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  • Originally posted by NickB View Post
    In my view the only way that you can challenge the DNA is to say, as I believe Derrick does, that the method itself was faulty.

    But as mentioned the Appellant accepted the methodology of the tests. They restricted their objections only to the possibility of contamination, and then did not explain (anywhere that I can find) why they did not accept the court's reason for rejecting contamination.
    What was the courts reason for rejecting contamination. I can't remember.

    If ever a DNA contamination situation can be said to be very likely, I would have to think it would be the A6 exhibits,

    Comment


    • Originally posted by NickB View Post
      In my view the only way that you can challenge the DNA is to say, as I believe Derrick does, that the method itself was faulty.
      The method (LCN) may or may not be faulty; it most certainly has not been validated to the empirical standards of SGM+ and the new DNA17 protocols. The validation of mixed profile interpretation using LCN can never be validated due to the systems inherent susceptibility to stochastic effects.

      As I have said, to the point of ad nauseam, there was no AB blood found on the knickers by Lewis Nickolls. One allele was attributed to Storie and others attributed to Gregsten.

      Semen is a poor carrier of Mitochondrial DNA but vaginal fluid is not. MtDNA tests carried out on the knickers provided no result. So we have a number of alleles which belong to neither Hanratty, Storie or Gregsten.

      No referential profile of Gregsten has been produced.

      I don't buy the CACD's findings.

      Originally posted by NickB View Post
      But as mentioned the Appellant accepted the methodology of the tests. They restricted their objections only to the possibility of contamination, and then did not explain (anywhere that I can find) why they did not accept the court's reason for rejecting contamination.
      The appellant's (Michael Hanratty) defence team didn't really know what they were doing. They only got Martin Evison on board a month or so before the appeal was heard. He had no experience of forensic SGM or SGM+; why should he? All of the research was done by scientists working solely for the FSS.

      Comment


      • My rather simplistic take on the DNA evidence and why I believe it is capable of being challenged is that modern scientific methods were used to produce findings without the safeguards regarded as essential to the accuracy of such findings being able to be applied.

        That is not to say that the scientists who spoke in support of Hanratty's guilt at the 2002 appeal were wrong but that I don't buy into things as much as the Court of Appeal did. For me, parts of the Court's judgement relating to the DNA appear overly presumptuous and/or raise further queries. I'll set these out when I have a bit more time after Christmas.

        I don't ignore Del's comments but am in no position to respond.

        Wishing all a merry Christmas and happy New Year,

        OneRound

        Comment


        • Originally posted by moste View Post
          What was the courts reason for rejecting contamination. I can't remember.

          If ever a DNA contamination situation can be said to be very likely, I would have to think it would be the A6 exhibits,
          Hi moste,

          I thought the knicker fragment, which was tested for DNA, was not exhibited at the trial. It has been argued in the past that this fragment could have become contaminated with Hanratty's DNA if it had been allowed to come into direct contact with a trace of his semen from some other evidential sample, if such items had been stored together and both were in defective packaging. I don't know how feasible a transfer of DNA in this way would actually have been, but it was presumably rejected as even an outside possibility. We know that the rapist's blood group was O, and if he was someone other than Hanratty, he should have left his own DNA all over that fragment, yet he managed to leave it entirely uncontaminated by his own semen, which is quite ironic when you think about it.

          Of course, this argument presumed that Hanratty's DNA was indeed found on the knicker fragment, but was there for innocent reasons.

          Nobody, on the other hand, seems to have disputed the evidence for the same DNA - Hanratty's - turning up on the hankie, or attempted to explain how contamination could have accounted for its presence.

          Love,

          Caz
          X
          Last edited by caz; 12-29-2017, 06:43 AM.
          "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


          Comment


          • Hi all,

            I hope everyone had a good Christmas?

            I know next to nothing about the Hanratty Case. I read one book years ago, I think that it was by Wolfenden? I’d like to ask 2 questions if I may.

            Is the general consensus that Hanratty was guilty or is it more debatable?

            And can you recommend some of the best books on the subject please?

