Body in suitcase mystery one of Suffolk’s most grisly unsolved crimes
- Credit: Archant
For more than 50 years, the case of murdered teenager Bernard Oliver has remained one of Suffolk’s most tragic and bloody unsolved crimes.
The 17-year-old’s body was found dismembered and stuffed into two suitcases, discovered dumped in a field in Tattingstone, near Ipswich, on January 16, 1967.
The case gathered national media interest but Bernard’s killer was never found.
The teenager had left his north London home 10 days earlier to spend the evening with friends.
He lived in Muswell Hill with five siblings and his father, who reported him missing the following day.
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With no idea of the boy’s identity when his body was discovered by a farm worker, police made the decision to photograph the head and send it to the media.
Bernard’s younger brother Chris, who was 15 at the time, only found out by seeing the photograph on the front of a paper as he boarded a bus in north London.
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The investigation involved local and Metropolitan police officers, before crossing international borders in an effort to establish the source of the suitcases and a laundry mark found inside.
In 2011, the late Eric Shields, who was a detective sergeant on the case, said one of the drawbacks of the whole investigation was that police never found the scene of the crime.
In 2017, a Woodbridge man told this paper he believed the murderer attempted to sexually assault him after picking him up when he was hitch-hiking home.
A year later, a local woman came forward to claim she saw Bernard carrying two suitcases up the hill in Tattingstone days before seeing his photograph in the paper.
Another reader suggested the larger of the two suitcases resembled a military issue suitcase of the period.
Two main suspects, Dr John Byles and Dr Martin Reddington, have both since died – but Suffolk police continue to review lines of inquiry in a bid to solve the mystery.
The body of Dr John Byles, a former ship’s surgeon, was found in a hotel bedroom in Northern Queensland, Australia, in January 1975.
Byles, whose death was thought to be from a drug overdose, was one of more than 2,000 people interviewed about Bernard’s murder.
In 1963, he stood trial along with another man for sexual abuse of a boy.
At the time of his death, he was wanted for extradition and said to be part of the Holy Trinity paedophile ring, revolving around a church in Huddersfield.
Suffolk police were told he had once admitted murdering a cabin boy and cutting up his body.
Three notes were found beside his body in the hotel, including one to another doctor, believed to be Martin Reddington.
In February 1977, Dr Martin Reddington was charged at the Central Court in Sydney, Australia, with committing an indecent assault on a male.
Reddington previously had a surgery in Muswell Hill.
Two years before Bernard’s murder, an arrest warrant was issued for Reddington on charges of buggery and indecent assault on males in 1965.
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, including Reddington, who used a laundrette in Muswell Hill.
It was decided there was insufficient evidence to extradite him from Australia.
Reddington is said to have died, aged 63, in Surrey in 1995.
Original documents from the Tattingstone suitcase murder probe later revealed Byles and Reddington were jointly wanted for a string of crimes – one involving the murder of a boy in London in 1973, after an apparent homosexual relationship.