Martin Allen: Missing since 5th November 1979

article-1237974-07AFFF8E000005DC-952_224x356News of the World, 11th November 1979

Police last night launched a hunt for a schoolboy missing from his home for nearly a week.
Fifteen-year-old Martin Allen, whose father is chauffeur to the Australian High Commissioner, was last seen going up an escalator at Kings Cross Tube station, London, on Monday.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We are very concerned for his safety.
Martin, who looks four or five years younger than his age left the Central Foundation School, Old Street, City, to go to his married brother’s home in Holloway, North London.
At Kings Cross he told a school friend he was going first to his home at Hyde Park Gate, South Kensington, to get some money.
But he has not been seen since.
“I’m absolutely frantic,” said his 51-year-old mother Eileen. “If he does not want to come home, that’s all right—but we want to now he is OK.
Scotland Yard described Martin as 4ft 10on [sic] tall, slim with shortish brown hair, wearing a brace on his teeth and school uniform.

The Guardian, 9th December 1979

artists1News of the World, 9th December 1979

Police searching for a 15-year-old boy they fear is being held prisoner have issued a photofit of a man they wish to question.
And last night Detective Chief Inspector Dave Veness, who is leading the hunt, said : “I believe I am dealing with an abduction of a boy by a man with a violent or sexual motive.”
The missing boy is Martin Allen, son of the chauffeur to the Australian High Commissioner.
Now a special squad of detectives is searching houses and flats in Earl’s Court, London after a fresh sighting of the boy.
A 20-year-old man who lives in West London has told the police that at 4.15 p.m. on November 5 he saw a man standing with his arm around a boy’s shoulders at Gloucester Road Tube station.
The boy, who strongly resembled Martin, looked anxious.
The man took the youngster on to a Piccadilly Line train and got off at the next stop, Earls Court.
The boy appeared reluctant to leave the train until the man prodded him in the back and said: “Don’t try to run”.
The witness described the man as 6ft tall in his 30s, well built, with very blonde hair and moustache.
He was wearing a denim jacket and trousers.
The last know sighting of Martin was at 3.30 p.m. on that day at King’s Cross.
A school pal left him heading for the Piccadilly Line which would have taken him to Gloucester Road Station, a five-minute walk from his home in Hyde Park Gate.
Martin who is slim, 5ft tall with dark brown hair, was wearing a black school uniform blazer with badge and a navy and yellow tie. He carried a bright yellow bag, marked “Astral.”

Sunday Express, 27th December 1981

Five hundred children at two Christmas parties enjoyed the good will and gifts of a traditional Santa Claus. Not one guessed the secret sadness behind the white beard and seasonal smile.
For dressed in the red cloak was 56-year-old Mr Thomas Allen, whose teenage son, Martin, was apparently kidnapped more than two years ago.
Despite his sadness, Mr Allen played Father Christmas for an annual party at Australia House, where he works as a chauffeur, and at a North London primary school in Tufnell Park where his wife, Eileen, is as secretary.
“Martin is in my mind all the time and it is on occasions like Christmas that the memories are most vivid,” said Mr Allen.
“How could I not be sad at those parties when I see so many other happy children?
“II thought of Martin … and there was a tear or two.
“But I am convinced of one thing. Not one of those children thought that I was anything but happy.
“My one hope is that Martin will be found and will be able to attend one of the Christmas parties.”
Martin, then 15, was last see on Guy Fawkes Night in 1979 being gripped tightly by a man aged between 30 and 40, about 6ft tall, and with blond hair, at Gloucester Road Tube station in London. He was on his way home from school.
Several people have told police they heard the man tell the boy “Don’t try to run.”
Martin was carrying a yellow sports bag with the trade name Astral on the side.
Intensive police investigations in Britain and other countries have failed to find any trace of Martin, but Mr and Mrs Allen, their family and friends have not given up hope.
Mr Allen said : “I think our son was kidnapped by a gang of child pornographers.
“I think he was spirited away to some overseas country and forced to take part in films.”
Police have sent European and other overseas police forces photographs of Martin so these can be compared with seized child pornography films.
Officers on the case have not ruled out a link between Martin’s disappearance and that of eight-year-old Vishal Mehrotra who went missing near his home in Putney after returning from watching the Royal Wedding near St Paul’s. Vishal is still lost.

