The man accused of helping to dispose of missing schoolgirl Paige Chivers’ body has said she was alive the last time he saw her.
Defending himself against allegations of assisting an offender, attempting to pervert the course of justice and a serious sexual offence, Gareth Dewhurst, 46, denied any involvement in Paige’s disappearance in 2007.
I was angry at Frank Chivers for being a bad father
Dewhurst, of Duncan Avenue, Bispham, who was working as a caretaker at Fleetwood College at the time Paige went missing, told the jury at Preston Crown Court he last saw Paige in late July 2007 when she had turned up drunk at Robert Ewing’s flat in All Hallows Road, and fallen asleep on the bed.
He had seen the youngster a number of times in the months before she disappeared and said she seemed to be friendly with Ewing - who he had met through their involvement with BNP meetings in Blackpool.
But giving evidence at Preston Crown Court, Dewhurst denied ever seeing the youngster after she had died or having any involvement with her dead body.
Asked if Ewing, 60, had asked or told him to do anything in connection with Paige Chivers, Dewhurst replied simply, “No. Never.”
He spoke of his anger at being arrested in connection with Paige’s disappearance.
On covert recordings taken from his van, Dewhurst can be heard speaking badly of Paige and her family.
But he told the court: “I was angry at her going missing. I was arrested and I was innocent. It affected me mentally.
“I was falsely accused.
“I was angry at Frank Chivers for being a bad father and at her for running away.”
Dewhurst said he had met Ewing through meetings of the BNP in Blackpool and the pair had become friends.
He said: “I found him to be quite a friendly person and I took him at face value. His flat was an open flat and I went round for the company.”
But he said he spent less time at the flat in the months before Paige went missing as he had work commitments and Ewing had struck up a relationship with a teenage mum.
He also said his time was taken up with gardening and DIY jobs and work as a caretaker at Fleetwood College.
In a police interview in 2008 he told officers he had not liked Paige when he met her as he thought she was cocky and liked to say she was the hardest girl in Bispham, bragging about knocking a girl out at Bispham Gala.
Ewing denies charges of murdering Paige and doing an act tended and intended to pervert the course of justice.