Anniversary of gunned down Romford police officer

George Gutteridge. Picture: Essex Police

George Gutteridge. Picture: Essex Police - Credit: Archant

Pc George Gutteridge was found slumped by the roadside having been shot twice in the side of the head and in both eyes after walking from his family home to meet a colleague one September night.

Roy Tyzack pays his respects to the fallen officer.

Roy Tyzack pays his respects to the fallen officer. - Credit: Archant

Last week marked the 87th anniversary of the killing of the former-Romford officer that sparked an international manhunt and led to the hanging of two violent, gangland criminals.

Retired murder squad detective Roy Tyzack walked the same beat as the fallen officer years later and spoke to the Recorder about the “barbaric and brutal” crime.

On the night of September 29, 1927, Pc Gutteridge waved goodbye to his wife and two children as he left their home in Stapleford Abbotts and walked along the B175 to meet his colleague at Howe Green.

Mr Tyzack, 67, of Navestockside, Brentwood, said that the brave officer pulled over a car, which, unknown to him, had just been stolen from a doctor’s home in Billericay, and went to take notes when he was shot four times in the head.

Early the next morning, passing friend Alec Ward spotted Pc Gutteridge’s lifeless body and quickly telephoned Romford Police Station for help.

When they inspected the body they found he was still grasping his pencil and notepad.

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Mr Tyzack suggested that the officer’s eyes may have been shot out because of an old superstition that a dead man’s eyes hold the last image he saw in life.

The stolen Morris Cowley was subsequently found abandoned in Stockwell, south London, with a bullet cartridge case inside and blood on the exterior of the car. A ballistics expert concluded that bullets found at the scene matched the cases found in the discarded car.

Detectives linked the case the following year to Frederick Guy Browne, a notorious criminal with a garage business in Clapham, and his associate William Kennedy, who had fled to Liverpool.

Officers swooped on Kennedy in an effort to arrest him and he tried to fire at one of them. But the policeman’s life was saved when the gun jammed.

Kennedy was quizzed in London and admitted being present at Pc Gutteridge’s murder, but implicated Browne as the murderer. Browne was arrested carrying a Webley revolver but denied any involvement. However, forensic officers used a comparison microscope, at the time state-of-the-art technology, to match the bullets with his revolver.

A jury at the Central Criminal Court found both men guilty of murder, following which they were sentenced to the ultimate penalty.

Browne and Kennedy were hanged simultaneously at Pentonville and Wandsworth prisons respectively for their crime.

Today a road close to where the officer was murdered – Gutteridge Lane in Stapleford Abbotts – has been named after him and a plaque remains at the site.

Mr Tyzack said: “This was in an age before CCTV, computers or police radios and forensics was still in its infancy.

“If those men had simply kept going they would have been guilty of no more than vehicle crime and George Gutteridge would have continued to live and serve his community.”

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