Sunday Express, 7th March 1982

A shiver of fear ran through members of the Allen family when they heard the news. The bones of a young boy had been found on a lonely stretch of farm land.
And as they read the story in their newspapers it brought to the surface the agony of uncertainty that has haunted them for more than two years.
For since Guy Fawkes night of 1979 Mr and Mrs Thomas Allen have had to endure the suspense of waiting to know the fate of their youngest son, Martin.
The quiet, intelligent 15-year-old vanished on his way home from school, and although he was carrying a yellow sports bag crammed with books and belongings, not a single trace of him has ever been found.
But the police do have details of a sinister last sighting of Martin.
Several witnesses reported seeing a boy of his description being led with a hand on the back of his neck by a tall, blond man who told the youngster : “Don’t try to run.”
That was at Earl’s Court Underground station in London.
So when, on Royal Wedding day last summer, an eight-year-old Indian boy disappeared near the tube station in Putney, just a few stops further down the District Line, the two cases were inevitably linked.
Then last week some pigeon shooters stumbled across human remains in a marshy wood in Sussex. They have been identified as those of the missing Vishal Mehrotra from Putney.
And now police working on the Allen mystery are keeping in close touch with their Sussex colleagues in case their investigations into the boy’s death throw new light on the search for Martin.
“How can you possibly describe how you feel at times like this?” said Mrs Eileen Allen at her home in Kensington, London.
“We are still waiting, wondering if Martin is still alive. My husband tortures himself thinking about the awful things that could have happened to him.
“Then we wonder what we would do if he did come back. He was a child of 15 when he went, now he would be a young man of 17. Would he be the same Martin that we knew? Would we able to cope?”
Upstairs in the cottage which goes with Mr Allen’s job as a chauffeur with the Australian High Commission, Martin’s bedroom remains exactly as he left it … posters on the wall and model trains in place.
Mrs Allen, who says her work as a school secretary has helped keep her sane during the months of torment, admitted : “ I am a realist.
“I am more or less resigned to the fact that we will probably never see him again.
“Martin was a quiet boy, the cleverest of the family. He liked to draw and write, he filled exercise books with stories.”
“If it had been my other son who had been grabbed he probably would have struggled. But Martin would freeze with fear.”
But despite the misery Mrs Allen says that good has come from their ordeal.
There is the friendship which has grown up between the police and the family—in particular their relationship with Superintendent David Veness, who has led an exhausting and painstakingly thorough hunt for the missing boy.
Said Mrs Allen : “Without this awful thing we would never have known some wonderful people. Superintendent Veness still calls here regularly and as soon as he heard about finding the little Indian boy he came round because he thought we might be upset.
“After Marin disappeared his brother was at a loss and obviously missing him. So the police took him down to their gym for regular work-outs to help him keep busy. They have been marvellous.
“And it has brought the family much closer together. We now appreciate the real things in life.
Superintendent Veness said : “The only link between the two cases is the District Line tube, but obviously I am keeping in very close touch with colleagues both at Putney and in Sussex.”
Does he think the police will soon find a clue to Martin’s disappearance.
“If we do not” said the superintendent, “it will not be for want of trying.”

Daily Express, 10th August 1982

DExp_1982_08_10_009vicepolice_1detailBirmingham Post, 9th November 1998

‘Missing boy shrine found with man’

Police have discovered a secret shrine to a missing schoolboy at the home of an alleged paedophile, it was reported yesterday. Martin Allen, aged 15, vanished in 1979 on his way home from school on Guy Fawkes Night. He was last seen waving goodbye to school friends as he boarded a tube at King’s Cross station in London. Yesterday detectives refused to comment on reports in a Sunday newspaper that after a tip-off to police in Merseyside, a shrine – including an engraved headstone – was found at the house of an alleged local paedophile. But officers at the Area Major Incident Investigation Pool at Kensington, West London, confirmed they were investigating new information passed on to them in connection with the boy’s disappearance. A spokesman said no arrests had been made and inquiries are continuing. Martin, the son of the Australian High Commissioner’s chauffeur, has never been seen since the evening of his disappearance, despite a worldwide search. It is understood that a month ago police on Merseyside received an anonymous letter suggesting that the 62-year-old man had knowledge of the disappearance.


