Mystery: Carole Kasir’s sudden death

By Mark Watts

Coroner John Burton was blocked from asking “incriminating” questions of the former boyfriend of the woman who ran the notorious Elm Guest House.

I can reveal private notes taken by the coroner for Carole Kasir’s inquest in 1990 that shed new light on the case that has long been at the centre of controversy over whether the diabetic co-manager of a paedophile brothel linked to VIPs killed herself with an insulin overdose – or was murdered.

On Carole’s former boyfriend, David Issett, the late Dr Burton notes simply: “I cannot ask him any incriminating questions.”

The notes do not say who, if anyone, had told Burton not to ask Issett any incriminating questions. It may have simply been a note to himself to beware of the risk of jeopardising a potential criminal prosecution. No such prosecution followed.

The coroner does not record anything similar for any other witness.

Burton says in his private papers that Issett did not show up for the inquest on August 8, and he notes: “Coroners Office Crown, I warned him of the inquest personally.”

After hearing other witnesses, the notes show that Burton adjourned the inquest for a fortnight so that Issett could again be told to attend.

The Daily Mail, before it switched direction over the scandal of “VIP paedophiles”, tracked down Issett in 2014 to ask him what he knew about Carole Kasir’s death. He said that he had split with her some time before she died, denied any wrongdoing, but admitted that he was forced to attend the inquest as a witness “on pain of arrest”.

Issett worked for ‘Patsy’ Puddles, who was identified by witnesses at the inquest as having threatened Carole. Puddles is no longer alive.

The heavy-smoking and heavy-drinking Carole was found dead one Sunday in June 1990 in her home in Barnes, south-west London, with syringes and vials – and two letters described as “suicide notes” – next to her body. She was 47. One of the letters was addressed to Issett.

A post-mortem examination, carried out by Dr Richard Shepherd of Guy’s Hospital, found that she had “hypoglycaemia”, or low blood sugar, and “insulin overdosage”. A toxicology report said that her blood had extremely low levels of glucose.

At Kingston coroner’s court, Burton recorded a verdict of suicide.

But the Sunday People revealed last weekend that newly-released medical evidence to the inquest showed that samples taken from the syringes and vials were “not analysed”.

In addition, her GP told the inquest that he “would not expect her to commit suicide” despite two previous attempts at her own life.

But the coroner’s private notes, which have also been released, raise even bigger questions over Carole Kasir’s death.

Born Carole Linda Jones in London in July 1942, she owned and ran Elm Guest House with her then husband, Haroon Kasir, known as Harry. Police raided the place in 1982, and they were convicted of running a “disorderly house”, or a brothel.

The venue, which was also in Barnes, operated between 1979 and 1982 as a guest house for gay men and as a paedophile brothel.

Peter Glencross, a Dutch-based South African, working on behalf of an underground paedophile group called the Spartacus Club, persuaded Carole to make Elm Guest House part of its network of venues.

In 2012, the Metropolitan Police Service’s paedophile unit launched an investigation into historical claims that politicians and other prominent people sexually abused boys from the nearby Grafton Close children’s home at the guest house.

That investigation, ‘Operation Fernbridge’, resulted in the jailing of the priest, Tony McSweeney, for three years in 2015 for a specimen charge of sexually abusing a boy at the children’s home and three charges of making indecent images of children.

He was alleged to have carried out the sexual abuse with a former manager of Grafton Close, John Stingemore, who died the month before he was due to go on trial with McSweeney.

The Met confirmed in 2013 that Sir Cyril Smith, the former Liberal MP outed as a paedophile after his death in 2010, was a visitor to Elm Guest House.

Campaigners who wanted to see Carole Kasir’s inquest file asked me in August whether it could be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

I pointed out that while inquest files are not obtainable under FOIA, coroners have discretion to decide whether to disclose such material if there was strong public interest in releasing it to the requestor. As a journalist on World in Action, I had once accessed files for an old inquest simply by asking the coroner.

However, Burton was dead, and the old Kingston coroner’s court long gone. The West London coroner’s office had taken over responsibility and the old files.

The coroner’s office then spent two months considering whether to release Carole Kasir’s inquest file. It was stalling. But after I sent a series of tweets about the issue last month, a decision was soon made to release the medical evidence – including post-mortem and toxicology reports – and, more significantly, large extracts of Burton’s own typed notes.

But the coroner’s office has withheld some of the notes and other key material, such as the police report on her death.

