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  • Isn’t there only one night unaccounted for, because he would have traveled back on the overnight train on the second?

    When the police discovered that the telegram was sent on the Thursday, that in itself did not disprove his claim that he arrived back on the Friday. So they may not have questioned him about this in the interview.

    At that stage his claim was that he was staying in a flat in Liverpool, so he would have had to explain why he had moved out of the flat into a b&b for one night. And if he had said where he really was the police could have made enquiries and found witnesses who contradicted aspects of his story - for example, saying that he was not wearing his suit or carrying his bag. He had already a late alibi with the telegram, I don’t see how a subsequent stayover would have added plausibility.

    Comment


    • OK, let’s take the prosecution argument and run it through. Hanratty has committed a horrific crime, so disturbing he cannot even remember how to change the gears on a car. For all that, he composes himself and after dumping the car is invisible on the 23rd of August. No one knows where he was overnight. Where was he? Who spoke to him? We do not know. Immaculate disappearance from a known criminal, spotted by neither fellow criminal nor police. Quite an achievement.

      On the morning of the 24th of August he pushes the gun under a bus seat then hot foots it to Liverpool where he has criminal connections. No one sees him on the train, but then no one sees him on the way back either so that evidence is neutral at best. His criminal confederates promise to alibi him for what they assume is a run of the mill robbery, hence his confidence when he later speaks to Acott on the phone. He sells them some gear, gets some cash in hand, sends his telegram, and heads back to the big smoke. So far so good.

      Here are some problems. Why go to Liverpool a day after the murder? Why was it so necessary to return to London to dump the weapon before going up to Liverpool? Why not dump the car en route to Liverpool and chuck the weapon into the nearest canal before catching a train? What was so special about London? And if he had gear to sell in Liverpool, why was holding up a couple in a cornfield from who me took next to nothing?

      Well, he panicked and wanted to leave the scene of the crime. OK, Liverpool is far enough away to do that, as is Eire. But the strange thing is he said to Carole French, regarded as a reliable witness, that he was intending to go Liverpool before the crime was committed. What an extraordinary coincidence. That the place Hanratyy initially chose to get away from the heat of the crime just happened to be the very place he had innocently, at that time at least, told the French family he was going to visit anyway. Which begs again the question, why the hell would he have bothered to return to London after the A6 murder?

      That’s before we get to how and why he turned up the cornfield. Which is more my line of argument. Every day we argue about Hanratty’s alibi, and its acknowledged limitations, is a day we are distracted from the prosecution case. The judge at trial, was at pains to make this clear to the jury. A man does not have to prove his innocence.

      Comment


      • There’s still another problem. Hanratty initially claimed he stayed in some rookery of crime in the heart of Liverpool. This is perfectly believable, although we may disagree on the dates he stayed. He seems to have had a life of crashing out on people’s floors.

        But if the criminals in the flat he actually did stay in on the night of the 24th would not confirm this, then how do we know their evidence is worth anything? He must have stayed somewhere. Clearly, the Liverpool criminal classes shut up shop on Hanratty and let him swing, whether he was guilty or not. They could have acknowledged his presence on the 24th withput harm to themselves but were too nervous to do even that.

        So, I am on Bert Balmer territory here. His terror over the Liverpool criminal classes was that it was arbitrary. A guilty man could condemn an innocent man and Balmer cared little so long as some lower life was hanging from a rope. What loss to society? Very little. And Balmer could use the guilty man in future as an informant with the greatest collateral of all: namely that he had verballed a former criminal associate on to the chalk marks. Cynical, but no doubt effective up to a point. I still think Hanratty was naïve in relation to criminal culture in Liverpool.

        Comment


        • My theory: he set up the Liverpool alibi in advance of doing a stick-up (although why he chose the Maidenhead area for this is anybody's guess). He returned to London after Gregsten's murder thinking he'd left nobody to tell the tale, holing up who-knows-where. When he learned that Valerie had survived he panicked, stashed the gun on the bus and went post-haste to Liverpool to try and firm up an alibi. His criminal confederates refused to play ball, so the telegram represented one of the few ways he could confirm his visit. I don't think he returned on the overnight train on Thursday - the Frances were adamant they didn't see him till the Saturday. And I can't see him wanting to return immediately to the centre of the search - especially after learning that the gun had been found by a cleaner.

          So why return on Friday's overnight train? Was he perhaps emboldened by the fact that the police seemed to be off on a wild goose chase, hunting a man with brown eyes? Or by reports in the press such as this one in Friday's Daily Herald: "Police hunting the gunman of Deadman's Hill were last night given the names and photographs of three men. All have records of violence and attacks on women. All match the description of the man who shot dead … Michael Gregsten"?

