Cheryl Grimmer case: Trial of man accused of murdering toddler stopped over inadmissible evidence

The trial of a man accused of murdering a British-born toddler in Australia nearly 50 years ago cannot proceed, a judge has ruled.

Three-year-old Cheryl Grimmer, whose family had emigrated from Bristol, vanished from a beach in New South Wales in 1970.

The following year a 17-year-old boy claimed during a police interview to have murdered her, although investigators did not have enough evidence to support his confession and he was not charged.

The case was reopened in 2016 and the suspect, who cannot be named due to his age at the time of the alleged killing, was arrested and charged in 2017.

Now aged in his 60s, the British-born suspect pleaded not guilty and a trial was arranged for May.

Cheryl Grimmer with her dad John who served in the Australian ArmyCredit:

The alleged killer then mounted a challenge against the admissibility of the police interview in the New South Wales Supreme Court.

On Friday, Justice Robert Hulme ruled the interview was inadmissible as evidence.

"The Crown accepts that its case cannot succeed without it," he said in his judgment.

Mr Justice Hulme said the interview should not be admitted in evidence due to the "particular circumstances of the case".

"These circumstances primarily relate to the manner in which the interview was conducted and the particular vulnerability of the accused at the time," he said.

Cheryl, who arrived from Bristol with her family in 1968, was last seen naked and smiling near the changing rooms after a day at Fairy Meadow Beach in NSW’s Illawarra region with her three older brothers and mother while their father was on duty with the Australian army. 

Her family had long hoped that she might turn out to be alive.

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