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  • I just discovered that there's another Deadmans Hill, in Yorkshire, hence the error in the mileage in my original post - I've been using RAC Route Planner, and it seems that it doesn't always give the opportunity to differentiate between similar names. My original post, by the way, was really just me thinking aloud, nothing more.

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

    Comment


    • Talking Forensics 3: The cartridge cases in the Vienna Hotel

      As with the gun and bullets on the bus, there was a link established with Hanratty: in this case the link was undeniable, for it is accepted that James Hanratty stayed in Room 24 of the Vienna Hotel the night before the A6 murder. However there was no handkerchief or the like, much further down the line, to make a stronger link with Hanratty.

      There are therefore a number of problems with this evidence. The fact the cartridge cases only turned up three weeks after the murder is obviously unsatisfactory given that hotel rooms are invariably cleaned after a guest leaves. The shell casings were found quite easily, at the back of a chair, by the hotel owner on a routine visit.

      The suggestion by the prosecution was that these had come loose and fallen there when the weapon was being emptied. Why the cartridge cases had not been emptied outside, during what must have been practice shooting, was not made clear. It would be remarkably careless of a prospective gunman to leave such obvious and avoidable evidence behind.

      There were no fingerprints collected from the cartridge cases used in evidence. Fingerprints might have been expected given the finer finger skills required to place bullets in a revolver, especially since the killer was intending to empty the chambers and dispose of the shells in any case.

      As far as I am aware, not all the shell casings from the 9 shots fired were recovered from the scene. This could be because the killer did not empty the gun at the scene of the crime, although he clearly did at some point since the weapon was found fully loaded when retrieved on the bus. It might also be that the shell casings found in the Vienna Hotel came from the actual murder scene, and if this is the case then that would effectively exonerate James Hanratty.


      In conclusion, the definite link between room 24 and Hanratty counts against him. However the gap in time between the crime and the casings being found makes it possible they were planted in the room after he had left and may have been the casings from the final shots at Ms. Storie as she lay on the ground. As free-standing forensic evidence, the hotel room link is actually weaker than the evidence from the bus; the two have generally been combined to make the case against James Hanratty stronger.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by cobalt View Post
        The fact the cartridge cases only turned up three weeks after the murder is obviously unsatisfactory given that hotel rooms are invariably cleaned after a guest leaves.
        Foot (p.136): At trial, Juliana Galves told the court "that because of understaffing and the slackness which prevailed in the Vienna Hotel, empty rooms were in general not attended to. She said that Mrs Snell had not cleaned room 24 after it had been vacated by Hanratty, but that she, Mrs Galves, had cleaned it without Hoovering or dusting and without moving the chairs. (Mr Crocker also gave evidence to say that the hotel was badly understaffed.) Mrs Galves explained that the Indian gentleman who stayed in room 24 on August 30th, a week after the murder, had occupied the double bed in the middle of the room, and that the cleaning of the room afterwards had not therefore involved moving the chair at the end of the bed occupied by Hanratty."
        Last edited by Alfie; Yesterday, 09:05 AM.

        Comment


        • The Glasgow Herald (Feb 14 1962), reported on Sherrard's closing address to the jury at Bedford: "Durrant alias Alphon, was the one man who could have cleared up the whole mystery as to which room he stayed in, but he was not called, the prosecution preferring to rely on Nudds. Mr Sherrard went on: 'I confess it, I would have welcomed the opportunity of cross-examining Mr Alphon about certain matters.'"

          I think I asked about this previously but I can't recall getting a satisfactory answer. A bit of googling tells me there's such a thing as a witness summons which can be used to bring a reluctant witness to court to give evidence. So what, if anything, was stopping the defence calling upon Alphon to testify? Was this another case of a missed opportunity by the defence? Or was Sherrard, perhaps, happy to leave the jury in some doubt about the time Alphon reached the Vienna and the room he occupied, rather than risk having him take the stand and confirm under oath the accuracy of Nudds' third statement?

          Thoughts?

          Comment


          • Originally posted by Alfie View Post
            The Glasgow Herald (Feb 14 1962), reported on Sherrard's closing address to the jury at Bedford: "Durrant alias Alphon, was the one man who could have cleared up the whole mystery as to which room he stayed in, but he was not called, the prosecution preferring to rely on Nudds. Mr Sherrard went on: 'I confess it, I would have welcomed the opportunity of cross-examining Mr Alphon about certain matters.'"

