A 64-YEAR-OLD British expat has plead not guilty to the murder of Cheryl Grimmer nearly 50 years after the toddler’s disappearance from an Australian beach.
He appeared via video link in Wollongong Supreme Court on Friday, and spoke only to confirm his name and enter the plea.
The man was extradited from Victoria in connection with the 1970 abduction and murder Cheryl Grimmer[/caption]
The accused could not be identified because he was 16 at the time of the abduction, and a trial will take place next May.
The case has chilling echoes of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, also three, from her parents’ holiday apartment in the Algarve in May 2007.
The hunt for Grimmer’s abductor had gone cold, but police made a major breakthrough after tracking down a British family who witnessed the child’s abduction in 1970.
The witnesses, now in their 50s who were 9, 10 and 12 at the time, provided new information about the suspected kidnapper.
The man is accused of strangling the youngster, though her body has never been found.
Officers made an appeal to trace the Goodyear family – Peter, wife Mavis and daughters Karen and Janette – who witnessed Cheryl being abducted from Fairy Meadow Beach in Woollongong, near Sydney.
Mail Online reports that the Goodyears have been tracked down at their home in Nottingham and vowed to help police in any way possible.
Ms Goodyear told MailOnline in 2017: “I didn’t think it would be brought back up again but you know what they say, your past will always come back to bite you.
“I’ve been in touch with our police for them to take my contact details to Interpol and I’ll cooperate in any way I can.”
Witnesses claimed a teenager was loitering near a shower block and public changing rooms at the time Cheryl vanished.
A suspect was arrested in Melbourne last month and extradited to Sydney for a court appearance.
The security guard, who cannot be named because he was 16 at the time, is accused of abducting the youngster and strangling her less than an hour later.
Cheryl’s disappearance sparked a huge search including the military but no trace has ever been found of her.
She had been visiting the beach with her mum Carole and her three older brothers Ricki, eight, Stephen, six, and five-year-old Paul.
The Grimmer family had migrated from England the year before and settled into a hostel near the beach as dad John worked away as a sapper in the Australian army.
Both of Cheryl’s parents died without knowing what happened to her[/caption]
Cheryl’s brother Stephen has implored killer to come forward[/caption]
The case has echoes of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance in 2007[/caption]
The Grimmers returned to the UK to grieve but moved back to Australia permanently in 1980 to find answers.
In 2011 Cheryl was officially declared “dead but missing” and the investigation reopened as a homicide case.
Carole died four years ago and John also went to his grave without knowing what happened to Cheryl.
But they never gave up hope and refused to believe she had been murdered, for years keeping her bedroom just as it had been on the day she disappeared.
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The tragedy continues to haunt Cheryl’s brothers Ricki, Stephen, and Paul.
Ricki said in December 2016: “It’s affected me all my life.
“Just let us know where she is. Give us something so we can mourn. It’s cost me and my family everything.”
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