Woman’s body found after four years
Skeletal remains found in bushland north of Sydney have been identified as an elderly nature lover who went missing more than four years ago.
Two bushwalkers found the remains of Gaida Coote, 84, in the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden near St Ives last weekend. A crime scene was established and a bag of gardening tools was found nearby in a search, NSW Police said on Sunday.
A forensic examination identified the remains as Ms Coote, who was expected to attend the garden on December 3, 2014.
A coronial inquest into Ms Coote's disappearance, held in 2016, heard the retired laboratory manager was adventurous, physically fit and "passionate about nature" to the point she helped conduct bush regeneration at the wildflower garden.
The coroner criticised police at the time for hesitating to file a missing persons report after Ms Coote's daughter reported the elderly woman missing.
Ms Coote's years were catching up with her and the coroner concluded Ms Coote had probably died of misadventure in the bush near the garden on the sweltering summer day.
Massive search efforts followed in the week after her disappearance, with police, SES, Rural Fire Service, National Parks, council employees, the bush care group, PolAir and the dog squad failing to locate any sign of the missing woman in the rough terrain.
Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame said it was likely heavy thunderstorms that descended on the area shortly after Ms Coote is believed to have died washed away any evidence and may have moved her remains out of sight.
Ravenswood School for Girls, a few months after Ms Coote disappeared, mourned the loss of "one of our Golden Girls".
A new report will be prepared for the coroner.