            I think I asked about this previously but I can't recall getting a satisfactory answer. A bit of googling tells me there's such a thing as a witness summons which can be used to bring a reluctant witness to court to give evidence. So what, if anything, was stopping the defence calling upon Alphon to testify? Was this another case of a missed opportunity by the defence? Or was Sherrard, perhaps, happy to leave the jury in some doubt about the time Alphon reached the Vienna and the room he occupied, rather than risk having him take the stand and confirm under oath the accuracy of Nudds' third statement?

            Thoughts?
            There was nothing stopping the defence calling Alphon to give evidence, but had they done so Alphon would have become a defence witness. This would mean that Sherrard could not cross-examine Alphon whereas Swanwick could. Sherrard would not be allowed to ask leading questions, whereas Swanwick could. Alphon would be able to say pretty much what he wanted to say, and Sherrard would be in no position to contradict.

            Therefore calling Alphon by the defence would have been a very dangerous tactic indeed. Sherrard was on much safer ground by suggesting to the jury that Alphon's absence was due to something he might say which might implicate him, Alphon, and exonerate Hanratty.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by cobalt View Post
              [SIZE=16px][FONT=times new roman]

              There are therefore a number of problems with this evidence. The fact the cartridge cases only turned up three weeks after the murder is obviously unsatisfactory given that hotel rooms are invariably cleaned after a guest leaves. The shell casings were found quite easily, at the back of a chair, by the hotel owner on a routine visit."
              The visit by the manager of the Vienna Hotel, Robert Crocker, wasn't quite a routine visit, Cobalt. Crocker was working at the Vienna's sister hotel, [the major one of the two] The Broadway House Hotel, when he was alerted to go to the Vienna early on the morning of September 11th because of the theft of £5 [about £100 in today's money] by William Nudds.


              Originally posted by cobalt View Post
              In conclusion, the definite link between room 24 and Hanratty counts against him. However the gap in time between the crime and the casings being found makes it possible they were planted in the room after he had left and may have been the casings from the final shots at Ms. Storie as she lay on the ground. As free-standing forensic evidence, the hotel room link is actually weaker than the evidence from the bus; the two have generally been combined to make the case against James Hanratty stronger."
              In his very detailed second statement of September 21st 1961, Nudds made it quite clear that Alphon was allotted room 24, accessed room 24 and was given the key to room 24 when he turned up in person around 1.00pm on Tuesday, August 22nd. It's intriguing to note that Robert Crocker in his statement of September 11th commented that the cartridge cases found on the chair in room 24 might have some connection with Alphon. This is quite revealing, coming as it did a full 10 days before Nudds's second statement. So here we have the situation of two independent witnesses [and far from being the best of friends, haha,] connecting Alphon with room 24.

              *************************************
              "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


              • Originally posted by Spitfire View Post

                There was nothing stopping the defence calling Alphon to give evidence, but had they done so Alphon would have become a defence witness. This would mean that Sherrard could not cross-examine Alphon whereas Swanwick could. Sherrard would not be allowed to ask leading questions, whereas Swanwick could. Alphon would be able to say pretty much what he wanted to say, and Sherrard would be in no position to contradict.

                Therefore calling Alphon by the defence would have been a very dangerous tactic indeed. Sherrard was on much safer ground by suggesting to the jury that Alphon's absence was due to something he might say which might implicate him, Alphon, and exonerate Hanratty.
                That makes sense. Cheers, Spitfire.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Sherlock Houses View Post






                  In his very detailed second statement of September 21st 1961, Nudds made it quite clear that Alphon was allotted room 24, accessed room 24 and was given the key to room 24 when he turned up in person around 1.00pm on Tuesday, August 22nd. It's intriguing to note that Robert Crocker in his statement of September 11th commented that the cartridge cases found on the chair in room 24 might have some connection with Alphon. This is quite revealing, coming as it did a full 10 days before Nudds's second statement. So here we have the situation of two independent witnesses [and far from being the best of friends, haha,] connecting Alphon with room 24.
                  Nudds also said he saw Alphon in Room 6 of the Vienna at about 9.50am. If the murder car (847 BHN) was being driven by the murderer wearing a bobble hat hee hee he at 8.30am near Matlock as seen by Mr Lee, then Alphon could not be the murderer as there is no way he could have got from Matlock to Maida Vale in one hour and twenty minutes.

