Australian police arrest man in toddler's 1970 disappearance

Carla Harmon
March 28, 2017

One of Australia's longest-running mysteries has had a major breakthrough after police arrested a man for the abduction and murder of a toddler at a Wollongong beach nearly half a century ago.

Detective Inspector Ainsworth said he wanted to solve the case to give answers to Cheryl's brothers Stephen, Paul and Ricki, and ultimately provide the toddler "with some dignity in death".

A man will face court on Friday after he was charged over the 1970 disappearance of toddler Cheryl Grimmer in Wollongong.

He agreed the arrest - which is the oldest cold case arrest made in Australia - was a big moment in policing. A massive search for Cheryl proved fruitless, and her body has never been found.

Police and volunteers search for Cheryl Grimmer.

Victoria Police and NSW detectives, acting on fresh information, arrested a 63-year-old man at Frankston, southeast of Melbourne on Wednesday.

In January 1970, Cheryl Grimmer visited Fairy Meadow beach in Wollongong with her mother and three young brothers, the BBC reports.

She was at the beach with her three brothers when the weather changed in the early afternoon and their mother, Carole, sent the children to shower at a toilet block near the surf club.

"I don't feel cheated by it and I will get to eyeball him sooner or later", he said, at one stage fighting back tears.

Three detectives dedicated to Strikeforce Weasel began re-examining the case previous year and have gone through hundreds of statements, running sheets and interviews since Cheryl disappeared. "It's cost me and my family everything".

He did not front court on Friday, instead choosing to remain in the cells while his matter was mentioned.

Defence lawyer Laura Fennell asked that her client receive urgent psychiatric attention whilst in custody.

Grimmer's brother, Stephen Grimmer, and his niece, Melanie Grimmer, had attended court in the hope of seeing the accused, and said afterward they were disappointed he had declined to appear.

Magistrate Michael Stoddart ordered that he be referred to Justice Health and adjourned the matter to May 24 for police to serve their brief of evidence.

Other reports by iNewsToday