I’ve been remiss in mot posting here a bit more. Here’s a little info some of you airshow enthusiasts might appreciate.
Monthly Archives: November 2012
I don’t know any Hell’s Angels although I’ve had a coffee and the occasional beer with the occasional member I’ve met casually on the road. Not being judgmental about the way someone shows their colours, I still would unless something gave me cause not to. With my other hat on I recognise the other side of that organisation and I’ve been involved in a few little `operations` to arrest one or two. I’ve also read a few books on the subject, including one by notorious Hell’s Angel, Sonny Barger, called `Ridin’ High, Livin’ Free`. I wouldn’t recommend it to the casual reader, although anyone studying criminology and `modern folk devils` would find it worthy of their research time although I prefer the magic of John Steinbeck for road stories.
This particular yarn came about after an incident many years ago, in the wake of a fatal shooting of a gang member during a British Hell’s Angels inter-chapter feud. I was called out to do a house entry and `armed criminal arrest` of the suspected killer. Although the CID (detectives) painted the usual picture of the target being `Britain’s most dangerous man` it was a straightforward early morning warrant where the firearms unit would secure the place and then handover to the CID murder squad. The door entry was simple as it wasn’t a chapter house we had to breach. These days that sort of thing can take much more complex planning and in some cases explosive method of entry is considered, by those police forces who have the necessary skills (and the senior officers with the bottle to approve it) although I do not know of anywhere in the UK that it’s been used – yet. On this job we actually mooted this option for about 10 seconds as a bit of a joke, until I saw the look on the superintendent’s (senior police commander) face. We’d once done a recce of a really big chapter house in a city, which revealed a sophisticated security camera and reinforced doors that included former police cell gates retrieved from scrap dealers and building demolition sites! It was referred to by us as FFK or, to give it the full title, Fort Fucking Knox. One of my guys, ex SBS, was busting to show us how we could do it with just a teeny-weeny bit of explosive, but that particular superintendent squeaked, “No” from behind his locked toilet door – typical senior officer, what more can I say.
On our simple arrest warrant job the door was popped easily using an electro-hydraulic ram (door frame needed repairing afterwards) and myself and my small 3 man entry team were in within seconds. Almost immediately, the target appeared at the top of the stairs and was hard-challenged (had guns pointed at him along with instructions in words of one syllable). Cool as a cucumber, he slowly put his hands on his head and said, “No problem lads, I got no beef with the old bill”, (but the old bill* had a beef with him). ‘Cuffed and searched, he was passed to the team waiting outside. The rest of the ground floor was declared clear and it was then that I heard movement upstairs. I steamed up, followed by my number two and three where we performed a fast and low tactical entry into the room where the movement was detected. It was worse than I feared. I found myself facing a naked woman in the process of pulling up her knickers. This was the trigger man’s girlfriend or `old lady` to use Hell’s Angels parlance. Seeing me and my pistol pointed at her she left the knickers at half mast around her knees and put her hands up. A quick check of the room and hearing the word “Clear” barked out behind me told me that my back was safe. I said I was sorry for the intrusion and told her to cover herself up. Without so much as blinking she said, “That’s OK darlin’, give me 5 minutes and I’ll do you a bacon sandwich”. Such was my surprise at her sheer coolness and generous offer, an offer that I would never normally refuse, I actually said, “No thanks” as I holstered my pistol. That was the last thing I was expecting to hear from someone whose bedroom I’d just crashed into with a self loading pistol in my hand. Incidentally if, like the boys back at the police station, you were disappointed at me not giving a salacious all boobs and bush description of `breasts swaying seductively as the pale pink rays of early morning sunlight played tantalisingly across………`, I’m sorry to disappoint, but the absolute truth is that I couldn’t remember what she looked like, as all I was interested in was whether she was a threat (which in hindsight she probably was anyway), but having started you off I guess you can make up the rest from your own imagination, if you so desire. We found a sawn off single barrelled shotgun concealed inside a large bore dummy exhaust pipe on his motorcycle, although the murder weapon had been an Model 1911 ACP – now that’s what I call a handgun.
My second encounter with a member of the Hell’s A’s was very different. I was off duty, out for a ride on my own motorcycle and noticed a biker tinkering with his machine in a lay-by on a trunk road not far from my rural beat house which had its own small office attached. I pulled in to see if he needed help. As I rolled to a stop behind him I noticed the familiar death head back patch and top and bottom rockers. 30 minutes later and we’d botched up the broken fuel pipe with some spare I had in my emergency kit and he was on his way. [When you owned a British motorcycle you carried a good selection of `stuff`]. A couple of hours later the police office doorbell sounded. Although I was off duty I would often answer the door unless otherwise engaged, in which case I’d just lay low and wait for them to read the sign on the door and pick up the direct line telephone to the main station. I opened up and there stood the biker I’d helped. He said, “This is for you” and handed me a bottle of Scotch. I said there was no need. “Take it mate, I was stuffed back there, thanks”. With that he placed it on the porch floor, turned and walked down the drive. I called after him and asked how he knew where I lived, as when we were fixing his bike I never mentioned I was police or where I came from. He just winked at me.
*Old Bill is old English slang for `police`.
There was a short piece on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme this morning, Wed 28th Nov, where the man who located the Spits was interviewed. You may be able to listen to it via this link. Go to `listen again` (you may need the BBC iPlayer download, you may not). Anyway, give it a go. The interview is a little after the 2hr 25 min mark which you can skip to. I hope it works for you:
Sorry if you’ve all seen this one, but it only just reached my in-box:
Originally published November 26th, 2003.