Uncle Davey’s Herts Content, #8 “Not All Police Are Masons”

Original playout date: 8 March 2008
Duration: 6:01

We look at the memorial to Frank Mason, a police officer who tackled bank robbers while off duty. I don’t think Hemel Hempstead is properly documented without showing that some people here are like that.

“On Thursday, April 14, 1988, PC Frank Mason was murdered. He had been walking his dog when he came upon an armed robbery in progress at Barclays Bank, Bank Court, Hemel Hempstead.

A man was brandishing a handgun at a security guard. Frank would have seen this perfectly well and yet, off duty, he tackled the gunman. He was fatally shot in the back by another man, the gunman’s accomplice.

Frank Mason was 27 years old, with four years in “”the job””. He was married, no children.

He had no knowledge of the robber’s identity, nor that he and others were targets of the Regional Crime Squad. Without hesitation he tackled the man with the gun. As Mr Michael Kalisher QC told the jury at Southwark Crown Court: “”He saw the robbery taking place and with considerable courage, because he must have seen they were armed, decided to tackle the parties.””

PC Mason was shot in the back at close range with a Colt revolver. The robbers escaped with £15,480 in cash and cheques worth £86,000. Mansell Davies, a school caretaker, gave chase in his car, itself an act of bravery. But McGhee and Wharrie made their escape, hi-jacking another getaway vehicle.

Sara Jones, a nurse, rushed to Frank Mason’s side where he lay dying on the pavement. She covered him with her coat and applied cardiac massage, and a passer-by gave mouth-to-mouth.

An ambulance came and took Frank to West Herts Hospital where he died. Floral tributes appeared outside the bank.

McGhee and Wharrie were convicted of murder. It was never firmly established which of them PC Mason tackled, and who shot the officer. But it seems likely that McGhee pulled the trigger. The court was told that “”Charlie McGhee was a pathological hater of police””. Both he and Wharrie were sentence to life imprisonment, in McGhee’s case with a recommendation he serve a minimum of 18 years. In fact, he died in prison. Hurley was convicted of robbery and firearms offences and sentenced to ten years. McFarland got three years for conspiracy.

Frank Mason was awarded the Queens Gallantry Medal for his bravery, and a memorial to him now stands in Bank Court, Hemel Hempstead. It was placed there through the Police Memorial Trust, whose chairman at the time, film director Michael Winner, said: “The police get a great deal of criticism. But when they do deeds of great bravery the very least the public can do is to say thank you’.” Another understatement, if ever there was.

(Adopted from the article of one of his fellow Hertfordshire policeman in the local paper)
Negatively though, the comment section got invaded by some scum who in my opinion do not deserve to share the planet.

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Camera: Fuji Finepix
Post Production: Windows Movie Maker – medium use
Location: Hemel Hempstead and GU canal
Other people featured: None
Genre: Tribute
Music used: “Hymn for the Fallen” Katherine Jenkins
Languages used: English
Animals/plants featured: Naturally occuring vegetation
Other remarks: Don’t miss the nice gallery section with Katherine Jenkin’s voice.

Your thoughts welcome, by all mean reply also to other community members!