After clocking my earlier blogs about Ray ‘The Cat’ Jones, a couple of readers kindly passed on further information about this legendary criminal. As a consequence, I can now bring you a written statement in which Ray The Cat explains that he embarked on his career as a master thief in order to get his revenge on bent cops; these crumbs wrecked Ray’s boxing career by fitting him up on trumped-up assault charges. The story is best told in his own words:
“I have never had much schooling but I have learned a great deal from life.
From the age of 12 my whole dream was to have become the middleweight boxing champion of the world. I honestly believe I would have got there but for the evil of the police and the dishonesty of some judges. Because of the wrongs done to me – first of which was that I served a Borstal sentence of 3 years and I also served a total of 6 years imprisonment. I was innocent of both counts.
The 6 years I served, it was for hitting a policeman – who happened to be the metropolitan police boxing champion – in self-defence. I started that six years in 1940 but the offence took place in 1937 when I was 21 years old. It did not happen but only a few weeks later I was due to box a leading middleweight contender and had I won I would have fought the British middleweight champion for the title with Mr. Jack Solomon, the boxing promoter, who believed I would have beaten the both of them and won the title.
At the time I got the 6 year sentence, when I was taken into custody, the police question you as if you are responsible for all kinds of assaults on the police and one evil policeman at Gerald Road Police Station did falsely charge me for hitting him as well as the police boxing champion, when he knew I had not done so. It was that officer that took charge of the two charges – the one with him and the other with the police heavyweight champion.
I got convicted on the charge for hitting the police champion and I got 6 years imprisonment. I did get acquitted on the evil officer’s charge but to do so I did have my younger brother David come up to London from Wales and give evidence on my behalf and prove that I was not in London at the time. My brother never did get back home to Wales in 1940 because he was killed with the first bombing of London in the war and went home in his coffin, and I went to prison for the 6 years and I was innocent.
That was in 1940. In 1982 I was charged on the evidence of a supergrass and I am pleased to say that the presenting barrister on behalf of the Regional Crime Squad police did inform the trial judge that I was innocent of the 6 years sentence I served in 1940. That barrister also cleared me of a sentence of 18 months I did wrongfully serve in 1944.
When my brother was killed and I got that 6 year sentence I swore and vowed to myself that I would hit back at the rogues that had wrongly condemned me, and that I would become the greatest cat burglar and jewel thief that ever was. I kept that vow and I never ever stole from anybody poor. I only robbed the elites and most wealthy such as lords, ladies, dukes, duchesses, multi-millionaire industrialists and three of the world’s richest film stars – Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren and Bette Davies. Also the best Home Secretary of all time R. A. Butler.”
So there you have it, an unequivocal statement of opposition to the cops who fitted Ray up and set him off on his life of crime. I assume the 18 month sentence in 1944 was for an alleged prison misdemeanor and led to Ray doing a continuous six-year stretch inside. Likewise, it would appear Ray’s boxing career ended in 1937 because he was forced on the run. If anyone is able to clarify these matters or add new information please do so in the comments below. Jones was very keen to have his story told right up to his death, so anyone who can contribute to his biography is assisting in the realisation of his dying wishes. There is a further story I can add here, emailed to me by another of my blog readers:
“Ray and my grandfather were brothers. My grandfather’s name was Ambrose Jones. I was told by my grandad that when Ray was on the run he dressed up as a woman so he could go to his mother’s funeral. The police were at the funeral but no-one recognised him for a while and when he was spotted he had to scale a fence so he could get away. My dad was at the funeral and he said there were loads of old time criminals there, he said it was great.”
If anyone has press cuttings or videos of Ray The Cat’s TV appearances, I’d love to see those too. Ray Jones is a legend and by getting as much of his life-story online as possible we’ll ensure that his memory lives on! And I’m also looking for information on some other relatives of mine and Ray’s who lived in the Victoria area of London in the 1950s and 1960s, the Callaghans. The head of the family was Dinny Callaghan and he’d lost an eye in a fight over who ran the protection at The Derby. His sons were involved in criminal exploits too. According to family legend, the south Wales filth took a dislike to Dinny when he was a young man, and after illegally conveying him to the border with England, they told him never to return to Wales. The west London underworld is not nearly as well documented as that in south and east London, and by getting some leads on the Callaghans we can hopefully start filling in some more ‘lost’ history. Again any information placed in the comments section below will be greatly appreciated. Just to clarify, Dinny Callaghan was Ray The Cat’s uncle.
Checking again I was able to find Will Cohu’s hatchet job on Ray The Cat from The Independent on that newspaper’s site, so you can see it there for free rather than having to use a pay-to-view web archive service. With the statement from Ray above, it becomes possible to see that Cohu didn’t fully grasp everything Jones told him.
I also recently came across a couple of sentences on Ray The Cat AKA Raymond The Climber in Villains’ Paradise: Britain’s Underworld from the Spivs to the Krays by Donald Thomas (John Murray, London 2005, page 365): “In June 1952, Raymond Jones, known as ‘Raymond The Climber’, was also sent to prison, in his case for six years, for robbing Colonel Charteris. He had fifteen criminal convictions going back to the age of twelve.” A footnote informs us that Ray The Cat was found guilty and sentenced at the Old Bailey on 23 June 1952. Citing Peter Scott’s unreliable autobiography as his source, Thomas goes on to credit Ray’s assistant with sole credit for carrying out the 1960 Sophie Loren Elstree jewel theft, a claim Ray consistently contested (see my earlier blog).
