THE cold-case investigation into the death of a Werris Creek teen has stalled with no new evidence coming to light, despite a fresh family appeal.
A fresh appeal by family members and police was instigated in February, following a new review of the case by detectives.
But more than four months on, it has failed to shed any new light on the case.
“No new information has been received,” Oxley Chief Inspector Phil O’Reilly told The Leader.
“We completed our investigations following the public appeal for information.
“We have had meetings with the family, but no new information has been received to date.”
Stephen was a popular footballer who was struck by a freight train, rattling north up the rail line from Quirindi to Tamworth in the early hours of October 5, 1995.
Despite a coroner ruling Stephen Smith died of multiple injuries after being hit by a train, about 7km out of Quirindi, the case was re-opened in early 2018.
Strike Force Puno – an operation by Oxley detectives and the homicide squad – was investigating Mark Haines’ death in Tamworth. In the course of the investigation, detectives had cause to review Stephen’s case.
Chief Inspector O’Reilly said detectives had exhausted all options but the case won’t be closed, despite the coroner making a determination several years ago.
The case will remain open in case any matters come to light.- Oxley Chief Inspector Phil O’Reilly
“The case will remain open in case any matters come to light,” he said.
On the night of the incident, Stephen had been at Caroona and was dropped back into Quirindi and was looking to hitch-hike back home to Werris Creek.
The original police investigation – which involved a public appeal for help and a letterbox drop – saw some witnesses come forward.
The new review of the case this year was conducted on the evidence alone, police said. It focused on trying to find an anonymous caller to police during the original investigation and two mystery men seen in the town on the night.
The witness spotted Stephen across the road from 191 Hawker Street at about 1.20am, and at the same time, saw two males in the park, smoking.
“During our appeal [at the time] there was one additional piece of information that was phoned in anonymously from a female caller about hearing three persons in the street at that time,” Chief Inspector O’Reilly said in February, during the public appeal for help, urging that person to make contact again.
Despite the family’s plea for help, the caller didn’t make contact with police as part of the review of the investigation.
Strike Force Puno is still investigating Mark Haines’ death but police have ruled out any direct links in the cases.
Anyone with information on the death of Stephen Smith is still being urged to contact Oxley police on 6768 2999.
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