On 14 February 1962 two young friends from Hayes were playing on waste ground when they were approached by a strange man who claimed to be a private eye. One of the boys, Billy, walked off with the man and subsequently disappeared. The search for Billy took police as far as Southampton, Oldham and Dublin but Billy’s body was found exactly a month later in the Grand Union Canal in Hayes. A policeman at the scene said that marks had been found on Billy’s body. However, the coroner recorded an open verdict.
To make matters worse, the Daily Mirror had offered a reward for any information and was approached by two hoaxers.
I’ve transcribed all the newspaper articles from The Times.
Friday 16 February 1962: “MISSING BOY WENT OFF WITH MAN”
Police with tracker dogs searched the area around Hayes, Middlesex, yesterday for William Holloway, aged 10, of Wheatley Crescent, Hayes, who as been missing since Wednesday evening. Detectives have been told that the boy was last seen in Hayes with a man aged about 30. The police searched water-filled gravel pits, factory areas and fields, and questioned passengers leaving trains at Hayes station.
Mr E Verity, of North Road, Hayes, father of Billy’s friend, John Verity, said the two boys were playing on waste ground on Wednesday evening when a man they thought was a policeman asked them for their names and addresses. “My son told me that after they had given their names and addresses Billy went off with the man. Jackie followed them for about half a mile and then returned home“.
Saturday 17 February 1962: MISSING BOY’S FRIEND HELPS IN SEARCH
Jackie Verity, the young friend of Billy Holloway, aged 10, who disappeared near his home in Hayes, Middlesex on Wednesday night, toured the Hayes area in a police car yesterday.
Jackie, who was playing with the missing boy shortly before he disappeared with a man, later spent nearly three hours at Hayes police station and was again interviewed by Detective-superintendent Roland Brickett, who is in charge of the search.
Monday 19 February 1962: MISSING BOY HOAX CLAIM (more on the trial at the end of this post)
Two men who were alleged to have claimed that they could give information about the missing boy, William Holloway, of Hayes, Middlesex, were remanded in custody for a week by Mr Frank Powell, the Clerkenwell Magistrate, on Saturday on a charge of attempting to obtain £2,000 from the Daily Mirror Ltd, by means of a false pretence and with intent to defraud on February 16.
“I am well known in Fleet Street as a hoaxer and this was a complete hoak from start to finish“, one of them declared. “Unfortunately, the police were called in“. He was Malcolm Scott-Warner, aged 28, a driver of Golborne Road, North Kensington, W, who appeared with Kenneth Brian Frosdick, aged 23, a labourer, of the same address.
Scott-Warner said to Mr Powell: “One of the reporters challenged me last week to pull a fast one over on them“.
Detective-inspector L. Mountford of Scotland Yard, said that in answer to a telephone call from the Daily Mirror he went to the Horseshoe Hotel in Tottenham Court Road on Friday with a copy of the day’s Daily Mirror and a bundle of imitation money. Frosdick approached him.
He asked Frosdick: “Is it to do with the missing boy, Billy Holloway?” and Frosdick replied: “I don’t know where he is. The big man will tell you that“.
Detective-Inspector Mountford said that at Tottenham Court Road police station, where he was detained, Scott-Warner said: “I sent the message to the Mirror asking for £2,000“. Asked if he knew where the boy was, he said: “No, I have had nothing to do with his disappearance“.
Thursday 22 February 1962
Thursday 15 March 1962: BODY OF BOY FOUND IN CANAL
The body of Billy Holloway, aged 10, of Wheatley Crescent, Hayes, Middlesex, was recovered from a canal yesterday. He had been missing for a month.
After a post-mortem examination a senior police officer said: “There were certain marks on the body. We cannot at this stage rule out foul play. It may have been an accident“. The marks are to be investigated by microscopic tests, which are likely to take several days to complete.
A frogman recovered the boy’s body from the Grand Union Canal at Hayes. Police said it had been in the water for a long time.
The body was disturbed by a tug as it passed along the canal.
Saturday 17th March 1962: INQUEST ADJOURNED
The inquest on Billy Holloway was opened at Ealing yesterday and adjourned after 3 minutes until April 6. The coroner, Dr Broadbridge, said that many inquiries had still to be made.
