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Welcome to the Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast and audio guided walk of London's most infamous and often forgotten murder cases, all set within and beyond the West End.
EPISODE ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-ONE:
In the early hours of Saturday 25th July 2009 at roughly 4am, two such strangers would meet by chance right here. One was Nadim Gulamhuseinwala and the other was Thomas Connor; two men from very different cultures, but blessed with a gift at an early age, they were both given the opportunity to make the most of it. In their own ways, they would both get the success they deserved…
… one got recognition through years of hard-work and study to his craft, the other received instant fame through an image on a packet of instant dessert. One was a brilliant doctor with a bright future ahead of him, and where as the other would be nicknamed after the product he blamed on his demise.
As many photos of the case are copyright protected by greedy news organisations, to view them, take a peek at my entirely legal social media accounts - Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
The location is marked with a purple raindrop by the words Green Park. To use the map, click it. If you want to see the other murder maps, access them by clicking here.
SOURCES: This case was researched using some of the sources below.
UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE:
Welcome to Murder Mile.
Today I’m standing in Green Park, SW1; three streets west of where Sarah Gibson was tortured, four streets south-east of the attack on Tudor Simionov, one street west of the murder of David West by David West and one street from the sadistic slayer with a tear in his eye - coming soon to Murder Mile.
South of Green Park tube station, along the western edge of The Ritz hotel sits Queen’s Walk; a tree-lined path built in 1730 for Queen Caroline by King George ll. As a fashionable hang-out for Georgian aristocrats, it was not uncommon to see a decadent dandy dabbing his laudanum-soaked lips with a lace hanky; as he bleeds a weeping pauper dry of his last pitiful penny, bastardises the law to benefit his wealthy Etonian chums and buggers a young boy senseless in a bog as a copper turns a blind eye.
Back then we called them the gentry, but today… we call them politicians. Boom. Utter bastards. If so many of them weren’t corrupt, why else would a millionaire want a job which pays just £84k a year?
That said, we all have dreams; whether money, skills, happiness or - the most fleeting of all - fame.
At roughly 4am, on Saturday 25th July 2009, two strangers would come face-to-face on Queen’s Walk. As boys, they both had harnessed a gift which would bring them success and recognition in their own right. And whereas, one would become a well-respected doctor through years of hard-work, the other would get a little cash and a flash of fame having had his face plastered on a packet of instant dessert.
When a dream becomes reality, it brings with it a wealth of problems. As the hardest part isn’t how you achieve your dream, but how you cope when you’re riding high or as you plummet to the ground.
Nadim and Thomas had never met before, and yet, it was here that one dream became a nightmare.
My name is Michael, I am your tour guide, and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 181: Sweet Dreams.
(Advert for Angel Delight)
As children, we live our lives full of hope and innocence. Unaware of what our future may bring, we dream of living a good life and fulfilling our goals, but with little knowledge of the dangers or pitfalls.
It’s a sad indictment of our society that we put so much pressure on our children to succeed and often to fulfill our dreams. Their lives should be about playing and learning, not careers and money, but that is what we do. A child’s dream should be light, fluffy and sweet - like a cool glass of Angel Delight.
Born in Hendon, North-West London in 1977, Nadim Gulamhuseinwala was one of two sons born to Vajiuddin and Veronika. Originating in Godhram in the Indian state of Gujarat in the north-west India, like the children of many immigrants – whatever dreams they had – part of theirs would be a desire to please their parents, to strive and to achieve, and to make their struggle and sacrifice worth-while.
Blessed with parents described as “calm and sensible”, both boys were raised well and would succeed.
Being two years his senior, Nadim’s big brother would make a serious mark in financial banking, setting up his own company, leading the UK’s Open Banking initiative, and being awarded an OBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list for his services to finance. That was his dream and he would achieve it well.
Nadim had his own dream, and keen to follow his own path, he would make his mark in medicine.
