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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, 11:55 GMT
DNA tests on Hanratty's teeth
Michael Hanratty (left), his wife and family friends
Family members attended a graveside service
Teeth extracted from the body James Hanratty who was hanged 39 years-ago are to be examined by DNA forensic experts.

Hanratty, 25, was sent to the gallows for murder and rape but he always protested his innocence claiming he was in North Wales to the time.

James Hanratty
James Hanratty asked his family to clear his name
He was convicted of killing civil servant Michael Gregsten, 36, and raping his lover Valerie Storie, 22, before shooting her and leaving her for dead.

Scientists are now attempting to extract DNA from his body which should prove whether or not he was guilty of the notorious A6 murder.

Campaigners have tried to prove that he was no more than a petty criminal.

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

Carpenters Park Cemetery, Bushey, Herts
Police cordoned off the area.
Hanratty's remains were dug-up from Carpenders Park cemetery in Bushey, Herts on Thursday along with those of his aunt Annie Cunningham.

Scotland Yard hope the exhumation - which took place under a white marquee - will resolve Britain's longest running case of alleged miscarriage of justice.

Family members carried flowers as they arrived at the burial site for a special service, hidden from the gathered media.

It is not really possible to say when the work will be finished but DNA profiling is a lot quicker than it used to be

Forensic Expert Rob Smith
Parts of the Hanratty's remains - thought to be teeth and some bone - have been taken to the Forensic Science Service laboratory in Birmingham.

Rob Smith, spokesman for the Forensic Science Service, said a team of experts would begin work on the samples on Friday.

"Then they will start the extraction stage. In cases such as these, where the remains have been under the ground for some time, you are looking at teeth or bone.

"DNA is present in different areas of the body - for example the enamel on the teeth.

"It is not really possible to say when the work will be finished but DNA profiling is a lot quicker than it used to be."

Hanratty is accused of forcing Mr Gregsten and Ms Storie to drive from Maidenhead in Berkshire to a lay-by on the A6 before shooting them.

But he claimed he was not present at the murder scene at Deadman's Hill on the A6 in Bedfordshire.

He said that on 22 August, 1961, he was in a guest house in Rhyl.

DNA comparisons were a match

Members of Hanratty's family have given forensic samples for comparrison with traces of DNA found on Valerie Storie's underwear and a handkerchief wrapped around the murder weapon.

The comparison showed a match and 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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