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  • SH,
    I have to confess to having watched Call Northside 777 a couple of months ago so that was no doubt in my thinking. It’s a film I first saw as a boy on TV but never quite forgot.

    According to the A6 prosecution case, it was established that JH reloaded a revolver inside his room at the Vienna Hotel. He must therefore have taken that weapon out of the hotel along with some other cartridges. Do we have any confirmation that JH was carrying a bag when he left the hotel? (This would not have been the ubiquitous plastic bag we see today but one made of cloth/canvas.) Valerie Storie mentioned seeing the attacker carrying a bag I think but I don’t remember the ever helpful Nudds saying that he did.

    Did the prosecution try to establish whether the 5 boxes of ammunition were being carried by JH at the time of the crime, or whether he collected them later upon his return to London?

    JH may have being trying to create an alibi in advance of armed robbery when he told two parties of his plan to visit Liverpool. Did the prosecution try to explain JH’s motive in returning to London after the crime instead of heading up north? It was an exercise in futility since JH not only undermined his alibi by failing to dispose of incriminating material, but he was (debatably) remembered by members of the public.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by cobalt View Post
      What do you make of that, djw?

      The 'public interest' defence is a catch all for anything embarrassing, and that embarrassment may extend beyond family members. The main players in the A6 Case- James Hanratty, Valerie Storie and Peter Alphon- left no issue. Malcolm Gregsten did so perhaps that was a consideration, although whatever information would cause them further distress can only be conjecture.

      The notion that the Hanratty family could be any further discomfited after the events of the last 60 years is risible.

      I notice 'redaction' was considered at the end of your reply. There would be little problem if we discovered that ''Mr X- a well known robber and occasional sex attacker- was interviewed over several hours and cleared as a suspect.'' But apparently this cannot be done. So who are the suspects and voluntary witnesses whose names cannot even be redacted? I have to assume we are talking police informers here, at the very least.
      Something doesn't smell right, especially since I believe the Hawser report is available publicly.

      Comment


      • For anyone who disbelieves [or harbours doubts] that Hanratty was in David Cowley's shop at 408 Scotland Road the following just might give some cause for a re-think on the matter. .....
        During an interview with his defence team on December 30th 1961 Hanratty said that the sweet shop was.....'a corner shop by traffic lights and gents toilets and ladies toilets. Mrs Dinwoodie was by the cigarettes in far counter'.
        This statement of his accurately describes the location of the sweetshop on Scotland Road.

        A few months ago while doing some further newspaper research about the A6 murder I came across a piece of evidence which Hanratty gave at his trial that I'd never seen before in all the newspapers I'd had access to. This trial evidence appeared in the February 8th 1962 issue of the Liverpool Daily Post [Welsh Edition] and speaks volumes, as can be seen when studying the three [one an enlargement] enclosed photographs taken in the early 1960's. The traffic island, ladies and gents toilets, sweetshop and metal railings are all visible within the two photos.​

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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


        • Hi Sherlock - whilst that shows Hanratty knew the location of Cowley's shop, it still falls down as an alibi due to not being time specific.

          Striking photos btw.

          Best regards,
          OneRound

          Comment


          • I think OR has stated clearly the stumbling block to Hanratty's Liverpool alibi.

            The more thoughtful supporters of the status quo have never denied that Hanratty visited Liverpool, nor do they really buy into the fanciful notion that he 'bought' an alibi. They conclude, reasonably in my view, that he visited Liverpool both shortly before and very soon after the A6 murder and used that as the basis of a false alibi.

            But that still leaves the uncanny coincidence of Mrs. Dinwoodie's testimony - despite all the problems with exact timing and the accent of the enquirer. Assuming that Mrs. Dinwoodie was herself not 'bought,' how could Hanratty have concocted such an alibi at a crucial time for himself even with criminal help?

            Comment


            • That's quite true One Round, in a legal sense, but when combined with the following facts it does provide, in my view at least, persuasive indicators that Hanratty did enter the sweetshop that Tuesday afternoon/early evening and spoke with Mrs Dinwoodie......

