Date: 7 Feb 1960
Selwyn Keith Cooney was shot dead at the Pen Club at 20 Duval Street, Spitalfields on Sunday 7 February 1960 at about 1.30am.
Three people were tried twice for his murder but were acquitted although some of them were convicted of causing actual bodily harm in relation to events that led up to Selwyn Cooney's murder.
The people tried were:
A woman had also initially been also charged with murder but the charge was later dropped.
It was claimed that the Steeple Jack had shot Selwyn Cooney and that the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader had been willing participants in the scheme to cause death or serious injury to Selwyn Cooney or anyone else the might get in the way.
Selwyn Cooney was also known as Jimmy Neill and he ran the New Cabinet Club at 6 Gerrard Street. The Pen Club had been being used for afterhours illegal drinking at the time and was described as a haunt for underworld characters.
It was said that the affair had started earlier over a row about 52s that a woman owed to Selwyn Cooney for scratched paintwork on his car. It was said that the damage had been done by the Steeple Jack's girlfriend when she drove too close to Selwyn Cooney's car in Hyde Park just after Christmas. It was heard that Selwyn Cooney had agreed not to report the collision if she would pay for the damage which she promised to do but that she didn't pay him. It was noted that Selwyn Cooney had not known that the Steeple Jack had been a friend of the woman, who was a prostitute, but that even if he had it would probably have not changed the way he acted. It was said that he had met the woman sometime later in a club in Portobello Road and asked her for the money but that she had refused to pay him and they had had an argument during which Selwyn Cooney was attacked by some of the Steeple Jack's friends but that he had resisted so strongly and to such good purpose that the Steeple Jack sought him out for revenge, which had brought him to the Pen Club where he punched Selwyn Cooney.
An outline of key dates is as follows:
The prosecution at the trial claimed that the Steeple Jack had shot Selwyn Cooney with the support of the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader who both knew that the Steeple Jack had a gun and was going to use it.
It was claimed that they had driven to the club with the woman that was also initially charged with murder and that whilst there the Steeple Jack struck Selwyn Cooney in the face whilst the other two kept people away from the Steeple Jack. It was said that when another man, a Car Salesman, had tried to get the gun off of the Steeple Jack that the Steeple Jack had shot him in the stomach and that when Selwyn Cooney then went towards the Steeple Jack that the Steeple Jack shot him in the head.
However, the evidence of the Car Salesman placed the position of the gunman near to the door whilst the Steeple Jack accused of firing the shot had placed himself near to where he had hit Selwyn Cooney by the corner of the bar implying that the Steeple Jack could not have been the man that fired the shots.
The case was noted for jurors being approached and key witnesses vanishing.
When the case was first heard at Thames Court in London three witnesses were found to be missing. The barmaid at the Pen Club was described as an important witness but could not be found. She had lived in Dulwich in London. The police received over 300 calls from people saying that they had seen her but no developments were made and she didn’t give evidence at the trial at the Old Bailey. They said during the search that they had not known whether she had been being held against her will.
It was reported that she had reappeared on 12 May 1960 with her blonde hair dyed brown, when she gave an interview to a reporter in a Thamsside public house but that after the interview she vanished again. It was later noted that she had also run her own club in Soho and to have been a part owner of the Pen Club.
The bookmakers clerk’s was one of the other two witnesses that had gone missing but he called into the Commercial Street police station on 17 March 1960.
The bookmakers clerk and the barmaid from the New Cabinet Club were later taken to addresses outside of London after giving evidence in the lower court.
It was noted that although the barmaid from the New Cabinet Club was given police protection after she received threats and gave evidence at the trial, that her father was found unconscious in a gas filled kitchen at his flatlet home in Benhill Road, Camberwell. He was 49-years-old and was found after a neighbour smelt gas and called the caretaker who entered his flat and found him unconscious on the kitchen floor.
The first trial was stopped on 25 April 1960 after it was heard that jurors had been approached. The judge said, 'Certain information has been brought to my notice which makes it impossible for this case to be continued for trial before this jury. In those circumstances I discharge this jury from giving a verdict in this case and send this case for trial to the next session opening here tomorrow'.
One of the women jurors was later interviewed by the police. It was said that during the interview which took place at the Old Bailey, the head of Scotland Yards CID and his assistant were seen to pace up and down the hall there on the first floor. When the woman was released she said, 'I have done nothing wrong. I'm sorry if the trial has been stopped. I have helped the police all I can. This is a nightmare I want to forget'.
Another juror who was interviewed by the press as he collected his expenses said, 'This has been a terrible weekend. I have been watched by two plainclothes policemen since I left the Old Bailey on Friday until I arrived back there this morning. I don't know what it's all about or why the police should have singled me out for observation. The only thing I can think of is that I live only 400 yards from the Pen Club. I do not know any of the accused men and I've never been in that club. I am an upholsterer and I stick to my trade. I don't go to clubs like that. On Saturday I kicked a football about in a park with my brother-in-law. The two detectives just sat there and watched us. They didn't even laugh when we lost the ball up a tree. At first I didn't know who they were and I asked them why they were watching me. They replied, 'For your own protection'. They didn't speak to me again the whole weekend. From then on they went wherever I went. On Sunday they followed my car down to Margate. I have no idea what they expected to happen and I never dreamed that the trial would be stopped. You can take it from me that I am in the clear and it's nothing to do with me'.
When the trial restarted the judge addressed the jury and said, 'I want to give you in this case a very solemn warning not to talk to anyone about it. Don't speak, any of you, to anyone about it. By 'anyone', I mean don't even speak to your wives. If anyone does try to approach you about the case or ask you any question, inform the police at once. Do be very, very careful. You have read the papers, and you know what has to happen if jurors talk about it'.
When the judge gave his opening address he said that Selwyn Cooney had arrived around midnight and had been standing at the bar with some friends and that the three men tried later arrived at the Club with the Woman and almost immediately went upstairs to the second floor bar and ordered drinks after which they came back downstairs to the first floor bar, entering through the door by the cigarette machine and television set after which it was submitted that the Steeple Jack at once went up to Selwyn Cooney and said something to the effect, 'You are the bastard I want. You had a go at my brother' and then struck Selwyn Cooney with something in his hand, immediately drawing blood.
The judge said that it was claimed that the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader then joined in attacking Selwyn Cooney, hitting him about the head and that other people then joined in the fight to separate them and that there was a certain amount of confusion during which someone shouted, 'He has got a gun' and the Car Salesman then went forward to get between Selwyn Cooney and the Steeple Jack. The judge noted that although the Car Salesman was unable to identify the man he was addressing due to it being dark, he said to the man he thought was the gunman, 'Turn it in. Not in here. Give me the gun', whereupon the man with the gun said, 'Come outside, come outside' or words to that effect.
The judge said that it was then claimed that the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader then attempted to stop the Car Salesman and Selwyn Cooney from getting near to the Steeple Jack who then backed off towards the wall by the cigarette machine and pulled a gun from his trouser top and shot the Car Salesman.
However, the defence stated that no one saw the Steeple Jack fire the shot and submitted that the evidence and the evidence of the Steeple Jack placed him near the corner of the bar where he had been fighting Selwyn Cooney's friends and had been unable to move at the time that the shot was fired from the doorway by the cigarette machine, this being one of the key aspects of the Steeple Jack's defence.
The judge explained that after the Car Salesman was shot that he doubled up and was then hit on the head with a bottle which caused a significant wound to his head.
