Leslie Ralph BALL

  A man with white hair and blue suite poses for the camera. Leslie Ralph Ball holds a beer posing casually in a white shirt.


Name: BALL, Leslie Ralph

Last seen: 21st April 1993

Year of Birth:1921




Height:168 cms



Circumstances: Leslie Ball is believed to have left Townsville QLD in April 1993 to travel to Brisbane to visit his daughter in the PA Hospital.  Leslie visited his daughter in hospital on 21/4/1993 and stated that he was going to return and visit her again the following day.  He did not return and has not been seen since. 

Leslie Ball disappearance: Witness says killer confessed to him

  • A REOPENED inquest into the 1993 suspected murder of a Townsville man will hear evidence from a man who says the murderer confessed to him before he died.

    Homicide detectives believe Leslie Ralph Ball, 73, who was reported missing on May 22, 1993, was murdered by his son-in-law, David Phillips, who died in 2015.

    Brisbane Coroners Court today was told a witness told police that Mr Phillips confessed to him that he killed Mr Ball.

    Megan Jarvis, counsel assisting Deputy State Coroner John Lock, said police believed the witness was credible, as he had information he would not have known if Mr Phillips had not told him.

    Police have asked Mr Lock to consider finding that Mr Ball was murdered at the premises of Mr Phillips and Mr Ball’s daughter, Leanne Phillips, in April, 1993.

    Police have also asked Mr Lock to find that David Phillips was likely responsible for the murder.

    “Police believe the motive for the murder was financial,” Ms Jarvis told Brisbane Coroner’s Court.


    “There is evidence suggesting Leanne and David Phillips were reliant on Mr Ball for money to live and for various costs.”

    Mr Ball had just put a deposit on a Cardwell property he intended to move to, Ms Jarvis said.

    But Mr Phillips had apparently discussed plans for Mr Ball to help the couple build a house where they would all live together.

    Ms Jarvis said police allege Leanne Phillips had knowledge of the circumstances of her father’s death, but had not provided truthful accounts to police.

    An inquest into Mr Ball’s disappearance, in 1994 and 1995, heard Leanne Ball said she last saw her father when he visited her at a Brisbane hospital on April 21, 1993.

    A train ticket purchased on April 19, 1993, in Mr Ball’s name, for travel from Townsville to Brisbane on the next day, was described by the coroner as a fake.

    No one travelled in that seat on that journey, according to the coroner.

    Mr Ball’s Valiant sedan, which he kept at daughter Leanne’s home, was found at Townsville railway station and burnt remains of his trailer and personal belongings were found 10 kilometres from Mr and Mrs Phillips’ home.

    “The investigating coroner found this to be evidence that a person or persons unknown has attempted to conceal the whereabouts of Mr Ball’s trailer and personal effects,” Ms Jarvis said.

    The coroner was not prepared to find Mr Ball’s disappearance was because of foul play, but said evidence indicated his absence was not of his own making.

    Two further reviews of Mr Ball’s disappearance were conducted by homicide detectives.

    On the basis of fresh evidence from the new witness, in relation to the alleged confession, the Attorney-General directed the inquest be reopened.

    It will be held in Townsville on July 15 to 19.

    The new witness who claims to have heard Mr Phillips’s alleged confession to the murder will give evidence,

    The court heart that Leanne Phillips and a friend of her and her late husband, whom police suspect may know of Mr Ball’s killing, will also be called to give evidence.


    Leslie Ball disappeared in suspicious circumstances. Now the body of the man 'likely responsible' has been removed from its grave

    By Rory Callinan - ABC


    Sydney businesswoman Le-Chelle Lesley had always sought to keep the closest of tabs on her brother-in-law David John Phillips.

    She was convinced the former Victorian detective had got clean away with killing her father Leslie Ralph Ball, who disappeared in Queensland in 1993.

    So, when she saw a death certificate recording Mr Phillips' death and then a burial in a Victorian cemetery in 2015, Ms Lesley felt somewhat able to relax, despite thinking justice could now never be served.

    That was until last week, when the ABC confirmed, despite there being a burial plot and an expensive tombstone bearing Mr Phillips' name above a grave in a Victorian cemetery, his body is not there.

    "I don't understand,'' said Ms Lesley, who has spent years querying why police did not arrest Mr Phillips.

    The empty grave in sleepy Yan Yean cemetery, just north of Melbourne, is the latest twist in the mystery of Mr Ball's disappearance – a case still under investigation and the subject of an adjourned inquest in Queensland.

    The 71-year-old World War II veteran was first reported missing by Ms Lesley in mid-1993 after he failed to keep an appointment to contact her.

    At the time Mr Ball was residing in Townsville spending his retirement playing golf and helping look after his grandchildren.

    He had tried to distance himself from two ex-wives with whom he had less-than-favourable relationships, according to Ms Lesley.

    His first marriage had produced four children, Genine, Wayne, Michelle and Leanne but had been wracked by a life-shattering tragedy.

    In 1956 four-year-old Wayne visited the factory where his father worked and was killed when a belt came off one of the machines.

    Mr Ball divorced his first wife in the 1970s and married Ett Ison. The new marriage produced one child, Ms Lesley, but it too ended in divorce.

    Living in his daughter's garage

    By 1993, Mr Ball was living off his veteran's pension and residing with Leanne and her husband, Mr Phillips, in their house in Townsville.

    His living quarters consisted of the garage of the couple's modest home.

