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  • I think your own understanding of the law is limited. The witness is the person whose account must be tested to the limit whether they are a victim like Valerie Storie or not. Her evidence holds no more water if she has been raped or not raped. Any mercy shown to a witness by a barrister is as misguided as showing mercy to a boxer in a boxing ring. The defendant is entitled to say nothing and offer no evidence since he is assumed to be innocent. Well, there’s always some good citizen on the jury who will say that the defendant wouldn’t be in the dock unless he’d done something wrong and I have picked up a flavour of that in some of your posts before.

    I also believe that the jury is entitled to the full story, warts and all. You clearly prefer an edited version, one that happens to favour the prosecution as I see it although you claim suppression of the truth was in the interests of the defence. Sherrard was not ahead of his time, he was behind the game in terms of experience. (I might refer you to the recent Salmond trial in Scotland which shows how weak witnesses can be discredited.) Sherrard was also defending Hanratty on grounds of contradictory eyewitness evidence, previous character and complete absence of forensics so any undermining of Valerie Storie was just one part of his case.

    Your reference to Christine Keeler will have moste online soon. I don’t know where you got the idea of anticipation from, it certainly wasn’t from my posts. I stated that if the affair had lain at the heart of this case, then however cruelly events unfolded, most humans would look not forward but back and wonder what if they had acted differently. And that’s before we consider the dialogue that would have taken place in the car, although your attempt at script writing is probably pretty close to the mark.

    Try not to put words into my mouth. I did say that Valerie Storie may have concealed the motivation to break up the affair. And I do believe it likely that an innocent man was hanged. But I have never, as your words suggested, ever claimed that Valerie Storie knowingly sent an innocent man to his death. She clearly convinced herself that Hanratty was the man in the car and the jury were prepared to accept that.

    Valerie Storie admitted the affair after Hanratty was hanged. She had been fairly open about it about it before the crime but became very coy during the trial which speaks to her character I believe. She would have been paid for the article she wrote and I don’t grudge her a penny of that given the health care she required for the rest of her life. But once Hanratty had been executed and the crazed gunman narrative accepted by the public she was in a position to make widely known what had been known locally.

    As for her quest for justice, the Gregsten family had already suffered enough. The slaughter at Deadman’s Hill was never done in the name of anybody bar the perpetrator. Proving what she suspected would have been rather difficult given the amount of police complicity viewed in their indulgent dealings with Alphon and Ewer, to take just two names out of the A6 hat. I think Valerie Storie wanted to draw a line under that time of her life and far from her life being over, from what I can gather she led a rather admirable one thereafter.

    Comment


    • I think it’s in Pickwick Papers that Sam Weller extols the virtue of having an alibi. In UK courts things are a little different. I once asked on here what would ever be accepted as a valid alibi for Hanratty? It was probably Graham who was honest enough to admit that nothing short of Hanratty being arrested, finger printed and banged up in a cell in Rhyl on the night of the crime was good enough. So Sherrard and later Foot were on something of a wild goose chase I fear.

      The infamous Bert Balmer of Liverpool was a well known breaker of alibis in murder cases. He offered local criminals the option: either swear a false statement which breaks the alibi of my suspect or you will be in the dock alongside him. (shades of Dixie France perhaps) George Kelly was drinking in a local bar during the Cameo Murders and had a fair few witnesses to back him up. He hanged although the conviction was later quashed I think. Devlin and Burns fared no better since their alibi of breaking into a warehouse in Manchester when a woman was being murdered in Liverpool was soon dismantled by a dodgy array of criminals. They hanged as well. This, let us not forget, is the very city where Hanratty was hoping to find an alibi of his own.
      The Birmingham Six had a reasonable alibi but, like Hanratty, lied about it initially. They claimed they were travelling back to Ireland to visit family when the bombs were laid, but in truth they were returning for the funeral of an IRA man known to them socially. The judge at trial regretted he could not sentence them to death. Their convictions were eventually overturned. The Guildford Four alibis I hardly recall, but one was certainly at a musical concert on the night of the attack with several witnesses to support him. It mattered none. And poor Stefan Kisko, his alibi was placing flowers on his father’s grave alongside his mother which was surely correct. It did him no good.

