Murder and attempted murder of police officers

1974, 6 July: Murder and attempted murder of police officers: PCs John Schofield and Ray Fullalove were on routine patrol in Caterham with PS Harley Findlay when they became suspicious of a man on foot carrying a large holdall. They pulled alongside him in their patrol car and started to question him. As PC Fullalove started to get out of the car Egon Von Bulow produced a gun and shot him in the stomach. The gunman then went to the driver's side and shot PC Schofield dead. PS Findlay was also shot but was saved by his breast pocket notebook, which deflected the bullet into his arm.

The death of PC Schofield appeared in "OffBeat"

Von Bulow escaped but was later arrested on the day of PC Schofield's funeral, which took place at St. Mary's Church, Caterham six days later. In March 1975 Von Bulow was sentenced to life imprisonment. PS Findlay later received the Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct and the arresting office in the Metropolitan Police was awarded the George Medal.

Jim Findlay: It doesn't take much to bring back those memories. I couldn't talk about it for years. I had only been promoted six months when it happened. My father had died from a heart attack in his back-garden three days before the shooting and one of my deepest regrets is not grieving his death properly.

Sgt Jim Findlay

Sgt Jim Findlay

My wife, Ann, had a breakdown and went into Nethern Hospital, as she couldn't cope with both tragedies. We had three children at the time aged nine, seven and four and without the support of my family, friends and especially the Job I don't think we would have survived. There was no counselling in those days, it was straightforward common sense and compassion.

The press were camped outside my house for days and I had practically twenty four hour protection at the front door. I have never got on with the press since then. Mr Matthews (chief constable) authorised payment for my mother, wife and children to go to a holiday camp for a week whilst the Crime Squad looked after Ray and me getting us away from Caterham.

Then there were the days before the funeral walking into the Nick and feeling guilty as sin. After which came the funeral, his arrest, the trial and the media. Not a year I'd wish on anyone. After a few months the Job moved me to Byfleet just a few miles from Hersham where I'd started, as Ann couldn't stand Caterham. Von Bulow is still inside; he never admitted it and never a shadow of remorse. Ray transferred to the Metropolitan Police and became an inspector before he retired.

Tony Stenning: It was a very warm summer's night, if my memory is not playing tricks it was the 6th July. I worked alone on Warlingham Section and it had been particularly quiet up on the hill; no checks on the B269 which was a road I terrorised.

I knew the Sergeant, who was Jimmy Findlay, would be in Caterham Nick having his meal break with his two PCs Ray Fullalove and John Schofield. They could do that as B2 was covering, the old area car. I remember Eric Skinner was the driver but I am not sure of his crew mate. So I slipped down to Wapses roundabout, hoping to steal a few good checks and make up for my poor night.

I had no Force radio in my B5 car that night as it was in for repair and the old two set plastic personal radios did not work in that area, so I suppose I was in a dodgy situation. I sat on the roundabout in Woldingham Road, but it was as dead there as it was on my patch. I later learned that Egan Von Bulow was beneath the roundabout at the time, a peach of a stop check!

I got fed up and drove back up Succombes Hill and decided to check Sir Geoffrey Howe's property in Westall Park which I did. As I drove back into the village I was stopped by a local Chelsham ambulance that was showing a blue light. They said they had received a shout that there had been a shooting at Wapses. I assured them that it was all quiet 10 minutes ago but I would attend with them.

When we got down there it was still quiet, so I led the way to check the Valley. My first sight was the back of a stopped newspaper delivery van. I slowly overtook it trying to be as careful as possible. I still didn't know what was occurring. Then I suddenly picked up Jim Findlay in my headlights who was walking back towards me holding what I thought was his chest, but turned out to be an arm injury.

He said he had lost a male offender who was armed and believed to have crossed the railway line towards Kenley. I helped him back to the police car that he had been a rear seat passenger in. It was immediately in front of the paper van, so I had not seen it on my first arrival. I sat him on a grass bank waiting for the ambulance crew to deal with him. I still didn't know at that point that there was any other officer involved.

Then Jim wanted to check on John. I insisted he was not to move and that I would deal. I found John hanging from his seat belt with a trickle of blood at the side of his mouth. He appeared to me to be dead. I broke the news to Jim which I will not describe. Jim was safely taken off to hospital, while I and another ambulance crew did the same for John.

It was only then that I saw another ambulance crew lifting a stretcher from a nearby garden containing Ray Fullalove who was seriously injured. B2 and Metropolitan Police crews started arriving and I was assigned to a Met crew from Harrow to patrol and search.

