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The A6 Murder - Louis Blom-Cooper

The A6 Murder - Louis Blom-Cooper

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In the early hours of 23 August 1961 a young car-driver was shot and killed, on a lay-by on the A6: and his companion was raped, shot, and left for dead.

The search for the killer led to James Hanratty who was convicted by a jury of the capital murder of Gregsten after the longest murder trial in English criminal history. R. v. Hanratty is a classical demonstration of the strengths and weaknesses of the English criminal system: the publicity at magistrates' proceedings, the publication of Identikits, the prejudicial nature of the opening speech for the Crown, the total exclusion of hearsay evidence - all these and many other issues of public importance were spotlit by the prosecution of Hanratty and are here examined by the legal correspondent of the Observer.

Above all, the author shows that the strangest features of the case, for example that in all the twenty-one days of trial the jury heard not one word of Hanratty's mental history, stem directly from our accusatorial trial which the author compares with the Continental inquisitorial system.

Mr Blom-Cooper offers a lucid, stimulating survey of just those features of English criminal justice which the man in the street will want to think about the next time an identification parade is held after the publication of an Identikit; the next time the magistrates' proceedings are blazoned across the front page; the next time the jury ask for the transcript of the trial; the next time the defendant is revealed to be a psychopath after the jury have convicted him.

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