It was said then that Selwyn Cooney then closed in on the Steeple Jack who then shot him in the head, causing him to fall almost immediately to the floor after which it was said that the Steeple Jack shouted, 'Let's get out of here fast' and made his way towards the entrance door which was at the other end of the first floor bar, holding his gun in the air to cause other people to get out of his way and went down into the street.
However, the judge said that the evidence alleged that the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader were delayed in the room due to the fighting and were somewhere near the pinball machine and that the Steeple Jack came back up into the bar by he door where the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader then joined him and went down the stairs followed by the Steeple Jack after which they all fled.
After Selwyn Cooney was shot it was said in the opening address of the first trial on 21 April 1960 that someone had bundled him down the stairs and dumped his body outside.
When the judge referred to the floorplan that was used at the trial he noted that the plan was of how the room was found and not how it had been on the night, in particular, stating that the beer creates had not been in the middle of the floor and that there had been about 30 people in the room at the time. He noted that the distance between the bar and the wall was only about 7 feet and that the length of the room was about 20 feet wall to wall.
A barmaid that gave evidence and who had lived in Cremorne Road, Chelsea, that had worked at the Pen Club since a week before Christmas 1959 said that on Saturday 6 February 1960 that she went to the club at about 8.45pm and started serving behind the bar. She said that there were about half-a-dozen people in there at the time but that at about 10.30pm more people started coming into the club and that they carried on serving drinks.
She said that at about 11.45pm a man she knew, the Car Salesman who was shot in the stomach, and his wife came in to the club and that they were served with drinks and that they spoke to her and that sometime later, at about midnight, Selwyn Cooney came in with some people and that they had some drinks, standing at the end of the bar furthest away from the entrance door. She said that she saw Selwyn Cooney talking to the man that ran the Treble Chance Club in Ealing and soon after saw the Steeple Jack come in with the Street Trader and another man and woman.
The barmaid said that the Steeple Jack went straight up to Selwyn Cooney and hit him in the face with something but didn't see what it was although she noted that she heard a thud. She said that she then saw blood coming from Selwyn Cooney's nose and said that the Steeple Jack then said something like, 'Going round giving girl's a spank and having trouble with my brother'. She said that Selwyn Cooney then replied, 'I don't know what it's all about, I've never hit a girl in my life'. However, she said that the Steeple Jack kept hitting him but that she couldn't see what with.
She said that the two other fellas, that being the Street Trader and the other man that the Steeple Jack had come in with, started to hit Selwyn Cooney as well.
The barmaid said that she then heard a woman scream, 'This man's got a gun', but said she didn't know who it was and that she then saw the Car Salesman run towards the Steeple Jack who was holding a gun in his hand and that as he got right up to the Steeple Jack there was a bang and she saw a flash from the gun and then saw the Car Salesman grab his stomach and fall up against the counter.
She said that the three men then continued to hit Selwyn Cooney who was trying to defend himself.
The barmaid said that the man that was shot then went forward again to help Selwyn Cooney who had stumbled over by the wall.
She said that after that the Steeple Jack ran towards the door and stood by it and fired three or four shots at Selwyn Cooney who then fell forward on his face.
She said that everyone had practically got out of the club by that time and that the three men then ran out of the club themselves although she noted that the tallest of the three men who had been wearing glasses, not the Steeple Jack or the Street Trader, was grabbed by a man and hit in the head with something as he went and she saw blood coming from his head.
The barmaid said that after that there was only her, Selwyn Cooney, the Car Salesman and the woman he had been with and a few other people, including the man that had struck the tall man as he fled left in the club.
She said that a couple of chaps then picked Selwyn Cooney up ad carried him down the stairs and that she dialled 999.
She said that another barmaid then came downstairs and that they were the only two left and that she then went down and locked the door and went back upstairs and swept up all the broken bottles and glasses and put it all into the rubbish bin that was kept in the toilet and then washed up the bloodstains.
She said that she then went to Norland Place in Kennington where she saw a man at a party and told him what had happened and that she then later went to the London Hospital to see how the Car Salesman was.
The barmaid said that in the meantime she had telephoned Selwyn Cooney's wife and told her that Selwyn Cooney had been involved in a fight and later met her at Commercial Street Police station.
She said that on Monday 8 February 1960 at about 2pm that she attended an identification parade at Commercial Street Police Station and there identified a man who was one of the three men that had assaulted Selwyn Cooney in the Pen Club in the early hours of the morning of Sunday 7 February 1960 and then a little later identified another man that had been one of the men that had assaulted Selwyn Cooney along with the man that she had already picked. She added that she was positive that the two men that she had identified had been with the man that had shot Selwyn Cooney and that they had been attacking him at the time.
She later identified the woman that the men had arrived at the Pen Club with, noting that she had come in with them and left with them, noting that they had all run out together.
However, a man later claimed that the barmaid was lying and that she had been in the second floor bar at the time of the shooting. However, his evidence was considered weak as he had not said so until 5 May 1960 at the Old Bailey, saying that he had not done so before because he was not asked. He said that she was telling a pack of lies. However, it was further noted that when each person at the club gave evidence, they focussed on the main points, that being where Selwyn Cooney had been and where the men said to have attacked him had been and not on where all the other 60 or so people in the club had been, in other words that it was not expected that the man should have detailed the fact that the barmaid had been in the second floor bar at the time and not in the first floor bar and further that the importance of that only became apparent at the trials when the barmaid gave her evidence. However, it was further added that it might have been thought that the man might have said something at the magistrates hearing or the first trial although it was not known if he had heard the barmaids evidence at those times.
An ambulance attendant that was called to the scene said that he arrived at 2.10am on 7 February 1960 following a telephone call and when he arrived in Duval Street that he saw Selwyn Cooney in the road with a woman lying on top of him calling out, ‘Speak to me Jimmy’. He said that she didn’t appear to be drunk.
The ambulance attendant said that when he looked at Selwyn Cooney he saw that he had a severe injury with blood coming from his nose and ears and that in his opinion Selwyn Cooney was dead although his body was still warm when they arrived at Mildmay Mission Hospital. He said that as well as the woman there had been a man with Selwyn Cooney and that they both accompanied him with Selwyn Cooney to the hospital.
The pathologist that carried out the post mortem on Selwyn Cooney said, ‘The cause of death was cerebral lacerations and haemorrhage and a fractured skull due to a firearm wound in the head. There was swelling two inches in diameter over the left temple in the hair line with a circular firearm entry wound a quarter of an inch in diameter in the centre two inches above and behind the outer case of the left eyebrow. There were fresh bruises around the wound on the left temple muscle and the missile track passed through the pituatory region to the right side of the back of the brain where a bullet was lodged. I removed the bullet and handed it to the detective. In my opinion death was instantaneous. Scorching round the bullet wound indicated that the muzzle of the gun was very close to the scorched tissue’.
He added that Selwyn Cooney also had a fresh incised laceration half an inch long and one inch above the outer end of his left eyebrow that was consistent with having been caused by a sharp object as well as a fresh abrasion a ¼ inch in diameter on the right side of the bulge of his nose, the nasal bones themselves being fractured and blood coming from each nostril.
The Street Trader was interviewed by the police at Commercial Street Police Station on 8 February 1960 and after his statement was taken a detective sergeant said to him, 'You will be detained on suspicion of being concerned in the murder of Selwyn Keith Cooney' to which he replied, 'I wish to God I had never gone to the club'.
