Fears around ‘bad magic’ prompted a Melbourne man to take his mother out to sea where they both vanished.
A mother and son attempted to banish “bad magic” from their lives when they went out to sea.
But they never returned from their voyage.
Melbourne man Adrian Meneveau and his 83-year-old mother Felicity Loveday disappeared after setting sail in their small boat in Port Phillip Bay on December 11, 2019.
Victorian Coroner Audrey Jamieson probed their disappearance at an inquest on Wednesday, with a leading detective explaining what he believed happened to the duo.
The elderly woman had dementia and suffered a stroke, with Mr Meneveau deciding she incited “bad magic” with her spiritual beliefs, the court was told.
She was a lifelong practitioner of Buddhist mysticism and meditation and her son believed the only way to “dissolve” the black magic was with salt water.
Mr Meneveau, a former handyman and set builder, suffered from mental health issues and believed he was “Christ reborn”, counsel assisting Ralph Zeeman said.
Mr Meneveau spent the seven years prior to the disappearance caring for his frail mother before her health worsened.
But after they failed to return from what was meant to be a three-day trip, Mr Meneveau’s sister, Christina, contacted police. It was also revealed in court the boat was registered and insured in her name, and her brother had given his sister online passwords and a document appearing to be a will.
A massive search operation began and the capsized boat was found 20km away from where they launched at Frankston.
Their life jackets were still in the vessel, the boat was turned off and it was in neutral when it was found on December 15. But there was no sign of either of them.
Detective Chris Obst said in the days before the pair vanished searches for “sea burial” were found on the former handyman’s laptop.
“There’s a lot of pieces of this puzzle that I will never know,” he said on Wednesday.
He pointed out both mother and son were wearing life vests in a photo taken the day they were last seen, and what the spiritual practices were to “reverse” the magic remained unknown.
But he told the court he believed the duo were “overcome” by conditions out on the bay and the boat wasn’t suitable.
“They wouldn’t have stood a chance in that vessel,” Detective Obst said.
He said despite the national and international attention the mystery had garnered, police only received one tip about an older woman who turned up at a Queensland hospital, but it wasn’t Ms Loveday.
The detective agreed it appeared Mr Meneveau put his affairs in order and believed it was so his sister wouldn’t have to bear a financial burden if anything happened.
He said Christina Meneveau believed both her brother and mother were dead and was “philosophical” about the matter.
While Coroner Jamieson won’t hand down her written findings until later this month, she told the court she believed they were dead.