PARENTS of an art student who disappeared in 1980 have said their daughter ‘got justice’ after a coroner ruled her death a murder 42 years later.
Jessie Earl’s body was found in undergrowth at Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, in 1989 – nine years after she disappeared from her nearby studio.
The 22-year-old’s remains were found in an area of dense thicket with no belongings or clothing except for her bra, which was tied.
East Sussex Deputy Coroner James Healy-Pratt today ruled her death an unlawful murder.
He also called the 1989 investigation by Sussex Police “flawed” and said the Earl family had been “subjected to a substantial injustice”.
The conclusion of the inquest comes after a second inquest into the 22-year-old’s death at Eastbourne Town Hall, which began on Tuesday.
It comes decades after a 1989 inquest into Ms Earl’s death
rendered an open verdict following the police investigation.
In 2000, Sussex Police re-opened the case as Operation Silk and concluded that Ms Earl had been murdered, but no one was arrested.
In December last year the High Court ruled there should be an order quashing the original inquest and a new inquest should be held.
His parents, John and Valerie Earl – who are over 90, said the conclusion of the inquest was “the most important day”.
When asked how they were feeling, Ms Earl replied: “Thrilled, certainly very happy.”
“Yeah, slightly exhausted,” Mr Earl said.
“This is a terrific statement from the coroner that covers all the points that have concerned us for the past 30 years.
“Every point – he left nothing behind and he erased absolutely everything that concerns us.
“So it’s a tremendous result and the fact that we now have a finding of unlawful killing instead of what’s on the current death certificate, which is an unknown cause of death, for us is a triumph. because that means Jessie got justice.
“It’s been a very long road,” he said.
Ms Earl said: ‘This really is the most important day, if we hadn’t had today we would have gone on with that death certificate in the draw and I would have talked about it forever.’
Mr Earl said: ‘We got the verdict we wanted and it’s more than the verdict, it’s all about it, all of the comments he made were wonderful.
On what emerged during the inquiry into the police investigation, Ms Earl said they were “surprised” by the extent of what they had not said.
She said: ‘It was quite enlightening that when we got into the investigation we were quite young and naïve and I really believed everything I was told, especially by the police who was in charge and everything is fine.
“Looking back now, I realize there were so many horrible things that happened.”
When asked if they thought the police had been held responsible for their handling of the case, Mr Earl replied: “Not really no. I think they have to do it themselves.
“I would like to see the police themselves investigating, not the crime, but their attitude towards it from the start.”
Describing what their daughter looked like, Ms Earl said she was ‘a bit eccentric’, ‘a quirky’, ‘tremendous’ and ‘wonderful’.
On the sequel, Ms Earl said: ‘It must be the closure’, but added: ‘I can’t help but think this isn’t the end of it.’
She said the conclusion of the investigation can “go into the family file and our grandchildren will be able to see what happened to her aunt.
“I think that’s probably as far as it will go unless someone shows up. I think the last three days have probably been all we can handle.
“Whoever it is, there’s always someone there,” Mr Earl said.
It comes after Mr Healy-Pratt concluded on Thursday that the scientific cause of death is “uncertain”, but he will register the finding that Ms Earl was murdered.
He said: “I am satisfied based on the evidence that Jessie was murdered, that she was killed by a third party perpetrator who intended to kill her.”
He went on to say that the Sussex Police investigation in 1989 was, by the force’s own admission, “flawed from the start”, as the lead investigator “dismissed the possibility that Jessie had been murdered from the start. the beginning”.
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This notice was published: 2022-05-12 17:55:45