Detective speaks of murder mystery

A DETECTIVE sergeant involved in the notorious Tattingstone suitcase murder enquiry today defended the probe - despite the killer never being caught.Eric Shields, who later rose to head of CID at Suffolk police, was one of the officers who worked on infamous crime nearly 40 years ago.

A DETECTIVE sergeant involved in the notorious Tattingstone suitcase murder enquiry today defended the probe - despite the killer never being caught.

Eric Shields, who later rose to head of CID at Suffolk police, was one of the officers who worked on infamous crime nearly 40 years ago.

He maintains everything possible was done to solve the horrific case, even though several holes in the investigation have now emerged.

As revealed in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star, sensational evidence can now be released linking two doctors with the crime.

Martin Reddington and John Byles, wanted for the death and homosexual assault of another boy, were prime suspects in the suitcase murder probe.

They were wanted for a string of other sickening crimes, including gross indecency and buggery.

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Both are now dead, meaning the riddle of the pair's alleged involvement in the killing may never be resolved. Dr Reddington, who fled to South Africa and then Australia, went to his grave without being interviewed for the offence.

When the case was reopened in 1977, it was decided there was insufficient evidence to extradite him from Australia.

Mr Shields, who retired in 1987 after 37 years in the force, maintains there was never a strong enough case against any one suspect.

He said: "There were lots of interesting facts that cropped up and all were thoroughly investigated. But none were such that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute anybody.

"The investigation was carried out in minute detail. As far as I'm concerned, it was dealt with in a highly professional manner."

Despite more than 100,000 people being interviewed, in Suffolk, London and further afield, the killer's identity remains a mystery.

Mr Shields said a number of suspects came to light as part of the investigation.

He said: "One of the drawbacks of the whole investigation was that we didn't find the scene of the crime. What you'd get from that is potential clues. All we had was the site where the body was dumped.

"That made it difficult to find the person responsible and then gain enough evidence against them.

"In today's circumstances there would be much more ammunition to help them investigate crimes, with DNA and computers, and that might've helped."

Mr Shields admitted the failure to bring anyone before a court was a source of constant frustration for officers in the case.

He said: "As in every murder you work on, the main objective is to detect the murder and to bring the person responsible to court.

"I'm sure all the officers who worked on the Tattingstone murder are disappointed nobody has been brought to book."

Mr Shields said he believed Bernard Oliver's killer was trying to conceal the homosexual assaults carried out on him immediately before his death.

He said: "I think the person who did the crime committed certain acts on Mr Oliver and murder was probably the only way out for him.

"He'd been missing for a more than a week. Whether Oliver was with the killer for all that time we'll never know - but there's a high probability he was."

Anna Woolnough, a spokeswoman for Suffolk police today said although it was almost 40 years on from the murder, the file remains open.

Mrs Woolnough said: "We never close cases. Even after all this time, if anyone has any new information which could help officers, we would urge them to get in contact with us on 01473 613500."

What do you remember of the Tattingstone suitcase murder? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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