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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Social Chat > Other Mysteries > A6 Murders

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  #4321  
Old 01-08-2018, 04:24 AM
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caz caz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cobalt View Post
Ansonman’s description presents a picture of Dixie France being a very reluctant witness indeed. As he indicated, any feelings of guilt France might have had would surely have been assuaged somewhat by his doing the decent thing and testifying against Hanratty, the monster who he allowed into his family home.

Even in his suicide notes France could have unburdened himself more fully and not just savagely attacked Hanratty, but actually declared he was guilty of the A6 crimes. Yet he did not do this, even after a jury and appeal court had made their judgment.

France was coerced into testifying for a reason and for me the likeliest reason is that the police had made a potential link between France and the murder weapon. The deal would have been for France to take the witness stand in return for police not pursuing their enquiries about the gun. Incidentally this is a gun we seem to know less about than the handkerchief in which it was wrapped, an unusual situation in a capital crime. In fact, it appears we seem to have as little evidence regarding the history of the gun as we have of forensic evidence inside the car where the crime was committed.

Once Hanratty’s appeal was dismissed, France may well have been fearful that Hanratty would have a bit more to say about guns and Dixie France. Having got their verdict, the police might then have proceeded further into the provenance of the gun and, as France saw it, crucified him and his family.

None of the above assumes either guilt or innocence on Hanratty’s part.
This makes a lot of sense to me, cobalt.

A deal with France regarding the gun might explain two otherwise hard to understand things: firstly, the lack of apparent interest shown in the gun's provenance and secondly, France volunteering the information about Hanratty's hiding place for surplus loot.

As mentioned previously, the only connection that could be made between Hanratty and the murder weapon was this statement from France. The hankie could only have served in 1961 to transport the gun and/or wipe off any prints. Whoever took it knew it belonged to Hanratty but could not have used it to frame him.

Love,

Caz
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  #4322  
Old 01-08-2018, 04:32 AM
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caz caz is offline
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A more likely source for the gun was Slack.

Hanratty admitted asking Slack to get a gun (I “asked him to get a shooter to do some stick-ups”) but later claimed “it was only a matter of conversation”. From prison he wrote a letter to Slack setting out this as the explanation.

Had Slack been allowed to receive the letter he would have been able to concur that ‘it was only a matter of conversation’ and support Hanratty’s line of defence. Instead he denied the discussion had happened at all.
Hi Nick,

So do you think it possible that Slack supplied Hanratty with the gun, while France possibly became involved afterwards when Hanratty panicked and asked him for advice on what to do with it? The hankie proves that either Hanratty or someone close to him handled the weapon shortly after the crime and put it under the back seat of the bus.

Love,

Caz
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  #4323  
Old 01-09-2018, 04:26 AM
NickB NickB is offline
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I think that Slack would have admitted to having the conversation with Hanratty, asking him to get a gun, if it really had been only idle talk.

At committal France went into some detail about his meetings with Hanratty during the period - see post 3947.

At trial his evidence was damning to Hanratty not only on the hiding place point; the France family also said that no mention had been made of Rhyl when he returned.
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  #4324  
Old 01-09-2018, 06:23 AM
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caz caz is offline
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Cheers, Nick.

Yes, I seem to remember from the appeal judgement that the France family claimed there had been no mention to them of Rhyl, which I found pretty damning if true. It does point to Rhyl being an afterthought when Hanratty felt he had to give up on the Liverpool alibi.

One other thing struck me. If France or someone else had been trying to frame an innocent Hanratty for the A6 crime, could they not have done a better job of it? I mean, finding out which room Hanratty had stayed in at the Vienna and planting the cartridges there would have made sense, but then why plant the murder weapon itself on a London bus, where it could not be linked to Hanratty in any way in 1961, and would effectively have cleared him if only he'd been able to prove he was in Liverpool and/or Rhyl between the Tuesday and the Friday that week, where he arguably would have been if innocent?

