By Walton Golightly
Muriel McKay was the wife of Alick McKay, the deputy chairperson of News Of The World. She disappeared from their home in Wimbledon on Monday, December 29, 1969, leaving behind signs of a struggle. Later, the kidnappers demanded a million pounds in ransom. The problem was, they had the wrong woman.
The abductors were after Anna, the wife of Rupert Murdoch, the proprietor of the newspaper. They didn’t know the Murdochs were in Australia at the time, and Alick McKay was using Murdoch’s Rolls-Royce. When they realised their mistake, they persisted in their demands for money.
“We are Mafia M3,” a male caller informed Alick. “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 kill her.”
Scribbled notes from Muriel confirming her terrible position and asking for her husband’s co-operation followed.
“Please do something to get me home. What have I done to deserve this treatment?” read one.
Two attempts were made by disguised police officers to deliver the ransom. The first involved placing a suitcase with the money near some paper flowers, as ordered. A Volvo containing two men circled the area but drove off without stopping. The second attempt was also aborted when the same Volvo passed the drop-off spot four times without stopping. This time the police noted the car’s number plate, though. It was traced to Arthur Hosein, 33.
He and his younger brother Nizamodeen, 21, had been born in Trinidad and now lived on Rooks Farm, near Stocking Pelham in Hertfordshire, where they kept pigs and chickens – and made trousers, since Arthur was a tailor by trade. The brothers were arrested and, in September 1970, tried at the Old Bailey on charges of murder, kidnapping and making demands with menace.
At the trial Nizam’s counsel, Douglas Draycott, said his client wanted to make certain admissions, without actually confessing. In a statement, read out by Draycott, Nizam admitted to making enquiries about Rupert Murdoch’s Rolls-Royce, placing the paper flowers by the first drop-off point and driving the Volvo when they went to collect the suitcases.
Arthur responded by trying to put all the blame on his younger brother, claiming he’d seen Nizam meet with several suspicious-looking people. But his fingerprints had been found on a newspaper left at Muriel McKay’s home when she was kidnapped and on several of the letters she’d written to her husband.
Both brothers received a life sentence for murder and Arthur an additional 25 years and Nizam 15 for kidnapping. Nizam spent 25 years in jail and returned to Trinidad. Arthur is also out of prison and is believed to still be in England.
Neither has ever said what happened to Muriel McKay. However, police believe she was killed and her remains cut up and fed to the livestock at Rooks Farm. A neighbour testified she’d heard a gunshot on or about New Year’s Day. By the time the brothers were arrested, the pigs had been sold or butchered.