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James Hawney

Age: 60

Sex: male

Date: 26 Jan 1961

Place: Morden Road, Morden, London

James Hawney was killed during a robbery on a pay-roll bus. He died from a fractured skull. Two men were tried but found not guilty.

The two men tried were:

  • Car Dealer, 25-years-old, Leighton Gardens, Kensal Rise. Tried for murder.
  • Car Salesman, 29-years-old, Park Road East, Acton. Tried for being an accessory after the fact.

They had both initially be charged with murder.

However, there were said to have been four or five men involved in the raid. At the time of the trial a representative of the Director of Public Prosecutions said that two other men were at the time being sought but that if they were not found that the they would proceed with their case.

James Hawney had been a payroll guard on the bus along with two others and was hit over the head when the men robbed it. He died nine hours later in the Atkinson Morley Brain Hospital in Wimbledon.

The robbers stole £9,400. They had used a stolen lorry to stop the bus and a stolen car to get away after robbing it. The bus had been returning from the bank with the pay-roll for eight hundred busmen at the Merton depot when the lorry cut across its path at Dorset Road causing the bus to stop. When the bus stopped two men leapt from the back of the lorry and boarded the bus and ran up to the top deck where they coshed the three pay-roll guards, including James Hawney whose skull they fractured.

They had also cut the telephone handset from the telephone kiosk on the corner of Dorset Road which was almost exactly where the robbery took place.

The two other guards were also hurt in the robbery but were able to go home soon after being treated.

Several items were later found that were thought to have been used in the robbery, they were:

  • A pair of 3ft 6in Record drop forged steel bolt cutters.
  • A tommy bar of the King Dick range.
  • A beechwood rolling pin 1lb in weight.

A general timeline of events is as follows:

26 January 1961

  • 8.55am: Car Salesman leaves home with wife and daughter.
  • 9.10am: Bus left Merton London Transport Garage.
  • 9.25am: Bus arrives at bank.
  • 9.25am to 9.30am: Car Salesman arrives at Car Dealers house but he is not ready.
  • 9.50am to 9.55am: Lorry seen waiting in Dorset Road, The Car Salesman identified as having been the driver.
  • 9.58am or soon after 10am: Bus leaves bank.
  • 10am: Student said that he saw the Car Dealer standing by the Humber Car in Dorset Road.
  • 10.02am: The radio engineer saw the robbery begin.
  • Shortly after 10am: Bus driver saw the men drive off in a Humber car.
  • 10.15am to 10.30am: Car Salesman arrives at showroom.
  • 10.30am: Car Dealer arrives at showroom.
  • 11.15am to 11.30am: Car Salesman said he first met Car Dealer whilst he was in the cafe.

A General Hand that worked at Merton London Transport Garage and who lived in Swaby Road, Earlsfield said that one of his jobs was to drive the bus that went to the bank to collect and deliver money. He said that on 26 January 1961 he had been detailed to take a bus to the bank at 8.45am and that he left at about 9.10am. He said that he took a cashier and two guards with him, James Hawney being one of the guards.

He said that he went to the bank via Morden Road and London Road arriving there about 9.25am and that they left the bank again a few minutes after 10am.

He said that on the way back a lorry and a car appeared to come out of Jarvis's Garage which was just before Dorset Road, the lorry first and proceed towards the crown of the road. He said that as there was an obelisk ahead he couldn't pass it. He said that then on reaching Dorset Road the lorry slowed down and gave a good left hand signal and pulled across the road as though to turn into Dorset Road and then stopped so that the road was blocked, noting that the car in front of him was also similarly blocked.

He said that the driver of the lorry then got out of the cab and walked around the front of the lorry and looked back towards the bus and then ran down Dorset Road. He said that he then looked back through the bus and saw three men, two jumping off and one just about to. He said that one was carrying a pair of cutters and a bag.

He said that the men then went down Dorset Road where there was a Humber car parked about twenty yards from the corner on its correct side facing away from him, noting that he remembered that the number was 816.  He said that the men ran towards the car but that h didn't see them get into it.

He said that he then pulled round the obelisk and turned into Dorset Road and that the next time he saw the Humber car it was driving down Dorset Road.

