George Henry Ince, gangland figure and The Barn murder and his links to the notorious Kray brothers
George Henry Ince (1937- )
George Henry Ince was born on the 30th June 1937 in Robert's Road, Bow, London to James Ince and Minnie (nee Fulcher) and was the eighth of their nine children. He was to become one of the most controversial prisoners in Britain and his is a story of "injustice, inhumane medical treatment, corruption, and a vain attempt by the Home Office to save face"
. George was the son of James Ince, who was born in 1892 in Limehouse, London and who married Minnie Fulcher in 1923 and was the grandson of John Ince and Jane Elizabeth Ennever (also known as Jane Elizabeth Hannaway) who had married in 1887. The story of the Ennever/Hannaway name change is told in more detail here.
Ireton Street, Bow. 1969
George's upbringing was typical of the East End of London in the pre-war years and although his was a large family his father would not consider Minnie going out to work. Their small terraced property was destroyed in August 1940 and the family constructed a shelter from the wreckage using blankets for walls. They continued to live like that for a couple of months until they found another small house to rent in Ireton Street, just behind the main Bow Road, and which was to be the family home for another 27 years.
George and two of his sisters, were evacuated to Stourbridge in Worcestershire in about 1942 but were not happy and tried to run away back to London. They did return in 1944 and George then suffered a serious childhood accident. While swinging on a scullery door he slipped and grabbed at the handle of a stewpot bringing the boiling mixture down on top of him and he still bears the scars. Soon afterwards he suffered a severe bout of pneumonia and spent a further period in hospital.
Can You Positively Identify This Man? George Ince and the Barn Murder by Peter Cole & Peter Pringle
George left school at fifteen with no qualifications and worked on building sites and as an asphalter, running a flower stall outside Wanstead railway station for a short while. George was growing up in a part of East London in which the Kray twins were operating and few children escaped their influence and it seems that George was without the influence of his father, who appears to have left the family home in the early 1950s. George, like the Krays, joined the Royal Fusiliers and was stationed at the Tower of London. George often visited the billiard hall which the twins had taken over and had begun to run efficiently.
His first brush with the law came in 1955 when he was just seventeen and was given twelve months probation for tampering with car locks and loitering and when he was nineteen a police officer was hurt after a scuffle and George was sentenced to nine months for causing actual bodily harm. A year after his release, in November 1958, he was given six months for causing grievous bodily harm after a cafe brawl and although it was another three years before he would re-offend he skipped bail after shop breaking and was "on the run" until 1963. He appeared to settle down after this becoming a self-employed builder while becoming interested in pigeon-racing and winning the coveted Berwick Trophy for the 300 mile race between Berwick-on-Tweed and London.
Dolly Kray (nee Moore) aka Dolly Grey
George had first met Dolly Kray (nee Doris Moore), the wife of Charlie Kray, towards the end of the 1950s at one of the many parties thrown by the Kray twins. Charlie was the twins elder brother and over a period of time George fell in love with Dolly and was to see more of her in the mid 1960s. He was a regular visitor to her flat in Poplar from 1968 when the three Kray brothers were in custody and the relationship was to lead to a number of beatings from the Krays' friends 2. In arguments with Charlie, Dolly was to tell him that Nancy, their daughter, was in fact George's and although she later denied it, it was something that Charlie appears to have accepted as true3. Nancy is also reported in The People newspaper in June 2004 to have wanted Charlie Kray's body exhumed so that DNA tests could prove if he really was her father and Charlie Kray in his book 5 says "Deep down I knew Nancy was not my child.", "Even though I knew Nancy was not my child I still wanted to see her" and "...I'd thought the world of her. Even though she was another man's child."
It was in November 1972 that a woman, Muriel Patience, was shot and killed in a bungled robbery at The Barn restaurant in Braintree, Essex. A description of the robbers was compiled from descriptions given by Bob Patience, Muriel's husband and Beverley, their daughter, and shortly afterwards George Ince's name was given to police by an informant, whose name was believed to have been well known in the East End. Ince had gone into hiding earlier in 1972 suspected of being involved with the Mountnessing bullion robbery but when he heard he was under suspicion for murder he decided that he could convince the police of his innocence and after meeting with his solicitor he gave himself up. Dolly Kray, by then known as Dolly Grey, had given George's solicitor a statement providing his alibi for the night of the murder but Ince never expected that it would be required to be produced.
George Ince tells of fear. The Times 12/10/1973
Later that November an identification parade was to lead to an innocent man being tried for The Barn murder. Ince was identified by Beverley Patience while Bob identified another man. Contrary to procedural guidelines, police had shown Ince's photograph to Beverley before the parade. The trial opened at Chelmsford Crown Court on 2nd May 1973 and Ince's mother and his five sisters were all in court. They were to make many noisy interjections and made the trial something of a public shouting match.
