Investigations · London · Uncategorized · Unsolved crimes

THE DEATH OF ENRICO SIDOLI

Before I begin, I must advise that this blog has been updated (July 2017) following a Metropolitan Police cold-case review.  The Met have made a fresh appeal for witnesses and provided further photographs which I have included, along with contact details. 
Secondly, a so-called ‘journalist’ – Lynsey Clarke – from The Scum decided to smatter her report on the appeal by lifting some of this blog post and passing it off as her own research.  
Just to reiterate, Lynsey: Scum and Fail hacks ARE NOT WELCOME HERE. #eclipsethesun

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SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL….

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It was the summer of 1976 and the UK was in the throes of its hottest ever summer heatwave since records began.  As rivers ran dry and reservoirs became seriously low, a Minister for Drought was appointed (Dennis Howell) and a decision was taken to ration water across the UK.  At Parliament Hill in Kentish Town, London, over 1,000 people of all ages headed to the Lido to enjoy cooling off in the unheated water.

Parliament Hill Lido – A History

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Parliament Hill Lido was designed by Harry Rowbotham and TL Smithson of London County Council, and costing over £34,000, it was the most expensive Lido London County Council had built. Situated at Parliament Hill Fields at Hampstead Heath next to Gospel Oak tube station, the unheated Lido was finally opened on 20th August 1938.  It is now owned by the Corporation of London and aside from some minor internal changes, it remains an example of Art Deco architecture and became a Grade II Listed building in 1999.

Enrico Sidoli

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(From left to right): Enrico, his sister Elizabeth, brother John, mother Louise and sister Iolanda.

Enrico was son of Antonio and Louise Sidoli – an Italian family living in Kentish Town, North London.  Enrico had a nervous tic and was regularly taunted by his peers at school  and who gave him the nickname “Noddy” (after the book character whose head would nod backwards and forwards).  Enrico lived in a fantasy world in which he was a DJ and he talked incessantly.  His mother, Louise, said:

You could never beat Enrico for talking.  He would have been very good at selling things in the market.

Unfortunately, Enrico’s mannerisms and obvious issues set him apart from his peers.

8th July 1976 – At the Lido

On a hot day in July, 15 year old Enrico headed to the Lido.  It was packed with around 1,000 other bathers making use of the free facilities to cool down from the summer heat.  As lifeguards looked on, three youths believed to be around Enrico’s age, beat Enrico before holding him under the water until he stopped struggling.  Not one person among the thousand there paid any attention to his screams and pleas for help during the severe beating.  Enrico was eventually dragged from the pool by lifeguards at around 14:30pm and he was still alive.  He was rushed to the Royal Free Hospital at Hampstead, where he lay in a coma for 11 days before he died from a massive heart attack on 19th July 1976.

Enrico’s Funeral

Enrico’s funeral was held on Tuesday 3rd August 1976.  Among the floral tributes included a teddy bear made from white Chrysanthemums sent from the children at Enrico’s school and a wreath from Scotland Yard.  Family from Italy, and Enrico’s older sister in Australia, flew to England to attend.

The Investigation

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Detective Chief Inspector Harry Clement of Scotland Yard’s Flying Squad was tasked with investigating the brutal death of Enrico.  Unfortunately it became immediately clear this was not going to be straightforward as they hit a wall of silence.  Out of the thousand people at the Lido that day, not one person would talk despite the pool being jammed and the surrounding area full of people.  DCI Clement said:

Some of our people talked to one 15 year old girl and decided her parents should be present.  When they went to her house the parents pretended they were not home, then said the girl was not there, then said she was sick and could not speak.

We know there are people who saw this killing of a helpless boy and who could identify the killers.  We appeal to them to come forward.

Frustrated at the lack of witnesses coming forward, DCI Clement spoke at the funeral and said:

People cannot be so sick as to ignore the grief that has been shown here.  There is nothing to be proud about in concealing the identities of ruffians who killed a helpless lad.  It makes me sick to think that despicable yobs are being shielded from the law.

Enrico’s father, Antonio, said:

My son was killed in front of 1,000 people.  If they don’t want to come forward, what can I do?

