The Hosein Brothers
kidnapped Mrs Muriel Mckay by mistake. They thought she was someone
else. Their intention was to hold her for ransom but things went wrong
and they ended up killing her although her body has never been found
Even though the police had no body they were still
able to get a conviction and at the Old Bailey in 1970 both Arthur and
Nizamodeen were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Arthur and Nizamodeen, aged 34 and 22 respectively,
were Indian Moslems who had been born in Dow Village, Trinidad. They
bought Rooks Farm, near Stocking Pelham in Hertfordshire, on a mortgage
in 1967 and moved there in May 1968. It was a 17th century farm set in
eleven acres and was considerably run-down.
Arthur, thrown out of the army in 1960, had
pretensions to grandness and was known locally as 'King Hosein'. Keeping
pigs and chickens and making trousers, Arthur was a tailor by trade,
would not make them the millions that they dreamed of. The apparent
answer to their problems arrived when they saw newspaper owner Rupert
Murdoch being interviewed by David Frost on television. Here was a very
rich man who would pay a small fraction of his fortune for the return of
his wife, if she happened to be kidnapped and held to ransom.
The brothers followed Murdoch's Rolls Royce to 20
Arthur Street, Wimbledon and planned the kidnap. On 29th December 1969
the two men broke into the house and abducted the woman they found there.
Unfortunately for them, Rupert Murdoch was in Australia on holiday. They
had kidnapped Muriel Freda McKay, the 55-year-old wife of the deputy
chairman, who was using the company car while his boss was away.
Alick McKay returned home about 7.45pm and found the
telephone ripped from the wall and the contents of his wife's handbag
scattered on the stairs. He called the police from a neighbour's house
at 8pm. At 1am the next morning the Mckays received a call demanding £1
million from a man calling himself 'M3'. Over the next few weeks
eighteen telephone calls and three letters were received from 'M3',
demanding money and threatening to kill Mrs McKay. There were also
letters from Muriel McKay.
After a attempt to deliver the ransom was thwarted by
the accidental presence of a large number of local police in the drop
area, instructions were received from 'M3'. These stated that £500,000
was to be placed in two suitcases and taken to a telephone box in Church
Street, Edmonton, at 4pm, the next day, Friday 6th February.
A policeman and policewoman, disguised as Mr McKay
and his daughter Diane, took the suitcase to the call box. They were
told to go to another call box in Bethnal Green Road. From there the
trail led, by underground, to Epping. Next they were told to take a taxi
to Bishop's Stortford where they were to leave the suitcases by a
mini-van on a garage forecourt.
The taxi arrived and the two officers set out. Just
up the road they got the driver to stop. When he did so, a man leapt
into the back of the taxi and curled up on the floor. This was DS Bland
They arrived at the garage in Bishop's Stortford and drove past. They
dropped DS Bland up the road and returned and dropped off the cases by
the mini-van before returning to Epping.
By this time it was about 8pm. DS Bland kept watch on
the suitcases, and the traffic on the main road. He noticed a blue Volvo
with a single occupant which passed four times between 8 and 10.30pm,
usually slowing as it passed. He took note of its registration number,
XGO 994G. It passed again at 10.47, this time with two men inside. A
couple, Mr and Mrs Abbott noticed the suitcases and became concerned.
Mrs Abbott kept watch while her husband went and fetched the local
police, who removed them to the local station. The operation was
abandoned at 11.40pm
The recordings of the presence of the blue Volvo
tallied with entries in the log from the previous attempt to deliver the
ransom. At 8am the next morning the police swooped on Rooks Farm. They
found an exercise book whose torn out pages matched those received in
the letters from Mrs McKay. Arthur's fingerprints matched those found on
the ransom demands. Police officers scoured Rooks Farm for several weeks
but could find no trace of Mrs McKay or of what had happened to her.
The brothers' trial began on 14th September 1970 at
the Old Bailey. They were charged with kidnapping, murder and blackmail.
It ended on 6th October with guilty verdicts on all charges. Both of
them received life sentences for the murder. Arthur and Nizamodeen got
25 years' and 15 years' respectively on the other charges.
The Mckay Kidnapping
When kidnappers mistook
Muriel McKay for Rupert Murdoch’s wife Anna, the case would go gone down
in history as one of the most notorious murder cases of our time and
Britain's first kidnapping.
Born in Trinidad in
1955, Arthur Hosein came to England as a tailor’s cutter. After
completing his National Service he married a German woman named Elsa.
