KEEPING MUM: Natasha Ryan, flanked by solicitor Paul Wonnocott.
KEEPING MUM: Natasha Ryan, flanked by solicitor Paul Wonnocott.

Ryan sold tale for $120,000



NATASHA Ryan walked out of court yesterday with nothing more than a $1000 fine despite being found guilty of causing a false police investigation.

But the mystery surrounding the former teenage runaway deepened as her mother, Jenny Kerwin, claimed she could not account for $85,000 of the money paid by media groups for her daughter's story.

Following the guilty verdict, prose- cutor Terry Gardiner produced a $120,000 contract between Channel 9 and celebrity agent Max Markson for an interview with Ryan, her sister Donna and Mrs Kerwin.

Mr Gardiner used the contract as evidence Ryan had the means to pay back some of the $151,000 an investigation into her murder had cost police.

But Mrs Kerwin told the court she had only received $35,000, which had gone to paying legal bills and to help bail Donna out of legal trouble.

"120,000 was not paid into my account,'' she insisted.

Mr Gardiner labelled her claims "rubbish'' and questioned where the missing $85,000 had gone.

"Are we to believe Mr Markson kept the money?'' he asked. "I don't know what you believe,'' she replied.

"I couldn't care less about the money, I just wanted to get the media off our back.''

She also claimed she did not know she would be paid for interviews with 60 Minutes and Woman's Day until she received a call from Mr Markson asking for her bank details a month later.

And she said she did not feel bad Natasha did not receive any of the proceeds from the windfall.

"A part of me thought serves you right.''

After listening to Mrs Kerwin's evidence, Magistrate Annette Hennessy ruled Ryan did not have any means to pay any investigation costs.

A conviction was not recorded.

Her boyfriend Scott Black, 29, did not fare as well and was convicted and fined $3000.

He was also ordered to pay more than $16,000 towards investigation costs.

Black is serving a 12 month prison sentence for perjury for lying to police about Natasha's whereabouts.

Ryan went missing for nearly five years from September, 1998, having taken refuge with Black at various rental properties in Rockhampton and Yeppoon.

Her long disappearance saw serial killer Leonard John Fraser charged with her murder and she made international headlines when police found her hiding at Black's North Rockhampton home in April 2003.



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