‘Fit, adventurous’ gardener’s skeleton found in bushland
SKELETAL remains found in Sydney bushland 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 in Sydney's north, 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" and sometimes 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 her missing. The coroner concluded Ms Coote most likely died of misadventure in the bush near the garden on the sweltering summer day.
Massive search efforts in the week that followed, which included police, SES, Rural Fire Service, National Parks, council employees, the bush care group, PolAir and the dog squad, failed to locate any sign of the missing woman in the rough terrain.
Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame said it was likely that heavy thunderstorms 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.