However, he said that he then stopped the bus and got out and went saw James Hawney standing on the back platform. He said that he had a small wound on the left side of his forehead and that one of his eyes was closed and that there was blood coming out of his nose.

He said that he then picked up a cap from the road where James Hawney was standing which he said was similar to the one that James Hawney had been wearing.

He said that the lorry had been a deep blue Bedford Diesel and that written on the cab door was 3 Pottersfield and a New Cross number.

A depot inspector that lived in Woodland Way, Morden and who worked at the LTE Garage and had been on the bus said that on 26 January 1961 he had been on the bus when it had gone to pay in money and to collect wages, adding that he had been given a withdrawal authority for £9,400 and had been accompanied by two guards, including James Hawney. He said that he had taken the money in the bag, exhibit 9 and that the paying in bag he had used, exhibit 11, was in the bag with the money.

He said that he thought that the bank had been in the process of opening up as he finished collecting the money and that he took the bag with the money straight on to the top deck of the bus and sat in the front near side seat of the bus, putting the bag with the money on the seat beside him.

He said that the bus then drove then drove away from the bank at about 9.58am and that just before Dorset Road the bus was stopped by a lorry and that he then heard the patter of feet on the stairs within seconds of the bus stopping. He said that he then got up from his seat and rushed to the back of the bus leaving the bag with the money on the seat.

He said hat as he got to the back of the bus that he saw a man with a crow bar in his hand standing on the last stair from the top of the bus. He said that the man then went for him and that he went for the man and that the man took a strike at him but missed and that he went down on one knee and that the man then struck at him again and that he put his arm up and was caught across the wrists and that he then tumbled down the stairs. He later identified the crow bar as exhibit 12 at the trial.

He said that the man that attacked him had been wearing a duffle coat similar to exhibit 13 and that the man was similar to the Car Dealer.

He said that he attended an identification parade on 2 February 1961 when he picked out the Car Dealer as the man that had struck him.

He said that then, having fallen down the stairs he was partially stunned and that when he got up he shouted to a car directly behind the bus something about a wages hold up or words to that effect and that he then dashed across to the telephone in Dorset Road and that as he was running to the telephone box that a man passed him carrying the bag and the money, noting that the man had been wearing a duffle coat and was heading for a car further down Dorset Road on the opposite side to the telephone box.  He said that the car had two colours and appeared to have had three people sitting in the back seat. He noted that he couldn't say whether the engine had been running.

He said that he then endeavoured to dial 999 but couldn't get a reply and that he later saw that the wires had been pulled out.

The second guard, who lived in Whatley Avenue in Merton Park said that on the morning of 26 January 1961 that he had travelled on the bus as an escort. He said that when they were coming back from the bank that he had been sitting on the righthand side of the first double seat downstairs and that James Hawney, who was the other escort was standing on the platform when they had left the bank and that the cashier was upstairs.

He said that when the bus stopped at the Dorset Road junction he saw traffic in front of them and then heard a scuffle to the back of him and then saw someone come at him and about to hit him on the head and that he put his hands on top of his head and was then hit by something hard.

He said that he was then in a dazed condition and that he didn't see what happened to James Hawney. He said that he sat there for a moment and then went upstairs to see if the cashier was there but found that he wasn't and that he then saw James Hawney standing on the platform of the bus in Dorset Road, noting that he didn't have a cap on. He said that he was standing with his head hanging down and that he saw some marks on the top of his head and then saw the cashier running for the telephone. box.

A radio engineer that had lived in Woodland Way, Mitcham said that on the Thursday morning 26 January 1961 he drove a van out of the garage at about a minute or two after ten and turned south towards South Wimbledon and that he let a bus and a car that was between him and the bus. He said that just before he got to the junction of Dorset Road the traffic lights apparently stopped and he glanced away and started to talk to a passenger in his van.