Educated at St Benedict’s School in Ealing, he left in 1993, went to college where he studied A Levels in science, and then he would attain a degree in medicine at Bristol University. Being smart, it’s likely he suffered with bullying (as many brain-boxes do), especially given that he was from another culture and his skin was a different colour. But it was how he dealt with it that made him a success.
His upbringing would give him the skills to navigate life’s turbulent storms. Like anyone, he would face his own risks, his own dangers and his own failures, being surrounded by contemporaries many of whom would be bigger, better and brighter than him. No-one is perfect and no-one is faultless, so as he slow climbed the long ladder to success, Nadim would be aware of his faults. But what made him a success was how he would learn from his failures and turned his weaknesses into his strengths.
After his graduation, he became an anatomy demonstrator at King's College in London, one of the top 10 universities in the UK, where he met and fell in love with his girlfriend – Caroline Bott.
His father would state: “Nadim was a shining light (who) achieved twice as much as most people…”. He was exceptionally gifted but also blessed with kindness and decency, later described by many as “a sharp wit with a silliness that made your laugh" as well as being “big-hearted and incredibly loving".
Across his illustrious career, Nadim spent eight years working for the NHS, he was a surgeon at Guys and St Thomas’s Hospital, he became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 2005, and he published research papers, including one on neurological damage owing to stab wounds to the spine.
In 2007, Nadim took a prestigious job as a consultant at McKinsey's, a city-based healthcare practice at 1 Jermyn Street, just off Piccadilly Circus. As an ‘engagement manager’, he would be based out of this office, but he would travel internationally, often back-and-forth between London and New York.
By his early 30’s, Nadim was a success with an even brighter life ahead of him. He had achieved fame in his own field, it was done on his own terms, and he had achieved it through his own hard work.
As his father would say “he was on the verge of an exciting future, full of promise and happiness”…
…but as his life was flying high, someone else’s dream had smashed into smithereens.
Born 13 years after Nadim, 19-year-old Thomas Connor was raised by his mother in St Paul’s Cray in Orpington, a small village in the borough of Bromley, south east London. Living on Curtismill Way, he was raised among a mix of post-war two-story semi-detached houses for working class families.
According to his barrister, although his mother had done her best to raise him and his two-year old sister; seeing his mum beaten by his father, him abandoning the family for more than a decade and his mother’s second husband also beating her up in front of the children, this had left him with trauma.
With his education faltering and burdened by a succession of shitty male role models, even as a young boy he risked being stuck in a world of wastrels and ne’er-do-wells, who’s daily high-point was hoofing aerosols, contracting an STD and pissing another day up the wall like a spent bottle of blue WKD.
Everybody has a dream, but sometimes, what every child needs is someone to give them a chance.
In June 2001, global giant Kraft Foods were looking to rebrand a family favourite – Angel Delight. First launched in 1967, Angel Delight is a powdered instant pudding which turns into a fluffy moose when milk is added. Back then, when Thomas was barely eleven, there were seven varieties; strawberry, banana, chocolate, forest fruits, raspberry, vanilla and (for those with no taste buds) butter scotch.
Seen as old fashioned, they aimed to revitalise it as something fun for kids to make with their mums.
The packets had a pop-art design full of funky colours and bold lettering. With a different child’s face for every flavour, fun was added by giving it a silly name like ‘stonking strawberry’, and each child’s face was graffitied with a funny moustache, eyebrows or a beard made of the frothy whip. The design was simple but bold, and above the child’s head were the words Angel Delight, topped off with a halo.
With the design approved, what they needed was seven children with angelic faces.
As had happened with Kate Moss, the talent scouts didn’t trawl the magazines trying to find the face to fit the product, they hung out at shopping centres trying to find a nobody who was fresh and unique.
Thomas had never modelled before and he had no dreams of becoming a model. But blessed with soft blonde hair, a cheeky face and ears like two-handled mug, he fit their image of a “little angel”. Chosen from a pool of thousands, not only was his face selected to be on packets in every supermarket and on adverts on every television across the country, but – as the brand’s favourite - he was specifically chosen among the few to be the face of ‘stonking strawberry’ – the brand’s top-selling flavour.
