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Richard Castillo

Age: 72

Sex: male

Date: 7 May 1961

Place: Albert Studios, Bridge Road, Battersea

Richard Castillo had been stabbed twice at Albert Studios, Albert Bridge Road, Battersea on Sunday 7 May 1961.

His cause of death was given as being due to stab wounds in the chest and abdomen. It was said that he had died in the open.

He had been a doctor and it was thought that he had been lured to the location by a phone call, possibly by a drug addict or by a man that Richard Castillo had told was going to die. It was also suggested that he had uncovered a spy ring.

The police appealed for anyone that had been in Albert Bridge Road between 11.30pm and midnight on the Sunday to get in touch with the Yard or Battersea Police. Albert Studios was a cul-de-sac off Albert Bridge Road.

He had lived in Elm Park Road, Chelsea. His daughter said that when the police examined his home that they took away the pad from which he had torn away a piece of paper after having received the call. The spot where he was murdered was about half a mile from his home.

It was reported that the police searched 9,000 patient files of four Chelsea doctors during their investigation.

It was said that the only clue that the police had was the fact that Richard Castillo had been standing in for two other doctors, a father and son partnership in Chelsea and that he had known that Richard Castillo would never let an emergency call go unheeded. It was said that the killer must have known that he had been standing in for the other doctors at the time.

The caller had used the name 'Allenby', however, it was said to have been bogus as neither of the doctors had had any patients at the studio cottage off Albert Bridge Road where Richard Castillo had been called, nor any patients called Allenby.

During the investigation the police traced and questioned a number of patients of Chelsea doctors who were known drug addicts.

The following theories were put forward:

  1. That he had been stabbed by a crazed patient that he had refused to supply with drugs.
  2. That he had been stabbed by a condemned man that Richard Castillo had told, out of sympathy, that he didn't have long to live.
  3. That he had stumbled on a spy ring in Britain.
  4. It was noted that Richard Castillo had been making a complaint to the British Medical Association at the time regarding the activity of another doctor that had been trying to poach his patients.

Richard Castillo was born in Malta and qualified as a doctor in 1913 and had been a former ship's surgeon with the P and O Steam Navigation Company and had come to Britain in 1923. He had been the president of the Malta League for many years which was described as an innocuous organisation of Maltese business and professional men in London. The police said however that they were planning to question members of the league in the hope that someone could suggest a motive for his murder.

The police said, 'At this stage there is nothing to suggest the doctor's death has any political significance'.

The police said that they had also ruled out robbery as a motive as his wallet had been left untouched.

During their investigation the police towed away a black saloon car.

The police did say however that they had a number one suspect who they had been concentrating most of their efforts on from the start.

The suspect was described as:

  • About 5ft 7in tall.
  • Light on his feet and agile.
  • Cool headed and efficient under stress.

It was said that his height was deduced by the angle of the stab wounds in Richard Castillo's body. It was said that he had been light on his feet and agile enough to have slipped away unseen through the bushes at the murder scene. It was added that he was cool-headed enough to strike a second deadly blow when his first attack failed.

It was heard that the man had been seen by a Brompton Oratory chorister that had lived in 2 Albert Studios and who had been one of the three people to have rushed out to help Richard Castillo as he fell dying outside the studios.

He said, 'I saw the man the detectives have been asking me about in Albert Studios only eight weeks before the murder. I have bene helping the detectives on this and other aspects concerning Albert Studios for three days now. The detectives are particularly interested in establishing just why an address in Albert Studios was given to lure Dr Castillo to his death'.

A married woman that had lived in a flat next to the entrance of the studios said, 'Just before midnight we heard a man shouting at the back of the house near the studios. Several people came out of the studios and were bending over him as he lay on the ground'.

It was also reported that the police were examining a man's suit for bloodstains of Richard Castillo's blood group.

It was later reported that in the wake of Richard Castillo's murder that American security forces in Britain had been asked by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to check on the security of the USAF base at Ruislip, Middlesex as a result of international counter-espionage exchanges brought about by his murder. It was said that messages had been exchanged between Paris, New York and London and that great importance was being places on an American in London after the receipt of reports in New York that Richard Castillo's death might have been due to him having accidentally stumbled on a spy ring in Britain which he was on the point of denouncing. It was said that the US Central Intelligence Agency had asked for Scotland Yard's help on that matter.

It was said that as a result that detectives from Scotland Yard were to see a Russian and an American on Thursday 11 May 1961 in order to take statements from them regarding their movements on the Sunday night. At the same time it was said that FBI agents in the country were to make an on-the-spot examination at the Ruislip base as a result of a suggestion that an espionage agent had met an American expert in Ruislip.

It was noted that the recent unmasking of the Lonsdale spy ring with a radio transmitter so close to the Ruislip base had made the US extremely careful over the suggestion that Richard Castillo might have been liquidated because of him possessing knowledge of contact between a Russian and an American connected with the Ruislip base.

It was also understood that Scotland Yard detectives were particularly interested in a man that had defected from the Communists some years earlier.

Three persons, an Englishman, a Russian and an American were all interviewed by the police and made statements about their whereabouts on the Sunday night.

