Former William Tyrrell investigator Gary Jubelin has told a Sydney court his boss instructed him to drop the investigation because "no one cares about that little kid".
The former homicide detective told Downing Centre Local Court today that freshly promoted homicide commander Superintendent Scott Cook made the comments upon seeing a picture of William Tyrrell displayed near Jubelin's desk.
"No one cares about that little kid - get him off the books and get him to unsolved homicide," Jubelin says Supt Cook told him in 2017 amid growing frustration regarding the length of the investigation.
A barrister representing the NSW Police commissioner told the court Supt Cook "categorically" denied saying those words.
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller later on Wednesday said he had "full confidence in the professionalism" of Supt Cook.
He "exemplified the definition of a leader" during his time as homicide squad commander, Mr Fuller said in a statement.
Jubelin is facing charges he illegally recorded conversations he had with elderly Kendall resident Paul Savage which the Crown alleges were not covered by surveillance warrants.
But the retired detective told the court he'd been assured by Deputy Commissioner David Hudson that he wouldn't be criminally charged over the recordings following an internal investigation.
"Don't worry, you won't be charged. There's no public interest in you being charged," Jubelin said Mr Hudson told him when he quit the force in 2019.
Jubelin says he made the recordings to protect himself in the event Mr Savage lodged a complaint or harmed himself.
"He's a volatile person. I'm pushing buttons. I'm poking him," he said of one of the occasions a recording was made.
"Everyone was aware I was going there to stir him up. I felt I needed to protect myself."
Jubelin also denied pressuring a then junior officer, Detective Senior Constable Greg Gallyot, to make one of the recordings on his behalf.
"It was a simple request. There wasn't any resistance to doing what I had asked."
The hearing has aired tensions that arose during the Tyrrell investigation, which Jubelin says was one of the most difficult he worked on during three decades on the homicide squad.
The challenges included a lack of forensic evidence and direct eye-witnesses combined with limited staff resources and unreliable recording devices.
Jubelin told the court then-homicide commander Mick Willing warned him of the poor state of the investigation when he was handed the reins in 2015.
"I was told words to the effect of 'Jubes, I need you to sort this out when you take it over. It's all over the place, the investigation'," the 57-year-old said.
Jubelin claimed there was a backlog of evidence and no structure to the investigation when he took over.
"I was concerned that probably the highest-profile investigation in the state didn't have an investigation plan five months down the track."
Jubelin oversaw the search following William's 2014 disappearance from Kendall on NSW's mid-north coast.
He's contesting allegations he knowingly used a recording device to record private conversations in 2017 and 2018.
Mr Savage, 75, denies any involvement in the three-year-old's disappearance.