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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Social Chat > Other Mysteries > A6 Murders

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  #4411  
Old 01-23-2018, 10:38 AM
cobalt cobalt is offline
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The only thing that throws doubt on Alphon’s alibi is Nudds dubious middle statement

I think Mrs Lanz, proprietor of the Old Station Inn, Taplow, placed Alphon in her premises on the evening of the crime. If she was correct that would not completely demolish Alphon’s alibi, since he could have returned to the Vienna Hotel later. But it would show that Alphon was lying.

Not that lying was anything out of the ordinary with the cast of the A6 Case. Several of them spent their life operating under aliases, even when this seemed to serve no obvious purpose. Hanratty/Ryan was an inveterate liar who, if innocent of the crime, actually lied his way to the gallows. Alphon/Durrant comes across as a fantasist who found it hard to remember what his last lie had been. And Nudds/Glickberg/Weston seems never to have fully grasped the concept of veracity.

The police themselves have not been above suspicion in this regard either, perhaps as their frustration mounted. Yet they were actually quite fortunate at the beginning of the inquiry, for within 48 hours they had three important material pieces of evidence: Miss Storie was- against all the odds- a surviving victim, able to provide timings, placings and an identification as well as forensic materials on her clothes; the car was not garaged for a month or two but turned up in a public street and should have been a treasure trove of forensic information; the gun and accompanying bullets were not flung to the bottom of a river but helpfully placed on public transport. This was a flying start but the investigation stalled for some time before being kick-started in a Swiss Cottage shopping arcade, and then more fruitfully, the Vienna Hotel.
Despite this unpromising beginning, as we know the police were eventually able to link all three material pieces of evidence to James Hanratty.

Though perhaps not to the level they would have wished. Hanratty’s suit complete with jacket was the missing element: ideally it should have had minute fibres from Miss Storie’s clothes, a bit of bloodstaining invisible to the naked eye, a few matching fibres from the car interior for good measure, and if not a spent cartridge at least some cordite residue in one of the pockets.
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  #4412  
Old 01-23-2018, 12:56 PM
Graham Graham is offline
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Quote:
I think Mrs Lanz, proprietor of the Old Station Inn, Taplow, placed Alphon in her premises on the evening of the crime. If she was correct that would not completely demolish Alphon’s alibi, since he could have returned to the Vienna Hotel later. But it would show that Alphon was lying
.

I wouldn't place too much credence in what Mrs Lanz said. On 24 August 1961 she told police who interviewed her that most of the people in the pub on the evening of the 22 August 'were strangers', but she mentioned two unrecognised men in the bar who left shortly before or shortly after Gregsten and Storie left. Ten years later she was telling The Sunday Times that she definitely saw Peter Alphon in the bar on the murder night, and he was accompanied by a blonde woman in her early thirties. They left the pub about half an hour after Gregsten and Storie. Strange how Mrs Lanz can in 1971 suddenly inject a lot more specific detail concerning who was in the bar on the murder night than she did just two days after the crime. That she claimed to have seen Alphon was of course lapped up by Hanratty's supporters, and it was even suggested that the blonde woman was Janet Gregsten wearing a wig! Even Woffinden dismisses her second story.

Graham
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  #4413  
Old 01-23-2018, 01:28 PM
cobalt cobalt is offline
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Yep,

Always a problem when evidence has not been tested in court.

It would be interesting to know what efforts the police made to locate the clientelle inside the Station Inn. I remember a case in Edinburgh from the late 1970s where two teenage girls were brutally murdered after a night drinking in a city bar. The police were able to identify pretty much everyone who had been in the bar on the relevant evening, except unfortunately the two 'strangers' last seen talking to the girls. The surviving stranger was eventually identified a few years ago thankfully, already serving a life sentence for other murders. But it shows what can be done.
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  #4414  
Old 01-23-2018, 02:05 PM
cobalt cobalt is offline
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To be fair to Mrs. Lanz, how could she identify Alphon two days after the crime when the police were unaware of any connection between Alphon and the A6 Case at that time? It is not as if they showed her a photo or asked her to attend an ID parade. If the police had done so after Alphon was first connected to the crime that might have been interesting.

Mrs. Lanz might have recognised him after his second arrest, when his face was all over the newspapers. But her ID evidence after that would always have been questionable of course. Not for the first time, Alphon seemed to have luck on his side.
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  #4415  
Old 01-23-2018, 02:37 PM
Graham Graham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cobalt View Post
To be fair to Mrs. Lanz, how could she identify Alphon two days after the crime when the police were unaware of any connection between Alphon and the A6 Case at that time? It is not as if they showed her a photo or asked her to attend an ID parade. If the police had done so after Alphon was first connected to the crime that might have been interesting.

