In this section of the Genette Investigation website we start to tell the actual story, not the official fantasy one. We’re doing this in short bursts, in bite-sized chunks, and we encourage you to visit the locations mentioned in order to get a sense of the timeline and the geography. Perhaps then things will make a little more sense. If you’d like a member of GTIG to accompany you that can indeed be arranged.


(Copyright, Genette Tate Investigation Group, 2011)

August 19th, 1978

13-year-old schoolgirl Genette Tate disappeared whilst delivering papers in Within Lane, some 150 yards from the centre of Aylesbeare, five miles from the city of Exeter, Devon, on August 19th 1978.

At around 2.30pm that afternoon she left her house, at Barton Hall Farm, on a bicycle, via a back lane, in the direction of the A3052 Sidmouth-Exeter road. She is said to have picked up 70 newspapers from the bus stop within sight of the White Horse Inn by Nine Oaks Cross. (Questions like, “how did 70 papers fit into Genette’s bicycle pannier?” have never been effectively dealt with.)

By 3pm Genette was on her way back towards her home, delivering a small number of papers, as well as collecting money owed for them, in the tiny hamlet of Farringdon, as she went. Travelling up Within Lane she stopped at a bridge over a stream (this is situated in a dip, in what might be described as the “remotest” part of the lane) where she came across two other teenage girls she knew from the village.

This meeting was witnessed by a mother and daughter, who’d stopped by the bridge. (The appearance and existence of these two at the time cannot have been factored in by those responsible for Genette’s abduction). They continued on, walking away from Aylesbeare. At this point, and within short order, they also saw a maroon car speeding towards Aylesbeare driven by a man of fairly dark complexion seemingly in his late twenties. (Note, the mother and daughter were later hypnotised in order to glean additional information.)

Here lies our first mystery; the two teenagers, Margaret Heavey and Tracy Pratt, claim not to have seen the maroon car despite the fact that other witnesses saw it moving towards, and therefore past, them towards Aylesbeare. The two girls claimed, later, that they were in the lane to spot a potential boyfriend, and yet they did not see a youngish male driver in a maroon vehicle whose radio was playing loudly.

Margaret Heavey, Det Chief Superintendent Eric Rundle, and Tracey Pratt during the Police reconstruction of Genette's disappearance, August 1978. Please note Eric Rundle, for future reference.

During the meeting between Genette and the teenage girls a newspaper had been exchanged and the girls were reading it as they casually, and at no great speed, ambled up the lane. After around five minutes, according to their testimony, they discovered Genette’s bike, “its back wheel still turning”, by a gate, some 150 yards outside the village. (You can still visit this location with ease today by travelling down Within Lane from the local pub. It is just beyond the new houses to your left as the lane bends.)

According to Margaret and Tracy, frequently pictured attempting to recreate the scene in subsequent newspaper reports, they immediately panicked, wondered where Genette was, and started to climb the hedgerows and shout out her name. Their testimony is that they feared Genette had, possibly, been taken up in a UFO (!), which certainly relates to the headline story featured on the front page of the newspaper Genette had given them just minutes earlier where an alleged UFO was photographed by an Exeter man.

Unknown to the two girls, another witness, a farmer, was working in the field directly beside Genette’s supposed route home. So he is a primary witness. Incredibly, he saw the two girls walking up the lane but he notes that they showed no signs of panic whatsoever. They were continuing to chat very much as they claim to have been before coming across Genette’s bike. He heard no shouting, no calling for Genette, no panic, indeed nothing unusual at all.

At this stage it is well worth pointing out that this farmer made a statement to Police. He was quite sure about his testimony but was then leaned upon, pressurised, by detectives to change his statement because they insisted he’d been “too far away to hear anything.”

To make matters worse, from the point of view of the “accepted version of events” and the “official witnesses” the maroon car was also seen by two other credible witnesses in Aylesbeare that afternoon that links in with what the mother and daughter said they’d seen:

A driving instructor and his wife, the Gormans, were approaching Aylesbeare from the village of Rockbeare having travelled along the A30 from Exeter where they lived.

 The couple, with whom we spoke during our investigation, say that they stopped at the Aylesbeare crossroads and saw a maroon Triumph car travelling at high speed through the village, kicking up a cloud of dust as it did so, in the direction of Exeter and the airport.

 The older couple, who were driving a Mini car, then turned into Within Lane. At no point did they see a bike and yet they must, by the established timeline, have done so. This is the only logical conclusion. Even today, Within Lane is quiet. You can hold a conversation there for 45 minutes without seeing anybody or being passed by a vehicle. In 1978 it was even quieter, as were all the local lanes. It is impossible to believe that the couple in the mini could have failed to see a bike in the road, that they certainly would have had to slow down to pass.