In his statement he said, 'I have known the Unemployed Man for about two or three years and we worked in a boxing booth together. About six or seven months ago the Unemployed Man and I started to run a club known as the Floral Club, Bensham Lane, Thornton Heath. But this club was closed down about two months ago when the Police raided us for drinking after time. During recent weeks I have been going to the Pen Club, Duval Street, two or three times a week with the Unemployed Man and whilst going there I have met the Steeple Jack there and his brother. I have had a drink with them there. I know the Steeple Jack's brother visited my club at Thornton Heath when I was running it.
I also have been to a club known as Mannings Club at Portobello Road, where I have seen the Steeple Jack's brother. The last time I was at Mannings Club was about a week ago with the Unemployed Man. I know a girl who goes there who is a friend of the Steeple Jack's brother. About three years ago I did visit the Cabinet Club in Gerrard Street, West End, to see a couple of girls, but I have not been there since. The Unemployed Man has lived with me for about two months since the club was closed and he sleeps in the same room as I do. We have not been doing any work since the club was closed.
Last Saturday, 6th February, 1960, during the morning, the Unemployed Man and I spent our time at a pub and a Morden snooker hall and during the afternoon we watched the television at home. We stayed indoors until about 9pm and I picked up my girlfriend, 163 Graham Road, Wimbledon. I went with her to the Castle Public House, Tooting and remained there until 10.30pm. The Unemployed Man was with me all the time. We then went round to the Court Club near the pub and stayed there until after 11pm. I dropped my girl at her home and then the Unemployed Man and I arranged to go to the Pen Club at Duval Street, Spitalfields. We arrived there at about 1.30am - 2am. I had driven there in my Rover car with the Unemployed Man the only other occupant.
When we got in the Club it was tightly packed in the first floor room. We got to the bar and bought a drink and we were standing there drinking by the bar for a short time. Standing near to us was a group of people and all of a sudden a man I know as the Steeple Jack jumped by us and punched one of the men in this group in the face a couple of times. Blood came out of the man's nose. The Steeple Jack backed away to the door but before he did so he said to the man he struck, 'You've been talking about me you fucking bastard', or such other words. The man went towards the Steeple Jack and they commenced to argue. Then a lot of other people who appeared to be supporting the man who was hit began to shout threats at the Steeple Jack and some of them tried to get at him.
A man I know as the Car Salesman has some connection with the ownership of the Club commenced to move the glasses from the tables, and turned round and said to me and the Steeple Jack, 'Get them out of it'. So we tried to stop some of the men arguing and some of them set about the Unemployed Man who was knocked to the ground and I had to struggle to get him clear because he was being kicked.
I dragged him away and as I was doing so he got hit several times on the head with bottles and a soda siphon.
I got him to the door, he was covered with blood and as we were about to go down the staircase I heard a gun being fired. When we reached the street the Unemployed Man was moaning about being hit. Then a woman came to us, who was the Steeple Jack's girlfriend, and said, 'I'll take the Unemployed Man to the hospital'. The Steeple Jack came rushing down the stairs and I said to him, 'The woman has taken the Unemployed Man to the hospital'. He said, 'Let me jump in your car and I'll take you round to her flat where they might be'. He jumped in my car in the front passenger seat and directed me to where the woman lives, which is a flat somewhere in the Camden Town area. When we got there, there was a little boy wearing glasses and the Steeple Jack said to him, 'Has the woman been in? The boy said, 'Yes, she popped in and has taken a bloke to hospital'.
We went in the flat and waited for the woman and the Unemployed Man to come back. After a while they came back. Whilst at the flat I asked the Steeple Jack why he had hit the bloke at the Pen Club. He said, 'Because he had an argument with my brother'. The little boy made a cup of tea for the Steeple Jack and me while we were waiting for the Unemployed Man and the woman to come back. The Steeple Jack was choked about the state of the Unemployed Man's head. I did not see any injuries to the Steeple Jack'.
Shortly after he added, 'I want to say now that I knew the woman was the Steeple Jack's girlfriend because I have seen her with him and had a casual conversation with her whenever I have seen her at the Pen Club with the Steeple Jack. I definitely would not have gone to the Pen Club if I knew it was going to end up in the shooting'.
The Street Trader made a second statement the following day:
I have been thinking about the matter at the club and have remembered that before the Unemployed Man and me went to the Pen Club we went to the Penton Club at the Angel, Islington. When we were there drinking with the Steeple Jack's girl, the one I have told you about who drove the Steeple Jack away from the Pen Club to the hospital when the Steeple Jack ran out. The Steeple Jack was there with his brother. There was six or seven of us in a group. We arranged with the Steeple Jack and his girl to go over to see the Pen Club. The Unemployed Man and me went in my car and the Steeple Jack went in the woman's car. She drove it and followed us. Both of us, I mean the cars and us, stopped to get some petrol just past Old Street Underground Station and then we all drove off to the Pen Club. The Steeple Jack never told us he had a gun or any weapon, otherwise the Unemployed Man and me would never have gone with him and that woman.
We all went in the Pen Club together. The man who the Steeple Jack did up was in the bar already, I mean in the first floor bar but as this was crowded we went upstairs in the other bar. We had a drink there and then went back to the other bar where the chap who had been shot was.
The Steeple Jack and the woman was with us. I could see as the woman was saying something to him, his face got all stern. The woman whispered something in his ear and it was then the fight broke out like this. The Steeple Jack hit the man who is now dead two blows in the face, then they went in a corner to argue and I heard the Steeple Jack say, 'Come outside, me and you, you have been talking about my brother'. He did some swearing but the bloke who got shot, I must admit, did not seem to want any bother.
Then a mob of people who did not mind their own business started a rumpus and the whole bother started up. I have not been to the Penton Club often, but the Steeple Jack and the woman were there and we got to know him through the Unemployed Man when he was boxing.
I want to say now that I regret with all my heart I ever went to the Pen Club with the woman and the Steeple Jack'.
The Unemployed Man made two statements.
In his first statement on 7 February 1960 he said:
'I am a great pal of the Street Trader, in fact I share a room with him at his parents' home in St Agatha's Close. I have known him for years and we always get about together. He was partners with me in a club we ran at 206 Bensham Lane, Thornton Heath, until a week or two ago when we were raided by Police and closed. I was with the Street Trader all day yesterday. I slept at his place on Friday night. We were using his motor, the Rover PXN 955 all day. We had a drink midday in the Castle Public House, Mitcham, and then we went home to his place for lunch after closing time. We stayed indoors until 8.30pm and then went back to the Castle Public House and had a few drinks till closing time. All the regulars were there. We were in no one's company in particular.
After closing time we left together alone and we went in the Rover to the Court Club in Tooting Broadway and we had a few drinks there until 11.30pm or so. I can't be sure of the time. I didn't drink a lot and I was quite sober. The Street Trader did all the driving. I don't drive. The same crowd as was in the Castle Public House were in the Court Club. After we left there we drove to the Pen Club in Duval Street in Stepney, just the Street Trader and me. I had been there only twice before, both times with the Street Trader. He introduced me there. It was packed when we got there about midnight or so.
I know the barmaid who serves behind the bar. I can't say if she was there. I don't remember seeing her. I don't know the man who helps her. I've heard of the Car Salesman who used to be a professional boxer like myself but I've only seen him once, years ago in the ring. I didn't see him there. I wouldn't know him. He was a short dark haired bloke when I saw him about 1948.
