Missing man declared dead after 51 years
THE fate of a Devonport man who left home wearing pyjamas, a dressing gown and his slippers in 1968 - never to be seen again - may forever remain a mystery with a coroner finally declaring him dead.
This week, Coroner Simon Cooper officially found "ample evidence to conclude Alison Henderson Mason was dead even though his body was never found. He disappeared without a trace 51 years ago, and there was no way to know how he died.
Mr Mason's disappearance was reported to police at the time but not reported to the coroner until this year for reasons that were "not clear", Mr Cooper said.
The 66-year-old retiree was "basically housebound" with heart, memory and mental health issues with dementia-like symptoms, he said.
On October 8, 1968, Mr Mason went to bed at 9.30pm and asked his wife to set the alarm for 11.30pm but did not say why, and was never seen again.
"His wife raised the alarm the next day and despite searches in and around the area of his home, no trace of Mr Mason was located," Mr Cooper said.
"Mr Mason did not take his hat with him, and this was the only unusual aspect to his disappearance."
Tasmania Police historical records indicated Mr Mason was depressed before his disappearance, leading to speculation at the time he may have drowned in the Don or Mersey rivers or Bass Strait, Mr Cooper said.
But Mr Mason's body has never been recovered, so there is no evidence he died by drowning or immersion in water, he said.
In 1981, Mr Mason was formally declared deceased by the Supreme Court of Tasmania and recorded as dead by the District of Devonport.
Then in 2011, Tasmania Police conducted enquiries with the state's departments, registrars and utility providers as well as banks and police across the country, Centrelink and Medicare - but found nothing.
Mr Cooper found that although he could not determine the cause of death, he was satisfied Mr Mason died in 1968 at or near Devonport.