What they did see was two girls in Within Lane, one of them riding a bike.

As soon as the news broke that an incident had taken place in the village that day the couple went immediately to Heavitree Rd Police station in Exeter to make a statement. They believed that they had done the right thing. And they had. But imagine their shock, surprise and horror when, retracing their movement some three-four weeks later in Aylesbeare they were stopped by a Policeman in the village, near the Incident Centre that had been set up to act as a coordinating and contact point for official efforts.

It emerged that the Police did not know anything about their statement. Theirs was absolutely vital testimony; central to the timeline, to other witness statements and claims, and to the whole investigation.

Their statement had been “lost”…and, as you will see in our next instalment, their subsequent sighting of the very same maroon Triumph car in the St Thomas area of Exeter led to even more bizarre Police behaviour…….


(Copyright, Genette Tate Investigation Group, 2011)


We know that there was a maroon Triumph in Aylesbeare that afternoon – August 19th, 1978. A chance comment during our investigation led us to meet a local man who claimed that John Tate himself owned one.

“What car did Tate own?” we asked. “A maroon Triumph,” he answered emphatically, “and I never knew him to drive anything else.”

At one point, a supposed “researcher” for Westward TV, tasked to make preliminary investigations into the Genette Tate affair, accompanied us to the farm and the information about the car was confirmed. To our surprise, this “researcher” then had a meeting with Detective Chief Superintendent Rundle, who was actively involved in the earlier stages of the Police effort. The researcher contacted us soon after with the bizarre news that, “I’ve spoken with old Rundle and you can forget about the maroon Triumph. John Tate never owned one.”

We already knew about the maroon Triumph and yet again we find the Police making evidence disappear. Not the men at the local level, or lower levels of the Devon and Cornwall force, but very senior detectives.

As if to confirm our worst fears we spoke to Tania Tate (subsequently Tania Jackson), John Tate’s step-daughter, and asked her about cars. We didn’t ask leading questions – we never have done – but she did indeed confirm that Tate senior owned one but thought, “that he sold it a couple of weeks before Genette disappeared.”

Furthermore, Tania told us that another local girl she’d spoken to in the weeks after 19th August 1978 had also seen a maroon Triumph but had decided not to report it officially because she was frightened.


The fear felt and experienced by some children in Aylesbeare is not surprising given the levels of physical and sexual abuse they tell us was meted out to them by their elders. It seems that the children, and many of the adults in the village – not connected in any way with ritual abuse – had little or no faith in the authorities in terms of an ability to bring Genette’s abductor-killer to justice.

Just recently, in early August 2011, we spoke with someone who went to school with Genette Tate and was of that late 1970s Aylesbeare generation. Visibly upset and emotional, he told us that he wouldn’t even drive through the village as it brought back such unpleasant memories. More from him at a later date but it’s important to set the scene and give you, the reader, an idea, some background, on life in the village circa 1978-79.

It is nearly impossible to understand, to get one’s head around, the alien and hostile world some of these children inhabited. They couldn’t trust adults and they never talked to the Police, ever. In too many cases the children were used and abused and the people who took advantage of them did not, and do not, operate to the same moral principles that we do. To that extent, the children who came to be involved in the Genette Tate affair can, on many levels, be forgiven for simply playing the part that they were given.

To whom could they turn?

The thing that they could do now, as grown-ups, is to name names and tell us what happened. That is one way. The way many of them actually chose to handle what had happened was to try and get up and out, to have their own, better and happier, familiesand relationships  and to somehow make their former life very much a thing of a forgettable, and damnable, past.


Tania Tate/Jackson’s information is absolutely vital in terms of this investigation. One thing is absolutely clear; Tania was damaged by what happened to her sexually and it explains much of her behaviour post-1978.

In May 1985 (starting on 25th of that month) a number of articles appeared in the Daily Star newspaper. The Star had been given information about John Tate and his leadership of the International Find a Child charity/IFAC (Remember that in 1996 The Sunday Mirror exposed the fact, once again, that Tate had embezzled money from charities including IFAC and the Muscular Dystrophy Group).

The Star articles, three over three days, were shocking and showed John Tate in a horrifying new light. Already cleared of a 1980 sexual assault, what followed in the newspaper articles was a detailed catalogue of child abuse. In Tania’s case the sexual abuse by John Tate had started when she was eight-and-a-half years old and continued until she was 13.

