Forsyth and Harris

Alan Edward John Jee was a 23 year old trainee engineer who lived in Isleworth, Middlesex. He had recently become engaged to 18 year old Jackie Herbert. After presenting Jackie Herbert with a diamond engagement ring, Alan Jee together with Jackie Herbert and her parents went to a pub for some quiet drinks. Alan Jee then left and made his way home.

On the next day, Saturday 25 June 1960, Alan Jee and Jackie Herbert visited Richmond. where they had tea and went to the pictures. They returned to Jackie’s home and watch some TV. Later, Jackie walked with Alan Jee and saw him catch his bus home.

They had arranged for Alan Jee to come round to Jackie’s house to take some photographs, as Alan Jee was a keen amateur photographer. At about midday, Alan Jee’s sister phoned and told Jackie Herbert that Alan had had a serious accident. Jackie Herbet then went to the Jee family home in Isleworth, where she found out that Alan Jee was in West Middlesex hospital. She was not allowed to see Alan Jee as he was seriously ill. The next morning, at 7.15pm, Alan Jee’s father phoned Jackie Herbert to tell her that Alan Jee had died.

Alan Jee’s unconscious, battered body had been found in an alley way, which he often used a short-cut home. A great deal of blood was on the ground but no weapon was found.

The police were initially baffled as there appeared to be no motive, no weapon and, despite appeals and the Sunday People newspaper offering a £500 reward, no one had come forward with any information. However, a witness Anthony Cowell gave the police a detailed description of four young men seen running from the alley way.

On 18 July 1960, an associate of Francis Forsyth contacted the police to say that Forsyth had been boasting about his part in the attack. He also gave the police the names of Harris, Darby and Lutt, who he had seen in a coffee bar on the night of the attack. Two days later, the police arrested all four men.

Harris stated that Lutt had punched Alan Jee, knocking him to the ground. Forsyth, wearing his Italian Winkel-picker-style shoes, then kicked Alan Jee twice in the head to shut him up. Harris then searched the unconscious Alan Jee for anything to take but found nothing.

The trial for the capital murder (in the course or furtherance of theft) of Alan Jee began at the Central Criminal Court before Mr. Justice Winn. The prosecuting counsel was Mr. Mervyn Griffith-Jones.

The four men accused of the Alan Jee’s capital murder were

  • Norman Harris (age 23 driver).
  • Chrsitopher Darby (age 20 coalman).
  • Francis (age 18 road worker).
  • Terrence Lutt (age 17 unemployed).

Norman James Harris went to the same school as Alan Jee. After leaving school, he was an errand boy, a van boy and a shop boy. From 1956 to 1959, Harris served in the Middlesex Regiment and was stationed in Cyrus, while Alan Jee was serving in the Royal Air Force also based in Cyrus. Harris had two brothers and three sisters.

Francis Robert George Henry James Forsyth went to the Spring-grove Secondary school, Hounslow. He later worked as a sheet metal worker. He had been in an approved school.

Terence Lutt, saved from a death sentence by 11 months, was born at Isleworth on 26 May 1943. He also went to the same school as Alan Jee. Lutt worked as a greengrocer’s errand boy for his father and then as a coalman. He had two brothers and two sisters.

Christopher Darby went to Bulstrode Secondary Modern school, Hounslow, and later worked as a labourer.

All four accused lived in Hounslow, Middlesex. They all pleaded not guilty. They all denied there was any plot to rob Jee. They stated that they had gone into the alley to break into a nearby scrap metal yard. Forsyth stated that he kicked Jee twice on the ground but had not meant to hurt him.

Harris, Darby and Lutt denied that they had kicked Jee. However, Lutt stated that he had punched Jee, knocking him to the ground.

The pathologist Dr. Donald Teare stated that Jee had been kicked five times in the head.

