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  • NickB
    replied
    Originally posted by Alfie View Post
    Woffinden says (p. 101) that the Hanrattys were unable to help Acott, "not having heard from him [Jim] since early July."
    Clearly untrue. The parents had received flowers (gladioli in August, roses at the beginning of September) and at least one postcard from Ireland. I seem to recall Louise said she received four.

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  • Alfie
    replied
    That last sentence should have read 72 Wood Lane, not Boundary Road.

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  • Alfie
    replied
    Morning of Tuesday Sept 26 Acott and Oxford visited George Pratt in Wood Lane, Kingsbury, and in the afternoon, seemingly having made the Ryan-Hanratty connection, called on Mr and Mrs Hanratty in Sycamore Grove to ask if they knew anything about son Jim running cars to Ireland. Nick, following Forsdyke, surmises that the Ryan-Hanratty connection may have been made when the Hanrattys gave the police the postcard Jim mailed to them on Sept 7. But the accounts of Acott's visit make no mention of a postcard, and Woffinden says (p. 101) that the Hanrattys were unable to help Acott, "not having heard from him [Jim] since early July."

    To me, this leaves the damaged rental car that Jim abandoned - which I'm guessing was the subject of the letter from the rental car company that Pratt handed over - as the most likely means for Acott making the Ryan-Hanratty connection. The "Dixie took a postcard to the police" connection I discount for two reasons: (a) Acott seems not to have known who Dixie was when he asked the Hanrattys if they knew the name (Mary H thought he was asking about one of Jim's girlfriends); and (b) why would Acott and Oxford dash off to Ireland when Dixie knew that Jim was back in London?

    The snag is that Oxford and Acott both insisted that the connection was made the day before, on Sept 25. Acott's solicitor, writing to Hawser in 1974, said "The first time that Mr Acott heard of the name 'Hanratty' was at 6.00 pm on 25 September when, in consequence of the extraordinary memory of Gerrard Leonard, he learned from Dublin police that Mr Leonard had shared a room with James Ryan at Flynn's Hotel, Cork ..."

    That the Dublin police gave Acott the lead fits with my rental car theory - the rental car company would have gone to the police when their efforts to trace James Ryan failed. But quite what prompted the contact between Acott and the Dublin police at 6.00 pm on Sept 25 I can't say. Would Acott have circulated the J Ryan, 72 Boundary Road, Kingsbury clue to police stations as far afield as Ireland?

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  • Graham
    replied
    It's always slightly surprised me that the A6 Case has but rarely featured in any of TV's 'true crime' documentaries. At least, not for years. In particular, I would have thought that the Case would be a natural for 'Murder, Mystery and My Family'. It was a pretty sensational case at the time, but little doubt that the vast majority of the general public did not feel that the wrong man had been hanged. It was mooted that a fresh appeal was going to be launched in 2011 or thereabouts, but nothing happened, I suspect because no fresh evidence to support Hanratty's case was available.

    Graham

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  • OneRound
    replied
    Originally posted by Alfie View Post

    I think you'll find the "continued public disquiet" barely exists outside of a handful of posters on this forum. The DNA evidence and the 2002 Court of Appeal finding put the final nail in that coffin.
    Alfie - I deliberately stated ''continued public disquiet'' (rather than ''continuing''). That was intended to allow for the concerns of many - rightly or wrongly - having finally been put to rest by the Court of Appeal's finding in 2002. Whatever way you look at it though, Hawser's report in 1975 had done nothing to end public disquiet. Hence, my surprise that anyone should consider it ''excellent''.

    Regards,
    OneRound

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  • Alfie
    replied
    Originally posted by OneRound View Post
    Regardless of whether you agree with Hawser's conclusion or not, I am surprised anyone would consider his report to be ''excellent''. It was vitally important that Hawser convincingly explain and justify his finding. The resultant and continued public disquiet make it self-evident that the report failed badly on that score.
    I think you'll find the "continued public disquiet" barely exists outside of a handful of posters on this forum. The DNA evidence and the 2002 Court of Appeal finding put the final nail in that coffin.

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  • OneRound
    replied
    Hi folks,

    Regardless of whether you agree with Hawser's conclusion or not, I am surprised anyone would consider his report to be ''excellent''. It was vitally important that Hawser convincingly explain and justify his finding. The resultant and continued public disquiet make it self-evident that the report failed badly on that score.

