Media scrum as Ryan emerges for her partner

By DARRYN NUFER

NATASHA Ryan yesterday looked anything but the runaway teenager who had hid from the world for five years as she was swamped by a frenzied media scrum outside a Rockhampton court.

Seemingly unfazed by the attention, Ms Ryan did not speak to media as she walked from the courthouse without her partner, Scott Black, after the judge deferred sentencing him.

Black has pleaded guilty to perjury over his role in hiding Ms Ryan at his North Rockhampton residence, while repeatedly denying to police any knowledge of her whereabouts.

Black, a former milkman, faces a maximum 14 years' jail. Yesterday Crown prosecutor Justin Whalley sought a four-to-six-year jail term for Black, whose lawyers asked for a suspended sentence and a community service order.

Judge Grant Britton adjourned a decision on sentencing to a date to be fixed.

Ms Ryan disappeared in 1998 when she was 14 after her mother dropped her off at school.

Although her body had not been found, Leonard John Fraser, already a convicted child killer, was charged with her murder along with the slaying of three other Rockhampton women.

During Fraser's committal hearing in 2002, Black falsely supplied a statement that he had not seen or had any personal contact with Ms Ryan.

However, midway through Fraser's Supreme Court trial in Brisbane in April, 2003, she was found hiding in a cupboard in Black's house following a tip-off to police.

Ms Ryan, now 20 and the mother of Black's one-year-old son, was in the District Court as were her father and Black's father.

Outside the courthouse, Ms Ryan's father, Robert, said he was "upset'' to hear Black's barrister defend his actions. "There was nothing said (in court) about the funeral I had for my daughter.''

Ms Ryan is still to face court with Black on separate charges of causing a false police investigation as police try to recoup $500,000.

Black remains on bail.



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