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

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  #3831  
Old 12-04-2016, 05:05 AM
OneRound OneRound is offline
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Originally Posted by ansonman View Post

...

I would, however, like to look at things another way by asking what were the similarities between Hanratty and the murderer?

What do we know about the murderer? Very little. For a start we don't know what he looked like. It's all very well for Graham to say of SV's identification of Hanratty "she know him when she saw him". That simply will not wash. She knew the airman when she saw him. Only she didn't. No, by picking out the wrong man, her witness evidence is fatally flawed yet deadly. What we do know about the assailant is as follows:

He was wandering about in a cornfield on the night of the murder.

Whether by accident or design we don't know

He owned and/or used a gun

He had a cockney accent

He smoked

He didn't get bored easily

Here is a guy who was prepared to be driven around in a car for hours, for no apparent reason and no apparent objective. He also sold almanacs for a time.

He had spent some time in prison

He was a sadistic, ruthless bastard who was prepared to murder, rape and attempt to murder in relatively quick succession

He found it difficult to start and to drive a car

That's about all we know about the man, I think.

Now for Hanratty, what do we know about him?

He wasn't known to wander about in fields

Hanratty's preference was to focus on houses suitable to burgle and cars suitable to thieve

He did not smoke

He could drive cars

Essential requirement for car theft

He got bored easily

Hanratty was a man who like to move about a bit, albeit in an unlawful manner. He got fed up of cleaning windows and preferred crime and socialising to the mundane.

He did not carry or use a gun

He spent time in prison

For petty theft. There were never any recorded charges or claims of violence on people, or sexual attacks on women.

He had girlfriends, all of whom described him as a normal, nice guy

Never a hint of nastiness, let alone someone who had the inclination, desire and ability to murder and rape.

And so to my mind the only similarities between what we know about the murderer and Hanratty, is that they both:

Were males, with cockney accents who had spent time in prison

They must have been in the company of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of men living in the vicinity of the crime.

For my money, not only is there no evidence to link Hanratty to the crime but there are no meaningful characteristics to link him to the murderer.

Alphon scores slightly higher on the similarities scale but not nearly enough for him to be the man, in my view. A nutter? most certainly. A sadistic, ruthless bastard? I know not.

Ansonman
Hi again Anson,

Returning now to the main thrust of your post as above.

I'm very much with you and your comments concerning the first identification parade.

To my mind, Valerie Storie's credibility as a witness was severely damaged by picking out Michael Clarke. Some say it doesn't matter that she made a mistake and picked out an airman - quite true that he was never going to be strung up and it probably gave him something to chat to his mates about in the mess that night. It's also said that the important thing is that she didn't pick Peter Alphon. Well, yes, that is true and highly so. However, as she made a mistake in picking Clarke, she could just as easily have made a different mistake and picked Alphon.

If so, what would have happened next? My money would have been on Bob Acott taking Miss Storie by the arm and congratulating her on her choice and then charging his man. I somehow doubt that Acott's list of reasons why Alphon could not have been the A6 murderer would ever have seen the light of day (and certainly not a courtroom). Oh, and how long before a Roy Langdale type would have emerged with details of Alphon's confession to him?

Moving on to your similarities (or not) between the A6 murderer and James Hanratty. I hope you'll forgive me not going into the detail of all the specifics in your post but I'll try to cover matters as best I can with some general points. I'm sure that will be long enough for all anyway.

Firstly, I would make the point that James Hanratty's supporters (and, to repeat earlier posts, I'm not - my view being he was guilty but his guilt was not fairly and reasonably proven) do tend to rubbish Valerie Storie when her comments (and identification) are against their man but latch on to anything which might favour him. Based upon numerous posts on the other thread, it almost seems that some expected her to say, ''Excuse me but would you please mind raping me a little more slowly whilst I make an exact note of precisely how blue your eyes are?''.

Secondly, it is very hard to distinguish between truth and lies in what the kidnapper said.

Thirdly, if Valerie Storie had been killed as intended, you would not have been able to draw up such a list. You would then have been starting with 'no known similarities' but that would obviously have been no reason to attempt to find the killer.

Fourthly, such finding and proof of his guilt (as far as the jury, Court of Criminal Appeal, Hawser, Nimmo and Court of Appeal were concerned) came not just from Valerie Storie's identification and (perhaps) stated similarities but from a build up of other assorted factors (claimed sightings in the car, finding of the spent cartridges, etc).

