The old public lavatory in Richmond Avenue, Islington, north London, has just been demolished. Attached to it is a strange piece of criminal legal history which may eventually lead to the freeing of two men now serving their 15th year in prison for a double murder of which they still protest their innocence.
It was in the old lavatory that the head of one of the murder victims, Billy Moseley, was placed, six weeks after Reg Dudley and Bob Maynard had been convicted and jailed for life for his murder and that of Micky Cornwall. All four were part of the north London criminal world.
The story starts outside the Victoria Sporting Club betting shop in Dalston, east London, in September 1974. Billy Moseley, recently out of prison, had gone for a 'meet' with Ronnie Fright, the husband of the woman with whom he was having an affair. Moseley was never seen again - at least, not in one piece. But over the following months pieces of his sawn-up body, minus the head, were washed up on the banks of the Thames.
In October 1974, another north London criminal, Micky Cornwall, was released from prison. He was upset by rumours of his friend Moseley's death, but was involved in a higher league of armed robbery and anxious to pull off a large job. He had been to Blackpool to talk about the robbery and had been placed under surveillance by the West Midlands serious crime squad, who followed him to London.
In September 1975 Cornwall's body was found in a shallow grave outside Hatfield in Hertfordshire. He had been shot through the head.
There were no arrests until January 1976 when 18 people were taken to Loughton police station in Essex as part of a joint Metropolitan-Hertfordshire police investigation under Commander Bert 'The Old Grey Fox' Wickstead.
Seven people - Reg Dudley, his daughter Kathy, Bob Maynard, his brother Ernie, Ronnie Fright, Charlie Clarke, a friend of Dudley, and George Spencer, another friend of Dudley who acted as his occasional driver - were charged with offences ranging from murder to conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm. The seven stood trial at the Old Bailey in November 1976, in a hearing which lasted seven months.
The prosecution's case was that Moseley was killed either because of his adultery with Mrs Fright, or because he knew of some money that Dudley felt belonged to him, or because he had been in a fight with Dudley some years earlier. Cornwall had been killed because he sought to avenge his friend's death, or because he had had a brief fling with Kathy Dudley.
There was no forensic evidence, and no witnesses to abduction or death. But there were statements attributed to some of the men which, while not confessions, might have seemed compromising to a 1976 jury.
'I'm not answering that, otherwise I'm finished,' Maynard was alleged to have said. Dudley was alleged to have said of Cornwall: 'He was a no-good loser ... Take it from me, it's not on my conscience.' When Wickstead asked him: 'Did you murder Moseley?' Dudley was recorded as replying 'Prove it.'
The Crown introduced as a prosecution witness Tony Wild, an armed robber who had offered to give evidence against Dudley and Maynard who were in Brixton prison awaiting trial with him. In court, he claimed Dudley had told him about what had been done with Moseley's head. In his summing-up, Mr Justice Swanwick told the jury that 'without the evidence of the alleged oral confessions, there would not be evidence on which the Crown could ask you to convict.'
The jury acquitted Fright, Ernie Maynard and George Spencer. They convicted Maynard and Dudley of murder and Clarke and Kathy Dudley of lesser offences. A member of the jury said afterwards that 'there was a feeling of no smoke without fire.'
Six weeks later came the discovery by roadsweeper Harry Bromley of Billy Moseley's defrosting head in the public lavatory. The head was examined and it was shown that there were no bullet wounds - the Crown had suggested that Moseley had been shot. The two men appealed but without success. That was all nearly 15 years ago.
Since then there have been several developments. The informer Tony Wild was released and agreed to an interview in a pub in Hove, Sussex. There after checking that he was not being recorded, he said he had 'made up' his evidence. He could, he said, get Maynard and Dudley out of prison 'tomorrow' but would not do so, 'even for £50,000.'
Shortly afterwards, he was rearrested and convicted on robbery charges. Statements about his confession to fabricating the evidence and working from a 'script' were passed to police, but Wild, interviewed again by police in prison, then retracted his remarks.
Then ESDA (electro-static document analysis) emerged. It led to the reopening of many cases, most recently that of the Tottenham Three. At last, it seemed to Maynard and Dudley, there was a chance to prove that their supposedly compromising remarks to police were never made. They applied through their lawyers for access to the documents.
The Metropolitan Police replied that unfortunately the papers had been destroyed. The vital interview notes were not available for analysis.
This decision to destroy the notes is baffling: most police forces in the country keep murder case papers indefinitely or until all the parties have died.
So who did kill Moseley and Cornwall? One of the men who many believed killed Cornwall was himself shot dead by police in west London during an unsuccessful armed robbery at the end of the 1980s. The Cornwall murder was, it is suggested, an argument over proceeds from a robbery. Moseley's death was not thought to be connected.
'We have bashed our heads against a brick wall for years,' says Kathy Dudley, now Bailey. 'At the time it seemed unreal and no one believed anyone would be convicted. If the same evidence was presented now, after all we know, obviously the jury would have acquitted but the atmosphere was different then.
'Because they continue to say they are innocent, they have been told that they are delaying their parole. It's as though they are saying - confess to something we all know is untrue and you can walk out. But protest your innocence and you rot.
'My father has even been told that he couldn't yet be considered for release while he's so mentally and physically fit for a 67-year-old. In other words, they want him to be a cabbage and cabbages can't fight injustice.'
The case has been adopted by the organisations, Justice and Liberty.