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Did this man escape justice for Jackie's murder? FROM THE ARCHIVES.

Byline: Mark Cowan

Crime Files last week told of one woman's 43-year quest to find out what happened to her sister Maria Aldridge who vanished without a trace. This week, Crime Files looks at another heartbroken family's almost 50-year hope for justice after their sister was murdered.

DOG walker James Ponting twice yelled for his dog 'Mick' after it disappeared into the undergrowth near a disused allotment.

James had been enjoying an evening stroll near his Bordesley Green Bordesley Green is an inner-city area of Birmingham, England about two miles south-east from the city centre. It is also a ward in the formal district of Hodge Hill. Neighbouring areas include, Alum Rock, Saltley, Small Heath and Yardley.  home on that August night when the pet had disappeared. Growing impatient, the 18-year-old clerk went after him, unaware he was to uncover a murder mystery that has endured for almost half a century.

In a newspaper dated August 26, 1961, he said: "My dog Mick ran into the long grass and although I called him twice he would not return. I went into the long grass to fetch him.

"Then I saw a head - I thought at first it was a young man. I looked closer and saw that there was a body sprawled there."

The body was that of teenager Jacqueline Thomas.

Fifteen-year-old Jacqueline vanished a week earlier on the night of August 18, 1961, after she had visited a fun fair in Ward End with friends.

According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 newspaper reports at the time, she was last seen at 10.30pm that night near the Big Wheel talking to Noun 1. talking to - a lengthy rebuke; "a good lecture was my father's idea of discipline"; "the teacher gave him a talking to"
lecture, speech

rebuke, reprehension, reprimand, reproof, reproval - an act or expression of criticism and censure; "he had to
 a slim man aged about 20.

When she failed to return home, her worried parents alerted police. For an agonising week, they prayed she would be found safe and well. But the hopes were shattered when that August 25 night, officers arrived at the family home to tell them of the discovery.

Jacqueline had been sexually assaulted and then strangled. At the time, Det Supt Nicholas Brennan, acting head of Birmingham CID Cid or Cid Campeador (sĭd, Span. thēth kämpāäthōr`) [Span.,=lord conqueror], d. 1099, Spanish soldier and national hero, whose real name was Rodrigo (or Ruy) Díaz de Vivar. , said medical examiners stated she had been dead for at least five days.

Tests showed she had probably been killed where she was found, not far from her home in Everton Road, Alum Rock Alum Rock may refer to:
  • Alum Rock, California, USA (was a town, is now a neighborhood of San Jose, California)
  • Alum Rock Park in San Jose, California
  • Alum Rock, Birmingham is an area in the UK, two miles east of Birmingham's city centre.
.

The grim discovery sparked a major police manhunt man·hunt  
n.
An organized, extensive search for a person, usually a fugitive criminal.


manhunt
Noun

an organized search, usually by police, for a wanted man or fugitive

Noun 1.
 for the killer.

Detectives sought help from workers at the Hughes Biscuit Factory where Jacqueline had been employed before leaving to apply for a post at the Birmingham Waste Company.

Officers also showed photographs of her to showmen at the Bob Wilson Bob Wilson is the name of:
  • Bob Wilson (footballer) (born 30 October 1941 in Chesterfield, England), a former goalkeeper for Arsenal and broadcaster
  • Bob Wilson (cartoonist) is a caroonist and author of the Stanley Bagshaw series of children's cartoons
 Fair in the hope someone might have remembered seeing her in her distinctive white jeans and a black sweater.

Hundreds of officers were drafted in and worked around the clock in the first days of the investigation, tracing her friends and visiting more than 1,000 homes in the hunt for clues.

Two hundred and fifty posters were circulated around Alum Rock and police also appealed to fans at the St Andrew's ground during the Birmingham City versus Leicester City football fixture.

Schools across the city were visited to seek help from youngsters.

Police liaised with the Director of Public Prosecutions Director of Public Prosecutions nfiscal m/f general del Estado

Director of Public Prosecutions direct (Brit) nGeneralstaatsanwalt m 
 but, despite months of police investigations, they could not find the evidence to bring Jacqueline's killer to justice.

One man, 24-year-old Anthony Hall, who was married with a baby, was a suspect.