However, he said that when he glanced up again he saw a man coming from the offside of the back of the bus and round to get on the platform and that he then saw two other men get on the bus from the nearside and that one appeared to go up the stairs. He said that he then glances away again and that when he looked back at the bus he saw what appeared to be two trilby hats come flying out from the platform which was then followed by the two men that he had seen get on who seemed to tumble off along with a man in a shortish sort of LT Coat. He said that he then glanced away and that when he looked back he saw a smartly dressed man shouting, ''Help, it's a smash and grab', or something like that. He said that the two men and the LT man seemed to be involved in a scuffle by the side of the road and that one man had a pair of bolt cutters in his hand and another a round bar and that he appeared to be striking the employee about the the head and shoulders with the bar.

He said that the man with the bolt cutters had been wearing a raincoat but that he couldn't say what the other man had been wearing.

The radio engineer said that during the scuffle the bus employee seemed to break away from his attackers and keeping against the side of the bus but that his attackers appeared to be pursuing him further along the bus as though to continue his attack again and that he was attempting to hit him again. He said that he then got out of his vehicle and that the attackers then disengaged from the scuffle and ran off towards Dorset Road.

He said that he then got back into his van and reversed a couple of yards and went round into Dorset Road on the pavement and that as he got into Dorset Road he saw a Humber Hawk car going away from him at a reasonably fast speed and then took either the first or second left, but thought that it was Sandbourne Avenue. He said that he then followed it and that when he got into Sandbourne Avenue that he noticed that the Humber Hawk car had slowed down fifty or sixty yards up that turning and that he then turned round and went back to the scene of the raid.

He said that when he got back to Dorset Road that he saw the bus employee that had been attacked on the platform of the bus and that on the left side of his temple there was an abrasion with slight blood and that he then put him in his van and took him to Nelson Hospital Casualty Department.

The Radio engineer said that he thought that the Car Salesman was the most likely resemblance to the man that he had seen with the bolt cutters but added that he did not feel that he was in a position to say that he was 100% in his identification.

Another witness, an economics student said that he had seen the Car Dealer standing next to the getaway car and identified him at the trial. However, the defence submitted that he had been motivated by the £5,000 reward offered by the London Transport authorities, but he denied that. The student had lived at 129 Dorset Road and said that on the morning of Thursday 26 January 1961  that he had left home on his motor cycle and driven up Dorset Road towards Morden Road at about 10am when he saw a Humber car standing on his right Morden facing the opposite direction and that he saw a man standing on the kerb by the car wearing a straight, reasonably short light coloured coat which was buff or grey and similar to exhibit 14 shown at the trial. He then said that the man that he saw was the Car Dealer.

He said that he then saw a lorry approach the corner and take a wide swerving left towards Dorset Road and then suddenly stop and that the driver of the lorry then got out and that the Car Dealer then went to the back of the Humber car and took out a piece of steel from the boot, which he identified as being similar to exhibit 12 at the trial, and also a metal bar,  which he identified as being similar to exhibit 15.

He said that when the lorry stopped that that there was a car immediately behind the lorry and that behind that there was a double decker bus. He said that he then saw the Car Dealer run towards the bus and that at about that time he stopped. He said that he then saw a struggle going on on the top deck of the bus. He noted that before the struggle he had seen the Car Dealer run towards the bus and that for that moment that was the last that he saw of him.

He said that he then parked his bike and moved to the corner of the and saw four men running towards the car from the direction of the bus, adding that the Car Dealer had been one of the men in that group. He noted that one of the men had a bag similar to exhibit 9 and that he didn't see the Car Dealer carrying the bar on the return to the car. He said that the four men then jumped into the car which then went up the road.

He said that he then went for his bike to go after them but that the last that he saw of the car was  when it was going straight up the road.

He said that he later attended an identification parade on 7 February 1961 where he picked out the Car Dealer as the man that he had first seen by the car.

A man that lived at 39 Leylands Road in Burgess Hill and who was an engineering consultant, said that on the Thursday 26 January 1961 that he arrived in Dorset Road by car between 9.50am and 9.55am to make a telephone call from the box on the corner but that as he turned into Dorset Road that he saw that there was somebody in the telephone box and so he drove down Dorset Road six or seven car lengths and then pulled over to his offside and parked behind a vehicle, noting that there was nothing parked on the nearside of the road.

He said that the vehicle parked behind him was a fairly large truck with no side or tail boards in fairly new condition, describing it as 'showroom condition' and that was facing towards the main road. He said that there was a man in the driver’s seat of the lorry. noting that he drove near enough him to identify him clearly, stating that it was the Car Salesman.

