A former Sydney playboy who allegedly claimed that missing model and escort Revelle Balmain was “10 foot under” has been extradited and may be interviewed about the murder mystery.
Mark Coulton, who later denied he had said brothel bosses in Sydney’s seedy underworld had murdered the beautiful 22-year-old, is in custody in a Cairns prison.
Revelle Balmain, the fashion model and dancer whose life had veered off track into prostitution and drugs, vanished in 1994 amid a swirl of rumours.
One of her wealthiest clients formerly from Sydney’s Palm Beach, Coulton allegedly told a friend Revelle had been “whacked” – murdered – and that her body was “10 foot under”.
Coulton, brother of former Sydney Deputy Lord Mayor Dixie Coulton, was extradited back from the UK last month.
It is not suggested that Coulton was in any way involved in Revelle Balmain’s suspected murder.He is charged with conspiring to smuggle 18kg of pseudoephedrine, a precursor to methamphetamine, from Africa.
But will Coulton be able to provide new clues as to the fate of Revelle, whose loving family still hold out hope that her 1994 disappearance and suspected murder may be solved?
Former playboy and Revelle’s wealthiest client, Mark Coulton, 56, is extradited to Cairns on an alleged drug conspiracy last month. Photo / News Corp Australia
News.com.au has learned that police may consider interviewing Coulton, who will first have to face a committal hearing into the drug trafficking conspiracy charges.
At the time of her disappearance, Revelle Balmain was in the process of extracting herself from Sydney’s seedy drug and escort world, and escaping to Japan.
Coulton has admitted he gave her cash to make good her escape overseas.
But Balmain never made the flight, and one of her shoes, her bag, keys and belongings were found scattered over four streets in Sydney’s east after she vanished.
But it was alleged he claimed that a brothel boss wanted Revelle dead over a money dispute, and that he had been at one time supporting Balmain after “pinching” her from a brothel.
Mark Coulton was flown from the United Kingdom under police guard on February 20 to await trial on the alleged drug importation plot.
The 56-year-old brother-in-law of Sydney barrister Don Grieve, QC, who is married to Dixie Coulton, is charged with conspiring with Peter Mitchell, of Port Douglas, to import pseudoephedrine pills from Kenya.
Revelle’s parents Ivor, who died in 2010, and Jan Balmain. Photo / News Corp Australia
The former private schoolboy, who once owned Sydney’s Hard Rock Cafe, comes from a prominent cotton-producing family in northern NSW.
He has previously confessed to importing fake jeans, and was forced to apologise to the Levi Strauss company.
Another failed scheme was his plan to import organic tampons, in 1995 with his then partner, model Robyn Galwey who died from surgery complications the same year.
At Revelle Balmain’s 1999 inquest, Coulton said he has used her services “two or three times” and had given her a $1000 gift to help her leave the escort business.
“It was after a job and when I paid her she asked if she could have an extra $1000 because she wanted to go to Japan to dance,” Coulton said.
“I’m pretty generous and she said she wanted to get out of the business and I felt sorry for her so I did, otherwise I wouldn’t.
“Revelle came from a good Eastern suburbs family and why she was in that situation I didn’t know but I wanted to help her get out of it.
“I gave her a cheque, which subsequently bounced, and she came back two weeks later and I gave her the money in cash.”
But he denied telling an associate Jeremy Coughlan, over drinks after Revelle’s disappearance, that he would have sex with Balmain “up to a dozen times a week”.
Coghlan had given evidence at the inquest that Coulton told him he paid Revelle a $500-$1000 allowance, which was “cheaper than $200 an hour” at the brothel.
Balmain wanted to leave Australia and dance in Japan. Photo / News Corp Australia
“I never had a conversation like that with Jeremy Coughlan – it’s rubbish,” Coulton said.
He also denied saying to Coughlan during the same conversation that Balmain was “a nasty little gold-digger and a coke [cocaine] addict” and that she was “10 foot under”.
