Cheryl Grimmer murder case to proceed to preliminary committal hearing in April

Lost: Cheryl Grimmer, 3, was abducted from Fairy Meadow Beach in 1970. Police charged a Victorian man (middle) with her murder in 2017.
Lost: Cheryl Grimmer, 3, was abducted from Fairy Meadow Beach in 1970. Police charged a Victorian man (middle) with her murder in 2017.

A Victorian man accused of abducting and murdering Wollongong toddler Cheryl Grimmer in 1970 will face the first stage of his two-step committal hearing in April.

The man, who cannot be named because he was 16 at the time, is accused of killing the three year old within an hour of her disappearance from Fairy Meadow Beach on January 12, 1970.

It is alleged he made admissions to the murder when interviewed by police 18 months later but officers ultimately dismissed the man’s confession due to apparent “inconsistencies” with what police already knew about the case.

The Grimmer family – mother Carole and Cheryl’s older brothers, Stephen, Paul and Ricki, had spent the day at the beach when Carole sent the children to the change rooms shortly before 2pm to get ready to leave.

Ricki later said he saw his sister come out of the sheds and then go back inside. It was the last time he saw her.

Despite a high profile police investigation in the following months, no arrest were made and the case quickly went cold. 

In 2011, attention was refocused on Cheryl’s disappearance when a coroner formally ruled she was dead and recommended the NSW Police Force’s cold case squad look into it.

In late 2016, police received further information that prompted them to turn their attention to the Victorian man, now aged in his 60s.

Police claim the man gave investigating officers of the day intimate details of the crime that could only be known by the person responsible for her death.

He was arrested in March 2017 and has been in custody ever since.

In Wollongong Local Court on Wednesday, lawyers for both sides said there was a dispute over which witnesses would be called to give evidence at the committal hearing.

They said the dispute would need to be resolved by way of a preliminary hearing, estimated to take half a day.

Magistrate David O’Connor adjourned the case to April 4 for the legal argument to occur. 

The man will appear via video link from jail during the proceedings.