Cold Case: The girl who was "thrown away"

Julie Finley was "thrown away… like a piece of rubbish", in the words of her mother. A blunt description born of the pain of losing a child, and of where she was left.

Her naked body was dumped in Rainford near St.Helens, in a field well known for fly tipping. She was found by passing cyclist on 6 August 1994, just days after celebrating her birthday. She had been strangled.

The field, where Julie's body was dumped, as seen in 1994 Credit: ITV
The field, where Julie's body was dumped, as seen today Credit: ITV

All this week Granada Reports is re-examining a number of "cold cases" - unsolved murders where the investigative trail has seemingly ended. In this third case, our correspondent Rob Smith has spoken to Julie's mother, Pat, who can barely believe justice has proved so elusive.

19 years on, the killer is still free and police are no nearer to finding him. Every night, Pat looks at her daughter's photographs pleading for answers to his identity and motive. "She just seems to stare back at me", she says.

Pat Finley - Julie's Mum. Credit: ITV

Julie was last seen near the Royal Liverpool Hospital, the evening before her body was discovered. A witness said she was talking to a man. Another called police to claim that Julie had gone to meet someone that night. The driver of a white van, spotted next to the field, has never been traced. The stream of evidence eventually ran dry.

A reconstruction of Julie's last known movements Credit: ITV

Cold case expert Kevin Clague, from Merseyside Police, thinks "blind luck" has helped the culprit to avoid the law. CCTV cameras were sparse in Liverpool back then, and Julie's clothes had been removed. Yet the latter could be the killer's undoing. It's likely he kept them as a "trophy", making it possible for a friend or relative to have seen a bundle of women's clothes and question their presence. Officers also plan to re-interview several key figures in the inquiry to see if they can shed any more light on what happened.

Officers are watching hours of CCTV to find any clue to the killer's identity Credit: ITV

The Finley family has been plagued by ill health in recent years. Julie's mother is now desperate for closure, and to see the murderer in court, before age or disease take her own life. "When my time is up", she says, "I want to see that day".

Anyone with any information on Julie's murder is asked to call Merseyside Police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You can follow Granada Reports' week of cold cases on Twitter, under the hashtag #itvcoldcase.

Julie Finley Credit: ITV