Cold case detectives link baseball bat assault to unsolved 1984 murder as they appeal for witnesses

6 December 2023, 00:03

Police have linked an assault that took place hours before Anthony's murder to the investigation.
Police have linked an assault that took place hours before Anthony's murder to the investigation. Picture: LBC

By Fraser Knight

A lot has changed around East Finchley, North London, over the past 40 years - but for police officers investigating a decades-old murder, they’re determined to jog the public’s memory.

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Anthony Littler, who was 45 in May 1984, was brutally murdered as he walked out of the Underground Station, and detectives have never been able to solve the case.

But they’ve now linked another assault in the area to their investigation, which happened just hours earlier.

DCI John Neil, from the Met Police, returned to the scene this week and told LBC: “Literally the day before, a member of the public - unidentified - went into Galleon Wine Stores (now Express Mart) and said to the shop keeper he was assaulted by two youths with baseball bats outside the tube station.

“Potentially they are witnesses and we’d very much like to identify that male who was assaulted.

“Obviously, it’s been 40 years in May since it happened. There have been advances in technology, science, and policing methodology. 

“But there is no forensic evidence in this case and while a modern-day murder investigation would revolve around CCTV, there was none around this, so it’s very much the old-fashioned way of knocking on doors and speaking to people.”

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Anthony Littler was murdered nearly 40 years ago.
Anthony Littler was murdered nearly 40 years ago. Picture: LBC

Anthony Littler was found dead, shortly after midnight, on 1 May 1984 with severe head injuries, just a few hundred yards from East Finchley Station entrance.

He’d turned left, after returning from a night out, and walked up a path named ‘The Causeway’.

At the time it was surrounded by shrubbery and just a few smaller buildings; now houses and a large McDonalds are in the place of the original path.

Jagdish Patel, who owns the Express Mart on High Road, opposite East Finchley Station, and has lived next door to it since the 1970s, told LBC he thinks the police have missed their chance and failed to investigate fully in the 1980s.

“It wasn’t very well publicised. Most of the neighbourhood, we knew them, and people used to come to the shop and there was never much discussion of that,” he said.

“I think it’s why the police have never found the killer. I don’t think they did much then.

“There’s not much hope of them finding them now - the whole estate has changed, and people have moved on.”

The scene where Anthony was murdered.
The scene where Anthony was murdered. Picture: LBC

Jagdish Patel owned two other stores on High Road and bought over Galleon Wine Stores in 1985, where detectives now say the other man who’d been assaulted had gone in to with severe facial injuries and a black eye on 29 April 1984.

The victim was described as around 6ft tall, with short brown hair with a medium build.

Detectives know the 999 call alerting them to Anthony Littler’s murder came from a telephone box in the area - some of which no longer exist.

The person who made the call didn’t leave a name or any other details and was never spoken to again by the police.

DCI Neil added: “We don’t know a lot about that call, but we know it was made by a male shortly after midnight and I would suspect he was very close to the incident and maybe even witnessed.

“If you were the person who made that call, please reach out to the police.”

Unsolved cases are often reviewed by police forces, but DCI Neil said he’s determined to make the current one the final review of this case, to provide justice for Anthony Littler’s family.

His cousin, Tricia McClure who lives in Manchester, and is the only known relative of Mr Littler, said: “Anthony was a lovely, kind and gentle man who wouldn’t hurt anyone.

“It is heart-breaking to our family that this happened to him.

“After all this time, we hope this new investigation puts those responsible behind bars. It won’t bring Anthony back, but it will give us some closure.”

Anyone with information can contact 0208 358 0100 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.