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KILLING GOLDFINGER … by Wesley Clarkson

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Even if it seems faintly indecent to make such comparisons, British gangsters and crime bosses have usually paled into insignificance when compared to their transatlantic cousins. Even The Krays, whose legend grows ever more lurid with the passing of the years, were regarded as nickel and dime operators by American crime syndicates. Reg and Ron, by the way, were not even the nastiest gangsters in Britain. That dubious crown rests securely on the heads of the deeply dreadful Richardson brothers from ‘Sarf London.’ British gangsters have generally been like lightweight boxers in the ring with heavyweights, and nothing epitomises that gulf like the painful demise of Harold Shand in The Long Good Friday, who perishes like a pygmy among giants.

Goldfinger035Perhaps the world has shrunk, or maybe it is that organised crime, like politics, has gone global, but more recent British mobsters have become bigger and, because we can hardly say “better”, perhaps “more formidable” might be a better choice of words. No-one typifies this new breed of gang boss than John “Goldfinger” Palmer. His name is hardly on the tip of everyone’s tongues, but as this new book from Wensley Clarkson shows, Palmer’s misdeeds were epic and definitely world class.

Born in Warwickshire in 1950, Palmer found that school and conventional education offered him nothing. After working with his brother for a spell, he started dealing in gold and jewellery from a Bristol address, and first came to the attention of the police in a significant way with his involvement in the Brinks Mat gold bullion heist in 1983. Palmer’s part in the affair sounds scarcely credible, but it was to melt down the gold bars into more saleable items – in his back garden. It was this action which earned him his nickname, but his claim that he didn’t know where the gold had come from convinced the jury at his trial in 1987.

Clarkson036Meanwhile, Palmer had not been idle, at least in the sense of criminality. He had set up in the timeshare business, perpetrating what was later proved to be a massive scam. When he was eventually brought to justice, it was alleged that he had swindled 20,000 people out of a staggering £30,000,000. In 2001 he was sentenced to eight years in jail, but his ill-gotten gains were never recovered.

Despite his prodigious earnings, it seemed to go against Palmer’s grain to go straight, and he continued to dabble in fraudulent timeshare selling and money laundering. He had semi-retired to a Ponderosa style property in Essex (where else?) but it seems clear that no-one spends their life stealing on a grand scale without making enemies, and he was shot dead in a professional hit on 24th June, 2015.

This brief account is all in the public domain, but Wensley Clarkson can tell the full story because of his intensive research ‘on the inside’. His knowledge has not been gathered without cost, as he and his family have been subject to death threats by criminals terrified of being exposed. Killing Goldfinger is the definitive account of an extraordinary life – and death. It is published by Quercus, and is due to be published on 1st June.

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THE PLOUGHBOYS MURDER

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--90000--81799_product_1230582107_thumb_largeJuly 1953
. Queen Elizabeth was scarcely a month crowned, children were drinking National Health Service orange juice from their Coronation mugs, and Lindsay Hassett’s Australian cricketers, including the legends Richie Benaud, Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller, were preparing for the Third Test at Old Trafford. John Reginald Halliday Christie was sitting in the condemned cell at Pentonville, awaiting the hangman’s noose for multiple murders.

The new Elizabethan age was certainly experienced differently, depending on which part of society you lived in. Most large towns – and all cities – still had pockets of Victorian terraces, tenements and courtyards which would have been familiar to Charles Dickens. Diphtheria, tuberculosis and polio were only in retreat because of the energetic vaccination programme of the relatively new NHS.

Teddy BoyA social trend which had the middle-aged and elderly tut-tutting was the rise of the Teddy Boy. So called because their outfits – long coats with velvet collars, tight ‘drainpipe’ trousers and crepe-soled shoes – vaguely harked back to the Edwardian era. In truth, they were more influenced by the fledgling Rock ‘n’ Roll culture which was scandalising America. Every generation has a sub-culture which, at its most harmless is just clothes and hairstyles, but at its worst is just a cover for male violence. Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockers, Chavs, Gangstas – each generation reinvents itself, but each is depressingly the same – a cloak for male testosterone-fuelled rivalry and aggression.

