THE foster father of murdered schoolgirl Billie-Jo Jenkins has joined calls for police to reopen the case following revelations that could link M25 rapist Antoni Imiela with the killing.
Sion Jenkins, who was cleared of murdering the Helenswood teenager after spending six years in jail, made the overtures after an investigation by the Daily Mirror this week revealed Imiela lived just 20 miles away from Hastings at the time of Billie-Jo’s death.
The teenager’s aunt, Margaret Coster, of Plaistow, in London, has demanded that Sussex Police look at the movements of Imiela in connection with the case.
Mr Jenkins, former deputy headteacher of William Parker Sports College, told ITV’s Daybreak on Monday: “I’m not simply pointing the finger at that individual (Imiela) or actually anyone. My concern has always been that the evidence that has been collected, tens of thousands of sheets of paper and evidence, and I believe that the key somewhere to opening the case is actually there, and I want that to actually be looked at.
“It has been a struggle with Sussex Police to get them to reopen the case and consider what should be done if that case is reopened.”
Billie-Jo was battered to death by an iron tent peg on February 15, 1997 as she painted a patio door in the garden of her Lower Park Road home.
Mr Jenkins, 54, was arrested nine days later and was found guilty at Lewes Crown Court on July 2, 1998. He was freed on appeal pending a retrial in 2004.
The jury in two subsequent retrials failed to reach a verdict and Mr Jenkins was formally acquitted in 2006.
He maintained his innocence by insisting his foster daughter must have been killed by an intruder while he visited a DIY store.
According to the Daily Mirror’s revelations, Imiela’s then girlfriend lived in Hastings when Billie-Jo was killed and he also fitted the description of a man who stalked the teenager in the two months leading up to her murder.
Imiela’s victims, during his vicious reign of terror between 2001 and 2002, included girls of 10, 13 and 14 and he bragged that 13 was ‘a lovely age’.
Imiela, 59, is currently serving seven life sentences for his horrific crimes, which included pulling a 13-year-old girl from her bike and raping her in Surrey and raping and beating two women within a six-hour period in London and Surrey.
Since his acquittal Mr Jenkins has completed a PhD in Criminology at Portsmouth University and now lives with his second wife Tina Ferneyhough in Southsea, Hampshire.
In 2008 he penned a book, called The Murder of Billie-Jo, charting his memoirs about the crime. In August 2010 Mr Jenkins lost his bid for compensation over the six years he spent in prison.
Sussex Police carried out a review of Billie-Jo’s murder in 2006.
A spokesman said: “We keep undetected offences under regular review but at this time we are not linking any to Antoni Imiela. In regard to Billie-Jo’s death, without any new lines of inquiry there are no plans to reopen the investigation.
“As with any such case, we are always keen to hear from anyone who may have some new information which may lead to a new line of inquiry.”