                  Hanratty's Rhyl alibi was demolished at the trial, he could easily have been in or near Matlock at 8.30am in the morning of 23 August 1961.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Sherlock Houses View Post
                    The visit by the manager of the Vienna Hotel, Robert Crocker, wasn't quite a routine visit, Cobalt. Crocker was working at the Vienna's sister hotel, [the major one of the two] The Broadway House Hotel, when he was alerted to go to the Vienna early on the morning of September 11th because of the theft of £5 [about £100 in today's money] by William Nudds.
                    Crocker visited the Vienna every Monday, so it was a routine visit.

                    Nudds told the committal that he left employment at the Vienna at midday on 5-Sep-61. Reported in the Evening Times [https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=GOVAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=CqcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=61 58%2C3573261] and in other newspapers like the Telegraph, which says he took up his job at the mosque on 9-Sep-61.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by NickB View Post

                      Crocker visited the Vienna every Monday, so it was a routine visit.

                      Nudds told the committal that he left employment at the Vienna at midday on 5-Sep-61. Reported in the Evening Times [https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=GOVAAAAAIBAJ&sjid=CqcMAAAAIBAJ&pg=61 58%2C3573261] and in other newspapers like the Telegraph, which says he took up his job at the mosque on 9-Sep-61.
                      Crocker became manager at the Broadway House and Vienna hotels on August 8th, which was not a Monday. So when you say he visited the Vienna every Monday, if indeed he did, he could only have visited the hotel, if indeed he did so, on the 14th, 21st and 28th of August and finally September 4th prior to his being summoned there early on September 11th, specifically to deal with the theft of £5. A maximum total of 4 visits.

                      If Nudds left his employment at the Vienna on September 5th 1961 I wonder who it could have been that Crocker dismissed on the spot at the hotel that September 11th ? Possibly his imaginary twin brother who reacted to his instant dismissal by Crocker with a barrage of verbal abuse ??

                      I personally don't believe everything I read in the press, I have come across umpteen articles in them which are littered with either lies or errors.
                      *************************************
                      "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


                      • I personally don't believe everything I read in the press, I have come across umpteen articles in them which are littered with either lies or errors.
                        And would that include articles which claim that Hanratty was innocent?

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

                        Comment


                        • A couple of things . The subject of fingerprints being absent on the cartridge cases is very interesting , I hadn't myself Considered this fact.
                          If the cartridges had been on that chair because they had fallen out of a trouser pocket as someone suggested way back, or even if unlikely as it sounds they had been place there on purpose with a view to disposing of them the next day , we can say they almost certainly would have had finger prints on them, since they didn't have prints on them , we can safely assume that they were a plant. (Remember Hanratty's aversion to wearing gloves). Secondly,
                          Given how very busy the Broadway house appears to have been,and the business of trying to juggle Alphon into a prefered# 6 room, at the Vienna, I would suggest that not only would the room #24 have been tidied up and readied for the next visitor, revealing the cartridge cases almost immediately , but ,I would also comment on the type of characters that were responsible for taking care of the bookings ,(or not ),of this particular hostelry ,before during and after Nudde's involvement.In short how can we possibly say how many times any of the rooms were let with any measure of certainty?

                          Comment


                          • Talking Forensics 4: The clothing of Valerie Storie

                            Those who follow UK justice will be familiar with the sort of ringing declaration which sometimes comes from some appeal judge, to the effect that after perusing the evidence he is now of the opinion that what was previously a strong case has actually become stronger. The conviction is then usually quashed a few years down the line after being deemed unsafe.

                            This has yet to happen in the A6 Case because the available forensic evidence, independent of any judge’s learned opinion, has without doubt made the prosecution case stronger. The fact that DNA attributed to James Hanratty was found on clothing worn by Valerie Storie, to the exclusion of anyone else, seemed to confirm the 1962 verdict forty years after the crime. So why do supporters of James Hanratty continue to fight a hopeless case? It is often pointed out that we would have perfectly happy to accept the DNA evidence had it supported our belief, but are too cussed to do so when it doesn’t.