On the evening of Thursday June 2nd, 1953, the green sward of South London’s Clapham Common was teeming with people – young and old – out to catch the last rays of midsummer sun. There were Teddy Boys from different gangs showing and strutting about in front of their female admirers, but the lads who were sitting on a park bench away from the ‘parade ground’ were not ‘Teds’, nor were they affiliated to any particular gang. The young men sitting on the benches included seventeen year old John Beckley, an apprentice electrical engineer, Frederick Chandler, an eighteen year old bank clerk and Brian Carter.

One of the Teddy Boy gangs was known as The Plough Boys, from their patronage of a local pub, The Plough. Spotting the young men on the benches, and interpreting their different clothing and behaviour as an explicit challenge, members of The Plough Boys decided to provoke Beckley and his friends. A fist fight broke out but Beckley and his mates, realising that they were outnumbered, ran off..

Beckley and Chandler managed to get aboard a number 137 bus, but such was the determination of the Plough Boys to right imagined wrongs that they ran after the bus, and when it stopped for a traffic light, they boarded the bus and dragged Beckley and Chandler out onto the road.

Chandler, despite bleeding from stab wounds to the groin and stomach managed to scramble back on to the open platform of the bus as it was pulling away. John Beckley was not so lucky and became surrounded by the attacking Plough Boys and he was struck repeatedly. He eventually broke away and managed only to run about a hundred yards up the road towards Clapham Old Town.

All of a sudden he stopped and fell against a wall outside an apartment block called Oakeover Manor. He eventually sagged down the wall ending up sitting in a half-sitting position on the pavement, his life literally ebbing away from him.

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Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 09.50.10The remaining Plough Boys, realising that the situation had become more serious than a simple punch-up, ran off. One of the bus passengers, made a call from the Oakeover Manor flatsand another passenger improvised a  pillow for the victim with a folded coat.  Eventually, at 9.42 pm a policeman arrived and just one hour later, John Beckley was found to have six stab wounds about his body and one to his face. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

There was no shortage of suspects among the South London gangs. Police swiftly narrowed the field down to six suspects.  All were arrested and charged with John Beckley’s murder.   Two of the gang denied having been on Clapham Common; two admitted being there, but denied involvement.  but all under persistent questioning, later confessed to having taken some part in the attack, though all denied using a knife.

 

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Five youths were initially charged by the Police, with one more charged a few days later, and they were remanded to Bow Street.  After a three-day hearing, the case was sent to the Old Bailey for trial. The charged were a 15 year-old shop assistant Ronald Coleman, Terrance Power aged 17 and unemployed, Allan Albert Lawson aged 18 and a carpenter, a labourer Michael John Davies aged 20, Terrence David Woodman, 16, a street-trader and John Fredrick Allan, aged 21, also a labourer.

Michael-John-DaviesMichael John Davies, (right) the 20 year old labourer from Clapham, never denied being in the fight. “We all set about two of them on the pavement” he said “I didn’t have a knife, I only used my fists.”

humphreysOn Monday 14th September 1953, at the Old Bailey, Ronald Coleman and Michael John Davies pleaded not guilty to murdering John Beckley. The four others were formally found not guilty after Christmas Humphreys, (left)  the prosecutor for the Crown, said he was not satisfied there was any evidence against them on this indictment. However they were charged with common assault and kept in custody.

A Daily Mirror headline during the trial simply said Flick Knives, Dance Music and Edwardian Suits.

The trial of Coleman and Davies lasted until the following week when the jury, after considering for three hours forty minutes, said they were unable to agree a verdict.
Mr Humphreys, for the prosecution, said that they did not propose to put Coleman on trial again for murder and a new jury, on the direction of the judge, returned a formal verdict of not guilty. Coleman was charged with common assault along with the four others for which they all received six or nine months in jail.

