Visitors to this website have often asked if the postman was a suspect for the children's disappearance. Nothing I have read about the case suggests he was. The most basic knowledge of investigative procedures suggests that he must have been a suspect, but despite his erratic recollection of the time of his meeting I can only assume that he was eliminated from enquiries.
Of the eyewitnesses who saw the children at the beach on the day they disappeared, the postman Mr Patterson is probably the best known.There are two reasons for this. Firstly, he was one of the only witnesses who knew who the children personally. Secondly, he gave conflicting accounts as to what time of day he'd seen them.
It is not in dispute that Mr Patterson saw the children. By his own account, he was in Jetty Road and the children were walking east along the footpath. They appeared to be about to cross the road towards Moseley Street. As he put it later: 80
"We all stopped, and the children said 'It's the postie!' "
The children were behaving normally and there was no sign of anybody with them.
The problem lies in the timing. Mr Patterson first said he saw the children at the start of his round, at 1:45pm. He then revised his opinion and said he saw them at the end of his round, at 2:55pm. These two versions of events cannot both be true, and some of the speculation about the case has been based on how late the children stayed at the beach. They were meant to return home on the midday bus.
What has become apparent much more recently is that the police, having reviewed the movements of the children, believe that Mr Patterson was entirely mistaken. According to the official account of the children's known movements, Mr Patterson met them at about 10:15am. While this does not fit with Mr Patterson's memory of events it does fit the other known movements much better.