Daily Mail, 23rd December 2009

‘Thirty years on, we still don’t know who abducted our son’: Parents of Martin Allen make final plea for information



Was the Scotland Yard investigation into missing boys stopped?

In 1981 police were already investigating London ‘child pornography gang’ lnked to trafficking and murder


  1. Troyhand said:
    The Illustrated London News, Volume 268, Issue 2 – 1980
    [Page 31]
    A boy who disappeared

    {An artist’s impression of the man and boy seen on Gloucester Road station last November 5. Was the boy Martin Allen? Was he being forcibly abducted?}

    November 5 – Guy Fawkes Night – is this year the first anniversary of the disappearance in London of a 15-year-old boy in circumstances which have touched a sensitive nerve with both police and public.

    The boy, Martin Allen, was raised in the Holloway Road area of North London. His father Tom has worked for many years as a driver with the Australian High Commission and, on his promotion to become the High Commissioner’s personal chauffeur, was given a cottage near the official residence in Hyde Park Gate. Martin was attending the Central Foundation, a respected school near Old Street, and it was decided that he should continue to do so, travelling across London from Gloucester Road Underground station to Old Street, changing at King’s Cross.

    November 5 last year was a Monday and on Mondays the boy would not return home immediately after school but would visit the home of an older, married brother in Holloway, usually staying overnight. This was the plan on November 5. In his bright yellow Astral bag he carried a woollen balaclava his mother was sending for her grandchild, a transformer to use with a toy train, and other items reflecting his intention to visit his relatives. He had, however, left at home a £1 note he owed his sister-in-law. He told schoolfriends he intended to travel home and pick it up and then return to Holloway Road. (This seems a lot of trouble to go to but the police say it was only a 25 minute journey, and he had a travel pass so it would cost no more.) Thus it was that at about 3.50 pm he parted from a friend at King’s Cross station and walked into the short and usually crowded passage to the west-bound trains. This was the last definite sighting of Martin Allen. He then vanished.

    A hue and cry should have been raised that evening but unfortunately his disappearance was not noted for over 24 hours. His parents thought he was staying overnight with his brother. His brother, who was not on the telephone, assumed that because it was Guy Fawkes Night the boy had gone to a bonfire party instead and would not be coming. Martin was not missing by his family until he failed to arrive home on the Tuesday evening.

    Over 3,500 boys and girls are reported missing in London every year. They nearly all turn up within a few days. A high proportion are in the care of local authorities or in trouble with one authority or another and have run away. The first instinct of police investigators, therefore, is to look for reasons why a boy such as Martin might have absconded. Was there trouble in the family? At school? With a girlfriend? With the police themselves? Extensive inquiries, including interviews with every member of the family, every known friend of the boy or the family, teachers, schoolchildren and everyone who could possibly have known Martin revealed, however, that he did not fit the pattern for missing children. On the contrary, it became clear that he was a happy, home-centred, well liked boy without a problem in the world. The police began to feel very uneasy.

    From the start the man in charge of the investigation has been David Veness, a father of two children and as highly regarded as his promotion to Detective Chief Inspector at 33 would suggest Veness, a policeman with 15 years’ experience, says that while missing children are not unusual, abducted children are. “Our inquiries were initially intended to answer three questions: had he run away because of some trouble? Had he run away to seek adventure? Or had he had an accident? There is not a fraction of evidence that he ran away from a problem, and we looked into his background and life with immense care. Nor by all accounts was he an adventurer, a boy with dreams of stowing away on the Concorde of the QE2. We conducted detailed searches of the North London area round Holloway and King’s Cross and in the area of the school, every piece of vacant land, derelict property. We also searched the open spaces round Gloucester Road. If he had had an accident he would have been found.”

