Family of Sussex art student Jessie Earl killed in 1989 are told their daughter’s death WAS murder

Welcome to NCRExpressmews.in Where we shared articles on various topic including news, sports, and entertainment, if you have any problem with our news article feel free to use our contact us page, Thank you!!

A coroner today ruled art student Jessie Earl was murdered – 33 years after her body was found tied up to a tree using her bra.

Her parents Valerie and John, who are in their 90s, have battled tirelessly to have their daughter’s death recognised as murder after police previously concluded it was probably suicide in their ‘flawed investigation’. 

And today the couple said it had been a ‘long road’ but they are ‘elated’ after East Sussex assistant coroner James Healy-Pratt ruled that the 22-year-old’s death was unlawful killing by murder. 

Mrs Earl said: ‘It must be closure’ but added: ‘I can’t help feeling it’s not the end.’ 

Ms Earl’s body was found in undergrowth at Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, East Sussex, in 1989 – nine years after she vanished from her nearby bedsit.

A fresh inquest into her death this week heard she was ‘probably’ tied to a tree and ‘possibly’ sexually assaulted before she died. No one has ever been arrested.

Coroner Mr Healy-Pratt said: ‘The Earl family have, through no fault of their own, had to endure nearly 42 years of waiting since their daughter Jessie was taken from them, for meaningful official recognition of how she died.

‘They have at all times demonstrated remarkable resilience and stoicism, and are to be commended. I trust that the conclusion of this inquest will provide a measure of comfort to the family.’

In 1989 an inquiry recorded an open verdict into her death, but a second inquest which started this week at Eastbourne Town Hall was told her bra had been used to bind her wrists and knotted in such a way that it could have been used as a ‘restraint, gag, weapon or ligature’.

Jessie Earl, 22, disappeared near Beachy Head, East Sussex, back in 1980 without a trace. Her body was found nine years later

Jessie Earl, 22, disappeared near Beachy Head, East Sussex, back in 1980 without a trace. Her body was found nine years later

Jessie Earl's parents, John and Valerie Earl pictured today at their home in Eltham, South East London

Jessie Earl’s parents, John and Valerie Earl pictured today at their home in Eltham, South East London

Coroner Mr Healy-Pratt said Sussex Police’s 1989 investigation and subsequent decision to dispose of key forensic evidence was ‘significantly flawed’.

In 2000, Sussex Police reopened the case under the name Operation Silk and concluded that Ms Earl was murdered, but no-one has been arrested.

In December last year, the High Court ruled there should be an order quashing the original inquest and that a fresh one should be held.

Speculation has previously linked Ms Earl’s death to Scottish serial killer Peter Tobin, who was said to be living nearby in Brighton at the time of her disappearance.

Ms Earl had described meeting a middle-aged Scottish man at Beachy Head to her mother shortly before her disappearance. 

Tobin is currently serving a whole life sentence in Edinburgh for the murders of three other women.

Mr Healy-Pratt told the inquest that the scientific cause of death is ‘unascertained’ but that he will record the conclusion that Ms Earl was murdered.

‘On the evidence heard in this inquest, I do not consider there to be evidence of suicide, accident, misadventure or natural causes that would justify any conclusion of such short form conclusion,’ he said.

‘I’m satisfied on the evidence that Jessie was murdered, that she was killed by a third party perpetrator who intended to kill her.’

The coroner ruled that Ms Earl’s body was ‘hidden some 70 metres inside an inaccessible area of dense thicket’.

‘The only item accompanying her remains was a knotted brassiere,’ he said.

‘A third party perpetrator used the brassiere to restrain Jessie by the wrists and had intentionally killed her by means unknown.’

He added that the tightness of the knot in the bra was ‘was due to being tied tightly by a third party, or subjected to struggling, or being loaded with weight through suspension or dragging’.

Tobin was living nearby in Brighton when Jessie disappeared and she had described meeting a middle-aged Scottish man at Beachy Head to her mother

Tobin was living nearby in Brighton when Jessie disappeared and she had described meeting a middle-aged Scottish man at Beachy Head to her mother

East Sussex assistant coroner James Healy-Pratt ruled on Thursday that her death was unlawful killing by murder

East Sussex assistant coroner James Healy-Pratt ruled on Thursday that her death was unlawful killing by murder 

Jessie Earl's grave pictured in November 2000

The art student pictured in 1976

Ms Earl’s grave pictured left in November 2000, and right the art student in 1976

Mr Healy-Pratt also said that a 1980 report by Sussex Police Detective Sergeant Dusty Miller, which ruled suicide as the most likely explanation in the original missing persons case, ‘had a chilling effect on police efforts to investigate her disappearance’.

