Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist




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McVicar - Four Guns Pointed

Daily Mail November 12th 1970

FOUR Flying Squad marksmen pointed revolvers, at John McVicar in the corridor of a London flat yesterday.   He slowly raised his hands and said: 'Stop.  There are two women with me.' Then he surrendered without a struggle.
It was the end of a 744-day hunt for McVicar since his escape from Durham Prisons top – security E Wing.

Armed detectives were posted on the roof of a building in Stratheden Parade, Blackheath, London, S.E., where McVicar set up home in a two-bedroom, £40-a-month flat above a dress shop more than a year ago.

Early morning shoppers were in the parade as more than 50 police took part in yesterday's operation.

Four Flying Squad officers and a dog-handler were ordered to go in and 'take' McVicar.
First they got a key to the flat from the man who rented it to McVicar—Mr Ronald Roback, 41, owner of the Andre dress shop.

They climbed the stairs past Mr Roback's own flat immediately above the shop and quietly opened the door of the McVicar flat on the second floor. Facing them was a corridor. They shouted : 'Is anybody there ?'
From a doorway walked McVicar, wearing jeans and a sweater. He had just got out of bed and was slow to realise what was happening.
Then he saw the four revolvers pointing at him and told the detectives to be careful as he was with two women.
Two Flying Squad men grabbed him by the shoulders and one held a revolver to his head. McVicar was handcuffed.
Detectives then burst into a bedroom where they saw two women, dressed in bras and panties, lying in two single beds pushed together.
A Flying Squad detective, who confronted McVicar said last night: 'Had he had a shotgun in that corridor it could have been very messy.
'He had every chance to do something—but he didn't. He was overcome. He seemed reconciled to it.
McVicar, who had found loopholes in countless police nets, was taken to Forest Gate police station. The first thing he asked for in a cell—a pencil to do a crossword puzzle.
From the' flat police took a suitcase and a hold-all crammed with, among other things, knives, a two-way radio, a postman's uniform and a balaclava helmet.
McVicar was charged with Unlawful possession of a sawn- off shotgun and 17 cartridges, without a firearms certificate, on or before July 19 last year at Hampton Road, Forest Gate, E.
He was also charged with having the weapon during the same period while a prohibited person—a man sentenced to more than three years in jail. He will appear in Newham magistrates' court today.

WOMEN held in the police raid

The women with McVicar at the flat were charged with harbouring him and will appear in court today.

They are Shirley McVicar, 32, described as his wife, of Rom-ford Road. Manor Park, London, E., and Kathleen Shaw, 23, a hostess, of Usher Road, Bow. E.
Miss Shaw, a hostess at the Crazy Horse Club, in Maryle-bone, came to London from Yorkshire last June.

Her 25-year-old boy friend said last night : 'Her parents are very respectable people. They run a sub-post office and general store in a little town outside Leeds.
'Kathy is a lively girl who likes music and drinks and is always out for fun. Mad Kathy we call her because of the way she's always running around.

'The last time I saw her was at mine o'clock on Tuesday morning when I brought back her puppy Blackie which had strayed.'
Miss Shaw's mother decided to take an overnight train to London.

JOKE on pursuers in suburbia

John 'Muscles' McVicar played a joke on his pursuers when he settled in suburbia,
He called himself Allan Squires—after the first detective who arrested him on a criminal charge.

And he worked hard at his new role as a respectable character.
He wore horn-rimmed spectacles and his slimmed-down figure with a slight stoop gave no hint of the fitness fanatic he is.

He bought Moet Chandon champagne at £2 a bottle at the next-door off-licence, placed bets with local bookies, drank in a pub across the road and drove two c«rs—a chocolate-coloured Cortina and a Lotus Elan sports car.

Police methodically searched McVicar's flat yesterday. One thing they did not find was cash. A detective said : 'There wasn't a penny.'

Mr Stanley Sinnix, 44, who runs the off-licence, said last night: 'Mr Squires was like a clerk—always neat and quiet. Sunday was the day I always saw him. He was like anybody having a day off, relaxing and walking the dog.

'The woman I knew as Mrs Squires came in once a week and bought two bottles of champagne. In all their time here that was all they bought apart from a few bottles of brandy.'

Landlord Mr Roback said: 'The whole thing seems incredible. Mr Squires seemed the ideal tenant, always paying me on time in cash—'mostly in fivers.

He said MvVicar's two children visited the flat 'but only at bank holidays and weekends.'
Mr Roback's wife Barbara, who manages their dress shop, said : 'His wife came into the shop once or twice to, buy dresses. She always paid in cash.'
A police panda car parked each weekend outside McVicar's front door^in a side alley— watching for trouble from teenagers who gathered outside a. cafe and the pub.

ESCAPE throng It the shower room

McVicar was jailed for offences including armed robbery, robbery with violence and using firearms.

He escaped from Durham with two other men —- Walter 'Angel Face' Probyn and Joseph Martin, serving life for murder—by removing brickwork in a shower-room to get through a duct to an exercise yard.

The other two were quickly caught. But McVicar was free. One man relieved that Mc-Vicar has now been caught is his 'double'—supermarket manager Derek Brinson, 33, father of four, of Bayharn Road, Morden, Surrey. He has been arrested four times in mistake for McVicar.

SQUAD set up for special search

Every working morning for more than two years McVicar's dog-eared file was opened by Detective Chief Inspector Tom Morrison at Scotland Yard.

Shortly after the Durham escape Mr Morrison was ordered: 'Find McVicar.'
Since then, with a hand-picked group of Special Branch colleagues, that was his sole object.

Detectives probed McVicar's background and family. His associates were questioned, his haunts watched.

As soon as information looked promising Mr Morrison ordered raids to be carried out on likely addresses. Always he and his men were armed. At last came success.

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