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   Inside Out - Yorkshire & Lincolnshire: Monday 27th January, 2003


Henryk Borynski
MISSING WITHOUT A TRACE | Polish priest Henryk Borynski

A former top detective has named a Catholic priest as the prime suspect in an unsolved Bradford murder case.

The case has baffled police for 50 years.

But now, talking to BBC’s Inside Out, former Det Chief Supt Bob Taylor claims that church officials covered up the role of Canon Boleslaw Martynellis in the murder of a fellow priest.

Mysterious disappearance

Father Henryk Borynski vanished after leaving his lodgings in Little Horton Lane on the evening of July 13, 1953.

He had ten shillings in his pocket when he disappeared. He left behind £250 in savings and all his possessions, including his prayer books.

No trace of him has ever been found.


Father Borynski with children
Father Borynski in happier days amusing local children

Father Borynski was chaplain to the 1,500-strong Polish community in Bradford and it was the height of the Cold War.

The priest made no secret of his anti-Communist views. But he was preaching to a divided community.

In those days, there were people prepared to take drastic steps to deal with their political enemies.

It was believed at the time that he might have been snatched from the streets of Bradford by the Polish secret police.


Father Borynski had been in Bradford only ten months before his disappearance.

He had been sent to replace a colleague named Canon Martynellis.

But Canon Martynellis was settled in Bradford and had refused to leave.

After re-examining the evidence, Mr Taylor believes that Canon Martynellis was used by communist agents in Bradford’s Eastern European community to set a trap for Father Borynski - and that the motive was professional jealousy.

Mr Taylor says, "I believe Canon Martynellis may have been told that this was the way to keep his old job and that he did not realise what he was getting involved in until it was too late."

Phone calls

Canon Martynellis
Cannon Martnellis did not want to be replaced

Witnesses said Canon Martynellis made a mysterious phone call to Father Borynski on the day of his disappearance, but Canon Martynellis denied this.

A month after Father Borynski vanished, Canon Martynellis was found collapsed at his home.

He claimed to have been visited by two mysterious men ordering him to ‘Milz Klecho’ or ‘keep quiet priest’.

He died of a heart attack two years later without shedding any more light on Father Borynski’s disappearance.


The police inquiry into the disappearance got nowhere - but Martynellis had supporters in high places.

The Catholic Bishop of Leeds at the time was John Carmel Heenan. He later became the Archbishop of Westminster and was made a cardinal by Pope Paul in Rome.

Bishop Heenan dismissed suggestions of Martynellis’ involvement as "absurd" and advised police to exclude him as a suspect. The priest was never charged.

Mr Taylor said: "I find it impossible to believe that Canon Martynellis was not involved in the disappearance."

"I believe senior church officials knew more than they disclosed to police in Bradford at the time."

These are interesting insights into the case. But with Cannon Martynellis dead and no trace of Father Borynski, this case will join other tragic episodes in the Polish community’s heritage.

See also ...

Bradford and West Yorkshire

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