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  • I also wonder why the Charles Drayton sighting at 5.25 am in Bedford seems to have been dropped as a ground of appeal by the Hanratty team. According to Bob Woffinden Drayton's account was "immediately convincing" whereas the Derbyshire sighting (of Wm Lee) was "plainly wrong" (BW page 443).

    If the Matlock sighting had occurred at 6.30 am, then it and the Bedford sighting would have been mutually inconsistent. The Moggie Minor simply could not get from Bedford to Matlock in 1 hour 5 minutes. On the other hand if it had occurred at 8.30 am, as we are assured by Derrick and Sherlock Houses, then this would have given the car just over three hours to complete the journey which a modern day route planner shows that using the A6 would take 2 hours 42 minutes and would cover 103 miles.

    So what is the evidence that the Wm Lee sighting in Derbyshire occurred at 8.30 am? And why was Drayton's Bedford sighting so "immediately convincing' unceremoniously dropped by the Hanratty team?

    Comment


    • Hi Spit and all,

      Can I please check - did Drayton refer to there being a passenger in the car along with the driver? I've heard different versions of this and no longer have the books to check, thanks.

      As to why Drayton's evidence was 'unceremoniously dropped by the Hanratty team', I don't see that it (ie the timing and location of the alleged sighting) would have been any help to them unless the milko could have sworn that it was NOT Hanratty in the car. [I am sure Spit was already there.]

      Best regards,

      OneRound

      Comment


      • OR

        Draycot says he did not notice the driver but says there was no passenger. Woffinden states that if the car was still within 4 miles of Deadman's Hill after 2 hours of leaving, then it was being driven on a "bizarrely circuitous route". I agree that it is difficult to see how this would positively prove that the car could not have been driven to Avondale Crescent by 7 am (or thereabouts) it most certainly could. It would, however, positively disprove the Wm Lee sighting in Matlock if this occurred at 6.30 am.

        I just find it strange that no comment or complaint was made about this in 2002, particularly when the appellant seems to have complained about not being told about the Coventry sighting at 5.25pm, which is definitely wrong.

        Para 152 of the Court of Appeal's judgement reads

        152 The seventh ground of appeal concerns the fact that (not disclosed to the defence) there were other reported sightings of the Morris Minor car during 23 August 1961 in different parts of the country...

        And then refers to the Matlock, north of Leicester (Birstall) and Coventry sightings, but not the one most immediately convincing, i.e the one at 5.25 am in Bedford.
        Last edited by Spitfire; 02-27-2017, 03:45 AM.

        Comment


        • One cannot have failed to have been impressed with the fervour with which James Hanratty snr took up the cause of his executed son. I have no doubt that JH snr genuinely believed that his son was indeed innocent. He died in 1978, well before DNA testing became to be used as a crime solving tool, and so would have taken the belief of his son's innocence to the grave.

          Many will have been touched with James Hanratty's (junior) plea to his father to clear his name, "They've pinned this on me! I want you and Mick to clear my name." is what Junior is reported by Senior to have said in their last meeting before the former's appointment with the hangman.

          Yet we do not have to go back too far into the Hanratty case to find another case of Junior duping Senior. According to Foot, Hanratty leaves prison at Strangeways on 24 March 1961, and within a few days between (31 March and 3 April) has burgled a house in Ruislip, leaving his trademark fingerprint on the frame of the window he broke to gain entry. Thus from this time it is only a matter of time before the Police catch up with him and it is back to Prison for Hanratty Junior.

          Yet on 13 April 1961, Jim presents himself at the Hanratty home as a reformed character, ready to give going straight another go. Hanratty Senior is taken in with this, and jacks in his job at the Council, with Paul Foot assuring us that he thereby lost valuable pension rights, and goes into to partnership as Hanratty and Son, window cleaners.

          The rest is history and is well known, but it shows that Hanratty Snr was prepared to believe the best of his son, and that Hanratty Jnr was prepared to take advantage of this. He was going to be hanged, so it was no skin of his nose if he sent his dad (and others) on a wild goose chase.

