Great work by The Needle team members who spent much of yesterday creating a text version of the difficult to read report ‘Inquiry into Suspicious Death of Vishal Mehrotra’.
The original can be found on LBC HERE
Also see 2005 report ‘Operation Mehrotra‘ released under FOI request.
Full Text from the Sussex Police Report; ‘Inquiry into Suspicious Death of VISHAL MEHROTRA’, 1983:
Detective Superintendent G. H. Curd,
Detective Superintendent’s Office,
ENQUIRIES INTO THE SUSPICIOUS DEATH OF VISHAL MEHROTRA.
1. During the afternoon of Sunday, 21st February 1982 two brothers, XXXXX were pigeon shooting across ground owned by XXXXX on the south side of the A272 west of Rogate.
2. On reaching Allow Copse they entered and started to search through the area to raise pigeons when they came across what appeared to be a human skull and some bones. They left the skull in situ and reported their find by telephone to Midhurst Police Station.
3. Alder Cope at Rogate is a three and a half acre wooded area of marshy ground surrounded by pastureland, and as stated is on the south side of the A.272, The western boundary of Alder Copse is within fifty yards of the Hampshire/Sussex county boundary.
4. Following the report of the finding of the skull PC XXXXX immediately attended Alder Copse followed shortly afterwards by PS XXXXX and PC XXXXX
5. Subsequently Superintendent XXXXX (Deputy Divisional Commander) and Detective Chief Inspector XXXXX attended Alder Copse and viewed the remains and owing to the lateness of the hour it was decided to tape off the area, guard the scene and await daylight.
6 At 10.30 a.m. on Monday, 22nd February 1982 Detective Inspector XXXXX and Detective Constable XXXXX (SOGO) attended the scene with a CCTV unit. A video recording was made of the area and still photographs were taken by PC XXXXX A visual examination then took place within the area previously taped.
7. At 2 p.m. that day Detective Superintendent XXXXX and officer reporting arrived at the scene with the pathologist, Dr. XXXXX
Dr. XXXXX carried out a search and examined the skull and bones but before disturbing the skull all debris from the area was collected and placed on a body sheet for later examination.
8. Some thirty-five feet away from the skull and towards the north side of the copse a mass of dark hair was found. The visual examination of the area was continued and revealed a lower jaw and some loose teeth on the surface of the marsh some sixteen feet west from the location of the skull. All item, discovered at the scene were photographed in situ and then removed for further examination by Dr. XXXXX
9. An incident room was initially set up at Midhurst Police Station and following information on Tuesday, 23rd February from Dr. XXXXX that he considered that the skull was that of a child of some eight to twelve years of age, and possibly coloured,
a request was made through Missing Persons Index at New Scotland Yard for details of all persons within the eight to twelve-years age group who had been reported missing during the previous twelve months.
10. On Tuesday, 23rd February 1982 a full-scale search of the wooded and marshy area was mounted, involving officers from Worthing, Littlehampton, Chichester and Bognor Regis; with the use of garden rakes and forks the whole area was searched with the exception of the area of marshy ground which had been previously taped and contained within its boundaries the area in which the skull and other items had been found. The searching crew, working under extremely difficult conditions, due to the boggy nature of the ground, uncovered a variety of items from a leather belt to parts of old plough shears. But in particular certain bones were found, one of which appeared to be a vertebra.
11. Technical Support Unit from headquarters attended the scene and carried out a specific search for metal objects using metal detectors in the area where the skull, jaw and other items had been found. This search proved negative.
12. On the following day, 24th February 1982, the same comprehensive search of the remainder of the wood was concluded. No further items of interest were discovered.
13. During the activity of the search party Detective Inspector XXXXX and Detective Constable XXXXX had been con¬centrating on the area around the skull which was of an extremely boggy nature. Despite this a hand search by feel alone revealed some teeth and small bones which were later identified as finger bones.
14. An area of boggy soil approximately six feet long by four foot wide where the body might have boon lying, as indicated by the position of the skull was carefully dug over to a depth where matted roots intervened. The soil and debris were placed in plastic dustbins and later washed and sieved in order to ensure that no items escaped the search. A further five small bones and two finger nails were discovered within this debris.
15. From the mini incident room setup at Midhurst circulations were made nationally giving details of the findings at Rogate. Also enquiries were commenced in respect of a number of outstanding missing children of the requisite age.
16. Arrangements were also made for XXXXX Odontologist, together with Dr. XXXXX pathologist to make up a dental chart from the skull and lower jaw bone found at the scene.
17. As a direct result of those enquiries it was learnt late on Monday, 1st March 1982 that in all probability the bones were these of Vishal MEHROTRA, a boy missing from the Putney area of London since 29th July 1981, the day of the Royal Wedding.
18. In view of this possible identification the incident room was moved from Midhurst to Chichester and set up with a full staff. Later the same day the identification was confirmed, subject to skull-X-rays by Dr XXXXX and immediate liaison was made with Detective Superintendent XXXXX of the Metropolitan Police Putney, in order that a meeting could be arranged at Chichester the following day.
19. At the meeting at Chichester on 2nd March 1982 it was agreed that although two incident rooms would operate, i.e. one at Putney and one at Chichester, the enquiry itself would be carried out by the Sussex. Police as it was assumed at that stage that it could not be proved where the death of Vishal MEHROTRA had actually occurred.
20. Detective Superintendent XXXXX (Putney) -was able to supply to the meeting at Chichester a draft report compiled by officers at Putney relating to the enquiries made by them into the disappearance of Vishal MEHROTRA.
21. Paragraphs 1 to 19 of that report deal comprehensively with the family background and paragraphs 20 to 56 then continue with the circumstances surrounding the disappearance and the enquiries which then ensued.
Press and Media
22. On Wednesday, 3rd March 1982 a full press conference was held at Chichester Police Station where Detective Superintendent XXXXX gave details of the disappearance of Vishal MEHROTRA and the enquiries made to date by the Metropolitan Police. Also details were given to the press of the location of the find at Rogate with the request for full publicity on the matter in order to attract any witnesses who may have been in or near Alder Copse at the relevant time.