The photoshoot was a breeze and his fee a welcome addition to this struggling little family, but – more importantly, just like the dessert – as a leg-up the ladder of success, his fame would be instant…
…only fame comes with more pitfalls than promises.
In their young lives, where-as Nadim had set-aside his bully’s taunts as the jealous rantings of losers who would achieve nothing, Thomas let their hurtful barbs jab at his skin like the prickles of dickheads.
Bullied, beaten and branded as “gay” by his classmates, he was mercilessly teased and taunted as the face of a packet pudding. As a global campaign the company had ploughed millions into - unlike an embarrassing news-story which a few locals would gossip about one day, only for it to be used to wrap fish and chips the next - the rebranding of Angel Delight would be around for the best part of a decade.
This flash of fame should have been the springboard to a brighter career and a better life, but riddled with anxiety and depression, it had ruined his childhood and it left him with a legacy that he resented.
He ran away from home being unable to cope. Having left school, he struggled to hold down a regular job. And seeing no way to escape his torment as the ‘Angel Delight’ kid, he tried to take his own life.
Across his teenage years, when the world should have been a place of limitless dreams, Thomas should have been the epitome of happiness. Only drifting from rejection to rejection, he would waste his days hanging around with his pal William Paton, another bullied boy described as a talentless waster who was used as a verbal punchbag having been branded with nicknames like Billy Idiot and Forrest Gump.
To distract himself from the horror, he took cocaine and visited brothels. With a history of self-harm, he had tried to join to Army, but he was rejected. And with the last four years of his life a write-off, Thomas was at his wits-end. The boy who had found fame as the face of an instant pudding was a lost soul with no future, whose image – every day in millions of homes - was being tossed into the bin.
On Friday 24th July 2009, Thomas was accepted as an assistant at a local garden centre. It was a simple job for a modest wage, but this distant glimpse of hope would leave him in a “celebratory mood”.
Finally, his shitty little life had turned a corner…
…a few hours later, the boy dubbed ‘Britain’s little angel’ would brutally beat a stranger to death.
Friday 24th July 2009 was a regular day in a seemingly ordinary world. In sport, Serena Williams had won Wimbledon beating her sister and claiming her third Grand Slam victory. In memorial, America had bid farewell to celebrated news-anchor Walter Kronkite and Britain had bid goodbye to comedy institution Mollie Sugden. A few months earlier, a miracle had occurred when Captain Sullenberger landed his stricken plane, US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson. And although a potential pandemic was whispered as HN1N swine flu slowly spread across the globe, the world was as chaotic as usual.
For Nadim, after two years as ‘engagement manager’ at healthcare practice McKinsey's, his life was hectic travelling back and forth from London to New York, but he had done his best to keep a work-life balance. Still very much in love with his girlfriend, Caroline, they would see each other as often as possible, and when their careers and lives got in the way, they always made time to chat on the phone.
Having just returned from New York, by early evening Nadim had left his office on Jermyn Street and was heading out for a fun evening with a friend at Funky Buddha, just around the corner at 15 Berkley Street in Mayfair. It was a regular night, with a trusted pal, in a club he had often frequented. With a flat in Westminster, a few streets south of Green Park, he wasn’t a baffled stranger staggering some strange and unfamiliar streets, but a born-and-bred local living his life in his home city of London.
As a doctor who had been trained at two of London’s busiest trauma centres, having written research papers on the neurological effects of stab wounds, and after years in A&E seeing some of the horrifying things that a human-being can do to another person, he knew the dangers of living life in the big city.
Nadim was in town having fun…
…as at the same time, so was Thomas.
That night, still being in a jubilant mood as the next week he would begin a new job at the garden centre, Thomas and his pal William headed to a bar in Bromley to sink a few suds and neck a few shots. The two boys, both aged just 19, were here to dance, to laugh and to party. Not to commit a murder.