          Comment


          • Hi Spitfire,
            I agree entirely about James telling porkies to his family, he knew that his Father and Brother would fight tooth and nail, to stop the sentence, and all the time this was happening he had a chance of a reprieve.
            I believe Hanratty's ''I am innocent'' was to him his only hope.
            Regards Richard.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Spitfire View Post
              OR

              Draycot says he did not notice the driver but says there was no passenger. Woffinden states that if the car was still within 4 miles of Deadman's Hill after 2 hours of leaving, then it was being driven on a "bizarrely circuitous route". I agree that it is difficult to see how this would positively prove that the car could not have been driven to Avondale Crescent by 7 am (or thereabouts) it most certainly could. It would, however, positively disprove the Wm Lee sighting in Matlock if this occurred at 6.30 am.

              I just find it strange that no comment or complaint was made about this in 2002, particularly when the appellant seems to have complained about not being told about the Coventry sighting at 5.25pm, which is definitely wrong.

              Para 152 of the Court of Appeal's judgement reads

              152 The seventh ground of appeal concerns the fact that (not disclosed to the defence) there were other reported sightings of the Morris Minor car during 23 August 1961 in different parts of the country...

              And then refers to the Matlock, north of Leicester (Birstall) and Coventry sightings, but not the one most immediately convincing, i.e the one at 5.25 am in Bedford.
              Thanks, Spit.

              I'm inclined to think it was fair enough and understandable for the Hanratty team to leave out Drayton's reported sighting at the 2002 appeal. As the driver wasn't noticed by the milko, it was neither damning or helpful for their man. Furthermore, as we agree, the reported sighting did nothing to invalidate the identification evidence of Skillett and Trower.

              I note the very different emphasis to Drayton's evidence that you flag between Woffinden in his book and Mansfield at court. I'm no fan of Mansfield but to be fair again, he had no obligation to base his approach upon Woff's earlier writing.

              Just one thing on 'the Coventry sighting at 5,25 pm'. As the Court of Appeal stated and you post, that is 'definitely wrong'. However - and, ok, I may be stretching things here a bit - but isn't all we know for sure there is that the time was wrong? Couldn't the car have been in Cov earlier that day thus ruling out the evidence of Skillet and Tower? I'm not saying it was but shouldn't the defence have had the opportunity to investigate that?

              In the 'Rhyl part' of the 2002 appeal, Mansfield made the point that witnesses are notoriously unreliable when it comes to timing. The Court appeared to accept that but bounced its relevance for 'the Rhyl alibi' due to the difference between lightness of day and darkness of night being an entirely different matter and conflicting with Hanratty's evidence and those of the Rhyl residents. However, that reasoning doesn't apply to a difference in timing of 5.25 pm or, say, 3.25 pm in Coventry during August.

              I emphasise that I'm not banking much on what would have come out of the Coventry reported sighting but it and others should all have been disclosed so that the defence could have had the opportunity to try and unearth other gems like the woollen pom-pom hat as claimed to have been seen by Lee.

              Best regards,

              OneRound

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Spitfire View Post
                Hanratty Snr was prepared to believe the best of his son
                Hanratty’s father also appeared to be particularly affected by what Alphon said when he visited on 22nd August, 1962.

                He told Brockway:

                “I asked him if it was right that he had written a confession and said I had a copy. He said, 'Yes. I have the original here' and produced it from his pocket. He put it on the table and said 'I am very sorry that all this happened. I never thought they would hang your son. I know he did not do the murder'.”

                In July 1970 at a public meeting Mr Hanratty recalled Alphon’s words in this way:

                “This man came to my home. He said, 'Mr Hanratty, I am very sorry for what has happened to you and your family'. I then asked: 'Did you kill Mr Gregsten and shoot and rape Valerie Storie?’ He replied: 'Yes I did'".

                Comment


                • Originally posted by NickB View Post
                  Hanratty’s father also appeared to be particularly affected by what Alphon said when he visited on 22nd August, 1962.

