Child Abduction · Child Sexual Abuse · Court Cases · Elm Guest House · In the News · Investigations · London · Missing · Operation Malswick · Richmond · Soho Connections · Uncategorized · Unsolved crimes

The Disappearance of Martin Allen


Martin Allen – Missing for 36 years

On 5th November 1979, a young schoolboy disappeared in broad daylight on his way home from school in London.  Like Vishal Mehrotra, he seemed to disappear without a trace but, unlike Vishal, he has not been seen or heard of and no body has been found.  It is a mystery and, indeed, a torturous one for Martin’s family.  Following new information given to Operation Midland, a new police investigation has been set up to look again at the disappearance of Martin.  This is a massive opportunity to get some answers and reach new witnesses.  The new Metropolitan Police investigation is called Operation Malswick.

Vishal Mehrotra – disappeared from Putney on 29th July 1981

I’ve conversed with Martin’s brother, Kevin, a number of times and what is clear both from from speaking with him and reading Anton Gill’s book, is that Martin was loved.  He came from a loving, down-to-earth, close-knit family in a very desirable area of London.  The thought that a child can simply disappear in to thin air is hard to comprehend.  There was nothing in Martin’s personal life that would indicate he would have run away.  On the contrary, Martin was a homely boy who spent most of his time surrounded by his family, who was afraid of the dark, who liked to meet up and travel home with his mum after school and whose loyalty to family caused him to divert his trip that day by heading home to pick up some money to then take to his sister-in-law.  The not knowing for 36 years continues to haunt his family and the whole case throws up more questions than answers, especially as new, very odd, information comes to light.  Both his parents, Tom and Eileen, have sadly passed away without ever having any answers.  I have decided to put together the facts of the case, as well as the story of the events surrounding Martin’s disappearance.  Hopefully someone, somewhere, might recall something relevant or offer suggestions for the person identified as a possible abductor.  (Please note that some of the witness quotes used may cause offence.  This is not intentional – I simply feel it important to report the facts accurately).


On a personal level, what jumped out at me more than anything was that, despite a witness’s claim that Martin was seen on a Richmond-bound District Line train, his disappearance warranted a small paragraph in the local Richmond & Twickenham Times newspaper.  Imagine all those commuters that could have been reached had it been given better coverage.  Nowadays families can create their own appeals via social media, but back in 1979 you were solely reliant on the goodwill of press editors and programme makers.  I have included newspaper reports in this post.  They may jog a memory.  If you have information regarding Martin’s disappearance – however small – please contact Operation Malswick and help give some closure to his family.

This blog post will be looking at the simple facts of the case at the time.  I will follow this up with a second post that will cover the later years and mysterious happenings surrounding Martin’s disappearance.

Martin Allen & Family


Martin and his mum, Eileen

Martin Duncan Allen was born on 19th October 1964 in Islington, North London.  He was the youngest child in his family, which consisted of:

  • Tom Allen – Father
  • Eileen – Mother
  • Jeffrey – brother
  • Robert (Bob) – brother
  • Kevin Allen – brother
  • Sue – Sister-in-Law (Bob’s wife)
  • Paul – nephew (son of Bob & Sue)

Tom became a chauffeur for the Ambassador of the Australian High Commission and the family moved to a grace & favour cottage in Reston Place, Kensington.  This sometimes gave them a birds eye view of the rich and powerful – Martin even managed to photograph Margaret Thatcher as well as meet Charles and Diana.


Kevin and Martin

Description of Martin

  • Under 5ft in height – small for his age and much younger looking
  • Brown hair
  • Brace on his teeth
  • Wearing: Dark blue blazer which featured a gold and red quartered shield motif with a scrolled gold and blue motto (see pic below)
  • White shirt
  • Blue and yellow striped tie
  • Grey trousers
  • Blue leather ‘POD’ shoes with a white band
  • Casio F100 black digital watch
  • Gold neck chain with a gold ‘M’ within a circle charm
  • In his pockets he had: yellow underground train pass in a clear plastic holder, keys and £1.30 in change.
  • Schoolbag: Bright yellow bag with ‘Astral’ in black lettering. Inside was a small knitted blue balaclava within a BHS bag, a ‘Clipper’ model railway transformer, lunch box with ‘Kit Kat’ in red lettering on the lid, school books, ‘My Family & Other Animals‘ book and a calculator.
  • Martin was passionate about his bike and had an intricate knowledge of cars.  He also loved photography.

Martin’s friends and associates:

  • Robert Toft)
  • Michael Welsh) Close circle of friends
  • David Herzberg)
  • Paul Stokes
  • Ian Fletcher
  • Martin Shann – Martin’s Saturday job boss
  • James Aldridge
  • David
  • Mr Barnes – Martin’s headmaster
  • Miss Reading – Martin’s teacher

Martin’s Usual Journey – mornings

In the mornings Martin would initially travel with his brother Jeff.  From their home in Hyde Park Gate they would get the Circle Line tube from Gloucester Road to King’s Cross.  Martin would change to the Northern Line to Old Street.  There he attended The Central Foundation School for Boys in Cowper Street.

