Tattingstone 'suitcase murder': 'Never too late' say police on 55th anniversary

Tattingstone suitcase murder of Bernard Oliver in 1967.

Tattingstone suitcase murder of Bernard Oliver in 1967. - Credit: Archant

Fifty five years ago today, the dismembered body of a teenager was discovered in two suitcases next to a Suffolk field - a crime for which no one has ever been charged.

The identity of the person responsible for the murder of Bernard Oliver may remain unknown forever, as appeals for information on the 50th anniversary did not lead to a breakthrough.

News story headlines from the Tattingstone suitcase murders, of victim Bernard Oliver

News story headlines from the Tattingstone suitcase murders, of victim Bernard Oliver - Credit: Archant

On January 6, 1967, the 17-year-old disappeared from from Muswell Hill, North London, and ten days later in the village of Tattingstone his remains were found, having been cut into eight pieces.

Police believe two doctors with a sexual interest in youngsters were the prime suspects, though both are dead and took any secrets they had to the grave.

Back in 1967, police were unable to identify the murder victim when the dismembered body was found, so they put out a photograph of his face in a national media appeal.

Bernard Oliver

Bernard Oliver - Credit: Archant

Bernard Oliver's brother Chris Oliver found out about his brother's death from seeing his photograph in a paper as he was getting a bus to Muswell Hill with a friend.

He spoke to the East Anglian Daily Times on the 50th anniversary in 2017, he said: "It’s just tormenting, knowing what happened to him. We were all boys. At the time I was 15.

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“Bernard was a very gentle, friendly person.

“We used to do everything together."

Bernard was the fourth of six children to be born to his parents, George and Sheila.

EADT/STAR COLIN ADWENTcontributed 29/12/11Tony Oliver looking at newspaper cuttings of his b

Tony Oliver looking at newspaper cuttings of his brother, Bernard Oliver's murder - Credit: COLIN ADWENT

Mr Oliver continued: “It had a massive impact on us. You can’t describe it. Even today it still upsets me.

“I just feel like I want to burst out crying now. I think I have bottled too much up for years.

“There was no one brought to justice. It is frustrating."

Suspects

There were two main suspects in the case, both doctors who had worked in London but then moved to Australia.

Dr John Byles

Dr John Byles was found dead at the age of 38 in a bedroom of the Prince of Wales Hotel in Proserpine, Northern Queensland, on Sunday, January 19, 1975.

At the time of his death he was wanted for extradition to England as he was said to be part of the Holy Trinity paedophile ring.

Among allegations made against Dr Byles was that he invited boys to his south London surgery, gave them alcohol and persuaded them to commit indecent acts. While they were doing so he took photographs which were then sold to pornography publishers in Denmark.

Following Dr Byles’ death, Suffolk police were told he had once admitted murdering a cabin boy and cutting up his body.

Three notes were found beside Dr Byles’ body in the Australian hotel room which were addressed to Scotland Yard, his family and to another doctor – believed to be Martin Reddington. The note to Scotland Yard threw no light on the Tattingstone murder.

Police at the scene of the Tattingstone suitcase murder of Bernard Oliver in 1967.

Police at the scene of the Tattingstone suitcase murder of Bernard Oliver in 1967. - Credit: Archant

Dr Martin Reddington

In February 1977 Colchester-born Dr Martin Reddington was charged at the Central Court in Sydney, Australia, with committing an indecent assault on a male.

Reddington, who died aged 63 in Surrey in 1995, had previously had a surgery in Muswell Hill. The premises were in the direction of the street Bernard Oliver was last seen walking down.

Two years before the teenager’s murder an arrest warrant was issued for Dr Reddington on charges of buggery and indecent assault on males in 1965.

Before he could be caught he fled to South Africa, but apparently made a number of return visits to the UK.

In 1977 a private investigator claimed to recognise the suitcase with the initials P.V.A. on its side as belonging to three men who used a laundrette in Muswell Hill, one of whom was Dr Reddington whom she identified through a photograph.

However, it was decided there was insufficient evidence to extradite him from Australia where he was living at the time.

55 years on

Appeals made on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of this case five years ago unfortunately did not yield a breakthrough.

A spokesperson for Suffolk police said: "The joint Major Investigation Team has its own team of police staff who routinely review unsolved crimes from Suffolk and Norfolk, but as the years pass the opportunities to progress cases such as this become more limited. However, as with all unsolved murders the inquiry remains open pending any new information coming to light.

“For each victim, there are family and friends who continue to grieve and who require closure. It is never too late for people to come forward with any information they think may help this inquiry, even though the crime occurred 55 years ago.

“Anyone with information is asked to contact the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Unsolved Case Team on 01953 423819, or by emailing unsolvedcasereviews@norfolk.pnn.police.uk."