SIGN UP for our newsletter ✉️ :

Get the latest stories delivered straight to you

Cheryl Grimmer: New eyewitness comes forward over disappearance of British girl in Australia

Cheryl Grimmer disappeared when she was three years old
Cheryl Grimmer disappeared when she was three years old

A potential new eyewitness has emerged in the case of a British-born toddler who went missing in Australia more than 50 years ago.

The disappearance in 1970 of three-year-old Cheryl Grimmer, who had emigrated to Australia from Bristol with her family in 1968, is one of the country's oldest cold cases.

The child vanished from outside a shower block while she was at Fairy Meadow beach in the Illawarra region of New South Wales with her mother and three brothers on January 12, 1970. No trace of her was found.

A new eyewitness told the BBC that they saw an adolescent male leaving the public lavatory with a toddler on the same day Cheryl went missing.

The possible eyewitness, who has since been contacted by New South Wales Police, said: "When I glanced back at the toilet block, the profile of the guy was sort of full-stride with this baby in his arm, just kind of screaming and yelling at his hip, like low on his hip."

The man added: "I heard this screaming of the kid. That's what caught my ear. What was that shrieking sound? I turned around and that's what I saw."

He said that he did not tell police because he was not aware at the time that a child had been abducted.

"We had only been in the country for three or four weeks. We didn't have a TV and we never read the newspapers at that time. We were oblivious to what was really going on," he said.

"It wasn't even on my radar that it was such an important thing that I saw."

Retired detective Damian Loone, who reinvestigated the case in 2016, has spoken to the man and says his testimony is “compelling”.

He said: "He sounded very credible to me - and what he says he saw on that particular day is very important and it should be fully investigated.

"I can understand the reasons why he didn't come forward beforehand, but he's now come forward to you. I have got his permission for an officer from the unsolved homicide unit to contact him."

Cheryl's disappearance prompted a high-profile police investigation. The case was reopened after a 2011 coroner's report ruled that she was dead and recommended that police should reinvestigate.

A man, in his 60s, was arrested in 2018 on suspicion of her murder. He was later released after a judge ruled his 1971 police interview was not admissible.