He said that moments later he got out of his car and walked back to the phone box which was then empty and attempted to make a phone call, but said that the line was dead and that he couldn't get through. He said that when he then walked back to his car that the lorry was still there and that he then got in his car and drove away.

He sid that when he later attended an identification parade where he picked out the Car Salesman as having been the lorry driver. He noted that he had had a drivers licence for twenty years and that he was in the habit of when approaching another car to look at the driver.

A 50-year-old man that had been walking his 3-year-old mongrel dog Whiskey a few yards away said, 'By the time I realised it was a raid and not just a traffic mix-up, one of the gang was rushing to the getaway car with a fat briefcase under his arm. I let go of Whiskey's lead and shouted, 'Get him, Whiskey!' and Whisky went straight for the running man. The man threw himself into the car and slammed the door. Whiskey, leaping up, hit the door as it was shut. Then the car was moving away. I dashed to the phone box near the corner of Dorset Road, but found the wires had been torn loose'.

He said that as the two bus attackers ran to the getaway car, they were joined by the man who had driven the lorry, which was left near the bus and that the getaway car, carrying the four men, vanished from his view. However, he said that he had a glimpse at all four of them. He said, 'They were all in their early twenties, and did not wear masks. Two of them were fair-haired and two were dark'.

The bolt cutters were found in the front garden of 159 Dorset Road which was near the corner of Dorset Road and Modren Road in the morning of 27 January 1961 by the man that lived there. He noted that he hadn't gone out into his front garden the previous day.

The man that lived at 157 Dorset Road said that on the afternoon of Thursday 26 January 1961 that when he returned home he found the nashing pin in his garden along with an iron bar. He added that he didn't see them there when he had left for work that morning at 7.55am.

The lorry had been stolen, along with a car, sometime earlier.

However, the lorry was seen in Thornton Road on the evening of 25 January 1961 by a man that had been out walking his dog. He said that his dog had gone under the lorry although it had been on a lead and that he hen noted that there were some men sitting in the lorry and called out 'Can I help you?'. He said that he stood in front of the lorry and got a good look at one of the men, the Car Dealer, who said that they were trying to get to Croydon. He said that he then gave them directions for Croydon and that they then drove off.

He said that when he had first seen the lorry that he saw the number plate, 458 HMM and that as he worked with vehicles he was used to dealing with registration numbers and had a system for remembering them and remembered that number plate.

The man also later attended an identification parade at which he identified the Car Dealers on trial as the man that he had seen and spoke to in the lorry.

The Car Dealer that was tried had been married but had legally separated from his wife for five years and had been living with another woman with whom he had had a baby daughter. He had had three children with his wife and occasionally sent her money. In August or September 1960 he paid a deposit on a house in Leighton Gardens for which his brother had a half share and at the time of his arrest was due to move in the following week.

In a statement that he made on 2 February 1961 he said that he had been a partner in the firm of WH Car Sales at 173 Lordship Lane in Dulwich, having been with them since November 1960 at which time they decorated the premises, noting that they didn't start doing any business there until the last two weeks of December 1960. He noted that also employed there was his mother's brother and the Car Salesman who was also tried for the murder along with him, saying that they had both been car cleaners but that the Car Salesman would answer the telephone and see to callers when he was out. He added that both he and his partner spent most of their time in the office except when they were out buying cars.

He said that since he had been employed as a car dealer that it had been his general practice to get to the office at about 10am each morning, noting that it was his mother's brother's job to get to the office at about 8.30am and open up with the keys. He added that some four or five weeks earlier that he had had to tell his mother's brother off for not being at the office at 9.30am as the telephone people had arrived one morning to find no one there and had to wait some time before anyone arrived to let them in so they could start work. He said that as a result of that he got his uncle to call him each morning just after he opened up the office at about 9.30am. He added that his uncle telephoned him most mornings but that there had been the odd occasion when, if he had got up early, he had telephoned him at the office merely to see that he was there. He said that he had done that to catch him out as he didn't want him to lose his job as he was his uncle and that if his business partner had known that he had been late that he would have most likely sacked him.