Martin’s Usual Journey – afternoons

Martin and his friend, Ian Fletcher, would travel the two stops together from Old Street to King’s Cross on the Northern Line.   There – at around 3.50pm – Martin would board a Southbound Piccadilly Line tube (quite often meeting up with his mum, who always sat on the same seat so that he knew where to find her*) and alighted at Gloucester Road – a total of 17 minutes journey.  He’d turn left out of the station and cross the Cromwell Road, then walk up Gloucester Road until he reached Reston Place – a 5 minute walk.  He would normally reach home at approximately 4.20pm.

*On Monday’s Eileen went to a class after work so would not be able to meet up with Martin and would be home later than normal.

Monday 5th November 1979

Martin had decided to stay at Bob and Sue’s home in Holloway that evening as his mum wouldn’t be home until late and he hated being indoors on his own in the dark.  He quite often did this.  His mum gave him a small knitted balaclava to take with him for his nephew, Paul, and he also took a model railway transformer for Bob.  In the afternoon, he should have got the Northbound Piccadilly Line to head to Holloway except he had made a last minute decision and told friends he was returning home first in order to collect £1 he owed Sue.

As normal, Martin and Ian travelled on the Northern Line from Old Street to King’s Cross.  Ian watched Martin walk down the foot tunnel leading to the Southbound Piccadilly Line platform.  It was 3.50pm.  That was the last time Martin would be seen.  There is no evidence he ever arrived home.  His items have never been found.

It’s important to remember that in 1979 not many people had telephones in their own homes, and so when Martin’s parents returned home to find him not there on Monday 5th, they assumed that he had gone to Bob and Sue’s as planned.  Bob and Sue simply assumed Martin was at home.  It wasn’t until Tuesday 6th November 1979, as Eileen dished up the dinner, that it became apparent that Martin was missing – a crucial 24 hours later.


Martin was sighted by 10 witnesses between 3.50pm-4.45pm at three stations.

King’s Cross

Witness 1 (Ian Fletcher) stated that both he and Martin had travelled from Old Street to King’s Cross station as usual, where they parted to go their separate ways.  He last saw Martin heading down the foot tunnel that lead to the Southbound Piccadilly Line.

Witnesses 2 & 3 (James Aldridge & his friend, David).  James states that they went to the same school as Martin and knew him to say “hello” to.  As they descended down the escalator towards the Victoria Line they saw Martin on an escalator heading to the Piccadilly Line.  Neither of these boys were interviewed by the police despite contacting them.

Gloucester Road:

Witness 4 A woman claimed to have seen a boy matching the description of Martin outside Gloucester Road Station, and said that she saw a man throw a boy against a wall. If this was Martin, it suggests he left the station before going back in.


Witness 5 claimed to have seen a boy matching Martin’s description and a man descending in a lift at Gloucester Road station.

Witness 6 (main witness) who was waiting on the Gloucester Road Westbound Piccadilly Line platform (4), claims he saw a boy matching Martin’s description and a man waiting for the same train. They got on a train heading to Rayner’s Lane but when they reached the next stop (Earls Court), they got off.  The boy was described as looking “distressed, uneasy and apprehensive” and didn’t seem to want to leave the train at Earls Court.  It is claimed the suspect prodded him in the back twice and said to him “Don’t try to run“.  He had hold of the boy by the back of his neck.


Earl’s Court:

Outside: Witnesses 7 & 8 claim to have seen a boy matching Martin’s description and a man at both the Earls Court Road and Warwick Road exits.


Inside: Witness 9 claims to have seen a boy matching Martin’s description and a man board a Northbound District Line train.


Witness 10 – a 12 year old boy claims to have seen a boy matching Martin’s description and a man boarding a Richmond-bound District Line train at approximately 4.30pm.  The boy was said to seem “reluctant”.


If this IS the last confirmed sighting of Martin and the suspect, did they alight at any of the following stops?:

  • West Kensington
  • Baron’s Court
  • Hammersmith
  • Ravenscourt Park
  • Stamford Brook
  • Turnham Green
  • Gunnersbury
  • Kew Gardens
  • Richmond

If the emphasis is on the Piccadilly Line (which seems to be a recurring factor in most witness statements) – the following District Line stations had connections back to it:

  • Baron’s Court
  • Hammersmith
  • Turnham Green

Did you use any of the above stations – particularly the bottom three?  Do you remember seeing anything unusual?