                  He told Brockway:

                  “I asked him if it was right that he had written a confession and said I had a copy. He said, 'Yes. I have the original here' and produced it from his pocket. He put it on the table and said 'I am very sorry that all this happened. I never thought they would hang your son. I know he did not do the murder'.”

                  In July 1970 at a public meeting Mr Hanratty recalled Alphon’s words in this way:

                  “This man came to my home. He said, 'Mr Hanratty, I am very sorry for what has happened to you and your family'. I then asked: 'Did you kill Mr Gregsten and shoot and rape Valerie Storie?’ He replied: 'Yes I did'".
                  Thanks, Nick.

                  Putting aside any views as to whether Alphon might or might not have been involved at all in the A6 murder, he really was a horrid piece of work.

                  Best regards,

                  OneRound

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by OneRound View Post
                    I emphasise that I'm not banking much on what would have come out of the Coventry reported sighting but it and others should all have been disclosed so that the defence could have had the opportunity to try and unearth other gems like the woollen pom-pom hat as claimed to have been seen by Lee.
                    Hi OR

                    Who knows what evidence the defence team might have elicited from the various witnesses had they known of their existence. You have been prepared to accept that it might have been possible to put back the Coventry sighting two hours from 5.25pm to 3.25pm, as sunrise in Bedford on 23 August 1961 happened at 5.58 am, I see no reason why you could not put forward the Drayton sighting by half an hour to 5.55am (both times just before sunrise) which would make a sighting at Avondale Crescent at just after 7 am all but impossible.

                    By the way, a Coventry sighting at 3.25 pm would not be totally inconsistent with the car being seen at Avondale Crescent at 7 am, but would be inconsistent with it being parked on the Crescent for the whole of the day before being discovered.

                    Two points as to the car sighting timings as opposed to the Hanratty in Rhyl sightings. The first is that the car sightings all seem to be made by witnesses within hours of the news breaking, the Rhyl witnesses were hampered by a delay of nearly 6 months. The second is that if one sees the car while one is making ones own journey, then it is much easier to identify the time. Eg, Drayton could be able to say he started his round at such an hour and half way through it the incident happened, or the Coventry witness could have been making a journey home from work, when they had finished work at 5pm etc.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Spitfire View Post

                      ...

                      By the way, a Coventry sighting at 3.25 pm would not be totally inconsistent with the car being seen at Avondale Crescent at 7 am, but would be inconsistent with it being parked on the Crescent for the whole of the day before being discovered.

                      ...
                      Hi again Spit - before I fully reply, can I please check that you mean ''am'' here.

                      Thanks,

                      OneRound

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by OneRound View Post
                        Hi again Spit - before I fully reply, can I please check that you mean ''am'' here.

                        Thanks,

                        OneRound
                        Yep, seen driving into Avondale Crescent from Redbridge Lane East by Trower at 7am , then the car drives along Avondale exiting onto Roding Lane South, then off to Coventry (for more skullduggery) where it is seen at 3.25pm from where it heads south to return to Avondale Crescent for 6.45pm.

                        It would have been seen at 7am in Avondale Crescent, and 3.25pm in Coventry, but would not have been parked there (Avondale Crescent) all day. Unlikely I agree, but...
                        Last edited by Spitfire; 02-27-2017, 08:49 AM.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Spitfire View Post
                          Yep, seen driving into Avondale Crescent from Redbridge Lane East by Trower at 7am , then the car drives along Avondale exiting onto Roding Lane South, then off to Coventry (for more skullduggery) where it is seen at 3.25pm from where it heads south to return to Avondale Crescent for 6.45pm.

                          It would have been seen at 7am in Avondale Crescent, and 3.25pm in Coventry, but would not have been parked there (Avondale Crescent) all day. Unlikely I agree, but...
                          Arrhh, gotcha, thanks again, Spit.

                          I was working upon the (long odds) possibility that IF the car had been in Coventry at circa 3.25 pm, it could have been driven to Avondale Crescent to arrive there by the time it was found. I was relying on that to blow Skillett and Trower's evidence out of the water. I freely acknowledge that I had not considered the car having got to Cov via Avondale before returning to Avondale! Even for this most bizarre of cases, I consider that too remote a possibility.

