Unsolved 1994 Disappearance of Revelle Balmain

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GG.exe

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Police to search Sydney properties for missing woman’s remains

Digital Staff
AAP/7NEWS
Published: 30/11/2021
Updated: Tuesday, 30 November 2021 8:30 AM AEDT

Police conduct series of searches for missing model

(Source: 7NEWS)

Police conduct series of searches for missing model.

Three searches will be conducted for the remains of Sydney woman Revelle Balmain who disappeared in Sydney 27 years ago.

NSW Police are hoping the searches of eastern Sydney properties at Bellevue Hill, Bondi Beach and Potts Point on Tuesday will provide the breakthrough they need in the case.

Ms Balmain was 22 when she was last seen in the Kingsford area on November 5, 1994.

Her make-up bag, keys and her shoe were later found scattered near Ainslie Street.
She was reported missing later that evening and has not been seen or heard from since.

Despite extensive investigations by police at the time and over the years, no one has been charged in relation to her disappearance and in May a $1 million reward was announced for information about her fate.

Revelle Balmain was last seen in Sydney in 1994.
Revelle Balmain was last seen in Sydney in 1994. Credit: NSW Police



A coronial Inquest in 1999 found that Revelle had died at the hands of a person or persons unknown and the matter was referred to the Unsolved Homicide Unit.
Last year, a formal review of the case was conducted and assigned to a senior detective from the Central Metropolitan Region for re-investigation under Strike Force Aramac.

It is expected that new lines of inquiry will be explored during a fresh coronial inquest at a future date.

Strike Force Aramac lead investigator Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Bell said officers are reviewing all previous evidence, as well as exploring new lines of inquiry.

Revelle was a model and dancer.
Revelle was a model and dancer. Credit: NSW Police


Revelle’s personal property were found scattered near her final known location.
Revelle’s personal property were found scattered near her final known location. Credit: NSW Police


“This includes whether Revelle was scheduled to meet with any individuals - clients, friends or associates - previously unknown to police, on the evening of her disappearance,” Det Ch Insp Bell said on Tuesday.

“The locations that are being searched today will be subject to an extensive forensic examination by specialist officers.

“We are now exploring a new line of inquiry and believe these locations are of significance and will help us progress the investigation.”
 

GG.exe

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1989 in title should be 1994 (sorry, i cant make edits)
 

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Kurve

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Missing model and escort Revelle Balmain's former boss has been charged with drug and shoplifting offences, uncovered as part of an ongoing reinvestigation into her disappearance.

Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Bell said during the new probe, police uncovered an alleged organised Serbian criminal syndicate.

"In recanvassing the investigation, we were looking at a person of interest and the alleged offences were detected during that investigation," he said.

tactical police walking down a road

Four search warrants were executed yesterday morning.(Supplied: NSW)


Police arrested 63-year-old Zoran Stanojevic, who used to run the escort agency Balmain worked for, and four others.

Authorities alleged they were cultivating and supplying drugs, as well as stealing and selling luxury goods.

Warrants executed yesterday in Sydney's eastern suburbs led police to seize $400,000 worth of cannabis, and $150,000 worth of suspected stolen luxury goods.

Police said the "Aladdin's cave" was found with designer handbags, clothing, shoes, watches and high-end alcohol in it.

"[These alleged] offences are current offences, nothing linked with Revelle Balmain," Detective Chief Inspector Bell said.

Mr Stanojevic, did not apply for bail or appear when his case was briefly mentioned at Central Local Court.

But his lawyer foreshadowed an application on December 21.

Djordje Covic, 65, and Tomislav Makovic, 59, are also expected to make bail applications on that day.

Magistrate Robert Williams refused bail for 65-year-old Nebojsa Anicic and 50-year-old Dejan Sakic after the prosecutor said there was a risk they would abscond.

Both men have Serbian ties and passports, the court heard.

 

annawinter608

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The dumping of her belongings in streets in Kingsford made no sense if she was killed by her Kingsford client, given her body was concealed so well that it has never been found. Strewing her belongings in the streets of his suburb is a big red arrow to him, which is inconsistent with going to the trouble of effective body concealment.