The fourth point said as above, there would have been insufficient factors to successfully build a case upon if Valerie Storie had not identified James Hanratty or if she had been regarded as a witness lacking credibility. Through her earlier incorrect identification of Michael Clarke, she had to lack credibility for me. That though does not mean she was automatically wrong when she did pick out James Hanratty. The absence of a plausible alibi for Hanratty together with the subsequent DNA findings suggest she did get it right second time. Does it matter it was a second time? I actually think it does although I accept my view would be different if either Valerie Storie or Michael Gregsten had been my children.

Best regards,

OneRound
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  #3832  
Old 12-04-2016, 06:01 AM
ansonman ansonman is offline
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Originally Posted by OneRound View Post
Hi again Anson,

Returning now to the main thrust of your post as above.

I'm very much with you and your comments concerning the first identification parade.

To my mind, Valerie Storie's credibility as a witness was severely damaged by picking out Michael Clarke. Some say it doesn't matter that she made a mistake and picked out an airman - quite true that he was never going to be strung up and it probably gave him something to chat to his mates about in the mess that night. It's also said that the important thing is that she didn't pick Peter Alphon. Well, yes, that is true and highly so. However, as she made a mistake in picking Clarke, she could just as easily have made a different mistake and picked Alphon.

If so, what would have happened next? My money would have been on Bob Acott taking Miss Storie by the arm and congratulating her on her choice and then charging his man. I somehow doubt that Acott's list of reasons why Alphon could not have been the A6 murderer would ever have seen the light of day (and certainly not a courtroom). Oh, and how long before a Roy Langdale type would have emerged with details of Alphon's confession to him?

Moving on to your similarities (or not) between the A6 murderer and James Hanratty. I hope you'll forgive me not going into the detail of all the specifics in your post but I'll try to cover matters as best I can with some general points. I'm sure that will be long enough for all anyway.

Firstly, I would make the point that James Hanratty's supporters (and, to repeat earlier posts, I'm not - my view being he was guilty but his guilt was not fairly and reasonably proven) do tend to rubbish Valerie Storie when her comments (and identification) are against their man but latch on to anything which might favour him. Based upon numerous posts on the other thread, it almost seems that some expected her to say, ''Excuse me but would you please mind raping me a little more slowly whilst I make an exact note of precisely how blue your eyes are?''.

Secondly, it is very hard to distinguish between truth and lies in what the kidnapper said.

Thirdly, if Valerie Storie had been killed as intended, you would not have been able to draw up such a list. You would then have been starting with 'no known similarities' but that would obviously have been no reason to attempt to find the killer.

Fourthly, such finding and proof of his guilt (as far as the jury, Court of Criminal Appeal, Hawser, Nimmo and Court of Appeal were concerned) came not just from Valerie Storie's identification and (perhaps) stated similarities but from a build up of other assorted factors (claimed sightings in the car, finding of the spent cartridges, etc).

The fourth point said as above, there would have been insufficient factors to successfully build a case upon if Valerie Storie had not identified James Hanratty or if she had been regarded as a witness lacking credibility. Through her earlier incorrect identification of Michael Clarke, she had to lack credibility for me. That though does not mean she was automatically wrong when she did pick out James Hanratty. The absence of a plausible alibi for Hanratty together with the subsequent DNA findings suggest she did get it right second time. Does it matter it was a second time? I actually think it does although I accept my view would be different if either Valerie Storie or Michael Gregsten had been my children.

Best regards,

OneRound
Hi OneRound,

Your very reasonable and balanced response is much appreciated. Although we differ as to Hanratty's guilt, you are one of the few who, though believing his guilt, accept that there was insufficient evidence to hang him.

I want to move onto a different point if I may and to ask posters questions regarding the purchase of cigarettes and petrol on the murder night.

Some reports say the fags were bought from a machine but I have read at least one which says "at a petrol station Gregsten was sent to buy cigarettes".

Similarly, some reports suggest that the petrol was delivered in such a way that Gregsten didn't have to get out of the car. This would suggest the attendant had money on his person and could give change. But I wonder how he would record the transaction? I would have thought it more likely that the attendant would be inside and then go out when a customer drove in. He would then fuel the car and the customer would follow him into the garage or whatever and pay and the transaction duly recorded. I would have thought there would be a till (register) on the premises.

The reason I ask these questions is because I want to know if Gregsten was ever in a position where he could have spoken with a third party while he was out of the car and out of range of being heard by the murderer.

