4th February 1939

Safe-breaking results in a Jersey arrest

Holiday makers at a Jersey hotel had something to write home about when plain clothes police from Bournemouth swooped on two men eating dinner. A third man made his escape through a window. The men were suspected of – and subsequently charged with – breaking into the Parkstone and Bournemouth Co-operative Society on 4 February and using explosives to blow open the safe. They were wanted in connection with the disappearance of the £476 it contained.

The third man was picked up by Jersey police the following day, but by then the Bournemouth officers had returned to the mainland with the other two men and had to request that the third be sent over.

Evidence is presented

The men appeared in court during the first week of March, when police presented explosives recovered from the scene and sawdust that had been found in their pockets and trouser turn-ups. Perhaps most intriguing, though, were the red rubber bands that had been retrieved from a vacuum cleaner in the hotel where they’d been staying, which matched the ones that had been holding the bundles of missing cash together.

But there were few witnesses. Although neighbours claimed to have heard the explosion and heard a car driving away around an hour later, none had thought to look out and see what was happening – despite the blast being big enough to have broken two windows in the Co-operative office itself.

A wider operation

Eventually, police began to look at similar cases around the country and linked them, and the three men were convicted. Hugh Anson, a 24-year-old waiter, alleged to have been the gang’s driver, was sent to prison for a year. George Darry, who had been arrested with him in Jersey, was sentenced to seven years’ penal servitude. A third man, Leonard Groves, received a three-year sentence, along with Darry, on a separate charge of being in possession of explosives.


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Other events that occured in February