Sometimes investigating historic child sexual abuse is a bit like tugging at a loose end of a knitted jumper. You begin to pull a strand of wool and slowly, inevitably, more comes away until you’re left with the component parts of a forgotten scandal. Such was the case this weekend when, following an email from a reader (SM), the Needleteam began to look into what has become known as the ‘Tattingstone suitcase murder’ .
The case of the murder of Bernard Oliver, 17, whose dismembered body was found in two suitcases in the village of Tattingstone in Suffolk in 1967, is unsolved and because the main suspects are both now dead, it will likely remain so, but it was the identifying of those two suspects, Dr Martin Reddington and Dr John Byles, and the tracing of the history of at least some of their offending which led us to the ‘Holy Trinity Paedophile Ring’. This was a group of professionals that in 1975 stood trial at Leeds Crown Court and were found guilty of the sexual abuse of young boys including abuse within the Holy Trinity church, Huddersfield, and the trade in child sexual abuse images to Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
We uncovered further evidence that offenders will often re-offend and reveal that one member of the Holy Trinity paedophile ring has only recently avoided justice for abhorrent crimes abroad because he claims to have dementia.
There are also links to possible child murders and that is why we are sharing this with you now because we know that there are some great researchers out there and perhaps possible witnesses who might as a result contact us and help us to complete the picture, so we’ll include most of the related newspaper cuttings we have at the bottom of this post.
It is probably easiest to start with the trial at Leeds Crown Court. On the 9th June 1975 three men stood trial on charges of indecently assaulting boys aged between 9 and 14 and conspiracies to contravene the Sexual Offences Act, the Obscene Publications Act and the Post Office Act. They were the Rev John Poole, vicar at the Holy Trinity Church, Raymond Varley, a former child care worker, and Clive Wilcock, a school teacher. Two other men named during the proceedings were missing. They were Dr John Byles and a Mr Jack Nicholls. More on Dr Byles later but we need to say that we’ve not been able to identify Jack Nicholls.
The crux of the allegations was that the 5 men named above had used the vicarage as a base to abuse young boys and had taken photographs of the sexual abuse. Some of the pictures were then sold to pornographic magazines in Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Some of the sexual abuse took place in the church and in the crypt. On one occasion the Rev Poole had presided over a ‘wedding’ which resulted in acts of gross indecency taking place before the church altar. The likelihood is that these crimes were photographed.
The Rev Poole, Raymond Varley and Clive Wilcock were all found guilty of offences.
Dr John Byles, who along with Dr Martin Reddington, was identified as one of the prime suspects in the ‘suitcase murder’ of Bernard Oliver in 1967, had evaded justice. At some point during the police inquiries into the Holy Trinity paedophile ring, he had run off to Australia. On the 17th December 1974 he was arrested in Melbourne. His friend, Dr Martin Reddington, who had previously fled abroad to escape similar allegations of gross indecency against a minor, was on hand to help and posted bail for Dr Byles. On the 27th December Dr Byles failed to attend an extradition hearing and on January 19th 1975 his body was found at the Proserpine Hotel in Queensland. Dr Byles had committed suicide. Three notes were found in the hotel room, one to his family, one to Scotland Yard, and the third to Dr Martin Reddington. Frustratingly for the police, none of the notes contained a confession.
The complicity in very serious crimes, including possible child murders, by Dr Byles and Dr Reddington appears to have been suspected by British police. In 1963 Dr Byles, who is described in newspaper reports as a ‘Kensington Doctor’, had stood trial along with a marketing executive called Mr James Halsall for the sexual abuse of a boy and in 1967 it seems likely that the police believed that Dr John Byles was one of two men thought to have been seen talking to Michael John Trower, aged 14, of Hove on the day he went missing and who the police wanted to talk to following the discovery of the boy’s body. Brian Field, after his conviction in 2001 for the 1968 murder of Roy Tutill was suspected by the police of involvement in the murder of Michael Trower, however Trower’s murder remains unsolved.
What we know for sure is that Dr Byles was described in his absence at Leeds Crown Court during the ‘Holy Trinity’ trial as an “evil man” and ringleader in the network of pornography.
Dr Martin Reddington is harder to trace. According to the Ipswich Star who viewed the ‘suitcase murder’ files held by Suffolk police, Reddington had fled to South Africa in 1965 after a warrant had been issued for his arrest for buggery and indecent assault of males. In 1977 he was recognised as one of three men owning the distinctive P.V.A suitcases used in the murder of Bernard Oliver and that, along with Dr Byles, he was wanted for questioning with regards to the murder in London of a boy which took place around 1973. (We have been unable to identify this child murder in London and would be particularly grateful for any help with that.) We know also that in 1977 he was arrested in Australia for indecently assaulting an Australian boy around 1973.
Despite the fact that the police wanted to talk to him regarding very serious sexual crimes and even murder, Dr Reddington seems to have flitted back and forth between Australia and the UK where he died in Surrey in 1995.
Of the original three men convicted in 1975 for their part in the ‘Holy Trinity paedophile ring’ one name, Raymond Varley, might seem familiar. Varley, who was described during the Holy Trinity trial as having already had a previous conviction for indecency with a boy, had pleaded guilty in 1975 and was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment. He appears to have offended and been convicted once again in the early 1980s before becoming an English tutor in Albania, Serbia, and then Thailand.
Raymond Varley is wanted by the Indian authorities in connection with his involvement in child abuse in Goa. For information on Varley’s involvement with Dr Freddie Peats and that sickening child abuse and exploitation episode read HERE
An extradition application by the Indians failed because poor Mr Raymond Varley at the tender age of just 63 has ‘dementia’ and it would be “unjust” and “oppressive” to return him to India for trial. (Sound familiar ?)
No wonder the Indian authorities are pissed off.
The Times 17th September 1963
The Times 11th November 1963
‘Suitcase Murder’ 1967
Michael John Trower Murder January 1967
Roy Tutill Murder November 2001
A 65-year-old farm labourer from the Midlands has been jailed for life for the murder, 33 years ago, of schoolboy Roy Tutill.
The 14-year-old was abducted, raped and strangled in 1968 as he hitch-hiked to his Surrey home from school so he could save his bus fare to pay for a new bicycle.
Divorced Brian Field, from Solihull, West Midlands, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to the 33-year-old murder – thought to be the longest period between a crime being committed and solved.
The Holy Trinity paedophile ring 1975
Dr John Byles’s death in Australia from The Age, January 1975
Dr Martin Reddington in Australia 1977