It was heard that the suggestion that Richard Castillo had died after stumbling onto a spy ring had gained currency on the Continent following it being reported in French newspapers but that Richard Castillo's closest friend had said, 'Knowing him, such a solution seems ludicrous. In any case he would have told me, I was his confidant'. However, he said that he remained mystified as to who could have wished him dead.

It was noted at the same time that another interesting development was the reopening of the 1956 unsolved murder of Polish Countess Lubienska, who had been stabbed to death in exactly parallel circumstances, but on the platform of Gloucester Road tube station, it being noted that as in the case of Richard Castillo, the knife had also disappeared following the murder.

The inquest into Richard Castillo's death returned a verdict of murder by a person or persons unknown.

His inquest heard that he had been the victim of a planned, clueless crime, having been lured to Albert Studios by an unknown person who had lain in ambush for him and who had then escaped without being seen and who had left behind no murder weapon.

Richard Castillo's daughter said that the person that had called him had sounded Turkish, saying that he had said, 'Will the doctor come and see my wife?'.

Richard Castillo's wife said that Richard Castillo told her that the call was about the patient of another doctor and no one that he knew.

The inquest heard that Richard Castillo had been sharing a weekend rota duty with other doctors at the time.

The inquest heard evidence from a woman who heard howls from Albert Studios whilst she was in bed. An artist said that he hear knocks on the door of a studio whose tenant had left earlier in the day. He said that when he heard the knocks on his door that he went to look and saw Richard Castillo collapsing on a path.

The police said that they had interviewed 5,000 people without solving the mystery of the murder.

When the Coroner summed up he said that the attacker had studied Richard Castillo's habits and knew that he was on call as a doctor that night. He said, 'Dr Castillo clearly did not recognise the telephone callers voice, which could well have been disguised'.

His funeral took place on Saturday 27 May 1961. A requiem Mass was held at Servite Church in Fulham Road at 10am after which his body was taken to St Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green. It was said that preferable to flowers were donations and at the suggestion of Richard Castillo's wife friends were being asked to send money to a Richard Castillo Memorial Fund for the relief of Maltese in distress in Great Britain. A friend of Richard Castillo said, 'It is a cause which the doctor wholeheartedly approved, one close to his heart'.

It was reported on Friday 8 December 1961 that the hearing of allegations of infamous conduct against a Chelsea doctor were postponed by a disciplinary committee of the General Medical Council until 28 February 1962, the charges against whom had been preferred by the late Richard Castillo. Eight Chelsea witnesses had waited for four days for the case to begin at the recent sessions but an earlier case had run on through the whole time.

When the hearing resumed it was heard that the charges that the doctor had been canvassing patients, trying to poach them and that Richard Castillo had brought the complaint to the General Medical Council three months before his murder.

The doctor had been 38 years old and had lived in Viewfield Road in Wandsworth and appeared before the Disciplinary Committee Council accused of 'infamous conduct in a professional respect'. The charge was that he had tried to get patients by canvassing and that he depreciated the professional skill and knowledge of Richard Castillo. When the charges were put it was heard that evidence would be called from six of Richard Castillo's former patients.

One of the charges related to a period between June 1957 and June 1958 whilst the doctor had been a trainee assistant to Richard Castillo. The woman, who had lived in Izworth Place, said that the doctor had called at her home to attend to her daughter. She said, 'He said Dr Castillo was an old man, that his medicines were old-fashioned, that he did not prescribe any modern medicines and that he was old and it was about time he retired. Being an old patient of Dr Castillo I was annoyed about it and said, 'Dr Castillo has more knowledge in his little finger than you have got in your whole body''.

Another woman that had lived in St Lukes Street, Chelsea said that her family were patients of Richard Castillo and that in November 1960 the other doctor called unexpectedly and told her that he was setting up practice in King's Road, Chelsea. She said, 'He said he thought it was time Dr Castillo retired. He had an awful lot of patients and had not taken a refresher course for a long time. He asked me to transfer to his list, but I said I was very satisfied with Dr Castillo. The other doctor then said, 'I suppose I shall have to wait for Dr Castillo to die before I get his patients'.

Another man that also lived in Izworth Place said that in November 1960 that the doctor called at his home when one of his children was ill and asked him, 'Is Dr Castillo giving him the same old medicine?' and then mentioned that he had opened up a practice in Chelsea.

The doctor denied the charges but was found guilty and ordered to be struck off the medical register. He appealed the order.

In 1982 it was announced that the Day Centre in the Lots Road GIA in Chelsea was to be renamed the Richard Castillo Day Centre in remembrance of Richard Castillo.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.truecrimelibrary.com

see National Archives - MEPO 2/10438, MEPO 2/10439, MEPO 2/10440, MEPO 2/10441

see Coventry Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 09 May 1961

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Tuesday 09 May 1961

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Friday 12 May 1961

see Daily Mirror - Monday 15 May 1961

see Daily Mirror - Wednesday 02 August 1961

see Chelsea News and General Advertiser - Friday 26 May 1961

see Daily Herald - Saturday 31 March 1962

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Monday 08 May 1961

see Belfast Telegraph - Tuesday 09 May 1961

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Thursday 11 May 1961

see Christopher Long