      I think Sam Weller overestimated alibis. With the intrusive CCTV which has turned the UK into a kind of Stasi state there can be the advantage of almost proving an alibi. But I fancy that might be the very evening when the system breaks down or a rookie cop accidentally erases the tape.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by caz View Post

        The defence had no choice but to word it that way. But what was meant by 'substance'? Surely what matters most, moste, is where Hanratty claimed to be when the rape and double shooting took place.

        To be in Liverpool overnight, or not to be in Liverpool overnight, but in Rhyl instead? That is the question.

        Love,

        Caz
        X
        . Rhyl
        is not an alibi. It’s where Hanratty claimed to have spent time after the timeframe of his actual alibi, I can’t understand why people have such a hard time getting the point , that once Hanratty had left the tobacconist around 5 o clock ,it didn’t matter a jot where the hell he went after that. Where he was when the rape and double shooting took place is of no consequence at all.The fact that he was in Liverpool at 5, means he’s innocent.

        Comment


        • Valerie admitting her affair after Hanratty’s death. And with her subsequent story in instalments, 3 months later, I can’t help wondering what the 11 Jury members mind set would have been at this point.

          The mention of which reminds me of another itch that can’t be scratched, to wit ,when your client is in the very grievous position of being at the mercy of 12 jurors on a capital crime , what defence lawyer would accept the reduction of one under any possible circumstance ?
          I can’t get my head around the fact that reducing the number of jurors is even an option. But for Sherrard to (presumably) discuss this request by the court with his client and then ‘go with it’ staggers the imagination. Well mine anyhow. I mean to say, Hanratty must have had it explained to him that if the case doesnt go too well, ‘law of averages ‘ would surely dictate, 12 is far better than 11 . For me, another Sherrard faux pas.

          Comment


          • Good posts both , Cobalt , I now have a hankering for Dickens’ Pickwicks adventures in particular. I haven’t read that one in 30 years. I do seem to recall a section where Dickens goes off on a digression, where he explains in depth his perception of the workings of a murderers mind. Quite a fascinating chapter if I recall.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by cobalt View Post
              Had Sherrard explored this area he might have discovered a few things which emerged later in regard to disquiet regarding the affair such as complaints at the couple’s place of work and the plans Gregsten had to leave the family home. Once he was in this ‘gas meter’ territory Sherrard could then have considered that Valerie Storie’s morals might indeed have been the driving force behind the events that night. The horrific nature of the murder and rape clearly absolved the wider Gregsten family of direct involvement and may have acted as a useful smokescreen for almost 60 years.
              Hi cobalt,

              You make it sound like Valerie was viewed as the wicked home wrecker, who had got her claws into this innocent husband and father, who would never have been unfaithful, or wanted to leave the family home, if she hadn't made all the running. She was free and single; he wasn't. And they both had minds of their own. If a husband or wife goes astray, that's their decision, and it's very often a sign that all was not well with the marriage before temptation came along.

              That is a very good point, assuming they did not pick up a man at Slough. The couple were creatures of habit like most of us and were regular drinkers at a local inn, along with others around that time. Their killer could have had them pointed out to him and been driven close to the areas they favoured for their courting activities, something which would be known only to intimates.
              Thanks, cobalt. But knowing where two people regularly go to have a drink is one thing; knowing where those same two people go when they want a private canoodle is quite another. It stretches credulity to near breaking point for me to imagine close family or friends following at a distance to see where Valerie has forced poor Gregsten to drive to this time, and the binoculars peeping out from behind a hedge, to confirm that they aren't playing travel scrabble.

              If this was made into a tv drama it would have to be a black comedy, wouldn't it?