Michael John Davies’ trial for the murder of John Beckley began on 19th October 1953. Counsel for both the defence, Mr David Weitzman, QC  and Mr Christmas Humphreys for the prosecution were the same as for the former trial and the same witnesses appeared.

1953 Newspapers Clapham Common

Having seen the attack from the top deck of the 137 bus, Mary Frayling told the Police that she had seen a particular youth whom she described as the principal attacker put what appeared to be a green handled knife into his right breast pocket.  He was wearing a gaudy tie which he removed, putting it in another pocket.  She later identified him as John Davies.

How reliable a witness was Mary Frayling? It was late in the evening and her view of the fight on the moving bus with its internal lights on must have been obscured by both the relatively small windows of the bus and the large trees along side the road. In fact Mary Frayling had initially picked out John Davies as the main perpetrator while he was standing in the dock of a local south London court and not in an organised identity parade.

Despite the absence of the knidfe that killed John Beckley, the jury took just two hours to return with a guilty verdict, and Davies was sentenced to death.

Although the actual murder weapon was never found there was a knife that was almost treated as such by Christmas Humphreys and the prosecution during the trial. It was a knife bought by Detective Constable Kenneth Drury in a jewellers near the Plough Inn for three shillings ostensibly as an example of what could have been used by Davies. Incidentally, Drury, (right) Druryone of the investigating officers in the Beckley murder case, would later become Commander of the Flying Squad in the 1970s and in 1977 was convicted on five counts of corruption and jailed for eight years.

Almost immediately after the guilty verdict there were suspicions to many that there had been a gross miscarriage of justice. Michael John Davies’ case went to appeal and eventually to the House of Lords both to no avail. However after many petitions to the Home Secretary he granted a reprieve for Davies after 92 days in the Condemned Cell. In October 1960 Michael John Davies was released from Wandsworth Prison after seven years, although not officially pardoned, he was now a free man.

The killing of John Beckley had a chilling resonance many years later with another notorious stabbing, the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Once again, there would be attack by a gang of young men. Once again, a knife would be the weapon, but would never be found. Once again it would be very much open to doubt as ti who struck the fatal blow. Although Stephen’s death was due to a racist attack, the killing of John Beckley was equally tribal – a young life taken because he was different.

 

THE NEW CROSS DOUBLE MURDER

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BonomoThere have been many murders where a perpetrator has been allowed to roam, free to kill despite – with the glorious clarity afforded by hindsight – there being loud alarm bells ringing throughout the criminal justice system and, sadly, the offices of mental health professionals. One grim and grisly case was the double murder of two French students in New Cross in 2008. Laurent Bonomo (left) and Gabriel Ferez were gifted research scientists from Clermont Ferrand University finishing their Masters Degrees at Imperial College London.

FerezBonomo and Ferraz (right) were tied up, gagged, tortured and then subject to frenzied multiple stabbings over several hours. They were then doused in an accelerant, and set fire to. Their bodies were discovered by firefighters attending the blaze in their rented apartment at Sterling Gardens, New Cross, on 29th June 2008.

On 6 July 2008, police issued an image of a suspect, based on the descriptions of witnesses who had seen him running away from Sterling Gardens just after 10.00pm on the day that the two young Frenchmen were killed.He was described as “white, 30 to 40 years of age, of slight or slim build and wearing light coloured baseball cap, a dark top with the word Junfan on, blue jeans and white trainers”.

Following the precise description of the wanted man, a thin 33 year-old whose face and hands were badly burned had walked into Lewisham police station, apparently to confess to the killings. When he was told to wait in line at the reception by a civilian worker, he said: “I’ve got third degree fucking burns and they are not doing anything about it.” He was taken to hospital, eventually released,  and then nterviewed in custody by the police.

FarmerOn 10 July, Nigel Edward Farmer, 33, (left) unemployed and of no fixed abode, was charged with double murder, arson and attempting to pervert the course of justice when he appeared before Greenwich Magistrates’ Court. He was remanded in custody until 16 October,  at which point the case would be transferred to the Old Bailey.

