“It was devastating; I just wanted to throw up We were in the loungeroom with the boys when the police told us what happened”: Faye and Mark Leveson. Photo: Kate GeraghtyIt was too good to be true for the Levesons – someone had admitted to killing and burying their son.
Seven years after their son Matthew, 20, was killed, a social media confession had given them fresh hope and sparked an international investigation.
After spending countless family weekends digging for bones themselves, Faye and Mark let themselves hope they would finally “bring Matty home”.
For months they waited for the police to deliver good news, only to be let down by what they describe as “the clanger”.
“It was hard for the boys, they thought we are finally going to get the murderer, the person who killed their brother,” Mrs Leveson said.
“We were excited, we thought finally, we are going to get this ratbag, he has slipped up and then … bang.”
The confession was bogus and fabricated by a man who had once pretended to find their son’s body in the Royal National Park several years ago.
In a series of posts and online conversations he had purported to be Matty’s killer and even described how he had killed him.
Nothing was true.
“It was devastating; I just wanted to throw up. We were in the loungeroom with the boys when the police told us what happened,” Mrs Leveson said in the office of the family’s Bonnet Bay accounting business.
Matty, as he was known to his friends and family, was last seen on security footage leaving ARQ nightclub in Darlinghurst with his partner, Michael Peter Atkins, in the early hours of Sunday, September 23, 2007.
The last known contact was a text message sent to a friend at 3.30am the day he disappeared. “He needs to f—en get over himself,” it read, referring to Mr Atkins.
Mr Atkins was later charged but a jury acquitted him of murder and an alternative charge of manslaughter.
Seven years later the family were told the unsolved unit of the Homicide Squad had a new and compelling lead.
The officers who spent six months chasing what they believed was fresh evidence, felt physically sick when they realised the killing confession was fake.
Detective Inspector Gary Jubelin said the small actions of one man had devastating consequences.
“It rocked us,” Inspector Jubelin said.
“It was the biggest kick in the guts when we found out where the information had originated from. I’ve never seen a strike force so devastated.”
He said police formally interviewed the man who had purported to be Matthew’s killer and he made full confession and explained what his motives had been.
Even after all the heartache he caused, police are not able to charge him due to statute of limitations.
Despite the devastating setback, the Levesons said they will never give up.
And they have faith that the police never will, after homicide commander Mick Willing reopened the case under Strike Force Bowditch.
Mr Leveson said he sometimes drove past funerals and muttered under his breath, “you lucky bastards”.
“The main thing is we want to bring him home,” he said.
His wife nods in agreement as she blots the tears on her cheeks.
“It’s hard at funerals. You are sitting at a funeral of someone you love, but you are there, sitting there, envying them and saying, wish that was Matt’s funeral.
“We’ve been kicked in the guts so many times that we hope for the best but we expect the worst,” Mr Leveson said.
They don’t have a grave but their love and commitment for their son is inked on their skin.
Mark, Faye ands brother Peter and Jason all have pictures of Matty’s smiling face tattooed on their bodies while Mr Leveson has a growing collection of quotes and pictures.
On his right forearms are the words: “Death leaves a heartache that no one can heal”. Inked on his left is: “Love leaves a memory that no one can steal”.
There is a $100,000 reward for any information that leads to the recovery of Matthew’s body and any tip-offs can be made anonymously.
An inquest into the death of Matthew Leveson is set down for December 8.
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