                          Whatever was likely or even most unlikely, I maintain my view that all reported sightings should have been disclosed to the defence team in order that they could determine how best to prepare for Hanratty's trial. In my opinion, the denial of that to the defence team meant that Hanratty was denied a fair trial.

                          Best regards,

                          OneRound

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by OneRound View Post
                            Whatever was likely or even most unlikely, I maintain my view that all reported sightings should have been disclosed to the defence team in order that they could determine how best to prepare for Hanratty's trial. In my opinion, the denial of that to the defence team meant that Hanratty was denied a fair trial.
                            Hello OR,

                            The Court of Appeal agreed that there had been material non-disclosure and that the witnesses' identities should have been disclosed to the defence but that did not amount to a fundamental flaw in the trial.

                            I would still like to know why no complaint was made about the absence of the Draycott sighting, I would have thought for the defence, that the more, the merrier.

                            Although it is common knowledge that where there a sensational crime has been committed a whole host of nutters, crackpots, malicious attention seekers and genuine witnesses come out of the woodwork to "assist" the police. Should all these names be passed on to the defence team?

                            Anyway, it should be remembered that the failure of the prosecution to disclose the car sighting witnesses was nothing compared to the damage which Jim inflicted on his own defence by failing to mention the "real" alibi until halfway through his trial.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Spitfire View Post
                              Hello OR,

                              The Court of Appeal agreed that there had been material non-disclosure and that the witnesses' identities should have been disclosed to the defence but that did not amount to a fundamental flaw in the trial.

                              I would still like to know why no complaint was made about the absence of the Draycott sighting, I would have thought for the defence, that the more, the merrier.

                              Although it is common knowledge that where there a sensational crime has been committed a whole host of nutters, crackpots, malicious attention seekers and genuine witnesses come out of the woodwork to "assist" the police. Should all these names be passed on to the defence team?

                              Anyway, it should be remembered that the failure of the prosecution to disclose the car sighting witnesses was nothing compared to the damage which Jim inflicted on his own defence by failing to mention the "real" alibi until halfway through his trial.
                              Hi again Spit,

                              Unsurprisingly I agree with the Court of Appeal's findings there about the non-disclosures but not their resulting conclusion. A big decision but maybe small margins. Might different judges have ruled differently? I can't say but, if they had, they might have quashed the guilty verdict on that alone and chosen not to consider the DNA findings. Not sure where that would have left us here!

                              As for Draycott - I take your point about 'the more the merrier' but unless the timing of his reported sighting could be challenged, it might have hindered more than it helped as it did nothing to disprove the evidence of Trower and Skillett. Furthermore, as Draycott didn't notice the driver, he couldn't give any support to it not being Hanratty behind the wheel.

                              I also take your point about nutters and crackpots etc. I'm happy to be persuaded otherwise but my initial inclination is that they should all be passed on to the defence with a brief note of the police's finding - then it's up to the defence whether to investigate further or consign to the bin. When it's their man depending on them, I think that's how it should be with the defence team determining whether someone is a nutter or a potential star witness.

                              I totally agree with your final para and know that Graham does too (if he hasn't already responded!).

                              Best regards,

                              OneRound

                              Comment


                              • Hi OR,

                                First of all, and before Sherlock Houses takes me to task, accept my apologies for saying in my earlier post that the Bedford milkman was 'Draycott' as per my even earlier posts the correct name is Drayton.

                                Apropos witnesses in Bedford and Essex, whilst browsing today I saw this this report from a few years back. It amused me anyway.

                                As to the law, I think it would for the Court of Appeal to quash the conviction if there had been a fundamental flaw in the trial process, even if other evidence established guilt beyond reasonable doubt. If a retrial were possible, then in those circumstances, one would be ordered. Because of the execution of Hanratty and the passage of time, a retrial could not really have been ordered.

                                Comment

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