Fresh inquest starts into death of murdered Eastbourne student Jessie Earl after High Court ruling

Photo of murdered art student from Eastbourne who's case remains unsolved.
Jessie Earl's body was discovered near Beachy Head in East Sussex in 1989, nine years after she disappeared. Credit: Family handout

A fresh inquest has begun into the death of Eastbourne student Jessie Earl, who vanished more than 40 years ago.

Her body was discovered near Beachy Head in 1989, nine years after she disappeared from her bedsit.

The new inquest was ordered by the High Court after a campaign by Jessie's parents.

Senior officers at Sussex Police initially told the family her disappearance was not suspicious.

However, in 2001 the force launched a cold case review that concluded the 22-year-old art student had been murdered.

A report was submitted to the Coroner, who considered the force’s suggestion of holding a new inquest but declined to do so.

The High Court has quashed that decision and has ruled there should be a new hearing.

This is because the original inquest returned an inconclusive verdict, despite the fact she was found naked and tied up with her own bra.

John and Val, parents of murdered student Jessie Earl Credit: ITV News Meridian

Jessie’s mother, Val Earl, has been campaigning for decades for Jessie's death certificate to be changed to recognise that she was unlawfully killed, but this could not be achieved without a fresh inquest.

The fresh hearing has also renewed hope that her killer could still be found, despite vital evidence being lost or destroyed.

As part of the inquest, Peter Tobin, a serial killer who murdered three young women, could be called to give evidence.

The family also want to see David Fuller investigated too, the man responsible for the bedsit murders in 1987. Both men were living nearby when she went missing.

In January 2022, Kent Police said: "At this stage there is no evidence to connect Fuller to any other murder victims, but the investigation remains ongoing."

Sussex Police said: "No further lines of enquiry have been identified and there are no other developments. 

"We have no evidence implicating any named individual in the murder of Jessie Earl."