Ansonman
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  #3833  
Old 12-04-2016, 09:48 AM
ansonman ansonman is offline
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The assistant who served Gregston with petrol was interviewed by the police within hours of the taking of VS statement. This was the last person to see Gregston alive other than VS and the killer. This person would have information absolutely vital to the case. It is totally inconceivable that this most critical witness was not interviewed. There was some confusion as to the location of the petrol station, or garage, but that would have easily been sorted by the police.

The assistant would have been able to tell the police if Gregsten got out of the car and went into the station. If so, what was his demeanour, was he in a state of panic/fear? How long was he alone with the attendant? Did he ask that person to phone the police?

Did the attendant see the passenger in the back seat? If so, was he sitting or lying down? How near to the assistant was he? Was any part of his face visible etc, etc, etc. The most unhelpful response might have been something to the effect "The guy was lying down and I could not make out any features". This would have been helpful, however, in that it would suggest that if Gregsten had followed the attendant into the garage, he would have been able to tell that person to write down the make and registration of the car and phone the police as soon as they had driven off, on account of having a madman on the back seat with a loaded gun. If Gregsten was alone with the attendant, I find it very difficult to believe that he wouldn't have taken his only chance of survival, by telling that person his predicament and asking them to phone the law.

I want to know what the attendant said and I think that we on this site, and others, have a right to the answer to that question. There is precious little evidence available in this case and when we get a nugget as valuable as the interview with the last person to see Gregsten alive other than the murderer and Storie, we need to examine it with a fine tooth comb and a bloody great magnifying glass.

Matthews will have the answer to this and other questions. Is the guy contactable I wonder? Sherlock, would Michael know what the attendant told the police?

For me, there is something about the petrol station/garage incident that simply does not stand up to scrutiny.

For the moment I will stop further postings until and unless others have commented on what I have to say.

Ansonman
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  #3834  
Old 12-04-2016, 12:18 PM
NickB NickB is offline
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Ansonman,

The answers to your points depend on which garage you think they stopped at:
- Shell garage at Kinsgbury Circle; or
- Regent garage near Heathrow.

Harry Hirons of the Shell garage came forward and claimed to have served the car, and said that one person got out of the car.

John Ward of the Regent garage said he could not remember seeing the car, but confirmed that he would have charged the 9s 9d petrol price that Valerie said was paid for two gallons. She said Mike handed over a pound note for it and the attendant brought back the change.

My own view is that Woffinden was right to say it was the Regent garage, because it better tallies with Valerie’s description. Also if you plot the route they took north it goes by the Regent garage but does not pass the Shell one (although this route also relies on Valerie’s account.)

Acott went with Hirons. This suited his general theme that the car went close to the Hanratty family home, but I suspect the main reason was that Acott would have been in trouble if he had spurned Hirons and then something else turned up to show that he had served the car. Although Hirons was not in court Sherrard made good use of the fact that the attendant who claimed to have served the car had not identified Hanratty on the id parade.
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  #3835  
Old 12-04-2016, 01:04 PM
moste moste is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickB View Post
Ansonman,

The answers to your points depend on which garage you think they stopped at:
- Shell garage at Kinsgbury Circle; or
- Regent garage near Heathrow.

Harry Hirons of the Shell garage came forward and claimed to have served the car, and said that one person got out of the car.

John Ward of the Regent garage said he could not remember seeing the car, but confirmed that he would have charged the 9s 9d petrol price that Valerie said was paid for two gallons. She said Mike handed over a pound note for it and the attendant brought back the change.

My own view is that Woffinden was right to say it was the Regent garage, because it better tallies with Valerie’s description. Also if you plot the route they took north it goes by the Regent garage but does not pass the Shell one (although this route also relies on Valerie’s account.)

Acott went with Hirons. This suited his general theme that the car went close to the Hanratty family home, but I suspect the main reason was that Acott would have been in trouble if he had spurned Hirons and then something else turned up to show that he had served the car. Although Hirons was not in court Sherrard made good use of the fact that the attendant who claimed to have served the car had not identified Hanratty on the id parade.
Hi Nick. you have posted ahead of me with the question about the petrol station
Hi Ansonman
I have 36 anomalies, jotted down on this whole case, and it still grows.
One of them concerns Acotts insistence on producing Hirons from the Shell station, even though VS had stated "can I say why I know it was a Regent petrol station" etc. ??.
Also ,was it John Ward being questioned about his likely typical customer flow, between 9 o'clock and midnight? He maintained, 'probably of the cars served, in this period approx. 40 would be asking for 2 gallons of petrol. He was of no help with questions about any specific car or customer.(I'm going from memory)
I believe Acott would have been much more comfortable with the Kingsbury circle petrol station, since it would have been much less busy than the Regent station right by London Airport.
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  #3836  
Old 12-04-2016, 01:31 PM
OneRound OneRound is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickB View Post
Ansonman,

The answers to your points depend on which garage you think they stopped at:
- Shell garage at Kinsgbury Circle; or
- Regent garage near Heathrow.