Surely the framing theory only works if France planted the gun with the full intention of going to the police to inform them that this was Hanratty's idea of a good hiding place. Even then, it would have backfired with potentially disastrous consequences for France if Hanratty had proof of his own whereabouts at the crucial times.

Love,

Caz
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Last edited by caz : 01-09-2018 at 06:26 AM.
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  #4325  
Old 01-12-2018, 06:30 AM
Derrick Derrick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caz View Post
...Yes, I seem to remember from the appeal judgement that the France family claimed there had been no mention to them of Rhyl, which I found pretty damning if true. It does point to Rhyl being an afterthought when Hanratty felt he had to give up on the Liverpool alibi.
(my bold)

This is from P45 of that judgement:
Quote:
At no stage did James Hanratty tell any member of the France family that he had been to Rhyl.
What's damning about that? Hanratty didn't tell anybody about the Rhyl alibi until the trial was underway. The first the court heard about it was on 6th February. So the France's couldn't claim to have not been told anything that nobody knew about anyway.

Strange argument to say the least.

Additionally, I can find no reason for the judges to have made the statement above at all as no-one in court knew until 6th February. More nonsense from the 3 judges.

The only thing France knew about Liverpool was that at first Hanratty told him he was off to visit an aunt and then in October Hanratty rang France in a panic and told him about the 3 men in Liverpool. France testified that he never saw Hanratty again until the day he gave evidence at trial.
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  #4326  
Old 01-12-2018, 06:54 AM
Spitfire Spitfire is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Derrick View Post
(my bold)

This is from P45 of that judgement:
What's damning about that? Hanratty didn't tell anybody about the Rhyl alibi until the trial was underway. The first the court heard about it was on 6th February. So the France's couldn't claim to have not been told anything that nobody knew about anyway.

Strange argument to say the least.

Additionally, I can find no reason for the judges to have made the statement above at all as no-one in court knew until 6th February. More nonsense from the 3 judges.

The only thing France knew about Liverpool was that at first Hanratty told him he was off to visit an aunt and then in October Hanratty rang France in a panic and told him about the 3 men in Liverpool. France testified that he never saw Hanratty again until the day he gave evidence at trial.
Hanratty could have given evidence that he had told people, including the Fances, about the Rhyl expedition.

Hanratty was in court and would have known about his Rhyl alibi well before 6th February.

Sherrard and Kleinman were in court and had been told about the Rhyl alibi on 29th January (at the latest) which is before the 6th February.

To re-cap, the three Frances (Dixie, Charlotte and Carole) gave evidence of conversations with Hanratty and those conversations did not advert to a Rhyl alibi.

Hanratty gave evidence about his Rhyl alibi and also about conversations with the Frances but did not give evidence to the effect that he told the Frances or any of them, or indeed anyone else, including members of his own family, about the Rhyl alibi.

So paragraph 45 of the judgement which I quote as follows:

"45. When giving evidence, James Hanratty admitted sending the telegram and stated that he returned to London early Friday morning and went to see the Frances. They said this visit was on the Saturday 26 August, when he arrived at about 9am. According to Mr France, James Hanratty said that he had been waiting at the station for a couple of hours because he did not want to disturb them. He went on to say that he had stayed at the Vienna Hotel on Monday 21 August 1961 and produced the hotel bill. At no stage did James Hanratty tell any member of the France family that he had been to Rhyl."

seems to be correct.
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  #4327  
Old 01-12-2018, 07:39 AM
NickB NickB is offline
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Producing the Vienna hotel bill indicates that the France family had asked Hanratty where he had been and what he had been doing since they last saw him. It would have been very strange had they not done so.

The reason he brandished the Vienna bill at them was because it was the only evidence he had of where he had been that week. Any other documentation that he had accumulated – other guest house bills, train tickets, shop receipts, Gregsten’s driving licence etc. – had to be jettisoned because it was incriminating. But even if he had nothing to show for it, I would have expected him to mention that he had been to Rhyl if that is where he had been.