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Coroner’s Inquest

The inquest in to Enrico’s murder was held on 27th January 1977 at St Pancras.  One young witness gave the following evidence about what happened that fateful day at the Lido.  She said she saw:

… a well-built boy with dark hair shout across to another dark-haired boy, who shouted something back.  The first boy, and another, ran across and hit Enrico, who fell into the pool.

They jumped in and sat on him, and held him under, and a short blonde-haired boy who was with them just stood and laughed.  One sat on him, while the other came up for breath.  The boy managed to get to the top but they put him under and he went right down to the bottom.

The girl also went on to claim that she had since picked out one of the boys at an identity parade.  However, DCI Henry Clement told the coroner that after witnesses failed to identify a chief suspect, the Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to prosecute.

The suspect, who was “educationally subnormal”, had made conflicting statements to the police in four interviews before admitting being involved in the incident.  But three witnesses had failed to pick him out at an identity parade.

In his final statement, the youth allegedly said:

I did it.  I didn’t mean to hurt the boy.  It was an accident.  I was pretending to push people, but not actually doing it.  I pretended to push him but he lost his balance and we both fell and were struggling to get to the surface.

He had hold of my arm and wouldn’t let it go, and we were struggling, but he slowly let go of the grip and slid to the bottom.  I got scared, got out and got dressed.

The Pathologist, Dr Hugh Johnson, concluded that Enrico’s death was due to irreversible brain damage.  The coroner recorded the verdict of ‘manslaughter by persons unknown’.

According to reports, after the hearing Enrico’s father criticised the investigation and claimed there was an ongoing cover up.

In subsequent articles, Enrico’s family also claim that his body was covered in bruising.

Background

In the 1970s, the London County Council had become the Greater London Council (GLC) and it was forced to make budget cuts as the country hit a recession.  The Lido began to run in to disrepair and complaints began in to the rundown nature of the facility and the demotivated staff, who seemed unwilling to tackle the increasing unruly behaviour of some of the visitors.  Outside the Lido, a newspaper was quoted as saying that Kentish Town was teeming with teenage gangs who prey on younger children.  Local people were not surprised at the “complete wall of silence” around Enrico’s murder, including 16 year old Eva Britton who said:

All the kids know what would happen if they speak up.  If their names got out they would be beaten up.

A small breakthrough

By mid-August, Scotland Yard was frustrated that not one single witness would come forward but then a newspaper offered a monetary reward for anyone with information on the attack on Enrico.  People began to come forward and the police were able to use information provided to produce a sketch of the leader of the youths who beat Enrico, whom they described as “a swaggering bully in his teens”.  The sketch contained great details, from the t-shirts and boots he wore, even down to the badges he wore on his top. Descriptions of his two accomplices were less detailed but police felt that the three were still believed to be in the Kentish Town area.

Although DCI Clement admitted there was still some reticence, he said:

At long last we are reaching them.  They are coming in to the police station at Kentish Town and asking ‘What can we do to help’?  They are stopping police in the street and asking for details of the youths we want to interview and then going off to look for them.  The cooperation is wonderful.  It is so different from what it was a few weeks ago.

That optimism seemed short-lived. Even though the police began arresting a number of youths for questioning, they never seemed to get anywhere. Sadly the case remains unsolved to this day.

What has happened since?

On 4th July 1977, a year after Enrico’s murder, ITV’s World in Action reconstructed the events surrounding his murder with the help of a 15 year old girl who witnessed the attack.

In August 1986, a British soldier serving in Germany was interviewed in connection with Enrico’s death by a senior detective.  The file was sent to the DPP.  Nothing further happened.

On 9th November 2006, the Metropolitan Police received a Freedom of Information request regarding the investigation in to the death of Enrico.  This request was refused on the grounds of being “fully exempt”.

In July 2016, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Enrico’s death, a reward of £5,000 was offered for any information that helped to solve the case.

Cold Case Review:

 

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Description: Youth, aged about 17, 5ft 8″ tall, of Mediterranean appearance, wearing jeans and a denim jacket. “A swaggering bully”.

In July 2017, and following a cold case review, the Metropolitan Police put out a fresh appeal to try and solve the case of who killed Enrico.  They also provided a copy of the original e-fit and issued a photograph of a swimmer whom they wish to speak to in connection with Enrico’s murder.  There is a £40,000 reward for information to solve the case.

