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Welcome to the Murder Mile UK True-Crime Podcast and audio guided walk of London's most infamous and often forgotten murder cases, all set within and beyond the West End.
EPISODE ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FOUR:
On the night of Tuesday 6th June 1961, three American airmen were attacked by a group of local men armed with fists, bottles and a knife on Queensborough Terrace in Bayswater. 22-year-old Stanley Roach was stabbed to death and died in the melee. Only, his murder wasn’t as clear-cut as it seemed, and although there was no doubt that the two convicted men were guilty of Stanley’s murder, the big question is why? Why did they murder Stanley Roach, a man they didn’t know?
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The location is marked with a red raindrop at the top left of Hyde Park, by the words 'Long Water'. To use the map, click it. If you want to see the other murder maps, access them by clicking here.
SOURCES: This case was researched using some of the sources below.
Thursday 10th February - MEPO 2/10443 - Murder of Stanley Thurman ROACH by Andrew XANTHOU, Daniel ATTARD and Xanthos ZACHARIA on 6 June 1961 at Queensborough Terrace, London, W2 https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C556163
UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE:
Welcome to Murder Mile.
Today I’m standing on Queensborough Terrace in Bayswater, W2; one road north of the stabbing of PC Jack Avery in Hyde Park, two roads east of the pub where Dennis Nilsen met Twinkle, two roads south of the Blackout Ripper’s last victim, and one street west of the seemingly safe bed where a confused old lady was tortured to death in a real ‘hotel of horrors’ - coming soon to Murder Mile.
Running parallel with Queensway and the Bayswater tube, Queensborough Terrace consists of two lines of four-storey Georgian terraces, made of white render, black iron gates and fake doric columns.
Having seen better days, some are homes, but most are slightly tacky B&B’s for tourists seeking the “real London”. Not everyday things like long queues, grumbling and dog-plop, but the cheesy stuff - like red phone boxes, soldiers in bearskins and portraits of the Queen - so they don’t feel cheated.
As a hub for holiday-makers, Bayswater has adopted a similar cringe-making style, so expect to see; The Union Jack Flapjack Shack, The Queen Liz Bean & Fizz, The Dickens Wig & Hair-Thickening Clinic, The Princess Di Doe-Eyed Beauty Parlour and - thankfully - nothing with a certain Prince’s name on.
At 49 Queensborough Terrace currently stands the Central Park Hotel, but back in the 1960s, this was the Knights Hotel; an affordable B&B mostly occupied by tourists, long-term residents and squaddies.
On Tuesday 6th June 1961, three American airmen booked-in and headed out for a fun night. They were here to let-loose, but being attacked by a gang armed with bottles and a knife, one of the three would lose his life. The deadman was a US Citizen called Stanley Roach and he was just 21-years-old.
Sadly, there is violence on every street, and often it is made worse when drunk angry idiots fuelled by arrogance pick on the innocent for no reason, and - in this case - they ruined three lives forever.
My name is Michael, I am your tour-guide and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 174: Nothing But Common Thugs.
On 3rd October 1961 - four months after his murder - three men stood in the dock of The Old Bailey; 20-year-old Andreas Xanthou, a Cypriot chef of Notting Hill; 22-year-old Daniel Attard, a Maltese salesman of Forest Gate; and 28-year-old Xanthou Zacharia, a Cypriot waiter of Leinster Gardens.
In a four-day trial, Xanthou, Attard & Zacharia all pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the Grevious Bodily Harm of 2nd Class Airman Gerald Barreras and the murder of 2nd Class Airman Stanley Roach. Defended by Queen’s Counsel, a highly experienced but expensive solicitor whose services were entirely funded by the tax-payer, the three were expertly defended, even though the evidence was against them.
From the crime-scene; their vicous attack was seen from several angles by impartial eye-witnesses in good light from a few feet away, their fingerprints matched the shards on the bottles they had hurled at and smashed over their victim’s skull, traces of Stanley’s blood were found on the wiped-clean murder weapon and one of his killer’s clothes, and - although they all denied holding the knife which ended his life - Xanthou, Attard & Zacharia were three bad men who did bad things for bad reasons.
Born on the 28th July 1940 in Kyrenia, a coastal city in north Cyprus, Andreas Xanthou left his country in 1958 following his father’s death leaving behind his widowed mother and two younger siblings.
