The family of Cheryl Grimmer sat in quiet anticipation in the public gallery of Wollongong Local Court on Friday morning, waiting to catch their first glimpse of the man who police claim killed their beloved sister and would-be-aunt on a hot January day in 1970.
Had the brief proceedings played out like the Grimmer family had hoped, the alleged perpetrator – now aged 63 but who was just 16 years old that fateful summer day – would have entered the courtroom through a side door, flanked by two prison guards.
He then would have shuffled his way into the wooden dock in front of him, all the while unable to escape the wave of eyes upon him.
But the Grimmers will have to wait for another time for that.
The alleged killer chose to be absent from the courtroom when his case was mentioned by his lawyer; he even refused to appear via video link from the holding cells below the courthouse.
Cheryl’s brother Stephen was pragmatic when asked outside court if he felt cheated at not being able to “eyeball” his sister’s accused murderer.
“I don’t feel cheated by it and I will get to eyeball him sooner or later,” he said, at one stage fighting back tears.
“I was probably hoping today, yes, to have a look, [to] stare at him, yeah. We were hoping for a bit of stuff happening today but deep down we knew it wasn’t going to happen.”
Meantime, Cheryl Grimmer’s niece, Melanie, said her aunt’s disappearance from Fairy Meadow Beach on January 12, 1970 continued to have a profound impact on her family almost 50 years on.
“It affects me, it affects my father, it affects my uncle, it affects my children because I can’t leave my children alone for one second, that’s how much of a ripple affect it's had on my family,” she said.
Cheryl, a bubbly three year old, had been swimming with her mother and brothers when she went into the surf club change rooms about 1.30pm to shower.
She was never seen again.
Police described the 63-year-old’s arrest on Thursday as a “major breakthrough” in the case.
He will reappear in court on May 24.
The man accused of murdering Illawarra toddler Cheryl Grimmer at Fairy Meadow 47 years ago has been refused bail in Wollongong Local Court.
The now 63-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of killing the three-year-old within an hour of her disappearance on the afternoon of January 12, 1970.
He was arrested in Frankston, Victoria on Thursday and extradited to NSW later that day.
He did not front court on Friday, instead choosing to remain in the cells while his matter was mentioned. He did not apply for bail and it was formally refused.
Defence lawyer Laura Fennell asked that the man receive urgent psychiatric attention whilst in custody.
Magistrate Michael Stoddart ordered the man by seen by Justice Health and adjourned the matter to May 24 for a brief of evidence to be served.
Court documents allege the man murdered the three-year-old girl sometime between 2.30pm and 4.30pm at Balgownie on the day she disappeared.
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