Glen and Natalie Barnett throw flowers off the bridge near where Robert Martinez car was found after he and Chantal went missing in February/March 2013. July 25 would have been Chantals 34th birthday.
Glen and Natalie Barnett throw flowers off the bridge near where Robert Martinez car was found after he and Chantal went missing in February/March 2013. July 25 would have been Chantals 34th birthday. Allan Reinikka ROK250719achantal

Plea on daughter's birthday: Help us find our Chantal

A RICKETY old bridge that only allows one way traffic over a creek, leading to rural properties, is the closest thing to a grave site a Rockhampton family has for their daughter.

Yesterday would have been Chantal Barnett's 34th birthday and her mother Natalie and father Glen visited the location on Bowlin Rd where the old bridge stands over Gavial Creek.

Chantal went missing with her friend Robert Martinez in 2013. The last reported sighting of either of them was March 2.

 

Rockhampton woman Chantal Barnett.
Rockhampton woman Chantal Barnett. Contributed

The vehicle Robert was driving when he disappeared belonged to a friend and was found abandoned on Bowlin Rd on March 8.

Natalie said Chantal could be out there somewhere and that was why they visit that location every year on her birthday.

Some of Chantal's belongings were located in Byfield about September 2013 - a long way from where the car was abandoned.

At about the same time Chantal's belongings were found, and after an extensive investigation by police, their case was upgraded from missing persons to homicide.

In February 2016, Ian Robert Armstrong and Daniel George Hong were charged with two counts each of murder and two of interfering with a corpse.

The murder charges were downgraded to manslaughter and five days into the trial in the Supreme Court in Rockhampton, the jury was dismissed, the manslaughter charges dismissed and the pair pleaded guilty to two counts each of interfering with a corpse and sentenced to two years prison with all time served.

Read more here: Chantal Barnett's family: 'Pure evil stands over us'

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The outcome left both Chantal and Robert's families devastated with Glen appealing for people to come forward, even if anonymously, to let the families know what happened to their loved ones and where to find his daughter's remains.

At the bridge yesterday, Natalie and Glen made fresh appeals for information about their daughter's death.

 

Glen and Natalie Barnett throw flowers off the bridge near where Robert Martinez car was found after he and Chantal went missing in February/March 2013. July 25 would have been Chantals 34th birthday.
Glen and Natalie Barnett throw flowers off the bridge near where Robert Martinez car was found after he and Chantal went missing in February/March 2013. July 25 would have been Chantals 34th birthday. Allan Reinikka ROK250719achantal

Her sister Linda said they were really close as children, doing everything together.

Natalie said Chantal was nearly an A grade student, until she hit the teenage years, fell in with the wrong crowd at school and was smoking marijuana.

Linda said it wasn't until her early to mid 20s when Chantal was using methamphetamines.

"She was always asking to (get off drugs)," Natalie said.

Glen said that was the last discussion he had with her - about kicking her drug addiction.

"In this town, you can't get help," Natalie said.

"I rang up everywhere. I rang up mental health, etc."

The family say the evidence during Hong and Armstrong's trial last year, where it was suggested Chantal and Robert simply overdosed on drugs, didn't add up.

"Somebody does know the real story," Natalie said.

"As for an overdose, I don't think so."

Linda said if it was an overdose, their bodies would have been found either in the car or very close to it.

Glen said to interfere with the corpse, they must know where the bodies were last seen.

Natalie said the $250,000 reward for information is still available. This was confirmed by Queensland Police Service.

She said she and Glen just want to be able to "get an ending" by knowing exactly where their daughter's remains are.

"We need an ending, not just for us but for her kids," Natalie said.

 

Glen and Natalie Barnett throw flowers off the bridge near where Robert Martinez car was found after he and Chantal went missing in February/March 2013. July 25 would have been Chantals 34th birthday.
Glen and Natalie Barnett throw flowers off the bridge near where Robert Martinez car was found after he and Chantal went missing in February/March 2013. July 25 would have been Chantals 34th birthday. Allan Reinikka ROK250719achantal

A spokesperson for the Coroners Court of Queensland said the deaths were reported to the Central Coroner, David O'Connell for investigation.

"The Central Coroner is currently awaiting further material from the Queensland Police Service to inform the next steps in the coronial investigation," the spokesperson said.

"The families of the deceased have been kept up to date with the status of the coronial investigation.

"As the matters are the subject of an open coronial investigation, no further information will be released at this time."

Case timeline

February 27, 2013 - Melissa McKenzie sees Ian Robert Armstrong arrive at the Berserker home she shares with Robert Martinez about 6.30pm. She said goodnight to them at 9.30pm. She hears two car doors open and close and a car drive off about 10.30pm.

February 28 - About 11pm that night, Robert arrives at his mother's home, soaking wet and saying his car broke down nearby. He leaves again in the early hours of the morning.

March 2 - Robert and Chantal last seen together alive by a witness. The last outgoing call from Robert's phone was at 11.52am.

March 16 - Melissa is informed that the Commodore Robert was driving is on Bowlin Rd and she goes with Robert's step dad in the middle of the night to look. She said the windows were smashed and no keys were in it.

March 22 - First appeal for information about Robert and Chantal through the media.

April 3 - Wallet located on Bowlin Rd and later identified as belonging to Robert.

September 2013 - Two items belonging to Chantal located in Byfield. Police upgrade case from 'missing persons' to 'homicide investigation'.

October 18, 2014 - A farmer locates a handbag attached to a fence metres away from where the car was located.

October 22, 2014 - A man comes across skeletal remains which are later confirmed to be Robert's.

February 24, 2016 - Ian Robert Armstrong and Daniel George Hong were charged.

September 12, 2018 - Trial begins over manslaughter charges.

September 18, 2018 - The jury are dismissed and the manslaughter charges are dismissed as Armstrong and Hong plead guilty to two counts each of interfering with a corpse.



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