Saturday 7th April 1962: OPEN VERDICT ON WOLF CUB
A jury at an inquest at Ealing yesterday returned an open verdict on Billy Holloway, aged 10, a Wolf Cub, whose body was found in the Grand Union Canal on March 14.
The boy, who lived at Wheatley Crescent, Hayes, Middlesex, had been missing since February 14, and yesterday his friend, Jackie Verity, aged 11, described how he had last seen him talking to a man.
Jackie said that he and Billy were breaking milk bottles against a wall when the man, who said he was a “private eye“, asked them for their names and addresses. The man then told Jackie to go home. “I turned round to look back“, Jackie said. “They were moving away. Billy was walking at the side of the man“. He thought they were going to the police station.
Jackie’s father, Mr Alfred Verity, of North Avenue, Hayes, said that his son said nothing about what had happened when he arrived home. Later, Jackie told about breaking bottles and a “private eye” questioning them.
Dr William Evans, pathologist, said that death was due to drowning, and the body had been in the canal about a month. There was nothing to suggest any violence during life.
Detective-superintendent R. Brickett said that no evidence had been found that would leave to positive identification of the man referred to by Jackie Verity.
THE HOAX TRIAL
Monday 26 February 1962: BAIL REFUSED TO MEN ON PRETENCES CHARGE
Two men were further remanded in custody until March 5 when they appeared at Clerkenwell Magistrates’ Court on Saturday charged with attempting to obtain £2,000 from the Daily Mirror by means of false pretence and with intent to defraud. Bail was refused. They were alleged to have pretended to have information about the missing wolf cub, William Holloway. The men were Malcolm Scott-Warner, aged 28, driver, and Kenneth Brian Frosdick, aged 23, labourer, both of Golborne Road, North Kensington.
Tuesday 6 March 1962: TWO FOR TRAIL ON FALSE PRETENCE CHARGE
Two men who had claimed to have information about the whereabouts of a missing wolf cub, William Holloway, were arrested in a Tottenham Court Road hotel after telephoning a newspaper, said Mr D M O’Shea, for the prosecution, at Clerkenwell Magistrates’ Court yesterday. Appearing on remand, charged with attempting to obtain £2,000 from the Daily Mirror by false pretences, were Malcolm Scott-Warner, aged 28, lorry driver of Golborne Road, North Kensington, and Kenneth Brian Frosdick, aged 23, a labourer, of the same address. They were committed for trial to London Sessions. Both pleaded Not Guilty. Bail was refused.
Mr O’Shea said that on February 16 Scott-Warner telephoned the newspaper office, and proposed that someone should go to the hotel with £2,000 in cash. He laid down stipulations as to how the representative should make his identification possible. A message was passed by the paper to the police, and Detective Inspector Leonard Mountford entered the hotel disguised as the journalist. Frosdick was arrested by Scott-Warner was not found. Scott-Warner telephoned the newspaper again, and later was arrested after some difficulty.
Tuesday 20 March 1962: GAOL FOR ATTEMPT TO DEFRAUD PAPER
Malcolm Scott-Warner, aged 28, driver, was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment when he was found Guilty at London Sessions yesterday of attempting to obtain, by false pretences with intent to defraud, £2,000 from the Daily Mirror.
Kenneth Brian Frosdick, aged 23, labourer, who appeared with Scott-Warner was found Not Guilty and discharged.
Sentencing Scott-Warner, who had pleaded Guilty, Mr O S Macleav, the deputy chairman, said, “This is a serious offence. One of the deplorable features is that it was trying to get cash out of a terrible happening – the disappearance of this small boy. It shows a very horrible and mean mind”.
At a previous hearing the court was told that someone telephoned the Daily Mirror on February 16 and asked: “Are you interested in the missing boy, Billy Holloway”, and then suggested a reporter should take £2,000 to an hotel in exchange for information about the boy.
Mr F F H Biggens, for Scott-Warner, said yesterday that although Scott-Warner had spoken over the telephone in terms of £2,000 he had really been in hope that if he was lucky enough to see someone from the paper he might “earn a fiver or a tenner out of it”.
“It is quite obvious that, in fact, no sum of money would have passed unless he could substantiate what he was saying about this matter”, he said.
It seems that Scott-Warner was already known to the authorities as he was embroiled in an earlier case:
21 November 1958: YOUTH SENT TO PRISON FOR TWO YEARS ON SECRETS CHARGES