The man seen with Martin was described as follows:

  • Aged between 30-40
  • Powerfully built
  • Approximately 6ft
  • Blonde hair
  • Moustache
  • Denim casual suit with a ‘Levi’ or ‘safari’ type jacket
  • Shirt and tie
  • Reasonably well spoken
  • English
  • Described as looking like “a raving poof“.

Please look at the photofit pictures.  Do you recognise this man from the past?  If so, please contact the Metropolitan Police.

Apart from the description of this man, we know little else aside from the fact he abducted a young boy in broad daylight in front of commuters. Is it possible he had offended before?  Did he progress to abduction?  Was he based in another country and therefore able to disappear after the abduction?

The police became pretty certain there was no underworld involvement as even they joined in the hunt in order to get the case solved as quickly as possible to stop the police from constantly snooping around.

Are you an ex-police officer that may have dealt with this man before or since?  Are you someone who encountered this man in your past?  If so, please contact the Metropolitan Police.


Those involved in the investigation:

  • DS Tony Polley
  • PC Henryk Pycz
  • DCI David Veness
  • Commissioner Sir David McNee
  • DI Bill Ilsley
  • Cdr George Rushbrook
  • DS Margaret Goodwin
  • WPC Gwen Underwood
  • PC Kevin Hull
  • PC Ian Wilson
  • PC William Lambeth
  • PC Maurice Maylin
  • PC Ted Larwood

Police initially treated Martin’s disappearance as a runaway due to the high levels of children that did so in London.  It wasn’t until a few days later they began to suspect that things may have taken a sinister turn and eventually concluded that Martin had been abducted outside Gloucester Road station.  As we now know, the initial few hours following a child’s disappearance is crucial but unfortunately, in Martin’s case, this had been lost.

His friends were interviewed but Martin hadn’t confessed to any worries or concerns.  His family felt as if they were on trial at times, such was the line of questioning they faced, but police had the job of investigating everyone in Martin’s life.  His school painted a picture of a boy who, although timid, was a home-loving, funny boy, who wouldn’t run away, who would be submissive to someone claiming to be in authority but who would put up a fight if necessary.



One of the strangest aspects of the case – and one that seems to be glossed over – is the absence of fingerprints in Martin’s room – none whatsoever – not even Martin’s own! He was a 15 year old boy and not one single fingerprint of his could be found.


The main newspapers that cooperated with the investigation and published many articles on Martin’s disappearance included:

  • Kensington & Chelsea News
  • Daily Express
  • The Sun
  • Daily Mail
  • The Evening News

A number of reporters obviously met with detectives over the course of the investigation, and as we know from cases such as Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr, those responsible sometimes like to talk to the press.

Were you a reporter on this case?  Do you have any information you could share with Martin’s family?  Was there someone you had suspicions about at the time?

Further witnesses

Following police appeals, more people came forward:

Witness 11 claims to have seen someone matching the description of the abductor eating in a restaurant in St Helier, Jersey.  This came to nothing.

Witness 12 – two months after Martin disappeared a young boy came across the story in an old newspaper whilst in a barber shop which caused him to contact the police.  He said that shortly after 5th November he had been walking his dog when he noticed some schoolbooks that had been dumped in the porch of an empty shop in a parade opposite Gloucester Road station.  A subsequent search by police found nothing.

Witnesses 13 & 14 were two prostitutes who contacted the police with concerns after a Canadian/German client had expressed an interest in young boys and had let slip certain facts which suggested he may have known something about Martin’s disappearance.  Police questioned him but nothing could be proved.  (He was already known to Canadian authorities and had been in Canada on or before 5th November).

Outcome of the investigation

Despite the fruitless hunt to find Martin or discover what happened to him, as a result of the investigation, four suspected child abusers were caught.  Sadly for Martin’s family, they are no further forward in knowing what happened to Martin on 5th November 1979. More recent press coverage has thrown up more theories and questions, as well as some very surprising events but I will cover these in a follow-up post.

Original newspaper articles










Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.  I’d be so grateful if you would reblog to  help spread the word on Martin’s case.

Part two – coming soon!


Martin Allen is Missing – Anton Gill – CORGI Books – ISBN 0-552-12466-4 (no longer in print)

26 thoughts on “The Disappearance of Martin Allen

  1. Detective-sergeant Tony Polly was in charge of the control room set up in Kensington Police Station at the time of the first investigation. He saw all the information coming in, and all the witness statements.

    But at the end, he said he thought that Martin and the man had gone to a flat, ‘near Earls Court Station’. So despite the very good sighting of a boy who looked like Martin, getting onto a Richmond train, they thought that it must have been a mistake.

    Why would they leave the front of the station, start walking, end up at the back of the station, only to re-enter the station, and get onto another train? They could have got on the Richmond train without leaving the station !


      1. There was, and still is, a police phone box outside the front of Earls Court Station where they were seen leaving the station. We know they did not turn left and walk towards Kensington Police Station, and if the man was posing as a policeman Martin would have known he could use the police phone. It stands out like a tardis so you couldn’t miss it.


