Father of murdered Billie-Jo has 'discovered new suspect'

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The Independent Online

Sion Jenkins, the former teacher whose teenage foster daughter, Billie-Jo, was found bludgeoned to death, has claimed to have found a new suspect in the case.

In the confusion that followed the killing, he says that he spoke to a dark-haired man who posed to be a plain-clothes policeman but never came forward as a trial witness. He wants the police to issue a photo-fit picture of the man.

Mr Jenkins is publishing a book to mark the 10th anniversary of his conviction for her murder. He has consistently denied killing the teenager, and was cleared of the crime in 2006 after a second retrial failed to produce a verdict.

The 13-year-old was found dead from head injuries inflicted by a metal tent peg at the family's home in Hastings, East Sussex, on 15 February 1997. Mr Jenkins, who was then the headmaster designate of an all-boys school in Hastings, claimed he was visiting a DIY shop when she was killed.

Mr Jenkins told the Daily Mail: "In my statement, I talk about being in the hall and talking to a police officer. I say he was not in uniform but I was aware he was a police officer, so he must have told me that. Everyone else I describe in my witness statement – the uniformed officer, the female police sergeant, the ambulance man – gave their own witness statements, but this man I describe has never been traced.

"It has only struck me as I researched the book. I would like the police to issue a photo-fit and find him."

The key evidence that led to Mr Jenkins's murder conviction in 1998 was a fine mist of microscopic blood spots found on his clothes, which the prosecution claimed was sprayed on him as he attacked the teenager. The defence claimed they came from bubbles of blood exhaled from Billie-Jo's airways as he cradled her.

Mr Jenkins, 49, who now lives with his second wife, Tina, in Lymington, Hampshire, insists there was never the window of opportunity when he could have murdered Billie-Jo. He said: "It simply wasn't there. People can talk about blood spots as much as they like. I know they were there but I also know I didn't murder Billie."

Mr Jenkins spent six years in prison, during which he saw his four daughters only twice, in the presence of social workers. His first wife and four daughters emigrated to Tasmania. They have chosen to have no contact with him.

Sussex Police said yesterday that it would not comment on the book.