Unable to get a job in the UK as a decorator, he worked sporadically in restaurants; at the Hellas in Piccadilly for four days in November 1959, at the Las Vegas Club on Stanhope Street for six months, and - supposedly - at the Barcelona on Old Compton Street, even though, by then, it had shut-down.
When arrested, he gave his job title as a ‘chef’, only his work record showed he was a ‘kitchen porter’ and having not worked for a full year, he admitted to “living off the proceeds of gambling”. Nicknamed ‘Blackie’ and using the alias of Tony Blackia, Xanthou had one prior conviction for robbery with violence, and having served four months, he was released from prison on 22nd February 1961.
Born on 23rd September 1938 in Sliema, a coastal district in northern Malta, Daniel Attard left school aged 15. His life had started well, having become an electrician in Sliema, Cuchgarie and Valetta dockyards for five years working on contracts for the British Government. But having left of his own accord in March 1959, he moved to the UK, only his new life lacked the opportunities he desired.
From May 1959 to May 1961, he worked six months as a table-fitter, one month for Spratts Biscuits in Poplar and two months as a plate scullion onboard the SS Kenya Castle, only he was discharged from duty as his work was unsatisfactory. When arrested, he said he was a salesman, only he wasn’t.
After one month in the UK, he was sentenced to three months at Marlborough Street police court for wilful damage and assaulting a policeman, and he lived at home with his parents in Forest Gate.
And finally, there was Xanthou Zacharia.
Born in Nicosia, the capital city of Cyprus on 17th February 1933, Zacharia was a criminal before he came to the UK; with one count of turkey theft and two counts of assault. Working intermittently as a waiter, a labourer, a mechanic, an ice-cream-maker, a rubber moulder and a fruit delivery driver, he had an extensive criminal record; with crimes ranging from the petty - theft, drunkenness and the use of offensive words - to the serious - burglary, car-theft, pimping and violent assault with a knife.
At the time of his arrest, he had served twenty months in prison and hadn’t worked in six.
On the 9th October 1961 - unable to prove his guilt - Zacharia was acquitted, and with neither man admitting that they had held the knife, both Xanthou and Attard were found guilty of the assault of Gerald Barreras and the murder of Stanley Roach. With the police stating that “society is well rid of them” being thugs who profited from violence and crime, both men were sentenced to life in prison.
A few days after his murder, the body of 2nd Class Airman Stanley Roach was repatriated back to his grieving family in his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. He was a good man with a promising career whose young life was cut short in a random attack by three armed strangers who he did not know.
It’s sad, but it’s an all-too common event in a city like London, where common thugs walk free among the innocent who are simply trying to live their lives without being beaten, accosted or murdered.
We will never know who stabbed Stanley Roach to death…
…but the real question shouldn’t be who, but why?
Set aside the Swinging Sixties, 1961 was a year of escalating world tensions. Three years into the Vietnam war, one year from the Cuban Missile Crisis, three months since the Bay of Pigs, and with the Soviets having exploded Big Ivan - a 58 megaton hydrogen bomb, the largest ever built - and with Germany being partioned into East and West by a wall - the Cold War had gone from icy to nuclear.
Seeking to extend their presence in Europe, the Ministry of Defence re-established this former World War Two airbase, so that US jets and bombers could be strambled at a minute’s notice. As air-crew, 2nd Class Airman Gerald Barreras was assigned to the Technical Fighter Wing alongside 3rd Class Airman William Hammond, with 2nd Class Airman Stanley Thurman Roach in Armament Electronics.
Aged 20 to 21, as young lads embarking on an exciting mission in a foreign land - with money to burn and a penchant for gorgeous English girls - Stanley, William and Gerald worked hard and played hard. Being easy-to-spot; William was a big lump, Gerald had charm and Stanley was the baby-faced cutie.
(Clock): Wednesday 31st May 1961, six days earlier.
With ten days leave, William and Gerald came to London in William’s Volkswagen Beetle, parking up outside of 49 Queensborough Terrace and staying at the Knight’s Hotel. Having been there before, they liked it, as the hotel was cheap and the area was lively, but they hadn’t experienced any trouble.
On Monday 5th June, they were joined by their buddy Stanley Roach who was on a three day pass. Their first night was as predictable as any; as they ate, drank, chatted up girls and headed to bed late.
