SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL….
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
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 was son of Antonio and Louise Sidoli – an Italian family that now lived in Kentish Town, North London. Enrico had a nervous tic and was regularly taunted by his peers at school 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 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 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.
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?
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 28th January 1977 Antonio Sidoli gave an interview to The Times newspaper in which he claimed there had been a cover up in the hunt for Enrico’s killer.
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.
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”.