The very next day, armed police arrested Daniel “Dano” Sonnex, 23, (below) in Peckham, south-east London, after Scotland Yard issued an alert to trace him. Described as “extremely dangerous” he was detained and investigated after his brother, Bernard, 35 and a woman, 25, handed themselves to the police and advised officers as to his whereabouts.

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The trial of Daniel Sonnex and Nigel Farmer began on 24th April 2009 at the Old Bailey. The jury began to consider their verdict on 29th May 2009, and on 4 June 2009, Sonnex and Farmer were found guilty of murder. Sonnex was sentenced to serve a minimum of 40 years in prison, and Farmer was ordered to stay behind bars for at least 35 years.

And what of the two murderers?

Farmer had worked as a decorator on projects including the ITN and ICI buildings in central London, but his life spiralled downwards after his relationship with the mother of his twins broke down. He drifted between the homes of various associates after leaving the family home, and his drug-taking and self-harming worsened.

Farmer developed a £100-a-day crack and heroin habit and eventually ended up lodging with the Sonnex family in Deptford. He was given residential treatment for his mental health problems, but he walked out after four days saying he was not getting the help he needed. At his trial his barrister attempted to paint him as a bemused figure watching from the periphery while members of the Sonnex family committed a series of violent attacks.

Sonnex was a member of a notorious criminal family in the area, but the scale of ineptitude from the authorities beggars belief, as this chronology reveals.

8th February 2008: Sonnex is wrongly categorised as ‘medium risk’ and released from jail with only low level supervision after multi-agenct public protection meetings are cancelled, in part because of a broken photocopier at a probation office.

10th February 2008: No action is taken by either police of probation officers after Sonnex and an accomplice tie up and threaten a pregnant woman and her boyfriend.

23rd April 2008: Sonnex is charged with handling stolen goods after stealing a handbag in a pub, but the probation service is not informed for five days. Eventually, Sonnex was found, and remanded in custody.

16th May: Sonnex, who has been in custody for the handling charge, is granted unconditional bail by Greenwich Magistrates. he then goes on the run. During June, the legal process requiring Sonnex to return to prison is finalised, but the police fail to execute the warrant for his address.

29th June: The murdered French students are discovered. Police officers, unaware that Sonnex is involved, go to arrest him under the terms of the previous warrant, but he escapes over a garden wall.

This catalogue of ineptitude, misplaced trust and woolly minded optimism by liberal-minded members of the criminal justice system takes some beating, and would be hilarious were it not for the fact that two young men, with the world at their feet have been lying in a French graveyard for the last nine years. A final thought for those who believe that criminals are equally traumatised by their actions, and that they are secondary victims who deserve our sympathy and guidance. If you want to know how the Sonnex family was chastened and sobered by the actions of one of their own, you may like to read this extract from a north Kent local newspaper in 2014.

Louise Sonnex – older sister of the brutal killer Dano – last week admitted driving a car into a double decker bus full of passengers while drunk in June. The mother-of-two, from Ash View Close in Deptford, was arrested after police found her to be three times over the limit with drugs also discovered in a car she claimed belonged to a friend.

The 40-year-old has previously been convicted for glassing a woman while screaming “I’m going to open her up like a can of beans”. In 2009 she was also given a five-year sentence for attacking her father’s girlfriend with a golf club. She is just one member of a family which has haunted the area for many years with a string of disgracefully violent incidents.

When arrested for the killings in Sterling Gardens, Dano – nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’ – turned to a detective and said: “I’m going to bite your face off”. After his sentence, the 28-year-old, who needed to be sedated during his murder trial – mouthed the words: “Fuck you” to the father of one of his victims.

Since his conviction, he has appeared in court again for trying to escape from Broadmoor prison by fashioning a pair of wings made from refrigerator shelves. Meanwhile, Louise’s father Bernard Senior has more than 26 convictions and has been to prison six times while other brother Bernard has been in prison 10 times for at least 34 offences.