If she was killed by a person who saw her after her Kingsford appointment, and who was known to have been meeting her after Kingsford, and who knew that her previous appointment was in Kingsford, it makes a lot of sense. It’s designed to corroborate their claim that she didn’t make the later appointment.

It’s risky, though, because it’s a very small intersection between who she was supposed to meet later and who was in a position to know the location of her previous client.


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GG.exe

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The dumping of her belongings in streets in Kingsford made no sense if she was killed by her Kingsford client, given her body was concealed so well that it has never been found. Strewing her belongings in the streets of his suburb is a big red arrow to him, which is inconsistent with going to the trouble of effective body concealment.

If she was killed by a person who saw her after her Kingsford appointment, and who was known to have been meeting her after Kingsford, and who knew that her previous appointment was in Kingsford, it makes a lot of sense. It’s designed to corroborate their claim that she didn’t make the later appointment.

It’s risky, though, because it’s a very small intersection between who she was supposed to meet later and who was in a position to know the location of her previous client.


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Yep. Clearly to me it seems like who killed her wanted to make it seem like she was killed by Kingsford client, red herring. Her bosses because she say wanted out or threatened to go to police or something.
 

annawinter608

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Yep. Clearly to me it seems like who killed her wanted to make it seem like she was killed by Kingsford client, red herring. Her bosses because she say wanted out or threatened to go to police or something.

Agreed. Or because the appointment with the boss’s friends in the Swiss Hotel room turned bad.


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annawinter608

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True Crime All The Time podcast looked at this

Ep252 – Revelle Balmain

While I recognize the above statement about red arrows pointing to Gavin - he hasn't covered himself in glory with his change of statements

Agreed. The police are spoilt for choice in terms of dodgy individuals to look at.

And my big red arrows theory relies on the assumption that a person who acted rationally in body disposal would act rationally in disposing of personal items. That’s not guaranteed. I read an account by one of the police who spoke to Ted Bundy just before his execution. Bundy had just hidden remains in Washington so well they wouldn’t be found for years, but told police he got spooked straight afterwards and drove along a main highway throwing the victim’s belongings out of the car window in a mad panic.


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ms finch

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I mentioned back in the CSK discussion threads that I am a former sex worker. I was talking with a friend about this case today and went back down the rabbit hole reading about it. I ended up posting elsewhere and then found this thread so thought I'd comment here as well.

One of the most glaring holes in the police investigation to me is that they did not sit down with a few sex workers and get their interpretation of a few things. I'm not saying that they would all agree, but it would at least have provided some insight that would have informed the investigation.

I too think Samer is a red herring; in the wrong place at the wrong time and the wrong type of person, much like Lance Williams in the CSK case. I'll go one step further and say that I think the sex work itself is a red herring as well.

One thing that jumps out at me is that Revelle was comfortable enough to extend privately at 6pm with nobody knowing her whereabouts, and then also comfortable enough to call her friend Kate at 7:15pm without raising any concern with Kate. Based on these two pieces of information, she did not fear for her safety with Samer over those three hours, and Samer never prevented her making the calls nor took the prime opportunity to do something, which would have been 6-7pm after she had called out with the agency. If she was with Samer, and concerned at 7:15pm, she would have found a way to let someone (or Kate) know. If she could make a call then she could have done that, and trust me when I say that we have our ways.

So if it's Samer, then after she had called Kate and made plans with her for later in the evening, a call that he probably would have overheard because it would have been made from his place in this scenario, something either happened directly after that call or she extended with him for longer and something went wrong, something that she could not foresee based on his prior behaviour. It's not impossible, but based on the information we have it's unlikely. That level of unpredictability is usually a result of crystal meth, which wasn't around then. Yes, Samer was a big drinker and by his own admission had consumed a lot that night, and cocaine and speed were around, but you usually see it coming with drinkers and those drugs. If something happened with Samer, I'd actually say accident or kink session gone wrong.

