Brother of schoolgirl knifed to death in 1965 ‘elated’ as new inquest granted

The brother of a 14-year-old girl who was knifed to death in the 1960s has said he is “elated” after the High Court ruled there must be a fresh inquest into her killing.

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

On Tuesday, more than 50 years on, senior judges in London found there was “fresh evidence” which required a new inquest to be held.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London after the ruling, Elsie’s brother Colin Frost – who was just six when his sister was killed – said: “It’s a massive step in the right direction, to say the very least.

“I don’t think we really understand the enormity of it yet.

“We’ve come a long way for this. We’ve fought and fought and fought. We have had lots and lots of support from different people.

“It just feels as if we’ve vindicated everything.

“I’m totally elated with what we are going to achieve for Elsie. We are going to leave a legacy after all this.”

His barrister Anna Morris earlier told the court that a fresh inquest was “both necessary and desirable”, adding that without one “the full facts about the tragic death of Elsie Frost will never be recorded and the truth never known”.

She said “significant investigations and inquiries advanced by the family” led to a file being put together by the Crown Prosecution Service with a view to charging a suspect.

Elsie Frost
Elsie Frost (West Yorkshire Police/PA)

Ms Morris added that the evidence against the suspect, Beast of Wombwell killer Peter Pickering, was “of such significance that West Yorkshire Police took the unusual decision” to publicly state they “strongly believed” he was responsible for Elsie’s death, shortly after he died in March last year.

The 80-year-old had been held under a hospital order for more than 45 years after admitting killing 14-year-old Shirley Boldy in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, in 1972.

Pickering died days after he was convicted of abducting and violently raping an 18-year-old woman, also in Barnsley in 1972, three weeks before Shirley was killed.

Ms Morris said the “investigative file gathered by West Yorkshire Police remains closed… (and) will remain concealed from Elsie’s family and the public record” unless a new inquest was ordered.

She added that, without answers about how Elsie died, “her family, her parents, her brother and her sister have never been able to properly grieve”.

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

Ms Morris told the court Mr Spencer “maintained until his death” that he was innocent, but he had “lived with that shadow” over him for the rest of his life.

She said it was also “necessary and desirable to correct the record and the injustice to the Spencer family”.

Ms Morris concluded that the death of Elsie did not just affect the Frost and Spencer families, but also “affected the whole of the city of Wakefield”, adding that Elsie’s killing was “etched upon the city’s psyche”.

Lord Justice Irwin, sitting with Mr Justice Jay, said: “There will be a new inquest.”

The judge added that the court’s reasons for its decision will be given at a later date.

Speaking before the hearing, Mr Frost said he thought Pickering “got away with the perfect murder back in 1965”, which he said was “very, very frustrating and very upsetting”.

He also said he had spoken to Mr Spencer’s son Lee, adding: “We have said all along, we are fighting for the Spencer family as well.”

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