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Paedophile murdered missing Paige

Published 10/07/2015

Paige Chivers, 15, who was murdered by paedophile Robert Ewing eight years ago. Her body has never been found.
Paige Chivers, 15, who was murdered by paedophile Robert Ewing eight years ago. Her body has never been found.
Paige Chivers has been missing for eight years

A paedophile who groomed a vulnerable schoolgirl who has been missing for eight years has been convicted of her murder.

Robert Ewing, 60, killed 15-year-old Paige Chivers in Blackpool in August 2007.

He was also found guilty at Preston Crown of perverting the course of justice by intimidating witnesses and providing false information to the police.

Ewing was convicted on Tuesday, but the verdicts could not be reported until today because the jury was still considering the case against fellow defendant Gareth Dewhurst, who wa s found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

Today the jury also convicted Dewhurst of a second charge of helping Ewing dispose of Paige's body. He was earlier cleared of a charge of having sex with the body after Ewing had killed her.

Sobs could be heard from the public gallery as Ewing was finally convicted of Paige's murder.

The killer sipped water and sat motionless with his arms crossed as the foreman of the jury delivered the verdicts.

Paige went missing on August 23 after a row on the phone with her father Frank about missing cash.

He reported her missing on August 26 but the police botched their initial response.

Her father clearly stated she was 15, but her date of birth was wrongly entered on the police system as 1962.

As a result, the matter was dealt with as though Paige were an adult aged 45 who had moved on voluntarily, rather than a girl of 15 who was missing from home. It was not corrected until September 7.

The case echoes that of another schoolgirl who disappeared from the Lancashire seaside resort in 2003.

Like Paige, Charlene Downes, a then 14-year-old schoolgirl, has never been found.

And like Paige, Charlene is feared to have fallen victim to paedophile gangs in Blackpool.

Ewing, formerly of All Hallows Road, Bispham, Blackpool, had developed an "inappropriate sexual interest" in Paige, described in court as a "very troubled and vulnerable'' youngster, before he beat her to death.

Bloodstains were found by a police forensics team in the inner hallway of his flat in 2007. The blood belonged to Paige and Ewing was arrested a few months later in 2008. But he was not charged until last year.

The murder was said to have taken place between August 23 and August 27, 2007.

On August 23, Paige had packed two carrier bags with clothes and left her home in Longford Avenue, Bispham.

Later the same day she was spotted at a nearby bus stop with an older man, said to be Ewing.

An extensive proof of life inquiry found no evidence Paige was alive and she never claimed a ''significant'' inheritance sum left to her after her mother's death.

Less than a fortnight before Paige went missing, Ewing was said to have anonymously contacted police to tell them that a "problem child'' had turned up on his doorstep having been thrown out by her father.

Prosecutors said he was effectively "testing the water" and that there had been "very little reaction" by officials.

The jury was told that Ewing's friend Dewhurst, 46, of Duncan Avenue, Blackpool , had been overheard in conversation saying he had used his car to dump the teenager's body.

Both men also took a keen interest in the police search for Paige.

During the trial, the jury heard that a "highly stoned'' Dewhurst had told a 16-year-old boy that Ewing killed Paige and had then made him have sex with her corpse before forcing him to use his car dispose of her body.

The botched initial handling of Paige's disappearance has now been voluntarily referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission by Lancashire Constabulary.

A force spokesman said: "We fully recognise and accept that an error was made when Paige was first reported missing.

"Quite simply her year of birth was recorded as 1962 and not 1992.

"While our focus quite rightly up to this juncture has been on the criminal investigation, this matter will now be voluntarily referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission."

The jury deliberated for 30 hours and 37 minutes.

As the verdict was read out Dewhurst said from behind the glass dock: "I didn't do it."

The pair will be sentenced on July 28.

Mr Justice Baker told Dewhurst: "Now that you have been found guilty of two counts on the indictment the sentencing exercise will take place on July 28."

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