Fresh inquest ‘can right wrongs’ over teenage girl’s murder in 1965
The brother of a 14-year-old girl who was stabbed to death in the 1960s has said he hopes a fresh inquest into her killing will help right wrongs and “draw a line in the sand”.
Elsie Frost’s brother Colin was six when she was knifed in Wakefield as she walked back from a sailing club event more than 50 years ago.
Mystery remains over the circumstances, and no-one has ever been successfully prosecuted for the killing.
An inquest was originally held in 1966, a year after Elsie’s death in October 1965, during which local man Ian Bernard Spencer was implicated, but he was cleared after a criminal trial was thrown out due to a lack of evidence.
West Yorkshire Police have since said they believe the infamous Beast of Wombwell killer Peter Pickering was responsible, but were unable to charge him before he died in March last year.
Mr Frost and his sister Anne Cleave have since pushed authorities to quash the original inquest and order a new one, and were successful when the High Court ruled in April that new evidence necessitated one.
Speaking outside Wakefield Coroner’s Court on Thursday after the fresh inquest was formally opened and adjourned, Mr Frost, 60, said: “We’re a step closer to knowing what happened to Elsie.
“We’ve got wrongs to be put right. We just want to get all the information out, so that everyone knows what happened to Elsie.”
Senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin paid tribute to the “tenacity” of Mr Frost in pursuing a fresh inquest.
A full inquiry, lasting two days, was scheduled to start on November 18 at the same court.
Mr Frost said: “We know that we’ll never get closure, as closure would be having Elsie here, but at least Anne and I will have pretty much all the answers to whatever happened on that day and can draw a line in the sand.”
West Yorkshire Police revealed shortly after Pickering’s death in March last year that the Beast of Wombwell was close to being charged with Elsie’s murder, and the force had passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.
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 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.
Mr Frost said: “Given all the information that West Yorkshire Police have given us – and I’m aware that we’ve not been given everything and we don’t know what we don’t know – there’s a very compelling set of information, a batch of information, that shows that Pickering did murder Elsie.
“Anne and I are convinced that it was him.
“What we wanted pretty much from the start was for West Yorkshire Police to have their day in the inquest, and to explain what they’ve learnt and what they’ve found out, and to make it known to everyone.”
He told reporters that he hopes the fresh inquest will help to again exonerate Mr Spencer, whose son Ian Lee Spencer was in court during the opening.
“His family deserve that, we’ve fought for that”, Mr Frost said, adding: “It’s not just about Elsie Frost, it’s about Ian Spencer and having his name removed from those records.”