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  • I take your point about the forensic report being available to the defence. I think there was once a photocopy of a forensic report signed by ‘Elsie Nickolls’ shown on this site but whether that was merely a summary report rather than a more thorough report I am not sure. It may be that the defence was shown a less than comprehensive report and was satisfied with that.


    Sherrard surely missed a trick in not calling Nickolls to testify. He was a big ‘name’ in criminal trials of that era and his confirmation of the negative connection between Hanratty and the car would have had a powerful effect on the jury I would imagine.

    There remains the possibility of a clean-up by the killer which removed hair and fibre evidence but as you suggested this would have required a thorough vacuum clean of the car. In the circumstances this seems unlikely, not in line with the narrative of a panicked killer driving erratically. Then there is the problem of finding an extension cable to get the vacuum to the car before starting to hoover, most probably in poor light. Vacuum cleaners also make a lot of noise and would be likely to disturb anyone sleeping in the vicinity in the early hours of the morning. If this did happen then an accomplice seems likely to have been involved. And as I indicated earlier, an experienced forensic team can tell when a car is ‘too’ clean following a clean up operation.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Alfie View Post

      Nickolls was a witness at the committal, but isn't mentioned in the reports I've gathered about the trial. Anybody know whether he was called there?
      Indeed he was.
      Attached Files

      Comment


      • So Nickolls was there.

        Yet Sherrard passed up the opportunity to cross examine him on the negative result on the murder car?

        Comment


        • But Sherrard's cross-examination of Nickolls is not included. This is the difficulty of having only abridged reports - some important things are left out. For example, France's 'back seat of the bus' testimony is not mentioned.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by NickB View Post
            But Sherrard's cross-examination of Nickolls is not included. This is the difficulty of having only abridged reports - some important things are left out. For example, France's 'back seat of the bus' testimony is not mentioned.
            I'd be totally amazed had Sherrard not brought the 'clean' condition of the car to the attention of the Court, thereby challenging the prosecution to prove that it had actually been Hanratty in the back seat that evening.

            Graham
            We are suffering from a plethora of surmise, conjecture and hypothesis. - Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure Of Silver Blaze

            Comment


            • Newspaper headline

              So, having researched the theory myself ,of the fact that it was not possible for the .38 Enfield to have been fired accidentally, and claiming the murder was in fact a ‘double tap ‘ style assasination . It would appear that the whole thing was covered quite thoroughly by Nickolls. Rob Harriman obviously was not aware of this when he tackled the ‘Men’s Rea, issue,in his book ,and clearly Nichols’ demonstration and statement would negate the need for Sherrard to persue the killer blurting out, ‘he frightened me ,he moved too quick’ ( or whatever) .

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Graham View Post
                I'd be totally amazed had Sherrard not brought the 'clean' condition of the car to the attention of the Court, thereby challenging the prosecution to prove that it had actually been Hanratty in the back seat that evening.

                Graham
                Hi Graham - I'm sure you're right. I remember Sherrard placing great emphasis on this in one of the tv documentaries from the 1990s.

                Best regards,

                OneRound

                Comment


                • Here is the transcript of the 2002 BBC documentary.

                  Sherrard says on this point
                  No hair, no blood, no fibres, nothing at all was found that linked Hanratty to that motor-car.
                  A good many threads, fibres and hairs were found and these were examined by Lewis Nickolls and some were preserved by him between glass slides which subsequently became broken. This was one of the subjects of debate in the 2002 appeal and appears in the transcript which can be found in R Harriman's book.

                  If it be the case that fibres etc. were found, and along with the fact that there was much else in the car, e.g rug, spent bullets, clots of blood, bobble hats etc., the argument for saying that the car was 'cleaned' seems a bit thin. Moreover, if the malefactor (Hanratty) had the time and inclination to clean the car, then he would have had the time and opportunity to torch the vehicle and obliterate any trace linking him to the crime which he might have left.

                  I believe that Hanratty was confident that he had left no evidential trace and that his best bet was to abandon the car by parking up, as thousands of commuters do every day, near to a Tube station from where he could merge unnoticed into the rush hour throng in central London.

                  Even if he had succeeded in killing Valerie Storie, Hanratty would not have risked driving around in the murder car any longer than was necessary, and certainly not into the late afternoon.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Spitfire View Post
                    Here is the transcript of the 2002 BBC documentary.