Harry Hirons of the Shell garage came forward and claimed to have served the car, and said that one person got out of the car.

John Ward of the Regent garage said he could not remember seeing the car, but confirmed that he would have charged the 9s 9d petrol price that Valerie said was paid for two gallons. She said Mike handed over a pound note for it and the attendant brought back the change.

My own view is that Woffinden was right to say it was the Regent garage, because it better tallies with Valerie’s description. Also if you plot the route they took north it goes by the Regent garage but does not pass the Shell one (although this route also relies on Valerie’s account.)

Acott went with Hirons. This suited his general theme that the car went close to the Hanratty family home, but I suspect the main reason was that Acott would have been in trouble if he had spurned Hirons and then something else turned up to show that he had served the car. Although Hirons was not in court Sherrard made good use of the fact that the attendant who claimed to have served the car had not identified Hanratty on the id parade.
Hi Nick, Anson and all,

Notwithstanding the wording now in bold being so, I would have thought that Sherrard could have been more effective here had Hirons been in court.

Give him the Ansonman type build up - ''Mr Hirons, upon the prosecution's account, besides his killer, you were the last person to see Michael Gregsten alive. Do you now see the man who sat behind Michael Gregsten in your garage forecourt and undoubtedly killed him little more than two hours later? '' - and then milk the answer to the jury.

An answer of ''No, sir. That man is not in this court.'' and Michael Hanratty would have been thinking of ordering the Babycham for his brother's acquittal party.

Even if Hirons hadn't been able to give a categorical denial - due to any uncertainty which might have emerged as to whether the car actually stopped at his garage - the prosecution case and Acott's reasoning would still have been damaged.

Another Michael Clarke opportunity?

Best regards,

OneRound

Last edited by OneRound : 12-04-2016 at 01:34 PM.
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  #3837  
Old 12-04-2016, 01:55 PM
Graham Graham is offline
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Valerie said that when Gregsten said he needed petrol, the gunman told him where to stop - at a Regent garage on the Great West Road near to London Airport, going towards London. The reason they stopped was because in answer to the gunman's question regarding how much fuel was in the car, Gregsten said 'one gallon' when in fact there were nearer two gallons. When the gunman told them to turn into the Regent garage, she thought that Mike didn't like Regent petrol - which is how she identified the garage when interviewed by Acott.

The attendant at the Regent garage, John Ward, said that on that night 'about 150 vehicles called at the garage between about 10.00pm and midnight, and that about "40 per cent" of them asked for two gallons'. He said that 30 to 40 customers would have handed him a £1 note, which is how Valerie said Gregsten paid for the petrol. John Ward further said that he couldn't remember seeing any Morris Minor containing a man and a woman along with a third person. As far as I'm aware, John Ward was never asked to view an ID parade, nor called as a witness at the trial.

However, Hirons attended an ID parade in which he could identify no-one as being in the Morris he claimed to have seen. But he was more specific in his statement when he said one of the three people in the Morris got out of the car; unless I mistake, Valerie said that the gunman told them not to get out of the car while they were being served. On the other hand, Hirons was taken to Scotland Yard where the Morris was stored and claimed that he recognised the car as 'there was a 7 in the registration' (there was) and also that there were 'greenish grey smears on the rear window' - information I can't recall reading from any other source.

On the whole, I also go along with the view that it was the Regent garage at which they stopped for petrol, as Valerie claimed to have had good cause to remember it. Harry Hirons in my view seemed a little too willing to help, and also in my view falls into what Sherrard described of other witnesses as being somewhat too keen to get in on the act. It's hardly surprising that John Ward couldn't remember the actual Morris Minor, as according to his memory (and presumably the garage records) there was more than one car a minute calling in at his garage.

