Two days after Daphne Hampstead suddenly walked out on her husband Sidney and eight children in 1958 a letter in her handwriting arrived at his western Sydney home.
‘My darling Sid,’ the 39-year-old began the note. ‘Oh darling what it is costing me to write this letter, you will never know.’
More than 60 years after that letter was written a coroner has ruled that Daphne Hampstead lived until she was 89, dying in Queensland without ever being found.
New South Wales Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott ruled on Wednesday that Daphne had begun several new lives after fleeing her marriage and children.
Daphne caught a taxi from the family’s dairy farm on Cowpasture Road at Bossley Park in the early hours of May 10, 1958 carrying photographs and most of her clothes.
Two days later her husband received the letter in Daphne’s hand inside an envelope with a postmark from nearby Fairfield.
The disappearance of Daphne Pearl Hampstead (pictured) has been solved more than 60 years after she walked out on her husband and eight children. A coroner has found she had moved to Queensland and started several new lives before dying of cancer in 2007 aged 89
Two days after Daphne disappeared a letter in her handwriting arrived at his western Sydney home. ‘My darling Sid,’ the 39-year-old began the note. ‘Oh darling what it is costing me to write this letter, you will never know.’ The letter’s words are reproduced in this image
‘I left work today, I just can’t go on,’ she wrote. ‘I thought there was no love left at home for me at all. But I have realised how wrong I was over the last week.
‘I think it has been a week I shall never forget. I am going away for a while (by myself) don’t worry about me, I will be okay.
‘I know now I can always come to you for understanding I do wish I had known that before dear.’
Daphne also sent a letter to her daughter Daphne Lillian asking her to look after her father and her younger brothers and sisters.
Five years later Daphne somehow learnt one of her twin sons, 19-year-old Barry, was critically ill in hospital and wrote him a letter postmarked from Wyong on the NSW Central Coast.
She expressed concern for son but indicated she could not visit him, although she signed off ‘from someone who loves you very much’.
Daphne was born Daphne Pearl Jones at Cootamundra in the NSW Riverina on July 13 or 15, 1918 and married local boy Sidney Hampstead in 1936.
The couple eventually had eight children: Leslie, Patricia, Marcia, Daphne, twins Barry and Clifford, Helen, and Janet.
They lived at Cootamundra, Tumut, Grafton, Taree, Oxley Island and Muswellbrook where they worked as share farmers before buying their own farm at Scone.
Financial difficulties forced the family to move to the Bossley Park dairy in 1956, by which time two of their daughters were married and living at Muswellbrook.
‘Daphne was a loving mother who enjoyed cooking and was apparently social and engaging,’ Ms Truscutt found.
Daphne Hampstead was 39 when she vanished from an old dairy farm on Cowpasture Road at Bossley Park in Sydney’s western suburbs. Pictured: Cowpasture Road
‘Daphne and Sidney are described to have had a loving relationship however Sidney was possessive and jealous and violent to Daphne.
‘After leaving the farm in Scone and moving to Bossley Park the domestic violence became more frequent.’
Daphne worked in the city as a cook – under the name Daphne Hanson or Hamson – and would leave home in the early hours of the morning, returning about 4pm.
‘However, as time went on her returning hours became later around 10pm and Sidney likely suspected she was having an affair and he became more obsessive,’ Ms Truscott found.
Daphne Hampstead’s family hired private investigator Luke Athens (pictured) to investigate her disappearance
Daughter Daphne Lillian found a letter from a man called Eugene who lived in Tasmania and it was speculated her mother had joined him, as he had promised to pick her up from the airport.
However, Ms Truscott heard the letter had been ripped into pieces; whether that was done by Sidney or Daphne was still unknown.
‘Daphne’s departure caused Sidney to be a broken man and he buried his sorrows in alcohol,’ Ms Truscott found.
He lived with Daphne Lillian from 1963 and in early 1973 moved to Dubbo in the state’s central west where he spent the last six months of his life with daughter Marcia.
A 2012 coronial inquiry into Daphne’s disappearance found she was likely dead but it could not be determined how or when she died.
One of Daphne’s granddaughters, Donna Gough, then decided to look further into her fate and hired private investigator Luke Athens.
In a report Mr Athens found Daphne had changed her name to Daphne Pearl Onslow and modified her date of birth to make herself six years younger.
She moved to Queensland, was living with a plantation farmer called Roy Shaw from at least 1963 and began calling herself Daphne Shaw.
Mr Shaw died in 1972 and Daphne began a relationship with his close friend Raymond Charles Jones who had a daughter Diann.
Following a ‘celebration’ of her relationship with Mr Jones in 1973, Daphne became known as Daphne Jones.
The couple lived at many locations in Queensland before moving to Maryborough on the Fraser Coast in 2003, a year before Mr Jones died.
Mr Jones’s daughter Diann and her husband Tyrone Green were listed as Daphne’s next of kin when she died of cancer at Maryborough Hospital on November 7, 2007 aged 89
Mr Jones’s daughter Diann and her husband Tyrone Green were listed as Daphne’s next of kin when she died of cancer at Maryborough Hospital on November 7, 2007 aged 89.
After receiving the private investigator’s report, Daphne’s granddaughter Donna met with Diann and Tyrone.
The pair told Donna her grandmother had a ‘magnetic, charismatic personality’ and ‘disliked talking about her past’.
The family compared pictures of Daphne Hampstead and Daphne Jones and agreed they were of the same woman.
Diann and Tyrone made statements to the coroner in which they said Daphne had talked of having twin sons but mentioned no other children.
‘She was very guarded about her history,’ Ms Truscott found.
On Wednesday NSW Deputy State Coroner Elaine Ms Truscott (pictured) found Daphne Hampstead, Daphne Onslow, Daphne Shaw and Daphne Jones were the same person
‘Diann reports that in 2006 she saw that Daphne was using a paper shredder and remarks that this was consistent with her experience that Daphne would destroy all things about her past.’
On Wednesday Ms Truscott found Daphne Hampstead, Daphne Onslow, Daphne Shaw and Daphne Jones were the same person.
‘I note that the notice of Daphne’s death exhibited in the newspaper indicated that she was the beloved wife of the late Roy Jones,’ she said in her findings.
‘Loved mother and mother-in-law of Diann and Tyrone, Ted, Esme (deceased) and Theresa (deceased). The loved Nana of 7 and Great nana of 10.
‘Added to that she was the mother of eight and grandmother and great grandmother from her NSW family.
‘I hope having the record adjusted to reflect that Daphne’s death is properly recorded in some way brings a sense of completeness to both Daphne Pearl’s NSW and Queensland families.’