King’s Police Medal for Gallantry Chase and Arrest under fire

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This is one of only 440 King’s Police Medals For Gallantry awarded.

King’s Police Medal for Gallantry Chase and Arrest under fire

Awarded to:   CONST. NORMAN STRANGE METROPOLITAN POLICE

This medal was awarded for carrying out the arrest of the murderer of RAF Airman Aloysius Abbott, a West Indian, whilst under fire from the South Wales Borderers fugitive. The crime and arrest took place over Christmas 1946.

Abbott CWGC Certificate

Abbott CWGC Certificate

Aloysius Abbott is Remembered with Honour at Brookwood Cemetery, Woking, Surrey. He was the son of Herbert Clarence and Berna Ann Abbott of Cross Roads, Jamaica.

A full transcript of the event and Court proceedings follows as reported in the:

DUNDEE EVENING TELEGRAPH 11th January 1947

DUNDEE EVENING TELEGRAPH 11th January 1947

DUNDEE EVENING TELEGRAPH 11th January 1947
“SHAN’T BE CAUGHT ALIVE, I WILL SHOOT IT OUT”
Christmas Murder Charge
Accused’s Alleged Statement Frederick Rowland Westbrook (27), Ellington Park, Maidenhead, described as a soldier in the South Wales Borderers, appeared on remand at Marlborough Street to-day, charged with the murder of Aloysius Abbott (21), a Jamaican in the R.A.F.
He was additionally charged with unlawfully shooting at P.C.s Norman Strange and Bertie Fowsell, with intent to resist arrest, on December 27.
It is alleged that Abbott was murdered outside a cafe in New Cavendish Street on Christmas Day. At the last hearing on December 28 Detective-Inspector Higgins said that Westbrook was arrested on December 27 after a search among parapets and chimney stacks the roof« of buildings in Cartwright Gardens, W.C. The inspector alleged that, in a top-floor room from which Westbrook had been retorted by police officers he found at the back a fireside chair a nine-millimetre Browning automatic pistol and in one of Westbrook’s waistcoat pockets a round of nine-millimetre ammunition. When charged Westbrook was alleged to have replied. ” Yes, I have already made a statement.”
Handcuffed in Dock. Westbrook in blue pin-striped suit was handcuffed to a detective. H. A K. Morgan, for the Crown, alleged that when the two additional charges were preferred to-day Westbrook replied—” What matters. I am already charged with murder. Mr Morgan said that on Christmas Eve a girl called Mooney and a man called Westlake met Westbrook in a public-house and later the three went restaurant in Cavendish Street– The restaurant was full ‘”There was some delay and the accused got impatient with the waitress and struck her the face,” alleged Mr Morgan. ” A Sergeant M’Donald threw him out of the cafe and the accused went to run away, but later turned back towards the cafe, pulling out revolver and firing came. ‘The boy Abbott was on the pavement outside the cafe and was hit twice and died almost immediately.”
Girl Frightened
Westbrook then ran away, pushing the girl Mooney before him. ” They went to a hotel in Russell Square. The girl said she was frightened because he had got the gun in his hand.” Mr Morgan alleged that the two booked double room Mr and Mrs French and that Westbrook put the pistol on the bed and the girl went out of the room. When she got back he was fiddling with the gun and it went off and fired into the bed. Westbrook said to the girl that he would have fired more shots outside the cafe but the gun had jammed. As it was he had only fired three shots.” Mr Morgan alleged that after description had been circulated by the police the following day, Westbrook, who saw the papers, packed a suitcase and said. ” If I get caught I shan’t be caught alive. I will shoot it out.”
Shot At Taxi 

Norman Strange

Norman Strange, cutting supplied by the family.

At 11.30 that morning they loft the hotel and were seen later by the two policemen who asked Westbrook for his identity card. ” Accused made no answer but took out the pistol and rammed into Strange’s stomach. He then said, ‘ Don’t come another inch or I’ll ram your guts in”. Westbrook ran away and was followed the two police officers, one whom jumped a taxi and the other followed on another vehicle and Westbrook fired a shot at the taxi. Mr Morgan then described an affray on the roof of dairy in which he alleged Westbrook shot at P.C. Strange, the bullet passing through the officer’s sleeve.
Tried Hide Gun.
” A minute or two later he fired at Rowsell and the bullet missed him, but unfortunately it must have struck some hard substance, splintered and went into the policeman’s eye.” The officer had had his eye removed and was leaving hospital to-day. Westbrook then got into room in a hotel and tried to hide the gun which was capable of holding 15 shots, but only three had been fired. Later, when seen by Detective-Inspector Higgins, Westbrook said in reply to questions about the cafe murder. “Let me think.” He waited a few minutes and said, I was there, but I didn’t know I had killed anybody when I had shot.” Westbrook is then alleged to have said, ” I suppose it is serious. Am I charged with murder!” afterwards he added, ” I will tell all about it,” and made a statement. The text of Westbrook’s alleged statement was follows: ‘” At 8 p.m. on December 24 I went a party in Regent Street and I met Mooney, and man whose name I don’t wish to We had few drinks because it was Christmas Eve.” The alleged statement continued: “We all three went into a restaurant somewhere near the pub for meal. A lot of coloured men were in there and we could not get served. The waitress picked up the knives, forks and spoons from our table and put them in front one of the coloured men the other end of the room.”