              1] Mrs Dinwoodie was only serving in the sweetshop on the 21st and 22nd of August that week.
              2] It was proved that Hanratty was undeniably in London all day on the 21st of August.
              3] Mrs Dinwoodie remembered the brief conversation she had around 4.00pm to 4.15pm [on one of those two days] with a young man enquiring about a Tarleton [or similar sounding] Road .
              4] When shown a single photo of Hanratty by Liverpool police she thought it looked like the man who came into the shop.
              5] Subsequently, when shown a series of photographs she picked out the one of Hanratty, a different photo of him this time, as resembling the man who came into the shop.
              6] Her granddaughter, Barbara Ford, also remembered the sweetshop incident and identified Hanratty from a profile photo shown to her.
              7] Mrs Dinwoodie pointed to Hanratty at the trial as resembling the man who called at the sweetshop.​
              *************************************
              "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


              • If only Hanratty had stuck with Liverpool and his local knowledge of the sweet shop, and not foolishly changed his alibi to Rhyl, I suspect the jury might have found it tough to deliver a guilty verdict, considering that he would hang.

                Whether or not Hanratty would have considered he'd had a very lucky escape in that event, and done his best to go straight after that - and definitely not try a "stick-up" in the future - we will never know.

                The irony is that by the time DNA evidence was proving the guilt or innocence of so many suspected murderers, capital punishment was thankfully way back in the bad old days - at least on my side of the pond.

                Love,

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


                Comment


                • I asked last week about what James Hanratty was carrying when he left the Vienna Hotel but nobody seems very sure of the answer. It may have some significance to the Prosecution case, which I will try to explore. With the caveat that we generally accept on this site that even in the most uncontested of cases there are often small unexplained details, and that a desperate man may not always act logically.

                  JH left the Vienna Hotel around midday in possession of a revolver and some ammunition. It is possible he was carrying these items on his person but unlikely for two reasons. First of all Valerie Store mentioned her attacker carrying a bag. Secondly, JH had created a Liverpool alibi in advance (to the France family and Louise Anderson) so was presumably headed there to fence some of his ‘swag’ which would require a bag. However, consumed by his desire to make the criminal big time, JH was set on adding to his meagre bag of swag by stopping off en route. He could then later impress the Liverpool criminal fraternity with the fruits of his labours earned as an accomplished burglar/stick up man. That is how I understand the Prosecution case.

                  We don’t know how or when JH arrived in Taplow- there were no witnesses. This is a gap in the Prosecution case but not insurmountable. A criminal associate may have driven JH there shortly before dusk and subsequently remained silent in the aftermath of what happened. If JH was ‘casing’ houses for burglary it is very difficult to imagine he would have been lugging around 5 boxes of extra ammunition. In fact even a stick up man would have settled for a full revolver plus a few extra bullets. So if JH was the attacker in the corn field then the Prosecution cannot really avoid this problem, although it seems they did.

                  The crime is botched badly and JH must now ditch the murder weapon and the car to avoid detection. However time is on his side: he has around 4 hours until daylight, and even when the victims are discovered (he assumes they are both dead) it may take time to identify them and link the car back to Malcolm Gregsten. His best option would surely be to dump the weapon and ammunition in some forlorn spot, abandon the car in a railway station car park, then catch an early train to Liverpool in order to establish his alibi. JH does none of this.

                  Instead he drives back to London, perhaps in panic seeking familiar territory. Even then he could have dumped the weapon en route and caught a train to Liverpool. This poor decision leads to him being identified as a bad car driver in early London traffic and he was rather lucky not to have been seen exiting the stolen car. What JH does next makes absolutely no sense. He either personally collected his extra ammunition boxes from his supplier- hardly necessary since a phone call could have tipped off the armourer- or he was carrying them throughout the crime and decided the best hiding place was in the back seat of a London bus. A place he must have known the items would be swiftly discovered. JH also ran the risk of being seen as a man occupying the back seat of that bus although in the event luck was on his side.

                  Having carried out these futile exercises in concealment, JH at some point does eventually board a train bound for Liverpool although the Prosecution is vague about the day he did this, far less the time. The Prosecution accepted JH’s phoned telegram message from Liverpool on Thursday 24 September as being genuine although there is surely the possibility of impersonation. (I have no idea if such messages were voice recorded in 1961.) It actually bolstered the Prosecution case to have Hanratty scouring around for an alibi in Liverpool after the event so I can see why they did not contest this evidence. Yet it also opens up the question of why Hanratty, if guilty, bothered to go there in the first place. Having decided to return to London and abandon the murder car in Redbridge it would have made as much sense, more in fact, to have gone about his day to day criminal lifestyle in London and acted accordingly.