The trial did not go well for Ince as the identification evidence given was confident and friction had developed between Ince's counsel and the judge and by the end of the fifth day Ince had decided to dispense with counsel. He elected not to cross-examine further witnesses and turned his back on the judge for the remainder of the trial angrily addressing the judge over his shoulder during the summing up.
After very short deliberations of three and a half hours the jury were told that a majority verdict of ten votes would be accepted but they were unable to reach any verdict and Ince was to stand trial again four days later. During the second trial the question of the killer's accent, described as Yorkshire by the Patiences, was addressed and Beverley Patience remained certain that she had correctly identified Ince.
Barn case witness speaks of love for Mr Ince. The Times 22/5/1973
On the 18th May, the fifth day of the second trial, George Ince's defence was heard. On the evening of the murder he had been in the arms of a Mrs Grey at an address which he was to write down. This evidence placed Ince more than 60 miles from the Barn 90 minutes before the murder.
Ince being escorted from court during the second trial. A new judge was presiding and Ince had greater faith that the truth would come out.
Mrs Grey was in fact the wife of Charlie Kray, elder brother of the notorious Kray twins, and it was to protect her from her husband and his family that Ince had not called her to the witness stand during the first trial. The prosecution attempted to make Mrs Grey's true identity known to the court but it was agreed that the jury should know that she had changed her name but not her real name. During his questioning prosecuting counsel, John Leonard QC, did in fact address Mrs Grey as Mrs Kray which the judge considered "most unfortunate"!
The judge's summing-up began on the eighth day and was vital in determining Ince's fate. He told the jury that "if Mrs Grey had had any bad character this would have been disclosed to the court because she was a vital alibi witness" and contrasted his alibi of having been with his mistress with the certainty of Beverley Patience's identification.
George Ince cleared of all charges in Barn murder case. The Times 24/5/1973.
The jury returned after three hours and to uproar in the public gallery found Ince "Not Guilty" and he left the court shouting abuse at detectives. In August of 1973 John Brook and Nicholas Johnson were charged with the murder after Brook had confessed to a petty crook he had been working with. In February 1974 in the third trial Brook was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment and Johnson was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.
Ince case man alleges fake evidence request. The Times 23/4/1977
Ince was to receive written apologies from Bob Patience, prosecuting counsel and in 1975 the Chief Constable of Essex disciplined several senior detectives and also wrote to Ince. The results of an enquiry were presented to the Director of Public Prosecutions but it was decided that there were insufficient grounds for criminal charges to be brought against any detectives. The matter was also raised in the Houses of Parliament by Ian Mikardo, MP, and Hansard records "They (the Police) were out to get a conviction by fair means or foul, whether justified or not."
Before the third Barn murder trail had begun, George Ince and three other men were convicted of taking part in a silver bullion robbery at Mountnessing, Essex in May 1972. Soon after the robbery the police made a casual call at Ince's flat but there were no further attempts to find him. In December 1972 four men, not including Ince, were charged with the bullion robbery but it was not until January 1973 that Ince was charged, two months after his co-defendants. In a series of I.D. parades eight civilian witnesses failed to pick out Ince but three policemen did identify him.
George Ince kisses his bride after their wedding at Hammersmith Register Office, 1977
The most remarkable performance was that of a P.C. from Ongar station who claimed to "have seen it all" although he made no such statement at the time. Seven months later, in November 1972, he immediately identified Ince from photographs allegedly made available to him on the day of the parade but had failed to identify him from photographs that will have previously been displayed in almost every Essex police station. Many other allegations of a "fit-up" of George Ince were also made. 4
In November 1973 Ince was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment. In spite of a long campaign to overturn Ince's conviction he was to remain in prison until 1980 when he was paroled. He had been allowed out of prison for an hour on 7th September 1977 to marry Dolly Grey, then divorced from Charles Kray, and it would be another three years before their honeymoon. 5
George Ince's face slashed. The Times 19/2/1974
George was moved from Long Martin Prison, where he had started his sentence, in 1976 ending up in solitary confinement in Gartree Prison being accused of attempting to escape.
In desperation he slashed his wrists saying "I could not stand the strain any longer, I just wanted to end it all." Treated in the hospital prison he was given the drug LARGACTYL, a drug which can cause hallucinations and a lack of coordination between mind and body.
Drugged prisoner kept in padded cell is George Ince, Home Office confirms. The Times 18th Feb 1977
He was receiving a cocktail of drugs and was placed in a small cell, with no windows, no bed and the lights were kept on 24 hours a day. When Dolly was finally allowed to see him in January 1977 she was horrified, he stared blankly at the wall and "was like a zombie."