23. Subsequently signs were prepared and erected on the A272 both east and west of the layby opposite Alder Copse requesting any persons who had used that route during the relevant time to call at an incident caravan which was in situ in the layby.
24. During the following days posters were prepared by PRO and were distributed by officers from the Traffic Division to garages, public houses, cafes, restaurants and where small villages were concerned to the main stores, throughout the route of the A3 from Petersfield northwards to the Metropolitan boundary.
25. Later this was extended to cover the A272 from Petersfield to the A272 and northwards on the A24 to the Metropolitan boundary once again. A quantity of the posters was forwarded to the Metropolitan Police who completed the route from their southern boundary to Putney.
Family Background of Vishal MEHROTRA
26. As stated, the Metropolitan Police report deals in detail with the family of the missing boy. Therefore it is only necessary to say that Vishal lived with his father, Vishamber Khemchand MEHROTRA, his sister, Mamta MEHROTRA, and a nanny, Joannita CARVALHO, at 14 Holmbush Road, Putney.
27. Vishal’s mother, Aruna MEHROTRA, nee VASHISTH, had separated from the boy’s father and since 1976 had resided in India currently managing a jewellery business in Delhi. Mr. MEHROTRA is a qualified solicitor employed by Stocken & Lambert of 23-28 Fleet Street, WC1.
28. XXXXX describes the character and personality of Vishal MEHROTRA. A brief summary of this is that they discovered that Vishal was a highly intelligent boy having an open, friendly personality but failed to form any close friendships. The officer enquiring into the background of the family found that Vishal led a very regulated life and seldom strayed outside the close family environment. However, during the school term he travelled unaccompanied to and from school by train from East Putney station.
Circumstances Surrounding the Disappearance of Vishal
29. On Royal Wedding Day, 29th July 1981, Vishal with his sister, father and nanny travelled to London by train and then went to Fleet Street in order that they should watch the Royal procession from the second floor window of the office where Mr. MEHROTRA is employed. They stayed there until 12.30 p.m. and then left to catch a train home. They boarded a train at Temple Station travelling to East Putney via Earls Court arriving et East Putney at 1.40 p.m. Mr. MEHROTRA then left the children with the nanny and returned home as he was feeling tired. Before he left he gave the children 20p each to buy sweets. The nanny, Miss CARVALHO, took the children into a newsagents in Upper Richmond Road where they remained for about twenty minutes. As the children had complained earlier of sore throats the nanny decided to walk to Putney High Street to buy some cough medicine for them. At this stage Vishal said that he did not want to go as he felt tired and wanted to go home.
The nanny agreed to let him go on his own and saw hlm safely across the main road at the pedestrian crossing outside the shop. She then went with Mamta to Putney High Street before returning home at about 3 p.m. On her arrival Mr. MEHROTRA was asleep on his bed but there was no trace of Vishal. Both the nanny and Mamta decided to have a nap and both slept until around 4.30 p.m. At that time the nanny heard the television in Mr. MEHROTRA’s bedroom being used and she went to see him, explaining what had happened earlier in relation to Vishal. It was then thought by both that he, Vishal, had arrived home and subsequently gone cut to play. Enquiries in the area were then made by the nanny and Mr. MEHROTRA and at 7 p.m, that evening the boy was reported missing to the police at Putney.
30. Paragraphs 22 to 56 of the Metropolitan Police report then detail the extensive investigation which followed the report of the missing boy. This includes full details of the assistance given by the media in this matter and as a result a number of persons reported possible sightings of Vishal. Each of the sightings were carefully investigated. XXXXX
Search of Alder Copse and Surrounding Area
31. Following a meeting with Water Board officials at Alder Copse it was decided it shovel the virtually liquid mud into bins and transport them across the adjacent field to a spot near the roadside where empty bins fitted with sieves would be situated. The mud would be placed into the sieves in small quantities and water washed through it until the slurry had disappeared and only
vegetation remained for close scrutiny. The water to be obtained from a bowser situated on the roadside and fitted with a lengthy hose. Plastic dustbins and watering cans were obtained from the Council and sieves were obtained locally.
32. On Wednesday, 3rd March 1982 the operation commenced on a limited scale at first as officers were initially employed on a search of the roadside verges and field perimeter. Two Water Board workers operating a small pump, were busily employed at the heart of the mud clearance together with Scenes of Crime officers and the laborious took began.
33. Thursday, 4th March 19P, was the first full day of XXXXX and the careful sieving yielded three rib hones, two small bones (possibly finger), and a fingernail. It became apparent that although effective, this form of searching was going to be a lengthy operation and the hire of plant machinery was considered to speed up the procedure. A plant machinery expert was called to the site and determined that the nature of the ground was such as to make that kind of excavation impracticable. Nevertheless the sieving method obviously had to be speeded up while weather conditions remained reasonably favourable. Heavy rain and cold would be extremely detrimental to the search.
34. A Dumper was hired for easier transportation of the loaded bins across the field and more bins and sieves were obtained and on Friday 5th March 1982 the number of sieves being worked was stepped up to five — with two men to each. Two other men were detached to the fringe of the copse to dig out animal holes.
The sieving on this day produced more fingernails, a small bone and a vertebra.
35. On Saturday, 6th March 1982 the number of operative sieves was increased to six and although the total yield was only one small bone and two teeth (possibly animal), spirits remained high despite the fact that the entire time the searchers were working in a fixed spot, running their hands through black slurry continuously washed by cold water.
36. Sunday, 7th March 1982 was a rest day, but on Monday, 8th March 1982 a further twelve operatives were back at the sieves in addition to the regulars in ‘The Bog’, i.e. the Water Board workers and the Scenes of Crime staff. By this time the area being lifted was moving away from the central point and towards the spot at which the lower jaw had been found – some 16’ 6″ west of the skull. It became apparent that as the dig went further out, the finds dwindled away. In fact nothing came to light on this day.
