Drunk man planned Freo swim after intervention

An inquest examining the disappearance of a man from Rottnest Island in Western Australia has heard he may have tried to swim back to the mainland.
An inquest examining the disappearance of a man from Rottnest Island in Western Australia has heard he may have tried to swim back to the mainland.

A MAN who vanished from Rottnest Island while holidaying with his family may have tried to swim back to Fremantle, an inquest has heard.

Matthew James Bale, 38, became agitated and upset after his parents, who were visiting from England, and his wife confronted him about his alcohol consumption on the afternoon of March 21, 2016.

He then went to a liquor store and bought a box of wine, the West Australian Coroners Court heard on Wednesday.

Mr Bale walked to a small beach and spoke to two women who were working on the island, telling them he would swim back to Fremantle since the ferries had stopped for the night.

“He was observed swimming during the evening and was last seen walking towards Fays Bay Beach carrying the box of wine,” counsel assisting the coroner Lyle Housiaux said.

“This was the last sighting of Mr Bale.”

Sergeant Housiaux said Mr Bale’s wife assumed he slept somewhere else on the island that night and caught a morning ferry home.

But she became worried when she returned home a few days later and he was not there, so she reported him missing.

Despite an extensive land and sea search, Mr Bale was never found.

Coroner Barry King told Mr Bale’s family he would be able to rule Mr Bale was dead, but determining how he died would be more difficult.

Mr King said it was likely he would find Mr Bale died as a result of an accident or misadventure, but probably not suicide.

He will hand down his findings at a later date.