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  • cobalt
    replied
    Did anyone apart from Miller draw the inference that the blond woman was Mrs. Gregsten? It sounds like a strawman argument to me. The idea that Mrs. Gregsten could put on a blond wig and sit in the same bar as her husband yet not be recognised is preposterous.

    Mrs. Lanz was an important witness since she was effectively the last witness known to have seen Gregsten and Storie together. Since she was aware of the crime when interviewed on 24th August I can see that an unknown couple in her premises would not have seemed significant at that time, whereas two 'strange men' might have been worth mentioning. Alphon was of course not a person of interest to anyone at that early date.

    Mrs. Lanz, once she became aware of Peter Alphon's involvement in the case, was consistent in her belief that she had seen him in the Station Inn previously. It should have been a matter of great importance to try and establish whether Mrs. Lanz had seen Peter Alphon in her premises at any time prior to the crime. Neither the police nor Hawser seem to have exerted themselves to do so.

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  • ansonman
    replied
    In his book "Hanratty's Guilt", Leonard Miller writes the following:

    "On i July 1971 Hanratty's parents received a phone call from Mary Lanz, who ran The Old Station Inn at Taplow. Mrs Lanz told them that she felt disturbed by all the publicity surrounding the case and wanted to make a statement about something which had been troubling her for a long time.
    This was communicated to Foot (Paul Foot) who went off with a fellow reporter to interview her. On the night that Gregsten and Storie were at the Inn, she said, there was also present "a man who I now know to be Peter Louis Alphon". Alphon had been there on several previous occasions but on the night of 22 August 1961 he was accompanied by "a blond woman who was, I would say, in her early thirties". Half an hour after Michael Gregsten and Valerie Storie left, Alphon also left. He was accompanied by a blond woman.
    The inference was clear. The mysterious blond was Janet Gregsten, wearing a wig.
    The problem with Mary Lanz's sensational story is that she said no such thing at the time of the crime. Why wait ten years to come up with evidence of a conspiracy? When she made a statement to the police on 24 August 1961 she was keen to help. On that occasion she said she remembered "two strange men" who left her establishment around the same time that Gregsten and Storie did".

    I'm no fan of Miller but it's hard to dismiss what he says about the credibility of Mrs Lanz as a witness.

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  • cobalt
    replied
    I think I have over complicated the matter of Mrs. Lanz's statements in my previous post. She can only have made two statements to the police.

    The first one was given on the 24th of August and is a matter of fact description of seeing the two victims, whom she knew by sight at least, in her premises. Mindful of the horrific crime which befell them after they left, Mrs. Lanz mentions two men, unknown to her, who left shortly after Miss Storie and Mr. Gregsten. Hawser says Mrs. Lanz's description of these two strangers, as best she can recall, did not fit either Hanratty or Alphon. On this last point Mrs. Lanz, the police and Hawser seem to be in agreement.

    Mrs. Lanz's second statement, made on the 27th March 1962 shortly after the visit by Justice, Fox and Alphon to the Station Inn, is where we find a disagreement. According to Mrs. Lanz (speaking in 1971) she told Slough police in her second statement that she recognised Alphon as a person accompanied by a blond woman on the evening of the crime. She even remembered them leaving around half an hour after Miss Storie and Mr. Gregsten. Yet none of this appears in Hawser's summary of her statement. Hawser quotes directly from that statement to indicate that Mrs. Lanz is uncertain about both Alphon's identity and when she might have previously seen him. Hawser clearly believes that Mrs. Lanz has embellished her account over the years and arrived at a rather different version than the one given to police in March 1962.

    Hawser may be correct. However I don't think we have ever seen Mrs. Lanz's second statement in full. It is difficult to understand why Mrs. Lanz would have taken the trouble to make that second statement, presumably at Fox's behest, yet to offer so little in the way of substance.

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  • cobalt
    replied
    In his report Hawser refers a number of times [384] to 'three independent, specific and positive identifications' of James Hanratty.' It's not clear to me what he means by 'independent.' It's hard to describe Valerie Storie as an 'independent' witness since she was unfortunately at the very heart of the crime. It seems to me that Hawser is referring to Skillet, Blackhall and Trower despite the fact that Blackhall did not identify James Hanratty as the driver, a fact which Hawser acknowledges elsewhere. Yet at [76] Hawser previously implied that Blackhall was in agreement with the other two witnesses.

