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Little boy lost

  • 11 May 2006

In an awful way, the whole scenario was the perfect media story. The plot involved a missing toddler, a pig’s head, bizarre family relationships and characters galore who were only too happy to talk on the record, to whoever would listen. What followed was one of the biggest searches for a missing person in Australia’s history.

The media frenzy that accompanied Jaidyn Leskie’s disappearance was not a new phenomenon in this country. Its most famous predecessor, the Azaria Chamberlain case, has returned to the headlines, with a man emerging who claims to have shot a dingo carrying a baby in its mouth in 1980.

The public imagination is captured by such stories. Our interest is fuelled on many levels: the element of fear, that it could have been your baby; the voyeur in us all, intrigued to get an up-close and personal view of other people’s lives; the hope that maybe the child will return safely; and again the fear, that a terrible end could be met by such a young child at the hand of another human being.

On Sunday, 15 June, 1997, Michael Gleeson was working as a crime reporter for the Herald Sun. He and a photographer were in Lakes Entrance on the trail of a rumoured drug raid, when he received a call from a contact with reports about a child missing in nearby Moe. It was the beginning of a big story—a nightmare for Jaidyn’s mother Bilynda, his father Brett, and their families. It was also a major turning point in Gleeson’s life. For the next few years, he would follow the case of 13-month-old Jaidyn Leskie, who went missing while in the care of his mother’s boyfriend, Greg Domaszewicz. The same night that Jaidyn went missing, a severed pig’s head was thrown through the window of Domaszewicz’s home. While that turned out to be an incredible coincidence, it proved to be just the first of many strange and unusual twists in the story.

In the ensuing months, the newspapers—along with the television and radio—were filled with the saga that surrounded Jaidyn’s disappearance. Gleeson attributes some of the public frenzy that developed to those involved, ‘… in the whole story, you had people who were only too willing to make comment and that’s sort of what fed it. That’s what fed the whole intrigue.

‘Yes, it started from the fact that there was a boy missing, and