                  Any Prosecution case has the luxury of imputing motive to the accused where it suits, while ignoring any motive which undermines its case. Since I am not the Prosecution I remain unconvinced on these three points. Was JH carrying the 5 boxes of ammunition when he committed the crime- in which case they could only have hindered his activities as either a burglar or a robber? If he was not carrying these boxes how did he, as a member of the NFA community, later retrieve them and from whom? And why did JH, having opened up a Liverpool alibi, not only return to London in order to incriminate himself but later revert to a Liverpool alibi that ran the risk of discovery before he arrived in that city?

                  Comment


                  • It very much seems like the prosecution team were trying to have their cake and eat it. They were trying to get around the enormous problem that Mrs Dinwoodie's revealing evidence posed. They must have found themselves in a real quandary. The sweetshop incident with Hanratty [or his double] must have occurred on Monday August 21st. But wait a minute, it must have been Hanratty's double who was in the shop enquiring about Tarleton Road since Hanratty was in London all day Monday............

                    "How do we get around this dilemma Geoffrey, how on earth did Hanratty get wind of this sweetshop incident involving his doppelganger " ?

                    "Don't ask me Graham, you're supposed to be the main man. Perhaps Hanratty was able to buy an alibi from one of his friends when he was back in Liverpool in early October. A friend who heard that a Hanratty lookalike had been enquiring about a Tarleton Road when he popped into Dave Cowley's shop six or seven Monday's earlier, lol."

                    "That's enough of that Geoff, cut the joking and pass me the paracetamol. You'll never become Lord Chief Justice one day"​
                    *************************************
                    "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 Sherlock Houses View Post
                      It very much seems like the prosecution team were trying to have their cake and eat it.
                      And how did that go?

                      Rather too well, eh?

                      Full of cake, fed to them by a jury who didn't appreciate being lied to by the man in the dock. The prosecution team didn't have to try very hard after that.

                      Love,

                      Caz
                      X

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


                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by cobalt View Post



                        The crime is botched badly and JH must now ditch the murder weapon and the car to avoid detection. However time is on his side: he has around 4 hours until daylight, and even when the victims are discovered (he assumes they are both dead) it may take time to identify them and link the car back to Malcolm Gregsten. His best option would surely be to dump the weapon and ammunition in some forlorn spot, abandon the car in a railway station car park, then catch an early train to Liverpool in order to establish his alibi. JH does none of this.


                        Having carried out these futile exercises in concealment, JH at some point does eventually board a train bound for Liverpool although the Prosecution is vague about the day he did this, far less the time. The Prosecution accepted JH’s phoned telegram message from Liverpool on Thursday 24 September as being genuine although there is surely the possibility of impersonation. (I have no idea if such messages were voice recorded in 1961.) It actually bolstered the Prosecution case to have Hanratty scouring around for an alibi in Liverpool after the event so I can see why they did not contest this evidence. Yet it also opens up the question of why Hanratty, if guilty, bothered to go there in the first place. Having decided to return to London and abandon the murder car in Redbridge it would have made as much sense, more in fact, to have gone about his day to day criminal lifestyle in London and acted accordingly.
                        Hi Cobalt

                        I feel sure that, in the interests of accuracy [and to avoid any confusion] you won't mind me pointing out a couple of minor errors in your post, namely that it's Michael, not Malcolm Gregsten, and that the telegram message was sent on August 24th not September 24th.

                        Sorry about that as you are a really good and perceptive poster.


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


                        • No problem, thanks for the corrections. On a site where knowledge of the A6 Case is comprehensive such careless errors can be irritating.

                          The sweet shop alibi failed to convince the jury when combined with the later Rhyl alibi as Caz has noted and we don't know if it would have stood a better chance if offered in isolation. What we do know is that Hanratty's doppelganger, whether he enquired on the 21st or 22nd of August, has never surfaced to identify himself since that day in 1961. This doppelganger, if he ever existed and was not a figment of the Prosecution case, clearly did not want to 'get in on the act.'