When she reached 13 Tania rejected Tate’s perversion and she told of how the abuse he’d inflicted had warped and damaged her life. Her feelings of revulsion had made her afraid to be alone in the house with her step-father.

Tania was 15 at the time of Genette’s disappearance and now, aged 21, her feelings towards men were very uncertain.

Tate, for his part, in his first book, paints an entirely different, and obviously fantastic, account of a happy and balanced family life and in this he was obviously assisted by the writer Colin Wilson.

According to Tania, in the Star account, Genette had walked into the bedroom when she (Tania) and Tate were engaged in sexual “horseplay.” If Genette was concerned and scared at home she had every reason to be…


Tony Hammond knew of Genette’s deep fear.

(There’ll be more on Tony later this week but he is another important witness in this case and one rarely quoted or interviewed in relation to the case. This is, we believe, because his evidence does not gel with the official version of the truth.)

If there is any doubt that we have spoken, at length, to the many and various players in this tragedy we should point out that we have an exercise book, given to us by Tony many years ago, including his and Genette’s handwriting in which Tony pasted in press reports of Genette’s disappearance.

It is clear that Genette and Tony, a local boy, had mutual affection for each other beyond that of “just good friends.” Genette was at a stage where she had a greater interest in boys but her father, John Tate, had tried to stop the pair from seeing each other. One can only wonder why given what we know about the nature and extent of the abusive relationship between father and daughter.

With this in mind the fact that on August 19th, 1978, John Tate miraculously allowed Genette and Tony to meet in order for him to accompany her on her first ever paper round is of deep significance. Genette had, we understand, been very frightened and wanted Tony to go with her that afternoon.

Did John Tate allow the youngsters to be together, albeit briefly, so that Genette’s location could be fixed and set within a limited time frame?

On the day, Genette rode out via Perkins Village, a more circuitous back way to pick up her papers at the bus stop on the A 3052, and we have spoken to a witness who saw her riding past her house that afternoon. So, once again, we know, independently of other witnesses, where she was, and when.

Tony was supposed to meet her there but he was late and was delayed.

For perhaps obvious reasons, Tony ran all the way back towards Aylesbeare in a panic.

Tony’s initial testimony, that followed his arrival at the village and the Tate household, is important for it casts doubt on the claims of Margaret Heavey and Tracy Pratt in that he claims to have been the one to have informed John Tate of Genette’s disappearance. Furthermore, he testifies that Tate’s behaviour, upon learning about this, upon the father’s much-vaunted “return from Exeter”, was bizarre to say the least. Tate was, he argued, calm, collected, almost disinterested. Was this the behaviour of a frantic and worried father?

Certainly Tony Hammond’s testimony is vital but he, too, was leaned upon and he changed parts of his story. He first claimed to have gone with Genette to pick up the papers and then, contrastingly, that he had actually failed to meet her and only learned of her disappearance when he chanced upon Maggie and Tracy newly arrived at the Tate household, the girls with Genette’s bike and a story about their having found it in Within Lane. (They shortly proceeded back to the lane to replace the bike in what they claimed to be its original disposition, with the newspapers fanned out across the tarmac.)

One thing is for sure, and this was related to us by Tony’s uncle, Ernie. Police detectives interviewing Tony were very heavy handed with the boy. His uncle remonstrated with the detectives at the time and told them to stop bullying his son. Tony was terrified and terribly upset.

Matters took a bizarre turn when, during the initial Police investigation, Tony’s late mother was exhumed from her grave on the basis that detectives believed the wild theory that Tony had killed Genette and somehow placed the body in the coffin! Pure madness, for which there was not the slightest hint of evidence.

It is, therefore, not unfair to suggest that a certain type of deep insanity appears, on the surface, to have affected aspects of the early Police investigation. One could almost be forgiven for concluding that the Police wanted the public to believe anything other than that which had actually occurred. Considerable efforts were made, we argue, to lead people up a long and winding garden path…

Tony did, though, share something in common with Maggie, Tracy, Violet Tate (John’s then wife) and several other locals. This was that Genette had been “taken” and “would be returned to the same spot”, Within Lane, some twelve months hence.

It is not clear where this suggestion came from but it was, for some reason, widely believed, and, from the point of view of a cover up of what had really happened to the 13-year-old, terribly convenient. Did it allow crucial time – breathing space – for those few involved in attempting to tie up possible loose ends. Did this help to divert attention away from the crucial testimony of independent witnesses (non-village folk)?

It certainly left other witnesses – and the public at large – with false hopes and mistaken expectations…….