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!
Comment by Jimmy Pursey on 2009-06-08 09:55:55 +0000
Ray ‘The Cat” Jones was innocent OK!
Comment by Davy Jones on 2009-06-08 10:35:08 +0000
Nice one Ray! All us Joneses like to monkey around! Good to hear this story!
Comment by Thomas “The Cat” Cat on 2009-06-08 13:02:26 +0000
Nice one, Ray. All us cats like to eat and sleep and sometimes we even catch mouses! Good to hear this story!
Comment by A. J. Raffles on 2009-06-08 19:22:17 +0000
Interesting. But did Ray “The Cat” Jones have a helper like mine, the funny but wonderful Bunny Manders?
Comment by A. J. Cronin on 2009-06-08 21:04:46 +0000
Wow, Ray really knows how to tell a story, it’s a rough diamond but it really sparkles!
Comment by DKM on 2009-06-08 22:48:51 +0000
Short Books claim they’ve a Will Cohu book that will reconnect you with your roots, but he doesn’t seem to have helped you with your dead relative Ray The Cat Jones. Maybe you should make a trades descriptions complaint. This is what it says on their site:
” ‘Out of the Woods’ is an affectionate, convivial guide to Britain’s 50 commonest trees, in which Will Cohu takes you on a revelatory journey – from the wildest woodland to municipal carpark, via field hedgerow and orchard garden. Stunningly illustrated by Mungo McCosh, this is a book to reconnect you with your roots. Read it, and those anonymous structures of wood and leaves will become friends, while every walk will have something of a miniature epic about it: an adventure into the landscape of our history, too long ignored.
Will Cohu is a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and Gardens Illustrated. His last book, Urban Dog: The Adventures of Parker was published by Pocket Books in 2001. He lives in Lincolnshire.”
All of which makes Will Cohu sound very dull.
Comment by The Sour Grape Bunch on 2009-06-08 23:32:12 +0000
Ray The Cat is our hero!
Comment by Marjorie Cameron on 2009-06-09 00:25:25 +0000
Donald Thomas whose book you quote from above was born in Somerset, and educated at Queen’s College, Taunton and Balliol College, Oxford. He currently holds a personal chair as Professor Emeritus of English Literature at Cardiff University.
You have quoted from one of his studies of the criminal underworld of London. His works on this subject start from Victorian times, and move through World War II to the Kray twins. He has written seven biographies and a handful of other biographical studies, as well as fictionalised biographies of individuals such as Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Now will you believe me when I tell you I am psychic?
Comment by Hatton Garden Idler on 2009-06-09 01:46:55 +0000
There’s nothing like a well executed jewel theft to get me excited. And I like climbers so much more than smash and grab merchants. Ray The Cat was a gent!
Comment by Make Money While You Sleep on 2009-06-09 18:22:30 +0000
Ray “The Cat” Jones sounds like a mirror image of me! Nice post, thanks.
Comment by Colonel Charteris on 2009-06-10 00:17:16 +0000
This post disgusted me, how are rich men supposed to sleep soundly in their beds when criminals like Raymond Jones may be creeping about their houses. You should be ashamed of yourself for praising a common thief and making him sound like a hero!
Comment by Colonel Mustard on 2009-06-10 00:46:20 +0000
I say Miss Scarlet did it with more than a dozen sailors in the cellar, forget about four times that night, we’re talking four times four times. Sorry I mean Miss Scarlet did it with the dagger in the kharzi! Poor Mr. Black, and what a sad life he lived with all those conspiracy obsessions. It would be enough to make me paranoid if I wasn’t already paranoid. I’m paranoid but am I paranoid enough?
Comment by Casey Jones on 2009-06-10 00:50:47 +0000
It’s Dr. Black not Mr. Black! And if Black is a spook then I’m a railroad engineer!
Comment by howling wizard, shrieking toad on 2009-06-10 12:42:50 +0000
“The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values.
All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war. War and war only can set a goal for mass movements on the largest scale while respecting the traditional property system. This is the political formula for the situation. The technological formula may be stated as follows: Only war makes it possible to mobilize all of today’s technical resources while maintaining the property system…… the aesthetics of today’s war appears as follows: If the natural utilization of productive forces is impeded by the property system, the increase in technical devices, in speed, and in the sources of energy will press for an unnatural utilization, and this is found in war. The destructiveness of war furnishes proof that society has not been mature enough to incorporate technology as its organ, that technology has not been sufficiently developed to cope with the elemental forces of society. The horrible features of imperialistic warfare are attributable to the discrepancy between the tremendous means of production and their inadequate utilization in the process of production – in other words, to unemployment and the lack of markets. Imperialistic war is a rebellion of technology which collects, in the form of “human material,” the claims to which society has denied its natural materrial. Instead of draining rivers, society directs a human stream into a bed of trenches; instead of dropping seeds from airplanes, it drops incendiary bombs over cities; and through gas warfare the aura is abolished in a new way.”