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James Hanratty




October 1936
Kill Total: 1

Kill date:

22nd August 1961

Kill Place:

Clophill, Bedfordshire






Michael Gregsten
D.O.B. 1924




Bedfordshire Assizes




Geoffrey Lane










22nd August 1961, Michael Gregsten and his mistress Valerie Storie, were sitting in his car in a field, they were hijacked by a man with a gun, the man made them drive around for hours, eventually ending up at Deadmans Hill on the A6 just outside Clophill, Bedfordshire. (just round the corner from the authors house). Gregsten moved and made Hanratty jump, Hanratty fired two shots into Gregsten's head, after a while Hanratty made Miss Stone get out of the car, in the dark he fired five shots into her, she slumped next to Gregsten and passed out, she survived, but the injuries left her paralysed from the wait down, for the rest of her life.

9th October 1961, Hanratty was arrested in Blackpool, and picked out by Valerie Storie from an identification parade , and sent for trial.

The whole trial centred on the issue of identification. Hanratty claimed to have been in Rhyl on the day of the murder, 200 miles away from the murder scene in Clophill, Bedfordshire.
Following 9 hours of deliberations, the jury convicted Hanratty of the murder of Michael Gregsten.

James Hanratty was then sentenced to death by hanging.


4th April 1962, He was hanged at Bedford Prison.

The Aftermath
There has been a great deal of controversy regarding the conviction and execution of James Hanratty. The controversy is mainly concerned with the question of correctly identify the suspect. Also the need to established beyond reasonable doubt that the suspect was the guilty person.
James Hanratty's remains have since been exhumed from Bedford Prison, and reburied in Carpenter's Park Cemetery, which is located near Bushey in Hertfordshire.

22nd March 2001, James Hanratty's remains were exhumed so that a DNA sample could be taken for analysis. The results showed there was a 2.5 million to one chance that the samples came from someone other than Hanratty. DNA sample extracted from Hanratty's exhumed body was matched by forensic experts to two samples from the crime scene.

10th May 2002, the Court of Criminal Appeal (Lord Chief Justice Woolf, Lord Justice Mantell and Mr Justice Leveson hearing the appeal) ruled that Hanratty's conviction was not unsound and that there were no grounds for a posthumous pardon.



James Hanratty


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