RIP--John Hoggs
By Gerry.
Published: July 20, 2008
Updated: July 20, 2008

I was feeling quite calm, I shouldn’t have been really, it wasn’t natural. However I was feeling calm. I knew that I was safe, it had all gone according to plan and there was no way I could be tied in. I know you will have heard this many times before, ‘they all say that,’ you will be thinking, however I was sure.

I had no motive; I didn’t live and was not known in the area. I had a cast iron alibi, but knew I wouldn’t need it. I didn’t leave any trail or clues; I was too smart for that. I wasn’t known to any of the authorities so even if fingerprints were found, which they wouldn’t be, they could not tie me in. No this had been perfect and that is why I felt calm.

There was plenty of commotion going on with the media of course; the papers were full of it and the radio was broadcasting frequent up dates. This was very big news, and anyone would think they were on someone’s trail the way they went on. I suppose a show had to be put on of making headway, this was one that needed to be solved, and quick.

As expected, things started to quieten down eventually and the whole thing seemed to go away; however things were apparently still moving in the background but not the way I had expected at all. I was in fact in for one colossal surprise.

‘Suspect Caught’ was the headlines. This immediately worried me, not over much though, because I knew they had the wrong person, and it would soon become clear that this was the case. This didn’t happen though; each days news seemed to imply even more that the correct person had been caught.

I was dreading to hear that the authorities were going to charge someone. Just two weeks after the first report they did prefer charges. The guy was one John Hoggs, and it seemed he had very little defence. He was known to the police, had previous convictions, was in the area at the time, had no alibi, and the need to nail someone for this offence was of a high priority. Now I really was worried, I had no regret about what I had done, but I couldn’t see an innocent man swing for a crime I had committed, even though it seemed he was an out an out rogue. This idea would change though.

I had connections, and good ones, people who I could rely on totally. My connections also covered a very broad spectrum. I needed to know all about John Hoggs, and my connections were soon at work.. If some guy was about to swing for something I had done, then I needed to know lots of things about him. There was one thing for sure now though, even if he was found guilty I wasn’t about to intervene, he could swing, I had had a complete change of mind on this point. My life was of much more value than his was, even if he was not guilty of this crime.

What happened next was very strange, my connections who I cannot divulge, all drew a blank. These were people who had access to all records, births - deaths – marriages - immigration, criminal records, and court appearances. Medical, taxation and housing records were also checked, as were military service records. There was nothing on this guy at all, it seemed in fact that he had never been born---never existed.

John Hoggs was tried and found guilty, and as expected, he was duly sentenced to be hanged. The papers and radio reported that because of the official secrets act and post war security, all aspects of the trial would be in ‘camera’ and no details could be released to the public, nor were they. There was to be no appeal and Hoggs was reportedly hanged two weeks later. I stayed silent.

John Hoggs as we know didn’t hang, but only a very few people at the time were aware of that fact. Because this was a crime that had to be solved, the police needed to have a culprit. John Hoggs suited the situation all too well. It was all neatly packaged, the police were happy, the government were happy, and I was very happy. It had indeed been a perfect crime. One particular group were not too happy though; but then there wasn’t a thing this group could do about it.

Why am I telling you this now after all these years?
Well I have in my hand a letter that was delivered to me a few weeks ago, and I have been thinking about it very carefully ever since. I have moved home a number of times since the events depicted here, and been out of the country quite a lot; however I honestly don’t think that there is any problem with me sharing the content of the letter with you now.

It simply says; ‘I was surprised to find that you were still alive. It is all a long time since isn’t it? There is no such thing as a perfect crime. John H.

Now here is my take on this. I think that the guy who wrote this letter is the person who adopted the identity of John Hoggs for the trial. Yes there was a trial, even though it was in secret. It would probably have been a young policeman who had been trained how to act throughout the proceedings. He wasn’t hung of course but there was a hanging, all the criteria had to be met. The hanged body would have originated in the city mortuary (some unknown; and certainly not the first time that this has happened) and then after the farce of hanging the corpse, it would have been buried in the prison grounds. The young actor would then have resumed his normal police duties.

In the letter writers situation I would have wanted to know how anyone could let an innocent man die for a crime he didn’t commit. I think he devoted a lot of his life trying to track down the person really responsible. Don’t ask me how he did it. So my problem is now, do I answer the letter explaining to him that I knew no one had been executed for the crime; and seeking to know how he found me and what he has on me? He will obviously be a very similar age to me now. Or do I just let things ride?

By the way; I know the case can never be re-opened.

The last hanging in the UK was 1964.
Jack Straw only formally abolished the Death penalty in 1999.
The Channel Isles and Isle of Man still officially have the death penalty.