Guns in the basement
Peter Louis Alphon is ‘a bit of a Del Boy character’. He admits he hasn’t been out of his hotel room for several days but says he’s not been involved in the A6 murder. He says that on the night of the killing he was staying at a different hotel – ‘a Maida Vale dosshouse’ - The Vienna Hotel.
On 11 September, a hotel worker at the Vienna Hotel, William Nudds, finds two gun cartridges in a basement guest room.
The cartridges are tested. Ballistics match them to the murder weapon.
The hotel manager confirms Alphon had stayed at the Vienna.
ACOTT & OXFORD
Superintendent Robert Acott and Detective Sergeant Oxford are in charge of the case. Their prime suspect, Peter Louis Alphon, fits the profile.
But he has an alibi…
Alphon says he was with his mother. The police put him in an identity parade.
The paralysed Valerie Storie fails to pick him out. In fact, she goes straight past him and picks an innocent airman who was there just to make up the numbers.
So the police focus on the occupant in the Vienna Hotel before Alpon. The register lists him as ‘Mr J.Ryan.’
The details of J. Ryan are published in the newspapers. A nationwide search is launched. Then a man from Ireland rings to say he’s had a man staying with him called J. Ryan. As this J.Ryan wasn’t a good writer, he’d asked the man to write some postcards for him. One was for the man’s mother: Mary Hanratty.
Aware that he’s now a wanted man, Hanratty rings the police three times to tell them they’re after the wrong person.
Like Alphon, he says he has an alibi: He was in Liverpool on the night of the murder.
“Acott and Oxford come round to my house, and said to my mother and father that Jimmy was wanted for car thieving, some cock and bull story, like that. And then, next time he come, I thought, it’s something bigger than that...then he said it – we want to enquire about the A6 murder.”
Michael Hanratty, James’ brother
“The A6 murder was a sensational murder. It went to the heart of post-war England. ...we’re not talking about the late Sixties...by which time the Krays and everybody are well-known in popular culture. We’re talking about 1961. And here is a cold-blooded murder, nearly a double murder. A gun has been used at a time when gun violence was almost unheard of...the police were under a great deal of pressure.” David Wilson
On 11 October, Hanratty is arrested in Blackpool.
In London, Alcott and Oxford interrogate him. Hanratty says he has an alibi. He was in Liverpool with three friends. But he won’t name them.
So the police ask Valerie Storie to do another identity parade.
Hanratty has since tried to disguise himself by dying his hair again:
“he didn’t do a very good job of it and it came out bright orange. He actually looked like a Belisha beacon. And in the identity parade, the police themselves at one stage thought, this is unfair. We have to give them all skull caps or hats, so that he doesn’t stand out like this. But they didn’t.”
The suspect all have to repeat the phrase used by the killer; “I’m thinking”. Hanratty has a Cockney accent, like the killer had, and so pronounces it as “I’m finking.”
One of the two gentlemen cut up by the Morris Minor also identifies Hanratty as the driver.
With two positive identifications, six months after the murder, Hanratty is charged with murder.