              Love,

              Caz
              X
              "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


              Comment


              • Originally posted by cobalt View Post
                I think your own understanding of the law is limited. The witness is the person whose account must be tested to the limit whether they are a victim like Valerie Storie or not. Her evidence holds no more water if she has been raped or not raped. Any mercy shown to a witness by a barrister is as misguided as showing mercy to a boxer in a boxing ring. The defendant is entitled to say nothing and offer no evidence since he is assumed to be innocent. Well, there’s always some good citizen on the jury who will say that the defendant wouldn’t be in the dock unless he’d done something wrong and I have picked up a flavour of that in some of your posts before.
                I worked backwards from the DNA evidence and the 2002 appeal and just happen to believe that the victim picked out the right man, and the jury got it right on this occasion, if not for the right reasons. I have always readily admitted that Hanratty didn't have to prove his whereabouts, any more than his innocence. When my late father did jury service, back in the late 1960s, my brothers and I joked that he could just send a note with 'guilty' written on it, because his attitude was that the defendant wouldn't have made it to the dock if he was innocent. We mocked him mercilessly for his views, and when I did jury service in the 1980s, the young man in the dock was very much like I imagine Hanratty to have been, but the case against him was piss poor, and I like to think I had some influence in persuading the other jury members of this, which resulted in his acquittal.

                I also believe that the jury is entitled to the full story, warts and all. You clearly prefer an edited version, one that happens to favour the prosecution as I see it although you claim suppression of the truth was in the interests of the defence. Sherrard was not ahead of his time, he was behind the game in terms of experience. (I might refer you to the recent Salmond trial in Scotland which shows how weak witnesses can be discredited.) Sherrard was also defending Hanratty on grounds of contradictory eyewitness evidence, previous character and complete absence of forensics so any undermining of Valerie Storie was just one part of his case.
                If the only truth that was suppressed was how long Valerie and Gregsten had been driving to cornfields together, before someone came across them and shot them both, I still fail to see how that truth could have influenced the jury in Hanratty's favour - unless you are suggesting that the kidnapper was not a stranger to Valerie, and she lied about this. John Worboys, the Black Cab Rapist, was convicted in 2009 for attacks on 12 women, and may have had more than 100 victims. One victim, a teenaged student, who had been drugged and assaulted, was asked by the police why she was wearing red lipstick and nail polish, making her feel she had brought the attack upon herself, when all she did was to get into a licensed black cab to get home safely. So Valerie stands no chance, does she, as a stranger's rape victim who was having an affair at the time with a married man. Heaven help her if 'the full story, warts and all' would have revealed she had painted her toenails too.

                Your reference to Christine Keeler will have moste online soon. I don’t know where you got the idea of anticipation from, it certainly wasn’t from my posts. I stated that if the affair had lain at the heart of this case, then however cruelly events unfolded, most humans would look not forward but back and wonder what if they had acted differently. And that’s before we consider the dialogue that would have taken place in the car, although your attempt at script writing is probably pretty close to the mark.
                But there is no evidence the affair did lie at the heart of this case, nor any evidence that Valerie ever thought it might. When something bad happens, we all wish we could have avoided it by acting differently, and I don't doubt Valerie spent the rest of her life wishing she had not been in the car with Gregsten when lightning struck. But did you seriously expect her to blame her private life for what happened to them, any more than Worboys's young assault victim should blame herself for wearing red lipstick and nail polish on that occasion?

                Try not to put words into my mouth. I did say that Valerie Storie may have concealed the motivation to break up the affair. And I do believe it likely that an innocent man was hanged. But I have never, as your words suggested, ever claimed that Valerie Storie knowingly sent an innocent man to his death. She clearly convinced herself that Hanratty was the man in the car and the jury were prepared to accept that.
                Okay, but if Valerie knew, or even suspected, that the motive behind this crime was to break up the affair, but concealed it, because she wasn't yet ready to spell out why she was really in that parked car with a married man, would she not have wanted to know how this stranger, Hanratty, came into the picture, and who put him up to it? Or did she not care that this young man would hang, while whoever had sent him would go unpunished?

                As for her quest for justice, the Gregsten family had already suffered enough. The slaughter at Deadman’s Hill was never done in the name of anybody bar the perpetrator. Proving what she suspected would have been rather difficult given the amount of police complicity viewed in their indulgent dealings with Alphon and Ewer, to take just two names out of the A6 hat. I think Valerie Storie wanted to draw a line under that time of her life and far from her life being over, from what I can gather she led a rather admirable one thereafter.
                Again, you are only assuming what she suspected. So forgive me if I do a bit of assuming too, and suggest that Valerie never suspected anyone else of pulling Hanratty's strings, when she picked him out and was certain this was the man in the car with them that night.