            Thanks all
            Regards

            Herlock



            Chairman of the National Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To The Old Established Theories.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Herlock Sholmes View Post
              Hi all,

              I hope everyone had a good Christmas?

              I know next to nothing about the Hanratty Case. I read one book years ago, I think that it was by Wolfenden? I’d like to ask 2 questions if I may.

              Is the general consensus that Hanratty was guilty or is it more debatable?

              And can you recommend some of the best books on the subject please?

              Thanks all
              Hi Herlock, I did indeed, hope yours and everyone's here was as well.

              It seems most here think he was guilty, but one or 2 dissenters and a few who think he was guilty think the evidence wasn't strong enough at the time for conviction/execution. However, I think most are finding it hard to deny the 2002 DNA panel.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by caz View Post
                Hi moste,

                I thought the knicker fragment, which was tested for DNA, was not exhibited at the trial. It has been argued in the past that this fragment could have become contaminated with Hanratty's DNA if it had been allowed to come into direct contact with a trace of his semen from some other evidential sample, if such items had been stored together and both were in defective packaging. I don't know how feasible a transfer of DNA in this way would actually have been, but it was presumably rejected as even an outside possibility. We know that the rapist's blood group was O, and if he was someone other than Hanratty, he should have left his own DNA all over that fragment, yet he managed to leave it entirely uncontaminated by his own semen, which is quite ironic when you think about it.

                Of course, this argument presumed that Hanratty's DNA was indeed found on the knicker fragment, but was there for innocent reasons.

                Nobody, on the other hand, seems to have disputed the evidence for the same DNA - Hanratty's - turning up on the hankie, or attempted to explain how contamination could have accounted for its presence.

                Love,

                Caz
                X
                Rather too many coincidences here if Hanratty was truly innocent, eh? Reminds one of another famous British case where the condemned man escaped the noose.

                Comment


                • Festive Fun

                  What links the Jack the Ripper and Hanratty cases?

                  Here is a very tenuous link ...

                  At the time of the Ripper murders ‘The Star’ newspaper was edited by Thomas Power O’Connor. At the same time he was the ‘Irish Nationalist’ MP for the Liverpool Scotland constituency. He was succeeded as MP by Davie Logan, who had been an Irish Nationalist (then Labour) councillor and was seen as his friend O’Connor’s natural successor. Logan was still MP in 1961 when the Scotland Road area was the setting for Hanratty’s Liverpool alibi.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by OneRound View Post
                    Hi again AS,

                    Just on the aspect of Hanratty being sentenced to and put to death, there's an associated thread on this forum - ''Appeal for Clemency by Michael Sherrard''. Sherrard was Hanratty's barrister at trial.

                    The Home Secretary had the responsibility for determining whether a reprieve was granted or not to a condemned person. If you have a look at this other thread, you'll see that I am sympathetic to the situation that Butler, the Home Secretary, was placed in.

                    I'm out of time now but I'll comment later on about the DNA. As far as I'm concerned, that puts Hanratty firmly in the soup although some challenges to it can be made.

                    Best regards,

                    OneRound
                    Just a few comments now about the DNA.

                    Matters are set out by the Court of Appeal in paras 106 to 128 of their 2002 judgement (link in Caz's post #4282 above).

                    For any newcomers to this thread (and it's great there are some), it's only right to flag from outset that Hanratty's family and legal team were originally very keen to use DNA findings in an attempt to establish his innocence. However, they challenged its integrity once the findings pointed more towards his guilt.

                    It is also only right to declare up front that I am far more a scientific numbskull than an eminent scientist, of whom several convinced the Court of Appeal of his guilt. I am no position to say anyone was wrong but I do feel aspects of this part of the Court's judgement raise queries.

                    Main aspects for me are as below:

                    1. As well as Hanratty's DNA (he was a blood group O secretor), the Court also refer to DNA from the semen of an AB blood group secretor being shown to be on the fragment of Valerie Storie's knickers and ''attribute'' that to her lover Michael Gregsten. The Court could of course be right there but, nonetheless, I feel the ''presumption'' (another term used by the Court) should have been thoroughly checked. After all, the Court insisted on Hanratty's body being exhumed to check on the accuracy of findings for him. The contrast in approach between the two DNA findings is massive and to my mind just as much surprising. If the AB DNA had been cross-checked to Gregsten and found not to be his, that would have invalidated the DNA evidence totally. Admittedly, that is a big ''if''. However, in my opinion, the Court should have been relying on a thorough cross-check and not a ''presumption''.

