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The BBC's John McIntyre
"The somewhat morbid operation was carried out at the request of Scotland Yard detectives"
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The BBC's Jon Silverman
"His family and campaigners say the DNA tests will not be conclusive"
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Friday, 23 March, 2001, 08:53 GMT
Hanratty laid to rest
Michael Hanratty (left), his wife and family friends
Family members attended a graveside service
The body of convicted killer James Hanratty has been reburied after being exhumed by police attempting to prove he was the infamous A6 murderer.

Hanratty's body was reburied in Carpenders Park Cemetery, near Bushey in Hertfordshire, on Thursday afternoon, five hours after it was removed so that a DNA sample could be taken.

Friends and relatives of the convicted killer, including his brother Michael and his wife, attended an hour-long memorial service at the graveside as the body was reburied.

Hanratty was hanged in 1962 after being found guilty of murdering scientist Michael Gregsten, 36, and raping his lover Valerie Storie, 22.

The responsibility for the cry for justice has been passed on from father to son

Father Peter Fellows
Police believe DNA recovered from bone samples will prove Hanratty was guilty, despite his denials and those of his relatives.

The result of the forensic test is not expected to be made public until the Court of Appeal hears the case later in the year.

The body of Hanratty's aunt, Annie Cunningham, was also removed from the plot they shared and taken to a chapel of rest.

Father Peter Fellows, who conducted the service, said it had been a "moving experience", but was difficult for the family.

He said: "The family have held this for 40 years. The responsibility for the cry for justice has been passed on from father to son and they did find it extremely difficult.

Father Peter Fellows
Father Peter Fellows said it was a 'moving experience' for the family
"They must find a way of going forward no matter what the outcome might be.

"It will be very difficult but I believe it is possible and they will have a lot of support from the community."

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said the operation had gone according to plan, although the exhumation had taken longer than expected because the grave was waterlogged.

About 20 police and forensic experts took part in the operation, and digging was carried out by a handful of cemetery staff.

Protested innocence

Hanratty, 25 when he died, protested his innocence until his death and his family has been attempting to clear his name ever since.

The killer forced Mr Gregsten and Ms Storie to drive from Maidenhead in Berkshire to a lay-by on the A6 at Deadman's Hill in Bedfordshire before shooting them.

Hanratty claimed he was not present at the murder scene on 22 August, 1961, but was 250 miles away in Rhyl, north Wales.

James Hanratty
James Hanratty asked his family to clear his name

Hanratty's mother and brother have both given DNA samples to enable a comparison with traces of DNA found on Valerie Storie's underwear and a handkerchief wrapped around the murder weapon.

The comparison showed a match.

Another match on Hanratty's remains could provide compelling evidence of his guilt.

But his family say the results are meaningless because of the possibility of contamination since 1961.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the case back to the Court of Appeal to review new scientific evidence, including DNA.

Home Secretary Jack Straw issued licences for the exhumation earlier this month, after the Court of Appeal ruled that DNA testing would be "in the interests of justice".

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