A man who admitted to kidnapping and murdering a three-year-old girl will now escape jail because of a legal loophole.
Cheryl Grimmer, 3, was abducted while on holiday with her family at Fairy Meadow Beach in Wolongong, New South Wales, Australia in 1971.
At the time, the man who allegedly kidnapped the young girl confessed to the crime, including gruesome details of how he strangled her and mercilessly dumped her body.
However, police said there was insufficient evidence to arrest the man and he was able to walk free, Australian TV programme 60 Minutes reports.
Cheryl's parents died not knowing what happened to their daughter, and her three older brothers - Ricki, Stephen and Paul - who were there during their sister's disappearance, were left with burning questions over her tragic death.
The toddler's case was filed cold and was reopened in 2016, more than 40 years later after her murder.
Wollongong detective Frank Sanvitale was given the case to investigate and found the alleged killer's confession, revealing horrific details of what allegedly happened to Cheryl.
60 Minutes obtained the confession, which reads: "I tied a handkerchief and a shoelace around her mouth to stop her screaming and with the other shoelace I tied up her hands.
"I was going to have sexual intercourse with her."I put my hands around her throat and told her to shut up … I guess I must have strangled her.
"She stopped breathing and stopped crying and I thought she was dead, so I panicked and covered her up with bushes and run for it."
Detective Sanvitale found the man, who is now aged 65, and made him sign the confession acknowledging it was true.
However, the alleged murderer changed his mind and declared his innocence, insisting the confession was false.
"He said, 'No, I was never there … I've never been there,'" said Det Sanvitale told 60 Minutes presenter Tara Brown."He had 47 or 48 years to come up with an alibi - for me that was the moment I said, 'We got our man'."
However, Det Sanvitale believed the man's denial was not sufficient to turn the case around and was confident he would be charged.
The alleged killer was held in on remand at Silverwater jail with a trial set for May this year.
He had pleaded not guilty.
Earlier in February at a pre-trial hearing, the defendant's lawyers asked the judge if they could remove the confession on the basis that the man was only 17-years-old when he allegedly killed Cheryl in 1971.
They added that he also did not have a parents, guardian or lawyer present at the time.
However, it was not a legal requirement for juveniles to have such legal protection, 60 Minutes presenter Tara Brown reports.
The law only came into action several years later, and the judge agreed to apply it to the man's case saying it was unfair to include the confession as evidence.
The man was also granted automatic anonymity as he was underage at the time.
The judgment left Cheryl's brothers mortified knowing their sister's alleged killer will never be brought to justice.
Cheryl's brother, Ricki, said: "It's just disbelief.
"How do you put into words how we feel that a person that we know did what he did to Cheryl just walks out of that courtroom. How? Because he didn't have an adult present when it wasn't required at the time.
The verdict left Det Santivale in shock, causing him to leave the police force after 21 years.
He told Ms Brown: "He knows he's guilty, we know he's guilty, the police know he's guilty.
"If the police would have just done their job 48 years ago when he walked in and gave such a detailed confession, we wouldn't be here today. Our lives would have been totally different."