Cheryl Grimmer abduction from NSW beach 52 years ago now focus of podcast, giving family fresh hope

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Cheryl Grimmer, 3, was abducted from Fairy Meadow beach on January 12, 1970. (Supplied: NSW Police)

Fifty-two years to the day since three-year-old Cheryl Grimmer was abducted from Fairy Meadow beach in Wollongong, members of her family are visiting her memorial plaque, paying tribute and still searching for answers. 

Below photos of Cheryl and family members looking young and exuberant before the tragedy, sits a box of flowers wrapped with a pink ribbon, and a pink toy bear.

“We always live with the hope that somebody one day … that knows something comes forward and does the right thing and tells police what they know,” says brother Ricki Nash, who was the last family member to see Cheryl alive.

“The only way that we will ever find out answers is if somebody comes forward and helps our family find those answers.

“And as I have said over the years, you can’t hide this. Somebody knows the truth.”

‘Cheryl has likely died’

In 2011, a coroner ruled that Cheryl had likely died but the circumstances surrounding her death remained unknown.

Despite a revamped police investigation resulting in an arrest in 2017, the case was dropped when it went to court two years later as a crucial piece of evidence was deemed inadmissible.

The man, code-named Mercury, made a confession, but as he was 17 years old at the time and the interview was conducted without a parent, adult or lawyer present, the court found it could not be used.

It is a situation that still visibly upsets Ricki and his daughter, but today they are trying to focus on Cheryl.

“This place is somewhere we can come and just remember her and her spirit,” Melanie Grimmer said.

“We don’t have a gravesite so this is just to celebrate her life really.

“It’s a place for me by myself, it’s a place for my children, so they know about their aunty and the history of their family, it’s a place for my dad, it’s a place for his brothers.”

Podcast documents twists and turns

The story of Cheryl Grimmer has now been made into an eight-part podcast series by BBC journalist Jon Kay.

He lives in Bristol, where the Grimmer family of six emigrated from in 1968, but he did not learn about what happened on Wollongong’s Fairy Meadow beach until decades later.

“A few years ago I suddenly got an alert on my phone, like a Google alert about a story about a little girl from Bristol who disappeared on Fairy Meadow beach all those years ago, and I had never heard of it,” Kay said.

“And I was like ‘What? This is so intriguing.’

“So I started knocking on doors of the the family [members] who had stayed in the UK, and none of them wanted to talk about it.” 

Kay eventually made contact with Cheryl’s oldest brother, Ricki Nash, and around the same time the case started moving again. 

“Over the five years that I’ve been investigating the Cheryl Grimmer case in the UK and Australia, I’ve been amazed by the twists and turns this story has taken.”

NSW Police continue to investigate the crime, but the urgency has faded.

“The investigation into the disappearance of Cheryl Grimmer remains under the responsibility of the Homicide Squad’s Unsolved Homicide Unit,” a police statement said.

“A $1 million reward for information that leads to the recovery of Cheryl’s body, and the circumstances surrounding her disappearance, remains in place.”

Episodes 1 and 2 of the podcast ‘Fairy Meadow’ are available on BBC Sounds or from wherever you get your podcasts, with new episodes every Wednesday.

Source: Thanks