50 years since the opening of the Great Train Robbery trial

The Great Train Robbery trial opened on 20 January 1964 at the Buckingham Winter Assizes at the District Council Chamber in Aylesbury. Charges were mainly ‘conspiracy to stop a mail with intent to rob said mail’. The accused were placed in a specially constructed dock. There were seats for sixty people in the public gallery.

Forty counsel, including 12 QCs were involved. Arthur James QC lead the prosecution. The 12-man jury was made up entirely of men. The judge was Mr Justice Edmund Davies.

Every morning, afternoon and evening of the working week for the following three months the accused would be locked into small individual compartments in a police bus, commonly known as a Black Maria. Then with an escort of at least four police cars and a dozen or so motorcycle police, they made the ten- minute journey to-and-from the prison and council chamber.

Caught “bang to rights”, Cordrey (photo) pleaded guilty at 10.27 am on the first day of the trial to conspiracy to stop the mail and receiving large sums of money from the robbery. He pleaded not guilty to robbery with aggravation. The court accepted his plea and he was returned to prison to await sentencing.

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