London pub squatters lived alongside dead body of man ‘wrapped in cling film’ in freezer for months

Exclusive: ‘It was like something out of a horror movie’: Pictures show the scene where Roy Bigg’s body was found

<p>The scene where the body of missing man Roy Bigg was found in the basement of a disused London pub</p>

The scene where the body of missing man Roy Bigg was found in the basement of a disused London pub

Squatters in a disused pub had been living with a body in a freezer for months before it was found, The Independent can reveal.

The body of Roy Bigg, who went missing in February 2012, was found “wrapped in cling film” in the basement of the derelict Simpson’s wine bar in Newham, London.

Bailiffs were clearing out the building when they made the discovery on 15 October last year. As many as 20 squatters were estimated to have been living in the disused building before they were evicted by enforcement officers at the instruction of the owners in late September.

The squatters had been living at the site since at least April 2021, but could have been there for significantly longer.

Enforcement officers at Ingram Associates were clearing out the building, which was full of rubbish and contained around 30 bicycles, when they tried to shift a large freezer in the basement, a senior partner at the firm told The Independent.

After struggling to move it, they opened the freezer up to find a body inside wrapped in cling film, John Ingram said. “It’s like something out of a horror movie,” he added.

The freezer where Roy Bigg’s body was found

The contractors immediately alerted the police. Pictures shared with The Independent show the chest freezer that the body was found in and the dingy basement where it was located. They also show rooms full of upturned furniture, discarded rubbish and stacked alcohol kegs.

Metropolitan Police officers working on the case have appealed for information about Mr Bigg, who was believed to be around 70 years old when he died. They have not been able to identify any of his immediate family, The Independent understands.

Police said that Mr Bigg’s body “may have been there for a number of years”. They were able to identify his body on the basis of dental records.

The basement of the derelict wine bar on Romford Road, east London

John Ingram said he started evicting the squatters, with the help of six court enforcement agents and two dog handlers, at 10.30am on 29 September 2021. His team started to search the property after the lodgers moved their belongings, and discovered a “very large knife, approximately 18 inches long”, which was immediately taken to the police station next door.

“We didn’t actually go right into the basement initially,” Mr Ingram said. “It was very dark and the steps were very dangerous. The whole place was in a real mess.”

Simpson’s wine bar, in Forest Gate, London, has been left derelict for many years

Inside the pub where squatters had been living

His firm was then asked to clear the rubbish-strewn building, and workmen made the shock discovery some days later on 15 October.

“Our guys were there clearing the place, and they went down into the basement and saw an old freezer down there,” Mr Ingram said. “It was a bit too heavy to move and they looked inside to see what was there, and of course there was a body there. It’s like something out of a horror movie.

“The body was in a freezer in the basement and was wrapped in cling film. Needless to say, we were all completely shocked.

“I told the senior security officer to report it to the police immediately,” Mr Ingram added.

Alcohol kegs were found stacked inside the old pub

In the time between the squatters being evicted and the body being discovered, someone broke in through the building’s skylight and moved furniture around as if searching for something, Mr Ingram said.

Mohammed Ali, a hotelier who works near the disused bar, said that it had been run down for at least 10 years.

Newham Council records showed that the owners of the bar had applied for planning permission to renovate the building three times since 2016, including submitting plans to build five apartments on the site and to restore the pub. However, the council refused permission each time.

Mr Ali said: “There’s been a lot of squatters and lodgers residing in the property, at least 20 to 30 people, and it’s been like that for years.”

The building had been left in disrepair for at least 10 years

He added: “There have been issues with getting planning permission from Newham, and that’s why it’s been left so run down. I’ve been here for 10 years and it’s always been like that.

“It was concerning when the body was discovered because the police closed the whole area for around a week, and this area is not getting any better. I’d say it’s getting worse. They’ve regenerated Stratford but it’s stopped there. The area has actually deteriorated in the last 10 to 15 years.”

Roy Bigg went missing in 2012

Neighbour Khodeja Zohra said that when the body was found, police spoke to local residents and asked if they had heard or seen anything suspicious happen at the run-down pub.

“Police cordons were up for around two weeks,” she said. “I’ve lived here for one and a half years. We thought it was a safe area because the police station is just next door, but now we’ve heard about this happening we are not so sure.”

Detective chief inspector Kelly Allen, of the Met Police’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “We believe that Roy’s body may have been in the freezer for a number of years.

“Speaking to people who knew him will help us establish not only his lifestyle and habits, but also when he was last seen.

“If you knew Roy please do get in touch with us – his birth date was 8 September 1944, we believe he would have been aged around 70 when he died.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s been a long time since you knew him, or if you only knew him briefly. Any information may be of real significance to our enquiries.”

Anyone who knew Roy Bigg should call the incident room on 020 8345 1570, call 101, or Tweet @MetCC quoting CAD4332/15OCT21.

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