Inquest: Short but very close relationship ended abruptly

ABOUT three weeks before he vanished, soldier Sean Sargent broke up with his girlfriend, telling her "there's something I need to do and I don't want to do it".

Rachel Kayrooz dated the 24-year-old soldier for about six weeks in early 1999. She told the court they had a short but very close relationship until he ended it abruptly one night in late February.

"We were in my bedroom and I just picked up that something wasn't right with Sean," she said.

Ms Kayrooz said she asked Mr Sargent if there was something he wanted to talk about and he knelt beside her bed and told her he needed to end their relationship.

"(He said) I have to break up with you. There's something I need to do and I don't want to do it."

She said she thought he may have been talking about something to do with his work in the army.

"I just kept saying, what's going on? He just wouldn't give me any information.

"He was crying and I'd never seen him like that. I was crying.

"There was just nothing about it that added up."

Rachel Kayrooz dated the 24-year-old soldier Sean Sargent for about six weeks in early 1999.
Rachel Kayrooz dated the 24-year-old soldier Sean Sargent for about six weeks in early 1999. Richard Walker

Ms Kayrooz said she heard from Mr Sargent a couple of weeks later when he called asking how she was and whether they could catch up the following weekend for coffee.

"I was hopeful we would get back together. He sounded happy. We never did catch up and I never heard from him again."

The court heard Mr Sargent had disappeared by the weekend.

Ms Kayrooz became emotional as she described Mr Sargent as an "honourable" and "loyal" boyfriend.

"I have never met anyone like Mr Sargent," she said.

"I would just like to say he was very honourable, very respectful and he was the perfect boyfriend.

"For some years I held hope that he would turn up.

"Somewhere, somebody knows something but I think all this time has passed now and it's very unlikely that he's still out there and still alive."

Sean Sargent's father Tom Sargent.
Sean Sargent's father Tom Sargent.

Representing the Sargent family, lawyer Matthew Holmes pointed out that late February was the exact time Mr Sargent reached a settlement with the bouncer in Townsville who he'd been charged with assaulting.

The court heard Mr Sargent had taken out a $4000 loan to pay the bouncer in exchange for him withdrawing his police complaint.

"Thankyou for letting me know that information," a tearful Ms Kayrooz said.

Meanwhile investigators looking into the disappearance are trying to track down a truck driver who believes he saw the soldier weeks later.

Police have been unable to find Leigh Duggan and had hoped he would be able to give evidence at the inquest this week.

Mr Duggan told police he met Mr Sargent and another soldier in late April, 1999, near Junee, in NSW.

Mr Duggan is one of several people who believe they met the missing soldier after he vanished suddenly.

EARLIER: The sister of missing soldier Sean Sargent cried on the stand as she said she thought her brother must have died to have disappeared so suddenly.

And she said she and her father were devastated to learn the police had had "other priorities" than investigating his disappearance.

An emotional Nancy Anderson broke down as she described listening with her father Tom in shock to a recent pre inquest hearing where it emerged there had been deficiencies in the original police investigation.

"I thought everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing," she said.

"It was a surprise.

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"There were two people who never let us down - (army investigator) Tom Bere and I thank him greatly because he didn't let it go even after he was told to.

"And (Missing Persons Bureau sergeant) Jim Hayes would always talk to my dad.

"But to be told it wasn't important ... To us it was important and the pain, it doesn't go away. It stays there forever."

Mrs Anderson said she and her brother had discussed the subject of suicide in the past and he was against it.

She said he'd told her "it's not something you do to your family".

Mrs Anderson said her "gut feeling" was that Mr Sargent had met with an accident or he'd been murdered.

Earlier this morning, the inquest heard Mr Sargent was a highly driven and intelligent man who learned to look after himself from the age of 16 when his mother suddenly died.

An inquest into his 1999 disappearance - now in its third day - heard a teenage Sean grew up quickly after finding his mother collapsed and, along with his father, attempted to save her life with CPR.

But Barbara Sargent died from a heart attack and Sean and his brother Anthony, 17, learned to look after themselves while their father worked away in the mines.

Giving evidence this morning, Sean's sister Nancy Anderson described her brother as an empathetic and driven person who was determined to succeed to honour their mother.

Sean Sargent with his father Tom and stepmother Ruth.
Sean Sargent with his father Tom and stepmother Ruth. Tom Sargent

She said he achieved many things - including being awarded dux of his school - but was humble and often would not mention his accolades.

It was Mrs Anderson who received the phone call on March 22, 1999, to say Mr Sargent had not turned up to work with the army.

Then 24, Mr Sargent had worked his way up to the rank of lieutenant with a top secret security clearance, had travelled overseas with the army and had dreams of becoming a doctor.

"They said we are trying to locate Sean, he hadn't shown up for work and something along the lines of his flatmate hadn't seen him all weekend," she said.

"I actually went into full blown panic. I was concerned because that was nuts for him.

"I rang my dad and was like, something bad's happened. I don't know what's going on here.

Sean Sargent.
Sean Sargent.

"He was very regimented with his work and I know he did that to the best of his ability."

Mrs Anderson said she was the "closest person on the planet" to her brother and they would speak every Sunday.

She had not spoken to him the Sunday after he disappeared.

Mr Sargent disappeared after leaving a party in St Lucia where, after drinking heavily, he is believed to have been involved in an altercation with other party guests.

The inquest heard Mr Sargent had been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm after punching a bouncer in Townsville the previous October.

Mrs Anderson said he had been concerned about the impact of the charge on his army career, but not overly so.

"He didn't want it on his record," she said.

"Sean had a habit of stepping into fights. The bouncer was kicking someone out and he stepped in and punched the bouncer, broke his nose."

Mrs Anderson said the charge was dropped after her brother reached a settlement with the bouncer, paying him injury compensation of $4000.

She said she offered to lend him the money, but her overly independent brother took out a loan.

She said she did not believe her brother was depressed at the time of his disappearance - including when he was drinking.

"If he did drink a lot and he was at home, we'd talk about mum," Mrs Anderson said.

"He was not severely depressed, just sad because of the fact that it was sad.

"That was a trauma that he didn't get counselling for. Sort of buried it down and just kept going."



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