                    Something else which increases my unease in this regard relates to when Gregsten last had sex with Ms Storie. I believe she said this was several days before the murder. If that's right, it would seem to lessen the likelihood of it being his AB semen on the knickers. Odd.

                    [I appreciate Del has strong views about the reported AB findings. My comments stem from the Court's judgement.]

                    2. The Court regarded it as very damning for Hanratty that only his and Valerie Storie's DNA plus that ''attributed'' to Gregsten were located on the knicker fragment tested in 1997. The Court effectively took the view that if Hanratty's DNA got there through contamination and he was not the rapist, the DNA of another male (ie the rapist) would have had to have been there as well. As there wasn't, that meant Hanratty had to be the rapist. I follow the logic. However, what was being checked was only ''a fragment'' which had been cut away from the knickers for basic tests thirty-six years earlier following the crime and then reduced further in 1995 when another part was removed for initial and unsuccessful DNA testing. Could the rapist's DNA have been on the part that was removed in 1995 and destroyed when unsuccessfully tested? I obviously don't know but feel it's a fair question.

                    3. At the 2002 appeal, Hanratty's legal team argued that the knicker fragment might have been contaminated as a result of spillage from a broken vial, containing a liquidised sample from Hanratty, stored and found in an envelope alongside it. A boffin with thirty years' experience told the Court he had never come across a vial containing contents to be stored in this way and, whilst acknowledging their own lack of scientific experience, the Court commented that it would seem strange to do so. Fair enough. However, wouldn't it have been even more strange to store an empty vial in this way?

                    4. A fair bit of weight appears to have been given by the Court to the DNA findings of Hanratty and Valerie showing a ''typical distribution'' consistent with them having had sex. That does seem pretty damning. I would just like it to have been clarified whether the distribution would have definitely been different if Hanratty's DNA was as a result of contamination.

                    5. Discussion about the DNA here usually involves the knicker fragment and/or the hanky. Understandably so. However, a third item was also submitted for DNA testing. This was one of Valerie Storie's slips upon which semen was identified immediately after the crime. No result was found from this DNA testing. Given Hanratty's DNA was readily identified on the knicker fragment, why didn't it show up on the slip? As I say, I'm no scientist but might it suggest the DNA on the knicker fragment got there through different means (ie contamination)?

                    Having assessed the scientific evidence, the Court concluded that the possibility of contamination of the knicker fragment or the hanky was ''fanciful'' and of both ''beyond belief''. However, if you include the slip, only 2 of the 3 items tested are indicators of Hanratty's guilt. If you then doubt the knicker fragment (see particularly points 1 and 3 above re the unestablished AB finding and broken vial), that only leaves the hanky.

                    6. The hanky. Caz's favourite. Again understandably so. That is very damning. Unless you buy into ideas of police corruption and manipulation of exhibits and evidence, the DNA findings prove that the hanky wrapped around the murder weapon was Hanratty's. Although that leaves extremely serious questions to be answered by Hanratty's remaining supporters, it does not actually prove he fired the gun that killed Gregsten, raped Valerie Storie or even hid the gun and hanky where it was found. We do know others had access to his laundry.


                    Let me make very clear that none of the above points go any way to suggesting innocence on the part of James Hanratty, let alone proving it which was the aim of those who first campaigned for DNA use. I'm actually as sure as I can be taking everything in the round that Hanratty was guilty. I'm just not as convinced as some that his guilt was proved fairly at trial or that the DNA evidence almost forty years later (inevitably without the safeguards being taken which are now so mandatory) was so unanswerably conclusive.

                    If things had been very different in a make believe legal world - in particular, Hanratty not being executed and still being alive, the appeal of 2002 being heard many years earlier but with DNA being used years earlier than it was and able to be brought to the appeal - I would have thought it fair and just for Hanratty to have been granted a retrial.

