Pensioner, 79, appears at Old Bailey charged with murdering prostitute

Pensioner, 79, appears at Old Bailey charged with murdering prostitute who was beaten and strangled in 1974 Islington killing

  • Eileen Cotter, 22, was discovered in front of a block of garages in London 
  • And now John Apelgren, 79, has been charged with murdering the prostitute
  • He is also charged with indecently assaulting 18 year-old female guest in 1972
  • A 79-year-old pensioner has appeared at the Old Bailey charged with murdering a prostitute, who was beaten and strangled to death nearly 50 years ago.

    The court was told that John Apelgren, 79, is a ‘one in a billion’ DNA match to evidence found on the body of sex worker Eileen Cotter. 

    The 22-year-old was discovered in front of a block of garages behind Hamilton Park, Highbury, north London, on June 1, 1974.

    Apelgren, 79, a dual UK and South African national, was arrested on 22 June on suspicion of murder.

    He is also charged with indecently assaulting an 18 year-old female guest at his wedding to ex-wife Ann Smythe in 1972 and has since re-married and has at least one son 

    The court was told that John Apelgren, 79, is a ‘one in a billion’ DNA match to evidence found on the body of sex worker Eileen Cotter (pictured)

    The court was told that John Apelgren, 79, is a ‘one in a billion’ DNA match to evidence found on the body of sex worker Eileen Cotter (pictured)

    The dual UK and South African national appeared in court via videolink from HMP Thameside.

    Bespectacled Apelgren, of Bryden Close, Sydenham, southeast London, spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth.

    He was remanded in custody ahead of a plea and trial preparation hearing on September 12.

    He was allegedly matched to Eileen’s DNA after submitting to a test on an unrelated matter in 2019.  

    The 22-year-old was discovered in front of a block of garages behind Hamilton Park (pictured), Highbury, north London, on June 1, 1974

    The 22-year-old was discovered in front of a block of garages behind Hamilton Park (pictured), Highbury, north London, on June 1, 1974

    The sex worker was discovered face-down with her buttocks exposed in an area frequented by prostitutes and their clients, accessible via a single track.

    A post mortem confirmed the cause of death as manual strangulation, and there was evidence she received a black eye and bruising to her face and neck.

    A murder investigation was launched at the time, but nobody was ever charged.

    Apelgren is also accused of pressing his penis into the hand of the complainant on his wedding day when she left the ladies toilet.