Coghlan gave evidence at the inquest that Coulton that he had heard that Revelle had been “whacked”, escort industry speak for murdered.
According to his statement, which was tendered to the inquest, Coghlan had been at a party at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Double Bay with Coulton when “Coulton said something like, ‘Aren’t people gullible and stupid? You’ve heard the story about Revelle Balmain. First there was a story about an Arab prince who took her back to Saudi Arabia … what a load of crap.
“No-one will find her body. That’s what you get for moonlighting and ripping off the brothel that she worked for, and drugging clients … stealing all their money.
“Basically, the owner of the brothel wanted her dead because she was destroying his business.
“Isn’t it amazing what money can buy to make people disappear?”
But, when he appeared before the inquiry, Mr Coghlan agreed that both men “might have been a bit drunk” on champagne and, at the time, he gave no credence to Mr Coulton’s story.
However, Revelle’s parents, Jan and Ivor Balmain, were profoundly disturbed by Coghlan’s statement.
Mrs Balmain, a ballet teacher, was due to meet her daughter off the train at Newcastle station for lunch on November 6, 1994.
Missing dancer Revelle Balmain’s last client Gavin Samer said he dropped her off at the Red Tomato Inn. Photo / News Corp Australia
But Revelle, due to depart the following day for a six-week stint in Japan as a dancer, failed to appear and Jan Balmain never saw her daughter again.
At Revelle’s inquest, it was revealed that the slender young blonde’s last official sighting was allegedly by her final client Gavin Samer, a surfer who worked for his parents’ clothing company.
Revelle had spoken with Select Companions, one of two agencies that she worked for, run by husband and wife, Jane and Zoran Stanojevic.
According to evidence presented to the Coroner, Jane Stanojevic told her to see Samer at 4pm at his Kingsford house in Sydney’s east.
At 5.50pm, Revelle called the agency to say that her assignment with Mr Samer had finished and that she was leaving.
But according to evidence tendered at the inquest, Samer said Revelle stayed with him for another hour under a private arrangement.
He said he then dropped Revelle at the Red Tomato Inn, a Kingsford hotel, where he bought a bottle of Strongbow cider and cigarettes and went home to watch Hey Hey It’s Saturday before falling asleep.
Two days after Balmain’s disappearance on November 5, a cork-heeled platform shoe, her cane make-up bag, her diary and the keys to her Bellevue Hill unit were found scattered in four streets in the Kingsford area.
The coronial inquiry identified Samer as the main person of interest.
“While Samer certainly had the opportunity to kill Balmain, and rightly in my view is the main person of interest to police, there is no plausible motive proved,” then deputy state coroner John Abernathy said but recommended no charges.
Samer denied he was involved in Balmain’s disappearance.
The inquiry also canvassed suggestions that Balmain might have been murdered by Zoran Stanojevic of Select Companions, who provided contradictory evidence to police and the inquiry about his whereabouts on the day she disappeared.
Model and escort Revelle Balmain vanished aged 22. Photo / News Corp Australia
No adverse findings were made against Stanojevic, who has consistently denied he had anything to do with her disappearance.
In 2008, the then NSW Homicide Squad commander, Detective Superintendent Geoff Beresford, said the cold case unit, using advances in forensic procedures, had gathered new evidence from the Kingsford house where Ms Balmain had allegedly been on her last day.
Revelle’s father, Ivor Balmain died in 2010, tragically not knowing what had happened to his daughter.
Jan Balmain, now aged in her 80s, is kept informed by the NSW Homicide Squad’s Unsolved Homicide Team as to any updates.
The team may interview Mark Coulton in the future after his case is dealt with in the Queensland courts.
Coulton has not make an application for bail and is remanded in custody to appear for committal mention on May 2.
NSW Police are offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to a conviction and detectives urge anyone with knowledge of Revelle Balmain’s suspected murder to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.