  2. I’ve previously had discussions with the David (@approveds) commenting above, who is still managing to give those MI6 operatives who he fears want to kill him the slip…

    ‘Banging one’s head against a thick brick wall’ doesn’t come close to describing the pointlessness of arguing with those holding an ‘idée fixe’ so rather than go through it all again I’ll just mention the following:

    – the Met police recently ‘discovered’ some CCTV footage relating to the death of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. The possibility of a witness description being wrong – in part or whole – is highlighted by this from the BBC’s Tom Symonds:

    “Interesting that the Met CCTV of the potential witness in Lawrence case has dark hair, while the EFIT (first released 2013) has light hair”

    So from light to dark – just like that! Imagine someone thinking: ‘My God, that description sounds like Dick Dastardly! He used to wear a jacket like that… I ought to call the police… oh, hang on, Dick’s hair is really dark so it can’t be him as they are looking for someone with light hair. I won’t bother.’

    For this reason it’s maybe worth mentioning that (a) the boy described as being ‘abducted’ by a load of witnesses who stood around and allowed it to happen may not have been Martin Allen at all, and (b) even if it WAS Martin Allen the description of the ‘abductor’ given long after the event may be wrong in whole or in part.


  3. @Bandini. You say, ‘description of the ‘abductor’ given long after the event may be wrong in whole or in part’. In fact, you are probably right about that. The witnesses all gave similar descriptions three weeks after the event.
    Six main witnesses and other witnesses from other areas. Where you are right, is that the description may be wrong in part. That is a problem that they are aware of. But along with the descriptions are the locations that they were seen.


  4. First of all I wish to thank you for trying to bring attention to this case but I’d like to make a point of correction as to the events of the time leading up to Martins disappearance – we both bunked off the final lesson and left the schools premises approx 2,45pm that afternoon – I walked Martin to the Old Street subway and then I went on to the bus stop to catch the 76 bus home – I know this is incidental and might not help with any witnesses after so many years but it might be useful.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Dave – That timing is very important. Do you happen to know if Martin spent any money at lunch time?
    IAN FLETCHER said he travelled with Martin to Kings Cross, and James Aldridge saw him go down the escalator, and walk towards the Piccadilly line platform.


    1. I’m afraid I don’t have any memory of the lunchtime of that day nor do I recall if he said he was going to his brothers – I can only assume he did go home first of all as that would explain the hour difference from the time he and I left school at around 2.45pm to the time Ian Fletcher last saw him at 3.50pm – if there is anything else I can help you with then please let me know,

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Dave – Thank you for the reply. The timing is very important as Ian Fletcher said he travelled with Martin from Old Street to Kings Cross, reaching Kings Cross at 3.50pm.
        So Martin must have waited at Old Street Station for the others to leave school at 3-30.


  6. Possibly but it probably means that Martin didn’t go home to get the £1 for Sue as I think the duration of our lessons were 40 minutes so as Martin and I bunked off the last lesson we left the premises at around 2.50pm so I don’t think he would have been able to go home and back by 3.30pm, which asks the question as to why he waited around to then to catch the train.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for all this information Dave. Any small amount of info like this may seemingly look irrelevant but it’s actually very relevant. I can amend my blog post as I want it to be an accurate reflection of the facts. Can I ask, did Martin ever mention any problems he was having or new friends he had made outside of school? Also, what was Martin like at school – outgoing, reserved, risk-taker, cheeky, quiet? An idea of his personality whilst he was away from home would help. If you’d prefer, you can email me this info. Let me know and I’ll give you my email address if it’s not already on the blog. Thanks once again.


    2. Dave – Martin had £1-30 on him in the morning. If he waited at Old Street Station for over half an hour it looks as if, at that point, he was not planning on going to Gloucester Road, his home stop, to collect money.
      Was there a place around the station that was popular with boys from your school to buy food etc. Like a Wimpy Bar, or confectionary shop, chip shop etc?


  7. If it doesnt cause any inconvenience would you mind if we continued this by email? – there is something else regarding a sighting of Martin several years after his disappearance but I was unable to verify this for myself – I couldn’t find your email address on the blog.


  8. If it doesnt cause any inconvenience would you mind if we continued this by email? – there is something else regarding a sighting of Martin several years after his disappearance but I was unable to verify this for myself – I couldn’t find your email address on the blog.


  9. Has there been any confirmation or followup regarding the person found in Liverpool with a shrine to Martin in their house in the late 90s. It is still on the Wikipedia entry. Would be interesting to see where that line of enquiry went.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that was a totally false lead unless the person knew something about Gloucester Road Station on the night Martin disappeared. Many people must have used that station but it seems that no one came forward with information that would have been very helpful in finding the crime scene.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s