Hanratty case police want to track killer

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The Independent Online
Detectives whose investigation cleared James Hanratty of the A6 murder are unhappy that a new inquiry has not been launched to track down the killer, say police sources.

The Scotland Yard team, under Det Supt Roger Matthews, which concluded Hanratty had been unjustly executed also recommended that a review should be made of the evidence against other suspects.

Not only has Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, unloaded the alleged miscarriage of justice on to the new Criminal Cases Review Commission, but the Home office has given no indication whether a new inquiry would be held, despite receiving the Matthews report eight months ago.

The CCRC begins to look at possible miscarriages of justice this week. But detectives in the Matthews inquiry have no idea what will happen to their call for a new investigation. The 18-month re-investigation decided that Hanratty, a petty burglar, could not have murdered the research scientist Michael Gregsten, 36, and raped and shot his 22-year-old mistress, Valerie Storrie, who was paralysed.

After examining the evidence present at the time the team was of the opinion that Hanratty should not have been charged.Instead, Mr Matthews's team and concluded the man who carried out the attack on 22 August l961 at Deadman's Hill, Bedfordshire, was probably hired to break up the illicit liaison.

His report is believed to recommend that a new inquiry should in particular examine evidence regarding Peter Alphon, a salesman who was the original suspect.

But the officers turned their attention from Alphon to Hanratty after a tip-off from William Nudds, an informer and habitual liar. The prosecution of Hanratty, who was 25, concentrated on the theory that a lone gunman had carried out a random attack after finding the couple in their car in a cornfield.

Hanratty was hanged in April l962. Doubts about the conviction played a big part in MPs voting to abolish capital punishment in l965.

Two years later, Alphon confessed in Paris to the rape and murder, but later retracted, a pattern he was to repeat over the years. A man Alphon claimed had set up the attack to deter Gregsten from seeing Ms Storrie was never interviewed by police. Yesterday a Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We were asked to prepare a report by the Home Office and we have presented them with it. We cannot discuss the content of the report; it is strictly confidential."

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "The files have been sent to the Criminal Cases Review Commission ... We cannot comment on the content of the Matthews report."