69 years of press coverage for Ray ‘The Cat’ Jones…

Over the past year I’ve devoted a number of blogs to my first cousin once removed Ray ‘The Cat’ Jones. Having talked to various people about Ray and located assorted print references to him made after he’d retired from being the greatest cat burglar in the world, I thought it was time to dig back into the past. Old newspaper reports of Ray’s court appearances verify much of what he had to say about his life, clarify various matters, and show that more recent accounts of his famous jail break have been distorted by those retelling the tale. Doing a quick search through national newspapers, I found no reports of Ray’s boxing career, and the earliest press coverage I could locate was dated 8 March 1940. The Daily Mirror put things this way:

“Thief Celebrated With 21 Suits

“A man living on the proceeds of house breaking once had so much money that he bought 21 suits and had £50 in his pockets. And for two years his fists kept him free.

“The police stated this at the Old Bailey yesterday when Raymond Jones, 23, described as a labourer of King Edward Walk, Lambeth, London, was sentenced to two years imprisonments for causing grievous bodily harm to a constable who tried to arrest him at the Marble Arch in December 1937, and for attempted theft from a car.

“He was arrested in Lambeth last month.

“A detective said Jones admitted assaulting numerous police officers to escape arrest in the last two years and he had been living on the proceeds of house breaking.”

There was an equally biased report in The Times also of 8 March 1940:

“Caught After Two Years. Labourer’s Savage Attack On Policeman.

“After being at liberty for over two years a man who twice escaped from police in 1937, on both occasions leaving a police officer unconscious on the ground and was not recaptured until early this year at Lambeth Walk, appeared in the dock at the Central Criminal Court yesterday.

“He is Raymond Jones, 23, a labourer of King Edward Walk, and he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for causing grievous bodily harm to one of the two constables, and attempted theft from a motor-car.

“Detective Hope said the prisoner admitted assaulting several police officers in order to escape arrest in the past two years. He had been living on the proceeds of house-breaking. On one occasion he had so much money he bought 21 suits and had £50 in his pocket.

“Judge Beazley, in sentencing Jones, said he had been guilty of a savage attack.”

On the basis of these reports, the press should be in the dock, charged with spreading unctuous bullshit. As I hope I’ve made clear in my earlier blogs, Ray was not guilty, he was fitted-up. The papers, taking their cue from the Old Bill and a slimeball judge report him as being guilty of numerous assaults on cops, but he was found guilty on just one count! And in this instance, he acted in self-defence after being violently assaulted by a bully dressed in blue.

Ray’s 1952 appearance at the Old Bailey was also widely covered by the press under headlines such as Alleged Complicity In Fur Coats Theft (Times April 25 1952), £4000 Fur’s Theft, Six And A Half Year Sentence (Times 24 June 1952), and Police Kept Watch From ‘Q Van’ He Says (Daily Mirror 21 June 1952). This need not detain us, although the swiping of guests’ coats during a swanky New Year party thrown by Colonel Martin Charteris for his upper-class chums is an amusing tale; and it is also worth noting that in his evidence Ray mentioned a feud between his family and notorious 1950s gangster Billy Hill and that to defend his brother who’d been stabbed, Ray punched out the Mister Big of the London crime world. But let’s move on to Ray’s famous jail break. The Times of 18 October 1958 described it thus:

“Two Escape At Pentonville. Others Fail In Attempt.

“Five men took part in an escape attempt from Pentonville Prison last light. Three were recaptured, but two others got away. They were the first men to break out of the prison since it was reopened in 1946. A full scale search of the area was carried out.

“The men who got out of the prison were Raymond Jones, aged 42, serving 8 years preventative detention, who Scotland Yard said might be violent, and John Rider, aged 28, serving 5 years imprisonment.

“The escape was made during the period given over to evening classes. Jones and Rider found ladders being used during the repair of the prison roof, and took them to scale the 20ft wall of the prison.

“Once on top of the wall, they jumped into an alley that skirts the side of the prison and one turned left, the other right… Tracker dogs, police cars, wardens, uniformed and plain clothes police with torches toured streets around Caledonian Road.”

