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  #4601  
Old 03-10-2018, 02:50 AM
Spitfire Spitfire is offline
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Originally Posted by Alfie View Post

Added to this is the fact that his parents didn't see him from July 13, when he abandoned window-cleaning, until his arrest on October 12, even though he was in London for much of that time. This doesn't really speak of a loving relationship.
Hanratty also allowed his dad to give his job and pension money to go into business with him as window cleaners on the premise that he was going straight, but he had already committed burglaries with his usual ineptitude which eventually (if he had not committed murder) would have led to his further imprisonment and inability to clean windows.
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  #4602  
Old 03-15-2018, 09:15 AM
Alfie Alfie is offline
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Default William Lee and the pom-pom hat

I remain puzzled by William Lee's statement to police and the CofA's reference to a woollen pom-pom hat being found in the boot of the MM.

Surely Derbyshire police would have passed on Lee's statement to Acott's A6 team, which would have prompted them to look for such a hat in Gregsten's car. And yet there is no mention of a hat among the items handed over to Nickolls for forensic examination.

There have been references on this thread to a colour photo taken of the boot of the MM which when enlarged and enhanced showed such a hat. Has anyone got a source for this 'fact'?

If a hat matching the one Lee described was found in the boot, it seems almost inconceivable that at this very early stage of the investigation Acott's men wouldn't have followed it up by further questioning Lee. But there appears to be no record of any such interview.

It all seems very odd to me. Does anyone have any way of rationalizing it?
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  #4603  
Old 03-15-2018, 02:07 PM
OneRound OneRound is offline
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Hi all,

Whatever the time of Lee's alleged sighting, there is still the issue of Gregsten's recording of the car's mileage and the showing on the odometer when it was found in Avondale Crescent. If Gregsten was correct in what he wrote down and the odometer wasn't faulty, the car could not have been where Lee claimed.

Personally, I regard it as unlikely that Gregsten would have been slapdash in his recording. If you are so nerdy as to do such a thing, you are going to want to get it right. However, even the best of us can make mistakes. I therefore feel it was unacceptable that Lee's claimed sighting was not disclosed by Acott. As well as talking to Lee and seeking any further details, the defence team should have had the opportunity to carry out their own checks as to the accuracy of Gregsten's recordings (eg, were there previously any apparent howlers?) and the car's odometer.

What makes matters so difficult for us in coming to any conclusion about the strength of Lee's testimony is that we don't know (well, I don't anyway) when he reported matters to the police and critically whether it was before or after the car's number plate had been publicly reported. Furthermore, we also don't know if there had been any mention of a pom-pom hat prior to Lee's claim.

Following my last point and as an aside, some may recall that in their hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper the police were wrongfooted for some time by hoax letters from one writer. The police were sure the letter writer was their man as he had intimate knowledge of some of the crimes which as far as they were concerned would have been known only to the murderer. What they didn't realise was that those details had been broadcast in an earlier regional television programme!

The above para is not intended to disparage Lee but to show how poorly media aspects were handled by the police in past years. As said, that makes any assessment at this time so very difficult.

Best regards,

OneRound
Hi Alfie - this post of mine from February last year doesn't properly answer the matters you've raised today but perhaps goes in the mix.

Best regards,

OneRound
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  #4604  
Old 03-15-2018, 10:45 PM
Alfie Alfie is offline
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Hi OneRound

A poster (I'm not sure who, now) has said Lee reported his sighting to police at 5.30 pm, after he'd finished work. This is late enough in the day for him to have heard about the MM on the news and would put a question mark over his testimony - were it not for his titbit about the pom-pom hat.

Another poster - Derrick iirc - said he'd seen Lee's statement, which showed Lee's sighting occurred at 8.30 am, not 6.30 as the CofA and other sources have held. I'd be interested to see what the rest of the statement contained.
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  #4605  
Old 03-16-2018, 01:52 PM
cobalt cobalt is offline
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From memory, this is what I have gleaned from contributors on this site regarding the statement by William Lee. There are good grounds for discounting his sighting.

1. He did not report the car until the evening by which time the registration was in the public domain.

2. He could not provide the piece of paper on which he originally wrote down the registration. (This speaks strongly towards his honesty if not his accuracy of recall.)

3. The distance covered to Clophill was in conflict with Gregsten’s mileage readings (although One Round has reminded us that these readings may not have been watertight.)

4. The decision to return from Clophill to London was highly risky as it raised the chances of the car being identified.

5. There was no obvious motive, other than blind panic, for the car to have been anywhere near Clophill in the first place.

However the woollen bobble hat puts a different complexion on the sighting. There is no photo on this site but the existence of the hat was acknowledged by the CofA and rather awkwardly skirted over by them. The hat’s colour, allegedly green in both Lee’s account and the (unseen) photo, is not mentioned by the CofA. Rather pointedly, the CofA links this sighting with others which are largely discredited and one which was simply impossible. It then adds the rather cryptic comment, in parenthesis, that at no other time was the murderer seen wearing a bobble hat. This either assumes that the early morning sightings in Redbridge were genuine, or that Hanratty was the murderer and was at no other times of significance seen wearing a bobble hat. In actual fact there was a claimed sighting of a driver in a bobble hat near the scene of the murder, who was spoken to by a couple since he had difficulty moving the car, but this was only reported many years after the event.

