Family granted right to apply for fresh inquest into death of teenager in 1965

The family of a 14-year-old girl knifed to death in the 1960s has been granted the right to apply for a fresh inquest after her suspected killer died before he could be charged.

No one was ever successfully prosecuted for the murder of Elsie Frost, who was killed on the way home from her sister’s house in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in October 1965.

An inquest held in 1966 implicated local man Ian Bernard Spencer but his criminal trial was thrown out of court due to lack of evidence.

New evidence uncovered after Elsie’s brother Colin Frost and sister Anne Cleave persuaded West Yorkshire Police to reopen the files pointed to Beast of Wombwell killer Peter Pickering.

Following his death in March last year, the force confirmed Pickering was expected to be charged with Elsie’s murder.

The 80-year-old was locked up for more than 45 years after killing 14-year-old Shirley Boldy in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, in 1972.

At the time of his death, the sex attacker was also awaiting sentence for raping an 18-year-old woman – who is now in her 60s – a few weeks before Shirley’s abduction.

An inquest into Pickering’s death found he died of a retroperitoneal haemorrhage due to a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.

It also showed he was suffering from heart disease.

A police investigation found nothing suspicious about the death and he was found to have died from natural causes.

Pickering was held under a hospital order made by a judge in 1972 after he admitted Shirley’s manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

She was bundled into Pickering’s van as she was returning to Wombwell High School before being driven to a secluded location where he tied her up and raped her.

He tried to strangle her before stabbing her to death.

Three weeks before Shirley’s killing, Pickering abducted and violently raped an 18-year-old woman in Barnsley.

Pickering was convicted at Leeds Crown Court on March 20 of rape and false imprisonment over the attack, which only came to light through the reinvestigation of the murder of Elsie.

Elsie was stabbed in the back and head as she walked through a railway tunnel on her way back to her parents’ address.

After Pickering’s death, Mr Frost said he felt “an incredible feeling of frustration” knowing his family had been cheated of justice.

He said police had done a “fantastic job” but criticised the length of time prosecutors took to decide on a charge after detectives handed over the file to the Crown Prosecution Service a year ago.

Mr Frost said: “They uncovered a monster. The man was such a nasty, nasty piece of work.”

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC granted the family the right to apply to the High Court for a new inquest into Elsie’s death on Friday.

He said: “Having considered the application, I have given consent to the family of Elsie Frost to apply to the High Court for a new inquest into her death.

“I am satisfied that there is new evidence available that was not put before the previous inquest, and I believe that it is in the interests of justice for the application for a new inquest to be heard by the High Court.”

As part of the inquiry, detectives looked back through Pickering’s conversations with psychiatrists and also found a storage garage he rented in Owlerton, Sheffield, containing possessions including handcuffs and exercise books filled with his rantings.

One note written in 1970 said: “Sex is predominant in my mind – eclipsing all else. Maybe I will be a sex maniac proper. Rape, torture, kill.”

Pickering had convictions for sex offences dating back to the very early 1960s and was in prison from 1966 to early 1972 for a violent sex attack on a teenager.