Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Murder of PC Raymond Summers

Back in the 1950`s, one period still viewed by the elderly with rose tinted glasses, was a seething mass of bloody gang fights throughout the UK.  There were confrontations between Teddy boys and other gangs in the same vein of twenty years later, with the new wave of gangs being named as "tribes."  There was one incident that resulted in the killing of a young Police Constable attempting to break up a brawl, and the assailant being executed.  Events began on December 14th 1958.  Ronnie Marwood, a scaffolder, had been having a night out drinking when he found himself with friends outside Gray`s Dancing Academy in Seven Sisters Road in the Holloway area of London.  A fight broke out between two groups of Teddy boys.  During the brawl, a small axe was swung at Marwood, who received a small wound.  Then a constable started separating people and Marwood saw him talking earnestly to one of his friends.  Marwood tried to intervene but was told by PC Sumers to move on and was pushed away.  Marwood was to later claim Summers punched him.  But he instantly struck back and the constable collapsed from a stab wound.  Marwood then made off into the night.

    Marwood was questioned the following day by Police but they had no evidence to charge any of the men questioned and was released.  But this was now a Capital Crime, that fell into one of the five categories of the 1957 Homicide Act that was a hanging offence; the murder of a Policeman.  He remained free until 22nd January 1959 that he voluntarily went into the station and admitted that it was he who stabbed PC Summers.  He was charged with Capital Murder, and went on trial at the Old Bailey in March 1959 before Mr Justice Gorman.  He maintained that he had had plenty to drink, was not aware of the knife in his hand and had no intention of killing Summers.  But he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.  He was hanged at Pentonville Prison on May 8th 1959 by Harry Allen and Harry Robinson.

    For some years afterwards, on the anniversary of his execution, wreaths were laid in memory of him by the Nash brothers, at that time, the strongest crime family in London.  The story goes that they helped keep Marwood out of sight until he decided to give himself up.  Another claim is that the "Holy Two" - Krays! - had helped hide him as well, but there is nothing to substantiate that claim.  They claimed that was why the Police went after them.  Others involved in the brawl were jailed for periods ranging from six months to fifteen months.