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MaltaToday 30 October 2022

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12 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 30 OCTOBER 2022 SPECIAL FEATURE ing been present in the storeroom at Cauchi's home where they prepared the bomb used at both the Keyhole Club and the Americano on Greek Street. He said Cauchi would soon be on his way back to Malta to bring back more explosives. He further admitted having cleared out all the incriminating evi- dence, and being present when a piece of fuse was thrown off the bridge in Hampstead Road onto the Euston rail- way line below. To give credence to his story, he took Frank Mifsud himself to recover it, and Mifsud handed the fuse to the police. Galea was questioned on 17 February at 10pm. DCI Nipper Read, present for the interrogation, made a note of how terrified Galea was of Cauchi. Galea first claimed the real perpetra- tors of the bombs were two heavies, one Scottish – James Kemp – another from Liverpool – Michael Power – whom Cauchi would have paid £500. But Read was unconvinced, insisting with pros- ecutors that it was inconceivable for someone like Cauchi to employ 'outsid- ers' to the Maltese fraternity for an op- eration of this sort: "Amongst the touts in this locality are many who are good informants to officers at this station, and such knowledge would quickly per- colate to those officers." Detective Superintendent Arthur But- ler instantly produced a length of safe- ty fuse. "Didn't you tell Frank where to find this?". Galea replied: "Listen, guv'nor. This thing is dead or alive innit? You know what I mean. I don't want to get killed. This man is mad, mad... and you don't know what he can do," he said. He was referring to Cauchi. "Cauchi, that man is raving mad. If he knew I come here I be dead tomorrow. You know that, don't you? He'd kill me as soon as... look at me guv'nor, I promise you... If anybody gets to know I come here, I'm dead. You know that don't you?" Then Galea admitted having been by Cauchi's side when he made the bomb. "I was there when he mixed the stuff and made the bomb. It was dynamite... it was brown stuff and he made it up... It was terrible this stuff, it gave me a head- ache. He taped it all together." Frank Mifsud returned from his Dub- lin hideout the same day Galea was ar- rested, and presented himself at West End Central together with Bernie Silver, with Galea speaking even more freely with Mifsud near him. But by this time, he had said enough to satisfy the inves- tigators that he was far more deeply in- volved than he had suggested. As Mifsud entered the interrogation room, Galea protested: "Frank, what you do this to me for? I got friends, you know... It's a bad thing you do to me Frank, what I want to come in a place like this for? You know my position, don't you? I can't go to court. I don't care if I go away for 30 years. I never stand up in court and say anything against these people. You know that. I can't give no ev- idence, Frank." Mifsud calmed Galea down. Galea now vol- unteered even more infor- mation about Cauchi hav- ing planned to bomb the Taboo club. "Three days before I went along with Frank, Cauchi was scared and he threw it all away after the fire." He also said Cauchi had threatened him the day before. "Last night he pulled a knife and threatened me and my woman. She's scared of him as well. He said, 'if you say anything, I burn you up. I burn up the mattress and everything and turn on the gas and it look like all right'." "He said he wants to plant a load in Big Frank's van," Cauchi told police, and that he had planned to leave a sig- nal on the car for Mifsud to know when the bomb was planted. "I told Frank 'if he's going to do it, I put a cross on the door' so Big Frank know." Police retrieved crucial evidence found in Cauchi's home of bomb-mak- ing ingredients that matched the debris from the Americano bombing. But in one startling development, police in- vestigators were suddenly regaled with an eyeball witness. It was none other than one of the witnesses previously questioned by the police, who had first vowed having seen nothing suspicious outside the Americano. Hot-dog sell- er Harold Dennison Stocker had been explicit in his first statement to police when he said he saw no-one enter or leave the premises at 27, Greek Street. Suddenly, he had had a change of heart. On 8 March 1967, Stocker insisted that just prior to the fire starting, he saw Tony Galea running out of the club, al- legedly warning him: "Don't forget you didn't see me on the night of the fire, did you?" Stocker accounted for this apparent paradox by saying that he did not re- alise that Galea was one of the persons charged, and when he did so, he came forward with fresh evidence. During the committal proceedings, his version of events – incredulous as they were – were seriously challenged by Galea's de- fence counsel, suspecting Stocker had been enticed with some kind of reward to change his version of events: indeed, Mifsud had been present at West End Central when Stocker made his second statement. On 13 March 1967, Galea and Cauchi were committed for trial at the Cen- tral Criminal Court. A month later, yet another development: Bernard Silver informed police that Cauchi's brother Emanuel, and another man, as it hap- pens his own associate Jack Shanker- man, were making arrangements to pick up some explosive materials. A police stakeout on the two saw them making their way on 18 April to HM Prison Brixton, where they visited Tony Cauchi. When police took in 'Shankey', he alleged that Cauchi had told him a bomb had been hidden near the hand- brake panel of his car. Nipper Read appeared to discount Shankerman's evidence, suggesting Silver was actually using his own man to use subterfuge on Cauchi. "Shankey is a well-known and notorious West End character," Read wrote in his memorandum on the in- vestigation. "He has been a friend and associate of Silver's for many years. This tends to place the whole of his evidence in question but there can be no doubt of the result of the information he sup- plied." Cauchi's car had already been seized by police back in February, and released on 29 March – but the police did not bother to carry out a full inspection of the car. When two days after ques- tioning Shankerman, police retrieved the car from a mechanic Cauchi had entrusted it to, they found a cavity at the back of the parcel tray's panelling, containing a newspaper parcel and a roll of cellotape. Inside the parcel were two lengths of fuse, each of which had 'live' detonators partly crimped onto to the ends, and a piece of dark brown substance. Had Cauchi been careless, or was this an overt act of incrimination by the Syndicate? Back at Woolwich Arsenal, foren- sics revealed the fuses were identical to those found at Cauchi's address and the Keyhole explosion; the explosive – a mixture of nitroglycerine, nitrocel- lulose, T.N.T, and another substance of foreign nature – were all similar to the residue found amongst the debris of the Gigi and Keyhole explosions. The description of the substances and their effects were identical to Galea's state- ments to the police. Tony Cauchi, 47, was charged in March 1967 with having caused the fires at the Americano, the firebomb- ing of the Gigi Club on Frith Street in 1966 (the bombing took place at 4:30am when the club was closed and nobody was inside) and the Keyhole Club on Old Compton Street. The charge sheet's details included the claim that they had conspired "with others to cause these offences because of their enmity to- wards the owners of the premises, a ri- val Maltese faction." Big Frank returned from his Dub- lin hideout to give evidence against Cauchi, telling the court he feared for his life. Both men were found guilty in a retrial in November 1967: Cauchi got five years, guilty of having explosives in his possession, conspiracy to cause ma- licious damage to property, and placing an explosive substance. The jury were unable to agree on a charge against Galea of causing malicious damage at the club, as well as on a charge against both men of placing another petrol bomb at another Soho club. Galea got two years for placing the explosive at the Americano. Stocker, the hot-dog seller who had changed his version of events by saying he saw Galea running out of the club, gave evidence at both trials and stuck by his story. The night of Galea's and Cauchi's imprisonment, Big Frank held a party at the Soho Prince club on Frith Street. Galea replied: "Listen, guv'nor. This thing is dead or alive innit? You know what I mean. I don't want to get killed. This man is mad, mad... and you don't know what he can do," he said. He was referring to Cauchi. "Cauchi, that man is raving mad. If he knew I come here I be dead tomorrow. You know that, don't you? He'd kill me as soon as... look at me guv'nor, I promise you... If anybody gets to know I come here, I'm dead. You know that don't you?"

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