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!