Chris Fay, an advisor to the National Association for Young People in Care (NAYPIC), a campaign group that has since closed, gave evidence to the coroner that MPs, judges and other prominent people frequented Elm Guest House. He is calling for the release of police evidence to the inquest.

He told me: “I cannot see any reason why they should keep back documents like the police report.”

He knew Carole and believes that she was murdered. He urged the senior investigating officer of Operation Fernbridge to retrieve her inquest file and re-open the case.

Fay added: “He said that he got the Carole Kasir inquest file from West London coroner’s office, saying, ‘My men have been down there, and we have got the file.’”

Met officers are understood to have copied the contents of the file.

In the extracts released of the coroner’s notes on Harry Kasir’s testimony on August 8, Burton records him as saying:

“I only know of one letter. I was shown the letter. It is in her handwriting.”

It appears that he was then shown the second letter at the inquest because the notes record:

“Shown letters. They are in her writing. I had only seen the shorter letter. The longer letter is in her writing.”

Next, the coroner’s notes on Fay:

“We had been dealing with her for two years. I last saw her on 23 April. I spoke to her a number of times up to June. She came to us concerned that in the early 80’s she had run a guest house in Barnes and was arrested by the police. She came to see us about activities in the guest house. She was worried that boys from Grafton Close were being supplied for people using the guest house.

“It is difficult to know who to tell about this. She had a lot of harassment from police and security services.

“I saw her on a number of occasions last year. She said that she was being followed around. She gave us car registration numbers. She said she was being harassed. I went to see her on a number of occasions. Once, there were a number of young people present. There was a white Escourt [sic] outside with a man in it. I went downstairs, she was upset and angry. We tapped on the window. Two police turned up. There was some discussion. She was threated [sic] with arrest for breach of the peace. She said that this was a common occurance [sic].”

“I went to her home 18 March. She said that she had a number of threatening phone calls from Patsy Puddles as well as an occasion in a public house, when she was approached by two uniformed police. She said that they harrassed [sic] her.

“I saw her again 16 April. Long conversation. All about children from children’s home. She said she was concerned about things that she found out afterwards. She mentioned a lot of people. She mentioned a lot of well known people. She needed to produce evidence. She gave me the Guest House Registers – those not seized by the police – and ones returned from the Crown Court. She was angry and emotional. She was distrustful of people. She would not give me photographs. She showed me photographs. She said that they were in a safe place. She phoned the office on a number of occasions for further help. She had a lot of problems with DoHSS [Department of Health and Social Security, as it then was], who said that she did not have a NI number. She was extremely frightened. She said that she was getting phone calls and being followed about. Gave us numbers of vehicles. I heard from a psychotherapist in June that she had died.”

“This type of case is not unusual. It is difficult to know who to trust. I would not trust Govt or local services. She was harassed by security services. We did not get any evidence until recently. She gave us the names of boys from Grafton Close. John Stry [“Stringemoor” is added in hand-writing] was connected in child pornography. That was in Bexhill.

“At the time she was with us she was living with David Isitt [sic]. I later found out that he worked for Mr Puddles. I did not like him. I passed the information on to Mrs Kasir. She rang us from a pub to say that Mr Isett [sic] was in the pub with him.”

“There are no current allegations. (Old ones 1982) I certainly believed her… She had talked to legal advisors about this. She had not gone to the authorities. It was the authorities that were intimidating her.

“We have MPs. We have hundreds of cases of child abuse. There are 130,000 children in care.”

The coroner’s notes go on to the next two witnesses:

“Clive Godden Private Investigator. I do not want to give my address. I have been acting for Mrs Kasir since Feb 1990 when I visited her.

“The MPs are involved in child pornography. The police tell us to keep quiet. They say that they need evidence… She spoke of Isett [sic] and Puddles and a hotel raid in 1982. She said who was there. The hotel was full of MPs. She says that she and her husband were arrested. I suggested that she saw a police contact. This upset her. I do not know why. She said that she was frightened for her life. She said that Patsy Puddles threatened her in (? October) I reported it to NSY [New Scotland Yard]. They said that they know. She offered me a diary from David Isitt [sic]. The police have this. I contacted Inspector Stoodley [Roger Stoodley, who went on to become a chief superintendent, investigated some of Britain’s most notorious paedophiles such as Sidney Cooke]… and the pornographic dept.

“She asked if I had seen a car. She pointed. The car drove off like the wind. I thought that she was in danger. I phoned Mr Fay.

