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Michael George HART





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 10, 1975
Date of arrest: 12 days after
Date of birth: 1947
Victim profile: Angela Wooliscroft, 20 (bank clerk)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Richmond, Surrey, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life in prison, with the recommendation of at least 25 years, on November 3, 1977

Motive: He needed money for when he got out of jail.

Crime: Murder of Angela Wooliscroft during a bank raid in Richmond, Surrey.

Method: She was shot in the left carotid artery from a sawn-off shotgun.

Sentence: Life imprisonment, with the recommendation of at least 25 years.

Interesting facts: The shot that Angela had been killed with proved a stumbling point in the investigation, as it was of a different type to that found in the possession of Michael Hart. However, it was discovered that Hart's shot was actually from a batch that had been mislabelled in the factory. So the types of shot did match after all.


Michael George Hart

Angela Wooliscroft looked up from behind the protective glass screen at her cashier's position in the Upper Ham Road, Richmond, branch of Barclays Bank. The heavily disguised man standing in front of her was brandishing a sawn-off shotgun. "Give me some money" was the order. Angela passed some money under the screen to the man and the screen in front of her disintegrated as the man fired the gun. The twenty-year-old girl was blown backwards by the blast and died on the way to hospital. It was 10th November 1976.

One of the items left behind by the killer was a woman's yellow raincoat that he had used to cover the gun. Police found in one of the pockets a piece of paper which turned out to be an entry form for a wine-making competition which had been signed with the name "Grahame". The coat belonged to a Miss Marshall. On the day of the murder she had parked her Austin A40 in the car park of Bentall's in Kingston while she went shopping. When she returned she noticed that the car was in a different position to the one she had left it and her raincoat and sunglasses were missing. The car fitted the description of the one used in the robbery.

Detective Chief Superintendent James Sewell of Scotland Yard led the team of detectives hunting for the killer. He received a tip-off that a man named Michael Hart had been seen in Basingstoke, on the day of the murder, putting a shotgun into the back of a car. Hart claimed to have an alibi for the time of the killing and this was verified. On 22nd November Hart was picked up by officers following a traffic accident. A search of his car found a Hendal .22 automatic and an intensive search of his house turned up, amongst other items, a box of Eley No 7 trapshooting cartridges. The pistol and ammunition proved to have been stolen on 4th November in Reading. Also stolen at the same time had been a double-barrelled Reilly shotgun.

When officers checked the cartridges against the forensic report on the shot recovered from Angela's body they found that it appeared to be of a different type. The shot used in the killing had been gameshot while the cartridges recovered from Hart's house appeared to be trapshot. A more detailed forensic examination of the cartridges revealed that they were, in fact, gameshot cartridges. It transpired that Eley Kynock of Birmingham, the manufacturers, had wrongly labelled a batch of ammunition. That batch had gone to the gunshop in Reading that had been raided at the beginning of the month. All this forensic checking took time and the police wanted to ensure that there was no way out for Hart. He was arrested and charged with murder on 20th January 1977.

At his trial thirty-year-old Hart claimed that he had killed the cashier when he had tapped the shotgun on the glass and it went off accidentally. The forensic evidence disproved this possibility and, on 3rd November 1977, Hart was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, with a recommendation that he should serve at least twenty-five years.


Michael Hart - Murder in the bank

In 1971, Angela Wooliscroft, a twenty year old bank clerk working at Barclays Bank in Ham, Richmond, was confronted one lunchtime by a dark skinned man, aiming a double barrelled shotgun and demanding ‘Give me some money’. However, having handed over all the money in her till the gun went off and Angela died shortly afterwards. The gunman fled.

Jim Sewell who was a chief superintendent in Scotland Yard’s murder squad, and led the inquiry, recounts the hunt that went on to identify the murderer and bring him into custody. While Sewell and his team were interviewing hundreds of witnesses and suspects, ballistics experts were analysing the shot that had killed Angela Wooliscroft.

Sometimes the police just get lucky

It was found to be a particular make, Eley game shot, fired from a double barrelled shotgun. Still, the murder weapon had not been found. Sewell explains how it was a stroke of luck that pointed to the killer.

A robbery outside of London turned up an abandoned getaway car. The car was found to contain guns and the robber was thought to be a known criminal named Michael Hart.

With this tip-off Sewell had officers search Hart’s home and ammunition which appeared to match the shot fired at Angela Wooliscroft was found. Scotland Yard put out an order to get Hart, but he was arrested after he went to collect money from a building company where he occasionally worked.

Sewell then describes how he realised that the shot he had removed from Hart’s home appeared to be different from that found at the murder scene, but when he opened the cartridges and had the shot analysed tests showed it was in fact the same; a batch of shot had been wrongly labelled by the company Eley.

Eventually Hart admitted that he had killed Angela Wooliscroft, but said that it had been accidental, that the gun had just gone off. He then told police where he’d dumped the weapon and it was recovered from the River Thames.

Ballistic tests showed that the pressure needed to pull the trigger on the gun, which was over eighty years old, was considerable, making it highly unlikely that it could have gone off accidentally. Hart was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.


Michael George Hart



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