I also agree with annawinter608 that if he managed to get rid of her body without a trace, he's highly unlikely to have been throwing her belongings around Kingsford in a way that basically led to him. Again, not impossible, and police were pretty lax with their forensic investigations so he may have gotten lucky, but it seems highly unlikely. From what has been seen of him since, he also doesn't strike me as someone who got away with murder and is high on that, or someone who killed someone and is consumed by guilt. He strikes me as someone whose life has been ruined by the false accusation. That's just a personal judgement, though, and obviously completely subjective.

Something that is very strange in his story is the claim that he drove her to a nearby pub. It's rare for sex workers to have a client drive them places like that, and I can't see the benefit to her of him doing that. Either he made it up (and if he was really as drunk as he says he was he could have passed out on the couch and dreamt it for all we know) or she had a very specific reason for going there. I do wish police had seen the unusualness of that and, instead of just not believing him resulting in him being a person of interest, investigated the possibility that she left in a different way or what the reason for going to the pub might have been.

Moving on to the agency owners, I think way too much has been made of Revelle being unreliable, owing money and poaching clients. This happens all the time, and if it were a motive for murder there would be dozens of dead sex workers every week. Workers have left owing thousands, have used agencies as a way to establish their private business, and fail to turn up for jobs all the time. I am sure they wanted to recoup whatever she owed, and that may have been a reason for sending her to the Yugoslavian friends (not because she would be doing a freebie but because they may have been paying Zoran directly rather than through her), but I really really don't see them killing her if they couldn't. Also they would not have cared about her leaving: escort agencies are a revolving door. Jane's testimony and commentary about her unreliability and how they handled it rang entirely true to me.

There was something that interested me about the Yugoslavian friends booking. This was a one worker-two man booking. There are a lot of workers who will not see two men at once. Jane said that Revelle was fussy with her clientele, but believed she would be OK with the Yugoslavian one because of the amount of money. I think we can say that Revelle had no intention of doing that booking because she was making plans with Kate, and my guess is that she only agreed to that one as well so she could do the earlier one with Samer. According to the evidence at the inquest, another worker named "Kelly" went to that job, and although there are inconsistencies in things that have been said by the owner, they found a worker who testified as "Kelly" that she did in fact do that booking and it seems to be consistent. Whether or not I believe "Kelly's" recollection of events, I do not think anyone is dragging Revelle off the street and hauling her off to a booking at a hotel. That seems far fetched.

So the question is, did Revelle change her mind and go and do the booking at the Bondi hotel? According to the testimony at the inquest, and again even though there are inconsistencies, this seems to add up, the booking at the hotel was quite late. "Kelly" did a job for an hour at 7:15pm, then went home, then went out again for the two hour booking at the Bondi hotel. Revelle would almost certainly have had time to go home to Bellevue Hill and contact Kate as she said she was going to before she was called for or collected for that job. There's no evidence whatsoever that she did that. Did she have the client drop her at the pub so she could say that's where she had been for an hour or so to avoid being caught out doing a sneaky private booking? Unlikely, because as the publican said, she would have stood out like a sore thumb if she'd actually entered the pub.

Back at the time of the inquest, an associate of Mark Coulton's claimed that he'd made a drunken series of comments, although Coulton denied it.
"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. She's 10 foot under and 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 ... I knew her, and she was a nasty little gold digger and coke addict that would do anything for money ... Isn't it amazing what money can buy to make people disappear?" This is the sort of stuff that would have been said in many places by many people, and someone like Coulton may have been trying to big note himself by claiming he knew stuff. BUT Coulton has since been convicted of drug trafficking.

As per this thread, a recent development linked to this case is that Zoran was arrested for drugs related matters and also stealing luxury goods. Obviously this is all alleged and he has not been convicted of anything.

But that's where I think police should have been looking - not at sex work, but at any association with drugs. That's not because I equate sex work with drugs, but because of the background association of drugs with this situation. She didn't even have to be directly involved; she could have just gotten into the middle of a bad situation.

