Friday August 20th 1965.
“Wolverhampton hunt for a killer” said the E & S reporter.
A Wolverhampton policeman was stabbed to death as he questioned a young man in Princes square. Dectective Sergeant Jim Stanford aged 40 and married with three children died minutes after the incident in a shop doorway.
This was the Wine shop in 1961 before it became part of Victoria Wines and it was in that shop doorway the fatal incident happened.
A serving officer was on duty in the information room at Dunstall Road Station which at the time was the force Headquarters. and this is his account of that day.
In the incident room At 1-
I picked up the phone and a womans voice said “Get an Ambulance quickly” she sounded quite hysterical. I could hear in the background a mans voice saying “I’m dying missis”, and he mentioned a mans name. I sent car 8 to the scene and the message came back that it was DS Jim Stanford who had been stabbed.
I sent a P. C. upstairs to the conviction record office to see if there was a card in the file for the man Jim had called out and indeed there was, he was a local youth so I arranged with a Detective Constable standing by to wait near his home and for the two dog vans to search the area between his home and Broad Street.
He was described as a man who knew no fear, and the stabbing of Jim Stanford initiated the biggest manhunt the town had ever seen, but the youth did not make his way home or flee the town, as everyone would expect him to he went to the pictures.
The Gaumont on Snow Hill where again he did the most peculiar thing. He went into the Gent’s toilet and showed a man in there a knife. He then said to him, “I have done a copper with this”. This witness then followed the youth to where he was sitting and then went to the manager’s office and asked him to call the police.
Three detectives joined the witness in the cinema who showed them were the youth was sitting and an arrest was made. It was later found that he had absconded from a Borstall Institution at Feltham
The last tributes to dead policeman ran the headlines.
Wolverhampton today mourned Detective Sergeant James Stanford hundreds of people lined the route as the coffin was borne from his home in Winchester Road Fordhouses to St Marys Church Bushbury for the service.
Mourners started arriving there an hour before the 11.30 start They included all ranks of policemen leading citizens of Wolverhampton and neighbouring areas, and men and women who simply went along to pay a last simple tribute to the murdered policeman.
In his address Mr Lowe the vicar of St Mary’s said every one had felt a sense of tragedy and shock at the death of Sgt Stanford and we mourn the loss of one who fell in the line of duty, he declared “His death was as gallant as any soldier who died in the war, and we should give thanks for his life which was dedicated to duty for his fellow men”.
Mr Lowe said an ounce of help for the family Sgt Stanford had left behind was worth a ton of sympathy, and so a collection taken in the church today was to be donated to the Mayor of Wolverhampton’s appeal fund.
After the church service Sgt Jim Stanford was cremated and is interned on the large cross at Bushbury Crematorium…
He was later awarded the Queens Police medal (posthumously).