Tattingstone: Two doctors were prime suspects in suitcase murder

TWO doctors wanted for the death and homosexual assault of another boy were the prime suspects in the Tattingstone suitcase murder.

Original documents relating to the investigation were released in 2004 under the Freedom of Information Act.

They showed that Martin Reddington and John Byles both denied any involvement in the strangulation and mutilation of Bernard Oliver in January 1967.

Detectives pinpointed the pair as suspects at an early stage. When the case was re-opened in 1977 the case became even stronger.

However, Dr Reddington was never interviewed in connection with Mr Oliver’s murder as it was considered there was insufficient evidence to extradite him from Australia, where he was living at the time.


You may also want to watch:


The inquiry showed Drs Reddington and Byles were both wanted for a string of crimes, including gross indecency and buggery.

These included the murder in London of a boy after an apparent homosexual relationship, six years after Mr Oliver’s body was discovered.

Most Read

In 1965, a warrant had been issued for Dr Reddington’s arrest for buggery and indecent assault of males. However, before enquiries could be completed he fled to South Africa. His guilt was never proved or disproved.

Dr Reddington previously had a surgery in Muswell Hill, which was in the direction of the street where Mr Oliver was last seen.

A crime scene was never found despite searches, and Dr Reddington’s only link with this area was that he was born in Colchester.

A private investigator in Muswell Hill claimed to recognise the suitcase used to discard Mr Oliver’s body, pointing to the distinctive P.V.A initials on its side.

She told police she spoke to a man in a launderette on numerous occasions and vividly remembered the case being brought in containing his dirty washing.

In 1977 she picked out a photograph of Dr Reddington whom she recognised as one of three men owning the suitcase.

Mr Oliver’s body was neatly severed into eight parts. The precise nature of the operation meant only an expert such as a doctor, surgeon or medical student could have carried it out.

Dr Byles – who was living in Muswell Hill near Mr Oliver’s home at the time he went missing – committed suicide in 1975 while in Australia, after being arrested and charged for an indecent assault in London. He had jumped bail at the time of his death.

One of the two suicide notes beside his body was to Dr Reddington, who died in May 1995, aged 63.

Eric Shields was a detective sergeant on the Tattingstone suitcase murder case. He later rose to be head of Suffolk CID.

Mr Shields, who still lives in the Ipswich area, 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.”

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

“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 Mr Oliver was with the killer for all that time we’ll never know – but there’s a high probability he was.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter