CHIEF constable Andy Cooke has met with the families of two Whiston schoolboys who were murdered in 1980 after the Director of Public Prosecution ruled a new file of police evidence was not enough to progress the investigation.

Police say they "remain committed" to finding the killer or killers of 11-year-old school friends John Greenwood and Gary Miller following the news that after "careful consideration" Max Hill, the DPP, had adjudged he was unable to authorise the next steps in the Merseyside Police investigation on the basis of the file submitted to him.

However, a fresh prosecution could still be mounted if "compelling" evidence comes to light.

The boys were brutally attacked and left for dead on the site of a disused colliery on Pottery Lane on Saturday, August 16 1980.

A Prescot man was acquitted of the murders in 1981.

In August 2016, a fresh appeal was issued over the murders of John and Gary from Whiston.

This led to new information from the public, leading the families to push for the case to be reopened, prompting a new police investigation.

Today, Friday, May 10, Chief Constable Andy Cooke and Assistant Chief Constable Ian Critchley met with the boy's families to discuss the case.

Following the meeting Chief Constable Cooke, said: “This afternoon I have met with the families of John Greenwood and Gary Miller, two 11-year-old boys, who were murdered in Whiston on 16 August 1980.

“During the last 38 years the families of the two boys have suffered the unenviable agony of living with the fact that no one has been convicted with the murder of their loved ones.

“And naturally, their desire to see the person responsible for the murders of Gary and John convicted, is as impassioned and as strong today as it was immediately following the murders of the two boys.

“In August 2016 the families pushed to have the case reinvestigated after new evidence arising from a Facebook campaign resulted in a number of people, not spoken to as part of the original investigation, coming forward.

“As a result of this and following liaison with the families the force reinvestigated the case.

“Due to the fact that a man had previously been charged with the murders and acquitted following a trial, the force submitted a file containing the new evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration.

“Following careful consideration the DPP made the decision not to authorise the next steps in the Merseyside Police investigation on the basis of the file submitted to him.

“The DPP acknowledges that this is a tragic case and has said that in the event that the ongoing police investigation yields sufficient compelling new evidence he would reconsider his decision.

“To that end Merseyside Police remains committed to investigating this case and ensuring that we do everything we possibly can to bring the person(s) responsible to justice.

“It is still possible that someone may have crucial evidence which could help us find the person(s) responsible.

"I would also like to appeal to the offender, or anyone who may be protecting the offender. Please think about how both of these families have suffered, since their tragic loss of Gary and John, and search your conscience.

"You have lived with the burden of this guilty secret for nearly 40 years and this can’t have been easy, find it within your heart to put the families of John and Gary at the forefront of your conscience and give them some peace of mind.

“We understand that the family is frustrated and disappointed by what they see as inadequacies and failings of the original investigation.

“The investigation team at the time provided sufficient evidence to charge a man with the murder of the boys and he stood trial and was subsequently acquitted.

“Having carried out a number of cold case reviews and following the reinvestigation of the murder it is fair to say that the investigation was not as thorough as it could have been, or in line with the investigation standards expected of policing today.

“On behalf of Merseyside Police I want to offer our sincere apologies to the families of John and Gary, and I would like to reassure them that we remain committed to finding the person(s) responsible.”

The boys' bodies were found by a dog walker hidden under a mattress at around 7.20pm on that evening on a site that was used as a rubbish tip and is now known as Stadt Moers Park.

Both boys were taken to Whiston Hospital but John died in the early hours of Sunday, August 17 1980, and Gary died three days later on Wednesday, August 20 1980.

Post mortem examinations revealed that both boys had died as a result of head injuries.

Anyone with information is asked to contact investigators on 0151 777 3100, or the independent Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555 111.