16 March 1931
EX-CONSTABLE AND A STRANGE NIGHT MEETING
A claim to have captured Jack the Ripper is put forward by a former member of the Metropolitan Police in a remarkable letter to the “Daily Express.
The writer is Mr. Robert Clifford Spicer, of Saville-row, Woodford Green, Essex, who was a uniformed constable aged twenty-two, at the time of the Jack the Ripper outrages were terrorising London. His letter is as follows:-
I have read with interest the most extraordinary articles by the late Robert James Lees on the capture of Jack the Ripper.
I had the pleasure of capturing him, and taking him to Commercial-street police station, after he had committed two murders.
On this particular night I had walked my beat backwards and had come to Henage-street, off Brick Lane. About fifty yards on Henage-street is Henage-court. At the bottom of the court was a brick-built dustbin.
Both Jack and a woman (Rosy) were sitting on this. She had 2s in her hand and she followed me when I took Jack on suspicion. He turned out to be a highly respected doctor and gave a Brixton address.
His shirt cuffs still had blood on them. Jack had the proverbial bag with him (a brown one). This was not opened, and he was allowed to go.
I saw him several times after this at Liverpool-street Station accosting women, and I would remark to him, ‘Hello, Jack! Still after them?’ He would immediately bplt.
He was always dressed the same – high hat, black suit with silk facings and a gold watch and chain. He was about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches and about 12 stone, fair moustache, high forehead and rosy cheeks.
There have been several articles and confessions from time to time in the newspapers. Jack is supposed to have admitted he was arrested by a young constable, but was released. I claim to be that constable.”
Mr Spicer is now sixty-four years of age. He left the police force five months after the suspect had been released, and he has worked until recently as the groundsman of a school sports ground.
A “Daily Express” representative found him yesterday hard at work in a garden in Woodford Green. His deep eyes lit up with excitement when he recalled the thrilling days of the hunt for the Ripper, and he shook a gnarled forefinger to emphasise his conviction that the man he arrested was the criminal.
I was so disappointed when the man was allowed to go that I no longer had my heart in police work,” he said. “The case was taken out of my hands by the detective branch, but I am sure I would have been able to prove my suspicions if the matter had been left to me.
As soon as I saw the man in that dark alley-way in the early hours of the morning I felt sure he was the Ripper.
The woman to whom he was talking was a notorious character of the class to which all the Ripper’s victims belonged.
He evaded my questions when I challenged him. ‘That’s no business of yours,’ he replied when I asked him what he was doing. 'Oh isn’t it?’ I replied. ‘Then you come along with me and I marched him off to the police station, with the woman following.
The news that the Ripper was caught spread like lightening through the district. Women peered out of bedroom windows and shouted and cheered. Some were so excited that they ran half-naked into the street. A crowd followed us to the station.
I took the man before the inspector, and said that I charged him on suspicion with being Jack the Ripper. There were about eight or nine inspectors in the station at the time – all taking part in the hunt for the criminal.
Imagine how I felt when I got into trouble for making the arrest! The station inspector asked me what I meant by arresting a man who had proved to be a respectable doctor.
‘What is a respectable doctor doing with a notorious woman at a quarter to two in the morning?’ I asked, but no one would listen to me. The man was released, and that, as far as I was concerned, was an end to the matter.