He said that on the Thursday morning, 26 January 1961 that he got up at 9.30am when the Car Salesman called for him in one of the firm's car, a Ford Falcon, with his wife although he noted that he didn't see his wife and that she didn't come in. He said that he hadn't been quite ready to leave at the time and so the Car Salesman told him that he would run his wife somewhere, either to his house or his mother's house he believed, and that he came back in about a quarter of an hour by which time he was ready.

He said that whilst the Car Salesman was away that his uncle called him as usual but noted that he didn't think there had been any messages and that he told him that he would be in in about half-an-hour.

He said that he and the Car Salesman then left his house and went straight to the office, getting there at about 10.30am, going by their usual route which was Kensal Rise, through Kensington, Chelsea, over Albert Bridge, past the Dogs Home, right through South Lambeth, cutting across to Denmark Hill, down Dog Kennel Hill to the roundabout and straight over into Lordship Lane.

He said that when they arrived at the showroom his uncle was there but didn't think that his business partner was, noting that he arrived sometime after him. He said that he was then in the showroom all day with his uncle, the Car Salesman, except for the time they went out for their dinner at the cafe along the road and that his business partner was there for part of the time. He said that he didn't remember anything particular happening on the Thursday morning after he arrived at the office but that sometime in the afternoon he sold a Dormobile van to some people, but couldn't remember who they were but noted that their details were recorded in the office.

He said that another thing that he remembered about the Thursday, 26 January 1961 was that he had a number of bets on the horses all the afternoon, stating that he believed that the first race was at 12.45pm and that he had placed bets by phone on every race after that with a man in Harrow Road whose number was LAD.7575.

He added that about a fortnight earlier he had sold a Morris 1000 car for which he took an Austin in part exchange to a small fat lorry driver whose name he didn't recall but which was recorded in the office and said that he had called almost every day about the Morris and had wanted two replacement hub caps and that he believed that he had called at the showroom sometime on the Thursday morning, 26 January 1961 and spoke to him there, but added that it might have been the Wednesday.

He later added that on the Thursday morning, 26 January 1961 at about 11am that he had telephoned a firm of builders who were decorating his house in Leighton Gardens and spoke to the governor there who he said he gave a good telling off for not getting on with the work and for sending his plumber round on the Wednesday night and getting him to ask for more money before completing the job. He added that he was quite sure that the governor of the builders firm would remember that call, adding that they he had called their builder's yard in Greyhound Road near Kensal Green Underground Station.

The Car Dealer said that he was then in the office all day the following day, Friday 27 January 1961 which he said could be proved by his three colleagues, his business partner, his uncle and the Car Salesman.

He said that he didn't go into the showroom on the Saturday 28 January 1961 but said that there was no particular reason for not going and said that his mother told him on either the Saturday or the Sunday that the police had been at her house asking for him, but said that he didn't take much notice of that as it was nothing unusual. He said that she told him that the police had been from Wimbledon and that he knew that there had been a robbery there after reading about it in the newspapers and that a man had died and said that he thought that the police were making a general check-up on all the people that they knew, and that as such he decided not to go into work for a few days and stayed at an address in Leighton Gardens all day on the Monday and Tuesday, that being 30 and 32 January 1961. He said that he thought that if he stayed away for a few days that the police would arrest the right people and that he could then go back to work as usual.

However, he said that on the Wednesday morning, 1 February 1961 that he saw in the paper that his name had been published as being one of the men wanted for the murder and robbery at Wimbledon. He said that he was shocked and terribly frightened and didn't know what to do and that he talked it over with his girlfriend and decided that the best thing for him to do was for her to go and see a solicitor that he knew which she did no the Wednesday afternoon. He said that he then went to the Car Salesman's house in Acton and asked him if he could stay the night which and that the police later came and took him to Scotland Yard.

The Car Salesman had lived in Park Road East, Acton with his wife, 6-year-old daughter and his father-in-law. He said that for the previous 18-months he had been employed by The Great Britain Demolition Co based at Castle Bar Mews in Ealing as a lorry driver and that his mother was employed as a bar maid at the Loraine Club in Chippenham Road, Paddington where he was also employed after he had finished his driving job as a part time door man.

