Man, 61, accused of 1970 'babes' murder

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The Independent Online

A man appeared in court yesterday charged with the "Babes in the Wood" murder in Epping Forest, Essex, 30 years ago.

Ronald Jebson, 61, appeared before Brent magistrates in north London, charged with murdering two children, Susan Blatchford, 11, and Gary Hanlon, 13, whose bodies were found in the forest in June 1970, 11 weeks after they went missing from their homes in Enfield, north London.

At the time of their deaths, the coroner recorded an open verdict because the scientific tests available could not determine whether they had been murdered or died from exposure. It was initially thought that they had run away together and despite a welter of publicity the case remained unsolved. The case was reopened four years ago after police received fresh information, and Susan's body was exhumed last year to allow more advanced tests to be carried out.

Yesterday the magistrates remanded Mr Jebson in custody until April.

A man was arrested in connection with the case last year and a file was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service two months ago.

Scientific advances over the past decade include DNA techniques that can identify suspects from a particle of hair or a flake of skin, and ultrasensitive toxicology tests.