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Old 16-05-2014, 09:17 PM   #139
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James Han-ratty (4 October 1936 – 4 April 1962) was one of the last people in the UK to be sentenced to death for murder. He was hanged at Bedford Gaol on 4 April 1962, after being convicted of the murder of scientist Michael Gregsten, who was shot dead in his car near Clophill, Bedfordshire in August 1961. Gregsten's mistress Valerie Storie, was raped, shot and left paralysed in the same incident..According to Storie, the couple were abducted at gunpoint in their car at Dorney Reach, Buckinghamshire, by a man with a cockney accent and mannerisms matching Hanratty's. The gunman ordered Gregsten to drive in several directions, before stopping beside the A6 at Deadman's Hill, where the offences took place. The prime suspects were Hanratty, a petty criminal, and Peter Louis Alphon, an eccentric drifter. Both these men changed their version of events several times and Storie picked out an innocent man at the first identity parade...

Shortly after his discharge, Hanratty left home for Brighton, where he was to find casual work with a road haulier..8 weeks later he was found semi-conscious in the street, having apparently collapsed from either hunger or exposure. Initially admitted to the Royal Sussex Hospital, Brighton, he was transferred to St Francis' Hospital, Haywards Heath, where he underwent a craniotomy following the erroneous diagnosis of a brain haemorrhage..Sent to recuperate at an aunt's home in Bedford, a place he and his brother Michael had visited as children on holiday, Hanratty found a job driving a mechanical shovel for a company called 'Green Brothers' which made breeze blocks, and remained with the firm for 3 years.. On 7 September 1954, aged 17, Hanratty appeared before Harrow Magistrates. It was about this time that Hanratty became attracted to Soho, where he frequented various clubs and other haunts of the criminal underworld. Significantly, he befriended Charles 'Dixie' France...

At about 06:45 on 23 August 1961, the body of Michael J. Gregsten (b. 28 December 1924) was discovered in a lay-by on the A6 at Deadman's Hill, near the Bedfordshire village of Clophill, by Sydney Burton, a farm labourer. Lying next to Gregsten, semi-conscious, was his mistress Valerie Storie (b. 24 November 1938). Gregsten had been shot twice in the head with a .38 revolver at point blank range; Storie had been raped, and then shot with the same weapon,4 times in the left shoulder and once in the neck, leaving her paralysed below the shoulders. Burton ran down the road and alerted John Kerr, a student taking a road census; Kerr flagged down 2 cars and asked the drivers to call an ambulance..The car Gregsten and Storie had been using at the time of the attack, a grey 4-door 1956 Morris Minor registration 847 BHN, was found abandoned behind Redbridge tube station in Essex later that evening.. The car had been jointly owned by Gregsten's mother and aunt, and lent to the couple who, according to Storie, were planning a car rally...

Late in the evening of Tuesday, 22 August 1961, Valerie Storie was sitting alongside Gregsten in his car in a cornfield at Dorney Reach, Buckinghamshire. A man tapped on the driver's door window; when Gregsten wound it down, a large black revolver was thrust into his face, and a cockney voice said, "This is a hold-up, I am a desperate man, I have been on the run for 4 months.. If you do as I tell you, you will be all right." The man got into the back of the car and told Gregsten to drive further into the field, then stop. The man then kept them there for 2 hours, chattering to them incessantly. At 23:30, the man said he wanted food, and told Gregsten to start driving. They drove around the suburbs of North London, apparently aimlessly. The gunman knew the Bear Hotel, Maidenhead. Gregsten was ordered to stop at a milk vending machine and sent into a shop to buy cigarettes, and then to stop at a petrol station for more fuel. Although Gregsten and Storie offered to give him all their money and the car, the man appeared to have no plan and seemed to want them to stay with him..

The first policeman on the scene was handed a census form on which Kerr had written down Storie's gasped account of what she recalled at that moment; the document was never seen again.. Storie gave another statement to the police later that morning, just before she underwent surgery in Bedford Hospital. Storie recalled what the man had said about being on the run for four months, yet he was immaculately dressed in a dark 3-piece suit and with shiny shiny boots of leather..The gun was discovered on the evening of 24 August, under the back seat of a 36A London bus, fully loaded and wiped clean of fingerprints... With the gun was a handkerchief (planted maybe) which was to provide DNA evidence many years later..At his first trial at Harrow in 1954, he was placed on probation for taking a motor vehicle without consent, and for driving without a licence or insurance. Shortly afterwards, he began psychiatric treatment as an outpatient at the Portman Clinic. In October 1955 Hanratty appeared at the County of Middlesex Sessions, where he was sentenced to 2 terms of 2 years' imprisonment, to run concurrently, for housebreaking and stealing property. Despatched to the boys' wing of Wormwood Scrubs,with slashed wrists; placed in the prison hospital..On 29 August, Valerie Storie and another witness, Edward Blackall, who had seen the driver of the Morris Minor, compiled an Identikit picture which was then released. However, only 2 days later, Storie gave a different description of her assailant to the police... While at Maidstone, Hanratty came to the attention of a researcher, a 'participant observer' who lived and worked alongside the inmates; he was later to remark upon Hanratty’s 'gross social and emotional immaturity'. After a failed escape attempt, Hanratty was transferred to Camp Hill Prison, Isle of Wight, and thence, following another bid for freedom, to Strangeways Prison, Manchester. Transferred briefly to Durham Prison, he was returned to Strangeways where, having served his full term, he was released in March 1961,5 months before the A6 murder..No defence on the basis of mental history was raised at Hanratty’s trial for the murder...On 7 September, Meike Dalal was attacked in her home in Richmond, Surrey, by a man claiming to be the A6 murderer, whom she later identified as Alphon in an identity parade on 23 September.. The investigation then stalled until 11 September, when two cartridge cases were found in the guest basement bedroom of the Vienna Hotel, which were matched with the bullets that killed Gregsten and to the ones in the gun found on the bus... know what they say, don't you? If you love a man's garden, you gotta love the man!.I've already arranged a transfer for ya'.. To where? China?How long have you been with the BCI now..long enough to know how we do things like this were common practice in the bad old days.. Hard to believe it's still going on...

Last edited by lightgiver; 16-05-2014 at 09:24 PM.
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