Billie-Jo had been placed in foster care at age 9 after her father was imprisoned and her mother could not cope with raising a child alone. She was placed with Sion and Lois Jenkins, with whom she moved to live in Hastings, East Sussex.
On 15th February 1997, 13-year-old Billie-Jo Jenkins was found battered to death with an 18-inch metal tent peg. The young girl was alone at home painting doors when the attack occurred. Her foster father claimed to have returned from a shopping trip with two of his four daughters to find Billie-Jo dead in a pool of blood.
There were a few suspects at the time of the murder. A mentally ill man had been spotted in the area, though it was later established that he had an alibi and so was ruled out. Billie-Jo had allegedly informed her friends of someone following her in the weeks leading up to her murder, though nothing came of this line of enquiry either. The prime suspect soon became Billie-Jo’s foster father, Sion, who was arrested for her murder. Forensic examination of his clothing revealed over 100 microscopic spots of blood on his shoes, trousers and jacket, which the forensic expert called upon by the prosecution, Mr Wain, claimed could only have been caused by beating the girl. A similar conclusion was reached by another forensic expert, Mr Russell Stockdale. However the defence claimed the blood was transferred as Sion cradled Billie-Jo’s body, though the clothing of the ambulance crew did not show any similar blood spatter despite also coming into contact with the body. This transfer of blood was deemed to be impossible by experts unless the victim had been breathing very heavily at the time. This was further ruled out by Jenkins’ 999 call, in which he stated that his foster daughter was not breathing.
In addition to this, there were accusations that Sion had beaten his wife and Billie-Jo in the past, indicating a violent nature. He was convicted on 2nd July 1998 and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Sion unsuccessfully appealed in 1999, and then again in 2004. At the retrial a number of experts stated that the blood found on Sion’s clothing could have originated from the victim’s airway when he held his dying foster daughter. Tests conducted in the laboratory of Professor David Denison showed that blood could come from small amounts of air leaving through a “pinhole” in the victim’s blood-filled nose. Additionally, at the time of the original trial one forensic expert, Mr McKirdy, had expressed caution regarding the blood on Sion’s clothing. His experience suggested that battering a victim would likely have produced blood droplets of varying sizes, whereas the blood spatter on Sion was relatively uniform.
Furthermore, the family had been concerned about prowlers and break-ins in the area, and one of Sion’s daughters believes the side gate may have been open when they returned home to Billie-Jo’s body. Sion’s conviction was deemed unsafe and he was released on bail. In 2006, Sion was officially acquitted of the murder of Billie-Jo Jenkins. The actual perpetrator remains unknown.
Doubt Over Billie-Jo Jenkins Conviction. BBC News. [online] Available at: [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/448581.stm]
R v Jenkins  EWCA 2047; Independent, July 20, 2004