37. On Tuesday 9th March 1982 the dig went in the opposite direction towards the position of the scalp and hair but again the search proved fruitless. During the day officer reporting and Detective Inspector XXXXX together with the local gamekeeper looked at fox earths in the vicinity considering the possibility that bones had been carried thorn by the inhabitant. It was decided to launch an attack on a particularly large earth across a neighbouring field some half mile distant and on Wednesday, 10th March 1982 a team of twelve, supervised by a Scenes of Crime officer, carefully dug out the earth for some considerable way and raked and sifted the sandy
soil as it was removed. At the end of the day, however, the only achievement had been to render a few foxes homeless. No bones were uncovered save for a couple of small birds heads.
38. While the fox earths were under siege, the main team was completing its search of the defined area in the bog with no further success and this being the third successive blank day and with the weather gradually worsening, it was decided to terminate the search. On Thursday, 11th March 1982 only the Scenes of Crime officers and the Water Board workers returned to the area to clear up, return equipment and secure the site.
39. Excluding the Sunday rest day, the concentrated search of seven days had yielded only small remains of the upper parts of the body, nothing of the lower extremities at all.
40. During the sieving procedure the water bowser was refilled three times and approximately 8000 gallons of water found its way via a culvert back into the copse.
41. All the items found were forwarded to Dr XXXXX the pathologist.
Quest for Users of Alder Copse Area
42. Early in the enquiry it was decided to ascertain details of all persons who used the vicinity of Alder Copse and this included the users of the layby which is directly opposite the copse on the north side of the A272. To assist in this an Incident post in the form of a caravan was set up in the layby and was manned from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. All persons calling at the caravan were
questioned regarding any sightings of vehicles or persons in the area of Alder Copse, particularly over the period of the Royal Wedding, and all details were passed to the incident room at Chichester for the necessary actions to be made out. Many lines of enquiry were discovered by this means and these will be dealt in detail laterin this report under a heading of Sightings.
43. Normally, based on the layby was a tea caravan and this was used primarily by long-distance lorry drivers. The owner of this business XXXXX was contacted and made two statements which detailed persons who she recalled as using the layby.
44. The necessary actions were instigated and all persons described by XXXXX in her first statement were traced but were unable to assist. In the second statement XXXXX spoke of two persons who called at her tea caravan and who were members of a Pigeon Racing Club.
45. It was ascertained that the Alder Copse area is a popular location with pigeon racing enthusiasts for the release of birds on training flights. Having been made aware of these facts, it was, of course, essential to trace any such enthusiasts who may have visited the area during the relevant period, July/August 1981; and who may have been able to assist with any information regarding their visits to the scene in question.
46. Furthermore, a number of unattended vehicles had been seen in the Alder Copse area and it was felt that some of these could be eliminated from the enquiry as being the vehicles used by pigeon racing enthusiasts.
In an attempt to inform these persons of our enquiries a press advertisement appealing for assistance was placed in the two following magazines: ‘The Racing Pigeon’ 14th May 1982 edition, and the ‘British Racing World’ 9th July 1982 edition, these being the national magazines for the racing pigeon fraternity,
Unfortunately there was a very poor response to these appeals, therefore the area secretaries of both the London and South of England regions of the National Racing Pigeon Association were contacted and requested to supply details of every club and club secretary in their respective catchment areas, which incorporated the following counties Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire, Middlesex, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex and the Greater London area.
48. These details were duly supplied to this incident room and a proforma was drawn up for use by the investigating team and officers of other Police forces requesting enquires to be made of the Pigeon Racing Club secretaries to supply the following details; Name, address and description of each member, the make/model and colour of the vehicle the member was using during July/August 1981 and whether or not that member had ever visited the Alder Copse area on the A272 road during that period in question to release birds.
49. As can be seen from the proforma, the details of two men who were known to have visited the area releasing birds frequently throughout July/August 1981 were given, in an attempt to identify them as it was felt that they could well be of particular assistance to the enquiry having made numerous visits to the scene during the relevant time.
50. In all, some 465 clubs were contacted incorporating in excess of 18000 members. Response to this line of enquiry has been very good and each member who visited the scene during July/August 1911 has been interviewed regarding his observations at that time. However, this line of enquiry is as yet incomplete but continuing and to date the two men described in the proforma have not been positively identified. Although there have been some possible eliminations of motor vehicles from this line of enquiry, no positive elimination has been possible.
AA & RAC
51. It was decided to contact the Automobile Association and the Royal Automobile Club to ascertain whether any of their patrols attended breakdowns between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on the night of 29th/30th duly 1981 in an area on the A272/A3 roads in the Petersfield/Rogate areas.
52. The AA were contacted by DC XXXXX and photocopies of all breakdown calls were requested and, at that stage there appeared no problem: The RAC were also contacted by DC XXXXX and agreed to supply the information.
53. Mr. XXXXX the regional manager of the Road Services Department of the AA based at Famum House, 52 London Road, Twickenham, contacted the incident room later and stated that it was not possible to supply the information as previously requested but suggested that we contact the various patrolmen to see if they could assist. He supplied a list of names and addresses. Each of those officers have now been interviewed but none of them could supply any useful information.
54. The RAC supplied a complete list of all breakdowns which occurred during the relevant period but on checking none of them was of any use in this enquiry.
55. The reason these enquiries were initiated was to find out whether any vehicles fitting the description of the ones seen at or by Alder Copse during the relevant times could be traced and hopefully eliminated. Unfortunately this has taken us no further in identifying these vehicles.
House to House Enquiries
56. Teams of officers carried out house to house enquiries along the A272 from the junction of the A3 at Sheet eastwards to Rogate. All houses in that village were then visited and additionally the neighbouring village of Trotton. A total of 313 houses were visited but no useful information was obtained.
Local Farmers & Farm Workers
57. The house to house enquiries virtually included all farmers and farm workers but this was made a separate action to ensure that casual workers were also traced and interviewed. Contact was also made with local ‘shoots’ but it was found that the Alder Copse area had not been the subject of an organised shoot during the months from July 1981 to March 1982.
The Witness XXXXX
58. Mr. XXXXX who resides in Petersfield, Hampshire is employed as an artificial insemination technician XXXXX
Part of his duties necessitate him working in the Hampshire and West Sussex areas, visiting various farms. He frequently uses the A272 Petersfield to Midhurst road and has a considerable knowledge of the Rogate area including Alder Copse and the layby situated opposite.
