The death of a young mother who disappeared in the Blue Mountains in 1998 is surrounded by "deep suspicion" but the truth about what happened looks set to remain a mystery after a coroner was unable to determine how she lost her life.
Belinda Peisley, 19, was last seen leaving Katoomba hospital, west of Sydney, on September 26, 1998. Her remains have never been found.
For more than 13 years police were at a loss to explain what happened, other than the fact that she had inherited a significant amount of money before her disappearance, and was addicted to heroin.
Then investigators uncovered information suggesting the young woman may have been the victim of foul play, including that shortly after her death, a number of people the young woman considered friends had broken into her Katoomba home.
One of them, Heidi Wales, later used her identification cards to sell goods at western Sydney pawn shops.
Later, others who moved in the same social circles revealed that two former friends of Belinda's - Jeremy Douglas and Saxon Holdforth - had made comments about her being "bashed and put in a car" and then "put off a cliff".
The revelations led to the opening of a coronal inquest into the young woman's death in October 2012 at which Ms Wales, Mr Douglas and Mr Holdforth were considered "persons of interest".
However, after a 15-day inquiry spread over 18 months and featuring hundreds of pages of evidence, Deputy State Coroner Paul McMahon told Glebe Coroner's court on Friday that while he was officially declaring Ms Peisley dead, he was unable to make a finding as to the cause of her death or recommend that charges be laid.
"It is more likely than not that her death was a consequence of the action of a third party," Mr McMahon said.
"Much of the hearing at the inquest was directed towards exploring whether any or all of these three persons had some direct knowledge of or involvement in Belinda's disappearance and her subsequent death.
"The evidence was inconclusive, but it did raise deep suspicion as to the possibility of such knowledge or involvement."
Mr McMahon found that the failure of police to report Ms Peisley's suspected death to the coroner until 2006 represented a breach of their obligations to report any death that occurred in unusual or suspicious circumstances.
However, he put this down to the "apparent lack of understanding" of reporting requirements which was endemic within the police force at the time, but had since been addressed.
He paid tribute to the officers who had taken carriage of the case after 2006, who had "spent a vast number of hours trying to establish what happened to Belinda at the time of her disappearance".
"That investigation has not yet concluded and hopefully at some point in the future information will become available that will provide answers to these outstanding questions."
Speaking outside the Coroner's court, Ms Peisley's father, Mark Wearne said he had not given up hope.
"Someone will one day come forward and give enough truth for an investigation to go all the way and for Belinda to get the justice she deserves," he said.
The case has now been referred to the unsolved homicide squad.