There was just me and the Street Trader drinking together at the bar nearest to the door. I had a couple or three gin and bitter lemons. The Street Trader had rum or scotch because he was cold. We were in there an hour or so when a rumpus started. They were all strange faces there to me and we spoke to no one. The first thing I knew was someone pushed against me and and pushed me against the bar. I did not see who it was although just before that I heard two blokes behind me have a few cross words. I took no notice and I didn't hear what they said. When I was pushed against the bar, I went to look round to see who pushed me although I think it was a pure accident. As I turned, someone caught me by my overcoat collar and pulled me backwards and then a bottle crashed on the back of my head. I know it was a bottle because it broke. I think it was an empty bottle.
I fell to my knees and I felt more blows on the head. I think with bottles. I don't remember getting kicked but I think someone did kick me in the face. I was still on my hands and knees and couldn't get up. I vaguely remember the Street Trader pulling me up towards the door. I was covered with blood which was running into my eyes blinding me. I didn't see who hit me. I don't think the Street Trader got hit at all, at least he didn't say he had been hit. We got down the stairs and we got into the Street Trader's Rover which was outside the club. We were still quite alone. The Street Trader drove off and he took he to some hospital somewhere. I haven’t the faintest idea what part of London it was.
The doctor gave me an injection and put five stitches in the cuts on the back of my head. He put plaster on a cut near my left eye and on two cuts on my right hand. Then he said I could go home. The Street Trader then drove me home to his place. It was early morning when we got back to the Street Trader's place. We went straight to bed and stayed there until early this morning. The white shirt which is bloodstained and which you took is the one I was wearing. I was wearing a grey suit and grey overcoat. The overcoat is hanging in the hall with the jacket of the suit in the hall at the Street Trader's place. The grey trousers is upstairs in the wardrobe in the Street Trader's room. There was a lot of blood on the overcoat which I tried to wash off. It's soaking wet now where I tried to wash it. There's blood on the collar of the jacket too.
Like I said, I don't remember anyone in the club. I've heard of the Steeple Jack. I have never seen him or any of his family. I don't know any of them and I've never been in their company. I never had a chance to hit anyone nor did I wish to do so. I only went there for a drink with the Steeple Jack. I did not see anyone else hurt there or any fighting. The people there was just scrambling trying to get out. That's all I know'.
He then added, 'I want to add that what I said about going to the hospital with the Steeple Jack in his car is untrue because I was driven from the club by a woman in her car to be cleaned up in her flat. I don't know where her flat is. Then she took me off to a hospital somewhere.
The reason I told an untruth about the Steeple Jack driving me to hospital is that I didn't want the woman to be put in the middle of the trouble. After I had been treated at the hospital she drove me back to her flat where the Steeple Jack was waiting in the flat. A little boy was there too. I think he is the woman's son. We all had a cup of tea and then I went home with the Steeple Jack in his car. He stayed at the flat while I was at the hospital with her. In the club I never heard any banging like shots being fired, nothing at all'.
When the Unemployed Man made a second statement the following day, he said:
'To tell you the truth I know the Steeple Jack who has a brother. I've met them a couple of times. I've been to their club what's called the Penton Club at the Angel. That's where I met the Steeple Jack on the Saturday night.
I didn't want to tell you that before but the Street Trader and me went to the Penton Club just for a drink and he was in there. I don't think his brother was there. I had had a fair few drinks, but wasn't drunk. I was feeling all right. We was there about an hour I should think. When we all came down to the Pen Club, me and the Street Trader in the Street Trader's Rover and the Steeple Jack went with the red-head whose a nice girl in her car, the two tone Zodiac of hers. I led the way into 'The Pen' and ordered a round of drinks for us all. We were drinking up and I believe this fellow Cooney was talking to a couple of fellows and a girl near the juke box. He was standing beside them.
Then the Steeple Jack spoke to the Cooney chap. I didn't hear what he said. The next thing Cooney is lying on the floor beside the television set. I don't think he went down fully. He was pumping blood from the nose. I wasn't the one that put him down. After all it was the Steeple Jack's private argument with the man. Come to think of it we first went up two flights of stairs to the club bar up at the top. That's the room over the other club and that's where I ordered the round of drinks not down below.
We never finished the drink but came downstairs to the other place and started talking. I think I still had the drink from upstairs in my hand. We were in the middle of the fight almost immediately we came in. I saw the Steeple Jack at the side of Cooney when some blokes went for him. I don't know if they were trying to restrain him. As far as I was concerned, I wasn't in it at all, it was the Steeple Jack's private argument. I never saw any gun at all and I didn't hear no shot. I tried to drag a chap away from the Steeple Jack and said, 'Leave off, it's just a ruck' and someone dragged me away from this chap. I was dragged to the middle of the floor from behind and I could feel my feet slip on the floor. It must have been wet. It might have been beer spilt or something like that and at the same time someone clouted me on the back of the nut with a bottle and down I went on the floor. I can't remember what happened after I got a couple of bottles on the head. I was dazed, like, and I was on the floor most of the time. I don't remember much what I did after.
The last I saw of Cooney he had his handkerchief out dabbing his nose and I don't remember hitting him and if I did hit him I don't remember anything about it. As I say getting hit on the head at the beginning of the fight that was the last I know. I thought I was the only one got hurt and I may have fought back in my dazed condition. That I don't know. I never saw the Street Trader or the Steeple Jack in the fight. I've got a bit of glass in my knee look (he then extracted a sliver of glass from his right knee and handed it the policeman questioning him). I must have got that on the floor. I was last out of the place. The Street Trader got out first and the Steeple Jack must have gone after him. All I know is they left me on my own. Someone was trying to hold me and then I heard someone say, 'Let me go', and they let me go and then I staggered downstairs into the street. The Street Trader and the Steeple Jack had gone, I suppose in the Street Trader's car. The woman was in the street and helped me into her car and we shot off.
She decided to take me to her flat, I don't know where it is but she tried to clean me up and then said I ought to go to hospital and she took me there in her car and then back to her place when I got the treatment in the hospital. The Street Trader was waiting for me when I got back to her flat and we had a cup of tea with her and he took me home to his place.
The Steeple Jack wasn't there, of course, and I was shocked when the Street Trader told me about the shooting in the club because I didn't know till then that Cooney had been shot. I had no idea at all that Cooney was dead until the Police told me and I don't think the Street Trader knew or he would have said so because he's as close to me as anyone can be. Anyway I'd never had tolerated going out with the Steeple Jack if I knew he had a shooter with him, because I don't stand for carrying weapons. I'd no quarrel with the man that was shot, in fact I didn't know the man and I don't know how he came to get shot but it's true I never heard a shot what with all the shouting and screaming going on and that juke box blaring. I never meant anyone to get hurt. It was just a place to have a drink, The Pen Club, and the Street Trader and I and the Steeple Jack have had drinks there two or three times a week since our own club was closed, but the last few days we haven't been up this way.
It's about a week since we were in Manning's Club where we used to go, too. We used to meet the Steeple Jack and his girlfriend and the Steeple Jack's brother and his girlfriend who is on the game up west, I believe. I don't know her other name. The whole thing is now one big blur to me now and that's the truth and I'm shocked that someone was killed over it. I want to add now I've read the statement that I'm not sure the Steeple Jack hit Cooney first. I don't know. It wasn't me and it wasn't the Street Trader so it was probably the Steeple Jack.
The Woman that had taken the Unemployed Man back to her flat after the fight at the Pen Club also made a statement. In her statement she said:
'I have not lived with my husband for the past seven years. I live on my own, my son, aged 16 years, has been staying with me for the past two weeks. Last night, 6th February, 1960, I left my address about 11.30pm and I drove my Xephyr Zodiac Registration No. ULX 167 to the Elephant and Castle, to see a girlfriend, she was not at home. I had a drive round, alone, and I drove to my friends in Commercial Street. I understand the club is called the Pen Club. I do not know her name.
I went to the first floor of the club, I had a gin and lemon. There were quite a few people in there. I saw my friend behind the bar. I did not see any girls there that I knew to speak to, I never saw any men there that I knew, I was standing near the bar, about the middle of the room, on the first floor.
A fight started at one corner of the room, at the farthest end away from the door, there were men fighting. I saw a woman keep pushing herself in, I never saw anybody hit anybody else with a bottle. I ran for the door. People were all scrambling to get out. I am absolutely positive I never heard any gun fired.
I got down the stairs into the street. People were standing on the opposite side of the road, the people who had got out before me, I ran for my car, it was parked in Duval Street, on the same side of the club a short distance from the club. I was going to get in it, I thought to myself, it might not be too bad after all, and I might be able to get back in the club, if they threw the fellows out who were fighting. So I went towards the Club, as I walked back this fellow came out, staggering, and covered in blood. I couldn't recognise him because he had blood all over his face.
He said to me 'Help me'. I shouted to people, 'Help him', but nobody came forward, so I put him in my car. He sat on the left hand side of the front passenger seat, we were alone. I said to him 'I'll take you to my place, and you can wash up'. He said 'All right, I'll have to go to the hospital'. I noticed his head was all bleeding.
On the way I kept saying to him, 'Are you all right'. He said 'I'll be all right'. I drove home at Parkhill Road, Haverstock Hill, he got out of the car on his own, he washed his face in the bathroom, I placed one of my towels on his head because it was still bleeding badly, he said 'Where are we?'. I told him 'Hampstead'. He said he would go to the hospital. I told him I would drive him. I then took him to the Hampstead General Hospital in Haverstock Hill. I waited there. The doctor or nurses never asked me anything. I never told anyone at the hospital what had happened.
I waited until about 4.30am. He came out and I said, 'Can I drop you anywhere'. He said, 'No, I'll be all right, thank you very much'. I dropped him at the lights in Haverstock Hill. I drove home and went to bed. The nurse at hte hospital gave me a certificate, I put it in my handbag, I noticed the injured man's name and address, St Agathas Grove, Carshalton, I do not know this man to speak to but I have seen him a couple of times before in the club. I know the Steeple Jack, slightly, I know him through his brother, he used to go out with a girl friend of mine. I was only in the club for about a minute last night, I didn't have time to look around, I did not recognise anybody there.
I am absolutely positive I only took the Unemployed Man from Duval Street to my home last night.
I went to the club alone. I am positive of this.
I do not know who the fight was between. I have not been told anything.
I do not know any person names Jimmy Cooney.
I use the clubs in Knightsbridge, and Dorothy's club in the West End'.
The Car Salesman that was shot in the stomach had lived in Brech Place, Glaucas Street. He said that on the Saturday 7 February 1960 that he had gone to the Pen Club in Duval Street, Stepney, arriving at about 11pm, noting that he didn't work there. He said that he went to the first floor bar and thought that he saw a lady there he knew who worked behind the bar.
He said that he knew Selwyn Cooney who he said came in about forty minutes after he arrived with one or two chaps and two girls, noting that he didn't know their names.
He said that about an hour after he came in that Selwyn Cooney was standing by him having a drink, facing the bar, and that he was to the left of him, between him and the door. He noted that there were about forty people in the bar at the time.
He said that he had been talking to his wife when someone started to pull Selwyn Cooney round and that there seemed to be a bit of a scuffle and a little bit of pushing and shoving and that when he turned he saw blood on Selwyn Cooney's nose. He said that someone then called out, ''Someone's got a gun', but that he couldn't remember whether that person had been a man or a woman noting that the juke box had been playing at the time.
He said that he then turned and tried to get a gun from a man, noting that he would not say that he actually saw the gun, but just asked the man to give him the gun, at which time he said that he was pushed and then heard a bang and felt a burning sensation in his stomach after which he received a blow on the head after which he said that it seemed like a free for all and that everyone was fighting. He said that he thought that there had been about five or six people fighting.
He said that it was over very quickly and that he then left and went out of the club.
He noted that one or two people whose names he didn't know tried to stop the fight and that he remembered one person that he did know pulling him round to go out.
He said that the blood on Selwyn Cooney's face was from his nose which was bleeding excessively, noting that he didn't see anyone hit him on the nose. He said that after Selwyn Cooney was hit that he staggered a little and that as he was going out he saw Selwyn Cooney on the floor but said that he didn't know what happened to him.
He said that the girls with him went earlier before the fight had started.
He said that after he got out and went home he found that he had an injured head and a bullet wound in the stomach and that after trying to patch himself up he went by car to the London Hospital. He said that he changed his shirt and didn't keep the original one but still had the vest that he had been wearing that night.
When he was questioned by the court he said that he would not say for sure that he saw the people come into the club, noting that it was dimly lit.
He said that when he heard the shout, 'He's got a gun', that he didn't take much notice, adding that it all happened so quickly, saying that he turned and felt the burning in his stomach and was hit on the head immediately.
At the trial he said that he saw no one in the court that he saw in the club on the night, adding that it would be unfair to say that he did.
A Bookmakers Clerk that had lived at the Alhambra Hotel in Russel Square and who had been a friend of Selwyn Cooney said that on 6 February 1960, a Saturday night, that he had met Selwyn Cooney in his club, the New Cabinet Club in Gerrard Street after which they went to the Pen Club at 11.30pm. He said that they had been at the Pen Club for about an hour and a half or an hour and three quarters before anything happened.
He said that he had been drinking at the bar a couple of yards from Selwyn Cooney with the Car Salesman and his wife when all of a sudden a bit of a commotion started and that when he turned round he saw a man pull Selwyn Cooney round and strike him on the face. He said that he heard something about, 'You're the bastard I've been looking for'. He said that the blow on Selwyn Cooney's face split his eye above the eye.
He said that he didn't know the name of the man that had struck Selwyn Cooney but later identified him as the Steeple Jack.
He said that when Selwyn Cooney had turned around he had said, 'Who are you? I don't know you, what's it all about?'. He said that there was then a bit of a scrimmage with different people involved.
He said that the man that had hit Selwyn Cooney had been in the corner of the bar and that two of his mates were trying to keep people away from him, saying that they had been pushing people back.
He later identified the two mates as the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader.
He said that when the Car Salesman went over to the Steeple Jack that somebody shouted, 'Look out, he's got a gun'. He said that he then saw the Steeple Jack open his coat and go for something stuck in the top of his trousers but that the Car Salesman had his back to him and that he couldn't see everything. He said that there were then words spoken between them and that the Car Salesman then copped it in the guts, noting that he heard the shot.
He said that the Car Salesman then walked back to the bar and that there were screams and shouts of, 'A man has been shot' and 'Dirty bastard'.
