I think it’s fair enough to change your opinion on the A6 Case. I might even do that myself one day. I have no doubt that for many, who have followed the case over the years, the DNA evidence was a decisive moment. I will try to explain my reasons for not accepting it. I am aware of the controversy over Low Copy DNA but will not go into that specialist area.
As was written here recently, the Hanratty conviction had been a monkey on the back of British justice for many a long year. Once a verdict has been reached it is in the interests of the judicial system to uphold that verdict up to the point it becomes impossible to so do. Since the judicial system effectively judges itself, this is not a particularly difficult task to carry out. I recall one appeal by the Birmingham Six where an appeal judge pronounced that, having reviewed the evidence, it only made a strong prosecution stronger! Willful misjudgments of this enormity usually earn an accompanying promotion, along with an obligatory seat in the House of Lords, and these gratuities are never revoked. Unsurprisingly therefore, this kind of talk has been a feature of problematic cases since Timothy Evans right through to the Hillsborough Inquiry where, belatedly, the truth finally emerged. In essence, there is a mindset that the integrity of the justice system and its public perception are more important than the guilt or innocence of one mere citizen or citizens.
So, when Sherrard raised his eyebrows at the discovery of Valerie Storie’s clothing for DNA testing, along with a hanky, he was going as far as the rules of the game he played allowed. Mansfield, in similar vein, had to argue from the standpoint of accidental contamination. That tactic had at least proved successful in the case of Barry George, found guilty of Jill Dando’s murder largely on the basis of gunpowder residue found in one of his jacket pockets. When the Hanratty appeal judgment was made two senior policemen, who knew the case intimately, were reportedly at a loss to explain the DNA results. That is as far as they are able to go.
Not being bound by their professional code I can go further and suggest that the DNA evidence was fabricated. It not only got the Hanratty case of their backs- he could not be released and given a grudging apology like the Guildford Four or Birmingham Six- but discredited all these political agitators like Foot and their accompanying band of social misfits, well-intentioned do-gooders and nosey parkers. A salutary lesson for anyone who might have been inspired to follow in their footsteps. British justice does not hang innocent men. So, a good result and done, incidentally, with the very method insisted upon by the Hanratty family themselves the better to seal the case once and for all.
A different monkey was lifted from the back of British justice some years back when there were eventually two convictions in the Stephen Lawrence case. However, the method of ascertaining guilt was similar: exhibits from the time of the crime were found in a police store room and the DNA results proved conclusive after incriminating fibres were found at the bottom of a plastic bag. So, the police cannot not be racist or corrupt after all.
Forensic evidence which turns up late in the day is always unsatisfactory, especially when a case takes on a political dimension. Forensic evidence which inexplicably fails to be collected at the time- a feature the Lawrence case shares with the A6 Case- is equally unsatisfactory.
1. His strange behaviour in the Alexandra Hotel in the days after the crime, of the type specifically highlighted by police investigating the crime. This behaviour was reported to police in the belief that Alphon was behaving as a suspect in a murder case
Indeed yes, Alphon was acting oddly. However, unlike various reports to the contrary, he did leave his room at least once during the (five?) days he was at The Alexandra. The thing is, had Mr Sims the Manager chosen not to concern himself with his guest's odd behaviour, chances are we'd never have heard of Peter Louis Alphon. And, if I may ask, how does a suspect in a murder case actually act? By bringing attention to himself as Alphon did? Don't think so, somehow.
2. The obvious one of being in the same hotel as Hanratty, after being re-directed from the same hotel, albeit arriving one day later. That is really a double coincidence.
A coincidence maybe, in view of later developments, but there is absolutely no evidence that they intended to meet there by design, nor even knew one another. Don't forget they stayed at The Vienna on different nights.
3.His being seen previously in the Taplow Inn which is in the proximity to where the crime was committed and the victims were known to drink.
I can't recall Mrs Lanz, proprietor of The Old Station Inn, Taplow, saying that she remembered seeing Alphon or someone who resembled him before
the murder. She did, though, claim that she had seen Gregsten and Valerie there several times prior to the murder night - when she also stated that she saw them. If she did claim to have seen Alphon at The Old Station before, on, or after the murder night, then she I think was either making it up, or someone (I wonder who??) was putting words into her mouth.
4. His resemblance to an early impression of the suspect.
If you mean the famous Photofit, then I'm honestly not convinced. In my opinion, both of the Photofits were highly questionable. Even Paul Foot had to admit to that. There are many genuine photos of Peter Alphon on the net, if you wish to look, and none of them look like the Photofit some have claimed resemble him. OK, the same may be said of the Photofit that many have stated resembles Hanratty - well, maybe, if you look at it in a darkened room with one eye closed. Frankly, I don't think the Photofit 'evidence' did much more than to muddy the already-murky waters. Others may think different.
Maybe I should add a fifth. His later ability, whether through luck or judgment, to identify the specific field where the crime originated
And here we have Messrs Justice, Fox and Alphon on a boozy night out around and about the murder scene. If you read my earlier post on this subject, you'll see how questionable it is that Alphon had the faintest idea of where the actual crime originated.
There were other suspects, naturally, including someone who was subjected by Acott and Oxford to rigorous questioning for several hours. Who this person was has never been revealed, nor have the names of other persons hauled in for questioning. I think, to be very honest, until the cartridge cases were found at The Vienna, the police were floundering around in the dark. And even afterwards, some might say.
We are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture and hypothesis. - Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure Of Silver Blaze
Alphon could have seen reports of the committal where the cornfield was described as being about 200 yards south of where Marsh Lane (reported as Arch Lane) crossed over the M4. Then he could have discovered the exact location in court when Valerie described their movements in detail with the aid of a plan of Dorney Reach.