone who could do her harm.
“Although it wasn’t a pretty ending, we got a result. We got our Jess back.”
The ending was a traumatic car chase from near Mareeba to the bottom of the Kuranda Range, culminating in a car crash with Jessica involved.
Police first observed a black Holden Commodore station wagon at around 6pm travelling on the Kennedy Highway towards Cairns. Believing Jessica was inside, they attempted to stop the vehicle using tyre deflation devices, or ‘stingers’, but without success.
The car eventually plummeted down a steep embankment on the Kuranda Range where Jessica was found, before the man escaped into nearby bushland.
A special police task force and a helicopter eventually tracked a 24-year-old man through scrub near Smithfield where he was apprehended.
He has been identified as Daniel Rooney, a chef in Port Douglas. He has been charged with attempted murder, along with a string of other serious offences including enter dwelling with intent, assault occasioning bodily harm, strangulation, deprivation of liberty, fail to stop motor vehicle, contravention of a domestic violence order and breach bail condition.
Scott Hamill said he felt ‘extremely lucky’ to have his daughter back who he described as a ‘very driven young lady’.
“She holds a good position in Real Estate. She had a dream about owning her own house before she was 21 and she has done that. She has bought a place of her own,” he said.
“Unfortunately she doesn’t feel safe to go back to that house. This is going to have quite an impact on her future.”
Mr Hamill thanked family, friends and the media during the search, but held special praise for the Queensland Police who threw all their resources into finding Jessica.
Mr Hamill said Jessica was as good as can be expected but was ‘still bewildered’ with recent events.
“As you can understand we are a bit traumatic at this stage, so please just respect our privacy in the future,” he said.
“Let us come to grips with what’s just happened and get some normality back in our lives.”
Given the horrifying circumstances of this experience, that’s going to take some time.
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