Investigators say a burnt-out car abandoned deep in the bush near where William Tyrrell went missing could be a breakthrough in the case of the missing NSW boy.
The wreck was discovered in the bushland surrounding Kendall on the NSW mid-north coast, just a short drive from the home of William's foster grandmother, where he disappeared from on September 12, 2014.
It is believed the vehicle belonged to Tony Jones, a convicted paedophile who was at one point a person of interest in the little boy's disappearance, Nine's A Current Affair reports.
He was released from prison in January after serving a sentence for child molesting.
Jones, aged in his 60s, was involved in a heated confrontation with ACA earlier this year. He has previously denied any involvement in the 3-year-old's alleged kidnapping and has not been charged over it.
Police received a tip-off regarding the abandoned, rusty car hidden in the bush, however once they arrived at the scene, they discovered the vehicle had been flipped and set alight.
The abandoned vehicle resembled the same make and model Jones used to drive, according to the person who discovered it.
His relative Katrina, who had been living with Jones at the time William vanished, told ACA that she would "not be surprised" if he was the owner of the car.
Jones put forward several conflicting alibis when interviewed by ACA earlier this year, telling the program he was helping with his neighbour's hot water system when William disappeared, but the neighbour later disputed this claim.
The relative said Jones was in the bush collecting scrap metal at the time, while Jones told another source he was out using a chainsaw he had borrowed from the local council.
In 2015, Jones was convicted and sentenced for the aggravated indecent assault of an 11-year-old girl. He was sentenced to a maximum three years in prison, but news.com.au learnt he was back living in the community in January this year.
His criminal history includes assaulting children and women, escaping from police custody, theft and drug possession.
The new piece of information comes a day after the fourth anniversary of William's disappearance — a baffling mystery that has captured the nation's attention.
Four years on, NSW Police are no closer to finding answers and announced Wednesday that they will hand the investigation to Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame. An inquest into the case has been proposed for next year.
The information regarding the burnt-out vehicle will be part of the coronial inquest into William's disappearance.
As reported by AAP, several persons of interest in the disappearance of the then-toddler — many of whom have never been named — could be forced to reveal what they know under the spotlight of the inquest.
A massive brief of evidence will need to be compiled from physical artefacts, thousands of tip-offs and a "persons of interest" list hundreds of names long.
"(An inquest) makes us go over all the evidence collected in the last four years — it's an enormous task," Homicide Squad commander Scott Cook told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.
"The coroner will consider that and may well ask us to do further things. If that doesn't occur we're likely to see an inquest sometime in the early part of next year."
Detective Superintendent Cook praised the investigators working on the case for their "excellent work".
A police source told AAP detectives working on William's case will push for specific persons of interest — those "at the top of the list" — to give evidence at the inquest.
The coroner's legal powers mean witnesses could be forced to explain their movements and what they know about William's disappearance — unlike conventional police interviews.
Many of the people have never been named in the media, the police source said, adding only "some names" came out publicly during the investigation.
NSW Police in a statement said investigators "would like to acknowledge the continued strength and courage of William Tyrrell's families".
"Over the past year, investigators have continued to explore lines of inquiry in an effort to find out what happened to William, including a large-scale forensic search," the statement read.
The deputy coroner has requested a brief of evidence which will be provided by the end of the year.
The inquest will be "an opportunity to test information and evidence gathered by Strikeforce Rosann and further the investigation".
"This is another step in ensuring answers are provided to William's loved ones," the police statement said.
William, who was wearing his Spider-man costume at the time of his disappearance, would have turned seven years old in June.
— with wires