“On 5 March, I met her at Hammersmith Police Station. I took her to see Chris Fay. She talked for three hours. She identified photographs. She said that a solicitors office had her papers. She would not say who, but they would not let her have them… MI5 involved.

“Questioned by Husband. I have no documentary evidence of Mrs Kasirs dealings with Members of Parliament. I take on oath what she told me.

“Husband… Photographs – she was about blind.”

“Mary Moss. National Association of Young People in Care… I met Carole in March. She contacted us… I met her. She said that in 1980 there was a raid on her guest house. It was under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. She said she was wrongfully arrested. She said that she did not know about child pornography.”

“She was introduced to Peter Glencross – who owned Spartacus. She said that she knew nothing about this. She was advised to find out what had happened in Grafton Close. [Louis] Minster, the Director of Social Services in Richmond came to the guest house. She thought that Minster and Glencross were brothers... Boys [were supplied] to the guest house without her knowledge. She gave us the log books.

“Coroner. Inquest adjourned two weeks to notify Isitt [sic] again. Call Family doctor. Notes are not normally read at inquest. For a verdict of suicide, there must be evidence of intent to take one’s own life and consciousness of what one is doing. The note may provide evidence that the act was intentional – or that the mind was so disturbed as to be unaware of the consequence… She says that she intends to be removed in a coffin. She blames a person for her predicament. She makes no mention of the issues mentioned today. I have to be satisfied that the letter was written by the deceased and voluntarily.”

Burton’s notes then recount Issett’s testimony given to the adjourned hearing on August 22:

“David John Isitt [sic]. I know Mrs Kasir. I was not present at the last inquest. I have seen copies of the letters. They are in her writing. She was living with me until six to eight months ago. I met Mr Puddles in the pub when she was living with me. I work for Mr Puddles. She would ring me and pick me up. My work is painting and building work.

“I was supposed to see her on the Friday – but I did not. We were going to Brighton for the day. I did not see her at all. I saw her on the Thursday in the Bull and Bush and then in the A ? and Crown. She was getting thrown out of her home if she did not pay the mortgage. I know nothing of threatening phone calls. She was not followed while I was there.

“In November [1989] when she was mugged, I was in Dunstable. She was in hospital. She just said that she was mugged.”

“I had only known her 14 or 15 months. That was at Barnes. She did not mention child pornography rings. She showed me the cutting in the paper for which she was nicked. On Thursday – we were going to Brighton on the Friday – I should have gone to the house on the Thursday. I did not go. She came to the pub on the dinner time. She was cross. She did not speak to me at all…. There were people that she knew in the pub. I bought her a drink, but she did not want it and left.

“I do not want the letter that she wrote.”

Her GP, Dr David Walker, told the inquest that Carole had been diabetic since 1965. She suffered burns to the neck in 1981. “Poured meths onto neck and set alight,” the coroner notes.

He continues: “Seen by a psychiatrist. Domestic and marital problems. Attempted suicide. In 1982, I saw a lot of her.”

The following year she was admitted to Long Grove, then a mental hospital in Epsom, Surrey.

She took an overdose in 1984: “Two injections insulin plus tablets.”

She told Walker in November 1989 that she had been mugged outside her flat, and had a fracture of the cheek bone, but did not say who had done it.

By now, he said, “she had been drinking heavily.”

The GP, according to the coroner’s notes continued:

“Because of her poor eyesight, writing was a chore. She had to hold it within inches of her face. She was incredibly short sighted and she often did not wear her incredibly thick spectacles.”

“On Sunday 17 June 1990 I was called to the flat. She was in bed, under one layer of blankets. On her back. Fully clothed… A neighbourhood policeman who knew her well was present. Rigor mortis. Been dead over 6 hours. She had make up on. There was a half empty bottle of insulin and a needle and syringe on a chest of drawers. I was shown a note. I was not familiar with her writing.”

Dr Richard Shepherd’s post-mortem report is clear that Carole had low blood-sugar levels and an insulin overdose, but he adds: “It is not possible to confirm insulin levels in post-mortem material with accuracy.”

If it was an insulin overdose, who injected it into her? Burton concludes: “She took her own life.”

But then he put down her maiden name mistakenly as Weichman, and her place of birth wrongly as Germany. He even mis-spelled her name as Carole Kazir, all of which raises questions about what else he may have got wrong.

Mark Watts (@MarkWatts_1), co-ordinator of the FOIA Centre, is the former Editor-in-Chief of Exaro. This article also appears today on Byline.

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Carole Kasir: coroner was blocked from asking ‘incriminating’ questions of ex-lover