Wartime London was ripe with easy pickings among thieves there were no street lights, the police force was poorly manned and there were continual air raids to de-stabilise businesses. It all must have seemed dead easy for the four men who strolled into the Park Tavern in Wood Green High Road on OCTOBER 17th, 1940, and ordered the manageress to hand over the takings.
The manageress, Miss Gwendoline Cox, 42, stoutly refused. She did more; she grabbed the nearest bottle and lunged at the men. Then a shot was fired, and Miss Cox fell back. Although seriously wounded, she managed to raise the alarm. Before she died in hospital next day she gave police detailed descriptions of the intruders, and that night all of them were under arrest.
At the Old Bailey on January 10th, 1941, Felix Jenkins, 20, Frank Greenaway, 19, Edward Hare and Colin Gray, both 18, were charged with what seemed a clear-cut case of murder. But things turned out somewhat differently.
Jenkins claimed that Greenaway knocked the gun, which went off by accident. The other two men said they had no idea a gun would be used, and would never have taken part in the robbery if they had known one was being taken.
The Crown thereupon accepted pleas of manslaughter from all four. Jenkins and Greenaway were jailed for three years and the other two for 18 months.