With their home-town being a too quiet to kick-back and the pubs already kicking out, they purchased a gram of cocaine for £40, they had a swift toot of Columbia’s finest and took the night bus to London.
Mayfair’s clubs are notoriously snooty over who they let in, so being ‘dressed to impress’, the barely legal lads made their nostrils extra festive with an extra snort from Santa’s magic bag, and headed to Strawberry Moons; a nightclub hidden on Heddon Street, with the usual half-deaf DJ banging out tunes too loud to hear, an over-priced cocktail bar for fans of watered-down vodka with fruit, and a pink chequered dancefloor where posers tried to mimic John Travolta, but moved like crabs with piles.
For Thomas and William, they were just two young lads out for a bit of a boogie.
But cocaine can affect different people in different ways. It can make us fun, silly, arrogant and selfish. It can heighten the best and the worst characteristics of our personalities – making the timid chatty and the twats into massive arseholes – but when mixed with alcohol, it can make for bad bed-fellows.
At 2am, Thomas (accompanied by William) left Strawberry Moons, staggering but stifling a boner as they crossed Regent Street and headed into Soho. With little open in the wee small hours, this single lad headed to Rupert Street, a place synonymous at that time of night for just one thing - sex.
Approached by a prostitute, she propositioned him, and – being all gee’d up on coke and probably believing that he was a lothario with the stamina to last, but knowing this kid was little more than two pumps and a squirt merchant – from a cash-machine, Thomas withdrew £90 and handed it over.
Seeing this sweet-faced lad was worse for wear and not particularly bright, with his brain powered by his balls, she played the oldest trick in the book; to prey on a drunk, to play on his needs, and – having grabbed his cash and swiftly fled – he lost her in the maze of Soho’s back-streets and side-alleys.
The boy who was once the saintly face of Angel Delight had been ripped off by a Soho sex-worker…
…but instead of dealing with it - as he had done by being bullied over his brief brush with minor fame as the epitome of innocence for a child’s packet of instant whip - he let the anger eat him up inside.
He could have let it slide, he could have gone home, or he could have admitted he cocked up, but he didn’t. For the next hour, described as a “tower of rage”, Thomas roamed the streets with William in tow, hunting down this woman who had robbed him and wanting his money back. Later admitting to the jury that he was ‘angry, upset and frustrated’, he was broke, furious and he wanted to fuck.
Like too many boys who were bullied - faced with an obstacle - the bullied would become the bully. Ganging-up as they’re too afraid to go it alone, and hitting out at those who can’t defend themselves - being out of money and still sporting an unused erection – Thomas wanted cash to buy a shag.
As the sulking twosome sculked the dark-lit streets from Soho to St James…
…they hatched a plan to rob a stranger, as just off a path in Green Park…
…they hid behind a tree, lying in wait on Queen’s Walk.
Having had a good night and said goodbye to an old friend, 32-year-old Nadim was walking a familiar route from the club in Mayfair to his flat in Westminster. Although it had gone 4am, being barely 30 minutes before dawn, he was on the phone to his girlfriend, Caroline. Entering Green Park by the gates to the side of The Ritz hotel, Queen’s Walk was dark and empty, with not a living soul to see or hear.
According to Caroline, “he sounded happy”, his usual bright-self enjoying the good life he had made for himself through his own hard-work. About a hundred feet down Queen’s Walk, Nadim stopped to lean against the black wrought iron railings. With his girlfriend worried about him walking through the park alone, he assured her he would take a taxi the rest of the way but said was enjoying the night air.
In the familiar dark of Green Park and a path he had walked many times before, the faint light of his phone was the only light illuminating his face, as he spoke to the woman he loved, for one last time.
Having had a long day, he said he felt tired, and was jealous of the fact that she was already in bed.
Caroline would later state "he started saying something else, then there was two to three seconds of white noise. I just said ‘hello, hello', then the phone went completely dead. I thought his battery had died as it had done in the past. I didn't try to ring him again because I thought he would be home in 20 minutes and he would ring or text me to say he had got home safely”. It had happened before, and with nothing to really worry her, “I tried to stay awake”, but with the hour being so late, “I fell asleep".