    Best regards,
    OneRound

    Leave a comment:


  • cobalt
    replied
    I am very happy to be corrected on my understanding of Mrs. Lanz and her statements. Perhaps they are mentioned in standard books commenting on the A6 murder, but as someone who has followed this site for a good few years I was completely unaware of statements 2 and 3. Naturally, I would very much like to see transcripts of all three of her statements which I presume Matthews did.

    Hawser’s lack of curiosity regarding the contradictions in Mrs. Lanz’s statements is odd for a man leading an enquiry, as I assume Mrs. Lanz was available to clarify matters at the time.

    I cannot accept Graham’s reasoning regarding Acott not considering Mrs. Lanz a reliable witness. Maybe that is why he messed the case up. On the basis of her first statement he could have tested her credibility at an ID parade. By the time Mrs. Lanz had made her second statement, the one that alludes directly to Alphon, there would have been the difficulty of Alphon’s photograph appearing in national newspapers so any ID she might have made would have to be seen in that context.

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  • Spitfire
    replied
    Originally posted by moste View Post
    I can’t believe people continue to quote Hawser . Clearly he was extremely biased.
    You might disagree with Hawser's conclusions but if you had read his report you would know that Mrs Lanz did make a statement to the Police shortly after the murder.

    ​​​​​​
    Originally posted by cobalt View Post

    No police statement from Mrs. Lanz? Well the thundering question should be why not? Why on earth not? Her pub was the last place the victims were seen before being shot. And there is no statement. Does this not strike even a thumbsucker as odd? Are we awake on this crime?

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  • Graham
    replied
    Michael Sherrard once observed that there were certain persons 'trying to get in on the act' with regard to the A6 Case. I rather suspect this can be applied to Mrs Lanz. I ought also to refer to Foot (P 314) in which he has Alphon telling Justice and Fox on the evening of their visit to the Old Station Inn and the general area, that the pub was not the pub which Gregsten and Valerie had visited on the evening of the crime. Foot does not develop this.

    It seems to me that if Acott & Co saw in Mrs Lanz a reliable witness, then surely they would have called her in for an ID parade in which Alphon took part. As far as I'm aware, this didn't happen. And as for Alphon being seen in the Station Inn prior to the murder, then maybe he had popped in there for a drink prior to August 22 1961 - he was a free man and it's a free country.

    By the way, it was Justice and not Fox who had a 'quiet word' with Mrs Lanz at the time of their visit. And whilst on the subject of that visit to Taplow by Justice, Fox and Alphon, Fox later recalled that as their car (which he was driving) passed a certain spot in Marsh Lane, someone yelled "Stop!" Which he did, but stated later that he never knew if it was Alphon or Justice who shouted. And Justice, to show what a stable well-balanced chap he was, went ape and ran to a nearby cottage where he woke up the occupiers and began gabbling to them. Maybe there was method in his madness.

    I visited the area twice over the years, the first time in/around 1995 on a stinking hot day (as I've mentioned before) when I walked down to the cornfield. By then, the Old Station Inn was no more. Parking was not at all easy. I don't know what the area was like in 1961, but certainly it was very busy that day, with a high volume of traffic along the A4 Bath Road. In fairness, The Old Station Inn was located well back from the main road, so perhaps it was more a pub for 'locals' than passing trade. Woffo also says it was once used as a location-setting for an Agatha Christie film, which probably gives us an idea of what the place was like.

    Graham

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  • moste
    replied
    I can’t believe people continue to quote Hawser . Clearly he was extremely biased.

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  • moste
    replied
    Originally posted by cobalt View Post
    Hawser is certainly excellent at confirming his view that Mrs. Lanz is not a reliable witness.

    1. He mentions three statements made by Mrs. Lanz to the police. He provides dates for statement 1 and statement 3: 24th August 1961 and 27th March 1962. The other one? He does not seem to think the date matters much for some reason although we can assume it was soon after Hanratty’s verdict.

    2. He quotes from statement 1 to give us the full impact of her words. In statement 1 there is little to place Alphon at the Station Inn save her description of ‘strangers.’ Rather than give us this description verbatim, Hawser has decided to pass his own judgment on the matter. As to why Mrs. Lanz was not given the opportunity to identify Alphon officially, Hawser decides it best not to comment.