  DO YOU RECOGNISE THIS SWIMMER?

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Were you there on that fateful afternoon?  Do you know someone who was and who saw what happened? Are you a journalist who worked on the local newspaper? Did you live locally and know who killed Enrico?

IF SO, please contact the Met’s Specialist Case Investigation Team on:

  • Phone: 020 7230 7963;
  • Email: EnricoSidoliAppeal@police.uk
  • Twitter: @MetCC
  • Crimestoppers (anonymous): 0800 555 111

The smallest piece of information could make a lot of difference.

Articles:

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References:

Met Police Appeal

Unsolved Murders

Wikipedia – Parliament Hill Lido

Additional Notes on Parliament Hill Lido – Feb 2005

Wikipedia – UK Recession 1970s

Wikipedia – 1976 UK Summer Heatwave

FoI Response from Met Police

ITN Source – WIA: The Very Public Death of Enrico Sidoli

North Devon Journal: Harry Clements: 20/10/2011

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15 thoughts on “THE DEATH OF ENRICO SIDOLI

  1. Why haven’t any of the articles given details of the original description of the main attacker. It says that a police sketch of the main attacker was created at the time, why can’t this be found anywhere on the internet?

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  2. Looking at all of the additional newspaper cuttings and evidence that you have presented it feels like the place this cold case investigation needs to start is with the boy interviewed in September 1976 who admitted to being involved. The 15 year old girl who helped with the world in action reconstruction and the soldier interviewed in 1986 must hold a wealth of information. A quick search of YouTube shows that there are many episodes of World In Action available to watch on there, however this list of episodes sadly does not include the 1977 episode titled “The very public death of Enrico Sidoli”. The lead investigator needs to get that episode onto YouTube. Everything that can be done to either help people to remember details or have their conscience pricked to make them come forward needs to be done.

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    1. I agree – it is imperative that the WIA programme is made available to assist with this latest appeal for information. Any reconstruction will go further to jog memories than any written word could – especially something made so near the time of Enrico’s death. There was also a similar programme made on the disappearance of Martin Allen but that doesn’t appear online either. It’s another one that is just as important to be seen in my opinion. Thanks for your comments, by the way. I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about this case for a few years so it’s good to see a fresh appeal and others interest in it.

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      1. I was really interested in your Martin Allen post. I have known about this case for many years. I find it very upsetting and concerning that a child vanished into thin air in such a public place.

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      2. Yes, it’s very frustrating that people have consigned Martin’s existence to history. Having spoken with his fantastic brother, I will never stop raising Martin’s name.

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  3. One interesting point raised in one of the articles is the mention of this Kentish Town Cowboys gang who were rumoured t be involved in the death of Enrico. Surely police working at the time would have intelligence on these gang members

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    1. Yes, I agree. I’m concerned that the lack of arrests and dealings with this gang may indicate some sort of infiltration. It is very concerning that over 1000 people can see a child killed and do and say absolutely nothing about it!

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  4. I completely agree. A more recent article actually has two very interesting pieces of information. Firstly, that the lead detective at the time said they knew exactly who did this but couldn’t do anything and secondly a statement by Enrico’s sister in which she said that the black and white picture of the mystery swimmer is somebody who they think is called atony. the sun article said that the photofit of the lead attacker was somebody they thought was called Tony. The article in the Camden new journal – http://camdennewjournal.com/article/who-is-this-man-police-ask-in-bid-to-solve-1976-lido-mystery makes me think that the police believe the mystery swimmer is the attacker, and they are looking for people to come forward with names and to confirm the fact. Shocked that almost a month after the fresh investigation started there has been no arrests.

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  5. Yes indeed. There is a wealth of evidence and historic eye witness statements. A commentator on the daily mail online commented on the article about the murder stating that he knew Enrico from his journey to school, he also said he recognises the picture of the “mystery swimmer” as somebody he used to see around in the 70s in Kentish Town – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4670316/Appeal-man-photo-come-forward-lido-death.html?offset=0&max=100&jumpTo=comment-221087250 if this comment is true it goes to prove how recognisable this person is from the picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes, I see. Interesting comment. I know there were organised crime gangs in the area at that time so I wonder if that may go some way to explaining the failure to produce any credible witnesses – fear of repercussions.

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