Mr Healy-Pratt said DS Miller had written that Ms Earl was facing pressure with her studies and exams, was an introvert with not many friends, had to endure allergies for life, and lived ‘a life apart from others’.

But the coroner said the evidence did not support this conclusion, with Ms Earl’s journal being a ‘fairly reliable personal account of an intelligent, well-balanced young woman enjoying almost every moment of her life’.

He said: ‘Curiously, there is no evidence to support these reasons that were given as supporting suicide as the most likely outcome.

‘Neither has there been any explanation why that report made a conclusion that was seemingly dissonant with the available evidence.’

A photo of the original missing persons poster of Ms Earl created by her parents

A photo of the original missing persons poster of Ms Earl created by her parents

Mr Healy-Pratt said that, as a result, ‘the Earl family suffered a great deal of distress’ during the nine years until her body was found.

He went on to say that the subsequent 1989 Sussex Police investigation, by their own admission, was ‘flawed from the start’ as the senior investigating officer ‘discounted the possibility that Jessie was murdered from the beginning’.

He added that the disposal shortly thereafter of ‘key forensically important evidence was highly unfortunate’.

‘The disposal of the bra and the decision-making by the Sussex Police leading up to its disposal was significantly flawed.’

The inquest had previously heard that the police failed to submit a 2009 review of Operation Silk to the Earls and High Court proceedings, with the coroner’s court only receiving a copy on May 10 – days before proceedings began.

Mr Healy-Pratt said: ‘The court has not received the adequate explanation as to why this 2009 report was not disclosed earlier.

‘Clearly the Earl family felt let down by Sussex Police and the Sussex Coroner in 1989.’

Ms Earl, pictured aged 21 with her mother, was described as 'terrific' and 'wonderful'

Ms Earl, pictured aged 21 with her mother, was described as ‘terrific’ and ‘wonderful’

Ms Earl pictured as a young schoolgirl

Her parents have also shared this image of their daughter when she was aged three

Ms Earl pictured left as a young schoolgirl, and right when she was aged three

He added that the High Court had already outlined that the ‘Earls were victims of a substantial injustice due to insufficiency of inquiry in 1989’.

Asked how they were feeling about the inquest ruling, Mrs Earl said: ‘Elated, definitely very pleased.’

Mr Earl added: ‘Yes, slightly exhausted’.

‘It’s a terrific statement from the coroner that’s covered every single point that we’ve been worrying about for 30-odd years.

‘Every single point – he’s left nothing behind and he’s cleared absolutely everything that’s on our minds.

‘So it’s a terrific result and the fact that we now have a finding of unlawful killing instead of what’s on the present death certificate, which is unknown causes of death, for us this is a triumph because it means that Jessie has got justice out of this.

‘It’s been a very long road,’ he continued.

Mrs Earl added: ‘It’s the most important day really, if we hadn’t had today then we would have just gone on with that death certificate in the draw and I would have ranted about it forever.’

Mrs Earl, pictured with her husband after the inquest verdict, said 'It must be closure', but added: 'I can't help feeling it's not the end'

Mrs Earl, pictured with her husband after the inquest verdict, said ‘It must be closure’, but added: ‘I can’t help feeling it’s not the end’

Mr Earl said: ‘We had the verdict we wanted and it’s more than just the verdict, it’s everything surrounding it, all the comments he made were wonderful.’

On what emerged during the inquest about the police investigation, Mrs Earl said they were ‘surprised’ by the extent of what they weren’t told.

She said: ‘It’s been quite illuminating in the fact that when we went into the investigation we were quite young and naive and I really believed everything I was told particularly by the police who were in charge and all good.

‘Looking back now I realise there were so many awful things that happened.’

Asked if they felt the police had been held to account over their handling of the case, Mr Earl: ‘Not really no. I think they’ve got to do it themselves.

‘I’d like to see the police investigating this themselves, not he crime but their attitudes towards it from the beginning.’

Describing what their daughter was like, Mrs Earl said she was ‘a bit eccentric’, ‘an original’, ‘terrific’ and ‘wonderful’.

On what’s next, Mrs Earl said: ‘It must be closure’, but added: ‘I can’t help feeling it’s not the end.’

She said the inquest conclusion can ‘go into the family folder and our grandchildren will be able to see what happened to her aunt.

‘I think this is probably as far as it will go unless somebody comes up. I think this last three days has probably been as much as we can cope with.’

‘Whoever it is, there’s somebody still out there,’ Mr Earl added.

Dev

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.