The Times, 10th August 1981
Sunday Express, 20th September 1981
MISSING BOY’S MOTHER FLIES 4,000 MILES TO PRAY AT A HINDU TEMPLE (Sunday Express, 20th September 1981)
On Wednesday morning, 31-year-old Mrs Aruna Mehrotra will leave her home in England on a long journey of sadness and faith. She will fly more than 4,000 miles to New Delhi. Relatives and friends will meet her and comfort her, and then Mrs Mehrotra will prepare for a solemn ritual a few days later.
For next Sunday morning, at 4 o’clock, well before the sun rises, Mrs Mehrotra will put on a specially-made saffron-coloured sari and travel 20 miles by car north along a bumpy road to an ancient stone Hindu temple.
Inside the temple, she will light the wicks of candles which she will have prepared the night before, in containers of dried mud filled with a wax of clarified Indian buffalo milk.
Then she will kneel at an altar which has a gold statue of the mother goddess Durga, and she will pray to her gods for just one thing—the safe return of her son, Vishal.
It was on July 29 that eight-year-old Vishal vanished near his home in Holmbush Road, Putney, south-west London after returning from St. Paul’s where, with his father, he had watched the Royal procession for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.
A massive police search which is still going on has revealed nothing, and for Vishal’s parents there has been only the torment and agony, the wondering and the worry of waiting.
Mrs Mehrotra’s trip has been carefully planned. Next Sunday is Vishal’s ninth birthday.
And the temple of Durga is the family temple—and the same one which Vishal visited in 1979 on his birthday, during a holiday to India.
To Hindus, the mother goddess Durga protects against all violence and it is to her that Mrs Mehrotra will be praying that nothing violent has happened to Vishal.
Despite fading chances that her son is safe, Mrs Mehrotra maintains a mother’s hope that Vishal is well and will return one day soon.
Last Tuesday morning, Mrs Mehrotra went to St James’ School in Queen’s Gate, London—just in case Vishal had turned up for the resumption of his classes after the school holidays.
It was a forlorn hope, unfulfilled.
But she said: “I am keeping his bed ready, waiting for him. His clothes, his schoolbooks and a few toys are just as he left them.
“This trip to the temple is a journey I feel I must make. I must pray to our gods, in our temple, for Vishal’s safe return.
“It should be done on our son’s birthday—and it is on that day I will visit the temple.”
The boy’s father, 36-year-old solicitor Mr Vishambar Mehrotra, said: “I am quite certain that Vishal did not run away.
“There was no reason for him to do that. He was happy at home.
“And he is very clever. If he did want to run away, he would have planned it carefully. He would have taken extra clothes and his important possessions.
“But there was nothing missing, not even his folder of letters and birthday cards which he treasured so much. He would not have left those behind.
“Sometimes we take out the folder and we look at the birthday cards he received last year. We feel so sad and we pray for one thing—that Vishal will be back with us soon.”
A huge police team is still operating full-time on the search and at the special investigation headquarters, Detective Chief Superintendent Donald Bremner said: “We are faced with these main possibilities:
“That Vishal has had a serious accident, that he has been murdered, that he has run away, that he has been abducted or that he has been kidnapped.”
It has also been learned that police are looking into three other, more bizarre possibilities.
It is emphasised that NO evidence has been found to support any of these possibilities—but it is known that all are being examined by senior detectives. The three questions on their mind are:
* Could Vishal be back in India? The police have caused inquiries to be made in India.
* Could Vishal have been abducted by an individual or a gang with racial prejudices? There have been isolated attacks in the area on Asians.
* Could there be a link between Vishal’s disappearance and that of Martin Allen, who was 15 when he vanished on Guy Fawkes day, 1979, probably near Gloucester Road Tube station, London?
Det Chief Inspector James Begg, engaged on the Mehrotra case, has closely studied the files on Martin Allen. He and fellow officers have had a series of meetings with Det Chief Inspector David Venness, in charge of the Allen case and his senior officers.
Police have received and believe reports that Martin was seen with a man, at Gloucester Road. And, true or not, six of the 50 “sightings” of Vishal Mehrotra say he was with a man.
But Mrs Mehrotra said: “We just do not know the truth. The worrying thing is that there has been no note, no message, no telephone call.
“If only somebody would tell us what has happened….”
The Observer, 20th February 1983
FEARS IN HUNT FOR MISSING BOY, 15
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
PHOTOFIT CLUE AS POLICE FEAR LOST BOY IS PRISONER
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
THE SADNESS BEHIND A SANTA’S SMILE
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
FAMILY WAIT AND FEAR FOR NEWS OF SCHOOLBOY SON
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
‘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