    3. Statement 3 is also quoted verbatim in places and is interesting in that it does confirm Mrs. Lanz’s earlier comment about Alphon being an occasional patron of the Station Inn. Except that after confirming this, she then slightly retracts her conviction it was him. At no point does Hawser pause to consider the internal contradiction of this statement.

    4. As for Alphon’s propensity for popping up in Taplow this is reduced to the enigmatic comment: The statement refers to other visits to her public house and does not carry the matter any further. Other visits made by Alphon presumably, but Hawser does not want to mention him by name at this point. But this surely contradicts her earlier ambiguity about Alphon. Once again without offering any evidence to support his judgement Hawser merely closes the topic down.

    5. These alarm bells ringing within statement 3 are of no concern to Hawser. In fact for him statement 3 is proof positive that Mrs. Lanz cannot place Alphon in the Station In around the time of the crime.It is clear that in March 1962 Mrs. Lanz had no idea when Mr. Alphon had previously been there. A slight slip by Hawser that he probably regretted . He apparently concedes in this final flourish that Alphon had, on some previous occasions, been in the Station Inn.

    4. There remains the problem of the earlier, undated statement 2 in which Mrs. Lanz can place Alphon as a customer very close to the time of the murder. Hawser does not see fit to produce one single verbatim extract from this statement and actually links her statement as appearing in a newspaper. Small tricks that lawyers learn to weaken information that is unhelpful to their case. Rather like Nudds, Mrs Lang is credible in statements 1 and 3 but unreliable in statement 2.

    At least Nudds gave a reason for his contradictory statements. Hawser seems uninterested in exploring the reasons for this regarding Mrs. Lanz. There are several possibilities. Mrs. Lanz may have been unduly influenced by Fox; she may have had strong feelings against the death penalty; perhaps she felt contesting the verdict would have been hurtful to Valerie Storie; or perhaps her third statement was coerced by a police force keen to draw a line under the A6 Case for it was made on 27th March 1962- one week before the execution of James Hanratty. After the execution Mrs. Lanz seems to have gone back to her statement 2. Did Mr. Hawser, in his excellent report, ever speak to Mrs. Lanz to clear the matter up?
    Brilliant post!

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  • cobalt
    replied
    Hawser is certainly excellent at confirming his view that Mrs. Lanz is not a reliable witness.

    1. He mentions three statements made by Mrs. Lanz to the police. He provides dates for statement 1 and statement 3: 24th August 1961 and 27th March 1962. The other one? He does not seem to think the date matters much for some reason although we can assume it was soon after Hanratty’s verdict.

    2. He quotes from statement 1 to give us the full impact of her words. In statement 1 there is little to place Alphon at the Station Inn save her description of ‘strangers.’ Rather than give us this description verbatim, Hawser has decided to pass his own judgment on the matter. As to why Mrs. Lanz was not given the opportunity to identify Alphon officially, Hawser decides it best not to comment.

    3. Statement 3 is also quoted verbatim in places and is interesting in that it does confirm Mrs. Lanz’s earlier comment about Alphon being an occasional patron of the Station Inn. Except that after confirming this, she then slightly retracts her conviction it was him. At no point does Hawser pause to consider the internal contradiction of this statement.

    4. As for Alphon’s propensity for popping up in Taplow this is reduced to the enigmatic comment: The statement refers to other visits to her public house and does not carry the matter any further. Other visits made by Alphon presumably, but Hawser does not want to mention him by name at this point. But this surely contradicts her earlier ambiguity about Alphon. Once again without offering any evidence to support his judgement Hawser merely closes the topic down.

    5. These alarm bells ringing within statement 3 are of no concern to Hawser. In fact for him statement 3 is proof positive that Mrs. Lanz cannot place Alphon in the Station In around the time of the crime.It is clear that in March 1962 Mrs. Lanz had no idea when Mr. Alphon had previously been there. A slight slip by Hawser that he probably regretted . He apparently concedes in this final flourish that Alphon had, on some previous occasions, been in the Station Inn.

