Anorak | The Harry Roberts Story: He Kills Coppers

The Harry Roberts Story: He Kills Coppers

by | 24th, October 2014

The three London police officers shot and killed in Braybrook Street, West London. From left: PC Geoffrey Roger Fox, 41; Temporary Detective Constable David Stanley Bertram Wombwell, 25, and Detective Sargent Christopher Tippet Head, 30


ON 12 Dec 1966, Harry Roberts, John Witney and John Duddy were convicted of the murders of David Wombwell, Christopher Head and Geoffrey Fox.


Oblivious of the drama that was going on, a small bow hiding his identity under a Dalek suit, was among the very few spectators as John Edward Witney was ushered out of the West London Magistrate's Court. The boys just went on playing their games. Date: 31/08/1966


The murders were known as the Shepherd’s Bush murders as well as the Massacre of Braybrook Street.


The crime scene, featuring the Q-car and body of DS Christopher Head lying in the road


On 12 August 1966:

Harry Roberts, John Witney and John Duddy were sitting in a Standard Vanguard estate preparing for a robbery when 3 unarmed policemen in plain clothes David Wombwell, Christopher Head and Geoffrey Fox pulled up near them in a Triumph 2000 Q-car, and started asking questions about their insurance and MOT.


The latest British car - the Triumph 2000, a four-door five-seater saloon - at the Motor Show at Earls Court in London. Date: 15/10/1963


Because they were carrying guns and thought were would be arrested they shot the policemen dead and drove off. A local resident made a note of the van number plate and they were later caught.


Screens surround the crime scene and a policeman stands guard. The officers, cruising in a police car were shot when they stopped to question men in another car. In the background is Wormwood Scrubs prison. Ref #: PA.3565278  Date: 13/08/1966


The hunt for the killers was on:



A small boy and a mother holding her baby look on today as police talk to the householders at the scene of the killing of three policemen by gunmen. Policemen have left their helmets in the road while they seek clues to the killers.


The Independent recalled the murders:

As two of the officers started to search the van, Roberts drew a 9mm Luger pistol and shot DC Wombwell through the left eye, and then shot DS Head in the back as he tried to flee. As the dying officer staggered away Roberts tried to shoot him in the head, but his gun jammed twice.

PC Fox had remained in the police car. Duddy fired a revolver at the officer twice from close range through the passenger window. Both bullets missed, but a third shot hit him in the left temple. The shot caused the policeman’s foot to push down on the accelerator and the car jumped forward, running over the body of DS Head and getting stuck there, with smoke pouring from its rear wheels. All three Metropolitan Police officers died from the gunshot wounds.



harry roberts


Roberts went on the run, hiding on Epping Forest.


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It took 96 days before he was caught after one of the biggest manhunts the British police had mounted.


Mr William Morris, 61, standing near the hay barn on his farm, Blounts Farm, near Bishops Stortford, Herfordshire, where Harry Roberts is thought to have spent the night before his capture. Farmer Morris said he had driven the captured man to Bishop Stortford after his arrest by two armed police sergeants. Harry Roberts was charged with the murder of three policemen at Braybrook Street, East Acton, London, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Date: 15/11/1966


Roberts knew how to hide. He would later say :

“I was a sergeant and we used to go out on ambushes in the jungle. I would fire the first shot and then everyone would blast away… When I returned to Britain, I took up my old life as a criminal. I teamed up with Witney and we did dozens of armed robberies together on betting shops, post offices. The most I earned was £1,000 from a single job.

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Posted: 24th, October 2014 | In: Key Posts, News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink