Coroner rules Birmingham girl who died 40 years ago was unlawfully killed

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A coroner has ruled that a young Birmingham girl who died more than 40 years ago was unlawfully killed.

Helen Bailey went out to play at a park in Perry Barr on 11th August 1975 – but she never returned to her home.

Helen Bailey

The eight-year-old’s body was found by her father in a wooded area next to the park the following morning. 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 a review of the cold case team at West Midlands Police in 2014 led them to question the original findings, leading to a 67-year-old man being arrested on suspicion of murder.

But the Crown Prosecution Service deemed it did not meet the threshold to charge and the man was released.

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.”

“I have missed watching her grow up”

Helen’s mother Margaret said her daughter remained firmly in her thoughts 40 years later.

“I believe Helen would have grown into a kind, loving and beautiful young lady,” she said.

“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.” 

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