Louise, who turned up to an earlier hearing in a leopard-print onesie before toppling over in the courtroom, admitted drink driving, reckless driving, driving without insurance and driving without a licence on Thursday (November 20) at Bexley Magistrates’ Court.

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THE RICHARDSONS

In the long and grisly history of organised crime, at least in the days before the internet, the control of geographic territory is a recurring factor. In big cities such as New York, Los Angeles and, in this case, London, criminal gangs have tended to carve out for themselves areas of influence which can be defined with an almost postcode accuracy. Such is human frailty, greed and weakness that there is almost always enough loot to be shared between different operators, and it has often been the case that gangs have been prepared to tolerate fellow crooks just as long as they stay on their own patch. Sometimes the gangs have been defined by ethnic origin as with the traditionally bitter competition in New York between the Irish, the Jews and the Italians.

In London, the geographically insignificant island of Malta produced a whole string of thuggish gangs in the middle years of the twentieth century, but history will always confer the accolade of “headline act” of the 1960s to the Kray twins. Their villainy has attracted myth, legend, and certain dubious glamour which still endures, but were the gangs of the time to have been quoted on The Stock Exchange, it is quite possible that investors would have been more attracted by the business acumen of Charlie and Eddie Richardson. (below)

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The Richardsons operated ‘sarf of the river’ which, to those not familiar with London, means the districts south of The Thames, including Camberwell, Brixton, Stockwell, Lewisham, Deptford and Lambeth. While the Krays always seemed to be gazing at the stars, with their love of night clubs, celebrity culture and fine living, the Richardsons were perfectly happy to be in the gutter, safe in the knowledge that scrap metal and fruit machines were a less glamorous, but more profitable route to riches.

Charles “Charlie” William Richardson (1934 – 2012) and Edward “Eddie” Richardson, (1936 – ) were the CEOs of the firm while on the board of directors were none other than Frank ‘Mad Frankie’ Fraser and George Cornell. Fraser, who offered his employers informal dentistry using pliers, ended his days in sheltered accomodation suffering from Alzheimers, having recently been served with an ASBO for assaulting another resident. The 90 year-old had carved out something of a media career in his final years, guiding trips around his former stamping grounds for gullible tourists. (Below – Fraser with Eddie Richardson at Charlie’s funeral)

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George Cornell’s demise was more spectacular. Having allegedly angered Ronnie Kray by calling him “a fat poof”, he was shot dead (by the allegedly overweight homosexual) on 9th cornellMarch 1966. Cornell (right) was having a quiet drink in The Blind Beggar pub, well inside Kray territory on Whitechapel Road, when Ronnie walked in and put a bullet from a 9mm Luger into his head. Needless to say, none of the bar staff or other customers saw a single thing. Kray was eventually convicted of the murder when a barmaid, aware that Ronnie was already safely under lock and key for other misdeeds, testified that she had witnessed the killing.

Older readers will have chuckled at the Monty Python parody gangster sketch featuring the The Piranha Brothers, Doug and Dinsdale. (click the image to see the video)

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This classic was an inspired homage to both The Krays and The Richardsons, but amid the laughter there is a horrible truth. Charlie and Eddie had a variety of punishments to inflict on those who crossed them. In addition to the dentistry skills of Frankie Fraser, they also used hammer and nails, and did a special line in victims’ genitals being attached to the terminals of an old fashioned crank-up WW2 field telephone generator. They were also fond of removing fingers and toes with bolt cutters.

 Charlie Richardson was arrested for torture on 30 July 1966, the World Cup Final day. Eddie Richardson was sent to prison for five years for affray. There were also stories of Charlie being connected to the South African Bureau of State Security and an attempt to tap then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s telephone.

