What price justice for Billie-Jo?
In the months following the acquittal in 2006 there was a steady trickle of media comment from Sussex police indicating that they were preparing to abandon the Jenkins case. Having used £10m of public money on a prosecution which, from the outset prompted widespread criticism, their strategy was to disengage from action in a haze of ambiguity, implying that there had been no credible suspect other than the man orginally convicted.
Their position is disingenuous.
Sussex police chose to go on the record to say explicitly that they believe “they would need compelling new evidence to launch any new prosecution, and believed they have exhausted every line of enquiry”. They were effectively washing their hands of the case, concluding that the mystery might never be solved.
In 2006, after Siôn Jenkins acquittal, the chairman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission, Professor Graham Zellick, said:
There was another suspect in the frame who the police had investigated but dismissed from that investigation because of alibi evidence. On investigation we discovered the evidence that supposedly excluded him was, in fact, not reliable.
Yet the then Deputy Chief Constable of Sussex police was, apparently, satisfied that that the suspect known as Mr. B was not the man who attacked Billie-Jo Jenkins on 15 February 1997. The grounds for his satisfaction were not specified, but he was quoted as saying that “there was no evidence to consider him the offender”.
His assertion was opinion; it was not fact.
The truth is that there are still credible grounds for reopening the case. Having one flawed attempt, however protracted, intensive and media-led, cannot be the end of the matter. It will not achieve justice for Billie-Jo.
Justice: a lasting memorial for Billie-Jo
The investigation must be re-opened with a full review of the evidence leading to identification of the killer . Nothing less can honour the memory of Billie-Jo and be the enduring tribute she deserves.