(Clock ticking:) Tuesday 6th June 1961, the day of the murder.
Nothing happened before 2pm, as being cursed by a trio of stinking hangovers, Stanley, William and Gerald suffered for the silly levels of booze they had belted back the night before. But hey, they weren’t on duty, so why not? By 3pm, still feeling rough, they sat in Hyde Park soaking up a rare spot of British sun and shared a bottle of Canadian whiskey to take the edge off the pains in their bonces.
At 7:30pm, having necked back a few “warm pints” (and not knowing they weren’t lagers but ales), at 9pm they headed one street west, to the 30 Club at 30 Queensbury, to drink and dance with girls.
At 11pm, with the club closed, as Gerald had promised to walk the barmaid home to Queensborough Terrace, William & Stanley headed into Queensway looking for two nice girls for themselves. Their chances wouldn’t be great as both men were bladdered, but their boners didn’t know how to say no.
With just 55 minutes until the attack, so far they had not met either Xanthou, Attard & Zacharia.
(Clock:) At 11:50pm, with William having headed-off to Notting Hill, Gerald & Stanley staggered into Queensborough Terrace and fumbled with the key to his VW bug. Although hugely arseholed, being six years before the UK drink drive limit, they could drive pissed as long as they weren’t a danger.
Only, in their condition, their immediate danger wasn’t from traffic but gangs of violent thugs.
Focussed on the car, as the seriously sozzled twosome swore at its unruly key, three men of Cypriot and Maltese origin formed a semicircle of hate behind them; with one sporting balled-up fists, one armed with a stack of glass bottles and a third clutching a fourteen-inch knife, as long as a forearm.
At that moment, the men were unaware of the deadly threat, as Xanthou, Attard & Zacharia loomed closer, intent on doing this isolated and outnumbered pair some serious damage and possibly death.
It began, with Gerald being smashed over his head with a milk bottle, which split open his skull and sprayed blood across the car window and his wincing eyes. Before they could turn, in a cowardly attack, the three unleashed a volley of fists and feet, as Gerald and William struggled to fight back.
Hearing their cries, lights came on in the neighbouring hotels as a sea of eye-witnesses watched the assault from several angles; as glass bottles smashed, men screamed and a sharp blade glinted. It was a melee of flying limbs and slamming bodies impossible to distinguish whose arm and whose leg.
Unable to see through his bloody lids, Gerald shouted “there are too many of them, let’s go”, and as the two airmen staggered down Queensborough Terrace, as they turned onto the busy Bayswater Road, it became clear they were no longer being chased. And with their attackers having fled - being battered and exhausted - both Gerald and Stanley collapsed at the junction of Inverness Terrace.
Bleeding profusely from a nasty gash to his head, as he wiped a red running river from his eyes, the gaggle of onlookers thought that Gerald was the worst hurt…
…only seeing his woollen pullover pooling in an ever increasing crimson pump, it was as Stanley hit the floor with a hard thud, unable to even move, that the severity of his injuries became clear.
An ambulance rushed both men to Paddington General. In A&E, Gerald received five stitches to his head, but - having been stabbed once in the heart - at 2:18am, Stanley Roach was pronounced dead.
The death of Stanley Roach was described by eye-witnesses as a mindless act by cowardly thugs who the police said “society is well rid of them”. Both men were drunk, unarmed and outnumbered.
Such brutality on an innocent person never makes any sense…
…but why were Gerald and Stanley attacked?
Was it random, or did it have a reason?
(Clock) Rewind to 11pm. With the 30 Club shut and Gerald walking the barmaid home, Stanley & William drunkenly stumbled onto Queensway looking for girls. Being drunk and horny, they weren’t in the mood for a nice chat with a filly or a possible friend, they were here to fuck - plain and simple.
Checking-in at the Knight’s Hotel, all three Americans hadn’t signed in with their own names, but aliases; William was Robert Bryant, Gerald was Joe Alberto and Stanley Roach was Stanley L Donnell. When asked why, all three said “this was to prevent us being identified, if there was any trouble with the girls”. Which begs the question, why do this, if you don’t plan to do something immoral or illegal?
Thirty minutes later, on the corner of Moscow Road and Queensway, having failed to pick-up two girls, William Hammond - a big guy with a foul temper when he was steaming - smacked a stranger in the face for no reason what-so-ever; bloodying his nose and splaying the lad across the street.
