Lancashire

Paige Chivers murder: Man guilty of killing missing Blackpool girl

Missing poster Image copyright Lancashire Police
Image caption Paige Chivers was described as having had a "chaotic upbringing"

A man has been found guilty of murdering missing Blackpool teenager Paige Chivers.

The body of the 15-year-old, who was reported missing in August 2007, has never been found.

Robert Ewing, 60, denied murder but was convicted of killing her by a jury at Preston Crown Court.

He had an "inappropriate sexual interest" in the teenager and took advantage of her chaotic upbringing, the court was told.

Co-defendant Gareth Dewhurst, 46, of Duncan Avenue, Bispham was cleared of a serious sexual offence but convicted of helping dispose of Paige's body.

'Inappropriate interest'

Ewing, of Kincraig Place, Bispham, was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice by intimidating witnesses and laying false trails.

This included an anonymous phone call to police about a "problem child" he said had turned up on his doorstep.

Image copyright Lancashire Police
Image caption Robert Ewing (left) murdered Paige and Gareth Dewhurst was found guilty of helping to dispose of her body

Vital days were lost in the search for Paige due to her age being wrongly logged by police as 45 instead of 15.

They did not investigate for 12 days as they had recorded her year of birth as 1962.

Her age was not corrected until 7 September 2007 when police started their inquiries into her disappearance.

Lancashire Police accepted the error and voluntarily referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Blood spots matching Paige's DNA were found at the flat Ewing lived at the time, in All Hallows Road, Bispham in Blackpool.

Ewing claimed they came from a cut on Paige's arm which he had treated.

However, no other blood was found at the flat and a piece of carpet had been removed shortly after the teenager's disappearance.

Ewing claimed he replaced it because his cat had urinated on it.

Ewing also made entries in his diary which the prosecution said related to sexual acts with Paige.

'Fun loving kid'

After the verdicts were returned, her brother said in a statement: "Paige was a fun loving kid, she was bright and funny.

"She was only a child when our mum passed away in 2007. It was so hard on us all at the time and I would go as far as to say it broke us."

He described Paige as "bonny" and "outgoing" and said they thought she was "just out with mates" when she disappeared.

But "days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years."

Image copyright from police
Image caption Paige was reported missing three days after leaving her home

"We used to go out in the car looking for Paige and sometimes do a 'double take' when we saw some girls and anyone similar to her. We would drive around the block and check again, raising our hopes only to be let down again, you never stop looking," he said.

"I'm concerned that I will never know what her last words were, if she was in any pain or even if I will find out what actually went on the days she went missing.

"I hope and pray that the people responsible tell us where she is so we can lay her to rest. This will at least give us some closure and maybe stop any nightmares, images and worry about where she is."

Paige was reported missing by her father Frank Chivers on 26 August 2007.

She had left home three days earlier with two carrier bags of her belongings after her brother said their father threatened to "kill her" when he got home from work over stealing money from him.

Although her body has never been found there is no evidence that Paige is alive despite numerous appeals, including a £30,000 reward to help solve her disappearance.

She had been in line to inherit a "significant amount of money" on her 18th birthday following her mother's death in February 2007.

'Complex case'

The prosecution believe Ewing murdered her between 23-27 August.

Det Supt Andy Webster, who led the investigation, said it had been a "challenging and complex case".

He said Paige's family, and particularly her brother, had shown "tremendous bravery".

"It is nearly eight years since Paige disappeared. She has never been found. To this end, we remain committed to finding Paige and I would appeal for Ewing and Dewhurst to now tell us where she is so that she can be laid to rest with dignity."

The pair will be sentenced on 28 July.

Paige's father was murdered in 2013, aged 49, in an unrelated incident. He was found with a head injury at his home in Layton, Blackpool.

Sean Conlon, 44, of no fixed address, was convicted of his murder and jailed for a minimum of 15 years at Preston Crown Court in January of last year.

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