The so-called “Torture Trial” began at the Old Bailey at the beginning of April 1967. The Richardsons were found guilty of fraud, extortion, assault and grievous bodily harm. Charlie Richardson was sentenced to 25 years in prison, and Eddie had ten years added to his existing sentence. Charlie Richardson was not freed until July 1984, and died in September 2012.

 

 

 

THE MINIVER PLACE MURDER …Podcast

mpm-headerThis is the tale of a ghastly pair of opportunists in Victorian London. Frederick Manning turned a blind eye to his wife, Marie, while she dispensed her favours to a rich customs official, Patrick O’Connor. The pair prepared a grave for him under their kitchen floor, and having murdered him, tried to escape with all his money. Inevitably, they were caught, and provided yet another job for William Calcraft, the Lord High Executioner.

THE MINIVER PLACE MURDER

THE MURDER OF SIR HENRY WILSON

The Britain of summer 1922 was, in some ways, similar to the island in The Tempest:

“the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears..”

abbsThe sounds and sweet airs might have been provided by Haydn Woods’ A Brown Bird Singing or, if you were more disposed towards the art of Edith Sitwell, William Walton’s setting of her poetry – Façade. The discordant sounds of the thousand twangling instruments could have come from several sources; possibly the thousands of impoverished ex-servicemen sold short by the country they had fought for; perhaps, however, the isle which was most full of noises was that of Ireland, and in particular the newly formed Irish Republic.

wilsonSir Henry Wilson was a former General in the British Army, and his contribution to events in The Great War divides opinion. Some have him firmly in the ‘Butchers and Bunglers’ camp, a stereotypical Brass Hat who send brave men off into battle to meet red hot shards of flying steel with their own mortal flesh. Others will say that he was part of the combined military effort which defeated Germany in the field, and led to the surrender in the railway carriage at Compiègne in 1918. Whatever the truth, Wilson was never a field commander. He was much more at home well behind the front line, hobnobbing with politicians and strategists.

When the war ended, he was promoted to Field Marshall, and made a baronet. With Ireland beset by all manner of plots and factional fighting, he resigned his army post and was elected as MP for the Ulster constituency of North Down. He had made it very clear that he despised the Irish Republican movement, and had written in June 1919 that “Ireland goes from bad to worse” and that “a little bloodletting” was needed. His view of the British government’s attempts to deal peaceably with the Irish Problem is summed up by his belief that such peace moves were a “shameful & cowardly surrender to the pistol” by a “Cabinet of Cowards”. Ironically, his own demise was brought about by the pistols of two IRA killers.

In the early 1920s, there was one common activity which retired army generals shared, and it was to travel far and wide across the country, sanctifying by their presence the hundreds of war memorials bearing the names of the 704,803 men who had perished while under their command in the recent conflict. Thus, on the morning of Thursday 22nd June, 1922, Wilson had traveled by cab to Liverpool Street Station, where he had been invited to unveil the memorial to the men of The Great Eastern Railway who had died in the war. Having done his duty, and addressed the crowd of relatives and well-wishers, he returned to his house in Eaton Place in London’s Belgravia.

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As the taxi pulled away, Sir Henry was attacked by two men, Reginald Dunne and Joseph O’Sullivan. He was shot nine times, and the killers made their escape, only to be arrested shortly after. Newspapers made much of the possibility that Sir Henry had drawn his ceremonial sword in his own defence, and had cried, “You cowardly swine!” as he was attacked, but only he and his assailants could verify that, and they are long gone from us.

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 Wilson’s murder outraged popular opinion in England, and polarised views on the situation in Ireland. It was a widely held belief that the murder had been carried out on the orders of the Republican firebrand Michael Collins. Collins himself, incidentally, had only a few more weeks to live, as in the August of 1922, he was murdered, probably by rival Irish factions. Wilson’s funeral was a public affair attended by Lloyd George and the cabinet. French Generals Foch, Nivelle and Weygand came to pay their last respects, as well as many of his former British army colleagues including French, Macready, Haig and Robertson. The Field Marshal was buried in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral.