59. At 1.30 p.m. on Monday, 15th March 1982 Mr. xxxxxxx called at the incident caravan which was parked in the layby opposite Alder Copse. He spoke to PC xxxxxx concerning the sighting of a vehicle in the layby on Sunday, 2nd August 1981 and the activities of two men in the fields opposite the layby on the morning of Monday, 3rd August 1981. This information was then passed to the incident room at Chlchester.
60. On 27th March 1982 Mr xxxxx was interviewed by xxxxx and a statement was subsequently obtained.
61. Mr. xxxxx made reference in his statement to the effect that during the morning of Sunday, 2nd August 1981 he saw a lime green Austin Maxi parked in the layby opposite Alder Copse. The occupant of the vehicle was a man of about 55 years of age who on the face of it appeared to be just relaxing in his car. There was nothing really suspicious about this vehicle.
62. He went on to say that the following day, Monday, 3rd August 1981, he was driving his motor vehicle along the A272 towards Petersfield and as he approached the same layby opposite Alder Copse he saw two male persons on the grass verge and near to the fence at the western end of the embankment which adjoins the two fields in which Alder Copse lies. The time would have been about 8.45 a.m.
63. He recalled at that time that one of the two men was holding the fence with one hand as if he was about to climb over the fence from the roadside verge into the field. As he drove past, this man stood and watched him.
64. Mr. XXXXX described this man as about 30 years of age, 6′ tall, medium build, dark skinned, possibly of Middle-Eastern origin. He had dark straight hair, closely cut to his head, bushy eyebrows and a Mexican-style droopy moustache that went down the sides of his mouth level with the bottom of his lower lip. He wore glasses with heavy thick black or brown frames, the arms of the glasses which go back the ears were unusually thick. He stated that the man was dressed, in a white shirt which had red lines running both vertically and horizontally across it forming inch squares. He was also wearing blue cord trousers or Jeans and that the man wore a gold chain with a medallion or ingot around his neck. He could also recall that the man was wearing a very heavy gold ring, possibly a sovereign-type ring.
65. He could not describe in much detail the second man who he states was crouched over with his back towards him. A comprehensive description of both men is attached to this statement.
66. As a result of this statement from Mr. XXXXX a photofit picture was obtained XXXXX.
67. Mr. XXXXX was not entirely happy with the photofit picture and subsequently drew his own artists impression of the Asian-type man standing at the fence near to Alder Copse.
68. In view of the most comprehensive statement made by Mr xxxxx and bearing in mind the intricate details he could give regarding one of these witnesses, enquiries were made with the managing director of the firm he works for in order that we could get some form of character reference to support one way or the other the validity of his statement. His employer informed us that he was an excellent worker, very articulate and a man who has a memory which cannot be touched by any other of his staff.
69. As a result of this information DC xxxxx interviewed Mr xxxxx again on 25th March 1982. Mr xxxxx then handed to the officer his own artists impression of the man standing by the field together with the man crouching down on the other side of the fence. This artists’ impression is attached to the same appendix. To explain more specifically the first two artists impressions made by Mr. XXXXX relate to (a) a full description of the man seen by the fence which he felt was a better likeness than the actual Police photofit assembly, and (b) his impression of the overall picture in respect of the man standing by the fence and the European man who was crouched beside this particular fence.
70. During this interview with Mr xxxxx stated to the officers that he had given this matter some considerable thought and had since recalled that when he passed Alder Copse and saw the two men by the field he also saw parked on the grass verge on the south side of the road opposite the layby and adjacent to the western entrance to the fields in which Alder Copse is situated a black Lancia HPE motor car. The vehicle was facing towards
Petersfield and he recalled seeing a male person standing a few feet in front of the vehicle. He described this person as about 50 years of age, 5′ 6” tall and in his opinion was of Asian origin.
71. He then went on to describe this person at length which can be seen in his statement.
72. He described the Lancia car as very clean and in good condition, it had been well polished and shone brightly in the early morning sun. He went on to say that he was absolutely certain that it was an ‘S’ registration car.
73. In view of this additional information from the witness, consideration was than given as to whether or not Mr xxxxx would remember more of the incident of Monday, 3rd August 1981 if subjected to hypnosis. This was approved and at 7.15 p.m. on Monday, 19th April 1982 Mr xxxxx attended Dr xxxxxxx surgery at xxxxxxxxxxx. During the course of hypnosis Mr xxxxxx recalled even further descriptions of both men standing by the fence at the north-east corner of the field near to Alder Copse and also elaborated on the description of the man and the vehicle (the black Lancia motor car) which was positioned at the north-east end of the field near to Alder Copse.
74. Two very interesting factors emerged whist XXXXX was subjected to hypnosis. They are as follows:
With reference to the two men seen standing by the fence at the north-west end of the field he then recalled that they were in possession of a hessian-type sack about four to five foot long which was apparently heavy. Both men were swinging the sack in
a pendulum-type fashion in order that they could swing it high enough and to drop it over the other side of the fence. Both men then jumped over the fence to the south side.
75. Mr xxxxxx then went on to describe to Dr xxxxxxx further details in respect of the Lancia car. Mr xxxxxx was adamant that it was black and was a Lancia 2000. He recalls that a windscreen wiper was affixed to the rear of the vehicle, which was shiny black and the silver was polished.
76. With regard to the registration number of the vehicle he felt that it was an ‘S’ suffix with numbers which included 5, 6 and 4. He could not see the complete index number as there was a plastic sack obstructing his view.
77. The other interesting factor that emerged from the hypnosis was that Mr xxxxxxxx not only recalled seeing the two men by the fence at the north, eastern part of the field, and the man standing by the Lancia car at the north-west end of the field, but also a fourth man walking across the field towards the copse having obviously walked from the direction of the black Lancia car. He could only describe this fourth man as coloured, possibly a Pakistani, with black hair which was combed back, broad build, about 6′ tall. He believes that this fourth man walking across
the field was wearing a pink shirt with the sleeves rolled up and appeared to be carrying a plastic bag in front of him. He believes that the plastic bag was about 3′ long and similar to the plastic bag which was obstructing the rear number plate of the black Lancia motor car.