Comprehensive article that also contains the supposed Coulton quote: Revelle Balmain | carolineoverington. The article first appeared in Good Weekend Magazine.
 

annawinter608

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I mentioned back in the CSK discussion threads that I am a former sex worker. I was talking with a friend about this case today and went back down the rabbit hole reading about it. I ended up posting elsewhere and then found this thread so thought I'd comment here as well.

One of the most glaring holes in the police investigation to me is that they did not sit down with a few sex workers and get their interpretation of a few things. I'm not saying that they would all agree, but it would at least have provided some insight that would have informed the investigation.

I too think Samer is a red herring; in the wrong place at the wrong time and the wrong type of person, much like Lance Williams in the CSK case. I'll go one step further and say that I think the sex work itself is a red herring as well.

One thing that jumps out at me is that Revelle was comfortable enough to extend privately at 6pm with nobody knowing her whereabouts, and then also comfortable enough to call her friend Kate at 7:15pm without raising any concern with Kate. Based on these two pieces of information, she did not fear for her safety with Samer over those three hours, and Samer never prevented her making the calls nor took the prime opportunity to do something, which would have been 6-7pm after she had called out with the agency. If she was with Samer, and concerned at 7:15pm, she would have found a way to let someone (or Kate) know. If she could make a call then she could have done that, and trust me when I say that we have our ways.

So if it's Samer, then after she had called Kate and made plans with her for later in the evening, a call that he probably would have overheard because it would have been made from his place in this scenario, something either happened directly after that call or she extended with him for longer and something went wrong, something that she could not foresee based on his prior behaviour. It's not impossible, but based on the information we have it's unlikely. That level of unpredictability is usually a result of crystal meth, which wasn't around then. Yes, Samer was a big drinker and by his own admission had consumed a lot that night, and cocaine and speed were around, but you usually see it coming with drinkers and those drugs. If something happened with Samer, I'd actually say accident or kink session gone wrong.

I also agree with annawinter608 that if he managed to get rid of her body without a trace, he's highly unlikely to have been throwing her belongings around Kingsford in a way that basically led to him. Again, not impossible, and police were pretty lax with their forensic investigations so he may have gotten lucky, but it seems highly unlikely. From what has been seen of him since, he also doesn't strike me as someone who got away with murder and is high on that, or someone who killed someone and is consumed by guilt. He strikes me as someone whose life has been ruined by the false accusation. That's just a personal judgement, though, and obviously completely subjective.

Something that is very strange in his story is the claim that he drove her to a nearby pub. It's rare for sex workers to have a client drive them places like that, and I can't see the benefit to her of him doing that. Either he made it up (and if he was really as drunk as he says he was he could have passed out on the couch and dreamt it for all we know) or she had a very specific reason for going there. I do wish police had seen the unusualness of that and, instead of just not believing him resulting in him being a person of interest, investigated the possibility that she left in a different way or what the reason for going to the pub might have been.

Moving on to the agency owners, I think way too much has been made of Revelle being unreliable, owing money and poaching clients. This happens all the time, and if it were a motive for murder there would be dozens of dead sex workers every week. Workers have left owing thousands, have used agencies as a way to establish their private business, and fail to turn up for jobs all the time. I am sure they wanted to recoup whatever she owed, and that may have been a reason for sending her to the Yugoslavian friends (not because she would be doing a freebie but because they may have been paying Zoran directly rather than through her), but I really really don't see them killing her if they couldn't. Also they would not have cared about her leaving: escort agencies are a revolving door. Jane's testimony and commentary about her unreliability and how they handled it rang entirely true to me.

There was something that interested me about the Yugoslavian friends booking. This was a one worker-two man booking. There are a lot of workers who will not see two men at once. Jane said that Revelle was fussy with her clientele, but believed she would be OK with the Yugoslavian one because of the amount of money. I think we can say that Revelle had no intention of doing that booking because she was making plans with Kate, and my guess is that she only agreed to that one as well so she could do the earlier one with Samer. According to the evidence at the inquest, another worker named "Kelly" went to that job, and although there are inconsistencies in things that have been said by the owner, they found a worker who testified as "Kelly" that she did in fact do that booking and it seems to be consistent. Whether or not I believe "Kelly's" recollection of events, I do not think anyone is dragging Revelle off the street and hauling her off to a booking at a hotel. That seems far fetched.

