Murder of Thomas Bates

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Murder of Thomas Bates
Date18:30, 2 June 1962 (+01:00) (1962-06-02T18:30+01:00)
Location196 Lee Bank Road, Lee Bank, Edgbaston, Birmingham, England[1]
Coordinates52°28′11″N 1°54′26″E / 52.469760°N 1.907194°E / 52.469760; 1.907194Coordinates: 52°28′11″N 1°54′26″E / 52.469760°N 1.907194°E / 52.469760; 1.907194
Death(s)Thomas Arthur Bates
Suspect(s)Oswald Augustus Grey

The murder of Thomas Bates occurred during an armed robbery in Birmingham, England, on 2 June 1962. Oswald Grey was convicted of the crime, and became the last person hanged at the city's Winson Green Prison. Grey maintained his innocence and doubt remains as to whether or not there was sufficient evidence against him.[2]

Robbery and murder[edit]

Thomas Arthur Bates
BornJune 1915[3]
Kings Norton, Birmingham, England
Died(1962-06-02)2 June 1962[4]
Edgbaston, Birmingham, England
Cause of deathGunshot
ResidenceLee Bank Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, England

Thomas Arthur Bates, aged 46,[5] ran a corner newsagents shop at 196 Lee Bank Road (now Lee Bank Middleway) in Birmingham's Edgbaston district.[6] At 6:30 pm on Saturday, 2 June 1962, a 19-year-old Jamaican baker called Oswald Augustus Grey, of Canon Hill Road in that city, carried out a robbery at the shop, during which event he shot Bates in the upper chest.[6] Grey then made his escape by a number 8 (Inner Circle) bus.[6][7]

Bates' mother, who had been in the living area at the back of the shop, heard a large bang and found him collapsed on the floor. Finding him alone in the shop, she initially believed he had suffered a heart attack or stroke.[5] He was reportedly dead before he reached the city's General Hospital,[6] but it was not until he reached there that it was realised that he had been shot.[5] The bullet had passed through his heart, lungs and liver.[5]

Conviction and appeal[edit]

Oswald Augustus Grey
Died (aged 20)[8]
Winson Green Prison, Birmingham, England
Resting placeWinson Green Prison
ResidenceCanon Hill Road, Birmingham, England
Criminal statusExecuted by hanging
Criminal chargeMurder

The police investigation was led by Detective Chief Superintendent Gerald Baumber.[5] Police immediately suspected a robbery, as they found an empty cash tin on the floor, a bullet hole in the wall behind the counter, and a spent cartridge. The Birmingham CID distributed a description of a black man who had been seen outside the shop at the time of the Bates' murder. During a dawn police sweep four days after the murder, the Birmingham police raided several homes in Ladywood and Grey and of Cannon Hill Road, Edgbaston. Several men were arrested, including Grey.[9]

Grey was questioned within four days, and was brought before magistrates on 7 June, charged with stealing a pistol and ammunition from a 60-year-old Handsworth man, Hamilton Bacchus.[5] Grey admitted stealing the gun but insisted he did not shoot anyone.[9]

The next day, Grey was charged with murder,[6] following an identification parade at which he was positively identified by a woman, Cecilia Gibbs, who said that, once the men in the parade tilted their hats as had the suspect, "He was standing in front of me again as on that Saturday."[5]

At his trial at Birmingham Assizes, Grey maintained his innocence, claiming to have sold the gun at a party, for £16.[5] Four women testified that he was not the person they had seen at the murder scene.[5] It was also claimed that the police had coerced him into making a confession by force; a claim they denied.[5]

Grey was convicted on 13 October 1962, after the jury deliberated for just 50 minutes, and was immediately sentenced to death.[6] Grey filed for appeal within days. His solicitor, Mr. F. G. Owen, claimed the weight of the evidence against Grey was insufficient for a guilty verdict and death sentence.[10] The English Court of Criminal Appeals, consisting of the Lord Chief Justice Lord Parker of Waddington, Mr. Justice Gorman and Mr. Justice Salmon, dismissed the appeal on 29 October.[11]


Grey was executed by hanging on the gallows at Winson Green Prison on Tuesday, 20 November 1962 by Harry Allen and his assistant.[6] He was the last person executed there, and in the city.[12][13] In attendance were prison governor John Richards and prison doctor Dr. P.M. Costa, plus eight uniformed officers and plain-clothed detectives.[5]


  1. ^ "Bates Newsagents, Lee Bank Road, Lee Bank". Birmingham Images. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  2. ^ Richards, Andy (16 August 2014). "Was the last man executed at Winson Green Prison innocent?". The Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  3. ^ England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
  4. ^ Thomas Arthur Bates; Death Date: 2 June 1962; Death Place: Birmingham, England. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Cowan, Mark (29 April 2010). "From the archives: Murder secured killer a place in crime history". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 10 August 2017 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)).
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Newsagent murdered fifty years ago this month". The Brew 'Us Bugle. Ladywood History Group (36). Summer 2012.
  7. ^ "Jamaican Charged With Shop Murder". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 9 June 1962. p. 6. A Jamaican appeared at Birmingham Stipendiary Magistrates' Court yesterday charged with the murder of a newsagent who was found shot behind the counter of his shop on Saturday. Oswald Augustus Grey, aged 19, of Cannon Hill Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, was remanded in custody until next Friday charged with the murder of Mr Thomas Arthur Bates, aged 46, at his shop in Leebank Road, Edgbaston.
  8. ^ "Murderer Executed". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 21 November 1962. p. 6. Oswald Augustus Grey, aged 20, a Jamaican, was executed at Birmingham prison yesterday for the capital murder by shooting of Mr. Thomas Arthur Bates, a newsagent, in his shop at Edgbaston, Birmingham, on June 2.
  9. ^ a b Halifax, Justine (19 November 2015). "Nostalgia Brum Prison's Final Hanging Nostalgia Brum Prison's Final Hanging; 53 Years since Oswald Grey Executed for Murder of Man Found Shot in the Chest". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 11 August 2017.
  10. ^ "Death Sentence Man to Appeal". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 17 October 1962. p. 16.
  11. ^ "Court of Criminal Appeal – Murder Apppeal Dismissed – Regina v. Grey". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 30 October 1962. p. 3.
  12. ^ "Scene of the crime - Lee Bank Road". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
  13. ^ "Institute of Local Government Studies (INLOGOV) - University of Birmingham" (PDF). Retrieved 28 July 2012.