78. As a result of this further information from Mr xxxxx under hypnosis, an additional statement was obtained from him by DC xxxxxxxx on 20th April 1982. When the officer spoke to Mr xxxxxx produced to DC xxxxxxx an artists’ impression of the man standing by the Lancia car and the fourth man walking across the field as he recalled it looking out of the rear of his vehicle when travelling past towards Petersfield. xxxxxxx xxxxxxx Mr. xxxxxxx stated that this picture was from memory not as a result of his interview under hypnosis.
79. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx another artists impression which Mr xxxxx drew when he revisited the scene after being subjected to hypnosis.
80. As a result of the additional information having been educed from Mr xxxxx under hypnosis, enquiries were then made with PNC Unit at Hendon to obtain the registered owners of all black Lancia cars with the view of establishing the identities of the four men seen in the fields adjacent to Alder Copse. The computer print-out amounted to 1872 black Lancia vehicles. A proforma and covering letter with regard to enquiries to be made in respect of the owners of these particular vehicles were obtained and distributed to many forces in the country. XXXX
81. It soon came to light that in many cases the very dark coloured Lancia motor cars, i.e. brown, dark blue, green and the like, could very easily be mistaken for black. Therefore details were obtained from the PNC Unit at Hendon in respect of all very dark Lancia motor cars and subsequently 9103 such vehicles were forwarded to the incident room and each was made subject of letter and proforma to various forces in the country.
82. On 25th August’ 1982 Mr xxxxx was interviewed again to see if he could recall any further details in respect of the four men and in particular to the black Lancia motor car. This statement does not really take us any further other than Mr xxxxx being adamant that it was a Lancia 2000 HPE, He distinctly remembers looking at the Lancia nameplate on the rear tailgate of the vehicle and seeing the slanted vent at the rear of the offside rear window. This, for our purposes, eliminates other types of Lancia vehicles. Mr. XXXXX went on to say that he was of the opinion that an Asian type woman of about 30 to 40 years of age was seated in the rear of the Lancia car and was probably donned in a pale green satin or silk headscarf or sari.
83. One cannot really place a lot of credence on this additional information in view of the time lapse and the number of statements already obtained from Mr xxxxx. However, this particular information in respect of the woman seated in the car may have some connection in respect of another witness, a Mr xxxxxx, which will be mentioned later on in this report.
84. All 9103 proformas have now been circulated within this country and to date we have received approximately 80% of the replies.
Sightings of Asian Boys.
85. Miss. XXXX is employed as a cashier at the XXXX ten miles north of Petersfield. Her main duties are the supervision of the self-service patrol pumps and to operate the consul in the pay office.
86. She recalls that on the Royal Wedding Day, Wednesday, 29th July 1981, she commenced duty at 4 p.m. and between 5 and 6 p.m. that evening saw a large dark coloured saloon motor car pull onto the the forecourt for petrol. She is not certain of the make of the vehicle but feels it was probably a Datsun or Mazda, possibly dark maroon in colour and in a good clean condition.
87. The driver of the vehicle was an Asian man, probably Indian or Pakistani, of about 40 years of age, 5’ 9″ tall, stocky build with a rather large stomach. He was wearing a bright pink shirt with short sleeves, the shirt being open to half way down his chest. He was wearing a gold chain around his neck with a large gold medallion attached to the chain.
88. Miss. XXX is quite satisfied that the front passenger was also of Indian or Pakistani origin, about 40 years of age, 5′ 9″ tall, stocky build and he too had a rather large stomach. One thing she did recall in respect of the front passenger was that the the white part of his eyes had a yellow tint to them. She was of the opinion that he was wearing a navy blue shirt with short sleeves and thought the shirt possibly had white trimming. During an interview Miss. XXXX said that one of these two men wore a very
large gold ring which was a round shape and stood out, very proud on his hand.
89. Sitting in the rear of this vehicle and immediately behind the driver was another Asian youth who, she states, was aged about 18 years. She described him as about 6′ tall and of very lean build. She seemed to recall that he was bare-chested and that he was probably wearing blue denim jeans.
90. Sitting next to this 18 year old youth was another Indian or Pakistani boy who Miss XXXXX describes as about 10 years of age and some 4′ tall. He, like the other three passengers, had very dark hair and she believed he was wearing a pale coloured T-shirt with short sleeves. She got the impression that the T-shirt was possibly striped horizontally and may have had a collar but she was not too sure of that fact.
91. The driver and front passenger got out of the vehicle and the passenger operated the pump to fill the car with petrol. The driver made his way to the kiosk and held a conversation with Miss XXXXX in respect of the Royal Wedding which Miss XXXXX was viewing on a portable television in the kiosk. She was of the opinion that the driver had probably lived in England all his life as he had no sign of a foreign accent.
92. Once the front passenger of the vehicle had filled the car’s tank with petrol, he went to the kiosk and asked Miss XXXXX the location of toilets. The 18 year old youth and the 10-year old boy then alighted from the car and made their way to the
93. According to Miss XXXX the 10-year old boy did not seem to be at all distressed and walked quite happily in front of the 18-year old youth to the toilets which were nearby. The front passenger went into the kiosk and purchased items of refreshment and the driver paid for the petrol. By this time the 18-year old youth and the 10-year old boy had returned to the car from the toilets.
94. The car was then driven away travelling south on the A3 towards Petersfield. Miss XXXX recalled that either the driver, or the front passenger, also wore a gold-coloured wristwatch with a square or oblong face.
95. The information from Miss XXXX was passed to the incident room at Chichester together with a statement from her. An interesting fact then emerged when one compared the statements made by Mr. XXXX on 22nd and 25th March 1982 and that of Miss XXXX on 30th March 1982.
96. Miss XXXX states that the vehicle which called at her garage on the day of the Royal Wedding was probably foreign, fairly new and very dark in colour. Mr XXXX states that the vehicle he saw at Alder Copse some five days later on Monday, 2nd August 1981 was a Lancia motor car and he was adamant that it was black or at least very dark in colour.
