Victor John Terry - “Legs Diamond”.


20 year old Victor John Terry was a wannabe gangster from Chiswick in London.  Terry had been in trouble with the law since the age of eight and had served time in Borstal for a violent robbery he committed at the age of 18.  He had a girlfriend, 18 year old Valerie Slater, who lived in Worthing in Sussex.  Click here for a photo of Terry


On Tuesday the 8th of November Terry purchased a shotgun and some cartridges.  The following day he two friends, 16 year old Philip Tucker and 20 year old Alan Hosier stole a green Wolsley car in Chiswick and drove down to Worthing to visit Valerie.  They arrived around 8 am. on the morning of November the 10th, 1960 and Valerie’s mother made them a cup of tea before leaving for work.


Just after 10 am. on that Thursday morning, Terry, Valerie, Tucker and Hosier drew up outside of Lloyds Bank at Field Place in Durrington, near Worthing.  Apparently during the journey from Valerie’s house to the bank, Terry had heard on the car radio that his friend Francis Forsyth had just been hanged at Wandsworth Prison that morning.


The bank had been opened by Andrew Barker, the cashier, and 61 year old John Pull, the bank’s guard.  Terry and Tucker entered the bank and Terry produced the shotgun and demanded money.  There was perhaps some hesitation and Terry fired at Mr. Pull at close range, the pellets hitting his forehead.  Tucker was told that the money was in the bag but picked up a Gladstone bag.  Andrew Barker told him that it was the wrong bag and that it was in the attaché case next to it.  The gang netted £1,372, some in used notes that the manager had bundled specially for return to the Bank of England in exchange for new ones.  Mr. Barker dialed 999 and set off the bank’s alarm.  He was able to tell police that the gang had escaped in a green car.  Sadly Mr. Pull succumbed rapidly to his massive injury.


The group split up the money and parted company.  Tucker and Hosier took a cab and asked the driver to take them from near Worthing station to the sea front.  The fare was 2s 6p but they gave him a ten shilling note and told him to keep the change.  He had heard about the shooting and informed the police where he had dropped them off.  He was able to give the police a good description of them and they were quickly arrested.  When searched Tucker had £60 on him and Hosier £120.  When asked if they had heard about the bank robbery they said they had but had been on the train from London at the time of it. Andrew Barker was brought to Worthing police station and was able to identify Tucker as the one who had taken the bag containing the money.  He couldn’t identify Hosier as had stayed outside in the car.


Threatened with a murder charge, Tucker gave police the name of Vic Terry and told them that the bank raid had been his idea.  He also gave the police the name of Terry’s girlfriend, Valerie Slater.  Tucker told police that he had left Terry and Valerie at her mother’s house and that they were all to meet up at Portsmouth later.  The time was 12.50 pm. and Worthing police put out an APB for the green Wolsley and its supposed two occupants.


Terry and Valerie had taken a bus to Littlehampton and from there a taxi to Portsmouth.  Unfortunately its driver didn’t have a radio and was unaware that his passengers were wanted.

Amazingly the cab was stopped at three police road blocks but waived through on each occasion.  On the last occasion, near Chichester, the police sergeant asked Terry his name and he replied “James Diamond” and said that Valerie was his wife.  Chichester police still thought they were looking for two men and did not connect Terry and Valerie to the crime.  At 2.15 pm. the couple arrived at Portsmouth Harbour.  In the meantime the green Wolsley car had been discovered outside Valerie’s mother’s home in Worthing.  It contained the attaché case and the gun.  It was traced as having been stolen in Chiswick the day before.  Mrs. Salter was contacted at work by the police and allowed them to search her home.  In Valerie’s wardrobe they found three men’s raincoats and the bolt from the gun.


Terry and Valerie had spent Thursday night in Portsmouth before taking another cab to Yeovil in Somerset.  They meandered around Somerset and then made for London.  It would appear that they then took an overnight train to Glasgow, where they arrived the following morning.  They then took a cab to the Lyndock Hotel and signed in as Mr. and Mrs. Parker.  Later that night the owner of the hotel watched the television news and recognized the couple as her guests, the Parkers.  She went immediately to the police station and told them that Terry and Valerie were in Room 7.  At 1.00 am. on the 13th of November four police officers went to the Lyndock and arrested Terry without incident.  They were flown back to London and taken by road to Worthing. £928 of the stolen money was found in Valerie’s bag.  Terry made a statement exonerating Valerie and insisting that she was not involved in the robbery.


Terry, Tucker and Hosier appeared before Worthing magistrates on the 7th of December and were committed for trial.

This took place at Lewes Assizes on the 20th to the 26th of March 1961, before Mr. Justice Stable.  Geoffrey Lawrence and Peter Crowder led the prosecution and Alan King-Hamilton and John Bolland the defence.

Terry’s defence was that a) the shooting was an accident when Mr. Pull tried to push the gun away, b) that he was high on drugs and c) that he laboured under the delusion that he was possessed by the spirit of American gangster, “Legs Diamond”.  The forensic examination of the gun found no fingerprints from Mr. Pull on the barrel of the gun.  There was no evidence for Terry being high on drugs and the jury weren’t willing to accept the “Legs Diamond” argument, so Terry was convicted of capital murder.  Tucker and Hosier were convicted of non-capital murder and Valerie of being an accessory.  It took the jury two and a half hours to reach their verdicts.

Terry was sentenced to death, Hosier to life in prison, Tucker to be detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure (as he was under 18) and Valerie to a year’s probation.  Terry arrived at Wandsworth prison on the 28th of March and became prisoner number 5413.  He went before the Statutory Board on April the 15th to determine his sanity.  Terry thought “they were all potty” but they didn’t think he was!  His appeal was heard on Monday the 8th of May was dismissed.

He was duly hanged at Wandsworth by Harry Allen and Samuel Plant at 8.00 a.m. on Thursday the 25th of May 1961.  Allen gave him a drop of 7’ 3”.


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