                    Sherrard says on this point


                    A good many threads, fibres and hairs were found and these were examined by Lewis Nickolls and some were preserved by him between glass slides which subsequently became broken. This was one of the subjects of debate in the 2002 appeal and appears in the transcript which can be found in R Harriman's book.

                    If it be the case that fibres etc. were found, and along with the fact that there was much else in the car, e.g rug, spent bullets, clots of blood, bobble hats etc., the argument for saying that the car was 'cleaned' seems a bit thin. Moreover, if the malefactor (Hanratty) had the time and inclination to clean the car, then he would have had the time and opportunity to torch the vehicle and obliterate any trace linking him to the crime which he might have left.

                    I believe that Hanratty was confident that he had left no evidential trace and that his best bet was to abandon the car by parking up, as thousands of commuters do every day, near to a Tube station from where he could merge unnoticed into the rush hour throng in central London.

                    Even if he had succeeded in killing Valerie Storie, Hanratty would not have risked driving around in the murder car any longer than was necessary, and certainly not into the late afternoon.
                    Hi Spitfire and all - I struggle with the cleaning or non-cleaning of the car by a guilty Hanratty.

                    If he didn't clean the car, it is odd and he was bl**dy lucky (the only bit of luck to come his way throughout the case) that he left no evidence of his being in it.

                    If he did clean the car, it is odd and again he appears lucky that he managed to remove all evidence of his having been in it although not others.

                    I'm not convinced about the feasibility of torching the car even if there was sufficient time. That would run the risk of drawing attention to the vehicle as soon as it went up in flames as well as leaving him stranded there.

                    Best regards,

                    OneRound

                    Comment


                    • I don’t know where this idea comes from that overall Hanratty was ‘unlucky’, except in the sense that Caz was using the word – that an innocent Hanratty would have been incredibly unlucky to have so many things pointing towards his guilt.

                      On 23-Sep-61 Alphon said to Acott: “It’s quite clear to me that you’ll never catch him now. It’s over a month old now and if you haven’t caught him now, you never will.” I expect similar thoughts were running though Hanratty’s mind later that day as he drove Gladys to Bedford. He must have felt very lucky that he had got away with it.

                      I accept that if Crocker only reported the cartridge cases because of the Alphon linkeage, then this was indeed unlucky for Hanratty. But after this had been reported, by continuing to use the ‘Ryan’ alias and the ‘Wood Lane, Kingsbury’ address he was leaving a trail that, I feel, inexorably would have lead to him.

                      Comment


                      • Back to the Morris Minor's odometer:

                        Originally posted by Alfie View Post
                        The Court of Appeal judgment says: "... 232 miles had been travelled in the period which elapsed. Depending on when petrol was put in the car, this may have included Michael Gregsten's driving that day (57.4 miles) but must include the drive from the cornfield at Dorney Reach to Deadman's Hill on the A6 (58-65 miles) and, at the very least, the minimum distance from the A6 to Avondale Crescent, Ilford (48.6 miles)."

                        This left c.60 miles unaccounted for.

                        My question: how did the court arrive at 57.4 miles as the mileage travelled by Gregsten in the Morris Minor that day?

                        From what I've read, Gregsten's movements that day were: picked his children up from Sabine House, in Shirley Road, Abbots Langley, took them to Cassiobury Park in Watford and back (c. 7.5 miles), then picked up Valerie at the Road Research Lab in St Mary’s Rd, Langley, and went on to her home in Anthony Way, Cippenham (c.27 miles) and from there on to the Old Station Inn at Taplow (2.7 miles). That is a total of c.37 miles, 20 miles short of what the Court found he travelled. What am I missing?
                        Nick then pointed out that Gregsten could have started from the flat in Maidenhead, adding approx 30 miles to this total.

                        But Janet in her statement to the police on the day of the murder makes clear that Gregsten was living with her and the children at this point: "On Tues, 22 August, my husband left home ... he did not return home and I was surprised because earlier he had said he would not be leaving me till the weekend."

                        So if Gregsten did go to Maidenhead to do a spot of painting that morning it would have entailed a round trip of approx. 60 miles before returning to pick up his two boys.