                Love,

                Caz
                X
                "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                Comment


                • Thanks for your considered response Caz. We are coming at the A6 Case from different directions so the chances of meeting in the middle might not always be great. And congratulations on your sterling jury duty: the facts must trump the shady character of the defendant otherwise we would end up with 100% conviction rate. No doubt he was convicted, fairly, at a later assizes.

                  I began by disagreeing with moste regarding Sherrard’s performance as a barrister. I still think he was too hard on Sherrard’s failure. However more generally I think he is correct. If Sherrard was unaware of the Gregsten/Valerie Storie affair then he was incompetent: it was local knowledge. I assume he was aware and decided that to reveal it in open court might have been counter productive. Perhaps he was aware of his limitations to do this without seeming to attack the undeniable victim, Valerie Storie, who was propped up in a wheelchair. However he was duty bound to do this in my view, to taint her evidence in the eyes of the jury to the benefit of the defendant. Yes, it’s filthy work but less so than hanging.

                  As a result Sherrard was now effectively fighting the case on the prosecution’s terms: that is to say, that the guilty man was a crazed gunman with no connection to the victims. Sherrard did a decent job I am sure but the jury were then left with three options: the killer was either a) Hanratty or b) Alphon or c) AN Other. This was before Alphon’s mea culpa rants so after due consideration, and they did take around eight hours, the jury plumped not unreasonably for Hanratty. What they, in my view, got wrong was that although they preferred the prosecution case – and it was reasonable I think to do so- they did not consider whether it met the bar of being beyond reasonable doubt.

                  Sherrad had three areas to contend with. The first was the bullets found in the Vienna Hotel but the evidence of Nudds was, to say the least, contradictory. Then there was the eyewitness evidence from Redbridge, fleeting and also contradictory. Valerie Storie’s evidence was surely key but hers was also contradictory in so far as she had picked out another person at an earlier ID parade. The gun in the bus was hearsay evidence and worth little more than the jailyard confession dredged up by the police- always a sign their case is stalling. So moste is right to suggest that Sherrard was dealt a decent hand of cards.

                  To Sherrard’s advantage were three clear points. The lack of forensics from the car of Valerie Storie’s clothing speaks, or should have spoken, volumes. The fact that no witness was ever called who had seen Hanratty with a gun should have been hammered home. And finally the total lack of witnesses (aside from VS) who ever saw Hanratty in Taplow area on the day of the crime either at the railway station, walking country roads or hanging around posh houses looking for an opportunity to burgle. I assume Sherrard covered all these areas but did he drive them into the minds of the jury?

                  An alibi is a defensive manoeuvre and as I said in a previous post they are very hard to prove. Sherrard was wrong footed by Hanratty on this account and can hardly be blamed for Hanratty’s panic when Jim realised the case might be going against him. But all Hanratty could ever do at this juncture- and Sherrard probably realised this- was replace a weak as water alibi in Liverpool with a slightly better one in Rhyl. It took the defence no further forward and exposed Hanratty before the jury as a man who chopped and changed his evidence when it suited. One crap alibi bad: two crap alibis worse. That was not Sherrard’s fault.

                  Sherrrad should have avoided alibis- as the judge very fairly reminded the jury they were entitled to do- and focused on the weak evidence in the case. He might even have done better by not calling Hanratty to give evidence since Hanratty had no great case to defend and apparently his cocky demeanour did not go down well. By allowing his client to place emphasis on the alibi he helped, despite his best efforts, to seal Hanratty’s fate.

                  Comment


                  • QUOTE..Sherrrad should have avoided alibis- as the judge very fairly reminded the jury they were entitled to do- and focused on the weak evidence in the case. He might even have done better by not calling Hanratty to give evidence since Hanratty had no great case to defend and apparently his cocky demeanour did not go down well. By allowing his client to place emphasis on the alibi he helped, despite his best efforts, to seal Hanratty’s fate.