Doctor says Ince case is terrifying. The Times 19/8/1977
George complained of pains in the chest and of coughing blood. The flu contracted in the freezing cell developed into pneumonia and rapidly into pleurosy and his leg had swollen to twice its normal size. An outside consultant was called in and suspected thrombosis and George was moved to Leicester Royal Infirmary and thrombosis was confirmed. The hospital consultants did not find it necessary to give him Largactyl. After several weeks his condition had improved and he was moved to Wormwood Scrubs where he once more received Largactyl and suffered hallucinations. The deterioration in his condition since his transfer to Gartree was apparent - his hands tremored and his speech was incoherent. Writs were issued against the Home Office alleging negligent medical treatment and an independent Consultant Psychiatrist was allowed to interview George and the prison Medical Officer who "was able to give me considerable medical information about Mr Ince relating to his stay at H.M. Wormwood Scrubs Prison only I was not able to see his Prison Medical Record."
George Ince A Question of Identity c1977
A sworn statement was made in July 1977 by Frances Sims, a friend of Ince's, who had confessed to being a member of the team who carried out the bullion robbery said "I can state with absolute certainty that he (George) was not involved in the planning or execution of the robbery...". The then Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees, set up a further inquiry but there was to be no retrial nor release. 1
No parole for George Ince The Times 23/11/1977
George's plight continued to receive considerable media and political attention due largely to the "Free George Ince" campaign led by his solicitor, James Saunders, and by the end of 1977 George had served five years of his sentence and was eligible for parole. It seemed certain that the campaign to free him would have ensured he would get it and even the Press thought it likely - "Ince Set For Parole" (The Sun 1/11/1977). The Parole Board however, almost certainly at the Home Office's bidding, rejected George's plea. At the time James Saunders was quoted in the "A Question of Identity" leaflet as saying:
"The fight to release him will continue and gain strength - we have had far too many disappointments. As far as I am concerned we have won this case four times already, we just don't have the key to Wormwood Scrubs"
Ince family demand inquiry Evening Standard 24/5/1973
One well-known supporter of George Ince was the Tom Robinson Band (TRB) whose debut single 2-4-6-8 Motorway was a UK hit in 1977, the B-side being the popular Bob Dylan song "I Shall be Released", which the band dedicated to George Ince. The single included a "Free George Ince" campaigning sleeve and the lyrics of Dylan's pro-political prisoners' song were altered from the original version to include a number of directly supportive references to George Ince6. The Tom Robinson Band also gave out free news bulletins7 from the early days of the band's existence and the text of one is reproduced below and dates from about August 1977. It was entitled "Back On The Inside" and in it Tom Robinson, the leader of the band, implored TRB fans to support the "Free George Ince" campaign:
ZigZag (UK) 1977
"i went to visit george ince in the scrubs a
couple of weeks ago(aug 3) He has dawn/gaunt
look of someone who's been very ill, but hes been
putting on weight again & getting much better in
recent weeks. seemed quite on the ball & his hands
now hardly shakinh at all. he'd just been given a
job in kitchens & was well pleased. i found him
gentle & unassuming - you wouldn't think he was
the most famous prisoner in britain: doesn't seem
aware of it himself guess it doesn't mean too
much when you get back to your cell after
visiting hours. unable to believe he'll ever get
back out now after 5 yrs fit-ups/ bungling/lies/
mistreatment /falsehopes & bitter disappointments
- all on account of something he never did in the
first place... if you've been following the case
write to your MP now & demand action. if not ring
01-987-6542 and ask for a leaflet.('Free George
Ince' stickers and posters also available ). If
you don' t know who your MP is, ring up the house
of commons and ask!!! What do we want? JUSTICE,
who for? GEORGE INCE. When do we want it? NOW
-tom. " (sic)
The Tom Robinson Band's song with its modified lyrics can be heard below and they include the words:
They say there'll be a new enquiry (this is a new verse by TRB)
They say there's been a slight mistake
But while they write reports, we've heard it all before
Let's get him out before it's all too late
Yonder there's a man in this lonely crowd
A man who swears he's not to blame
Five long years he's been there shouting so loud (Dylan wrote 'All day long I hear him shouting so loud')
Crying out that he was framed ('And Georgey Ince is his name' - live version)
"I Shall be Released"
by The Tom Robinson Band.
Album version (also released as the flip side of " 2-4-6-8 Motorway" single, in support of the FREE George Inge campaign. See top right disc cover).
"I Shall be Released"
by The Tom Robinson Band.
Live recording of the version featuring George Ince's name.
"I Shall be Released"
by Bob Dylan & guests
From the album 'The Last Waltz' by The Band 1978.
Despite the long campaign to overturn Ince's conviction he remained in jail until being paroled in 1980.
1 George Ince A Question of Identity Published by the Free George Ince campaign
2 Can You Positively Identify This Man? George Ince and the Barn Murder by Peter Cole & Peter Pringle published by Andre Deutsch