He said that he then saw that the Steeple Jack had a small gun in his hand and that the Steeple Jack then started to make his way along the room towards the door and that Selwyn Cooney went towards him shouting, 'Don't let him get away', but that suddenly Selwyn Cooney slumped against the wall over a piece of furniture.
He said that when Selwyn Cooney fell that the Steeple Jack had been in front of him, a foot or two, and still had the gun and that meanwhile the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader had been wrestling about with the Car Salesman and somebody else, still trying to keep people away from the Steeple Jack. He noted that he saw no one else beside the Steeple Jack when he hit Selwyn Cooney.
He said that Selwyn Cooney had slumped sideways having taken a couple of steps and that he had then fallen on his face after which the Steeple Jack made for the door although at that point the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader had still been trying to get out.
He said that although the Steeple Jack got out that he came back in a couple of seconds later and said something to somebody else about, 'You want to get out of the way'.
The Bookmakers Clerk said that he then hit the Unemployed Man over the head with a couple of bottles but said that it had no effect on him.
He said that Street Trader then left with the Steeple Jack and that the Unemployed Man was the last to leave.
He said that after they left that he, helped by someone else, then dragged Selwyn Cooney downstairs and that they were accompanied down the stairs by a girl that had been swearing.
He said that he was going to get Selwyn Cooney over to his car, not realising that he was dead.
He said that he said that he would find his keys and that the woman said that she would drive him to the hospital but that at that point an ambulance arrived and that he and the woman went with Selwyn Cooney in the ambulance to the hospital.
He noted that there had been a few women in the club whilst all that had been going on but that he had not noticed any woman in particular and could not say that he had noticed the Woman that had come with the men to the club who were on trial.
He said that he attended two identification parades in which he saw the Street Trader in one and the Unemployed Man in the other but that he had been too scared at the time to identify them to the police.
The Barmaid of the New Cabinet Club in Gerrard Street said that she had been with Selwyn Cooney to the Pen Club on a number of occasions and that she had gone with him there on the Saturday night, 6 February 1960, arriving around midnight or a little past. She said that she had gone to the Pen Club in a cab and that Selwyn Cooney had followed in his Vauxhall car which she thought had had the registration number VEW 26. She said that her car pulled up at the same time as Selwyn Cooney's Vauxhall and that they went into the club together.
She said that they were there for about an hour and a half or two hours at the bar on the first floor but didn't remember where they had been standing.
She said that a fight broke out after some shouting and that the Car Salesman was shot first followed by Selwyn Cooney and that the next she knew she was downstairs in the street.
She said that when the fight first started that Selwyn Cooney and others, including the Car Salesman and his wife, had been drinking together and that there were quite a few people in the bar at the time, adding that it was crowded. She said that she had been standing against the bar just drinking and chatting with Selwyn Cooney and the Car Salesman and didn't notice anyone particular come in.
She said that as far as she could remember that someone came up to Selwyn Cooney and started having a go at him and that a fellow hit him, but that she didn't know who it was, noting that there had been three fellows. She said that one of them hit Selwyn Cooney first on the back of the head but she didn't know with what but said that she thought that the man had had something in his hand at the time.
She said that she didn't remember quite what happened when the fight started and didn't remember what Selwyn Cooney did. However, she said that she remembered that the Car Salesman got mixed up in the fight and that he jumped on one of the fellows and that the next thing she remembered was he was shot. She added that she didn't remember seeing a pistol, adding that she hadn't been looking for one but thought that she must have seen one if they had had one. She then said that the pistol was in the hand of the Steeple Jack and that when it went off the Car Salesman appeared to be hit and doubled up. She said then that the Steeple Jack was standing at the door and that Selwyn Cooney said, 'Don't let him get away', after which the Steeple Jack shot Selwyn Cooney, saying that she heard another bang.
She said that she didn't remember what happened to Selwyn Cooney and that the next she remembered was when she was in the street bending over Selwyn Cooney, adding that she might have fainted and that someone might have carried her out.
At the trial the Barmaid of the New Cabinet Club said that she recognised the three men involved in the court adding that she didn't remember anyone else with them. She added that when the fight was on that she had heard someone say, 'We want him', but didn't know who said it.
Following the police being called to the Pen Club they arrived at about 3am to find the door locked and the inside cleaned up with chairs stacked on the tables and the blood, glass and other debris cleaned up.
When the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader were arrested they were kept in cells at Commercial Street Police Station where a police constable was placed on guard. They had been kept in separate cells and it was submitted that they had not known that there was a policeman outside listening to them and they were said to have had a conversation about the fight at the Pen Club which was noted down by the policeman on duty. When the evidence was heard at the trial the judge noted that the things that the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader said were not evidence against the Steeple Jack. The conversation went:
Unemployed Man: I reckon the Steeple Jack's done a bunk.
Street Trader: Yes I guess so.
Unemployed Man: They all know who done it you know, don't make a statement saying you know the Steeple Jack or his family.
Street Trader: I told them I knew the Street Trader's brother.
Unemployed Man: I think they know now. I know them. If we can get out we might be able to get in touch with the Steeple Jack.
Street Trader: I never knew what the row was about. He never walked in there and shot him straight away did he? We'll have to get a good brief.
Unemployed Man: My old man will have to fork out a bit of money, we'll do a bit of porridge you know, I suppose our friend is running about doing something for us.
Street Trader: Yes, they’ve got too many witnesses saying the Steeple Jack done it haven’t they.
Unemployed Man: Yes.
Street Trader: They can't say we was concerned in the murder can they?
Unemployed Man: No, we never done any shooting, three or four tried to get going into the Steeple Jack, I said 'Turn it up boys' it was a ruck and that was that.
Street Trader: It's horrible because you don't know what they are going to do you for.
Unemployed Man: No it's fucking worrying.
Street Trader: I'll lead a quiet life after this.
Unemployed Man: You're telling me.
Street Trader: I never knew they would do us for being concerned, did you? We never got into this with that stabbing at the common.
Unemployed Man: What's that?
Street Trader: When that chap Harris got stabbed to death.
Unemployed Man: Oh yes, I remember.
Street Trader: The same with Marwood.
Unemployed Man: Yes all that gun business is fucking silly isn't it, I mean they were only having a ruck to start with. When we get charged that will be a smaller court won't it.
Street Trader: It depends on what they charge us with.
Unemployed Man: Yes.
They then had a conversation about witnesses after which they talked more about the situation which was noted down as follows:
Street Trader: Ring up about your fags.
Unemployed Man: Yes, I've just rung.
The Street Trader started singing and then stopped and said: He'll get life you know.
Unemployed Man: Who?
Street Trader: The Steeple Jack.
Unemployed Man: They might top him.
Street Trader: If it was premeditated they might. Have you seen the papers yet?
Unemployed Man: A bit of it I think they know we aren't mixed up in it, the shooting I mean.
Street Trader: I don't know.
They then made remarks about the ranks of the detective officers in the case and carried on talking.
Unemployed Man: When that bloke spoke to me I told him I didn't know about the shooting.
Street Trader: I won't go into any more clubs.
Unemployed Man: Nor will I, I was thinking last night they topped the three of us, if they topped me my wife would be fucking happy.
Street Trader: Don't think that.
Unemployed Man: The barmaid picked me straight away you know and that other fucking girl.
Street Trader: Yes me as well, the bloke didn't though.
Unemployed Man: No nor me.