So the question is, did Revelle change her mind and go and do the booking at the Bondi hotel? According to the testimony at the inquest, and again even though there are inconsistencies, this seems to add up, the booking at the hotel was quite late. "Kelly" did a job for an hour at 7:15pm, then went home, then went out again for the two hour booking at the Bondi hotel. Revelle would almost certainly have had time to go home to Bellevue Hill and contact Kate as she said she was going to before she was called for or collected for that job. There's no evidence whatsoever that she did that. Did she have the client drop her at the pub so she could say that's where she had been for an hour or so to avoid being caught out doing a sneaky private booking? Unlikely, because as the publican said, she would have stood out like a sore thumb if she'd actually entered the pub.

Back at the time of the inquest, an associate of Mark Coulton's claimed that he'd made a drunken series of comments, although Coulton denied it.
"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. She's 10 foot under and 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 ... I knew her, and she was a nasty little gold digger and coke addict that would do anything for money ... Isn't it amazing what money can buy to make people disappear?" This is the sort of stuff that would have been said in many places by many people, and someone like Coulton may have been trying to big note himself by claiming he knew stuff. BUT Coulton has since been convicted of drug trafficking.

As per this thread, a recent development linked to this case is that Zoran was arrested for drugs related matters and also stealing luxury goods. Obviously this is all alleged and he has not been convicted of anything.

But that's where I think police should have been looking - not at sex work, but at any association with drugs. That's not because I equate sex work with drugs, but because of the background association of drugs with this situation. She didn't even have to be directly involved; she could have just gotten into the middle of a bad situation.

Comprehensive article that also contains the supposed Coulton quote: Revelle Balmain | carolineoverington. The article first appeared in Good Weekend Magazine.

There’s a lot in your post to digest, ms finch. I’m looking forward to coming back to it over the weekend.

One thing that struck me on first reading was that odd detail you mention about the pub where Samer says he dropped her - the Red Tomato or some similar name. I agree it’s an odd note in the story. I remember that nobody in the hotel that night remembers seeing her and one of the men there said that if someone who looked like Revelle Balmain walked in the whole place would have ground to a halt. It was a sad suburban dive. But it’s such a stupid detail for Samer to have invented, if that’s what he did - he could have nominated much more believable places. If he made it up it’s as dumb and panicked as throwing her belongings out a car window.

For what it’s worth I’m inclined to agree with you about the drugs.


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ms finch

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There’s a lot in your post to digest, ms finch. I’m looking forward to coming back to it over the weekend.

One thing that struck me on first reading was that odd detail you mention about the pub where Samer says he dropped her - the Red Tomato or some similar name. I agree it’s an odd note in the story. I remember that nobody in the hotel that night remembers seeing her and one of the men there said that if someone who looked like Revelle Balmain walked in the whole place would have ground to a halt. It was a sad suburban dive. But it’s such a stupid detail for Samer to have invented, if that’s what he did - he could have nominated much more believable places. If he made it up it’s as dumb and panicked as throwing her belongings out a car window.

For what it’s worth I’m inclined to agree with you about the drugs.


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Yeah, the pub story by Samer was so odd it was either completely true or a breathtakingly stupid lie or delusion. Could he have killed her and come up with such a stupid story to cover his ass and also been dumb enough to hurl her stuff around Kingsford? Yes; he doesn't strike me as the sharpest tool in the shed. But it just doesn't fit with me because she didn't feel unsafe with Samer, and she had ample time to assess him. This wasn't date where a woman could be lulled into a false sense of security. This was a job where she would have been on alert the whole time. And if Samer wasn't smart enough to come up with a better story about what happened afterward, and hurled her stuff all over Kingsford, he wasn't smart enough to manipulate her for all that time. There was something I read as well - Samer thought there was CCTV at the pub, and there was, but it wasn't working that night. Could he have really known it wasn't working?