97. Another interesting fact was the description given by Miss XXXX of the driver or indeed the front passenger of the vehicle that called at her garage on 29th July 1981. She was of the opinion that the driver was about 40 years of age, 5’ 9″, stocky
build with a large stomach. She recalled that he was wearing a gold necklace with large gold medallion attached, and that either the driver or the passenger was wearing a gold wristwatch. When one compares this description and that of Mr XXXX’s description of the man standing by the fence it could very easily be assumed that both described men may well be one and the same person. The description of the other persons seen by both witnesses, Mr XXXX and Miss XXXX do not appear to marry up; however, it cannot be completely ruled out that both persons were describing the same vehicle and occupants.
98. It was felt by members of the murder squad team that additional information could well be educed from Miss XXXX if she would agree to be subjected to hypnosis. She was spoken to on these lines, agreed to be hypnotised, but unfortunately when she was taken to Dr XXXX’s consulting rooms she was unable to relax sufficiently to be placed into a state of hypnosis.
99. Although Miss XXXX expressed regret for not being able to be subjected to hypnosis she did state that she would be willing at some future date to try again, It was felt that this would not be a viable proposition due to the lapse of time and her unreliability.
100. Mr XXXX lived in the London area and stated that around 1.45 to 2.p.m. on the Royal Wedding Day he drove his car along the Upper Richmond Road towards East Putney District Line station. As he approached the station he noticed a large light-coloured car parked on the nearside of the road outside the Olivetti building facing towards Wandsworth.
101. He was not too sure of the description of the vehicle but thought it was possibly a Granada. As Mr XXXX drove towards this vehicle and about to overtake it he saw a man walk from the pavement on to the road at the rear of this vehicle. He had a young boy with him and the men appeared to be leading the child tight by the arms and Mr XXXX saw this man pushing the young boy towards the offside rear of the stationary car. Someone apparently opened the rear door from the inside and the child was pushed into the back of the car.
102. Mr XXXX describes the man as between 30 and 35 years of age, 5′ 10″ tall, slim build, he was smartly dressed in a dark suit and was of Asian appearance. He described this gentleman as of military type.
103. The boy, he recalls, was of about 12 years of age, again of Asian appearance with black hair medium length; slim build and, as far as he could recall, was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and dark coloured trousers.
104. Mr XXXX states that when the Asian gentlemen was bundling the young boy into the rear of the stationary car, he got the impression that the boy seemed to be very surprised at the actions of the man as though he was not quite sure of what was going on. Mr XXXX had to swerve to avoid colliding with this stationary vehicle, when the rear door had been opened and the boy bundled in. It was because of this that Mr XXXX can say that he is positive that there was some other person seated in the rear of the vehicle. He was not too sure of the identity of the person.
but was of the impression that it was probably a woman wearing a shawl or sari. He was also of the opinion that there was another person seated in the front passenger seat and that all occupants were of the Asian race.
105. Comparing Mr. XXXX’s statement with those of the witnesses, Mr. XXXX and Miss. XXXX it soon came to light that there were similarities in respect of the sightings and possibly vehicles witnessed by all three persons. Mr. XXXX and Mr.XXXX both make mention of the possibility that a woman was seated in the rear of the
car wearing a shawl or sari. Mr. XXXX and Miss. XXXX both make reference to the sighting of a large car containing four Asians during the afternoon of Wednesday, 29th July 1981, the day in question. Mr. XXXX speaks of this particular vehicle seen in Upper Richmond Road which is approximately half a mile from the A3 and of
course Miss. XXX makes reference to the sighting of the Asians in a large car at the garage at which she works which is on the A3.
106. Having discussed the three matters at length, it was decided that an approach should be made to Mr. XXXX to see if he would be to be subjected to hypnosis with a view to educing more information in respect of what he saw on the day in question. Mr. XXXX agreed and 3.23 p.m. on Monday, 23rd August 1982 he was hypnotised by Professor XXXX at the University XXXX. During the hypnosis Mr. XXXX recalled that the vehicle was not light in colour but a very dark blue which now seemed to fit in with the similar vehicle seen by
Miss. XXXX and probably similar to that seen by Mr. XXXX He stated that the young boy when being bundled into the car appeared startled and Mr. XXXX was of the impression that the child did not actually know the man. He was also positive that there was someone else in the car particularly in the rear of the vehicle and although he could not be certain he seemed to recollect that the person was in fact wearing a white shawl covering the head or shoulders. Other than these facts we were not taken much further forward with regards to identification of the vehicle or the occupants.
107. As a result of the additional information elicited from Mr. XXXX and especially the exact location (outside the Olivetti building which is opposite the flower stall outside the railway station) further enquiries were made by members of the murder
team at Putney, especially that of interviewing persons working at or who were in the vicinity of the Olivetti building. The result was negative.
108. Although there are many similarities in the statements made by Miss. XXXX & Mr. XXXX and Mr. XXXX every possible angle of enquiry has in fact been completed without success.
109. During the afternoon of Wednesday, 29th July 1981 (the Royal Wedding Day) Mr. XXXX was walking on the Southdowns Way and at 3.15 p.m. he had reached a point in the vicinity of Beacon Hill, Elsted. He there saw an Asian boy aged between 8 and 10 years, of thin build and dressed in a striped shirt,
accompanied by a white male, aged 30 to 40 years and approximately 6′ tall. Mr. XXXX continues his statement by saying that he again saw this couple at approximately 5.15 p.m. the same day when they were walking from Twyford towards the South Downs.
110. As a result a photofit was compiled from the descriptions supplied by Mr. XXXX the white male.
111. Following this report enquiries were made at private and local county schools throughout the area including Petersfield in an effort to establish whether this Asian youth attended any of those schools This was continued by enquiries at hotels, guest houses and similar types of accommodation to ascertain if an Asian family or at least an Asian boy had been a guest at any of those premises. Both these lines of enquiry proved negative.
112. In view of the popularity of the Southdowns Way as a walk for ramblers
and youth organisations, arrangements were made to obtain lists of all persons staying at the youth hostels in the area and also of all rambling clubs to find out if any of the members of those clubs were walking in the vicinity of Beacon Hill during the relevant time. This amounted to several hundred actions but in due course all proved negative.
113. Amongst the statements received from the Metropolitan Police in relation to the enquires prior to the the discovery at Rogate was one from a Mrs. XXXX which also states that on Sunday, 2nd August 1981 at about 6 p.m. she was at Beachlands Fair on the seafront at Hayling Island, Hampshire, with her granddaughter.
