Australian prosecutors have dropped their case against a man who had been accused of murdering a UK-born toddler almost 50 years ago.
The disappearance of three-year-old Cheryl Grimmer from a New South Wales beach in 1970 is one of Australia’s longest-running mysteries.
A man was arrested in 2017, and he later pleaded not guilty to murder.
On Friday, a judge ruled that a key part of the prosecution case could not be used as evidence in a trial.
It concerned statements made by the man during a police interview in 1971, when he was aged 17.
The Supreme Court of New South Wales ruled that the evidence could not be heard because the teenager had not had a parent or adult representative present during the interview.
Justice Robert Allan Hulme : “The Crown accepts that its case cannot succeed without it.”
Cheryl went missing from a shower block on 12 January, 1970, in Wollongong, a city 70km (44 miles) south of Sydney, shortly after her family moved to Australia from Bristol.
It sparked a massive search at the time, but no trace of the girl was ever found.
On Friday Cheryl’s brother, Ricki Grimmer, said the family was devastated by the case’s collapse and felt let down by police.
The trial had been due to begin in May. The man has not been identified publicly because he was not an adult in 1970.