June 15, 2023 –The family of a British child who disappeared in Australia 53 years ago have written to the New South Wales attorney general urging him to re-examine the case.
Three-year-old Cheryl Grimmer vanished from a beach near Wollongong in 1970.
Despite a huge police search no trace of her has ever been found, but a 2011 inquest concluded she had died.
The case against a man who allegedly admitted in 1971 to her abduction and murder collapsed in 2019.
A Supreme Court judge ruled that a confession he allegedly made as a teenager came in a police interview that did not follow guidelines for questioning minors, and could not be used as evidence.
Police have refused to say publicly if the man – who pleaded not guilty and cannot be named for legal reasons – remains a suspect.
Previous Attorney General Mark Speakman described the collapse of the 2019 trial as the “end of the road” in one of Australia’s most high-profile mysteries.
“I don’t want any other family to go through what our family has been through. I’m angry,” Cheryl’s brother Ricki told the BBC’s Jon Kay at the time, for the podcast Fairy Meadow.
- ‘I turned away and my little sister was gone’
But Australian police continued to investigate, and in 2020 the NSW government increased its reward for information to A$1m (£540,000; $680,000).
Now the Grimmer family have sent a letter to Mr Speakman’s successor, Michael Daley, asking him to look again at the judge’s decision. The BBC has approached Mr Daley’s office for comment.
The Grimmer family had only just moved to Australia from the UK when Cheryl disappeared. She was last seen in showers near the beach, where she had spent the afternoon with her mother and three older brothers.
Witnesses at the time reported seeing an unknown male carrying a child wrapped in a towel towards the beach car park.