Unsolved Murders

Arthur Frederick Lee

Age: 25

Sex: male

Date: 7 Mar 1958

Place: Hebe Sports Ltd, City Road, Islington, North London

Arthur Frederick Lee was shot dead in a pay day robbery which took place shortly after noon on 7 March 1958 at the Hebe Sports Ltd factory in  City Road, Islington.

The main suspect fled to Cyprus and no extradition could be agreed.

He was shot by three or four men whilst they tried to grab £4,000 pay cash at an Islington Factory. The police said that two armed men had gone into the building and that one man had waited for them at the wheel of the car, however, it was noted that four men were at one point seen in the car. The car was later found abandoned in a nearby district.

It was noted that the robbers only got away with £120 which was mostly in half-crowns. It was said that the half-crowns had been thrown at the robbers by the cashiers in an attempt to ward the robbers off.

Arthur Lee was shot whilst he was in the lift at the factory with three other employees that had been returning from the bank with thousands of pounds for wages. It was said that when the lift stopped on the second floor that the men in it were confronted by three men, one of whom had been armed with a gun. It was said that one of the men had shouted, 'Hand over the money', however, it was added that instead of handing the money of that the men carrying the bags of coins hurled them at the robbers and then jumped back in the lift. It was said then that as the lift doors were closing that the gunman fired into the lift hitting Arthur Lee in the region of the heart.

He was taken to St Bartholomew's Hospital after the shooting but died soon after.

Arthur Lee had been a maintenance engineer and had lived in Camden Dwellings in Caledonian Road. It was noted that Arthur Lee was married to a Cypriot girl.

Hebe Sports Ltd was a costume factory.

During their investigation the police checked the whereabouts and movements of ex-employees of the company, many of whom were Cypriots.

They also said that they were searching for a scar-faced man that had hired a cream Ford Consul car from a South London car hire firm a few days before the hold up and who paid part of the cost in half-crowns a few hours after the failed robbery. The police said that until the scar-faced man was traced that they would not be able to rule out the possibility that the cream car had been used by the gang.

During their investigation the police received hundreds of statements and reports.

They circulated the descriptions of two of the gunmen, both thought to have been Cypriots to all police forces and said that they thought that the men were still hiding in London but noted that police in cities and ports with Cypriot colonies were keeping a special watch. It was noted that the police thought that the two might have been armed and detectives taking part in the widespread search for them were issued with guns.

The two Cypriots were described as:

First man.

  • Aged about 35.
  • Unshaven.
  • With a jaundiced look about his eye.
  • Hatless.

Second man.

  • Aged 25 to 26.
  • Of tidy appearance.
  • With fuzzy hair.
  • Hatless.

The police said that one of the problems that hampered the investigation was the reluctance of London Cypriots to give any information. They said that many Cypriot men had visited the City Road police station, which was the headquarters of the search, but said that it had frequently been necessary to question them for up to five hours before getting simple statements from them that cleared them from complicity in the crime. The police noted that many of them pretended to be unable to speak English and had to be questioned with the aid of an interpreter.

It was noted that a dozen paper bank cash bags were found on Tuesday 11 March 1958 at King's Cross in London and they were examined by the police. Detectives said that although the bags bore the names of other banks, they could have been issued by the Westminster Bank branch to cashiers at the factory. They were checked for fingerprints by scientists at Scotland Yard’s forensic laboratory.

On 15 March 1958 it was reported that the police swooped on Euston station, Islington and Holloway and more than 20 Cypriots were questioned, some being taken off of trains that were about to leave Euston station. It was said that the station was crowded with people heading North for the weekend, including Manchester, and that suddenly two car loads of police swung into the station forecourt. The detectives were said to then go through the barriers to where the trains were waiting and then peered through train windows and took names and addresses of Cypriots on board.

It was reported that the police had been told that the three men thought to have been involved in the robbery had split up and were trying to escape through the dragnet encircling London.

It was said that at the same time other detectives carried out a series of raids on cafes, tenement houses and billiards halls.

On Tuesday 18 March 1958 the police swooped on a cafe in Soho and took two men to City Road police station for questioning, but nothing more is known about the two men.

The police said that they were keeping a special watch on cafes and clubs frequented by Cypriots as it was thought that the men might try to obtain help from their compatriots.

It was also reported that police in the dockland areas along the River Thames were told to keep a special look out to prevent the men from trying to stow away in any of the ships.

The police said that they thought that the men knew the area well and had probably lived near the factory.

The police also visited lodging houses and boarding houses in the Stepney and Islington areas where they asked landlords and keepers to report whether any of their residents had been missing from their rooms since the day of the robbery.

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

see thefallenlist.blogspot.co.uk

see National Archives - MEPO 2/9825

see Daily Express Mon 18 Jan 1960 Page 1

see Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 19 March 1958

see Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Wednesday 12 March 1958

see Shields Daily News - Saturday 15 March 1958

see Manchester Evening News - Saturday 15 March 1958

see Shields Daily News - Monday 10 March 1958

see Belfast Telegraph - Friday 07 March 1958

see Londonderry Sentinel - Saturday 08 March 1958

see Belfast Telegraph - Saturday 08 March 1958

see Belfast Telegraph - Saturday 15 March 1958