Murder at Weybridge 1971/72

1972, March: Brian Carroll: Murder at Weybridge near the railway station in the 1970s when I was a DC which dates it around 1971/2. It was dealt with by Wally Simmons. All I can recall is that the murder weapon was discovered in the toilet cistern at the local railway station. Keith Portlock was certainly on the enquiry and I worked with Colin Ward and I believe Barry Siviers.

Richard Johnson: I recall a lady being murdered at Weybridge in I believe 1971. Her body was found in woods one Sunday morning near to Weybridge railway station. She had been sexually assaulted. I took part in the search of the woods and also a week later in stop checks in the area.

Superintendent Walter Simmons

Superintendent Walter Simmons

Don Sapsford: murder of a dear old lady in the woods at Weybridge railway station at about 11 am on a Sunday morning. An ex resident at a local remand home was eventually convicted of the offence.

Keith Portlock: Dave Spratt and I were tasked to go to the toilets at the railways station and search the cisterns for the victim's purse which we did. When the suspect was arrested he said the purse was in the cistern at the railway station and it was in the one above the urinal. Dave and I were called before Detective Chief Superintendent Plaice and given a memorable fortune telling! Superintendent Wally Simmons (right) was also on the case.

Colin Boyles: This occurred about the 1st week of March 1972. The victim was a Mrs Zavros who lived close to the scene. Offender was David Henry Knight aged about nineteen from South London who was a former Finnart House Approved School inmate. I believe the break through came when information was received from a master at Finnart House who had disturbed Knight at the school when he was breaking in at the time of the murder.

Colin Browne: I was working at CO C9, in the early 1970s, when the elderly lady was murdered whilst taking a short cut through the woods near Weybridge railway station. Wally Simmons knew that I had lived close to the scene and had local knowledge so I worked on the squad for awhile.

As I remember it, a post-mortem revealed that the lady had been stabbed to death and a twig had been inserted in her vagina, (that threw things for awhile), although we worked on a robbery theory. A few days later a visiting governor of Finnart House (the local approved school), reported that on the evening of the murder he had visited the school and found an unknown young man in the assembly hall, when he confronted him he said he had done something terrible and then legged it.

He didn't think too much about it (well you wouldn't would you). I didn't interview him but saw a description he gave, it fitted a lad (an ex inmate, Tommy Knight) I had dealt with for robbery on a train a couple of years or more before, (a handbag snatch at the point of an airgun).

I went to Finnart House with Ian Robertson to see my old contact and friend Mr Britain, the deputy, (we had a great relationship and cracked a lot of local crime together), however he had moved on to greater things and we had to deal with a new pompous liberal head. We promptly fell out when I asked for Knight's file but reluctantly he gave in then exploded when I asked to keep a photograph.

I remember Ian remarking that all hell would break out over the exchange, but I guess common sense prevailed as we never heard any more from him The next day I was summoned back to CO C9 as my boss thought I had skived off long enough so Knight's release address was given to I think Ron Briggs who arrested Knight. That's it in a nutshell; sorry I can't remember more names, victim, etc.

John Milner: The old lady was murdered in woods at the top of Hanger Hill and sexually mutilated with a stick. The offender was a young lad who was living at Colliers Wood where he was arrested by Ron Briggs. He had previously been in a school (approved) quite close to the murder scene.

Martin Wise: This is probably the murder of an elderly woman on a triangle piece of wooded land between Heath Road and Hanger Hill, near to the then Hand and Spear public house. The offender was either at that time a present detainee of, or a previous detainee at Finnart House Approved School which used to be near to the Oatlands Park Hotel Weybridge.

It would have been 1971 or 1972; I favour 1972 because I had just arrived at Walton CID so it would have been possibly after July. He used a piece of wood or stick to suggest it was a sexual attack. He stole a small amount of cash and the knife I think was found at the Railway Station toilets. It was an attempt at robbery, gone wrong.