                          I said earlier that Hanratty's decision to head for Liverpool after he had returned to London in order to place a gun and ammunition under the back seat of a bus made little sense. But given that he did, it would have been in his interests to make himself more visible in the Liverpool environs at the earliest opportunity after arrival. In itself this would have offered no proof of when he arrived in the city, but since he was not witnessed travelling by train at a later date then it might have added some ballast to his claimed movements.

                          It's curious that the Hanratty alibi, or rather alibis, have been used by those who believe in his guilt as evidence against him. Neither alibi has been effectively disproved but the decision to change the alibi is damaging to both as Sherrard cautioned. And the fact JH headed for Liverpool around the time of the murder can be perceived as a guilty man putting distance between himself and his crime.

                          Comment


                          • It was a huge problem for Hanratty, cobalt, because an innocent man ought to have been able to convince the jury of where he was and what he was doing when the gunman was busy committing such a ghastly capital crime. Any other criminal activity would have been 'petty' by comparison, which no doubt made it inconceivable to the jury that Hanratty would not have told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth - and then stuck with it - about all his movements, everyone he met, and what he was doing, while someone else was committing rape and murder very far away from where he was.

                            The mystery for me is how anyone trying to frame Hanratty using the murder weapon, hanky and ammunition, could possibly have known, expected or predicted that this impulsive and unpredictable young man would have no way of proving he was elsewhere. He could have met a girl and gone out on a date; he could have gone to a familiar pub or café where the regulars knew him from previous visits. But nothing. It's like he wandered round Liverpool invisible - when not in the sweetshop, speaking with an accent that didn't even shout "Londoner". The one time in his life when striking up conversations, or getting into them, could have saved his neck, he kept himself to himself and didn't stand out.

                            Whenever my better half and I visit Liverpool, and return to familiar pubs, shops and museums, we inevitably find people who will strike up conversations with us as a matter of course, and hearing our London accents [East End boy meets West End girl - thank you, The Pet Shop Boys] only makes people more eager to hear about why we are visiting their great city, where we are staying, what we are planning to do and what have you. It's almost the perfect place to be if you might be needing an alibi when you get back down south!

                            Rhyl? Not so much. I wasn't keen, personally, and green baths don't float my boat. But Rhyl can at least boast a Tarleton Street!

                            Love,

                            Caz
                            X
                            Last edited by caz; 02-28-2024, 11:57 AM.
                            "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


                            Comment


                            • Liverpool might be considered the home of failed alibis.

                              The Wallace case of 1931 will need little introduction on here: an insurance salesman accused of murdering his wife claimed to be out on a wild goose chase across the city seeking business. Unlike James Hanratty, Wallace made sure he was remembered on his journey, a fact later used against him in court. The jury believed that the 15 minute period available to kill his wife before leaving the house was sufficient to convict, albeit the verdict was later overturned.

                              George Kelly, accused of the Cameo Cinema murders in 1949 also had his guilty verdict quashed as unsafe, but long after he had been hanged by the neck. His Saturday evening alibi of being out on a pub crawl was supported by several witnesses, including an ex-policeman who ran one of the bars. Bert Balmer, the notorious Liverpool detective, made short work of that alibi as he did in 1951 when a woman was murdered in Wavertree district.​ The two suspects- Devlin and Burns- thought that admitting to the lesser crime of robbing a warehouse in Manchester at the time of the murder (the robbery was confirmed) would save their necks. They were wrong. One curious aspect of this case was that although the two were known as house breakers, after allegedly killing the woman they decided not to steal anything from the property despite remaining on the premises for some time.

                              In echoes of the Wallace case, Eddie Gilfoyle was convicted of murdering his wife in 1992 despite having only a 10 minute window of opportunity in the morning before he reported for work in the Wirral area. Given that another witness, a woman who knew Gilfoyle's 8 months pregnant wife, claims she spoke to the victim almost an hour later this seemed to make his alibi secure. Not so. Gilfoyle served 18 years although he still maintains his innocence.

                              So James Hanratty's failed Liverpool alibi is part of a long tradition.

                              Comment


                              • The difference in Hanratty's case is that he was the only one who made it fail - by changing it to Rhyl!

                                He didn't deserve to hang for it, but it was in his hands.

                                Love,

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


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