He said that he had got to know the Car Dealer about seven months earlier by sight but didn't know him well at the time, just enough to nod at him. He said that there was another customer of the club, a 20-year-old girl that he got to know quite well and said that sometime in July 1960 that he went to the Nelson public house in Carlton Vale, Kilburn and that when he entered he saw the 20-year-old girl talking to the Car Dealer and that he went over and joined them. He noted that he couldn't remember whether he had gone to the Nelson public house alone or not.

He said that during the conversation the Car Dealer said that he was going to open up a motor car showroom in the near future and that he asked him whether he required a salesman and that the Car Dealer told him that he did and agreed to take him on when he got his showroom fixed up. He said that he saw the Car Dealer on many occasions after that and that the Car Dealer was always talking about cars adding that he understood that that Car Dealer used to buy and sell cars at the time but that he didn't then have a showroom.

He said that about nine weeks before the murder that the Car Dealer told him that he was to be employed as a salesman at £15 per week plus commission and that the Car Dealer had bought a business at 173 Lordship Lane in Dulwich off of another 27-year-old man whose address he didn't know but which he thought was near the showroom, adding that all he knew of the 27-year-old man was that he was married and had three children and that he thought that there was some sort of partnership between him and the Car Dealer.

He said that when he first started work at the showroom that he and the Car Dealer decorated the showroom and fitted it out and that about seven weeks before the murder the showroom opened and that the Car Dealer put his own Ford Zephyr, 1956 model, two tone blue at the bottom and cream at the top for sale, noting that he didn’t know the index number.

He said that the next car that the Car Dealer obtained was a 1960 American Ford Falcon, black in colour, but that he again didn't know the index number but knew that it had a 'CD' plate on the back. He said that the following day that the Car Dealer bought two other cars and put them in the showroom and that they eventually worked up to 6 or 7 cars over the period of time, noting that most of the cars that Car Dealer had purchased had come from a man that lived in Warren Street off Great Portland Street.

The Car Salesman noted that the Car Dealer's uncle also worked with him as a car washer and that a 36-year-old mechanic was also employed there.

He said that om the morning of Thursday 26 January 1961 that he got up, dressed and prepared to take his wife to work and daughter to school, noting that the previous night the Car Dealer had loaned him the Ford Falcon to come home in. He said that he left his house at about 8.55am with his wife and daughter and drove from Park Road East to St Vincent’s private Catholic School where he dropped of his daughter at about 9am and that he then drove to the Car Dealer's address at Leyton Gardens arriving between 9.25am and 9.30am.

He said that when he knocked at the Car Dealer's door that the Car Dealer's wife opened it but told him that the Car Dealer wasn't ready for work and that he then asked if it would be alright to run his wife to work which she agreed and that he then drove his wife to The Prince of Wales public house at the junction of Harrow Road and Great Western Road in Paddington, dropping her off at about 9.40am after which he drove back to the Car Dealer's house, arriving at about 9.45am. He said that he then got out of the car and knocked on his door and that the Car Dealer answered it and came out to the car at once and that the Car Dealer then drove them to the showroom. He noted that the Car Dealer had been dressed in a blue Melton overcoat.

However, the Car Salesman later said that he was mistaken in saying that he picked that Car Dealer up after dropping his wife off and said that in fact he drove straight to the showroom alone, arriving between 10.15am and 10.30am  and that when he arrived two car dealers were waiting to see either himself or the Car Dealer, adding that one of them lived, he thought, in L:anark Road, Maida Vale and the other just off Talbot Road in North Kensington. He said that he had a short conversation with them both and that they then left.

He said that he then saw the Car Dealer's uncle and the mechanic and that the Car Dealer's uncle asked him to lend him the Dormobile van that he had arrived in. He noted also that when he first arrived that he spoke to two road menders who were taking the pavement up.

He said that he didn't see the Car Dealer until between 11.15am and 11.30am, stating that he had been in a cafe just down the road when he had come in and that they then left the cafe almost immediately and went back to the showroom  where the Car Dealer sold hte Dormobile van to a man, noting that he didn't know where the man had lived. He added that he didn't see the Car Dealer arrive but said that he believed that he had come in his American car as he saw it outside the showroom.

