A SUPREME Court jury has found Shane Andrew Bond not guilty of the murder of Elisabeth Membrey 18 years ago.
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The jury this morning found Bond not guilty of murder and manslaughter.
Ms Membrey was last seen leaving the Manhattan Hotel in Ringwood in Melbourne’s east, where she worked as bartender, on December 6, 1994.
Her body has never been found.
This morning Bond stayed impassive as the verdicts were delivered.
The judge thanked the Membrey and Bond families for the way they carried themselves.
The accused’s mother Nola Bond and father Les entered the dock and hugged their son as mother and son wept.
At the beginning of the trial, the Crown criticised initial police investigations of Ms Membrey’s disappearance as biased and flawed and Mr Bond’s defence said there were no witnesses, DNA or fingerprint evidence linking him to the alleged crime.
In evidence given during the trial, father Roger Membrey told the jury of he and his wife’s growing concern when they went to their daughter’s unit after her disappearance and found blood.
Mr Membrey told the Supreme Court he recalled going to his daughter’s Ringwood unit with his wife Joy after phone messages went unanswered on December 7, 1994.
Elisabeth had failed to attend a doctor’s appointment that day, the jury was told.
“We were getting a bit concerned because the girls didn’t seem to be there, they weren’t answering, and the place was in darkness,” Mr Membrey said.
They managed to get inside the unit.
“We were pleased to see that everything was neat and tidy . . . so it all looked very normal, but there was one exception to that, of course,” he said.
That exception was a pool of dried blood in the hallway. Mr Membrey said he rang 000 and taxi services to see if an ambulance or cabs had been called to the home.
“It was all negative, negative,” Mr Membrey said.