A notorious murderer whose horrific crime created legal history has been cleared of child sex offences.
Double jeopardy killer Billy Dunlop, 54, who is serving life for the 1989 murder of Julie Hogg, has been found not guilty of five allegations of rape and indecent assault against two girls.
A jury at Teesside Crown Court took two-and-a-half hours to acquit the Frankland Prison inmate, originally from Billingham, of all charges.
Dunlop was convicted of murdering the pizza delivery girl following a lengthy campaign by her mother to change the 800-year-old double jeopardy laws that a defendant could not be tried twice for the same offence if they have been cleared.
Dunlop strangled his victim and hid her body behind a bath panel but police originally treated the case as a missing person inquiry.
Her mother Ann Ming made the gruesome discovery weeks later and Dunlop was arrested.
He was tried twice at Newcastle Crown Court but a jury could not decide if he had done it and he was formally cleared after the second hearing.
Years later, while serving a jail sentence for an assault, he boasted to a prison officer about killing Ms Hogg, believing nothing could be done about it because of the double jeopardy rules.
But centuries-old law was overturned after years of campaigning by Mrs Ming and in 2006 Dunlop was handed a life sentence at the Old Bailey, with a minimum 17-year term.
During his trial for the child sex offences Dunlop told the jury: “I’ve been a violent man but I don’t molest children.”
He told the court he can apply for parole in 2021 but said he may never be released.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton told the jury: “It has not been an easy case.”
He thanked them for their “dispassionate view” of the case.