If he did drive her to the pub, I just think she didn't go inside. Having done some more thinking on this, I think the reason she would have asked him to drive her to the pub is because she felt unsafe leaving his premises on her own and wanted to be somewhere else, either for the safety of it being busier or because she wanted to throw a potential stalker off her trail. But I also think it's equally likely that he was passed out drunk and she left and he woke up and imagined that whole scenario of driving her somewhere.

Her agency were the ones who knew where she would be. Could they have sent someone to follow her to see if she was doing a private booking? Yes, and she may have been worried about this which could explain her having her client drive her somewhere. But no, I do not see them killing her over that. Sneaky private bookings happen all the time and there aren't hundreds of dead sex workers. It's just not good business practice to kill workers for ripping you off a couple of hundred every so often when they're making you thousands, and deal with the police turning up on your doorstep.

I'd actually like to know how well they checked out the boyfriend in all this. If they were obsessed enough about her work related activities they may have overlooked something obvious like a jealous partner who wasn't happy about her work or her going overseas. I'm guessing she was going Japan to work at a hostess bar.
 

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MisterMarcus

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Yeah, the pub story by Samer was so odd it was either completely true or a breathtakingly stupid lie or delusion. Could he have killed her and come up with such a stupid story to cover his ass and also been dumb enough to hurl her stuff around Kingsford? Yes; he doesn't strike me as the sharpest tool in the shed. But it just doesn't fit with me because she didn't feel unsafe with Samer, and she had ample time to assess him. This wasn't date where a woman could be lulled into a false sense of security. This was a job where she would have been on alert the whole time. And if Samer wasn't smart enough to come up with a better story about what happened afterward, and hurled her stuff all over Kingsford, he wasn't smart enough to manipulate her for all that time. There was something I read as well - Samer thought there was CCTV at the pub, and there was, but it wasn't working that night. Could he have really known it wasn't working?

If he did drive her to the pub, I just think she didn't go inside. Having done some more thinking on this, I think the reason she would have asked him to drive her to the pub is because she felt unsafe leaving his premises on her own and wanted to be somewhere else, either for the safety of it being busier or because she wanted to throw a potential stalker off her trail. But I also think it's equally likely that he was passed out drunk and she left and he woke up and imagined that whole scenario of driving her somewhere.

Her agency were the ones who knew where she would be. Could they have sent someone to follow her to see if she was doing a private booking? Yes, and she may have been worried about this which could explain her having her client drive her somewhere. But no, I do not see them killing her over that. Sneaky private bookings happen all the time and there aren't hundreds of dead sex workers. It's just not good business practice to kill workers for ripping you off a couple of hundred every so often when they're making you thousands, and deal with the police turning up on your doorstep.

I'd actually like to know how well they checked out the boyfriend in all this. If they were obsessed enough about her work related activities they may have overlooked something obvious like a jealous partner who wasn't happy about her work or her going overseas. I'm guessing she was going Japan to work at a hostess bar.
On the pub thing, maybe that was just a convenient landmark or street corner or something for where she was really going?

i.e. She gets the convenience of a lift, without letting a client know specifically her next appointment.
 

ms finch

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On the pub thing, maybe that was just a convenient landmark or street corner or something for where she was really going?

i.e. She gets the convenience of a lift, without letting a client know specifically her next appointment.
I'm not sure about the convenience thing. Yes, in theory, but not in this instance. She indicated to Kate, her friend, in the 7:15pm call that she would call her in about an hour from home and then they would go out, so it doesn't look like she had another appointment. Given the lack of mobiles back then and the fact that she didn't have one, I can't see how she would have scheduled a booking after calling Kate. The distance Samer took her was not really helpful in terms of her getting home or going elsewhere because it was only a couple of kms from his place. I don't understand why she wouldn't have just left Samer's place and taken a taxi wherever else she was going, especially if it was home. This would be the usual procedure for leaving a booking if she was not picked up by a driver. If he drove her to the pub I'm convinced there was a particular reason for it that did not relate to him.
 

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