    Trower spoke to police on 24th August although it is not clear whether they approached him or vice versa. On that occasion he could remember nothing of significance. It was the following day, the 25th, when Trower recalled seeing a car being driven erratically into the street where the car was discovered. This later account was undermined by his friend Hogan, about whom Hawser for some reason founded a poor impression of his character. [138]

    Hawser dismisses the 1971 account given by Mrs. Lanz of the Station Inn ]376]in which she is specific about Peter Alphon being in her hostelry on the evening of the crime. Given the passage of time which had elapsed since the crime that seems reasonable, yet Mrs. Lanz claims to have made a statement to that effect in Slough police station around the time that James Hanratty's appeal was dismissed. It is not clear if any record of that alleged statement existed for Hawser to see since he does not mention it in his report. On 27th March 1962 Mrs. Lanz makes another statement to Slough police which I assume is not the one she mentioned to Paul Foot in 1971. This statement is available to Hawser and he quotes from it to state that Mrs. Lanz was not certain as to when she previously saw a man that either was, or resembled Peter Alphon, in her premises. For me this is potentially an important point and one that Hawser does not satisfactorily deal with.
    Peter Alphon may have decided to visit the Station Inn some time after the crime as part of a desire to place himself at the centre of it. However if Mrs. Lanz saw him prior to the crime, even if not on that evening, then Alphon's presence in the Station Inn is surely a coincidence too far.

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  • Pcdunn
    replied
    Originally posted by OneRound View Post

    Hi djw - many thanks for flagging.

    I'll definitely watch with interest and hope but doubt that it will be a very deep delve. I note the other case to be featured is that of George Davis. I had never thought of grouping his case with that of James Hanratty. I suppose the most common feature is (or was) the belief in their innocence and the campaigning, particularly by family members, to try and establish that.

    Such belief and campaigning was also a prominent feature of the Derek Bentley case and it was in the role of the condemned teenager in the 1991 film Let Him Have It that Christopher Eccleston, the presenter of this series, first came to public attention. Eccleston even attended Bentley's memorial service when he was posthumously acquitted several years after the film's release.

    I suspect Eccleston's connection with the Bentley case has resulted in him fronting this short series and that there will be a significant acknowledgement of the impact upon the respective families. If so, that's understandable although I would prefer a detailed probe into the crimes themselves.

    Best regards,
    OneRound
    The announcement about this series which I saw had Eccleston saying these two cases were selected because he had a "personal connection to one" and because of the great publicity of the other. I suppose they are, respectively, Bentley and Hanratty.
    (Thanks for the mention of Eccleston's role as Bentley in the 1991 film, I didn't know that credit.)

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  • Sherlock Houses
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  • Sherlock Houses
    replied
    ........
    Attached Files

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  • Sherlock Houses
    replied
    ........
    Attached Files

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  • Sherlock Houses
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  • cobalt
    replied
    I find Hawser's command of language less than overwhelming.

    [16] ''They left the Inn at about 8.45 pm and drove some 1.5 miles into a cornfield near Dorney Reach.''
    That is ambiguous and might confuse anyone not familiar with the Case.

    (76) ''The consistency of the description of Mr. Hanratty's driving given by witnesses who had seen him drive with the driving described by Mr. Skillet, Mr. Blackhall and Mr. Trower.''
    Not only is this rather verbose it is misleading. Mr. Blackhall did not identify James Hanratty as the driver of the car as is suggested here.

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  • Sherlock Houses
    replied
    Originally posted by OneRound View Post
    Many thanks, Sherlock. If you are are able to supply the rest of Hawser's Report, it would be much appreciated.
    Best regards,
    OneRound
    Can do OneRound but pages 16-17 and 20-23 are missing for some reason or other.

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  • OneRound
    replied
    Many thanks, Sherlock. If you are are able to supply the rest of Hawser's Report, it would be much appreciated.
    Best regards,
    OneRound

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  • Sherlock Houses
    replied
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  • Sherlock Houses
    replied
    Originally posted by djw View Post
    Thanks for pointing out Ecclestons role as Derek Bentley.

    If you search for the Hawser report it appears to be in various libraries and even for sale online. At nearly 300 though (assuming they wouldn't just try and source it then cancel the sale when they couldn't) I would rather access it in a library. That is of course, if it is indeed public.
    Hi,

    Back in October 2015 I scanned Hawser's 1975 whitewash of a report. Attached are the first 10 pages....

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  • djw
    replied
    Also in May (and June elsewhere) is a talk about the A6 murder by Paul Stickler. I think I will go to this.

    U3A Thame

    THE A6 MURDER


    Thu 2 May 2024, 2:00 PM

    Barns Centre, Church Road, Thame OX9 3AJ

    Leave a comment:

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