John Stone: The murder at Weybridge was I think discovered on a Sunday. I was a Divisional Motorcyclist at the time (J70) and being quiet (as I thought) I was having a coffee with Mick Richardson who lived in Foxholes. I used to wind up the volume, switch to handset, and hang it through the kitchen window.

I got the call and tootled off with Mick following. We saw the woman lying in the woods near the entrance to the college. A branch had been shoved up her private parts. The person later found to be responsible was a lad from Finnart House in Oatlands Drive.

Peter King: I did not actually visit the scene but, know it was in a small wooded patch by the station. I also do not know the victims name; all I can remember was that it was a she and that things were done to her nether regions.

How I came into it was that they arrested the culprit a vagrant, a short chap and he was put in the cell at Addlestone. Because of his demeanour it was ordered that a suicide watch was placed on him, so I was one of at least two of us that had to keep watch on him. He was placid and very open about things.

In his answers to questions to detectives he stated that he wanted to rob the woman, but used the knife, when maybe she fought back. To try and make it look like a sex crime he stated that he had thrust bits of wood in her vagina. The detectives asked about the knife which by then they had. He stated that he had got it from a shop in Dog Kennel Hill, London and by chance I knew the shop from my younger days, being from South London.

I took the investigating officers right to it and they spoke to the shop owner, to see if he remembered the suspect coming in.

Keith Collery: The lady concerned was Mrs Emily Zarvos found early one Sunday morning in the woods at the top of Heath Road. I was working Weybridge town beat that morning. I believe DI Tim Blake was the original officer in the case and John Stone I am sure was the duty sergeant that morning. She had been stabbed several times. The offender was caught in London several weeks later.

Roy Coole: I was the first police officer at the scene having been dispatched from the Byfleet area, (in the days when Surrey had a traffic department). It was reported via a 999 call from a man walking his dog on the Heath which was on the right hand side of Hanger Hill as you approached Weybridge Railway Station.

I contacted him at the road edge where he took me to where he had found the body of a woman. Her clothing was all over the place and from her injuries it was obvious it was a murder or at least not a normal death. I called it in as a suspected murder and as far as I can remember the first officer to attend as a result of my call was, I think, DI Richardson.

Also from memory the culprit was a former male who had previously been a "resident" at Finnart House approved school, which was situated in Oatlands Drive, Weybridge. He was later arrested and convicted of her murder. The female victim was a well to do lady who resided in a block of flats in Broomfield Court which backed onto the Heath where her body was found by the dog walker.

Richard Lee: The victim lived in a block of flats just off Hanger Hill and was walking through the woods towards the railway station when she was attacked. The culprit was an ex-Finnart House Approved School lad who had returned for the day I think from London. We cut back all the undergrowth on the corner by the station so that metal detectors could be used to find the knife.

It was later found some distance from the scene. The motive was robbery and officers got chewed up for not finding the empty purse in the Weybridge Station toilet cistern. The offender tried to make it appear to be a sex attack by ramming a large stick up the woman's vagina. He was captured and dealt with.

Cliff Cox: Alan Tugwell was the inspector and he had the incident caravan manned twenty four hours a day. This was good as it was time to catch up on paperwork and receive all the cakes, etc. that the locals brought in. I was with Tony Fuller and it was my first major incident. All leave and rest days were cancelled.

Tugwell decided that we needed to be more proactive so he got us filling in the old 12/10 forms telling the council that cars was not displaying any road tax. Tony would stand at the door and as I was the "sprog" I had to write down all the numbers he would shout out. I was going to court for months afterwards.

Jamie Donaldson: I was on this case as a CID officer from Weybridge. The victim was an elderly woman killed with a knife and sexually assaulted. The killer was a young man called Knight who about two years before had attended an approved school in Weybridge. The weapon was found in a garden at hanger lane. Keith Portlock and Dave Spratt found the victim's purse in the toilet by the railway station.

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