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Last Updated: Friday, 7 April 2006, 07:40 GMT 08:40 UK
Who killed Kelso Cochrane?
By Raphael Rowe
BBC reporter, Who Killed My Brother?

Stanley Cochrane is 75 years old. He came to Britain for the first time last year, not as a tourist, but to discover who murdered his brother almost 50 years ago.

Stanley Cochrane
Stanley Cochrane wants to find witnesses to his brother's murder

On 17 May 1959, Kelso Cochrane, a 32-year-old carpenter from Antigua, was killed by a group of white youths in Notting Hill Gate.

No one was ever convicted.

"In March 2003 I awoke from a disturbing dream about my brother," says Stanley. "From that moment I couldn't shake his face from my mind.

"He kept coming back in my dreams. I decided I had to do something."

Stanley wrote to the then Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens, asking for his brother's murder to be re-investigated.

They replied there was no new forensic evidence to re-open the case.

Three years on, and not satisfied with the police response, he decided to see what he could find out for himself.

Above all, he wanted to know why his brother Kelso was killed. Was it robbery or racially motivated? Was it both?

Vicious attack

Kelso Cochrane
My mother hoped Kelso's body would be brought home... it never was
Stanley Cochrane

Shortly after midnight on the day Kelso was murdered, he was only a few hundred yards from the flat he shared with his fiancee in Notting Hill.

He was returning from a visit to the local hospital when he was attacked by a gang of white youths.

One of the youths stabbed him in the heart with a stiletto knife. They ran off when three men went to help him.

These men took him to hospital, where he died an hour later.

"In 1956 I gave Kelso the fare to travel here," Stanley remembers. "When he was killed we could not afford to travel to England. My mother hoped Kelso's body would be brought home. It never was."

Media coverage

Sir Ian Forbes Leith
Detective Superintendent Forbes-Leith said the motive was robbery

Stanley was shown the murder file but most of the pages were stapled up for legal reasons.

One document, however, reveals the police's desire to swiftly dismiss racism as a motive for the stabbing.

The man leading the investigation, Detective Superintendent Ian Forbes-Leith, told a newspaper at the time: "We are satisfied that it was the work of a group of about six anti-law white teenagers who had only one motive in view - robbery or attempted robbery."

Much was made in the press of the fact that Kelso's wallet was empty, but his fiancee Olivia was clear in her statement that he had emptied it before leaving home that evening.

The Sunday People also claimed Kelso had been drinking, even though the pathologist ruled this out.

Racial tension

The BBC investigation into Kelso's murder brought home the impact it had on community relations at the time.

In the 1950s, Britain was changing. The years of depression and hardship that followed WWII were over.

White Defence League headquarters
In 1960 the White Defence League merged with the National Labour Party to form the BNP

Youth culture was flourishing and the economy was starting to boom.

The government had encouraged immigrants from the West Indies to come to Britain to fill labour shortages and Notting Hill was one of the few places they could get accommodation.

But Notting Hill was also a fertile recruiting ground for the National Labour Party, a forerunner to the British National Party (BNP).

Kelso was killed at a time of serious racial tensions and Stanley had not appreciated how hostile the "mother country" had become to people like his brother.

The police said it was not racially motivated but many in the community, both black and white, believed it was the first racist killing of a black man in modern Britain.

Wall of silence

More than 1,200 people, both black and white, attended Kelso's funeral.

Local newspaper advert
An advert asking for information did not yield anything

It was like a state occasion.

At the time, the police spoke to a total of 905 people in the hope of finding his killer.

Only nine told them anything useful.

Even today the name Kelso Cochrane arouses suspicion.

Almost nobody would discuss the killing on camera.

We put an advert in the local paper in the hope that someone would call us with some information, but no-one did.

The conclusion to Kelso's death was there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone - a finding upheld by a review of the case in 2003.

Before leaving London to return home, Stanley cleaned his brothers grave and took photographs of it to show his family.

"I don't seek revenge for my brother's murder. I just want some sort of closure."

Who Killed My Brother? will be broadcast on Saturday, 8 April, 2006 at 1935 BST on BBC Two.

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