What I learned later is that when I drove off from Wapses, Von Bulow made his way from the roundabout carrying a holdall. The Police vehicle with the two PCs and Jim in the back stopped him. Ray apparently got out of the front passenger seat and asked Von Bulow if he could have a look in his bag. He agreed opened it got out a gun, shot Ray and then fired into the Police car.

Trevor Saunders from Old and Bold: It is difficult to describe the atmosphere hanging over Caterham Police Station during the ensuing days. The tragedy of losing a colleague and the burning desire to capture the culprit had to be tempered with the need to concentrate on normal policing demands.

In addition, in the knowledge that John's funeral would attract national television coverage, the pallbearers for John's coffin attended Caterham Barracks daily to be trained for the task to a military standard. The pallbearers were Superintendent Philip 'Paddy' Doyle, Ray Hussey, and Dave Bryant, me with two others whose names I am sorry, escape me for the moment. This was a duty that we were all proud and honoured to do, but never wanted to do again. The funeral was held six days after John's death.

When we returned to the police station after the service the atmosphere was understandably very subdued. I had only been back in my office for a few minutes when Paddy Doyle came in. He said, "Trevor, he's in my nick." We shook hands and he turned and left. The emotion in my office was so heavy there was nothing more that needed to, or could, be said.

That was not a moment I shall ever forget, nor will I forget the courage of Jim Findlay, the extraordinary recovery of Ray Fullalove, who was back at work within, I believe, just three weeks, and the huge support given by Peter Matthews to Geraldine, John Schofield's widow.

Alan Bridgeman: In July 1974 PC John Schofield was shot dead at Caterham. The incident was horrific, and shocked us all. I remember John had done a firearm's course at HQ only a couple of months earlier, when I was a member of the training staff playing a baddie.

I had hidden in trees on the slopes of Mount Browne, and opened fire on the approaching line of searching PCs. I have a clear memory of John's head poking around a tree looking for me, and looking mildly surprised to see me pointing a gun at him. It demonstrated the value of realistic training at the time, and it is such a wicked shame that John was trapped in his seat by the seat belt at the time he was shot.

I remember that his killer Egon Von Bulow was arrested on the day of John's funeral, which was very well attended by so many bobbies who each day faced the same potential dangers as John, but were fortunate enough not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We heard that Von Bulow's MP had made a complaint to the Metropolitan Police that his constituent had been refused a firearm certificate shortly before the murder; strangely no publicity was made about this at all. It would have clearly demonstrated that MPs are as fallible as anybody else, and were quite likely to lodge formal complaints whilst absolutely unaware of all pertinent facts.

I don't suppose that situation has changed at all – in fact it has probably become worse. Serving officers tend to believe that they have heard all the facts of any prominent case, particularly one involving the murder of a colleague, but it was twenty years before I found out more about the shooting, while I was stress-breaking in France with PC Roger Martin, who had attended the scene as the local dog handler.

Roger had tracked the gunman's route of escape up the railway line, and done so well that he was made a Freeman of the City of London. Roger must have well impressed those City blokes, almost as much as he impressed his SCMCC colleagues in about year 2000, when he fell off his Honda Blackbird in France at a speed of 180 mph – and lived!

1974, 13 July: The Times: (Superintendent William John Breslin of the Metropolitan Police was awarded the George Medal for his actions when arresting Von Bulow.) The arrest was made soon after dawn by members of the Metropolitan Police at Lewisham after an explosion in Hither Green Lane.

Soon afterwards a man with a shotgun tried to hijack a lorry that was being driven from a depot next door to the garage. The driver of the lorry ignored the shouts of the man to stop and drove on. The man still brandishing a shotgun forced the driver of a Hillman car to stop and drive him towards the A2.

The Hillman stopped near a garage at Falconwood Railway Station at Welling where a number of shots were fired at passing cars. No one was hurt. The driver of the Hillman was ordered to drive back to Lewisham where in Avon Road the gunman leapt clear leaving a shotgun and a number of homemade grenades inside.

Several minutes later there were two explosions in the area. This all followed the first alert to the Metropolitan Police when a patrol of two officers saw a man loitering in the railway sidings near Hither Green. After they shouted at him and began to approach the man threw a grenade down the embankment and it exploded in a petrol station.

After he hijacked the Hillman he fired several shots and hurled three grenades at the police before he ran from the car chased by several car loads of police. Later a man was taken to Lee Road police station. Detective Chief Superintendent Simmonds was interviewing the suspect as the funeral of the murdered police officer was taking place.

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