A child allegedly told their support worker William Tyrrell’s former foster father grabbed them by the neck and scared them.

The 56-year-old man and his 58-year-old wife are facing a hearing into the alleged assault and intimidation of a child who is not William, in incidents spanning over several months in 2021.

Dozens of audio clips have been played at Sydney’s Parramatta Local Court since Monday, which arose after police placed listening devices in the couple’s house and car while investigating William’s disappearance.

The foster mum pleaded guilty to two counts of assault — admitting to smacking the child with a wooden spoon and kicking her on the thigh — but has denied two counts of intimidating them.

The foster father pleaded not guilty to one count of assault and one count of intimidation.

Giving evidence regarding the alleged assault by the father, the child’s former support worker told the court the child told her in December 2022 that her foster father had frightened them.

“(They were— quite upset and sobbing, and police had left the room, and it was just myself and (the child) in the room,” the support worker told the court.

“And (they) turned to me and said ‘dad put his hand around my neck, I was so scared. He has mental health issues and anger issues’”.

The support worker, who had known the child for about a year at this point, told the court she didn’t inform the police of the conversation immediately because she did not want to breach trust with the child, but later did so.

During cross-examination, the woman was asked by defence lawyer Phillip English if the child actually told her that the foster dad used “an open palm to apply force to (their) shoulders and (they) slid down the wall”.

The social worker responded: “No, she did not. She said exactly what I put in my statement”.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the foster mum spoke about the police investigation into William’s mysterious disappearance, saying they “f**ked it up”, in more tapped calls aired in court.

The defence team argued police only pursued the assault and intimidation charges regarding another child as a way to “break” the foster mum into giving them answers about Tyrrell’s disappearance.

No charges have been laid in relation to William’s suspected death.

In one tape dated October 20, 2021, the foster mum can be heard saying on the phone to an unknown person: “they’re investigating me … I found out and I lost it”.

“They’re trying to trip me up on stuff and they’re trying to get me to do things. I’ve got a lawyer involved … They’re doing it because they f**ked it up … and they have nobody”.

In the tape, she said police “cleared a guy” and later “came back and said we’re cleared”.

“It’s all politics … I’ve been caught right in the middle. And now they’re saying that (redacted name) covered up for me,” she said.

In June, police recommended that prosecutors lay criminal charges against the foster mother, alleging she covered up William’s accidental death. But through her solicitor, the woman maintained her innocence.

News.com.au does not suggest the calls aired in court suggest any wrongdoing on behalf of the foster mother.

Also on Wednesday, defence lawyer John Stratton SC asked Detective Senior Constable sergeant Sean Ogilvy if the assault and intimidation charges were brought “as part of a campaign to put pressure on (the foster mother) to break her so she’ll give you information she unfortunately doesn’t have”.

“Absolutely not,” Det Const Ogilvy said.

As he was attached to the homicide at the time, Det Const Ogilvy was asked if information about Tyrrell’s body was “something (he) desired” at the time the foster parents were charged with the child’s alleged assault.

“Yes, I was on the investigation of the disappearance of William Tyrrell, but the charges of DV had nothing to do with putting on pressure,” Det Const Ogilvy said.

The court heard distressing tapes of the foster mum kicking a child and repeated threats of violence against them— including to slap them and “throw” them around.

The tapes aired the woman threatening to slap the child several times and blaming the child for her own tendency to threaten violence.

“If I’m physically hurting children, how do you think that’s making me feel?” she asked the child in one tape.

“Because the problem is, you push it and push it and push it. Someone snaps and they lose control. If you get violent, it’s because people lose control and they can’t stop”.

Admitting to kicking the child, the foster mother said to a friend in one tape that she couldn’t believe she did it and it was a “complete reaction” to the child threatening to hurt their sibling.

On September 12, 2014, three-year-old Tyrrell went missing from his foster grandmother’s house at Kendall on the NSW mid North Coast.

The mystery sparked national headlines and has become one of the state’s most high profile cold cases.

William’s foster parents have continued to deny any wrongdoing.

The hearing continues.

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