A man has pleaded not guilty to murdering a British-born toddler who vanished from an Australian beach in 1970.
Three-year-old Cheryl Grimmer was kidnapped from outside a shower block at Fairy Meadow Beach in New South Wales not long after her family had moved to Australia from Bristol.
Cheryl, who had a distinctive belly button which protruded around 10mm, was spending the day by the sea with her mother and three brothers when she went missing. Witnesses at the time reported seeing a man leaving the beach with a child wrapped in a white blanket.
The accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons because he was 16 at the time of the alleged murder, is due to face a trial in May 2019.
The suspect, who was arrested in Melbourne in March last year, pleaded not guilty via video link in the Supreme Court of New South Wales on Friday.
Though a body has never been recovered, a coroner’s inquest in 2011 concluded Cheryl was dead.
A $100,000 reward for information about her disappearance was announced by the NSW government in an effort to give the Grimmer family closure.
Detective Sergeant James Dark, the officer in charge of the investigation, said: “It happened over 40 years ago and Cheryl’s family still suffer the pain of not knowing.
“This was a child snatched from her family during broad daylight on a busy beach.”