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

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  #4491  
Old 02-11-2018, 01:55 PM
Graham Graham is offline
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Alphon first came to the attention of the police as a result of the manager of The Alexandra Court Hotel responding to a public police plea to hotels and boarding-houses asking if they had a guest whose behaviour was unusual. He was visited by police at the hotel where they found that he had used a false name (Frederick Durrant) to register, that he sometimes left hotels before paying his bill, and that he had stayed at The Vienna Hotel on the night of 22 August. He was told to re-register in his own name and that was that. When the cartridge cases were found at The Vienna on 11 September the police quickly realised that they had already interviewed someone - Alphon - who had stayed at the hotel at the crucial time. Alphon was, therefore, very much in the frame as far as the A6 investigation was concerned. The police's priority was then to find him. (Actually, they never did: Alphon surrendered himself to police at Cannon Row Police Station late in the evening of 22 September, after informing the press as to what he was about to do).

The other piece of information gleaned by the police at The Vienna was that a man called Ryan had also stayed there, on the night of 21 August and in Room 24 where the cartridges were found. The address 'Ryan' had written in the register was 72 Wood Lane, Kingsbury. This was noted, but not followed up until the morning of 26 September, which was two days after Alphon was eliminated as a suspect when Valerie Storie failed to identify him on the ID parade of 24 September. When on the morning of 26 September Acott and Oxford finally got round to knocking on the door of 72 Wood Lane they were greeted by a man called George Pratt who said he didn't know who Ryan was but showed them a letter he had received from a car-hire firm in Dublin and addressed to a man called Mr J Ryan.

The plot, as they say, thickens. During the late afternoon/early evening of 26 September, Acott and Oxford called at the home of Hanratty's parents and advised them that their son was wanted for car theft. Precisely how the police made the crucial link between 'Ryan' and 'Hanratty' has never been revealed, but Woffinden feels (and I think with good reason) that on the 26 September Charles France went to Scotland Yard with the postcard he had received from Hanratty in Ireland. On 29 September Mr and Mrs Hanratty learned from the newspapers that their son was the new A6 suspect following the elimination of Peter Alphon. Now all the police had to do was find Hanratty.

Graham
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  #4492  
Old 02-11-2018, 03:05 PM
moste moste is offline
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“Precisely how the police made the crucial link between 'Ryan' and 'Hanratty' has never been revealed. “

So you wouldn’t place any credibility on people saying ‘the police would have seen Mrs. Hanrattys flowers and asked about them,’possibly noting the attached card?
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  #4493  
Old 02-11-2018, 03:28 PM
Graham Graham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moste View Post
“Precisely how the police made the crucial link between 'Ryan' and 'Hanratty' has never been revealed. “

So you wouldn’t place any credibility on people saying ‘the police would have seen Mrs. Hanrattys flowers and asked about them,’possibly noting the attached card?
No, because that happened on October 9th, long after the police knew they were looking for someone called Hanratty.

Graham
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  #4494  
Old 02-11-2018, 04:07 PM
moste moste is offline
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“There is nothing to back up Ewer phoning the police. He claimed to have called them from the photographer’s shop, but the Sunday Times tracked down the man serving in the shop – Edmund King – who recounted Ewer’s visit to the shop and did not mention a phone call.“
Hi Nick
Well fair enough, but while some people will be very happy to jump on the band wagon, ie. Trower, Hirons etc.
Most people would want to keep a low profile when being associated with a crime of this magnitude . Edmund King for instance , was probably uncomfortable giving his name out to a national newspaper journalist, let alone admitting he allowed the use of his phone to have Scotland Yard be notified of the identification of a raving nutcase ‘the a6 killer’ who is out there somewhere on the lamb!
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  #4495  
Old 02-11-2018, 04:09 PM
moste moste is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham View Post
No, because that happened on October 9th, long after the police knew they were looking for someone called Hanratty.

Graham
Right. I’m hopeless with dates.
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  #4496  
Old 02-11-2018, 04:44 PM
NickB NickB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moste View Post
“Precisely how the police made the crucial link between 'Ryan' and 'Hanratty' has never been revealed. “

So you wouldn’t place any credibility on people saying ‘the police would have seen Mrs. Hanrattys flowers and asked about them,’possibly noting the attached card?
I would place a lot of credibility on them!

The police weren’t looking for someone who used the name Ryan called Hanratty, they were looking for someone who used the name Ryan at the Vienna Hotel. That is the link that has to be established. As mentioned before, I do not think this link was provided by France.