It seemed like just a regular call hampered by bad technology…
…only Nadim would never make it home.
Shown as evidence, footage would clearly show no provocation prior to the attack. Thomas and Nadim had barely exchanged glances for a split second and hadn’t spoken a single word. While Nadim was on the phone, a look of horror engulfed his face as Thomas swung a 10-kilo iron railing at his head.
In his confession, Thomas would admit “I run and got the pole. I have run over to him. I don't know why, I was just really angry at everything, everyone being rude. As he leaned over while on his phone I struck him down, he got up, looked at me, and hit him square on the head. It hit his left cheek first and he's gone down. I saw his eyes were open, I thought he was looking at me so I got scared. I stamped on his head a couple of times. Then I realised what I was doing. It's not normally I do that.'
Knocked unconscious, Nadim suffered multiple skull fractures as Thomas stamped on his head and face. And as the young gifted doctor, who was barely half-way through his life lay dying on the ground; Thomas’ pal William Paton rifled the bleeding man’s pockets stealing his phone, wallet and cash.
In the time it would take to make some Angel Delight, Nadim’s dream was shattered…
…and all because of a selfish little boy whose own dream had become a nightmare (End).
With his family devasted, Imran would state "my brother was killed in a barbaric, senseless and utterly unprovoked attack. They asked no questions, made no demands and no threats. He had no argument with the men … but they brutally robbed him of his life and future”.
Discovered by a passer-by just a few minutes later, at 4:15am, police and paramedics were called and Nadim was rushed to hospital in a critical condition. But having suffered a brain haemorrhage, he remained in a coma for two weeks, and on Wednesday 5th August 2009, he was declared legally dead.
On the day of his death – using CCTV, DNA, fingerprints and phone data – Thomas & William were arrested, with Thomas stating “I was looking at him for a couple of seconds thinking ‘what have I done?’. I didn't want him to die. I just kept running as fast as I could. I was so scared, I really thought he was dead. I kept saying to Bill "he's dead, I think he's dead’”. And yet, so traumatised were the boys having believed they had killed a stranger, that while the paramedics were fighting to save his life, they had returned to Soho so Thomas have his fuck, and then the two headed back home to Bromley.
Pleading ‘not guilty’ and blaming each other, in a three-week trial at the Old Bailey, Thomas Connor was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder with a minimum of 25 years, with William Paton to a minimum of 23 years, with both due to serve an additional 10 years for robbery to run concurrently.
** LEGAL DISCLAIMER
The Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast has been researched using the original declassified police investigation files, court records, press reports and as many authentic sources as possible, which are freely available in the public domain, including eye-witness testimony, confessions, autopsy reports, first-hand accounts and independent investigation, where possible. But these documents are only as accurate as those recounting them and recording them, and are always incomplete or full of opinion rather than fact, therefore mistakes and misrepresentations can be made. As stated at the beginning of each episode (and as is clear by the way it is presented) Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast is a 'dramatisation' of the events and not a documentary, therefore a certain amount of dramatic licence, selective characterisation and story-telling (within logical reason and based on extensive research) has been taken to create a fuller picture. It is not a full and complete representation of the case, the people or the investigation, and therefore should not be taken as such. It is also often (for the sake of clarity, speed and the drama) presented from a single person's perspective, usually (but not exclusively) the victim's, and therefore it will contain a certain level of bias and opinion to get across this single perspective, which may not be the overall opinion of those involved or associated. Murder Mile is just one possible retelling of each case. Murder Mile does not set out to cause any harm or distress to those involved, and those who listen to the podcast or read the transcripts provided should be aware that by accessing anything created by Murder Mile (or any source related to any each) that they may discover some details about a person, an incident or the police investigation itself, that they were unaware of.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London” and nominated "one of the best true-crime podcasts at the British Podcast Awards".
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
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