    At the time Mr Phillips was working as a labourer while Ms Phillips worked at a local marine tourist attraction.

    It was a world away from Mr Phillips' previous life as an expert detective in the Victorian police, where he had been regularly commended for bravery, disarming gun-toting bank robbers from Melbourne's wild underworld.

    Depending on who was asked, relations between Mr Phillips and Mr Ball were mostly amicable or strained.

    Mr Phillips would later tell police his interactions with "Les" were good, but Ms Lesley said her father was keen to leave the living arrangement.  

    Whatever the truth, Mr Ball's financial records confirmed he was on the verge of moving out, recording him placing a deposit on a house in Cardwell, north of Townsville.

    Around April 21, 1993, before he could pay off the Cardwell property, he reportedly parked his Chrysler Valiant, loaded with his possessions and his beloved golf clubs in the boot, at the Townsville railway station.

    He then allegedly caught a train to Brisbane to visit Ms Phillips who was undergoing a medical procedure in the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

    Ms Phillips would later tell police she recalled Mr Ball coming to the hospital and saying he would visit again the next day.

    He was never seen again.

    His car was found locked up in the railway station car park while a trailer he owned was later located burned out in nearby bushland.

    A 1994 inquest into his disappearance found the rail ticket he supposedly purchased for the trip to Brisbane, to visit Ms Phillips, was fake and had never been used, suggesting he had never left Townsville.

    The coroner found strong inferences that a person or persons had deliberately tried to give the impression Mr Ball had travelled to Brisbane by train.

    Mr and Ms Phillips did not give evidence at the 1994 inquest as they were too ill, the coroner noted.

    Ms Lesley said she had been told at some point that Mr Phillips had suffered a stroke and was in a wheelchair.

    New witness comes forward

    Police kept the file open but there was little progress until the 2010s when the case underwent a review, and a major investigation took place.

    The ABC understands during this time Queensland police travelled to Melbourne to re-interview Mr Phillips who again denied any knowledge of Mr Ball's fate.

    In the interview, Mr Phillips denied any involvement in Mr Ball's disappearance. He appeared cognisant, fully recovered from the stroke, and looked trim and healthy but bespectacled and older with a thatch of white hair, the ABC understands.

    Then in 2015, Queensland police became aware of a new witness who had information about Mr Phillips' involvement in the disappearance of Mr Ball, the ABC has learned.

    This witness had previously been unknown to police investigating the case.

    That same year, on August 1, Mr Phillips was reported to have died at Epping in Melbourne after suffering a head injury that involved a "traumatic subdural haematoma", according to his death certificate.

    He was buried at Yan Yean cemetery just north of Melbourne — according to the death certificate, which has been sighted by the ABC and lists Ms Phillips as the informant.

    Despite his reported death, the Queensland Attorney-General in 2017 ordered the inquest be reopened.

    During the pre-inquest hearings in 2019, it was revealed police suspected Mr Ball was murdered at the Townsville property where he had been living with Leanne and David Phillips.

    David Phillips 'likely responsible'

    Police also believed that Mr Phillips was "likely responsible for the murder", Megan Jarvis, the counsel assisting the coroner told the hearing.

    She stated police suspected the motive was financial as Mr Ball had been paying Mr Phillips and his wife's living costs.

    Ms Jarvis also told the pre-inquest hearing about the new witness who said Mr Phillips had confessed to killing Mr Ball.

    She said police believed Ms Phillips had knowledge of her father's death but had not provided truthful accounts to police.

    The inquest was adjourned in 2019 after Queensland made changes to the coroner's act, but as of June this year is listed as "adjourned with a date to be fixed for hearing".

    Frustrated by the delay, Ms Lesley has been anxiously awaiting its recommencement, despite the fact the chief suspect was lying in a Victorian grave — or so she thought.

    This week an employee at Yan Yean cemetery confirmed Mr Phillips was not buried in the grave that bears an expensive headstone stating Mr Phillips' date of birth and death and the inscription: "Devoted Husband to Leanne. Very proud and loving father and grandad. Rest In Peace."

    'Body exhumed and cremated'

    Contacted this week about the empty grave and Ms Lesley's speculation Mr Phillips might still be alive, Ms Phillips reacted furiously.

    "He is dead,'' said the 62-year-old mother of four.

    "The police identified him and the coroner declared him dead. He died in hospital. He was declared dead by doctors.

    Ms Phillips said the body had been exhumed and cremated.

    She said he had not been in a fit mental state when he asked to be buried and had previously requested a cremation.

    "I also moved away and didn't want to leave him behind … so I took him with me,'' she said.

    "My children didn't like that he was buried. There's nothing in it."

    Ms Phillips said he had been sick for a long time with previous head injuries and had been in a care home, where he wore a protective helmet.

    He had then fallen at the home, and hit his head while not wearing the helmet, resulting in a fatal injury.

    Ms Phillips refused to identify the home where the fall occurred and questioned why Ms Lesley was so concerned about Mr Phillips' body.

    "Last I heard, my father was on his way to see her [Ms Lesley]. So I am really sick to death of this."

    Questioned about the damning allegations raised about her and Mr Phillips in the pre-inquest hearing, Ms Phillips said she had "no knowledge" about her father's death.

    Last week in response to Ms Lesley's requests for an investigation, Queensland police said they could not comment because the matter was still before the coroner.

    A spokesperson for the Queensland Coroner said the inquest was ongoing and part heard with no dates for further hearings yet listed.