Coroner pays tribute to brother of Elsie Frost as inquest into her death opens

A coroner has paid tribute to the brother of a teenage girl who was knifed in the 1960s as he opened a fresh inquest into her death.

Thursday, 15th August 2019, 3:27 pm
Colin Frost at the inquest today cc HENRY CLARE/PA

The circumstances surrounding the killing of 14-year-old Elsie Frost in October 1965 remain something of a mystery, as no one has been successfully prosecuted for her murder.

Police believe that the infamous killer Peter Pickering, known as the Beast of Wombwell, was responsible but were not able to charge him before he died in March 2018.

Although an inquest was originally held in 1966 in relation to Elsie's death, a new inquiry was ordered by the High Court in April following an application from her family, including her brother Colin Frost, as fresh evidence relating to the case necessitated one.

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Elsie Frost

At an inquest opening in Wakefield on Thursday, senior coroner Kevin McLoughlin briefly outlined the circumstances surrounding the girl's death.

He told the court that she was walking home following an event at the Snapethorpe School's sailing club on Horbury Lagoon in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, when she was killed.

Mr McLoughlin told Wakefield Coroner's Court: "It is thus on the instruction of the High Court that I open this inquest, albeit 53 years after this young girl's death."

Addressing Mr Frost, who was just six when Elsie died, the coroner praised his efforts in applying for a fresh inquest, saying: "I pay tribute to your tenacity over many years to get to where you have got to now."

During the 1966 inquest, local man Ian Bernard Spencer was implicated but he was cleared after a criminal trial against him was thrown out due to a lack of evidence.

Mr Spencer's son, Ian Lee Spencer, sat in court during Thursday's opening and will give evidence during the full inquest, which is scheduled to run for two days from November 18.

Mr Frost, who was also present, said he hopes that the full circumstances of his sibling's death will come to light during the inquest, saying: "That would go a long way to allaying the fears of the Spencer and the Frost families".

West Yorkshire Police revealed shortly after Pickering's death in March last year that the Beast of Wombwell was close to being charged with Elsie's murder, with the force having passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mr McLoughlin said that efforts have been made to find someone to represent Pickering in the full inquest, but that he has no close family capable of acting on his behalf.

The 80-year-old had been held under a hospital order for more than 45 years after admitting killing 14-year-old Shirley Boldy in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, in 1972.

Pickering died days after he was convicted of abducting and violently raping an 18-year-old woman, also in Barnsley in 1972, three weeks before Shirley was killed.

During Thursday's hearing, the court heard that the full inquest will not sit with a jury, and that the number of statements relating to the case exceeds 900.