                    Obviously that could not happen and didn't. I therefore remain uncomfortable that a man - even though I consider him guilty - on trial for his life did not get a fair hearing. This though is where the hypocrite in me comes out. If Michael Gregsten or Valerie Storie had been my son or daughter, hangman Harry Allen could have got any required help from me in an instant.

                    With apologies for the length and best regards,

                    OneRound

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by OneRound View Post
                      Just a few comments now about the DNA.

                      Matters are set out by the Court of Appeal in paras 106 to 128 of their 2002 judgement (link in Caz's post #4282 above).

                      For any newcomers to this thread (and it's great there are some), it's only right to flag from outset that Hanratty's family and legal team were originally very keen to use DNA findings in an attempt to establish his innocence. However, they challenged its integrity once the findings pointed more towards his guilt.

                      It is also only right to declare up front that I am far more a scientific numbskull than an eminent scientist, of whom several convinced the Court of Appeal of his guilt. I am no position to say anyone was wrong but I do feel aspects of this part of the Court's judgement raise queries.

                      Main aspects for me are as below:

                      1. As well as Hanratty's DNA (he was a blood group O secretor), the Court also refer to DNA from the semen of an AB blood group secretor being shown to be on the fragment of Valerie Storie's knickers and ''attribute'' that to her lover Michael Gregsten. The Court could of course be right there but, nonetheless, I feel the ''presumption'' (another term used by the Court) should have been thoroughly checked. After all, the Court insisted on Hanratty's body being exhumed to check on the accuracy of findings for him. The contrast in approach between the two DNA findings is massive and to my mind just as much surprising. If the AB DNA had been cross-checked to Gregsten and found not to be his, that would have invalidated the DNA evidence totally. Admittedly, that is a big ''if''. However, in my opinion, the Court should have been relying on a thorough cross-check and not a ''presumption''.

                      Something else which increases my unease in this regard relates to when Gregsten last had sex with Ms Storie. I believe she said this was several days before the murder. If that's right, it would seem to lessen the likelihood of it being his AB semen on the knickers. Odd.

                      [I appreciate Del has strong views about the reported AB findings. My comments stem from the Court's judgement.]

                      2. The Court regarded it as very damning for Hanratty that only his and Valerie Storie's DNA plus that ''attributed'' to Gregsten were located on the knicker fragment tested in 1997. The Court effectively took the view that if Hanratty's DNA got there through contamination and he was not the rapist, the DNA of another male (ie the rapist) would have had to have been there as well. As there wasn't, that meant Hanratty had to be the rapist. I follow the logic. However, what was being checked was only ''a fragment'' which had been cut away from the knickers for basic tests thirty-six years earlier following the crime and then reduced further in 1995 when another part was removed for initial and unsuccessful DNA testing. Could the rapist's DNA have been on the part that was removed in 1995 and destroyed when unsuccessfully tested? I obviously don't know but feel it's a fair question.

                      3. At the 2002 appeal, Hanratty's legal team argued that the knicker fragment might have been contaminated as a result of spillage from a broken vial, containing a liquidised sample from Hanratty, stored and found in an envelope alongside it. A boffin with thirty years' experience told the Court he had never come across a vial containing contents to be stored in this way and, whilst acknowledging their own lack of scientific experience, the Court commented that it would seem strange to do so. Fair enough. However, wouldn't it have been even more strange to store an empty vial in this way?

                      4. A fair bit of weight appears to have been given by the Court to the DNA findings of Hanratty and Valerie showing a ''typical distribution'' consistent with them having had sex. That does seem pretty damning. I would just like it to have been clarified whether the distribution would have definitely been different if Hanratty's DNA was as a result of contamination.

                      5. Discussion about the DNA here usually involves the knicker fragment and/or the hanky. Understandably so. However, a third item was also submitted for DNA testing. This was one of Valerie Storie's slips upon which semen was identified immediately after the crime. No result was found from this DNA testing. Given Hanratty's DNA was readily identified on the knicker fragment, why didn't it show up on the slip? As I say, I'm no scientist but might it suggest the DNA on the knicker fragment got there through different means (ie contamination)?

