The detective in charge of the investigation into the murder of Blackpool schoolgirl Piage Chivers has hailed the ‘courage’ of people who came forward to help put her killer behind bars.
Preston Crown Court heard how murderer Robert Ewing, 60, tried to escape suspicion by implicated other people and intimidated and harassed witnesses.
Det Supt Andy Webster, who led the investigation, said: “This has been a challenging and complex case for all of those involved.
“On behalf of my team I would like to thank the jury for their commitment and dedication over the last 3 months.
“The Crown’s case saw a large number of witnesses called to court to give their testimony.
“I would like to thank to them for their courage – it has been difficult and challenging for many of them to do so given the emotions and circumstances that surround this case.
“Special praise must go to Paige’s family, in particular her younger brother Jack, who has shown tremendous bravery throughout.”
Ewing was found guilty of murder, while co-defendant Gareth Dewhurst, 46, was convicted of helping dispose of the body.
Both were found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
Det Supt Webster added: “‘No body’ murders are notoriously difficult to investigate and prosecute and this case has presented huge challenges from the outset.
“For nearly eight years Lancashire Constabulary have tirelessly sought to bring Paige’s killer to justice and today represents the culmination of that investigation.
“Therefore, the constabulary would like to put on record their gratitude to Jo Cunliffe at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and the prosecution team of Mr Brian Cummings QC and Mr David Potter for their courage in bringing this prosecution.
“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.”
Read how The Gazette covered the murder trial:
Joanne Cunliffe, reviewing lawyer from CPS North West, said: “At the time of her disappearance Paige had very little stability in her life and Robert Ewing took advantage of this.
“He was a middle-aged man who befriended her, not for any charitable reasons, but because he had an inappropriate sexual interest in her.
“Although we will never know the exact circumstances, the jury in delivering their guilty verdict have found that soon after Paige went missing he killed her in his flat.
“Gareth Dewhurst knew about the murder and helped Robert Ewing dispose of her body.
“Neither of the defendants has ever shown any remorse and over the years since Paige went missing they have done everything they could to cover their tracks, to divert enquiries away from them and try to put the blame on other people.
“Robert Ewing in particular has attempted to lay false trails and obstruct the police investigations through a series of concocted explanations about the evidence.
“The CPS and the police have remained determined throughout to uncover the truth and to bring justice for Paige. We have worked closely from the outset of this investigation, painstakingly piecing together hundreds of items of evidence and hundreds of witness statements to build a strong case and enable the jury to see through the defendants’ lies.
“Because Paige’s body has never been found this has been a very complex case, firstly to prove that Paige was dead, not just missing, and then to prove that Robert Ewing murdered her.
“My sincere sympathies are with the family of Paige Chivers. Despite the outcome today the trial has been a difficult and painful time for them. I hope they can take some comfort in knowing that Robert Ewing and Gareth Dewhurst will now receive justice.”