Alec de Antiquis was a man of 31 years old, the Father of 6 children, the owner of a prosperous little motorcycle repair shop in South London, and a one-time Corporal Instructor in the Home Guard. He was shot dead in London attempting to stop the escape of some robbers from a jewellery shop in London.
The case is often used by the pro-capital punishment lobby to show that the permanent removal of the gang’s leaders is a justification for execution. The anti-capital punishment lobby counter this by saying the gang’s leaders could have been removed to prison and the gang dissolved through their leaders’ absence in prison.
Alec de Antiquis was shot dead in Charlotte Street, located in London’s West End, on 29 April 1947. He was attempting to prevent the escape of three robbers from a jewellery shop Jays the Jewellers, 73-75 Charlotte Street, London W1.
Three masked men had earlier raided the shop, the shop’s manager, Alfred Ernest Stock, was beaten about his head with a revolver, and the three robbers ran into the street after firing a shot.
Alec de Antiquis, riding on his motorcycle, drive into the path of the raiders. One of them shot him through the head, leaving him dying on the pavement. They escaped into the busy traffic.
Superintendent Robert Fabian (nicknamed “Fabian of the Yard”) arrived on the scene. There were several inconsistent witness statements, but a taxi-driver reported that he had seen two masked men disappear into Brook House, Tottenham Court Road, just after the time the murder was committed. When the police searched the premises, they found a discarded raincoat and a scarf that had been folded to form a face mask. The raincoat was eventually traced to Charles Henry Jenkins who already had a criminal record.
The gun was eventually found by a schoolboy on the muddy banks of the River Thames. Ballistic tests proved that the gun had fired the bullet that killed Alec de Antiquis.
The various witnesses to the shooting failed to pick Jenkins out from an Identity Parade held by the police. However, the police had arrested two of Jenkins’ associates: Christopher James Geraghty and Terence Peter Rolt.
|Charles Henry Jenkins
|Christopher James Geraghty
|Terrance John Peter Rolt
All three were charged with the murder of Alec de Antiquis at their Old Bailey trial, which began on 21 July 1947. The trial judge was Mr Justice Hallett, the Prosecution case was led by Mr A. Hawke with Jenkins, Rolt and Geraghty defended by Mr Vick, Mr O’Sullivan and Mr Wrightson respectively.
Geraghty said, in a statement, that Rolt drove the car used in the robbery and they all carried loaded guns. Geraghty went on to say that “… he carried two guns to frighten people in case of extreme necessity”. (The Times newspaper, 23 July 1947). The Times article also added that Geraghty stated that he “… fired his .32 intending to frighten him, and the cyclist fell into the gutter”.
The defence opened its case on 23 July 1947. Mr. Russell Vick, KC, representing Jenkins stated that his “… client had always denied that he had anything to do with the affair. He was not present at the time, and his defence was an alibi”. (The Times newspaper, 24 July 1947)
Neither Geraghty nor Rolt gave evidence in their own defence. However The Times newspaper did report that Jenkins declared in evidence that “he had nothing to do with the shooting, apart from getting his sister to lend Geraghty a mac”. (The Times 25 July 1947)
On 28 July 19147, the judge took almost four hours to sum-up the case. However, the jury took just 50 minutes to find all three defendants guilty. Rolt, being aged under 18 at the time of the crime, was sentenced to detained during His Majesty’s Pleasure. Jenkins and Geraghty were both sentenced to death by hanging.
On 3 September 1917, the Court of Criminal Appeal, before Mr. Justice Oliver, Mr. Justice Croom-Johnson and Mr. Justice Morris, dismissed the appeals from Geraghty, Holt and Jenkins.
On 16 September 1947, permission was refused for Geraghty and Jenkins to appeal to the House of Lords. On 18 September 1947, the Home Secretary announced that he would not be recommending reprieves.
Christoper James Geraghty and Charles Henry Jenkins were hanged in a double execution at London’s Pentonville Prison on 19 September 1947.
Terence Holt was released from prison on licence in June 1956.
In his autobiography, Albert Pierrepoint recalls that he walked near to the scene of the crime, while he was on business in London. He was the chief executioner at Jenkins and Geraghty’s execution.