France testified that he knew Hanratty as Ryan – he may not have known his real name. Even if he did, why would he think the police would be interested in the postcard? If the police really did not start looking for Ryan until Alphon was cleared, what prompted France? And what was his purpose – to help the police locate Ryan? On 29th September Acott & Oxford went to Ireland in hot pursuit, unaware Hanratty had returned three weeks earlier - but France knew.
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  #4497  
Old 02-12-2018, 01:52 PM
cobalt cobalt is offline
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Thanks to Graham and NickB for so much supporting detail. I live outside the UK and having no access to A6 books and have to rely on your good offices.

What jumps out about the A6 investigation is how dilatory the police were once the cartridge cases were found at the Vienna Hotel. They were found on 11th September yet Alphon did not hand himself in until the 22nd September. That means that for over a week the (assumed) most dangerous man in Britain was being unsuccessfully sought by the police. Yet they knew Alphon’s home address and his haunts, and as far as we know he had no criminal contacts who could put him up in a safe house. Alphon himself does not seem a man who could easily merge into the background, so where on earth was he? How hard were they looking?

This leisurely police approach is even more puzzling in the case of Jim Ryan. As the last occupant (allegedly) of the basement room, he should have been sought with alacrity to decide whether he was the culprit, an accomplice of Alphon or an innocent guest. Yet this was not done until the 26th September, almost two weeks later. The name Ryan must have been known as an alias inside criminal circles and as has been pointed out was probably the name he was known to by France. Or Ewer too, although whether they were acquainted is mere conjecture. The Ryan/Hanratty link was certainly known to the police who visited Swiss Cottage before the cartridges were found, so had there been a full, scale hunt for Ryan his name should have popped up pretty quickly.

Which leads me to question whether Ryan’s name was ever really firmly connected to the room where the cartridge cases were found. In the initial stages at least. I am aware of Nudds’ first statement but would be interested to know if Hanratty himself, at trial, was able to state which room in the Vienna Hotel he stayed in.
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  #4498  
Old 02-12-2018, 03:08 PM
NickB NickB is offline
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Yes Hanratty confirmed that he stayed in the room where the cartridge cases were found. It was not just Nudds first statement that put Ryan there but the register.

However he was shocked when Acott revealed that they had been found there and asked what size they were. (He learnt by heart the exchange with Acott on this point and recited it in court with a sentence re-arranged. I have posted previously the police version and his version for comparison.)

I do think that the police visit of 27-Aug was the trigger for a sequence of actions that led to Hanratty’s arrest. His parents promised to inform the police when they next heard from their son, which would have been when they received the postcard from Ireland. This would have alerted the police that Jim was in Ireland, in the same way that their reporting of the birthday card alerted the police that Jim was back in London. The fact that Hanratty used the name Ryan may have been discovered at the florist, but I think it more likely the police already knew.

The postcard would have enabled them to find a Ryan who had stayed in O’Flynns Hotel, Cork. Receptionist Ita O’Donovan told the committal how he had signed in as ‘J. Ryan, Wood Lane, London’ drawing a line under the word London. So when the Murder Squad put out enquiries about the identidy of their J. Ryan the Robbery Squad were able to oblige. I agree one might have expected this to happen more quickly, but things always look easier in hindsight.

Clearly Acott’s claim that Gerrard Leonard told him about Hanratty is not a complete explanation – there must have been something that lead him to Leonard. I think it was the postcard to his mother. Acott may have thought that nothing would be gained from spelling this out and making Hanratty’s parents feel that if they had not reported the postcard the link might not have been made.
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  #4499  
Old 02-12-2018, 03:57 PM
Spitfire Spitfire is offline
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The front page of the Daily Mirror on Saturday 23 September 1961 leads with the Alphons helping the police with their inquiries about their wayward son. Also gives an explanation, perhaps, for the Durrant alias.


DMir_1961_09_23_001.pdf
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  #4500  
Old 02-13-2018, 05:06 AM
Graham Graham is offline
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Hanratty said he had known Dixie France since he, Hanratty, was a teenager; I therefore feel that it is almost certain that Dixie knew Jim's real surname. Plus, Michael Hanratty frequented the Rehearsal Club, so one would suspect that he was known as Jim's brother and vice versa, and had no reason to call himself Ryan as well.

Hanratty flew from Dublin on Sunday 10 September and went to the Frances the following day.

If France went to Scotland Yard with the postcard from Ireland then it must have been in the late afternoon of 26 September. If, of course, you consider, as I do, there is any truth in the theory that France gave the police the connection between 'Ryan' and 'Hanratty'. Later that same evening, after calling on Mr Pratt earlier in the day, Acott and Oxford went to the home of Mr and Mrs Hanratty to tell them that their son was suspected of car theft. Why France waited so long before going to the police I don't know, but I suspect he waited until Alphon had been cleared.

This of course pre-supposes that for reasons of his own France effectively 'shopped' Hanratty. One can only at this point in time speculate as to why.

Graham
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