Police Mark 56th Anniversary of Braybrook Street Murders

Paying tribute to three officers shot dead near Scrubs Prison on August 12,1966

Officers gathered at the memorial

Local police officers gathered with family and friends on August 12 to pay tribute to three officers who were murdered in Braybrook Street in Shepherd’s Bush 56 years ago.

Askew Safer Neighbourhood Team were among those leaving flowers at the memorial for Detective Sergeant Christopher Head, 30, Temporary Detective Constable David Wombwell, 25; and, PC Geoffrey Fox, 41 who were shot dead shortly after 3.15pm on August 12, 1966.

They tweeted @MPSAskew: “ Today your ward officers attended Braybrook St to remember our fallen colleagues who died on this day in the line of duty 56 years ago. #FOXTROTONEONE, @MPSOldOak. @MPSWhiteCity,@MPSRavenscourt.”

Chief Superintendent Owain Richards sent a message of support, tweeting @MPS_ORichards: “ Colleagues, thank you for paying respects to fallen officers, and sorry I couldn’t join you, due to leave. My thoughts are with the officer’s families and friends. The Braybrook Suite at @MPSHammFul Pol Stn is in memory of the three officers shot and killed in Shepherds Bush.”

Flowers at the memorial to the murdered officers
Flowers at the memorial to the murdered officers

The plain clothes officers were on duty as the crew of a police ‘Q car’, with call sign ‘Foxtrot One One’, when they approached a van close to Wormwood Scrubs Prison. The vehicle had no tax disc on display, an offence at the time, and as prisoners sometimes tried to escape from the nearby prison with the assistance of getaway drivers, they decided to stop and question the occupants.

While DS Head and DC Wombwell questioned the occupants, the front seat passenger produced a weapon and shot DC Wombwell, killing him instantly. DS Head and PC Fox were also shot and fatally wounded by Harry Maurice Roberts and an accomplice.

PC Geoffrey Roger Fox, 41; Temporary Detective Constable David Stanley Bertram Wombwell, 25, and Detective Sargent Christopher Tippet HeadPC Geoffrey Fox, TDC David Wombwell, 25, and DS Christopher Head

Roberts opened fire on the officers fearing they would discover the firearms his gang was planning to use in an armed robbery.

Following the shootings, Roberts hid in Thorley Wood in Hertfordshire, using his military training to avoid being arrested for 96 days. A £1,000 reward was offered for information leading to his arrest and he was finally captured by police while sleeping rough in a barn.

Roberts was convicted of all three murders and sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum term of 30 years. He served nearly 48 years in prison and was released in January 2015 at the age of 78.

A police guard of honour

The horrific shooting sparked public outrage, with a memorial service in Westminster Abbey attended by thousands of police officers from all over the UK, and over 1,000 members of the public standing outside the Abbey.

Donations for the families of the officers poured in from the public, with the fund reaching £1 million, and this huge public support led to The Police Dependant’s Trust being established to support officers injured in the line of duty.

In 2019 The National Police Fund and The Police Dependant’s Trust merged to become the charity which Police Care UK, which says: “ Today, we continue to support all police, serving or retired, volunteers, staff, and their families, who have been harmed as a result of their policing role.”

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August 15, 2022