The judge, in his summing up, stated that what was asserted was that each person was responsible for the doing of acts against Alan Jee which any ordinary person must have known would be likely to cause really serious injury to his body. The judge went on to say

If you come to the conclusion that in the course of theft an assault was committed and death resulted, it would be capital murder. To find any one of the four guilty of murder because of an act done by another, it was necessary to established that not only was the person a party to a common enterprise and that the person contemplated it might involve an act of violence such as caused the death of Alan Jee.

Report published in the Daily Mirror newspaper, 27 September 1960.

On 26 September 1960, Forsyth, Harris and Lutt were found guilty of the capital murder of Alan Jee. Darby was found guilty of the non-capital murder of Alan Jee.

The judge sentenced Forsyth and Harris to death. Due to being under 18 years old, Lutt was sentenced to be detained for Her Majesty’s pleasure. Darby was sentenced to life imprisonment.

All four men appealed their convictions. On 24 October 1960, the Criminal Appeals Courts dismissed all four appeals. Giving the Appeals Court’s decision, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Parker stated that Mr. Justice Winn’s summing up of the legal issues was accurate and with great clarity.

Forsyth’s 16-year-old pregnant girlfriend Margaret Catlin was present in the court to hear her boyfriend’s appeal dismissed. When interviewed by the Daily Mirror newspaper, she said she was determined to have the baby, due in January 1961, and when it was old enough to tell the child about its father.

On 7 November 1960, a 2000 signature petition urging a reprieve for Forsyth and Harris, was handed in to the Home Office. On 9 November 1960, Mrs. Ada Forsyth, mother of Francis Forsyth, sent a telegram to the Queen appealing for her son’s life. On behalf of Forsyth and Harris, Mr. Gerald Gardiner, QC, chairman of the Campaign for the Abolition of Capital Punishment, wrote to the Home Secretary Mr. Butler. In the letter, Gerald Gardiner wrote that many people

would be deeply shocked if our society were deliberately to kill in cold blood a young citizen of this age, whatever he has done.

Birmingham Daily Post newspaper, 9 November 1960.

There were also letters to The Times newspaper from Bishops, broadcasters, actors, playwrights, poets and authors.

On 8 November 1960, the Home Office announced that there would be no reprieve for Forsyth and Harris. Forsyth’s parents, Mr. Frank Forsyth, 67, and Mrs. Ada Forsyth, 67, visited their son in Wandsworth Prison. With them went Forsyth’s pregnant girlfriend 17 year old Margaret Catlin. For 30 minutes, Forsyth and Catlin talked in an interview room, separated by a glass and wire mesh screen. Forsyth said “Good” when Catlin confirmed that she intended to have the child.

Forsyth’s father told the Daily Mirror reporter that he had received seven anonymous letters which said “Hang them.”

Harris’ mother, widow Mrs. Edith Harris, visited her son at Pentonville Prison. She said that she would not give up hope until the last minute.

At 9am on 10 November 1960, Forsyth was hanged at Wandsworth Prison and Harris at Pentonville Prison.

The Daily Mirror newspaper (11 November 1960) reported that a prisoner who was discharged at 7.30am, before Forsyth’s execution, told their reporter that during the night of 9-10 November, prisoners were shouting and banging on their cell doors with their metal food plates. The noise went on intermittently until 7am. The Home Office denied the report.

Outside Wandsworth Prison, in heavy rain, stood a small group of people and a dozen policemen. After the execution time, the people drifted away.

About 150 people had gathered outside Pentonville Prison. Among them was an old woman who said that she had been outside Pentonville during many executions. This was the quietest occasion she had ever known she said. She then added

People don’t seem to care. It was such a brutal crime that these lads don’t seem to won any sympathy.

The Daily Mirror newspaper 11 November 1960.

On the morning of the executions, Victor John Terry heard about the execution of his friend Forsyth on a car radio, as he was on the way to robbing a bank, killing a security guard. On 25 May 1961, Terry would be hanged on the same gallows as his friend.