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James Francis HURLEY





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 14, 1988
Date of birth: 1966
Victim profile: Frank Mason (police constable)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life in prison in 1989. Escape on February 16, 1994. Apprehended in The Hague, Netherlands on November 9, 2007

James Francis Hurley (born cir 1966) is an English convicted murderer and long term fugitive from justice.

Hurley was involved in an armed robbery in the town of Hemel Hempstead on the 14 April 1988. During the robbery, he shot and killed police constable Frank Mason of the Hertfordshire Police. He was convicted of murder in 1989, and sentenced to life inprisonment.

On the 16 February 1994, whilst being transferred transferred to Wandsworth Prison by bus, Hurley and another prisoner threatened a prison officer with a knife and Hurley managed to escape.

He fled the country, and managed to remain at liberty for 13 years. On the 9 November 2007, Hurley was apprehended by police during a raid on a suspected drug dealer at an address in The Hague, Netherlands.


James Francis Hurley was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1989, having been convicted of murder, armed robbery and firearm offences.

HURLEY was involved in an armed robbery on 14 April 1988, with two other men, of a security van outside Barclays Bank, Bank Court, Hemel Hempstead. HURLEY acted as getaway driver.

Off-duty Hertfordshire Police Constable Frank Mason attempted to intervene in the robbery and was callously shot in the back as he attempted to arrest one of the suspects. PC Mason died of his injuries and was posthumously awarded the Queens Gallantry Medal for his bravery.

On 16 February 1994 Hurley was being transferred to HMP Wandsworth by bus. As the bus was travelling along Swandon Way, SW18, HURLEY and another prisoner threatened a prison officer with a knife and HURLEY managed to escape.

HURLEY has been identified as the only convicted murderer of a police officer in the UK who is on the run.


The European hunt for a Pc's killer

By James kelly - BBC News

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Following a 13-year hunt spanning Europe, an escaped prisoner who murdered an off-duty policeman has finally been captured. So how do the police track down fugitives who are willing to cross borders to escape capture?

When James Hurley was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1989 for gunning down off-duty Hertfordshire Pc Frank Mason during an armed robbery, it seemed he had paid the price for the killing.

But five years later, the career criminal managed to escape from a bus transporting prisoners, and disappeared.

It would be 13 years before he was finally arrested - and co-operation and communication between police forces here, and on the continent, played a crucial part.

Det Chief Insp Paul Maghie from Hertfordshire police's Crime Management Department took over the hunt for Hurley on the 10th anniversary of his escape in 2004.

'Justice not done'

"Frank's murder had a great impact, and not just on the force," he said.

"Everyone remembers it. There's a memorial garden dedicated to him that I walk past every day. If you go to Hemel Hempstead, you'll see Frank's name on a memorial stone.

"The police will never give up efforts to find anybody on the run, but this case was particularly important because it was one of our own officers and we felt justice had not been done."

When he took the reins, Det Ch Insp Maghie used the power of the media to full advantage to reinvigorate the hunt for Hurley.

The case was featured on the BBC's Crimewatch programme, and Hurley's picture was posted on Scotland Yard's Wanted web page.

Computer technology was employed to digitally "age" photos of the wanted man.

The Metropolitan Police and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) teamed up with their Hertfordshire police colleagues to follow up all the leads the publicity produced.

Suspected sightings

Det Ch Insp Maghie said: "Behind the scenes, there was a lot of intelligence-gathering going on.

"We has to follow up intelligence leads from members of the public who had been around the world and thought they knew where Hurley was - places like Spain and Ireland. We deployed officers and followed up every lead."

No stone was left unturned as more suspected sightings of Hurley were reported to the investigators.

"We had to bottom out every piece of intelligence to make sure his fingerprints, DNA, and European arrest warrants were lodged in all the countries he could be in, so if he got caught, the connection would be made," Det Ch Insp Maghie said.

The work paid off. The connection was made when Dutch police raided an address in The Hague on 9 November 2007.

They were investigating what they thought might be a cannabis factory. Instead they discovered a quantity of Class A drugs and arrested two British men. Their detainees refused to give their names.

But because the British investigators had made sure their European counterparts were well informed about Hurley, and his criminal record, it did not take long before his true identity emerged.

Det Ch Insp Maghie said: "It has been a very joined-up operation with us, the Met and SOCA but we have also had co-operation with countries across Europe and Ireland and everybody has done what they can to achieve this.

"It's been a long journey. We always knew we could get him: it was a question of when."

The 47-year-old now faces possible prosecution in the Netherlands for drugs offences.

If he is found guilty, he may have to serve a jail term in a Dutch prison before being sent back to a UK prison.

Alternatively, he could be sent back home and have any sentence a Dutch court hands down added to the remainder of his previous prison sentence for murder.


As far as Det Ch Insp Maghie is concerned, Hurley is an unreformed character.

"His record says it all really. He's committed robbery and murder, been on the run for 13 years, but has he kept his head down and lived a normal life? No - he's been heavily involved in criminality."

The detective added that Hurley's detention would make a lot of people happy, especially the family of Frank Mason.

"Frank was an only child and his mother is elderly. Privately she is very pleased but knows it won't bring her son back," he said.

"Frank's widow never moved on from the day he was killed. I regularly speak to her and it quite clear she just can't move on with her life.

"Hopefully, this will bring some closure."


Police Constable Frank Mason, the victim.



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