The Street Trader then read from a newspaper about three men entering a club three shots being fired and the men going away.
Unemployed Man: It looks bad, don't it.
Street Trader: Yeah but the papers make it look worse, did they take your glasses away from you?
Unemployed Man: No it's a wonder isn't it.
The police sergeant noted that they stopped talking at 3.25pm and that when he looking into their cells shortly after he found that they both appeared to be asleep.
It was noted that at the time that the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader had been in the cells that the Steeple Jack had not been found and that he had not been seen since he had vanished down the stairs at the Pen Club. However, it was noted that he gave himself up to the police on Thursday 11 February 1960 accompanied by a representative of his solicitors at which point he denied the charge of any kind at all, stating that he was not guilty and that acting on legal advice he elected to not make any verbal or written statement. When he was asked whether he wished to be put up for identification his solicitor said, 'We don't want any identification parade'.
Before the trial took place an appeal was made to have separate trials on account that the case was that the Steeple Jack had shot Selwyn Cooney and that the Unemployed Man and Street Trader had assisted him and that as such it was right that the case against the Steeple Jack be proven first and if proven that only then could the roles played by the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader be considered. However, the application was refused by the judge.
When the Steeple Jack was questioned at the trial he denied having shot Selwyn Cooney.
When he was asked at the trial whether he had had a gun with him anytime in February or any other month the Steeple Jack said, 'I have never had a gun in all my life sir'. He also denied having shot Selwyn Cooney. He also stated that he had never been involved before in any matter of violence and that he had never been involved in a brawl ever before in his life.
He said that he had known the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader for about three months during which time he had only been in their company for six weeks and had only been to the Pen Club two or three times before the night of 6 February 1960 and that on two occasions he had been there with the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader.
He said that during the week before the murder that he had been working in Great Yarmouth and had only returned to London on Friday 5 February 1960 in the afternoon and had not gone out on the Saturday until about 9.45pm as he had been tired. He said that when he went out he went to the Spanish Patriots public house off Chapel Street at the Angel where he met the Woman who he later went to the Pen Club with and some other friends. He noted that he had known the Woman for about seven or eight months.
He said that he stayed at the Spanish Patriots until closing time, 11pm, and that the Woman then drove him to the Penton Club in Penton Road or Penton Street saying that it took about five minutes to get there, arriving at about 11.05pm. He said that he had not made any arrangements to meet the Unemployed Man or the Street Trader adding that he could not have done so as he had been working in Great Yarmouth that week.
The Steeple Jack said that they stayed at the Penton Club drinking and that at about 12am the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader came in and joined their company and that they stayed until about 1am when the Woman said that she fancied some supper and that he suggested that they went down to Aldgate to Barney's. He said that either the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader then suggested that they stop in at the Pen Club for a drink as it was on the way and that they then set off in their cars, he in the Woman's car and the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader in theirs.
He noted that at the time they set off for the Pen Club that he had never heard of Selwyn Cooney before in his life or his alias, Jimmy Neal, and that he was in no way mentioned on the way to the club.
It was noted that the Pen Club was on the route from the Penton Club to Barney's Club and the Steeple Jack said that they all also stopped for petrol on the way to the Pen Club near Old Street tube station, that being both cars, but said that he didn't get out of the car or say anything to anyone.
He said that both cars then parked up in Duval Street on the same side as the club and that the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader got to the club first noting that there were a few other people that he didn't know already there also trying to get in and that soon after the door was unlocked and the group of seven or eight of them then went in. He noted that he thought that the door was locked and that they had had to ring the bell or knock to get in as it was after permitted hours.
He said that they then went upstairs, the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader going up first with him following and looking behind to see that the Woman was following as it was pretty packed. However, he said that it was too packed to get a drink on the first floor and so they went up to the second floor which meant going across the floor to the second door and up the stairs.
It was noted that the fight and the shooting took place later on the first floor area of the club.
He said that either the Street Trader or the Unemployed Man then bought a round and that he had a bitter lemon. When he was asked about his drinking habits at the club he said that he could not drink a lot but that he would drink a few brown ales now and again but could not drink spirits at all and would drink a bitter lemon in between drinks noting that he would sooner drink bitter or orange squash ordinarily.
The Steeple Jack said that he thought that they had been in the second floor bar for about 15 to 20 minutes during which time he saw another person that he didn't know speak to the Unemployed Man.
He noted again at the trial that even up until that time that he had had no idea who Selwyn Cooney was and said that no one had mentioned him.
He said that they next all went back down to the first floor where he said the juke box was playing. He said that he didn't know who the Bookmaker's Clerk was and knew nothing of his existence although he said he knew who the Car Salesman was but not to talk to.
He said that whilst he was downstairs that he was thinking of going to get some supper with the Woman as well as buying a round when Selwyn Cooney, who was on the corner of the bar, beckoned him over. He said that he beckoned him over a couple of times with his hand but that he ignored him as he didn't know him but that eventually he went over to him as he was going to buy a drink anyway but that as he went over to him Selwyn Cooney turned his back on him. He said that he then pulled Selwyn Cooney's sleeve and pulled him round as he wondered what it was all about but that before he could say anything Selwyn Cooney started to have a go at him, saying, 'So you are another of these bastards'. The Steeple Jack said that he didn't even know the man and said to him, 'What's it all about?', and that Selwyn Cooney then said, 'You're a lot of bloody jail birds, you, your brother and the rest'. He said that Selwyn Cooney then mentioned the Woman that he was with, saying, 'Who is the bird with you, a bit of easy money for you I suppose', saying that he took it that Selwyn Cooney thought he was living on the Woman and so he hit him.
The Steeple Jack said that he hit him with his right hand full on the nose and had nothing in his hand at the time, noting that he had never used anything in his hand before as he had no need because he had been boxing his whole life. When he was asked at the trial whether he was any good he said that he was and had achieved distinction in the army, winning the triple league district welterweight and had been training most of the time up until the murder and belonged to two clubs.
He said that after he hit Selwyn Cooney his nose was bleeding and he held a handkerchief up to it but he didn't say much to him although did say that he had asked Selwyn Cooney to go outside with him to fight man to man.
He said that after hitting Selwyn Cooney that he was pretty much in the same position, about a foot from the corner of the bar, but that he was by then surrounded by what he would call five or six of what he would say were Selwyn Cooney's mates. When the judge referred to the plan the Steeple Jack noted that he was about a foot or so from the corner of the bar in the direction of the window near the door that came down from the second floor bar.
The Steeple Jack said that Selwyn Cooney's mates then began hitting him and that he started to stop the blows. He said that he was at the corner of the bar blocking a lot of the blows but was really worried about the Woman that he had come with. He said that he turned around and did hear a sort of bang and saw the Car Salesman going backwards, but didn't see much of it and tried to get to the Woman that he had come with as he was really worried about her.
When the Steeple Jack was reminded of evidence that the Car Salesman had given of him having gone towards the door by the television and the cigarette machine and having been shot there, the Steeple Jack agreed that the Car Salesman might have done that, but denied that he had been there, saying that he had been by the corner of the bar and had been unable to move away from there as he had been surrounded by Selwyn Cooney's mates.
When the Steeple Jack was asked where he thought the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader had been at that moment he said that he thought that they had been near the telephone box by the pin ball machine where he left them.
He said that he thought that he had heard somebody shout, 'Someone has got a gun', but didn't hear more than that, noting that there was a lot of shouting going on and chaos.