Having been assaulted by a common thug and rightly incensed, the victim did the right thing and alerted a passing policeman. The two strangers were a 21-year old chef called Andreas Xanthou and - sporting a bloody lip - the victim was a 22-year-old Maltese salesman called Daniel Attard.
At 11:40pm, Daniel pointed out William Hammond to PC Collier shouting “he just hit me”. With one word against the other and their pals - Andreas Xanthou siding with Daniel Attard, and Stanley Roach siding with William Hammond - the constable had no power to arrest, only to apply for a summons.
Furious that his attacker was set to walk free from an unprovoked assault, as a hot-heated man still smarting from a serious thump, Daniel stormed off, shouting “I will deal with this myself, I will get my friends, we will get you for this”. And with Daniel having left the scene, no crime could be charged.
One block north-west of the random assault on Daniel Attard - seeking a weapon - Andreas headed into Gray’s restaurant on Prince’s Square, a place he had waitered and stole a 14-inch kitchen knife.
Hopped-up with rage having been insulted by a fat yank, on their streets, in the home - having met Xanthou Zacharia - Andreas, Daniel & Zacharia scoured every nook and cranny of Bayswater for the two; with fists balled, bottles stashed and brandishing a big knife which would soon take a man’s life.
Ten minutes later, they would unleash their fury on Barreras and Roach…
…but even that doesn’t explain why Hammond punched Daniel?
(Clock) 11:45pm. At the junction of Moscow Road and Queensway.
With Daniel & Xanthou having stormed-off fuming “we will get you for this”, local taxi-driver Maurice Greenberg approached PC Collier; his face bruised, his glasses broken, and - in a mirror image of the incident just a few minutes before - he pointed to Hammond and stated “that man hit me and them”.
Indicating to the two girls behind him - both red-faced, furious and scuffed - as this time witnesses had seen this assault, Hammond was swiftly arrested and escorted to Notting Hill police station.
Having been left on his own, Roach headed back to their hotel on Queensborough Terrace, where Barreras had walked the barmaid home, and - having recounting the story - the drunken twosome fumbled with the key, trying to get into Hammond’s VW bug, to bail this loose-cannon out of jail.
Being angry and humiliated, it was unlikely that Andreas, Daniel & Zacharia ever intended to kill the baby-faced GI when they surrounded them. What they did was not right, as a punch doesn’t warrant a death. But with all six (whether Cypriot, Maltese or American) being hot-headed, they didn’t think.
In a moronic melee of fists and feet, which both sides could easily have quelled the tensions having calmed down, seen sense or issued an apology. But as five angry men fought to prove nothing but their manhood, they gave as good as they got until the fight got too much… and one man lay dead.
All of it could have been prevented by common sense…
…and although it explained the incident, it doesn’t explain the spark.
(Clock): 11pm. With the 30 Club closed, as Barreras walked the barmaid home, William & Stanley headed onto Queensway looking for girls; both bladdered, but with their boners unable to say no. At this point - being elsewhere - Andreas, Daniel & Zacharia were unaware the Americans even existed.
In his own words, Hammond would state “we were walking the streets of Baywater looking for girls with a view to sex”. Whether local ladies or prostitutes, they didn’t care as long as they got to stick their pointless little dicks in any random chick at the Knight’s Hotel. And if she complained, the police would end up chasing three aliases known only as Robert Bryant, Joe Alberto and Stanley L Donnell.
At 11:15pm, in an alley behind the 30 Club, Hammond & Roach approached two girls smoking. “We met two girls and asked them to go with us”. There was no “hello”, no “how are you”, just a blunt and drunken “hey girls, let’s fuck”, as if they didn’t want to waste their energy on chatting, only shagging.
As flat-mates out for a drink, 23-year-old Inger Robinson and 25-year-old Jean Stokes didn’t know who these arrogant little assholes were. World War Two was over, the days of GIs carrying nylons and Hershey bars were gone, and besides, compared to good old British chocolate, it tasted like dog-shit.
But what got their goat was being treated like pieces of meat by two rude little shitbags who couldn’t string a sentence together and who wafted their money about like they were King ‘fucking’ Farouk. These girls were not sex-workers, but with Hammond waving £5 in their faces - bartering to buy their bodies to do their dirty deeds to - insulted, Inger & Jean told them to “Sod off” and walked off.
