Suspected death of Gympie man shrouded in mystery
KENNETH "Sammy" Gallaher was born on May 4, 1979, and did not have an easy nor trouble-free life, but he always had a smile on his face for anyone happy to say gidday.
A post made earlier this month to Leave a Light on Facebook page described Sam as "loved and well respected by all who knew him, Sam or Sammy as he is also known by, is dearly missed by his family and friends.
An adventurous kind of person with a love of the great outdoors, Sam is known for his cheeky and happy nature, but more importantly his kind and caring soul, with a generous big heart".
He vanished mysteriously and without a trace in 2015, not long after leaving Queensland for Victoria. In November 2016, a coroner's investigation found it was most likely Sam had drowned near a popular fishing spot on Port Phillip Bay in July 2015.
Sam grew up and went to school in Gympie and found himself in trouble with the local police and justice system from an early age, eventually doing some stints in jail.
In 2009, a story in The Gympie Times talked about the talented Gympie amateur boxers who had stood out at an Impact Boxing Academy fight in Cooroy. In action that night had been Sam.
In 2010, then Gympie Magistrate Maxine Baldwin asked Sam and one of his cousins during a court appearance when the criminal activity would stop. The pair said "now". Sam was 31 at the time.
Three years later, he would pop up in The Gympie Times again, this time for escaping a ferocious house fire which destroyed the Gallagher home at Langshaw and which had housed generations of the family.
Sam could not be found that night, and fears were held for a short time that he had perished in the fire, but he later contacted neighbours to let them know he was OK.
Tragically, though, just two years after that, Sam did disappear again, and this time it was for good.
Coroner Phillip Byrne of the Victorian Coroner's Court was given the task of investigating "the death of Kenneth Samuel Gallaher" without holding an inquest.
He concluded that Sam died on or about July 10, 2015 at or near Middle Brighton Pier at Brighton, a suburb of Melbourne with views out over Port Phillip Bay.
Mr Byrne noted in his findings that Sam had a past medical history of substance abuse, an acquired brain injury and bipolar disorder.
Sam's last known movements occured on the morning of July 10, 2015, when he told a friend he had made at the hostel where he had been staying that he was going to hitchhike to Adelaide and Perth.
An employee at the hostel said Sam appeared to be in good spirits when he checked out that day, telling her he intended to work with his cousin in a travelling show starting in Townsville and working its way down the east coast.
Later that day another friend, the night manager at the hostel, called Sam and said he sounded "as though he was stressed out or spooked" which she found unusual.
Sam's bank debit card was last used on July 10, 2015, at 12.37pm.
At 7pm that night, a man fishing at the Middle Brighton Pier found several items of clothing and a mobile phone on the rocks on the southern side of the pier about 2m from the railing.
The man said it looked like someone had taken their clothes off, placed their belongings on the rocks and jumped in the water, but he could not see anyone.
Sam was reported missing to Victoria Police on November 23 - almost four months later. His family had already reported him missing in Queensland, having not had contact with him since July.
Police divers searched the breakwater at Middle Brighton Pier in January, 2016 but found nothing.
Police reported the situation to the coroner in April 2016, and after examining a "comprehensive memorandum" regarding the known circumstances of Sam's disappearance, the coroner accepted the report of the suspected death.
"Assuming Mr Gallaher is dead, which I am comfortably satisfied he is, I am required to turn my mind to the prospect Mr Gallaher intentionally took his own life by entering Port Phillip Bay at the Middle Brighton Pier," Mr Byrne wrote in his findings.
"Alternatively, I need to consider whether he accidentally drowned at the location. The other alternative is that he met with foul play.
"There is no evidence of foul play. It would appear Mr Gallaher was a strong swimming so that the prospect of accidentally drowning is not likely, unless he slipped on the nearby rocks and was rendered unconscious.
"The difficult question is did he intentionally take his own life.
"Having given the matter earnest consideration, although it is possible Mr Gallaher took his own life for reasons which are unknown, I am not comfortably satisfied he did. This therefore should be viewed as an open finding on that question.
"All I can say is that I am comfortably satisfied Mr Gallaher is no longer alive, but the circumstances of his death remained undetermined."
Sam's loved ones have not given up hope.
Of Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander appearance, Sam stands approximately 179cm tall with a medium build.
Sam has brown eyes and black hair with an olive complexion. Sam has quite a few tattoos including: a skull with flames on his calf towards the front of one of his legs, on his back a PNG Warrior, on one forearm he has "Jerome" on one side, with "Taylor" on the other.
Taylor has flowers and other decorative tattooing work around it. Sam also has numerous tattoos on his stomach.
Sam's family and friends would dearly love to know where he is. If you have any information which may assist police, perhaps you have seen him working the Amusements, please contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 and help put an end to the torment this family are facing…
** The following message has been provided by Sam's sister**
"Brother if you are reading this please contact us, we want to know you are safe and okay. We miss you and care about you and are always here. If anyone knows anything or have seen someone that may look like Sam please contact us any information big or small is greatly appreciated."