    By now Veness and his colleagues were treating Martin’s disappearance in almost every respect as if it were a murder inquiry. The next step was to seek publicity and in this respect the police had bad luck. The Anthony Blunt affair broke in the newspapers, devouring the column inches that might have been available to tell the story. The BBC television programme Nationwide prepared a programme but could not screen it because of the technician’s strike. A full three weeks went by before the Nationwide item finally appeared and Veness got his first breakthrough.

    “From that programme we got a group of six sightings which described an incident on Gloucester Road station that day. A man was seen forcefully guiding a small boy, his hand on the back of the boy’s neck, on to a train travelling on the Piccadilly line to Earls Court. They were seen to leave the train at Earls Court station and as they walked down the platform the man was heard to say ‘Don’t try to run.’ They then vanished. Now six people had not all seen the whole of that incident but they saw bits and it came together like a jigsaw.”

    Up to this point the investigation had been concentrated largely in North London. Now it moved to West London and a massive search took place of the Gloucester Road-Earls Cross area. The homes of 40,000 people were visited. The area was inundated with leaflets. A year later there has been no advance. Martin Allen has been seen or heard of no more.

    But was the boy seen being led away from Earls Court station Martin Allen? Chief Inspector Veness says that while he cannot be definite, “I had enough evidence to mount a major police operation on the basis that it was. For a start, the timing fits. They were seen at about 4.20 pm, just the time when Martin could have been expected to arrive at Gloucester Raod. The description fits; the witnesses describe a boy who could be Martin, slim, 5 feet tall, wearing school uniform and carrying a bag. Despite all the publicity no man or boy has come forward to identify himself as one of that couple. Either that boy was Martin, or a boy with a remarkable resemblance to him was abducted on that train at that time, and that is a considerable coincidence.”

    If it was Martin, why did he not appeal to others on the train or on the platform at Earls Court? He was, after all, 15 years old, intelligent, aware. It could be that the man had a powerful personality and had engendered such fear in the boy that he dare not call for help. Or it could be that he persuaded Martin that he was someone in authority, a London Transport security officer or a policeman, and that he was taking him to an office near the station to explain some misdemeanour. These are not questions anyone can answer.

    Certainly it would have required remarkable nerve to abduct a boy of 15 in broad daylight in front of other travellers, but given the lack of any evidence, the police are having to work on the basis that this is what happened. The size of the police operation has been almost unprecedented. There is no question that the case has got under the skin of Veness and his colleagues, almost to the point of obsession.

    Why? It is not, says Veness, because of the diplomatic connexions, for no special pressure has been applied. It is a combination of factors: the mystery itself, the warm picture that has emerged of Martin, and perhaps the fact that Veness and others working on the case, together with the public, have been increasingly disturbed by the evidence that a schoolboy could travel on the Underground at a busy time, be seen by scores of people but be remembered by hardly any, be forcibly abducted before the powers of Scotland Yard and a considerable force of policemen to find him.

    • hazels123 said:

      The original investigation missed a few things.

  2. There was a small mens toilet at Gloucester Road tube station. As the boys ticket only went as far as Gloucester Road Station, they must have left Earls Court Station by using the ’emergency stairs’, which would avoid paying the extra fare at the ticket barrier. The boy would have known at that point that the man was not a policeman etc? This would bring them out at the front of the station. As they were seem at ‘both ends’ of the station, they must have walked down one of the side roads to reach the Warrick Road end. As turning left, or right, there would take you to the same places that you could have reached using Earls Court Road, they must then have walked through the grounds of Earls Court Exibition Centre to Lillie Road, which you could do in those days. Then turning left would also take you back to the same place, so they must then have turned right towards North End Road?

    • Shaun said:

      Someone told me that last year, don’t know if it is true

      • Shaun said:

        Maybe there was a car waiting near North End Road ?

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