A man accused of murdering a British child in Australia nearly 50 years ago has pleaded not guilty, according to local media.
Cheryl Grimmer was just three years old when she disappeared in 1970 from a shower block at Fairy Meadow Beach in Wollongong, 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Sydney.
The case has since become one of Australia’s longest-running crime mysteries.
The 64-year-old accused man, originally from Britain, appeared at the New South Wales Supreme Court in Sydney on Friday via videolink, local media reported. He was arrested in Melbourne in March last year.
The suspect cannot be named as he was a minor at the time of the alleged offense. A trial will take place at the same court in May next year.
During a pre-committal hearing at Wollongong local court in April it was heard that the accused confessed to the crime a year after Cheryl’s disappearance, but police did not believe him at the time, the ABC reported.
Investigations since her disappearance have failed to find any trace of Grimmer, according to a recent police appeal for information about the murder.
Witnesses at the time reported seeing a man leaving the beach with a child wrapped in a white blanket, police said.
An inquest at Wollongong Coroner’s Court in May 2011 concluded that Grimmer was deceased.
Police later issued another appeal, promising a reward of $71,500 (A$100,000), for information about her murder.
“This was a child snatched from her family during broad daylight on a busy beach. Someone must have seen something at the time, and we are urging them to come forward,” Detective Sergeant Dark said at the time.