October 21, 2020

Anguish of father whose son’s murder remains unsolved

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Media captionVishal Mehrotra: Father pleads for fresh inquiry into son’s murder

The father of an eight-year-old boy murdered almost 39 years ago is pleading with police to re-open the case following a BBC investigation.

Vishal Mehrotra vanished from west London in 1981 and his remains were found seven months later.

His father Vishambar said information obtained by the BBC, including interviews with convicted paedophiles, was a “major revelation”.

Sussex Police said they currently had no plans to re-investigate.

Vishal went missing on the day of the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer – 29 July 1981. He and his family had been in central London watching the parade and were on their way home to Putney when he disappeared.

Image caption Vishal Mehrotra’s disappearance made front page news headlines

His remains were found by pigeon shooters the following year in remote marshland at a farm in Rogate, near the Hampshire-West Sussex border.

At an inquest into his death in 1983 an open verdict was recorded but West Sussex Coroner Mark Calvert Lee said foul play was likely.

Sussex Police confirmed three men who were jailed for sexual abuse of children at a school in the south east of England were questioned in 2019 about Vishal’s murder. One of those men revealed he wrote a confidential report in 1983 about caring for Asian children in the UK which he titled “Vishal”.

Despite this, Sussex Police said they had no plans on making any more inquiries.

Image caption Vishambar Mehrotra says information uncovered by the BBC could help find his son’s killer almost 40 years on

Vishambar Mehrotra asked: “Why would my son’s name appear on a document more or less contemporaneously written by a paedophile which is in the possession of the police and the police came to the conclusion that there is nothing more to investigate?”

Sussex Police visited Mr Mehrotra two weeks ago to tell him they interviewed the men last year in connection with his son’s murder.

They told him there were no significant developments and did not disclose details about the document titled “Vishal”.

Mr Mehrotra added: “I’m utterly amazed and shocked. My conclusion is simple; they are potentially trying to brush this under the carpet as far as possible – and it started 38 years ago. I think they’re just a bit too tired of it.”

In response Sussex Police say they did not consider any of the content of the 2019 information as a “major revelation”.

The force said it would not disclose or confirm the content of the information considered last year but said the inquiries officers carried out in relation to it were thorough.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Sussex Police say it has no intention to re-open the investigation into Vishal’s death

A spokesman said: “The case remains unresolved and like all such cases is subject of regular assessment every two years to establish if there are any potential new lines of inquiry.

“Even after nearly 40 years, we will continue to take any opportunity to pursue any new lines of inquiry that might lead to justice being obtained for Vishal and his family.”

Two out of three men questioned by police over Vishal’s murder said paedophile rings were operating at the time of his disappearance.

The author of the report titled “Vishal”, interviewed by the BBC, said the document focused on a boy he visited in Southall, West London, a young teenage child he said he was attracted to.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Vishal and his family were making their way home from watching the Royal Wedding procession in central London when he disappeared

The pensioner, who had been convicted of being part of a paedophile sex ring, also revealed he sexually abused two boys of Indian heritage while working at a school for disadvantaged children in the 1980s.

He said he was unable to remember exactly where he was on the day of the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana, the day Vishal went missing.

He repeatedly stressed he had absolutely nothing to do with the murder of Vishal Mehrotra and regretted naming his private document “Vishal”.

Kevin Moore, a former detective chief superintendent with Sussex Police, oversaw the case review of Vishal’s murder in 2005. He said the new information identified by the BBC should trigger a fresh look at the whole case and a full forensic re-investigation.

He said: “There are particular lines of inquiry which come out of what you’ve described which could actually corroborate some of what’s being said, and indeed may open up looking at other potential individuals who could also have been involved.”

Sussex Police said their inquiries in 2019 included establishing whether or not some information they held about the case might have some connection to the unresolved murder of Vishal. They said no such connection was found.

A spokesman added that they would like to hear from anyone with any further information, quoting “Operation Moor”.

He said: “All unresolved murders are subject to regular assessment every two years. If there is no further action which can be taken at that time, the case is deferred.

“Unresolved cases on the deferred list can be reviewed at any time if new information emerges.”