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Paige accused 'tested the water'

An alleged murderer of a 15-year-old girl was told by police to contact social services when he sought their advice on what to do with the "problem child" up to a fortnight before he killed her, a court has heard.

It is said that Robert Ewing, 60, was "testing the water" to discover what the official reaction would be to Paige Chivers turning up on his doorstep after she had been thrown out of her home in Blackpool, Lancashire, by her father.

Later that month in August 2007, Ewing is said to have murdered Paige at his flat before he disposed of the youngster's body, which has still not been found.

The defendant had visited his local police station and told an operator on the outside phone that a 15-year-old girl who he "vaguely knew" had come to his house following a family row.

He said he let her in before later sending her home but was concerned he had "left her in limbo" and wanted to know what he should do next.

During the conversation he said: "She's permanently excluded from school. She's a problem child. Drinks, smokes …you name it she does it."

Ewing revealed he knew her full name but was not asked to disclose either her or his name.

After adding that he did not know her address, the operator suggests that he ring social services.

She told him: "The only thing you can do is call them because without an address we can do a welfare check but without an address we don't know … we're stabbing in the dark basically."

Ewing, formerly of All Hallows Road, Bispham, Blackpool, is on trial at Preston Crown Court for the murder of Paige between August 23 and August 27, 2007, which he denies.

He also denies intending to pervert the course of public justice by intimidating witnesses and providing false information to the police in their investigations.

A co-defendant, Gareth Dewhurst, 46, of Duncan Avenue, Blackpool, also denies intending to pervert the course of public justice.

Dewhurst has also pleaded not guilty to sexual penetration of a corpse and not guilty to assisting an offender in disposing of a body.

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