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Murder Cases H-K
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★ Murder Cases H-K

Detective Superintendent Acott personally failed to disclose highly relevant documentation in key areas and, in addition, he misled the court and jury in his evidence relating to these key areas.  Finally ... he fabricated evidence relating to [Hanratty’s] interviews.  (Murder & Miscarriages of Justice)  Michael Mansfield QC, Court of Appeal

 

 

14,742.  Vital evidence which could have led to the acquittal of James Hanratty, executed for the A6 murder in 1962, was suppressed at the time of his trial, it emerged yesterday.

 

One of the most celebrated alleged miscarriage of justice cases was yesterday referred back to the Court of Appeal as the dead man’s lawyers, family and campaign supporters expressed astonishment at the extent of evidence which has only now been disclosed.

 

The dead man's brother, Michael Hanratty, described as disgraceful the suppression of material which would have saved his brother’s life.  His wife, Maureen Hanratty, said the family had been ‘put through hell’ because of the behaviour of the authorities. 

 

The Criminal Cases Review Commission announced yesterday that the case of Hanratty, who was hanged for the murder of Michael Gregsten, has been referred back to the Court of Appeal.  (Murder & Miscarriages of Justice)  Duncan Campbell, Guardian Unlimited 30th March 1999

 

 

14,743.  The family of James Hanratty – controversially hanged for the A6 murder 38 years ago – last night dismissed reports that new DNA evidence proved he was guilty.

 

Hanratty’s brother Michael, 61, said his family were unconcerned about the latest forensic results and added: 'The new evidence stinks.'

 

Hanratty, 25, was found guilty in 1962 of shooting dead scientist Michael Gregsten in a layby on the A6 in Bedford.

 

He was then said to have raped Mr Gregsten’s mistress Valerie Storie and shot her five times, leaving her for dead.

 

She miraculously survived and Hanratty was hanged largely on the basis of her evidence.  But his death has become one of Britain's most notorious alleged miscarriages of justice ... 

 

As part of its evidence for that appeal, the prosecution took advantage of the latest breakthroughs in DNA profiling to re-test exhibits which have been stored in Home Office vaults since Hanratty’s trial.

 

It was reported yesterday that the DNA profiles obtained earlier this year from fluid samples on a handkerchief wrapped around the murder weapon and on Miss Storie’s underwear match a sample taken from Michael Hanratty.

 

According to one report, a source close to the forensic tests said: ‘The DNA system narrows it to a one-in-a-billion match.  In other words, there is now a one-in-a-billion chance that Hanratty was not the A6 killer.’  (Murder & Miscarriages of Justice)  Greg Swift, Daily Express 20th July 2000

 

 

14,744.  The criminal cases review commission referred the Hanratty case to the court of appeal last year with staggering new evidence that the case against Hanratty had been rigged.  The commission was well aware of DNA evidence linking Hanratty to the crime and did not discount it.  Nor did it rule out the possibility that exhibits on which the DNA tests were based – fragments of knickers and a handkerchief – could have been stored with material taken from Hanratty, and could have been contaminated.  The commission concluded: ‘It is impossible to draw any firm conclusion as to the current evidential integrity of the exhibits of the cloth examples in this case.  The known (and unknown) aspects of the history of those items must be weighed in the balance.’

 

The new evidence brought to us by the Sun – that the DNA odds are a billion to one that Hanratty was guilty – does not alter the basic point, that if the exhibits tested were contaminated with items connected with Hanratty, the results are meaningless.  Indeed, the greater the sensitivity of the tests, the greater the likelihood of their picking up a contaminant ...

 

In the late 60s I interviewed 14 witnesses who, with varying degrees of certainty, supported Hanratty’s story, including Margaret Walker, a landlady in a neighbouring guest house, who was certain of the date a young man looking like Hanratty came to her house looking for lodgings.  It was the night of the A6 murder.  The more the inquiries went on, the firmer became Hanratty’s alibi.

 

It was, in the light of all this, impossible to believe that Hanratty had not been to Ingledene.  Did he go there at some other time?  I went through his known movements for every week after his first visit to Rhyl in July 1961.  All the subsequent weeks could be accounted for.  None of the various (secret) police inquiries since, nor the (secret) Hawser inquiry in 1974, nor the criminal cases review commission has come up with a single substantial piece of evidence to refute the Rhyl alibi.