                      Having assessed the scientific evidence, the Court concluded that the possibility of contamination of the knicker fragment or the hanky was ''fanciful'' and of both ''beyond belief''. However, if you include the slip, only 2 of the 3 items tested are indicators of Hanratty's guilt. If you then doubt the knicker fragment (see particularly points 1 and 3 above re the unestablished AB finding and broken vial), that only leaves the hanky.

                      6. The hanky. Caz's favourite. Again understandably so. That is very damning. Unless you buy into ideas of police corruption and manipulation of exhibits and evidence, the DNA findings prove that the hanky wrapped around the murder weapon was Hanratty's. Although that leaves extremely serious questions to be answered by Hanratty's remaining supporters, it does not actually prove he fired the gun that killed Gregsten, raped Valerie Storie or even hid the gun and hanky where it was found. We do know others had access to his laundry.


                      Let me make very clear that none of the above points go any way to suggesting innocence on the part of James Hanratty, let alone proving it which was the aim of those who first campaigned for DNA use. I'm actually as sure as I can be taking everything in the round that Hanratty was guilty. I'm just not as convinced as some that his guilt was proved fairly at trial or that the DNA evidence almost forty years later (inevitably without the safeguards being taken which are now so mandatory) was so unanswerably conclusive.

                      If things had been very different in a make believe legal world - in particular, Hanratty not being executed and still being alive, the appeal of 2002 being heard many years earlier but with DNA being used years earlier than it was and able to be brought to the appeal - I would have thought it fair and just for Hanratty to have been granted a retrial.

                      Obviously that could not happen and didn't. I therefore remain uncomfortable that a man - even though I consider him guilty - on trial for his life did not get a fair hearing. This though is where the hypocrite in me comes out. If Michael Gregsten or Valerie Storie had been my son or daughter, hangman Harry Allen could have got any required help from me in an instant.

                      With apologies for the length and best regards,

                      OneRound
                      Hi OneRound,

                      Thanks for the indepth summation. Much appreciated.

                      I agree with your conclusion that Hanratty was most likely (almost certainly) guilty, but did not get a fair trial at the time. That is how I feel about the case of William Herbert Wallace, who was convicted and sentenced to death. Fortunately for him, his verdict was overturned on appeal. I understand your sentiment, as my concern as a family member of a victim would be that we had the right guy, not that the process was followed perfectly.

                      Of course, the process and trial should be followed correctly as much as possible to minimize the risk of a mistake.

                      As an aside, about the death penalty in general, since this sees to be a common thread among a few cases here: I am for the death penalty in theory; I believe it is the appropriate punishment for murder. However, I can't support it overall because of the risk of an innocent being executed. To me, that is an unacceptable risk. There are cases where I certainly feel the accused is 100 percent guilty. Think of video taped evidence, confessions that were never recanted and the accused has the opportunity in court to recant to counteract the risk of police intimidation and reaffirms their guilt (if they are insane enough to confess willingly that is their own problem IMO), or cases in which there is simply overwhelming DNA evidence. I would have for example no problem in the state executing terrorists, serial killers that have been absolutely proven (Think Ted Bundy, Fred West etc.) However, I'm not sure how you could delineate what "absolute proof" consists of so that the law would follow it, even though we probably mostly agree on the plainly evident guilt of certain defendants accused of heinous crimes. Therefore, I would have to be against the death penalty in general, even though there are certainly people I feel deserve and warrant it.

                      Comment


                      • Thanks in turn for your comments, AS.

                        Two factors were particularly significant in the ending of the death penalty here and they both relate to your post.

                        The first was the risk of an innocent person being executed and the concern that it had actually happened. During parliamentary debates leading to abolition, Timothy Evans was the prime cause of concern in this respect although doubts were also expressed about the safety of the convictions of certain others who had been executed, including James Hanratty.

                        The second was public concern as to the unclear and at times baffling way in which the Home Secretary chose to grant a reprieve to a condemned person or not. His decision was never publicly explained. Leading cases in this respect were those of Derek Bentley and Ruth Ellis who both went to the gallows despite campaigns to save them (an especially vigorous one for Bentley).