Victims CWGC entry

Victims CWGC entry

Beating Up.

” I said, ‘ What’s the matter ‘ and the waitress answered, ‘ Go away and mind your own business.’ She gave me a push and I got up and hit her under the chin. Then the coloured men all got up and hit me. They pulled me towards the door out of the cafe and gave me a good beating up.” I shammed unconsciousness and fell on the floor. Then I jumped up and ran off. They chased me, so I pulled the pistol out. had run about 15 yards. I fired four shots towards the cafe. There was quite crowd of people. It looked like two small queues. I came back towards the cafe and saw coloured man lying on the floor. I said to my friend and the girl Mooney, ‘ Let’s get out.’ Our male companion left and the girl and I went to hotel in Russell Square, where we stayed as Mr and Mrs French. ” There were no papers the following morning and I wanted to see whether the man was killed or wounded. That night the girl and I went to a cinema, and in the evening had some food and one or two beers.” ”

Too Big A Coincidence.

For Gallantry

For Gallantry

” The statement continued: “On Friday, December 27, I read in the papers that a darky had got killed in Soho. I wasn’t sure it was the same man as we were not Soho, but I thought it was too big a coincidence. I was worried then and didn’t know what to do. The girl and I decided to part. I gave her some money and we planned to meet later. ‘”We left the hotel and were walking towards the tube station when two detectives came up to me. I ran round the block of buildings and they followed in a taxi. I tried to get into the Underground, but there were too many people in the way so ran round the block again. ” I stopped and pulled the gun out and fired one shot at the wheel of the taxi, but it followed me. So I ran into the hotel and on the roof. I was just getting down from the factory roof when man threw an iron bar at me. shouted—’ It’s all right. He has nothing in his gun.’
One of the detectives was about 50 yards away. fired over his head to show the gun was still loaded. That was the last time I fired. I went down into the building, but knew I was surrounded by hundreds of people and police, so I hid my gun and just sat down and waited for the police to come. J he girl who stayed with me did not know I carried a gun. I intended to get away, but not by shooting. I did not aim at the policeman. I aimed at the tyre of the taxi.

Nottingham Evening Post 11th January 1947 crime report

Nottingham Evening Post 11th January 1947 crime report

Waitress’s Evidence.

Mrs Diane Bendter, the waitress at the café said that after her argument with Westbrook two of them led him towards the door and out of the cafe. She heard three or four shots and saw Westbrook, who had a hand, looking into the cafe. Sir Bernard Spilsbury said that Abbott had three bullet wounds, one of which had perforated his lungs and caused death. His ribs were smashed and there was flesh wound in his right shoulder. Sergeant Oswald M’Donald, a Jamaican serving a wireless operator in the R.A.F., said he got between Westbrook and the waitress in the cafe when he heard her cry out. He and man called Williams took Westbrook outside. Westbrook ran off. No one chased him. heard a shot and looking round saw Westbrook advancing with something that looked like pistol in his hand. He dodged into the cafe door and heard second and third shot and saw Abbott fall. Stella Violet Mooney, young canteen worker, said that on Christmas Eve she went to cafe where there was disturbance and Westbrook was hustled outside. She then heard three cracks and there was someone lying at her feet she stood near the entrance. She saw Westbrook outside the cafe with gun in his hand. Afterwards she and Westbrook went to a hotel. After telling the court how the gun went off Westbrook fiddled with it in the hotel bedroom, Mooney said that two days later, after reading about the alleged murder in the papers, Westbrook said to her that he would not be caught alive and would shoot his way out. They left the hotel and wore nearing the tube station in Russell Square when two men tapped Westbrook on the shoulder and said they were policemen.” Westbrook asked Mooney ” When we were in the restaurant did you see the waitress pick-up my knife, fork and spoon?’ ” Mooney, ” Yes, I did.” Westbrook, And give it a darkie?”” ” Yes, she gave them to somebody further down. Westbrook, After I had hit the waitress did you see anyone hit me?” ” Well there were many people crowding round you I could not see. After Mooney said that she spent two days with Westbrook the hotel during which time icy went out for amusement, Westbrook was remanded for seven days, the Magistrate advising him to instruct solicitor.

Westbrook was sentenced to 11 years for manslaughter, the presiding Judge’s comments are worth reading.

Western Mail 14th February 1947 Sentencing

Western Mail 14th February 1947 Sentencing

South Wales Borderers soldier Westbrook appears on the 1939 Census as an inmate at H.M. Borstal, Portland, Dorset. The murder charge followed what seems to be a short career in petty crime whilst serving in the Military.

1939 census H M Borstal Portland

1939 census H M Borstal Portland

 

 

 

 

 

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