He was the last of 53 witnesses who gave evidence at Jacqueline's inquest later that year.

He admitted having been with Jacqueline at the fairground and sharing a kiss and a cuddle but denied having anything to do with her murder. He said he asked his mother to provide a false alibi because he didn't want his then expectant wife to know he had been "larking about" with girls.

During 40 minutes of questioning Hall said: "When I left the girl that night she was alive and well."

He asked to be put in the witness box by his solicitor, who said "although he may not be an angel, he wants the finger of suspicion which has been levelled at him may be cleared up". The inquest also heard that forensic experts found nothing to link him to the case and a jury recorded a verdict that she was "murdered by person or persons unknown".

As he left the court, Mr Hall told reporters that it was a load off his mind: "I know I was the main suspect in this case. Now all I want to do is find the man who killed Jackie."

That was how the case remained until three years ago until a cold case review of the murder.

In November that year, West Midlands Police West Midlands Police is the Home Office police force responsible for policing the metropolitan county of West Midlands in England.

It is the second largest in the United Kingdom after London's Metropolitan Police [1]. It covers an area with nearly 2.
 sensationally revealed that they had charged Hall with Jacqueline's murder.

Hall, of no fixed address, was already serving a life sentence for the 1969 murder of 16-year-old Sylvia Whitehouse.

He denied the charge when he appeared at Birmingham Crown Court. But as his trial neared, Judge Frank Chapman ruled that the charge should be stayed.

He said the matter was now "just too long ago" and Hall would not be able to have a fair trial.

A total of 21 original witnesses had died and others were too old or ill to attend court. Evidence and records had also not been kept.

Glenn Moss, of the Major Crime Review Team, said: "We are satis-fied we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the Jacqueline Thomas case. The case will be closed, pending any new evidence that is brought to our attention."

For her heartbroken family, their hopes for justice were dashed and they continue to pray for a time when they can finally lay their sister to rest.

Almost eight years had elapsed and the memory of Jacqueline Thomas' brutal murder had all but faded when the body of 16-year-old Sylvia Whitehouse was found.

A lorry driver found her partially clothed body hidden behind a hedge in Bickenhill Lane, in Marton Green, on a cold December day in 1968.

She had been the victim of a frenzied and sadistic sa·dism  
n.
1. The deriving of sexual gratification or the tendency to derive sexual gratification from inflicting pain or emotional abuse on others.

2. The deriving of pleasure, or the tendency to derive pleasure, from cruelty.
 attack, suffering 45 stab wounds.

The case soon became known as the 'Lover's Lane murder' because the area was popular with courting couples.

She had been walking home after leaving a youth club in Small Heath. But she never made it.

Soldiers with metal detectors were drafted in to search the area where her body was found for any signs of a murder weapon.

Within days of the murder, unemployed Anthony Hall was in police custody on suspicion of the killing.

During the trial the following March it emerged, Hall, then aged 30 who had separated from his wife, had offered her a lift in his car, stolen a few days earlier from Manchester, late at night after spotting her in the street.

Hall had tried to dispose of To determine the fate of; to exercise the power of control over; to fix the condition, application, employment, etc. of; to direct or assign for a use.

See also: Dispose
 evidence, setting fire to her belongings in an empty bedroom of the Lichfield home he was staying at.

The stolen car was also found heavily bloodstained and tyres marks found at the scene matched the car.

The jury soon returned their verdict of guilty and Hall was jailed for life.

Sentencing him, Mr Justice Stable said: "The sentence imposed by law is life imprisonment Imprisonment
See also Isolation.

Alcatraz Island

former federal maximum security penitentiary, near San Francisco; “escapeproof.” [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 218]

Altmark, the

German prison ship in World War II. [Br. Hist.
.

"I think, in your case, that sentence means what it says and that no other 16-year-old girl will be subjected to the appalling experiences to which you subjected this child."

As he was led from the dock, a man sat at the back of the court shouted: "May your black soul rest in hell."

CAPTION(S):

Mrs rs Lillia ian Thomas and Police launched a hunt for missing Jacqueline after she failed to return from a trip to the fair. Jacqueline Thomas.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jun 3, 2010
Words:1244
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