A boy looking for golf balls in the pond by the seventh hole at Potters Bar Golf Club, Middlesex, in May, 1948, found something he wasn’t looking for – a manicured human hand. It had been there for six months.

The pond was drained and raked and, piece by piece, the body of a man was recovered. The head had been partly burned before being thrown into the pond, along with the hacksaw used for the dismemberment.

It was established that the body was of a shortish man, well built and with a protruding lower jaw. Thirty-six missing men fitted that description and 35 were eliminated. The one who remained was Albert Welch, 45, a railwayman, known to his workmates, who regarded him as morose and restless, as “Snakey.”

Welch left his council house in Cranbourne Crescent, Potters Bar, in the afternoon of Wednesday, November 19th, 1947, leaving a message to his wife on the kitchen table: “Phyllis, I have gone for a walk. Shan’t be in for tea. – Albert.” He took with him his ration book and identity card.

A plaster cast of the feet found in the pond fitted Welch’s boots and, despite the long immersion in water, police managed to obtain one nearly perfect fingerprint.

But a railwayman with manicured hands? “Impossible,” said his wife, who had initially believed that he had simply walked out on her. “My husband had rough, workman’s hands.”

His workmates had a different view. Snakey, they said, always wore gloves when he was working and spent his breaks manicuring his hands. So who did he meet that afternoon, who killed him, cut him up and threw the pieces in the pond?