A MURDERED schoolgirl's dying father has been unable to make his annual pilgrimage to the spot where she disappeared 40 years ago due to his failing health.

Genette Tate's body has never been found and her dad, John, is resigned to going to his grave without knowing what happened to her.

Genette, who attended Priorswood Primary School when the family lived in Wedlands, Taunton, was snatched while cycling on her newspaper round in a lane at Aylesbeare, Devon, on August 19, 1978.

Her body has never been found, but police believe she was murdered by serial child killer Robert Black.

Mr Tate, 76, spent Sunday's anniversary of Genette's disappearance in hospital following a stroke - he is already confined to a wheelchair with diabetes, prostate cancer and McArdles disease, which causes muscle pain and cramping.

Mr Tate, who now lives in Manchester and once had a home in West Buckland, struggles to speak, but has made a deathbed plea to end 40 years of suffering.

He said: "My life is coming to an end. I dearly want to know where Ginny is. Just to know that she's been found and given a Christian burial would be enough.

"I could go to my grave in the knowledge that we were together again."

Police were about to charge Black with Genette's murder shortly before his death in prison in 2016.

Back in August 1978, Mr Tate and his wife were driving home from Exeter when they saw two of their daughter's friends pushing her bike into their farmyard, but with no sign of Genette.

He said: "We thought she might be playing a prank although that wasn't the type of thing she'd do."

Mr Tate added: "There's no closure. We'll probably never have closure - especially now the only suspect is dead.

"I still hope Genette will be found alive somewhere. You hear of people who have been kept in a cellar for years and years when people thought they were dead.

"I suppose I just don't want to accept that she's dead."

Mr Tate did not receive a reply when he wrote to Black in prison asking to meet him to "look him in the eye".

Mr Tate said: "I feel cheated that I will never know what exams Genette would have passed, what career she would have pursued, what sort of boyfriend and so on.

"By 50 she'd have probably been married with her own children and maybe grandchildren."

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said the law does not allow for a dead person to be charged in a court of law, adding: "Currently there isn't an active investigation into this matter."