Shepherd's Bush Police Killer Stays Behind Bars

Harry Roberts told he won't be moved to open prison

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A notorious police killer who was behind the 1960s murders of three policemen in Shepherd's Bush has been told he will not be moved to an open prison which would have paved the way for his eventual release.

Harry Roberts, who was was jailed for life in 1966 for what was to become one of the most infamous crimes of the 1960s, was told by a parole board that he will remain in a closed prison at Littlehey, Cambridgeshire because he is still deemed to be a risk to the public.

Pc Geoffrey Fox, 41, Sgt Christopher Head, 30, and Det Con David Wombwell, 25, were all unarmed and in plain clothes when they were gunned down in Braybrook Street, Shepherd's Bush on August 12, 1966 by Roberts and accomplice John Duddy.

At the Old Bailey in December 1966, Roberts was jailed for a minimum of 30 years and he has already served 12 years more than this. Now 72 years old, Roberts says he is an old age pensioner and has served his time. However, the 1960s murders sparked public outrage and have not been forgotten.

Paul Keegan, Chairman of Old Oak Tenants and Residents Association, which covers Braybrook Street, says: “I was only ten years old at the time but, like the majority of people around here, I remember the day Harry Roberts killed those police officers very clearly.

“It was a terrible crime and I don’t think Roberts should ever be downgraded to an open prison or let out. He should spend his last days in prison.”

Explaining its decisions, the Parole Board tells prisoners: “The Parole Board has to take into account the victim's feelings if they want to make comments, but it would very rare for a victim to have any say on release. This is because usually the victim will not know what you have done in prison and how you might have changed. It is likely, however, that the Parole Board will put conditions on your licence to stop you going near the victim, and to stop you going to certain places where the victim lives or works,”.

Hammersmith and Fulham Police Borough Commander Kevin Hurley said that before the murders, Roberts had lived the life of a “a violent career criminal”.

“He was convicted twice of brutal attacks on members of the public whilst carrying out robberies. One case was on a seventy eight year old man who he struck on the head causing a fractured skull whilst robbing him in his house. The other was on a newsagent who he struck from behind in order to rob his shop. He had also been convicted for burglary on factories and shops for which he received separate prison sentences.

“Since then, whilst undergoing pre-release community work he again allegedly terrorised members of the public, those who offered to help him return to society. For this reason he has been placed in a secure closed prison.

“There are perhaps some criminals whose conduct is so violent and anti-social that it is not appropriate for them to be released again to live amongst the public. In the case of Harry Roberts, I believe this to be the case.”

3 August 2009