 And Sir Henry’s killers? They were duly tried and convicted of his death and hanged at Wandsworth prison on 10th August 1922, and buried in the prison grounds. As befits the adage that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, the remains of both Dunne and O’Sullivan were repatriated to the Irish Republic and given a heroes’ burial in 1967. A final irony in a case that is positively dripping with it, is that both men had fought for King and Country, with great gallantry in the war that had made Sir Henry Wilson such a prominent public figure.

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THE WYLIE-HOFFERT CASE … August 28th 1963

The Biggest Murder Mystery Case of the Century

by Robert K. Tanenbaum
Author of Infamy: A Butch Karp-Marlene Ciampi Thriller


If I were asked to select one case in the history of our justice system that epitomized the essentials and professionalism of a ministry of justice in terms of tempestuous drama, personal anguish, garish confrontation, and, yes, divine intervention, unhesitatingly, I would answer: the Wylie-Hoffert rape murders. Here’s why:

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August 28, 1963, was a muggy summer day in New York City when Janice Wylie and Emily Hoffert were brutally raped and murdered in their apartment on Manhattan’s fashionable Upper East Side. Months passed as their families grieved the nightmarish unthinkable and a shaken city awaited answers. Finally, eight months later, the Brooklyn Police arrested George Whitmore, Jr., a nineteen-year-old with an I.Q. south of 70. His incarceration would ultimately entail a host of shocking law-enforcement missteps and cover-ups.

At the time of his arrest for the Wylie-Hoffert murders, the Brooklyn Police and the Kings County District Attorney’s Office (Brooklyn) also charged Whitmore with attempted rape and the murder of Minnie Edmonds, both of which occurred in Brooklyn one week apart.

roblesYet, Mel Glass, a young Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, not even assigned to the Homicide Bureau, was troubled by the investigation. With the blessing from legendary District Attorney, Frank Hogan, Glass tirelessly immersed himself in the case. So began an epic quest for justice, culminating in a courtroom showdown in which the Brooklyn arresting and interrogating cops refused to admit their flagrant missteps, providing a complete defense to the actual career criminal, vicious predator, murderer, Richard Robles.(pictured right)

The outcome would reach far beyond the individuals involved. Not only does the case reveal the extraordinary details of an enormously intense manhunt but it is also a classic and brilliant courtroom prosecution. The unjustly accused was exonerated and the depraved killer convicted. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court memorialized this case’s significance by citing it in the noteworthy Miranda decision, a monumental Fifth Amendment due process, fundamental fairness decision designed to safeguard a suspect’s rights against self-incrimination.

I served in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office during the tenure of District Attorney Frank Hogan, and was mentored by Mel Glass who asked me to write Echoes of My Soul which is a non-fiction account of the Wylie-Hoffert case.

hoganImportant to note that District Attorney Hogan (left) was truly a legend long before Wylie-Hoffert occurred. Once convinced that Mel Glass’ gut-instincts and subsequent investigation was legitimate and that George Whitmore, Jr., was wrongfully indicted for the most gruesome and sensationalized double-rape murders in the media’s radar, Mr. Hogan was prepared to admit his mistake, possibly fracture his career’s reputation, and exonerate an impoverished young man with a very low I.Q. And why? Simply and manifestly because it was right, justice demanded it.

