Birmingham & Black Country

New inquest ordered for 1975 'Little Girl Blue' murder

Helen Bailey
Image caption Helen Bailey did not return home after going out to play on an August afternoon

A new inquest into the unsolved murder of a girl found dead in a wood 43 years ago has been ordered by the high court.

Helen Bailey was found with her throat cut in August 1975. The eight-year-old disappeared while wearing blue clothes and was dubbed "Little Girl Blue".

An inquest in 1976 heard she may have died as a result of an "accident or practical joke gone wrong" and jurors returned an open verdict.

But judges quashed it, citing evidence from 2014 she had been strangled.

Sitting with Mrs Justice Whipple in London, Lord Justice Hickinbottom said:

"In my view, the emergence of this new evidence may well lead to the conclusion that the truth of how Helen met her death was not revealed at the first inquest.

"I am persuaded that the interests of justice do make a further inquest desirable."

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The court heard Helen left her home in the Perry Barr area of Birmingham to play at about 15:30 BST on 10 August.

Her mother alerted police when she did not return home and her body was found in woodland the next day.

A post-mortem examination at the time identified a cut to her throat as the cause of death.

The pathologist found there were no signs of a struggle and the circumstances "lacked the essential hallmarks of a homicidal attack".

Image caption Margaret Bailey told BBC Crimewatch Roadshow she wanted to "finish my life knowing justice has been done for Helen"

However, the investigation into her death was reopened in 2014, with a pathologist concluding Helen had been strangled before her throat was cut in a "clear case of homicide".

Lord Justice Hickinbottom said this was consistent with a "confession" by one suspect which was investigated by West Midlands Police, but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute him.

The force asked Birmingham and Solihull senior coroner Louise Hunt to seek permission to overturn the original inquest verdict.

Helen's mother, Margaret Bailey, backed a police appeal for information last year.

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