DETECTIVE Inspector Gary Jubelin wore a tired, sad expression as he fronted a media scrum on the pavement running along Goulburn Street in Surry Hills on Saturday afternoon.
The NSW Police Homicide Squad's highest profile criminal investigator of recent times had earlier in the day requested attendance outside Sydney Police Centre at 2.30pm.
DI Jubelin quietly announced he was making a statement following a decision by NSW Attorney General Greg Smith that there would be no re-trial of a man acquitted over murders which occurred in Bowraville in 1990 and 1991.
Few expected they'd be hearing the man who has relentlessly pursued justice since 1997 to say he'd finally come to accept the murders were likely to remain unsolved.
"The reality of it is, and I don't like to offer false hope to families, this is the end of the road," Jubelin said bluntly.
"I told the families this application is the last effort we can make.
"Now in saying that, homicides are never closed.
"But the reality is there are no further lines of investigation to follow up."
And with that, the dogged police officer who has lived and breathed the case for almost 16 years, turned and walked away.
In 2007, then NSW Labor Premier Morris Iemma took a personal interest in the case and gazetted a $250,000 reward for information on the murders which remains in force.
The reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the deaths of children Evelyn Greenup, Clinton Speedy-Duroux and Colleen Walker.
The loss of the children within the space of five months during the early 1990s was devastating for the tight-knit Bowraville and wider Macksville-Nambucca Heads community.
Colleen Walker, 16, disappeared on September 13, 1990, and her weighted-down clothing was later found in the Nambucca River.
Although her body was never found, she is presumed dead.
Evelyn Greenup, aged 4, is believed to have been murdered on October 4, 1990.
Her remains were found in bushland in April, 1991.
Clinton Speedy-Duroux, 16, was murdered on February 1, 1991.
His remains were found in bushland a few weeks later.
After an investigation led by Detective Inspector Jubelin, a man was charged.
He twice went to trial but was acquitted each time.
The case has been the subject of hearings, inquests, a Four Corners report and an Australian Story feature.
The original police investigation and trial transcripts are now used to teach undergraduates in law and trainee detectives.
Numerous scholarly articles have been written about the investigation and many people at the heart of the case openly express serious disquiet.
Surviving family members and their supporters are now preparing to lobby governments for a Royal Commission.
And while (at least for the moment) Gary Jubelin is resigned to ending the investigation, his closing words from Australian Story on ABC-TV, probably best illustrate the man's true feelings and those of the wider Bowraville community.
He said: "Certainly at this stage, at this point in time, with the murder of these three children no-one has been called into account.
"So I'd have to say, no, justice hasn't been done.
"But what I can say and I think this is, if any comfort the community can take and the relatives can take, they know that people are in there really trying for them and trying to bring justice to the matter.
"No, we won't give up.
"You can't give up.
"It's not an option - three kids have been murdered.
"We've given an undertaking to the community.
"We can't give up on this.
"I sit here very comfortably sending a message out to the person that's murdered these people that we will do everything in our power, and I'm talking the whole of the New South Wales Police, to bring to justice the person that murdered three children.
"The pain's still very raw in that community.
"I think it would be extremely positive if it was resolved.
"I think it would bring closure and the community could move on."
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
All information will be treated confidentially.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.