© Robert K. Tanenbaum, author of Infamy: A Butch Karp-Marlene Ciampi Thriller 

Robert K. Tanenbaum
( pictured below) is the author of Infamy: A Butch Karp-Marlene Ciampi Thriller (Gallery Books / Simon & Schuster). He has authored thirty-one books—twenty-eight novels and three nonfiction books: The Piano Teacher: The True Story of a Psychotic Killer, Badge of the Assassin, and Echoes of My Soul. He is one of the most successful prosecuting attorneys, having never lost a felony trial and convicting hundreds of violent criminals. He was a special prosecution consultant on the Hillside strangler case in Los BL_21845_07.tifAngeles and defended Amy Grossberg in her sensationalized baby death case. He was Assistant District Attorney in New York County in the office of legendary District Attorney Frank Hogan, where he ran the Homicide Bureau, served as Chief of the Criminal Courts, and was in charge of the DA’s legal staff training program. He served as Deputy Chief counsel for the Congressional Committee investigation into the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He also served two terms as mayor of Beverly Hills and taught Advanced Criminal Procedure for four years at Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkeley, and has conducted continuing legal education (CLE) seminars for practicing lawyers in California, New York, and Pennsylvania. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Tanenbaum attended the University of California at Berkeley on a basketball scholarship, where he earned a B.A. He received his law degree (J.D.) from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. For more information, please visit http://www.RobertKTanenbaumBooks.com

MURDER IN PARSON DROVE

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It is March 1861. We are in the little village of Parson Drove, Cambridgeshire. The Fens, which Samuel Pepys found so unpleasant when he visited in 1663, have all been drained. He described it as “a Heathen place”, and the events described in this podcast do not give the lie to his opinion. Click the link to listen.

MURDER IN PARSON DROVE

 

ON MY SHELF – Mid September 2016

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I realise that the weather has been violently different elsewhere in the UK this week, but here in Cambridgeshire we have had three golden days – and evenings – such as I cannot ever remember, looking back over all my many Septembers. It won’t last, of course, and  the recent arrival of four new crime fiction books reminds me that there are colder and darker days ahead which will be made more bearable by some excellent reading material.

eo-chiroviciThe Book of Mirrors by E O Chirovici looks to be Penguin’s big promotion for the early autumn. There’s an excellent cover with peep-through perforations, and the promo pack includes a very tasty spiral bound notepad/sketchbook. The author, Eugen Ovidu Chirovici, was born in Transylvania, which all fans of the lethal Count Dracula will know is in modern-day Romania. The story? It’s one part literary novel, in that Chirovici examines the nature of memory and recollection; a second part aims to be stylish, and the author openly admires Raymond Chandler and Mario Vargas Llosa for their flawless technique. The third part, perhaps most importantly, is that we have a cracking CriFi story about a cold-case crime and a lost manuscript which contains clues to the identity of a killer.

Buying options for The Book Of Mirrors

kmThe Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti certainly wins title of the month award, as those of us in the UK cling on desperately to every vestige of summer, while preparing ourselves stoically for yet another northern winter of rain, diminishing days, and media hysteria over football results. Moretti’s novel focuses on Zoe Whittaker, a woman whose life has metamorphosed from desperation and danger into one of luxury, love and positive vibes. But the past is never very far away, and when Zoe’s life comes under threat from those she thought had been cast aside, just as a dream dies at the dawn of day, she must make a decision which will either bring salvation – or damnation.

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eagles001Get Lucky by Paul Eagles is one of those confessional ‘Jack The Lad’ stories about someone who has lived his life at the sharp end. It is, I suppose, True Crime, but aficionados of the genre will know that they will need several pinches of salt in order to separate the fact from the fantasy. Basically, Eagles tells his life story thus far. It is as far removed from anything you and I have experienced as is Tennyson from E J Thribb. But, I suppose, there lies the charm. We are invited to gasp and gawp at the goings on, charmed by the fact that we could never, ever have got away with things in the way that Mr Eagles describes.

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catrionaThe Child Garden by Catriona McPherson tells the story of one of those ‘special’ schools set up in the 1970s, when people still believed that Hippy peace and love was a viable and cogent philosophy. Conventional schools were simply prisons for young minds, Bob Dylan reminded us of “the mongrel dogs that teach”, and, just for a nanosecond, in someone’s mind, there seemed to be a way forward. The school in question was called – clearly with the irony meter turned off – ‘Eden’. Inevitably, it folded, with its alumni and teaching staff scattered to the four winds. But a sinister suicide during the school’s heyday returns to haunt former pupils, and they learn that the dead have ingenious ways of speaking to the living.

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