                        Which would still leave quite a discrepancy in the numbers discussed by the Court of Appeal. Take out the Maidenhead trip and they seem to be over-estimating Gregsten's driving that day by 20 miles; add it in, and they're under-estimating by 40 miles.

                        Maths was never my strong point. Can anybody else reconcile these numbers?

                        Comment


                        • Natalie posted here that Gregsten set out from Maidenhead that morning, so I think it must be mentioned somewhere. The flat was available to him from 1st August so he could have stayed there for the odd night any time before the planned ‘moving in’ date of the 27th. Janet’s description that he ‘left home’ could have been referring in general to him leaving Sabine House in the afternoon, and he may well have intended returning there that night.

                          Comment


                          • [QUOTE=NickB;445825 I don’t know where this idea comes from that overall Hanratty was ‘unlucky', except in the sense that Caz was using the word – that an innocent Hanratty would have been incredibly unlucky to have so many things pointing towards his guilt.

                            On 23-Sep-61 Alphon said to Acott: “It’s quite clear to me that you’ll never catch him now. It’s over a month old now and if you haven’t caught him now, you never will.” I expect similar thoughts were running though Hanratty’s mind later that day as he drove Gladys to Bedford. He must have felt very lucky that he had got away with it.

                            I accept that if Crocker only reported the cartridge cases because of the Alphon linkeage, then this was indeed unlucky for Hanratty. But after this had been reported, by continuing to use the ‘Ryan’ alias and the ‘Wood Lane, Kingsbury’ address he was leaving a trail that, I feel, inexorably would have lead to him.[/QUOTE]



                            Hi Nick - I wasn't suggesting that an innocent man was unlucky to be found guilty but rather that a guilty man got no breaks or luck at all. Many may say ''so what'' and ''it's all he deserved'' to that which is an understandable reaction although not the point I was trying to make.

                            Besides Crocker reporting the cartridges and off the top of my bonce, Hanratty's bad luck included:

                            * An incompetent solicitor.

                            * An inexperienced barrister.

                            * Police failing to disclose relevant material.

                            * A local jury.

                            Even after execution, bad luck continued with:

                            * The timing of his 2002 appeal. A few years earlier and there would have been no DNA evidence to present to the Court. A few years later and [I believe - I readily acknowledge I'm a very long way from being an expert here] more of an argument could have been presented against the reliability of the DNA findings.

                            * The attitude of the Court of Appeal. In particular, the judges sitting referred to police withholding material as ''the high watermark of non-disclosure'' but still regarded it as not invalidating the trial and original verdict. Other judges may have taken a different view and reached a different decision. In the Bentley case, it is worth noting that the Court of Appeal commented that ''a properly directed jury would have been entitled to convict'' but nonetheless put aside the conviction as he had ''been denied a fair trial which is the birthright of every British citizen''. Had different judges considered his case and any luck belatedly shone on a hanged Hanratty, he might have received a similar judgement.

                            Best regards,

                            OneRound
                            Last edited by OneRound; 04-26-2018, 04:35 AM.

                            Comment


                            • I believe Sherrard and Kleinman were very competent but, even if they weren't, Hanratty maintained Kleinman and said he wanted Sherrard to conduct the case. I suspect the reason for this is that Hanratty thought that Sherrard and Kleinman believed in him (and I think they did until the Rhyl alibi) and that other solicitors/barristers might not be so gullible.

                              I don't see how complete disclosure could have saved him, and doubt that the level of nondisclosure was abnormal for that time, and he didn't murder a 'local'.

                              After the execution he had the luck of people like Foot/Woffinden presenting his case in a highly biased way. The Court of Appeal said that even without the DNA it would have upheld the guilty verdict.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by NickB View Post
                                Natalie posted here that Gregsten set out from Maidenhead that morning, so I think it must be mentioned somewhere. The flat was available to him from 1st August so he could have stayed there for the odd night any time before the planned ‘moving in’ date of the 27th. Janet’s description that he ‘left home’ could have been referring in general to him leaving Sabine House in the afternoon, and he may well have intended returning there that night.
                                I wonder what Natalie's source was? I've seen only an abridged version of Janet's statement so she may have mentioned it there I suppose.

                                Comment

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