News, Police Rounds

$1m offered for information on Cheryl Grimmer’s abduction from Fairy Meadow Beach in 1970

cheryl grimmer

Cheryl Grimmer with her father Vince at the Fairy Meadow migrant hostel, now the eastern campus of the University of Wollongong.

ON the 50th anniversary of the disappearance of toddler, Cheryl Grimmer, from Fairy Meadow Beach, the NSW Government has increased a reward to $1 million for information into her abduction and suspected murder.

Cheryl Gene Grimmer, then aged three, was kidnapped outside the change sheds at Fairy Meadow Beach on Monday January 12 1970, where she was spending the day with her mother and three brothers.

Despite extensive searches at the time and over the years, she has never been found.

A Coronial Inquest conducted in 2011 found Cheryl had died but her cause and manner of death remained undetermined. Her body has not been found.

The Coroner recommended the investigation be referred to police for future investigation.

In 2012, a re-investigation was conducted by Wollongong Police under Strike Force Wessel.

A man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was due to face a murder trial in the NSW Supreme Court early last year, but the charges against him were dropped after key evidence was ruled inadmissible.

A judge ruled the man’s interview with police from April 1971 could not be used in court because there had been no parent, adult or lawyer present with the then-17-year-old.

Prosecutors withdrew the charge because there was insufficient evidence for the case to proceed in the NSW Supreme Court without the interview.

The man, who cannot be named as he was underage at the time, pleaded not guilty in September 2018 to murdering the three-year-old.

Following a major crime review late last year, the case will be moved to the Homicide Squad’s Unsolved Homicide Unit for potential further re-investigation.

In acknowledgement of the 50-year anniversary, the NSW Government has increased the reward for information which leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible to $1 million.

Homicide Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Daniel Doherty, said detectives would welcome any information from the community that may help provide answers to Cheryl’s family.

“By offering the highest value NSW Government reward five decades after Cheryl disappeared, we are appealing to those people who know something but have not previously been inclined to assist police,” Det Supt Doherty.

“Witnesses at the time reported seeing an unknown male carrying Cheryl towards the car park 50-years ago today but there has been no trace of her ever since.

“We welcome any information that may assist the investigation. There are now a million reasons to come forward.”

Cheryl’s brother, Ricki Nash, said the Grimmer family are hopeful the reward will help close the case.

“There are no words to describe the pain of losing a sister and the impact Cheryl’s disappearance has had on our entire family,” he said.

“Every day we are reminded of the tragic way she was taken from us and we hope this reward is what is needed to bring justice for Cheryl.”

The Grimmer family and friends commemorated the 50th anniversary by walking from Brokers Nose, Corrimal to Fairy Meadow Beach, where Cheryl disappeared.

A permanent plaque was also unveiled at the beach in the presence of Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery.

Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Wessel investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.


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About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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