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The BBC's Andrew Clark
"Campaigner's say vital evidence was ignored"
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Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 07:14 GMT
Hanratty exhumed to prove guilt
The scene of the crime
The A6 lay-by where the murders took place in 1962
Police have begun digging up the body of convicted killer James Hanratty to try to prove he was the infamous A6 murderer.

They believe DNA tests will dismiss once and for all claims that he was innocent.

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

He always maintained he was 250 miles away - at a guest house in Rhyl, north Wales.

A lifting gantry has been brought in to Carpenders Park Cemetery, near Bushey, Hertfordshire, as the operation got under way at 0400GMT.

A white marquee was erected over the grave of Hanratty and his aunt Annie Cunningham.

Police believe DNA recovered from his remains will prove Hanratty was guilty despite his denials.

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 before shooting them.

Hanratty claimed he was not present at the murder scene - Deadman's Hill, on the A6 in Bedfordshire - on 22 August, 1961, but was in Rhyl.

Hanratty's body is not expected to be removed from the cemetery until Thursday afternoon.

His family are due to attend a private religious service in the cemetery.

Re-interment of the remains of Hanratty and his aunt will take place later on Thursday.

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.

Valerie Storey
Valerie Storey still believes Hanratty was her attacker
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, and a hearing is expected later this year.

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