He said that after that the chaos got worse and that he tried to make his way to the door to find the Woman he had come with and didn't see any more of Selwyn Cooney after he had hit him.
He said that he reached the exit door and had been making his way down the stairs when he heard another bang. He said that he didn't know if anyone got shot or anything and didn't see and just carried on down the stairs and didn't go back to the club.
The Steeple Jack said that after leaving the Pen Club that he went to the Woman's flat but that she was not there but her son let her in. He said that the Woman, the Unemployed Man and the Street Trader came back later and that after that he went home.
The Unemployed Man and the Street Trader were acquitted at the direction of the judge after the second trial started and the all-male jury found the Steeple Jack not guilty.
When the judge summed up he said, 'You may have felt as you listened to this story of witnesses disappearing, or what you may feel a surprising lapse of memory on the part of those who have been called, there are sinister implications and that you have had a glimpse of the underworld which has its own code of loyalty, or is it fear? It is something very different from the honesty and truth as most of us know it. But if you feel that, you must not visit it on the Steeple Jack. He is being tried for murder, not for the company he keeps'.
As the trial drew to an end Selwyn Cooney's father jumped to his feet and said, 'He killed my son, and I will kill him'.
The Steeple Jack had been a former army welterweight boxer and it was said that he had not been content to have earned big wages as a steeple jack and had chosen instead to climb a more dangerous career as what a newspaper described as a professional bully. It was said that he had all the attributes for it, being tough, ruthless and ambitious. It was reported that he had known what other professional bullies had known before him and that was that there could only be one top dog and that if anyone stepped out of line that he had to be taken care of immediately which it was said was why he had gone to the Pen Club on 7 February 1906 to 'sort Cooney out' in the smoky bar before an audience of underworld characters.
It was noted that following the murder of Selwyn Cooney that the Pen Club had remained shut and had been unlikely to reopen. It had been described during the trial as the haunt of criminals and undesirables and it was reported that experts at Scotland Yard had had held conferences to develop a plan to wipe out such criminal meeting places.
It was also noted that the barmaid that had vanished during the trial reappeared the day after it was over. She was noted as having run her own club at 17 Moore Street in Soho and that following the events of the murder trial that she had been struck off, but that whilst the club had been closed, another club in the same place doing the same thing was opened.
When the matter of underworld clubs was discussed in Parliament, an MP said:
'Some indication of the profits earned and the power of the gangs who run these places can be seen from the fact that two important prosecution witnesses had to be kept in a secret police hide-out, one has decided to emigrate and the other is still under guard, and that a third witness was spirited or frightened away and did not reappear until the case ended. The Judge stopped the first trial, and when the first jury were empanelled for the second trial there were objections to nine of the people who were produced. At the end, the Judge said to the jury: 'No doubt you have been shocked to hear the sort of thing that is going on in this city', and the defence counsel said he hoped that the long arm of the law would be long enough to see that the Pen Club did not operate again'. My Lords, there is no 'long arm'. The police just cannot lift a finger to stop clubs like this being opened or reopened. On May 27 there was a news item which referred to the barmaid that vanished, the woman who did not appear to give evidence at the Pen Club trial but reappeared the day after it was all over. The news item said that her club in Soho was struck off. The Chief Inspector told the magistrate that the police had been unable to trace the secretary but that the barmaid's club had ceased to exist. He added that he had visited the premises of the Club at 17, Moore Street, Soho, and found a new club there which had been registered at the court. The court granted the application to strike off the barmaid's club. Before it was struck off there was another club in the same premises carrying on the same kind of business. Could there be any greater farce or graver dereliction of duty than if we were not to admit these circumstances and attempt to put them right?'.
The murder of Selwyn Cooney was considered by some to have had gangland overtones which were touched on by the judge in his summing up. However, it was later noted that the Street Trader went on to be what was described as a feared gangster who had worked with both the Kray brothers and the Richardson crime family and that when he died aged 69 of natural causes in 2007 more than 1,000 people, many of whom were notable gangsters and criminals, turned out for his funeral. Amongst the mourners was a famous snooker star, an actor from Coronation Street, a famous boxer and a famous actor.
He was described at the time of his death to have been a 'hired muscle' and was said to have kept one step ahead of the police for 30 years whilst building a business empire from protection, extortion and drugs across South London. He had been convicted when he was 19 for stealing cars and sentenced to three months. After he served his 18 month sentence for being an accessory after the fact following Selwyn Cooney's murder trial, he was repeatedly arrested but had repeatedly escaped prosecution.
It was heard that the police thought that he had been a key figure in organising the escape of two people from prison, Frank Mitchell, the Mad Axeman of Broadmoor, and Jack 'The Hat' McVitie both of whom were later murdered.
It was said that his business methods in the 1960s and 1970s centred on gambling, extortion and protection rackets which would involve violent fights breaking out in pubs and clubs after which the Street Trader would step in and offer 'protection'. It was reported that in instances where publicans refused that they were often forced to sell their businesses to him at knockdown prices.
It was reported that in the 1980s the police, who saw him as a prize to be caught had still not been able to arrest him and had resorted to objecting to his alcohol licences to hinder his activities.
It was also suggested that he had criminal ties with the Mafia but that the police didn't have enough evidence to arrest him. It was also heard that the FBI thought that he had links with the Genovese and Gambino crime families.
He was arrested in 1987 after a joint police-customs operation uncovered a £5 million cannabis smuggling network but the case against him collapsed after a German ship captain decided not to give evidence.
However, he was arrested in 1992 and convicted for masterminding a multi-million pound drugs ring and sentenced to 14 years which was later reduced to 9 years. It was noted that his trial was halted after three of the jury members said that they had been threatened with death if they returned guilty verdicts and a second trial took place for which the jurors received round the clock 24-hour police protection, with security for the trial costing £1 million.
He had been released in 1997 with no further arrests or convictions but it was noted that only days before his death he was due to be questioned in relation to a murder in south London, that of Sean Jenkins, who was shot at an unlicensed boxing event he had held at Caesar's nightclub in Streatham on 4 December 2006. It was said that Sean Jenkins had insulted Joseph Greenland's mother at the party in Carshalton and so he had driven 26 miles home to get a gun and back again whereupon he shot Sean Jenkins six times without saying a word. Joseph Greenland was convicted of murder and sentenced to 30 years.
see National Archives - CRIM 1/3355, MEPO 2/10060, MEPO 2/10059
see Hackney Gazette
see Evening Standard
see Surrey Comet
see Real Life Crimes 73 p1608-1614
see "Third Man Accused Of Club Murder." Times [London, England] 12 Feb. 1960: 6. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
see "Nash Acquitted Of Capital Murder At Pen Club." Times [London, England] 5 May 1960: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
see A Calendar Of Murder, Criminal Homicide In England Since 1957, Terence Morris and Louis Blom-Cooper
see Croydon Times - Friday 08 April 1960
see Aberdeen Evening Express - Monday 25 April 1960
see Aberdeen Evening Express - Thursday 11 February 1960
see Belfast Telegraph - Thursday 21 April 1960
see Belfast Telegraph - Monday 09 May 1960
see Belfast Telegraph - Wednesday 15 June 1960
see Belfast Telegraph - Monday 02 May 1960
see Daily News (London) - Tuesday 10 May 1960
see Aberdeen Evening Express - Monday 23 January 1961