 

Unless I see such evidence, I prefer to stick with the view that if there is DNA to show that a man staying in Rhyl committed a murder 200 miles away, there is something seriously wrong with the DNA.  That will be the approach of the Hanratty family’ lawyers at the court of appeal where the matter will be argued out, I imagine, at a higher level than that reached by the crime reporters of the Sun and the Mail or by Jack Straw's new noose-happy Tory sentencing adviser.  (Murder & Miscarriages of Justice)  Paul Foot, Guardian Unlimited 25th July 2000    

 

 

14,745.  Even a lord justice of appeal can work out that if you are in Rhyl, you cannot commit a murder near Bedford.  The essence of the case for the innocence of James Hanratty, who was hanged in 1962 for the A6 murder, is that on the day of the murder he travelled to Liverpool, and then on to Rhyl.  Soon after his arrest in October 1961, he told his lawyers that in Liverpool he had called at a sweetshop in the Scotland Road to ask the way to Tarleton or Carlton Road.  Mrs Olive Dinwoodie gave evidence to say a)  that she recalled a man looking like Hanratty calling at her shop and asking the way to Tarleton or Carlton Road and b)  that she was only serving in the shop for two days – on August 21 and 22, 1961 – the day of the murder.

 

... After interviewing all these witnesses in the late 1960s, I was convinced that Hanratty was in Rhyl on the night of the 22nd.  I wrote a book about the case.  The case was referred to the criminal cases review commission in 1997.  Their inquiries were led by Bill Skitt, former chief constable of Hertfordshire.  All the initial inquiries pointed to Hanratty’s innocence.  Right at the end, the commission carried out DNA tests on fragments connected with the murder.

 

For years, those of us campaigning for Hanratty’s innocence had been asking for these DNA tests, but were told that no DNA could be recovered from the exhibits.  In November 1997 scientists took a swab from Michael Hanratty, the dead man’s brother.  To the astonishment of the commission, there was a match with his DNA and a handkerchief wrapped around the murder gun when it was found after the murder, and a small square of knickers worn by Valerie Storie on the night she was raped and she and her lover, Michael Gregsten, shot.

 

In April 1998, a further swab was taken from Hanratty’s mother.  Michael Hanratty, Jim’s brother, and his wife Maureen remember going to the old lady’s bedside with Mr Skitt to take the swab.  She remembers Skitt saying: ‘Your brother was innocent – we just can’t explain the DNA.’  Another match was found, and later confirmed when James Hanratty’s body was dug up later that year.  In spite of the findings, the case was still referred to the court of appeal, which heard the appeal over the past few weeks.  The DNA findings conflicted grotesquely with the alibis.  If Hanratty was guilty, as the DNA suggested, he could not have been in Liverpool and Rhyl.  If he was in Liverpool and Rhyl, there must be something wrong with the DNA.  (Murder & Miscarriages of Justice)  Paul Foot, Guardian Unlimited 13th May 2002

 

 

14,746.  The case of James Hanratty who was hanged thirty-seven years ago is to be referred back to the Court of Appeal.  James Hanratty was executed for killing a man on the A-6 in Bedfordshire in 1962.  (Murder & Miscarriages of Justice)  BBC News 1999

 

 

14,747.  Three judges at the Court of Appeal have dismissed the appeal on behalf of James Hanratty, who was hanged for the A6 murder in Bedfordshire 40 years ago.  The court ruled that 25-year-old Hanratty was not wrongly convicted in 1962 of murdering scientist Michael Gregsten.

 

Hanratty, one of the last people to be executed before the abolition of capital punishment in the UK, had always claimed he was 250 miles away from the scene – in Rhyl, north Wales.

 

But on Friday, the three judges ruled that DNA evidence had established his guilt ‘beyond doubt’.  Lord Woolf, the Lord Chief Justice, said: ‘In our judgment ... the DNA evidence establishes beyond doubt that James Hanratty was the murderer.’  He added that the DNA evidence ‘made what was a strong case even stronger.’  (Murder & Miscarriages of Justice)  BBC News 10th May 2002

 

 

14,748.  Murdered Hanratty.  (Murder & Miscarriage of Justice)  John & Oko Lennon’s protest placard

 

 

14,749.  Eleven Witnesses Swear He Was In Rhyl 200 Miles Away When The Crime Was Committed.  I Demand A Public Inquiry.  And Justice To Be Done.  (Murder & Miscarriage of Justice)  James Hanrattys fathers protest placard

 

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