IT’S a mystery that has investigators baffled and a family desperate for closure – a father of five, leading a seemingly happy life, disappears without a trace.
Shannon Gregory O’Brien, 40, was last seen leaving his home in the lakeside suburb of Gwandalan about 10.30am on April 11 last year.
He had recently returned from six weeks at sea with the Australian Merchant Navy and despite acting unusually quiet during the journey from Williamtown Airport to the shores of Lake Macquarie, he appeared excited to see his wife Lisa and children Amelia, 15, Bailey, 12, Felicity, 7, Savannah, 4, and Ashton, 3.
More than 15 months have passed and despite two extensive searches of bushland in Lake Macquarie, police investigations and desperate pleas for information from Shannon’s parents, John and Lorna O’Brien, the family is no closer to knowing the truth.
‘‘We wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it,’’ Mr O’Brien said. ‘‘There isn’t a day go by that we don’t sit and have some discussion on it. The passage of time hasn’t made things any easier.’’
‘‘No, it doesn’t get any easier and I think your fear for his safety becomes worse each day,’’ Mrs O’Brien said. ‘‘But on the other hand, no news is good news.
‘‘We still have hope that an answer will come one day.
‘‘We hope that he’ll emerge, that we’ll get a phone call that Shannon has come back home or he’ll just turn up at the back door
‘‘That’s our hope, that’s what we cling to.’’
Mr O’Brien said his son didn’t take his wallet, phone, passport or keys with him when he left on April 11 and hasn’t accessed any bank accounts since his disappearance.
‘‘It’s not beyond the realms of possibility [that he could return], but yet it seems to be highly unlikely,’’ Mr O’Brien said.
Mr O’Brien wants investigators from Tuggerah Lakes police to interview Shannon’s co-workers to see if they can shed any light on his state of mind before his disappearance.
Their message for anyone who reads this is simple: ‘‘We just so much want our son back and if anybody has any idea, anyone who could throw any light on it at all we’d love to know about it,’’ Mr O’Brien said.
The Entrance police 4333 2999
Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000