Near one of the amusement arcades she saw an Indian boy aged about 8 years. Mrs. XXXX felt there was a considerable similarity between the photograph in the newspaper of the missing Vishal MEHROTRA and the boy she had seen at the fair.
114. As a result of this statement a team was sent to Hayling Island where they obtained details of all known holiday camps, caravan sites, camping sites, holiday chalets, hotels and boarding houses. All these premises were then visited and records checked to see if any Asians had stayed on the island during the relevant period. Members of the staff at these establishments were also spoken to but none of them could recall any Asian families who were guests at those establishments during the latter part of July or early August 1981.
115. Mr. XXXX was in Petersfield on Saturday, 1st August 1981 when at approximately 11 a.m. he saw a young Indian or Pakistani boy near John Menzies newsagents shop. He describes the boy as being some 10 years of age and approximately 4′ in height. Accompanying this boy was a white female of some 18 to 25 years, 5′ 6″ tall, slim build with short blonde hair. Enquiries in the area discovered a XXXXX the news manager of XXXXX shop, who will state that on a Sunday morning somewhere close to the date of the Royal Wedding a young Indian or Pakistani boy was in the shop between 9 a.m. and 10.30 a.m. He describes the boy as 9 to 12 years old, 4′ tall and very slim.
116. In view of those sightings in Petersfield enquiries were made of all hotels and guest houses in the town and this was coupled into the enquiry in relation to the sighting of the boy near Beacon Hill. Subsequently a boy was traced to the Petersfield area who had been adopted by a white family and he was found to be the boy who called at the John Menzies shop. We can therefore eliminate the Petersfield sightings from the enquiry as this boy was not the one subject of the other local sighting.
117. On a Saturday in August 1981 a Mr. XXXX of XXXX was driving his car along the country road between Durford and Nursted. At one point where there is a sharp bend in this road he had to stop to permit a Land Rover to pass in the opposite direction; there he saw an Indian or Pakistani boy aged about 11 years, slim build with black hair walking along the grass verge, followed closely by a 30 to 35-year old white man whose description he supplies.
118. The reason he recalls this particular incident in that he noticed that the boy was distinctly unhappy and that there were tears streaming down his face.
119. Following the report of this particular sighting enquiries were made at all houses in the Durford and Nursted area with particular reference to the Land Rover seen by Mr. XXXX. Despite every person in the area being interviewed no trace was found of the boy described by Mr. XXXX nor was it found that any such lad was lodging at any place in the area during the relevant time.
Goodwood Race Meetings
120. The A272 from Petersfield eastwards is a route used by numerous people to attend race meetings at Goodwood Racecourse. Such a race meeting was being held during the last week of July 1981 at Goodwood and it was therefore thought that persons who attended that race meeting on the Royal Wedding Day may well have passed Alder Copse en route to the racecourse.
121. Initially an audio tape and subsequently a video tape requesting assistance in the Rogate enquiry was made and put into use during the subsequent race meetings in 1982. During the period of these meetings a caravan was situated at the racecourse and a second vehicle at an incident post in the layby opposite Alder Copse. In respect of the latter vehicle signs were once again erected on each side of the A272 approaching the layby requesting persons who had attended the race
meeting at Goodwood during the July 1981 meeting to call at the caravan if they had seen anything which might assist in this enquiry. This particular line of publicity had little or no response from the public with the exception of a statement from a Mr. XXXX which is dealt with in the following paragraphs.
Cortina Estate Car Enquiry
122. Following the further publicity on the anniversary of the Royal Wedding Day, a Mr. XXXX a driver for XXXX contacted the incident post at the layby opposite Alder Copse. Mr. XXXX was uncertain of dates but described to police officers that it was his regular habit of stopping in the layby between 10.50 a.m. and 11.10 a.m. on Saturday mornings. He would then remain for some three quarters of an hour.
123. On either Saturday, 1st or 8th August 1981 whilst Mr. XXXX was in his lorry in the layby he saw a maroon Mk III Cortina Estate car with an ‘L’ registration pull in behind his vehicle. Mr. XXXX will say that he is certain of the type of vehicle because he own a similar model with the same suffix. He noticed that the driver of the Cortina was of Asian appearance and describes him as some 5′ tall, well built with a pot belly. He considers that this man of Asian appearance was in his late forties. Mr. XXXX watched this man for a short while and then saw him drive his car past the lorry and out onto the A272, turning left towards Rogate. As the vehicle passed, Mr. XXXX noticed that there was a grey blanket covering the whole of the rear compartment. He could see that this was covering some item but had no idea what that item was.
124. At this point a Dutch registered motor car drove in to the layby and Mr. XXXX had a conversation with the occupants regarding the route to Dover. Several minutes later he saw the Ford Cortina driven by the Asian person return to the layby from its west end and park just inside the entrance. Mr. XXXX had no clear recollection of the incidents following this but believes that on looking back to the Cortina that the driver was no longer inthe vehicle. Shortly after this Mr. XXXX left the layby and continued on his journey.
125. Following further interviews Mr. XXXX was able to fix the date on which he stopped in the layby and saw the Asian person as being that of Saturday, 8th August 1981. This he was able to do because of the particular article he was reading in a magazine at that time.
126. A check was made with PNC and it was found that there were only 163 maroon Cortina Estate cars with the suffix ‘L’. In view of this small number a proforma was designed and sent to police forces for the necessary enquiries to be made of the registered keepers of those Cortinas. XXXXX. At the date of reporting 15 replies leave yet to be received.
Other Missing Boys
127. On the suggestion of the Assistant Chief Constable, Mr. XXXX a request was made to New Scotland Yard for details of boys aged under 15 years who had been reported missing between 1st January 1981 and 31st July 1981 from the Metropolitan Police District and southern England. A total of 377 such children was supplied by R14 Branch of New Scotland Yard and a proforma was then devised requesting that the record of each such missing person be checked to ascertain if he had been the subject of abduction, molestation or had been subjected to any act of indecency whilst ‘missing’.