Arthur had dreams of becoming a local squire and in 1967 he borrowed
heavily to buy an old farmhouse on the borders of Hertfordshire and
Essex. He applied to become a member of the local hunt, but couldn’t
ride a horse or afford the subscription.
While watching media
magnate Rupert Murdoch and his wife Anna on television one night with
his 21-year old brother Nizamodeen, Arthur thought of an easy way to
make enough money to pay for the lifestyle he desired. Later they
followed Murdoch’s Rolls Royce to a house in Wimbledon thinking they
knew where the Murdoch’s lived, but they were holidaying in Australia.
At 7.45pm on Sunday 29th
December Murdoch’s deputy chairman, Alick McKay was dropped off at his
Wimbledon mansion to find the front door open, the lights on and his
wife Muriel gone. The phone was pulled out of the wall and the contents
of his wife's handbag were strewn over the stairs and a rusty meat
cleaver lay on the floor. The fire was still burning.
The police were
suspicious that Alick’s 55-year-old wife may have left her husband and
they were angered when Alick called the editor of The Sun asking him to
run the story the following morning.
Several hours later,
Alick received a call from a phone box. “We are Mafia M3,” said the male
caller. “We tried to get Rupert Murdoch’s wife. We couldn’t get her so
we took yours instead. You have a million by Wednesday night or we will
The kidnappers thought
they had snatched the publishing tycoon's wife, Anna and had no idea
that Mrs. McKay was using the company's car while the Murdochs were on
The kidnappers called
again saying that Alick would receive a letter from his wife Muriel. The
following morning a scribbled note reading, “Please do something to get
me home. What have I done to deserve this treatment?” arrived at the
One of the largest teams
of detectives for such an enquiry was pulled together at Wimbledon
police station. Meanwhile Alick, his daughter Diane and her husband
appealed to the kidnappers on national television.
On New Year’s Day the
kidnappers called once again asking for £1 million and dismissing
Alick’s pleas that he couldn’t raise that amount of money. In
desperation he asked an old friend, Eric Cutler, to fly to Utrecht to
consult a Dutch clairvoyant who had helped police solve other crimes.
Gerard Croiset told
Cutler that Muriel could be found in a white farmhouse in the north or
northeast of London. Nearby to where Muriel was being held was another
farm and a disused aerodrome and that if she wasn’t found within 14 days
she would be dead.
While police searched
locally, others scoured the Hertfordshire and Essex borders, but found
More calls demanding the
money came, but no instructions as how to deliver it. In an attempt to
motivate the kidnappers into giving instructions the McKay’s doctor went
on television claiming that Muriel needed urgent medication and if she
didn’t get it she could die.
On 1st February the
kidnappers called the McKay’s son, Ian and told him to bring £500,000 to
a crossroads on the A10. A policeman went in his place, but the
kidnappers suspected a potential ambush and didn’t turn up.
6th February became the
new transaction date and the kidnappers insisted Alick and his daughter
deliver the money in two suitcases. Detectives were to play the parts
once again, with another hidden in the boot of the car.
The McKay’s were to go
by tube to Epping where they would receive a call telling them to take a
taxi to Bishops Stortford and leave the money opposite a mini van by a
garage, then they must return to Epping. But someone reported the
suitcases to the local police who knew nothing about the operation.
A Volvo had been spotted
repeatedly driving past the cases and the number plate led the police to
34-year old Arthur Hosein of Rook’s Farm in Stocking Pelham on the
Hertfordshire/Essex border. Arthur's fingerprints matched those found on
the ransom demands. Police scoured the farm for several weeks but could
find no trace of Mrs. McKay, or of what had happened to her.
Police were certain
Muriel was dead and charged the Hosein brothers with her murder.
Muriel McKay (victim)
Alick McKay (victim's husband)
Sir Peter Rawlinson (prosecuting attorney)
Anna Murdoch (intended victim)
Arthur Hosein (kidnapper)
Nizamodeen Hosein (kidnapper)
Eric Cutler(friend of the Mckays)
Gerard Croiset (Dutch clairvoyant )
During the trial at the
Old Bailey on 14th September 1970 the brothers blamed each other, but
neither confessed. Arthur was sentenced to life imprisonment and 25
years for kidnapping, 14 years for blackmail and 10 years for sending
threatening letters. Nissan received the same sentencing, except for 10
years less on the kidnap charge.
To this day, no one
knows what happened to Muriel McKay, except her killers.