    4. There remains the problem of the earlier, undated statement 2 in which Mrs. Lanz can place Alphon as a customer very close to the time of the murder. Hawser does not see fit to produce one single verbatim extract from this statement and actually links her statement as appearing in a newspaper. Small tricks that lawyers learn to weaken information that is unhelpful to their case. Rather like Nudds, Mrs Lang is credible in statements 1 and 3 but unreliable in statement 2.

    At least Nudds gave a reason for his contradictory statements. Hawser seems uninterested in exploring the reasons for this regarding Mrs. Lanz. There are several possibilities. Mrs. Lanz may have been unduly influenced by Fox; she may have had strong feelings against the death penalty; perhaps she felt contesting the verdict would have been hurtful to Valerie Storie; or perhaps her third statement was coerced by a police force keen to draw a line under the A6 Case for it was made on 27th March 1962- one week before the execution of James Hanratty. After the execution Mrs. Lanz seems to have gone back to her statement 2. Did Mr. Hawser, in his excellent report, ever speak to Mrs. Lanz to clear the matter up?

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  • Spitfire
    replied
    Cyril Hawser deals with this in paragraph 376 of his excellent report to the Home Secretary

    376. Eighth. Mrs. Mary Lanz.

    (a) In 1961-1962 her husband was the licensee of the Old Station

    Inn, Taplow and she served behind the bar, Mr. Foot and Mr. Lewis

    Chester took a statement from her which was published in the Sunday

    Times of 4th July 1971. In this she said that Mr. Gregsten and Miss Stone

    came into the bar on the 22nd August 1961 and sat on their usual seat. They

    were well known to her. They left after 9 o’clock. Mr. Alphon was also in the

    pub with a blonde woman and they left about a half an hour after Mr. Gregsten

    and Miss Storie. Mr. Alphon had been there before and came there subsequently.

    During the trial of Mr. Hanratty, Mr. Justice brought Mr. Alphon

    in and asked her if she recognised him and she said she did. She said Mr. Justice

    told her the man was Peter Alphon who had been a suspect for the A6 murder.

    She became very worried when Mr. Hanratty’s appeal failed and decided

    to tell the authorities what she knew about Mr. Alphon. She therefore visited

    Slough Police Station and made a statement along the same lines as the one

    she gave to Mr. Chester and Mr. Foot.

    (b) Mrs. Lanz made a statement to the police on the 24th August 1961.

    After referring to the visit of Mr. Gregsten and Miss Storie she said that two

    strange men left either shortly before or shortly after them. She described

    these men—neither would appear to have resembled Mr. Alphon or

    Mr. Hanratty. She said there were quite a number of people in the bar that night

    many of them strangers. She refers to no-one else.

    (c) On 27th March 1962 she made a further statement to the police at Slough.

    She referred to three men coming into the bar on 20th March one of whom had

    been there the previous Wednesday.

    “Of the other two I recognised one as a man who had previously been

    in the bar and whom I have since been told is Peter Alphon. I cannot

    remember when I had seen him previous to this. I do know that I have

    seen this man before”.

    She said that as they left one:

    “whom I now know to be John Justice ... asked me if I had ever seen

    the man in the dark duffle coat before. I said I don’t want to commit

    myself but I have seen someone very similar in here before”.

    Mr. Justice told her it was very important and she repeated that she had seen

    someone very similar. The statement refers to other visits to her public house

    and does not carry the matter any further. There is no mention in this statement

    whatsoever of Mr. Alphon being at the Inn on 22nd August 1961 or as ever

    being there with a blonde lady. It is clear that in March 1962 Mrs. Lanz had

    no idea when Mr. Alphon had previously been there.

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  • cobalt
    replied
    It seems that Mrs. Lanz made her claims earlier than I thought, and not only to Fox and Justice. Here is the section from Lord Russell addressing the House of Lords in August 1966:

    It is also interesting to know that the Station Inn at Taplow, which is only about a mile, as I have said, from the corn field, is the place where Gregsten and Miss Valerie Storie frequently used to spend the evening before going out for one of their evening rides in cars, and that Mrs. Lanz, who is the wife of the landlord of the Old Station Inn at Taplow, whom I have myself interviewed, certainly remembers (and has told the police a long time ago that she does remember) that Alphon was at the Old Station Inn on the night of the 21st. She is not quite sure whether he was there on the night of the 22nd, but he frequently used to go there.

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