Murder of Maartje Tamboezer: Operation Bluebell

1986, 17 April: Murder at Horsley of Maartje Tamboezer aged 15. Maartje was on a cycle ride. Following a search by friends and police first her cycle was found and then the following morning her body. A man was arrested in November charged with three murders and other serious offence. He was convicted.177

John Francis Duffy appeared at the Central Criminal Court and after an eight week trial he was found guilty of two counts of murder, five of rape and one count of buggery. He was sentenced to life in prison.178

Detective Superintendent John Hurst

Det. Superintendent John Hurst

Murder of Maartje Tamboezer at West Horsley by John Duffey: A fifteen year old Dutch girl was raped and murdered by strangulation. Operation Bluebell was established led by Detective Superintendent John Hurst.

The Metropolitan Police were investigating a linked murder and another officer was investigating a number of rapes in and around London; possibly thirty. A further linked murder occurred and a combined operation involving a number of forces was established led by Detective Chief Superintendent Vince McFadden of Surrey Constabulary.

The biggest manhunt since the Yorkshire Ripper enquiry was underway with five thousand suspects soon reduced to one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine. As one on the suspect list Duffy was invited for interview and came with a solicitor and refused to give a blood sample.

John Hurst working with David Canter of Surrey University, developing offender profiling, was concentrating on this case with Surrey Detective Constables Rupert Heritage and Lesley Cross. The profile was produced in September 1986 and this confirmed that the police should concentrate on Duffy.

Surrey officers kept Duffy under surveillance until it was decided to stop him and he was found to be carrying the range of articles he used when committing murders. Further forensic evidence was recovered from where he was living. He was charged and found guilty of a number of murders and rapes but it was not until 1999 when he again appeared before the court that arrange of other offences were finalised.

Bill Bethell: I would like to add that the John Duffy murder enquiry was given to the Special Crimes Prevention Unit (SCPU). Apart from doing actions we were asked to visit collators in the Metropolitan Police as we were setting up jobs up for the squad. Adrian Russell called in one day to see the collator at Kilburn, I believe.

Duffy had recently been arrested for beating his wife and raping her. Russ saw his photo and had a gut instinct that this was the man we were looking for. He went straight back and told John Hurst what had been found. Duffy then became the target. He was put under surveillance by the squad for two days, but kept losing the tail on the underground system which he knew well.

Mel Lewis: Operation Bluebell: where John Duffy was convicted, with the follow-on enquiry in 1998, Operation Marford, when David Mulcahy was convicted of three murders, eleven rapes and three conspiracies to rape - totalling three hundred and fifty years imprisonment!

Ray Blythe and I were the Surrey officers sent to the Metropolitan Police to assist in 1999-2001. To my recollection Nigel McGoldrick and Jo Hayes were also in our team for a while. We re-interviewed almost all witnesses and police officers involved in the original job. That was when Ray and I were just a whisker away from a trip to Hong Kong to take a statement but the Metropolitan Police said it was too dangerous! We got as far as Amsterdam!

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177 Annual Report 1986.

178 Annual Report 1988.


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