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Son and mother with dementia dead after ‘bad magic’ boat disappearance

A mother and son who went out to sea in a bid to banish “bad magic” from their lives were never seen again.

Melbourne man Adrian Meneveau and his 83-year-old mother Felicity Loveday disappeared after setting off in their small boat at Port Phillip Bay on December 11, 2019.

The pair’s bizarre disappearance was probed at a coronial inquest and Coroner Audrey Jamieson handed down her findings on Monday.

She found both Meneveau and Loveday died in the vicinity of the bay between December 11 and 14, 2019.

“I find that Adrian Christian Meneveau contributed to his mother Felicity Loveday’s disappearance and her death,” Jamieson said.

“The available evidence indicates he took his vulnerable and disabled 83-year-old mother, who suffered dementia, out on Port Phillip Bay in the vessel not suited to this purpose,” she said.

However, Jamieson could not be specific about where they died, how they died or why they removed their life vests.

The coroner said there was insufficient evidence to support a finding that Meneveau ended his mother’s life or his own life but said it couldn’t be “sensibly excluded”.

She said this was because the pair were seen and pictured wearing life vests before their ill-fated voyage but the devices were found in the wreckage of the boat.

There wasn’t enough evidence to suggest that Loveday removed her own life vest or her son did, but she might not have been able to remove it herself because of physical limitations, Jamieson said.

Loveday was rendered “vulnerable and helpless by her disabilities”.

The elderly woman had dementia and suffered a stroke, with Meneveau deciding she incited “bad magic” with her spiritual beliefs, the court was previously told.

She was a lifelong practitioner of Buddhist mysticism and meditation and her son believed the only way to “dissolve” the black magic was with salt water.

Meneveau, a former handyman and set builder, suffered from mental health issues and believed he was “Christ reborn”, counsel assisting Ralph Zeeman told the inquest earlier this month.

Meneveau spent the seven years prior to the disappearance caring for his frail mother before her health worsened.

But after they failed to return from what was meant to be a three-day trip, Meneveau’s sister, Christina, contacted police.

A massive search operation began and the capsized boat was found 20km away from where they launched at Frankston.

It was also revealed during the inquest that the boat was registered and insured in Meneveau’s name, and her brother had given her his online passwords and a document appearing to be a will.

Meneveau and Loveday’s life jackets were still in the vessel, the boat was turned off and it was in neutral when it was found on December 15. But there was no sign of either of them.

Detective Chris Obst said in the days before the pair vanished, searches for “sea burial” were found on the former handyman’s laptop.

“There’s a lot of pieces of this puzzle that I will never know,” he said at the hearing earlier this month.

He pointed out both mother and son were wearing life vests in a photo when they left, but those were found in the boat. He also had no detail about the spiritual practices that were to “reverse” the bad magic.

But he told the court he believed the duo were “overcome” by conditions out on the bay and the boat wasn’t suitable for the trip.

The bodies of the pair have never been found.

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