Inquest concludes 1975 death mystery was murder
Senior Coroner Louise Hunt, presiding at the inquest into the death of a young Birmingham girl over 40 years ago, has overturned the original ruling of misadventure after concluding that she was unlawfully killed.
Helen Bailey was just eight-years-old when she went out to play at a park near her home in Perry Barr on the afternoon of Sunday 11 August 1975 but she never returned.
Her concerned mother started looking for her along with neighbours and, when they couldn’t find Helen, called police and a full scale search was launched involving members of the public.
At 6.35am the following morning Helen’s body was discovered by her father in a wooded area next to the park - her throat had been cut.
At the original inquest in March 1976, the pathologist raised doubts that Helen’s death was as a result of a homicidal attack and said it could have been accidental. The jury returned an open verdict.
But nearly 40 years later in 2014, a review of the evidence led detectives from the cold case review team to question the original findings. Further to their investigations a 67-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of Helen’s murder.
The case was presented to the Crown Prosecution Service, but they deemed it did not meet the threshold to charge and the man was released from police bail.
Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Payne, head of Force CID, said: “Helen’s death has remained a mystery for over 40 years, but it is important for her family to have it formally documented that she was unlawfully killed. Nothing can ever bring Helen back to them, or all the lost years that she should have been with them, but I hope this small recognition can bring some comfort.
“Our investigation will remain open and, should any new evidence come to light, we will pursue it. At present we only have one suspect. We have had protracted discussions with CPS, but they do not feel that the evidence available meets the charging threshold."
Helen’s mother Margaret provided this statement at the hearing: “I believe Helen would have grown into a kind, loving and beautiful young lady. She was full of life and would have achieved anything she wanted to. She was robbed of a loving family, a wonderful brother and adored cousins.
“There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t think about Helen. I have missed watching her grow up and maybe marrying and having a family of her own.
“The knock on effect of Helen’s death has been devastating. Helen’s dad never got over finding her body and the trauma of seeing her in the mortuary. He stopped caring for himself and passed away a tormented man.
“I continually miss Helen and mourn her still."