Mrs. Lanz might have recognised him after his second arrest, when his face was all over the newspapers. But her ID evidence after that would always have been questionable of course. Not for the first time, Alphon seemed to have luck on his side.
Obviously Mrs Lanz couldn't on the 24 August state that it was Alphon she saw in the bar on the 22nd. No-one is suggesting this. However, on 20 March 1964 Alphon, Justice and Fox were 'touring' the area and the three of them called at The Old Station Inn. According to his story, Justice took the opportunity to ask Mrs Lanz if she recognised either of his friends, and she said she did - and indicated Alphon. She added that she had at some time past seen him in the bar, but couldn't remember when. Move on 10 years and she was telling the Sunday Times that it was definitely Alphon she saw in the bar on 22 August 1961. Sorry, but it all sounds rather fishy to me, and it wouldn't surprise me if Jean Justice had kept in contact with her over the years following the crime and nudged her into saying what she said to The Sunday Times.

One other point, which is sometimes overlooked, is that Gregsten and Storie, after leaving The Old Station Inn, did not drive direct to the cornfield. Instead they went to a spot on nearby Hunterscombe Lane South where they parked for a while but moved on to the cornfield. Their Morris Minor was seen there, with its interior light on, by a motor-cyclist called David Henderson at around 9.45 pm.

Out of pure interest, on the second occasion I visited Taplow, this time after The Old Station Inn had been demolished, there was a large artic lorry parked in the nearby lay-by bearing the name 'Lanz', so I assume the family must have had a transport business in the area.

Graham
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  #4416  
Old 01-24-2018, 01:26 AM
OneRound OneRound is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham View Post
....

One other point, which is sometimes overlooked, is that Gregsten and Storie, after leaving The Old Station Inn, did not drive direct to the cornfield. Instead they went to a spot on nearby Hunterscombe Lane South where they parked for a while but moved on to the cornfield. Their Morris Minor was seen there, with its interior light on, by a motor-cyclist called David Henderson at around 9.45 pm.

...

Graham
Hi Graham - yes, I understand that Gregsten and Storie were disturbed in some way at their first stopping point before moving onto the cornfield. Is it known who disturbed them then?

What I am trying to get at is whether it was by a purely innocent passerby or perhaps by someone who was already targeting them. [I am assuming here that although motor-cyclist Henderson saw the car, he wasn't the cause of them moving.]

With thanks and best regards,

OneRound

Last edited by OneRound : 01-24-2018 at 01:30 AM.
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  #4417  
Old 01-24-2018, 01:38 AM
Graham Graham is offline
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Hello OR,

I don't think Valerie Storie herself actually referred to she and Gregsten parking in Hunterscombe Lane South prior to moving to the cornfield. Woffinden describes this as Valerie being 'misleading', whereas in the overall trauma of her awful experience she I would suggest she probably just forgot. Of course, it has been suggested many times that the couple were 'stalked' that night, but if so I know of no evidence to support this. Don't think Henderson was the cause of them moving, as from what I understand of his sighting he was moving and didn't stop. Whether he was called as a witness later on I don't know.

If anyone has further information regarding this incident, I'd like to hear it.

ATB,

Graham
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  #4418  
Old 01-24-2018, 05:36 AM
NickB NickB is offline
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Woffinden page 2:

'[They] headed back along the A4 before taking the third turning on the right, Huntercombe Lane. They parked down there a little while, before moving off. After going over the newly constructed motorway, they forked right into Court Lane and followed the road round to a cornfield at Dorney Reach.'

The sentence I have highlighted in bold was inserted in his 1999 edition. It was actually you, Graham, who revealed this in an earlier post.

I don't think he has ever accused Valerie of being misleading on this point. It simply appears to be something that Woffinden did not mention in his first edition and then inserted later.

Last edited by NickB : 01-24-2018 at 05:40 AM.
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  #4419  
Old 01-24-2018, 06:17 AM
Graham Graham is offline
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Hi Nick,

yes, I did indeed point out what you highlighted. However, moving to Woffinden Page 32 (I'm now with my books again) he writes:

Henderson's statement seems one to be relied upon. It is of great value for two reasons. It shows that, from the outset, Valerie Storie misled everyone about precisely what happened after she and Gregsten left the Old Station Inn. Here was the car, parked up, but not in the cornfield. It explains one minor aspect of the case which has always baffled everyone: why did they take the third turning on the right from the pub, when they could have reached the cornfield by taking the firstright?

It is probably a minor point, but the above has always given me the impression that Woffinden felt that Valerie Storie deliberately misled investigators on this point. I may be totally wrong, of course. However, I'm sure i recall reading somewhere that Valerie stated that she and Gregsten had often parked in Hunterscombe Lane South.

Graham
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  #4420  
Old 01-24-2018, 06:46 AM
NickB NickB is offline
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I see what you mean.

Assuming that is the paragraph immediately after he relates Henderson's statement, this is the equivalent paragraph in his 1997 edition:

Henderson’s statement seems one to be relied upon. He was fairly precise about the timing – ‘I know I left Margaret [his girlfriend] at about 9.45’ – so this indicates that Valerie Storie may have erred in her timings. She said nothing about the interior light having been on when the gunman was in the car (it would have been highly improbable), and furthermore the car was still in its original position when Henderson observed it. (She had said that they moved further into the field ‘a few minutes’ after the gunman entered.) So this statement puts back the beginning of the crime by a critical thirty minutes or so, from approximately 9.30 to 10.00 – critical because the gunman would have been able to approach the car under cover of darkness.
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