Graham
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  #3838  
Old 12-05-2016, 11:51 AM
ansonman ansonman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moste View Post
Hi Nick. you have posted ahead of me with the question about the petrol station
Hi Ansonman
I have 36 anomalies, jotted down on this whole case, and it still grows.
One of them concerns Acotts insistence on producing Hirons from the Shell station, even though VS had stated "can I say why I know it was a Regent petrol station" etc. ??.
Also ,was it John Ward being questioned about his likely typical customer flow, between 9 o'clock and midnight? He maintained, 'probably of the cars served, in this period approx. 40 would be asking for 2 gallons of petrol. He was of no help with questions about any specific car or customer.(I'm going from memory)
I believe Acott would have been much more comfortable with the Kingsbury circle petrol station, since it would have been much less busy than the Regent station right by London Airport.
Hi Moste, and thanks to Nick also.

Whilst I don't rate VS's ability to identify a man she didn't see, I find it hard to believe she didn't know a petrol station when she saw one.

If it was the Regent station (why would she say it was if it wasn't?) the gunman was taking a hell of a risk going in there having regard to the customer flow rate. I mean, if VS had jumped out of the car and started screaming, with other cars coming and going, would the gunman really have shot Gregsten or her? He'd have been committing suicide to do that, surely?

I take your point about Hirons Graham but would someone really come forward to say he'd served the murder car if he hadn't? I suppose he could have thought he had when he hadn't.

Why put more petrol in the car anyway? The gunman knew it wasn't empty, even though he'd been told there was less petrol in the car than there actually was. But why put anothyer two gallons in? Presumably the gunman had it in his head that he was going to drive off and keep going for some considerable time without VS and Gregsten. I have never thought that he intended to kill either of them but then once the gun went off after he was scared by Gregsten, he probably thought he had no choice but to kill again.

I would be interested if you could let us hear of some of those anomalies from time to time, Moste.

Regards,

Ansonman
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  #3839  
Old 12-12-2016, 11:41 AM
Sherlock Sherlock is offline
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I haven't posted on this thread for some time as I am chiefly interested in the cases of Evans and Christie on another thread, but I would like to understand more about the Hanratty case. I have not read that much about it but I have looked through the book by Woffinden who believed in Hanratty's innocence in my local library in the past, which was published before the DNA tests appeared to confirm his guilt. At the moment, as with Timothy Evans, I have no definite opinion as to whether Hanratty was guilty or innocent, but perhaps other contributors can help me with the following questions:-

1) Was anyone resembling Hanratty seen in the vicinity of the cornfield by anyone else immediately before Valerie Storie and Michael Gregston were approached by the gunman? My impression is that no-one was.

2) Was there anything in Hanratty's past which might have suggested that he was capable of sexual crimes? My impression is that he was only known as a petty thief but I think another contributor once told me that he had had sex with an underage girl on one occasion. This might or might not suggest that was capable of rape; I am assuming the sex was consensual on that occasion.

3) Had he ever threatened or acted violently towards anyone else, and was he known to carry guns or to be familiar with them?

4) After the Morris Minor was found abandoned near Redbridge tube station was anyone resembling Hanratty seen entering the station or boarding a train? Again my impression is that no-one was.

5) I think Valerie Storie said that the gunman had difficulty with the gears of the Morris Minor at one point. As I believe Hanratty was quite an experienced car thief and I think also hired a car in Ireland, is it likely that if he was driving the Morris Minor he would have drawn attention to himself by his poor driving? If I remember corrrectly one or two witnesses did spot the Morris being driven in an erratic manner.

6) Is it absolutely impossible that the DNA results might have been contaminated, possibly due to poor storage of the clothing from which the specimens were taken? I think I have heard of this occurring in other cases.

As I say, I do not know the answers to any of these questions, but would like to know more about the background to the case. Any help would be appreciated.

Last edited by Sherlock : 12-12-2016 at 11:43 AM.
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  #3840  
Old 12-12-2016, 01:54 PM
cobalt cobalt is offline
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Hi Sherlock,

First of all you have an unfortunately close nom de plume as one of our most esteemed contributors on this site. 'Sherlock Houses' is regarded by those who doubt Hanratty's guilt to be something of a tour de force around these parts. He is a person to whom I would always defer in terms of fact, if not opinion. He is possibly the most well informed and well armed defender of Hanratty's innocence this site will ever see. His name should not be confused with your well intentioned offerings.

Secondly, you have wandered off site and that is no crime. But if you still have reservations about who killed Beryl and Geraldine Evans then you really belong in the funny farm. Even the notoriously conservative UK judiciary gave that particular game up a generation ago. 'Christie done it,' as Evans said. How and why are up for grabs no doubt, but the settled will of the UK people is that Evans was wrongly hanged. There is not much more to be said.
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