          Comment


          • After depositing the gun, he realised that there was nothing to show that he had been in Liverpool at all and so decided to go there and send the telegram. A near alibi is better than nothing. But I think he also believed there was a possibility of it being thought to have been sent earlier, as suggested in my previous post. I suspect he had indeed intended to return on the Friday morning but, when he was told that the telegram would not be delivered until then, decided not to risk arriving before the telegram and then decided to stay the night. I think it is more likely that he only started to ask his criminal friends for an alibi when he went to Liverpool on the run.

            Comment


            • If the Liverpool alibi was pre-planned as part of Hanratty’s intended hold up then it would have made a lot more sense to dump the car facing south and then head north.

              The telegram, if intended to form part of an alibi, was worded very opaquely. Why the name P. Ryan and the false address in London? Was this some kind of criminal code understood by the France family? Suppose they had read it quickly and assumed he was in fact in London, then chucked the telegram away; it would have been a wasted journey by Hanratty who possibly did not know that telegram messages could be retrieved by the authorities.

              Comment


              • I have been reading up on a serious miscarriage of justice which has since been acknowledged by the authorities: the murder of Lynette White in her Cardiff flat in1988. There are some parallels with the A6 Case which might be useful to us.

                There were several good descriptions of the suspected murderer, a photofit made up and the case highlighted on Crimewatch at the time. As it out turned out this photofit of a white male with dark brown hair proved to be pretty accurate when the murderer was identified 15 years later.

                Despite the murder scene being extremely bloody, rather astonishingly no forensic evidence of any value was retrieved that was used at trial. Rather like the Morris Minor which yielded no apparent clues.

                Unfortunately the investigation in 1987 stalled fairly quickly until months later, clearly under police pressure, some local criminals accused some other local criminals of involvement. Five men stood trial for the murder, all of whom were black or of mixed race; three were found guilty. The convicted men were all petty thieves on the Hanratty level of the criminal food chain. The quality of prosecution witness was in the Nudds category, complete with a prison cell confession similar to Langdale’s. One of the accused produced an alibi that he was on a boat eight miles from the scene of the crime at the time but to no effect, although in retrospect this has generally been accepted as a genuine alibi.

                Police corruption was later established in relation to witness intimidation and falsifying statements.

                This case at least has a satisfactory ending. It took a forensic reinvestigation of the murder flat over ten years later to identify DNA behind the skirting boards which led to the conviction of the killer who admitted his guilt, albeit he had no criminal record and had never been on the police radar.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by cobalt View Post
                  If the Liverpool alibi was pre-planned as part of Hanratty’s intended hold up then it would have made a lot more sense to dump the car facing south and then head north.

                  The telegram, if intended to form part of an alibi, was worded very opaquely. Why the name P. Ryan and the false address in London? Was this some kind of criminal code understood by the France family? Suppose they had read it quickly and assumed he was in fact in London, then chucked the telegram away; it would have been a wasted journey by Hanratty who possibly did not know that telegram messages could be retrieved by the authorities.
                  Hi Cobalt.
                  According to Paul Foot, (page 317) there is a mention of Jean Justice and Alphon being at The Imperial Hotel on May 15th. ( ( I assume this would be 1962, 5 weeks after Hanratty was , murdered I don’t have his book at the moment). Is there another huge coincidence here ? Or are we not seeing the wood for the trees? Or , what do you think is going On?

                  Comment


                  • Yes that would have been May 1962, Moste. Whether it's something more than a huge coincidence I can't say. The sender's name and address on the telegram [Mr P. Ryan, Imperial Hotel, Russell Square, London] received by Dixie France on August 25th is intriguing especially in light of a certain paragraph of Jean Justice's 1964 book 'Murder vs. Murder'. Here is that italicised paragraph of his [pages 39-40] in full.....

                    ( I know Hanratty and Alphon frequented the same dives in Soho and I have been told by a reliable witness that he once saw them together on a Sunday Morning. They both used the Rehearsal Club and were staying in the same hotel, so there is every likelihood that they met. Fundamentally, however, they moved in different worlds. Alphon and his circle of friends would naturally consider themselves a cut above Hanratty, a very small-time crook indeed. Hanratty would know practically nothing about Alphon, whereas Alphon could have learned a great deal about Hanratty's movements from Charles France.)
                    *************************************
                    "A body of men, HOLDING THEMSELVES ACCOUNTABLE TO NOBODY, ought not to be trusted by anybody." --Thomas Paine ["Rights of Man"]

                    "Justice is an ideal which transcends the expedience of the State, or the sensitivities of Government officials, or private individuals. IT HAS TO BE PURSUED WHATEVER THE COST IN PEACE OF MIND TO THOSE CONCERNED." --'Justice of the Peace' [July 12th 1975]

                    Comment


                    • Hi Moste,

                      For me the telegram is a puzzle; if it was intended to produce a belated alibi for Hanratty then the wording and the address were not very helpful. I appreciate that criminals prefer to work under aliases, give false addresses and speak in their own argot, but this could be counter -productive if trying to establish an alibi of sorts. The Imperial Hotel address I have assumed is some kind of fanciful joke or maybe a coded reference; if I discover Alphon was known to stay there on occasion I might change my mind.

