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James Hanratty was hanged in 1962 after being convicted of shooting a couple near London, but his guilt is still disputed.
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Born on October 4, 1936, in Kent, England, James Hanratty became a petty criminal in his 20s, and was hanged in 1962 after being convicted of shooting a couple near London. Hanratty was one of the last people to die by hanging in the United Kingdom. His guilt in the case is still disputed today.
On April 4, 1962, James Hanratty, a 26-year-old petty criminal and car thief, was hanged for an apparently motiveless shooting of two lovers on the A6 main road near London, England. However, much of the evidence had been circumstantial, and also pointed towards another name, Peter Alphon.
When the latter confessed during an interview that he had carried out the murder, many people were amazed that no charges were ever brought, and controversy still rages as to whether Hanratty was wrongly executed. The murder may have led to a major miscarriage of justice in a British court.
On August 22, 1961, a couple were in the throes of sexual intercourse in a car parked in a field at Dorney Reach in Bedfordshire, England. Michael Gregsten, 36, was a scientist at the Road Research Laboratory at Slough and Valerie Storie, 22, was an assistant at the same laboratory.
Suddenly a man tapped on the car window. Gregsten wound down the driver's window to find a black revolver gun pointing at him. The man brandishing the gun told the couple that he had been on the run for months and that he was desperate. He had a cockney accent.
At 11:30 p.m., the abductor indicated that he wanted food and told Gregsten to start driving. They drove aimlessly around the suburbs of north London before stopping at a milk vending machine. At no point had the kidnapper disclosed to the couple what he wanted or planned to do with them. Despite the couple offering the man money, he still appeared to want to stay with them. Gregsten was ordered to go into a shop and buy cigarettes. Later they stopped to refuel.
Around 1:30 a.m. while the car was driving south on the A6 road, the man said he wanted to sleep. His erratic behavior was changing constantly and after demanding that they turn off the road, he ordered them back on the A6 again. Finally he told Gregsten to pull over, and became aggressive, brandishing the gun at the driver when he refused.
All the time the couple pleaded with the gunman not to shoot them. He then decided to tie them both up in order that he could sleep. He tied Storie's hands behind her back using Gregsten's tie. Then, after spotting some rope in the back of the car, he told Gregsten to pass a bag over. As he did, the gun went off twice killing Gregsten.
A short while later the abductor raped Storie in the back of the car before forcing her to drag her lover's body out of the car. Rather bizarrely, he then told her to show him how to drive the vehicle. The gunman had clearly never driven before and his attempts were futile. Ordering Storie out of the car she assumed she was about to be killed and pleaded for her life before taking out a pound note from her pocket and offering it to him while screaming for him to go.
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