Although too drunk to remember, Hammond would later deny this took place…
…but what happened next was witnessed by others.
Seeing the girls as theirs and unwilling to accept “no” as an answer to their bulging pants, Hammond & Roach followed the girls up Queensway, to the junction of Bayswater Road, insisting they “put out”.
Hailing a taxi, as Jean tried to get in and be rid of these randy roaches forever, having grabbed the door so the cab couldn’t leave, Hammond offered £10 for sex. With Inger & Jean seething, seeing trouble brewing, the bespectacled taxi-driver - Maurice Greenberg - came round to assist.
It was then that the moment turned…
…offering a deliberately insulting sum “how about two shillings and six pence?”, Roach remarked “nah, they ain’t worth it, they’re just a couple of skags”. Furious, Jean asked him to repeat it, he did, and as she went to slap him, Stanley Roach, the baby-faced airman, punched her squarely in the face.
Falling to the floor, as Ingar tried to defend her friend, Hammond kicked her to the ground and the two cowards continued kicking these two girls, as they lay on the pavement screaming and bleeding.
The taxi-driver stepped in to break it up, but being punched by Hammond - whose quick temper and fast fists would get him into trouble just a few minutes later - seeing a policeman, the airmen fled.
Smarted by the girls’ rejections and spoiling for a fight - by chance - Hammond & Roach headed towards the junction of Moscow Road and into the path of Daniel Attard & Andreas Xanthou. (End)
Seen fleeing the scene of this seemingly unprovoked stabbing on Queensborough Terrace, Andreas Xanthou wiped the knife clean and returned it to Grey’s restaurant. In hospital, Barreras described the gang who had attacked them, as “swarthy, curved nosed and thick lipped”, along with a wealth of unsavoury details reflecting an era where foreigners were described as if they were always the villain.
Back-up by witnesses and fingerprints, police arrested three unemployed men; Andreas Xanthou alias Tony Blackia, a recently released Cypriot criminal on bail for violent robbery; Daniel Attard, a Maltese “salesman” with a conviction for assaulting a policeman; and Xanthou Zacharia, a Cypriot gambler with a criminal record for theft, drunkenness, burglary, pimping and assault with a knife.
In court, with “society well rid of them”, although Xanthou Zacharia was acquitted, Daniel Attard & Andreas Xanthou were sentenced to life in prison. It’s true that all three were bad men who did bad things - not one of them was an angel - but with manslaughter taken off the table, what wasn’t taken into account was the provocation initiated by William Hammond, Gerald Barerras and Stanley Roach.
Every crime has a culprit and a motive, but it’s not always as clear to see when you look through the prism of name, rank and uniform. On paper, the three airmen were decent men doing a good job during a time of conflict, but when let off the leash, they were nothing more than common thugs.
Hammond & Barreras were charged with no offences, and Stanley Roach was buried with honours.
** LEGAL DISCLAIMER
The Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast has been researched using the original declassified police investigation files, court records, press reports and as many authentic sources as possible, which are freely available in the public domain, including eye-witness testimony, confessions, autopsy reports, first-hand accounts and independent investigation, where possible. But these documents are only as accurate as those recounting them and recording them, and are always incomplete or full of opinion rather than fact, therefore mistakes and misrepresentations can be made. As stated at the beginning of each episode (and as is clear by the way it is presented) Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast is a 'dramatisation' of the events and not a documentary, therefore a certain amount of dramatic licence, selective characterisation and story-telling (within logical reason and based on extensive research) has been taken to create a fuller picture. It is not a full and complete representation of the case, the people or the investigation, and therefore should not be taken as such. It is also often (for the sake of clarity, speed and the drama) presented from a single person's perspective, usually (but not exclusively) the victim's, and therefore it will contain a certain level of bias and opinion to get across this single perspective, which may not be the overall opinion of those involved or associated. Murder Mile is just one possible retelling of each case. Murder Mile does not set out to cause any harm or distress to those involved, and those who listen to the podcast or read the transcripts provided should be aware that by accessing anything created by Murder Mile (or any source related to any each) that they may discover some details about a person, an incident or the police investigation itself, that they were unaware of.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London” and nominated "one of the best true-crime podcasts at the British Podcast Awards".
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster of Murder Mile UK True Crime and creator of true-crime TV series.
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