                    Not calling Hanratty to give evidence was actually something I was going to voice as possibly a good option. That way the Rhyl difficulty would not have been broached, and with extra weight on the Liverpool witnesses in particular Mrs. Dinwoodie, who I firmly believe was persuaded by the police, that Monday was probably the day ‘she saw the stranger to the neighborhood ,was I think the way to go.But as you say, Hanratty claiming to be up north ,leaves Swanwick having to prove he’s lying. Sherrard I feel could have spent some time preparing a script that would indicate to the jury the unlikelihood of a person recognizing an extremely common accent spoken by an infinite number of cockneys, many many weeks after the event ,by someone not familiar with that particular brogue.
                    Last edited by moste; 03-26-2021, 04:12 AM.

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                    • Click image for larger version

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                      The above is taken from the report of the opening day's proceedings printed in the Daily Express of 25 January 1962. You will note that Swanwick says "I think it is plain they wanted to be alone". If Sherrard had any doubts as to why they wanted to be alone then I'm sure he could have asked Swanwick next time they met in the robing room.

                      For my part, I have no doubt that everyone in court that day and all the days that followed knew why Val and Mike were in a car parked in an isolated field far away from prying eyes. It did not need further elaboration.

                      It should also be remembered that at that time and at the time Sherrard cross-examined Miss Storie he was unaware that Hanratty was going to change the material particulars of his alibi. There was a lot to be gained by treating Val gently and a lot to be lost by roughing her up in the witness box. The jury knew why Mike and Val were in the Morris Minor and Sherrard made the decision (rightly IMHO) not to press her to give explicit details.

                      Comment


                      • Thanks for the newspaper article which clarifies matters a little. Aggressive questioning would have been counter productive I am sure. All that was required from Sherrard was three simple questions: to establish that a relationship existed between the couple, that they spent a fair bit of working and social time in each other’s company, and that this had been the case for a few years.

                        Working from what was available to him there was little more Sherrard could do. With the benefit of hindsight and information which became available in later years Sherrard would have been able to develop a different line of defence. One that focused on the dynamics of the extended Gregsten family and could question under oath the person(s) who alerted a landlord and workplace about the relationship. This would have included Mr. William Ewer who could testify as to his family relationships, his business associates, his familiarity with Dixie France and Ms. Anderson as well as where he was on the night of the crime and any involvement in the police enquiries at Swiss Cottage.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by cobalt View Post
                          Thanks for your considered response Caz. We are coming at the A6 Case from different directions so the chances of meeting in the middle might not always be great. And congratulations on your sterling jury duty: the facts must trump the shady character of the defendant otherwise we would end up with 100% conviction rate. No doubt he was convicted, fairly, at a later assizes.
                          Hi cobalt,

                          I don't think it was fairly established in court that 'my' defendant was a 'shady character'; it was kind of implied, which was one of many things that raised my hackles! He just came across as a very young man, who was not very literate or very bright, and seemed out of his depth. The picture of him in my mind makes me think he was like Hanratty in those respects. Maybe I was naive, but I hoped that the experience would teach him to value his freedom and put him off offending in the future. It would have been a very unsafe guilty verdict.

                          I began by disagreeing with moste regarding Sherrard’s performance as a barrister. I still think he was too hard on Sherrard’s failure. However more generally I think he is correct. If Sherrard was unaware of the Gregsten/Valerie Storie affair then he was incompetent: it was local knowledge. I assume he was aware and decided that to reveal it in open court might have been counter productive. Perhaps he was aware of his limitations to do this without seeming to attack the undeniable victim, Valerie Storie, who was propped up in a wheelchair. However he was duty bound to do this in my view, to taint her evidence in the eyes of the jury to the benefit of the defendant. Yes, it’s filthy work but less so than hanging.
                          This is why I think Sherrard was ahead of his time. These days, it's very much frowned upon to attack a victim's character in court, just to try and gain some advantage for the defendant, where there is no actual evidence that the victim is making it all up, or lying about one or more aspects of the alleged offence - including the motive for it - or protecting the real offender by identifying someone who could be entirely innocent. There is no reasonable doubt about the fact that Valerie was raped and shot by someone she didn't know, after this man had killed her boyfriend. There was no reason for her to accuse the defendant - a stranger - unless she sincerely believed this was the same man who did it. So if Valerie was convinced in her own mind that she had correctly identified Hanratty as that stranger, but could have been honestly mistaken, then whatever she got up to in her private life should have had no bearing on whether the jury accepted that identification or not. Okay, so she had been having an affair with the murder victim, who was married. But the killer was still a stranger to her, whether it was Hanratty or A.N. Other. So no known - or indeed knowable - connection to her or Gregsten. How could Sherrard have put it to the jury that this stranger had been sent to break up a love affair between the victims, when Valerie was the only surviving witness and claimed to have no idea who he was? Can you not see how desperate that would have sounded, and how futile, since Hanratty himself was a stranger to Valerie, and as such could have been the person Sherrard was proposing for the job?