He said that he stayed at the showroom all day and that when they left the Car Dealer drove them to the Car Dealer's house and that he then took the car and drove home, arriving between 6.30pm and 7pm.

He said then that the following forming, 27 January 1961 that he took his daughter and father-in-law to the school where he dropped them off and then drove to the Car Dealer's house and that they then went to the showroom in Lordship Lane together.

At the trial, which was held at the Central Criminal Court the Car Dealer was acquitted of capital murder on the direction of the judge. When he summed up he said that he would ask the jury to return a verdict of not guilty of capital murder as far as the Car Dealer was concerned, going on to say that they had to consider whether he was guilty of simple murder. He said, 'If you choose to attack a man with intent to do him serious harm and that man dies, it is not only the law but good common sense that such a person should be guilty of murder'. He then went on to tell the jury that they would also have to consider a joint attack by a number of persons, saying, 'What is the position if they armed themselves with iron bars and bolt cutters and moved in on the crew of a bus? It might be quite impossible to prove which of them struck any one of the men on the bus. It may be quite impossible to say more than that a number of men were attacking and somebody was killed. What the law says is this: That where a number of men join together to carry out a robbery knowing that in all probability that violence will be used, and intending that one at least will use a weapon, then in the event of someone being killed all are guilty of murder'.

The judge then went on to note that one witness had said that he struggle in the road was all over in fifteen seconds and said, 'How can you expect anybody to be certain and positive on a fleeting glance of the face of a man so that he is absolutely sure of the man he saw?'. He then went on to say that the jury might think that it would be highly dangerous to convict the Car Dealer merely on the fact that a witness saw him for a fraction of a moment in the middle of all the confusion. He said, 'My advice to you is to disregard the evidence of identification given by people who merely had a fleeting glance at the moment of confusion'.

However, the judge added that there was one exception to that in that the jury might think that the man who was actually struck with an iron bar, the other bus guard, might carry with him a fairly good picture of the face of the man who attacked him.

The prosecution then noted that they didn't want to press the charge of capital murder because the prosecution had not proved sufficiently clear that the Car Dealer was one of the men who actually attacked James Hawney.

When the judge continued he asked the jury, 'Are you satisfied that the Car Dealer was what I might call one of the boarding party on that bus? If you are satisfied about that you may have very little doubt that he is guilty of murder. If you are not satisfied of that he is entitled to be acquitted'. He then went on to note that if they acquitted the Car dealer that they must also find the Car Salesman not guilty of being an accessory.

The jury took one hour and five minutes before returning with their not guilty verdicts.

It was noted that at the trial scale models of a lorry, cars and a London Transport No 93 bus which ran through Wimbledon from Putney Bridge to Epsom, had all been supplied by a local toy firm, Lines Bros, South Wimbledon, for he prosecuting counsel at the trial, with the largest of the models being the bus which was two feet long and made of pressed steel.

James Hawney had been a bachelor and had lived in Crusoe Road in Tooting. He was buried on Friday 10 February 1961 at the London Road Cemetery in Mitcham

It was said that before the attack London busmen had complained about the possibilities of attacks on 'bank buses' as the buses carrying depot payrolls were known.  A union representative had also recently told the London Transport Executive that busmen might refuse to operate 'bank buses' if there were no satisfactory safeguards.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see find.galegroup.com

see National Archives - CRIM 1/3635

see A Calendar Of Murder, Criminal Homicide In England Since 1957, Terence Morris and Louis Blom-Cooper

see "Two Men Charged With Bus Murder." Times [London, England] 3 Feb. 1961: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.

see "Car Dealer For Trial On Bus Murder Charge." Times [London, England] 8 Mar. 1961: 8. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.

see "Two Accused Men Acquitted In Bus Payroll Murder Trial." Times [London, England] 21 Apr. 1961: 6. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.

see Belfast Telegraph - Friday 21 April 1961

see Belfast Telegraph - Saturday 28 January 1961

see Daily Mirror - Friday 27 January 1961

see Norwood News - Friday 10 February 1961

see Daily Mirror - Monday 30 January 1961

see Norwood News - Friday 28 April 1961

see Daily Mirror - Friday 14 April 1961