128. To date all but 34 of these enquiries have been completed but no useful information has been adduced.
Check on Indecency Offenders
129. Prior to the discovery of the bones at Rogate and during the course of the Metropolitan Police enquiry into the disappearance of Vishal MEHROTRA, a number of persons living in the Putney area who had previous convictions for indecency offences were interviewed in order to eliminate them from the enquiry.
130. Following the discovery of the remains at Rogate in March 1982 the Metropolitan Police continued in the same vein interviewing some fifteen more persons located in or about Putney. In order to augment this enquiry application was made to New Scotland Yard for the records of all indecency offenders in the south of England. These were carefully vetted to eliminate those who for some reason considered not to be possible suspects, leaving some 192 persons to be traced and interviewed.
131. Teams from Sussex with the assistance of Metropolitan officers and officers from other forces throughout the south of England traced a large number of those persons who were then interviewed in order to ensure that they had a sufficiently strong alibi to eliminate them from the enquiry.
132. To date there are still a number of these persons e to be traced. XXXXX
133. With the assistance of the police in Putney full details were obtained of the clothing worn by Vishal MEHROTRA on the day of his disappearance. These details were found to be as follows:
(i) Navy short-sleeved blue T-shirt with thin white horizontal stripes. ‘St Michael’ make;
(ii) Black corduroy trousers – two rear and two front pockets with possible ticket pocket at front. KIKKU make. Legs of trousers taken up 3″;
(iii) ‘Wizfid’ make blue training shoes size 13 child, or size 1 adult, with green coloured toe and heel with four vertical white bars down each side and white laces. The make of the shoe is attached to the tongue and on the side of the heel of both shoes. The shoes were also made in the Philippines;
(iv) Navy blue or could be black and white socks, mid calf or knee length (details vague)
(v) Pair white St. Michael make underpants or pair of white or colour nylon pants with possible figure of Superman thereon. St. Michael’s tab on inside;
(v.i.) Possible white nylon sleeveless vest, made In India with a tab marked ‘Go Gay with Baba/65/BabaS Gentel/Egyptian’.
134. Comment will be made later in this report under the heading of Pathologist’s Report concerning the question of only the upper remains, i.e. bones, of Vishal being found in Alder Copse. From the list of clothing shown above it can be clearly seen that’ numerous items would not rot away completely despite the adverse conditions in Alder Copse.
135. In view of this following the thorough search of the copse itself, the fields nearby, the road verges to the east and west of the copse, nearby woodland and the fox earths were also searched an attempt to locate any item of clothing which could be identified as that of Vishal.
136. The importance of tracing this clothing in obvious in that it would help to assist with the movements of the child and also as to whether he was placed naked in the copse. Certain items were found in or about the copse such as plimsolls and socks and these were later shown to the father, Mr. MEHROTRA, but found not
to be those worn by Vishal on the day of his disappearance.
137. All forces in the United Kingdom were telexed giving a full description of the clothing and this was also passed to the media who by their various channels circulated the description to the public.
138. To date no item of clothing worn by Vishal on the 29th July 1981 has been recovered.
139. As stated earlier, Dr. XXXXX attended Alder Copse and examined the remains in situ. He then took away the recovered bones for further examination, other items found being later conveyed to his laboratory.
140. Dental charts were obtained of Vishal MEHROTRA by the Putney team and following examination of the jaw bones and recovered teeth together with the super-imposed photograph of the skull, Dr XXXXX was satisfied that the bones found in Alder Copse were those of Vishal MEHROTRA.
141. The pathologist makes it clear in his statement that:
(a) None of the lower bones of the body were amongst the bones recovered from Alder Copse.
(b) He found nothing to suggest that the body had been dismembered deliberately after death;
(c) He was unable to determine the cause of death and could find no evidence of any disease in the remains to account for death.
(a) Vishal MEHROTRA was last seen in Upper Richmond Road, Putney by his sister and nanny at approximately 1.40 p.m. on Wednesday, 29th July 1981.
(b) The bones subsequently identified as the remains of Vishal were found in Alder Copse, Nr. Rogate, West Sussex on 21st February 1982;
(c) Only bones from the upper part of the body were recovered from Alder Copse;
(d) The pathologist could find no indication that the body had been dismembered deliberately after death;
(e) The pathologist could find no sign of natural disease in the recovered bones which would have accounted for the death
(f) Vermin could well have been responsible for the removal of many of the lower. bones from the copse;
(g) No clothing belonging to Vishal was found at or near Alder Copse;
(h) The only “connection” between Upper Richmond Road and Alder Copse is the close vicinity of the A3 trunk road;
Therefore, despite extensive enquiries we are unable to say when, how, where or why Vishal died.
Liaison with Other Forces
143. In addition to constant liaison with the Metropolitan Police (Putney), discussions and contact were made as set out below;
(i) Detective Superintendent XXXXX Devon & Cornwall Constabulary re Genette TATE missing since August 1978;
(ii) Detective Chief Inspector XXXXX of Northumberland Constabulary re murder of Susan MAXWELL in August 1982;
(iii) Detective Inspector XXXXX Staffordshire Constabulary re body of Susan MAXWELL found in Uttoxeter;
(iv) Detective Superintendent XXXXX of North Yorkshire Constabulary re murder of David MILNER on 14th August 1982;
(v) Detective Superintendent XXXXX Leicestershire Constabulary re man CORRIGAN in custody awaiting :trial fox the murder of a young boy;
(vi) Detective Inspector XXXXX Hampshire Constabulary re the murder of two women in a park in Aldershot in August 1982,
Liaison with the Father of Vishal
144. Throughout the inquiry the Putney officers have updated Mr. MEHROTRA with aspects of the enquiry and on one occasion he visited the incident room at Chichester.
H. M. Coroner
145. A file will now be submitted to H. M. Coroner for West Sussex in order that an inquest can be held in the near future, which will then permit the release of the remains to Vishal’s relatives.
146. A number of enquiries are still outstanding and on their completion a supplementary report will be submitted.
147. I ask that copies of this report be forwarded to the Assistant Chief Constable, Operations, Sussex Police, and Detective Chief Superintendent XXXXX Metropolitan Police (two copies).
Gerald H, Curd