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The Shepherd's Bush Murders

One of the most traumatic murder cases in London occurred one summer afternoon on 12th August 1966 when the crew of F 11 Q Car was cold-bloodedly murdered near Wormwood Scrubs prison.

The three officers were Detective Sergeant Christopher Head, Detective Constable David Wombwell and PC Geoffrey Fox, all of whom were attached to Shepherd's Bush police station. They approached a battered blue Standard Vanguard Estate car with three suspects inside in Braybrook Street, and Christopher Head and David Wombwell questioned the occupants.  The  suspects were John Witney, owner of the car, John Duddy, and the infamous Harry Roberts.   It was Roberts who pulled out a gun, and turned a routine police stop into a gruesome murder by shooting David Wombwell.   Roberts then pursued Christopher Head towards the police car and shot him also, whilst Duddy fired at and killed Geoffrey Fox.


The three criminals raced away from the scene, and the biggest manhunt for many years began.   It had been the first time that three officers had been murdered in one incident since three City of London officers had died in Houndsditch in the prelude to the Sidney Street siege of 1911, and the whole of the police service was shocked at the outrage.   Public reaction was no less intense, and there were many calls for the re-introduction of the recently abolished death penalty for some types of murder.

Fortunately the number of their car had been taken.



John Witney was the first to be arrested, having been traced through his ownership of the car, and he admitted the involvement of Duddy and Roberts.   Duddy was traced to Scotland, but Roberts was on the run for about 3 months before he was caught camping out in Hertfordshire.

A memorial service at Westminster Abbey was attended by thousands of police officers, with the Queen represented, and the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition attending.  

The Police Dependants' Trust was formed as the reaction to this case, received many donations to support those left behind by such tragedies, and the charity's continuing existence has become a silver lining to the very dark cloud represented by this tragic case. 

The officer's names are recorded in the Roll of Honour

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