The Daily Mirror (18 October 1958) used Gaol Break 2 Men Hunted as its headline, and this front page story contained the following information not provided by The Times: “Two of the other three men perched on the top of the wall then dropped back into the goal yard. The third fell and was injured.”  Rider enjoyed just 24 hours freedom, as The Times reported on 20 October 1958:

“John Rider aged 34, one of two men who escaped from Pentonville Prison, London, on Friday night, was recaptured on Saturday while he was asleep on a sofa in an unoccupied home at Antler Hill, Chingford, Essex.

“The search continues for the other prisoner Raymond Jones aged 42, who was serving a sentence of eight years preventative detention. Scotland Yard issued a warning he might be violent.”

The idea that Ray was potentially violent was just a cop smear designed to justify the filth’s 1940 fit-up; Ray never carried weapons, although he would defend himself with his fists if attacked. Ray also knew how to run and hide, having spent the whole of 1938 and 1939 on his toes… When he was finally recaptured The Daily Express (24 November 1960) put the story on the front page and reported it this way:

“Two-Year Escaper Caught

“Pentonville’s record escaper, Raymond Jones, was recaptured in Staines, Middlesex, last night.

He went ‘over the wall’ two years ago – the longest time a fugitive has been on the run from the jail.

“A tip-off at lunch-time sent the police to Staines. They waited six hours to seize him at a house.

“Jones, a 42 year old Welshman, was serving eight years preventative detention.”

So there you have it, plenty of contemporary documentation to confirm just why Ray ‘The Cat’ Jones is a legend! And this is also why as recently as November this year Wales On Sunday devoted yet another page to this famous criminal, the closest thing the 20th century ever produced to a new Robin Hood!

And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!

About mistertrippy

Stewart Home was born in south London in 1962. His mother Julia Callan-Thompson was a showgirl and club hostess. He has never held down a regular job for more than a few months at a time. On those rare occasions when he's been forced to work, Home has taken employment as a factory labourer, agricultural labourer, shop assistant, office clerk and art class model. Deciding he didn't like working in factories as a teenager, Home pursued cultural and political interests, writing many books and participating in even more gallery exhibitions.
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74 thoughts on “69 years of press coverage for Ray ‘The Cat’ Jones…

  1. A man walks into a pharmacy and wanders up and down the aisles. The sales girl notices him and asks him if she can help him. He answers that he is looking for a box of tampons for his wife. She directs him down the correct aisle. A few minutes later, he deposits a huge bag of cotton balls and a ball of string on the counter.

    She says, confused, “Sir, I thought you were looking for some tampons for your wife?

    He answers, “You see, it’s like this, yesterday, I sent my wife to the store to get me a carton of cigarettes, and she came back with a tin of tobacco and some rolling papers; cause it’s so much cheaper. So, I figure if I have to roll my own … so does she.

  2. Lenny Henry says:

    Three convicts were on the way to prison. They were each allowed to take one item with them to help them occupy their time while incarcerated.

    On the bus, one turned to another and said, “So, what did you bring?” The second convict pulled out a box of paints and stated that he intended to paint anything he could. He wanted to become the “Grandma Moses of Jail”.

    Then he asked the first, “What did you bring?”

    The first convict pulled out a deck of cards and grinned and said, “I brought cards. I can play poker, solitaire and gin, and any number of games.”

    The third convict, a blonde man, was sitting quietly aside, grinning to himself. The other two took notice and asked, “Why are you so smug? What did you bring?”

    The guy pulled out a box of tampons and smiled. He said “I brought these.”

    The other two were puzzled and asked – “What can you do with those?”

    He grinned and pointed to the box and said – “Well according to the box, I can go horseback riding, swimming, roller-skating …”

  3. Q: What did one tampon say to the other tampon?

    A: Nothing, they’re both stuck up bitches

  4. Q. How can you tell when a women is having a bad day?

    A. She has her tampon behind her ear,and she can`t find her cigarette.

  5. Roy Castle says:

    Q: What did the tampon say to the other tampon in school?

    A: I’ll see you next period.

  6. Q: How do you embarrass an archeologist?

    A: Give him a tampon and ask him which period it came from.

  7. Once, a man at an amusement park had to use the bathroom so bad that he couldn’t wait for the long line to the men’s room. He asked if he could use the girl’s bathroom quickly since it wasn’t occupied.

    A female worker said that he could use it only if he did it quickly and didn’t push any of the 3 buttons in the bathroom. The man went in and enjoyed a piss, hurried and washed his hands, but became curious of what the letters above the 3 buttons meant.