                        As I mentioned on the associated thread that I flagged recently, I have some sympathy for the position in which the Home Secretary was sometimes placed in. Once a case reached his desk, he had no choice other than to proceed on the basis that the convicted person was guilty. He had to respect the verdict of the jury and the judgement of the Appeal Court in dismissing an appeal (if one had been made).

                        Hanratty's loyal barrister Sherrard passionately and determinedly raised issues of identification evidence with Rab Butler, the Home Secretary at the time, in a final attempt to save his client's life. However, in my opinion Sherrard had very little hope of success and it was not surprising that his efforts failed. For all his eloquence, Sherrard was simply repeating earlier arguments and raising nothing new. Butler had to proceed on the basis that Hanratty had been rightly convicted of one of the worst crimes of the twentieth century and a reprieve was never going to be granted in that situation.

                        Good to have you on the A6. I am sure you will soon find out that others here know much more than me about this road.

                        Best regards,

                        OneRound

                        Comment


                        • In the absence of a challenge to the 2002 Appeal decision it will become generally accepted that Hanratty was guilty. Opposition could be reinvigorated if Woffinden issued a revised or new book making such a challenge, but he appears to have gone very quiet on the subject.

                          I believe Hanratty could have avoided the rope by pleading mental deficiency. In the Sunday Times article I posted recently it claimed that this could even have been done after the trial in the original Appeal process. He didn’t do so because that would mean he admitted guilt, but if you could go back in time and tell him about the DNA tests, wouldn’t he have done so?

                          If he had served a prison sentence instead it would have been interesting to have heard his account of what he really did in August 1961.

                          Comment


                          • OR,
                            Congratulations on a masterful summation of the question marks concerning DNA evidence in relation to James Hanratty.

                            NickB,
                            Pleading mental deficiency would not have been an option considered by Hanratty if he were innocent of course.

                            Had he been guilty, then I am less convinced such an appeal would have saved him from execution. He would have then changed his story three times: from Liverpool alibi, to Rhyl alibi; to mental deficiency. I doubt if legal opinion, far less the British public, would have seen this as anything more than a desperate, late ploy to avoid responsibility for a terrible crime involving gratuitous murder, rape and the paralysis of the surviving victim.

                            It may be that we already know what Hanratty did at the time of the murder, in so far as he gave his account at trial. Hanratty went to the gallows not just protesting his innocence but asking his family to fight to clear his name. Now, Hanratty did not have much of a reputation to uphold so he presumably believed he was being wronged. Of course, he could have been trying to save face in front of his family in order that they did not feel disgraced, but there were ways to do this short of asking them to continue the fight after his death. Convicted murderers normally accepted their lot with a degree of fatalism before execution, finding a cryptic form of words which indicated they were being punished for mistakes and poor decisions in life. This was open to Hanratty, short of making a confession to his guilt, but instead he went in the opposite direction and placed a responsibility upon his family which is still being carried out 55 years later.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by cobalt View Post
                              ...It may be that we already know what Hanratty did at the time of the murder, in so far as he gave his account at trial. Hanratty went to the gallows not just protesting his innocence but asking his family to fight to clear his name. Now, Hanratty did not have much of a reputation to uphold so he presumably believed he was being wronged. Of course, he could have been trying to save face in front of his family in order that they did not feel disgraced, but there were ways to do this short of asking them to continue the fight after his death. Convicted murderers normally accepted their lot with a degree of fatalism before execution, finding a cryptic form of words which indicated they were being punished for mistakes and poor decisions in life. This was open to Hanratty, short of making a confession to his guilt, but instead he went in the opposite direction and placed a responsibility upon his family which is still being carried out 55 years later.
                              Cobalt
                              I find that the most Christian and profound comment on this forum for a long while.

                              Bless you.
                              Del

                              Happy New Year everyone.

                              Comment


                              • The 1957 Homicide Act introduced the defence of ‘diminished responsibility’ reducing a murder charge to voluntary manslaughter. Following the Act, of the 64 people sentenced to death half (32) were reprieved. This is why I believe that a plea of diminished responsibility would have been successful.

                                Comment

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