This woollen, probably green, bobble hat may be a red herring. They were hardly unique after all, although unlikely to be worn in early autumn. Whatever, once again we are confronted with the failure to extract any useful forensic evidence from the car itself. Given Mr. Lee’s statement you would have expected the hat to be of some interest to the investigating officers- a dyed hair from the head of one James Hanratty would have been something of a clincher after all- but perplexingly this lead does not seem to have been followed.

Last edited by cobalt : 03-16-2018 at 01:54 PM.
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  #4606  
Old 03-16-2018, 03:21 PM
Graham Graham is offline
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Or you could take the view, Cobalt, that Mr Lee's claimed sighting in Matlock was just cobblers. As far as I'm aware, not even the ever-sceptical Woffo seriously suggested that the car's odometer had been tampered with, and had it not been, then a sighting in Matlock at any time would have been impossible. I can't recall the precise details, but I feel sure that Mr Lee claimed to have seen and recognised the number-plate 847 BHN at a time before the car's registration number had been broadcast on radio news. Sorry, but I simply cannot buy Mr Lee's claimed sighting.

A more likely sighting of the Morris was that claimed by milkman Charles Drayton, who says he saw the car in Bedford at 5.25 am as it jumped the red lights at the junction of Ampthill Road and St Johns Street. Mr Drayton says he had to brake sharply to avoid a collision. He says he was able to memorise the car's number by means of what seems to me to be somewhat convoluted mnemonics, but whatever - he did seemingly get the number right. The scene of this near-accident was only four miles away from Deadman's Hill. Valerie says that the car left the crime-scene at around 3.30am by her reckoning, and she also says that it headed south. However, the car was facing south during the crime, so the driver could have driven down to the southern end of the lay-by where John Kerr was stationed, and then turned left and north onto the A6, un-noticed by the semi-conscious Valerie. So if Mr Drayton did see the car when he said he did, where had it been in the two hours since it left Deadman's Hill?

Note: Mr Drayton makes no mention of a green bobble-hat being worn by the driver of the Morris he had a near-accident with. Further note: Hanratty was a notoriously sharp dresser with his sleek Italian suits and hand-made shoes; Valerie says he was 'immaculately dressed' when he got into the car. I would suggest that even Hanratty would have figured out that a dark Italian-cut suit topped with a woolen bobble-hat might just make him stand out a little. If there really is a colour photo of the car's boot, in which this legendary bobble-hat can be seen, I would love to see it. Otherwise I cannot believe that the hat existed, and the driver Mr Lee saw was not Hanratty and the car in which he saw the bobble-hatted driver was not the Morris.

Another point which has been discussed almost ad nauseam is the time at which the Morris was abandoned in Avondale Crescent. Here, I tend to agree with Woffo who says it was left there shortly before it was spotted by Mr Madwar at around 6.45pm. In which case the evidence given by Skillett and Trower cannot be valid. A car whose description and number had been broadcast all day on radio and TV news, and which was parked badly and also damaged, could hardly, in my opinion, have remained un-noticed in a busy road for around 12 hours.

Graham
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  #4607  
Old 03-16-2018, 03:57 PM
NickB NickB is offline
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John Kerr did not come on duty until 6am.

There is no reason to disbelieve Valerie when she said the car proceeded southward on the A6. She would have known this by the car noise fading away. If it had gone to end of the layby and turned left on the A6 she would have seen or heard it come back past her. So she knew it did not go northward.

Also John Smith, who was doing an overnight traffic census half a mile south of Silsoe on the A6, saw a car at about the right time - that he thought was a Morris Minor - travelling south at speed.

If Woffinden believes the car was abandoned in the evening he needs to explain how this tallies with his account of how Alphon parked it in the morning and then proceeded to the Vienna.

Last edited by NickB : 03-16-2018 at 04:02 PM.
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  #4608  
Old 03-16-2018, 05:31 PM
cobalt cobalt is offline
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Graham,

Well, the Court of Appeal believed the hat existed. I am sure they would have been very quick to dismiss an urban myth if that formed part of the appeal.

The Court was not very forthcoming about the photograph of the hat and as has been pointed out, did not state its colour. Presumably any photo will be black and white, although it is possible to estimate colour quite accurately. The chances of Mr. Lee describing a hat which just happened to be found in the boot of the car are quite slim, but the CofA did not seem interested in exploring this area.

Regarding discrepancies in mileage, the point being made was not about resetting the odometer but simply the possibility that Gregsten may have got his figures wrong.

I don't disagree about Hanratty's dress sense, which is why the possibility of Lee's sighting being genuine is awkward for those who believe in his guilt.
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  #4609  
Old 03-17-2018, 02:09 AM
Alfie Alfie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cobalt View Post
Well, the Court of Appeal believed the hat existed. I am sure they would have been very quick to dismiss an urban myth if that formed part of the appeal.

The Court was not very forthcoming about the photograph of the hat and as has been pointed out, did not state its colour.
The CofA didn't mention a photograph, which leaves me wondering from what source it would have been retailing the information about the hat - the CCRC?
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  #4610  
Old 03-17-2018, 03:35 AM
Graham Graham is offline
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NickB,

yes, I think the probability is that Hanratty drove off southwards. But he did have relatives in Bedford, and it occurred to me a long time ago that in what must have been his fragile mental state after the crime he may well have headed towards Bedford, maybe thinking that they - his relatives - would give him an alibi. Pure speculation on my part.

I think Woffinden in truth had a hard time fitting Alphon's claimed movements into the time-scale of the crime, and was aware of it.

Cobalt, Alfie,

With regard to the bobble hat, don't forget that the list of the car's contents, as posted on here some time ago by Natalie, mentioned no bobble hat.

Graham
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