    He pushed and found out by pushing the first button labeled “WW” that it meant warm water. He enjoyed the warm water on his genital so he pushed the second button that said “BP”. Baby powder blew out of a hole and powdered his below. Then, there was one more button that said “ATR”. The man thought that the first two were nice, so he pushed the button. This one hurt so bad that he passed out.

    When he woke up in hospital, he noticed that his Willie was missing. The lady that worked at the amusement park visited and asked if he pushed any of the buttons.

    The man said, “I pushed all three of them. The first poured warm water on me, the second one shot powder on me, and something went wrong with the third one.” “What does ATR mean?” asked the man.

    The lady smiled and said that it meant “AUTOMATIC TAMPON REMOVER.”

  8. Bill Crosby says:

    Q: How do you get tickets to the Tampon 100?

    A: Pull some strings.

  9. A tampon company was losing money so they hired an advertising company to help them boost business. After a week or so, a representative from the advertising company came to the head of the tampon company with a new slogan. The new slogan went like this:

    We’re not “Number One” yet, but we’re up there!

  10. Eddie Murphy says:

    A man gives blood to save his wife’s life. A few months later they are divorced. The husband says to his ex-wife: “I want my blood back you bitch!” The ex pulls up her skirt, wrenches down her knickers, pulls a tampon out of her twat and throws it at him while shouting: “I’ll pay you back monthly you bastard.”

  11. simon says:

    Q: How do you give a woman an orgasm?



  12. Redd Foxx says:

    This one is strickly for the ladies, I ain’t lying! Who lit the fuse on your tampon?

  13. Chris Rock says:

    Q: Did you hear about the new Greek tampon?

    A: It’s called “Abzorba the Leak.”

  14. Dudley Moore says:

    I know a woman who is so nasty that her crabs use her tampon string as a bungee cord.

  15. Peter Cook says:

    I know a woman who is so nasty that she reuses her used tampons!

  16. Q: Why did the elephants have to stop using sheep as tampons?

    A: They were afraid of getting toxic flock syndrome

  17. Tony Hancock says:

    Q: Why is there a string on the end of a tampon?

    A: So you can floss after you eat!

  18. Sid James says:

    A proletarian, a bourgeois, and lumpen had a room full of dirty tampons, and they decided to have a contest to see who could stay in there the longest. First it was the proletarian’s turn. The other two locked him in the room and waited. A week later, they heard him whimpering and pounding on the door so they let him out.

    “That is the sickest smell I have ever endured!” cried the proletarian. “I couldn’t stay in there another minute!”

    Next it was the lumpen’s turn. After a month he finally banged on the door to be let out. “Oh God, that is the most putrid smell in the world! I couldn’t take it another minute!” he cried as he gasped for breath.

    Finally it was the turn of the bourgeois. They locked him in the room and waited. A week went by, a month, a year. The proletarian and the lumpen heard nothing. Finally they began to worry, so they yelled through the door, “You can come out now! You’ve won the contest by far!”

    To which the bourgeois yelled back, “No, not yet! I’m not done eating the jelly donuts.”

  19. Q: What is the difference between a Ford and a tampon?

    A: A tampon comes with it’s own tow rope.

  20. Russell Brand is a multiple identity, a nom de plume, or multiple-use name that anyone is welcome to use for activist and artistic endeavours. It is especially popular within the Neoist movement. It was developed in order to counter the male domination of that movement, the most predominant multiple user-names being Monty Cantsin and Luther Blissett.

    These multiple names were developed and popularized in artistic subcultures of the 1970s to 1990 like Mail Art, Neoism and post-Situationist discourse, with the pseudonym Rrose Sélavy jointly used by Dada artist Marcel Duchamp and the surrealist poet Robert Desnos forming a historical pretext. The political references go back much further, eg Ned Ludd, while in poetry there are precedents such as Taliesin.

    In the 1960s underground culture the multiple name Emmett Grogan was adopted by San Francisco Diggers and in the 1970s the multiple name Wally was adopted by a group of squatters in around Stonehenge.

  21. Q: How do you make a nun pregnant?

    A: Fuck her!

  22. fiona says:

    I didn’t say that again

  23. oldrope says:

    Boom boom.

    My cat is hanging at me ma’s getting in with the local beat-poetry scene and generally trying to get used to the place before I do one to Argentina.

    Q. How do you perform a 69
    A. I dont know

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