                      Anyone could send a telegram: no ID was needed. Apart from this telegram Hanratty does not seem to have made any effort to make his presence in Liverpool known on his alleged visit on the 24th of August, so the police could easily have claimed (as they did with other parts of his alibi) that he was nowhere near Liverpool and had simply obtained the telegram from a criminal associate. Yet they seem quite prepared to have him in Liverpool on the Thursday and possibly the Friday as well, since according to the France family he only arrived back in London on the Saturday morning.

                      For me, the prosecution case would be stronger if it had Hanratty arriving back in a panic at France’s house and asking for help. Hanratty lies low inside their house for a couple of days while Dixie France arranges for the gun to be dumped and the telegram to be sent from Liverpool. I am not clear about why the police were so willing to accept the telegram at face value, unless it was part of some trade-off with the evidence France was prepared to give in court.

                      Comment


                      • SH,

                        Intriguing stuff, but ‘seeing them together’ might simply have meant they were in the same room at the same time.

                        I’m reminded of a reliable sighting which placed Lee Harvey Oswald and Police Officer Tippit in the same café at the same time two days before JFK and Tippit were allegedly killed by LHO. They were at separate tables and did not communicate, although Oswald complained about how his eggs had been cooked and Tippit glowered in his direction. Some have interpreted this as a coded message; others believe that perhaps it explains why Tippit pulled over in his patrol car if he spotted Oswald a couple days later. The majority view seems to be that it was merely a coincidence.

                        Comment


                        • [QUOTE=cobalt;n711533][FONT=times new roman][SIZE=16px]SH,

                          Intriguing stuff, but seeing them together …might simply have meant they were in the same room at the same time.
                          Hi Cobalt.
                          And in the same hotel on Sutherland Ave within 24 hours of each other. No, I am not buying into that for a moment. Clearly ,they knew each other. The question for me is why and in what capacity.
                          I know it’s pure speculation but as good an explanation as any would be ,one I alluded to a long while back, namely, ‘ Alphon the door to door almanac peddler,was in the business of casing joints , performing a useful reconnoiter for Hanratty ‘ Although my theory was originally a bit of a stretch since coincidence was much more likely, that was before I appreciated the Imperial hotel connection.always assuming of course that Jean Justices very reliable source, was just that.
                          I do think it very likely that there was more to it than the two of them being in the same room at the same time.
                          I think I’m going to have to add ‘ Murder V Murder ‘ to my library if I can find a copy.
                          Last edited by moste; 06-02-2019, 01:06 AM. Reason: added a sentence

                          Comment


                          • Short but very interesting newspaper piece about Michael Gregsten's father, John, from October 1955. Seems like a very brave thing to have attempted given that he had been crippled with arthritis for over a decade. John died about two and a half years after his son....

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                            *************************************
                            "A body of men, HOLDING THEMSELVES ACCOUNTABLE TO NOBODY, ought not to be trusted by anybody." --Thomas Paine ["Rights of Man"]

                            "Justice is an ideal which transcends the expedience of the State, or the sensitivities of Government officials, or private individuals. IT HAS TO BE PURSUED WHATEVER THE COST IN PEACE OF MIND TO THOSE CONCERNED." --'Justice of the Peace' [July 12th 1975]

                            Comment


                            • That’s very sad. His only son too, don’t know much about Michaels Mum do we?

                              Comment


                              • As far as I am aware there is no mention of Detective Inspector John McCafferty in Paul Foot's book. However he is mentioned several times in Bob Woffinden's book. On page 29 Woffinden tells us that McCafferty arrived at Deadman's Hill around 2.35 pm on August 23rd 1961 and that he was responsible for undertaking 'the scenes-of-crime and ballistics work'.
                                An article written by the recently retired [at that time] McCafferty appeared in the "The People" on December 1st 1974. In that newspaper article McCafferty mentions the A6 murder case and the following piece is taken from it. It makes rather interesting reading, in particular the highlighted paragraphs. How much reliability can be placed on McCafferty's word is open to question, bearing in mind that at the Bedford Trial in 1962 he stated that 'it would have been possible for someone to get in and out of the car without getting blood on them and that the jacket was more likely than the trousers to have been bloodstained'. [Woffinden page 270].....

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                                *************************************
                                "A body of men, HOLDING THEMSELVES ACCOUNTABLE TO NOBODY, ought not to be trusted by anybody." --Thomas Paine ["Rights of Man"]

                                "Justice is an ideal which transcends the expedience of the State, or the sensitivities of Government officials, or private individuals. IT HAS TO BE PURSUED WHATEVER THE COST IN PEACE OF MIND TO THOSE CONCERNED." --'Justice of the Peace' [July 12th 1975]

                                Comment

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