                          As a result Sherrard was now effectively fighting the case on the prosecution’s terms: that is to say, that the guilty man was a crazed gunman with no connection to the victims. Sherrard did a decent job I am sure but the jury were then left with three options: the killer was either a) Hanratty or b) Alphon or c) AN Other. This was before Alphon’s mea culpa rants so after due consideration, and they did take around eight hours, the jury plumped not unreasonably for Hanratty. What they, in my view, got wrong was that although they preferred the prosecution case – and it was reasonable I think to do so- they did not consider whether it met the bar of being beyond reasonable doubt.
                          I agree with you entirely there, cobalt. But we mustn't make the mistake of equating 'not guilty beyond reasonable doubt' with 'proven innocent'. Had the jury acquitted, Hanratty would have been back to his original status of 'presumed innocent', unless proof had later emerged that he was definitely elsewhere at the time, or that someone else had definitely - 'beyond all reasonable doubt' - committed the crime. If Hanratty deserves to be presumed innocent, following the 2002 appeal, then that has to apply to Alphon and any other person of interest, who never had the chance to be defended by Sherrard or anyone else. Fair's fair.

                          An alibi is a defensive manoeuvre and as I said in a previous post they are very hard to prove. Sherrard was wrong footed by Hanratty on this account and can hardly be blamed for Hanratty’s panic when Jim realised the case might be going against him. But all Hanratty could ever do at this juncture- and Sherrard probably realised this- was replace a weak as water alibi in Liverpool with a slightly better one in Rhyl. It took the defence no further forward and exposed Hanratty before the jury as a man who chopped and changed his evidence when it suited. One crap alibi bad: two crap alibis worse. That was not Sherrard’s fault.
                          Agreed, and Hanratty should have been very strongly advised to keep his trap shut, because no alibi was better than one crap alibi, never mind two. It was for the prosecution to put him at the crime scene, beyond reasonable doubt - not for the defendant to prove he was not.

                          But once again, there is nobody else who could reasonably fill those shoes, with anything like the witness or forensic evidence that would be needed for a safe guilty verdict.

                          Have a great weekend all.

                          Love,

                          Caz
                          X
                          Last edited by caz; 03-26-2021, 05:04 PM.
                          "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                          Comment


                          • Someone invited us to look in on a black and white ‘B’ movie from the late 50s. ‘The man in the back seat’. with Darrin Nesbit. It was an ok drama ,but of course somewhat dated ,and apart from the man in the back seat, didn’t really have a lot in common with the real life A6 Saga. I have though just finished watching a John Mills movie from 1947, called ‘October man’ . It’s intriguing, and cleverly acted. Man with mental issues, suspected strongly of being the killer, is he though? And the police activity ,well you can certainly draw a parallel with Acott and Oxford.
                            Back in those days it seems, once they have their claws into a serious suspect, it’s difficult to shake them off , innocent or not . It should be called ‘Balmerism’ .Acott reached a pitch where having seemingly almost staked his reputation on Alphon being his man, (when almost at a point of major celebrations at Scotland Yard,) the whole case nose dived, and with a lot of time gone by, he, Acott, had to come up with something quick. This movie puts me in mind of the whole sad affair.
                            Last edited by moste; 05-07-2021, 02:03 AM.

                            Comment


                            • ‘Balmerism.’ A very senior police officer refusing to accept that he is stumped on a high profile serious case . And as a consequence, resorting to illegal manipulation of the facts and statements ,and witness pressuring, to suit his own ends,

                              Comment


                              • I think "corruption" is nearer the mark than "Balmerism". The recent TV series about police corruption was a stark reminder of the levels that the police would (and probably still do) go to in order to secure convictions of innocent people and line their own pockets.

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