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New book catalogues 1961 East Ham police murders

PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 March 2012

Roy Norcott, 13 (nearest camera) and 11 year old Keith Pearman point in the direction of the spot in Tennyson Road, West Ham, where two police officers were seriously hurt in a shooting

Roy Norcott, 13 (nearest camera) and 11 year old Keith Pearman point in the direction of the spot in Tennyson Road, West Ham, where two police officers were seriously hurt in a shooting

PA Archive/Press Association Images

»On June 3, 1961 two policemen were gunned down in West Ham by a crazed fugitive who broke out of West Ham police station.

John Hall’s escape after being arrested on suspicion of assaulting his wife sparked a manhunt which ended in bloodshed.

He went on to shoot dead Insp Philip Pawsey and Sgt Frederick Hutchins, and wound Pc Charles Edward Cox before shooting himself dead in a phonebox.

A man, who was working at nearby Plaistow Press at the time, has retold the incident in a book with snapshots of the police chase.

Scenes of Murder Then and Now, edited by Winston Ramsey, draws on police reports and newspaper cuttings from the time to compare and contrast the scenes of each incident.

Mr Ramsey said the idea came about after a planned book on fighting in north Africa during the Second World War was put on hold because of last year’s Arab Spring.

‘Graves’

He said: “I was always disappointed that nobody bothers about the graves of the victims. The murders are reported but the victims are just forgotten. It struck me as extraordinary that the policemen were cremated and buried at the City of London Cemetery in Manor Park, the same place as their killer.

“That afternoon, the manhunt that was going through east London was amazing.”

Hall reportedly “went berserk with a chair” after going to collect his wife Sylvia from her mother’s house in Tavistock Road, West Ham, on June 2 – a day before the shootings.

He seriously injured Sylvia and her mother and sister. After handing himself into West Ham police station, he produced a gun and fled.

Over the next few hours, Hall fatally injured Sgt Hutchins after he gave chase, and shot Mr Pawsey at point blank range. Cornered hours later, Hall shot himself in the chest in a phonebox in Lakehouse Road, Wanstead.

“I had a friend who was renting a room in Lakehouse Road,” Mr Ramsey said.

“We went over there that evening and saw the blood, and the glass that had been smashed.”

Mr Ramsey retraced the steps taken by Hall and the police officers and noted the differences in how West Ham looks. “I noticed the elimination of the bomb sites,” he added. “In the 50s and 60s, that hadn’t been rebuilt.

“Now they have, which is the striking thing.”

n More information is available at www.afterthebattle.com or by calling 01279 418833


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