He then had another chance to mention Rhyl when he went on the run.

Sherrard: “Did he indicate to you on the telephone that he was saying he had been in Liverpool when the murder was supposed to have been committed?”

France: “Yes, and there were witnesses to say he had been there.”

(my bold)

I expect Sherrard felt very pleased with this answer at the committal. It is only in hindsight, knowing that the alibi changed, that the reply looks unhelpful.
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  #4328  
Old 01-12-2018, 01:24 PM
Graham Graham is offline
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The point is that Hanratty seemed intent on proving to his friends the Frances that he was in Liverpool during the early part of that week even though no-one had remotely suspected him of being the A6 killer. That sounds to me as though he was saying, "Oh, and by the way if you think I did that A6 job, I didn't, 'cos I was in Liverpool at the time". Another point which is sometimes overlooked is that Hanratty very often sent postcards to his friends when he was away from London; in fact, Charlotte France, when he told her he was off up to Liverpool 'to visit his aunt', asked him to send her a postcard. He had sent postcards to the Frances and also Louise Anderson when he was in Ireland, for example. No postcard was received by the Frances from him during that week.

It's plain to me that the wind was put up Hanratty following Gillbanks thorough search of Liverpool and had found no evidence of anyone who knew Hanratty or that he had stayed in a flat in the Bull Ring area. It was then suggested - by Gillbanks, initially, so I understand - that Hanratty be taken under guard to Liverpool to enable him to identify the flat in which he claimed to have stayed during the crucial time. He had told his defence that he had been in prison with a Liverpudlian called McNally who, he stated, would confirm that he has stayed at his, McNally's, flat in the Bull Ring area of Liverpool; but when eventually McNally was traced he claimed he had not seen Hanratty for about four years, that he was now leading an honest life, and had no connection with the Bull Ring area of Liverpool.

At this point during the first week of the trial Sherrard confirmed Gillbank's suggestion that Hanratty might well be ordered by the Judge to be taken to Liverpool to identify the flat he claimed he'd stayed in, and that he, Hanratty, 'would be lost' if he failed to do so. Hanratty then changed his alibi and claimed that he'd been in Rhyl all along. That is, he played the old 'ambush alibi' trick, permissible in 1962, but shortly afterwards was made inadmissible. We can never know if this 'ambush alibi' was always up Hanratty's sleeve in case his Liverpool story went belly up, or whether it occurred to him on the spur of the moment when he realised he could not prove his Liverpool alibi.

Graham
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  #4329  
Old 01-12-2018, 02:57 PM
cobalt cobalt is offline
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when eventually McNally was traced he claimed he had not seen Hanratty for about four years, that he was now leading an honest life, and had no connection with the Bull Ring area of Liverpool.

Being charitable, I have the strongest suspicion that at least one of three claims is untrue.

I have written before about the specific problem of obtaining an alibi in Liverpool when Bert Balmer was the leading policeman; it is no exaggeration to say that providing an alibi may have been fatal.

With the benefit of hindsight Hanratty might have been better offering no alibi at all, or a paper-thin one like Alphon did. That way far less attention would have been paid to an alibi that either he could not prove because it was false, or that the authorities (and that might well include Gillbanks) were determined would be undermined come what may.
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  #4330  
Old 01-12-2018, 03:15 PM
Graham Graham is offline
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I think what you say is largely irrelevant, Cobalt. Unless you are suggesting that in some way this Bert Balmer character was aware of what was going on with regard to the A6. Which I rather doubt. Do you seriously suggest that this Bert Balmer was in any way interested in the comings and goings of low-life such as Hanratty and McNally? Gillbanks was no longer professionally connected with the Liverpool police, and was employed as an investigative agent; basically, he did what he was employed to do: investigate.

If you really think that McNally was not what he claimed to be, can we have some hard evidence, please?

Graham
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