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  1. ITV Report

Judge to close rape case after death of child killer Peter Pickering

Pickering died in March after suffering a heart attack at a secure psychiatric unit. Credit: PA Images

A judge is expected to formally close the case of Peter Pickering - the child killer known as the Beast of Wombwell who died before he could be sentenced for a 1972 rape.

Pickering died in March after suffering a heart attack at a secure psychiatric unit.

He had been locked up for more than 45 years after killing 14-year-old Shirley Boldy in the Barnsley area of SouthYorkshire in 1972.

The 80-year-old was awaiting sentencing for raping an 18-year-old woman, who is now in her 60s, a few weeks prior to Shirley's abduction.

After Pickering's death, West Yorkshire Police confirmed officers were expecting to charge him with the murder of another 14-year-old, Elsie Frost, whose body was found in Wakefield in 1965.

Pickering had been held under a hospital order made by a judge in 1972 after he admitted Shirley's manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

She was bundled into Pickering's van as she was returning to Wombwell High School.

Pickering drove her to a secluded location where he tied her up and raped her.

He tried to strangle her before stabbing her to death, a crime witnessed by walkers who were too far away to intervene.

Pickering killed Shirley just three or four weeks after he abducted and violently raped an 18-year-old woman in the Barnsley area.

In March, the victim described to a jury how Pickering had told her she was going to die. She called him a "monster".

Pickering was convicted at Leeds Crown Court of rape and false imprisonment but died before he could be sentenced.

This crime only came to light through the re-investigation of the murder of Elsie Frost.

Elsie was stabbed in the back and head as she walked through a railway tunnel in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in October 1965.

As part of the inquiry detectives found a storage garage Pickering rented in the Owlerton area of Sheffield containing possessions including handcuffs and exercise books filled with his rantings.

One note written in 1970 said: "Sex is predominant in my mind - eclipsing all else. Maybe I will be a sex maniac proper. Rape, torture, kill."

Speaking after Pickering's death, Elsie's brother Colin, who pushed for the re-investigation of the case three years ago along with his sister, Anne Cleave, said: "It's just an incredible feeling of frustration now."

He said the family felt they had been "cheated" out of getting justice and believed Pickering could be responsible for other murders.