                            For my own part, I will leave aside the reservations that have been made regarding LCN DNA by those with some scientific background. I will do the same with the defence offered by Mansfield at the 2002 appeal, namely that there had been accidental contamination due to how exhibits had been stored over the years. I want to draw attention to the concept of ‘available’ forensic evidence.

                            It is tempting to view a court case rather like a cricket match, a fair contest between bat and ball: however not even a cricket match is quite like this. As is well known, the home team hold a great advantage in being able to prepare the wicket for a particular game and naturally enough they seek to exploit the strengths in their own side. There are regulations to prevent this advantage being abused, just as there are regulations in court cases about disclosure of evidence, but in practice wickets can to some extent be doctored so that even with a fair umpire- and Hanratty had a scrupulously fair judge at his trial- the visiting team is at a disadvantage. In a UK criminal trial the police are seeking to build a case rather than establish the truth, and it is they who interview witnesses, collect statements, test forensic materials. Where the crime has a high profile the police can even employ media and political contacts to push their version of events prior to trial. The defendant’s legal team are largely at the mercy of the evidence which the police have decided, in pursuit of their suspect, to acquire. In a long-running case like the A6 this disadvantage is intensified as some evidence is retained by the police, or in some cases re-discovered, whilst others is lost within the system.

                            So alongside the handkerchief from the bus (which turned up in 1997 I think) we have a small section of Ms. Storie’s underwear available for DNA testing. Yet the car where the major part of the crime was committed is long since lost; no seat fabric, travel rug or sections of carpet was ever retained since, we assume, they proved negative at the time of inspection. Negative in relation to Hanratty at least, for the defence never took the opportunity to re-test the materials for themselves. The shell casings from the Vienna Hotel seem to have disappeared down the memory hole as well. Likewise the outer clothing of Ms. Storie which may have yielded important evidence given her contact with the killer, although surprisingly no fibres seem to have attached themselves to her clothing during her ordeal. Nudds’ infamous guest book does not seem to have survived to undergo ESDA testing. Alphon’s clothing was not even hunted down for the brief period he was deemed a suspect, despite Acott’s threat. Even the much discussed bobble hat could have provided interesting evidence but it seems to have long gone to the ragman.

                            I do not think I am being too bloody-minded in refusing to take the forensic evidence against Hanratty as conclusive proof. What we have is a very incomplete forensic picture which focuses on just two main items: the handkerchief and a small section of underwear. Last week the events of what is called Bloody Sunday were in the news and they might help shine light on how forensic evidence can colour our judgment. Back in 1972, eight of the fourteen persons shot by British soldiers were deemed by the Widgery Report to have handled weapons prior to being shot, based on paraffin tests carried out by the well known expert Dr. Keith Simpson amongst others. By the time of the Saville Inquiry which reported in 2010 this forensic test was now judged to be highly unreliable, and only one victim was considered a possible nail bomb thrower. His case is particularly interesting because it has echoes of the cartridge cases at the Vienna Hotel: a young man called Donaghy was treated at the scene and later by an army doctor who did not notice the four nail bombs in his pockets which only became evident later whilst on army premises. Another common feature is the massive gap in forensic evidence supplied by the authorities. For example the army on the day claimed they came under fire, yet astonishingly no enemy bullet was ever found to validate this claim. There were 10 army photographers present in Londonderry that day but we, the public, have never seen any of these photos; they were destroyed soon afterwards since they were judged to hold no evidence. You will struggle to find mainstream photos of Bloody Sunday as well: the photos you might have come across are almost exclusively from foreign press.

                            Of course we all judge a case in the round, not on one element alone. However since forensic evidence supplies the main case against James Hanratty I thought it worthwhile to focus on that particular area and put it in some kind of perspective.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by cobalt View Post
                              ... since forensic evidence supplies the main case against James Hanratty ...
                              Identification evidence and circumstantial evidence convicted Hanratty. Forensic evidence simply confirmed that the conviction was sound.

                              Comment

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