Tuesday, 13 October 2015


Marion Gilchrist

The date was the 21st of December 1908, Marion Gilchrist was a wealthy 81 year old woman living alone in a flat at 15 Queens Terrance, West Princes Street, in Glasgow’s West End. In the flat directly below that of Miss Gilchrist lived a family by the name of Adams, on the evening of the 21st they heard a thud from emanating from the flat above followed by the sound of three distinct knocks. Miss Gilchrist was reportedly terrified at the thought of being burgled and had established a system whereby if she ever needed help from the Adams she would knock down to them.  The Adams understandably assumed this to be the signal and decided to check on Miss Gilchrist, they found the close door open, when it was usually closed, but continued up to Marion Gilchrist’s second floor flat and rang the bell. There was no reply and no sound from inside the flat although Mr Adams could see by looking through one of the class panels on the door that the gas lamp in the hall was lit. He rang the bell once more. At this point Adam reports that he heard a sound he took to be that of someone cutting sticks, assuming this to be Miss Gilchrist’s servant, Nellie Lambie, he returned to his own home. He reporting his impressions to his sister, who was certain that something was definitely wrong in the upstairs apartment,  and demanded that Adams return once more and have another look. Dutifully Adams returned to the Gilchrist flat and rang the doorbell once more, the cutting sound has stopped and all was silence until Adams heard the sound of footsteps advancing up the close stairs behind him, on turning round he discovered these to be those of Miss Gilchrist’s servant Nellie who he has supposed to be cutting wood inside.

West Princes Street today, formerly Queens Terrace

After explaining his concerns to the servant, Nellie answered that the chopping sound was most likely only the pulley in the kitchen which needed greased. She unlocked the door and both she and Adams entered the lobby which was dimly lit by a gas lamp. As Nellie approached the kitchen to check on the pulley a man suddenly appeared out of the bedroom doorway and approached Adams as if he was about to speak to him before walking past him instead and out of the flat door and disappearing down the stairs. Adams reported that the man wore a light overcoat and appeared to be a gentleman, Nellie appeared unmoved by this sudden apparition so Adams assumed that she must know this strange man. Once it was discovered that there was no problem with the pulley the pair began searching the apartment for Miss Gilchrist. On entering the dining room Nellie screamed, Miss Gilchrist was lying in front of the fireplace with a rug thrown over her head, the rug was saturated with blood. Adams immediately decided to pursue the strange man who had so calmly fled the scene, running out onto West Princes Street toward St George’s Road but there was no sign of the mysterious gentleman.

Marion Gilchrist's home as it looks today
Adams returned to Miss Gilchrist’s flat where Nellie had summoned a policeman, on viewing the body of Marion Gilchrist once more they discovered that she had been savagely beaten about the head with a bloodstained chair that lay by her side but appeared to still be breathing. Adams ran across the street to fetch a doctor, but Marion Gilchrist was pronounced dead on his return. Detectives arrived on the scene and conducted a search of the house. In the spare bedroom they found a gas lamp lit which Nellie swore had not been lit when she left the house just before 7 o clock. She had gone to collect a copy of the Evening Times for her mistress and has been out of the house for only 10 minutes. On the table below the gas lamp was one spent match and a box of Runaway matches, which Nellie claims she had never seen before. Also on this table was a wooden casket, a gold watch and chain, and a tray of jewellery. The casket had been smashed open and papers strew all over the floor. Nellie was asked if anything was missing and replied that a diamond crescent brooch was gone. A note was put out to all pawn shops to watch out for the brooch and a description of the strange man was circulated, he was described as ‘a man between 25 and 30 years of age, 5 8’ to 5 9’ in height with a slim build, dark hair, clean shaven, wearing a light grey overcoat and a dark cloth cap.’

The murder of Marion Gilchrist shook Glasgow. That a respectable 81 year old woman should be murdered in her West End flat in the ten minutes her maid left to collect a newspaper seemed unbelievable and a media frenzy ensued with increasing criticism of the actions of the police and a mounting pressure on the to solve the case quickly. With few leads and no sighting of the mystery assailant the police were begging to lose hope when a 14yr old girl named Mary Barrowman came forward to say she had been walking West Princes Street at about 10 past 7 on the night Miss Gilhrist has been murdered and had seen a man rush from Gilchrist’s close and dash along the street bumping in to Mary in the process. Mary was able to give a much fuller description of the man than either Nellie or Adams had provided. Her description differed so much from Adams’ description that the police decided that there must be two men involved in the crime.

Mary Barton’s description of this ‘second man’ was at follows: he was 28 – 30 years old, tall and thin, clean shaven with a nose turned slightly to one side wearing a fawn coloured overcoat, dark trousers and a tweed cloth cap. Soon after this description was published in the press the police were approached by a bicycle dealer named Allan McLean. McLean told the police that he was a member of a gambling club called The Sloper Club on India Street, and that a fellow member, a German Jew named Oscar Slater had been trying to sell a pawn ticket for a diamond crescent brooch matching the description of the one stolen from Marion Gilchrist’s apartment.

Oscar Slater right

On arriving at the address of Oscar Slater at 69 St Georges Rd they found that Slater had left, along with his mistress, that very day for Liverpool and then caught a ship, the Lusitania, bound for New York under the false names of Mr and Mrs Otto Sando. Suspicious of this the sudden departure, police traced Slater’s pawn ticket for the diamond brooch only to find that it was not in the least like the one stolen from Marion Gilchrist’s home and that it had been pawned on the 18th of November, more than a month before the murder. However, the police were still convinced that Slater had committed the crime and made plans to have Slater arrested when he arrived in New York. The Lusitania docked in New York on January the 2nd 1909 and Oscar Slater was arrested by New York police and placed in a cell in Tombs prison. Slater’s picture was published in the Glasgow papers, and suddenly a host of witnesses emerged claiming to have seen such a man in the vicinity of Marion Gilchrist’s house on the night of the murder, perhaps hoping to claim the £200 reward that had recently been offered for information in the case. The matter of the wrong brooch appeared to have been entirely forgotten.

Glasgow police decided to send their three witnesses, Mr Adams, Nellie Lambie, and Mary Barton to New York to identify the suspect, despite the fact that Mr Adams claimed he had not been wearing his spectacles when he saw the man in the lobby, Nellie telling two detectives that she would not be able to identify the man she saw in the lobby, and the man Mary Barton claimed to have seen in West Princes Street obviously not being Oscar Slater. However by the time the group set sail for New York, after being examined by police for a fortnight, the two girls’ descriptions mysteriously tallied. At trial Nellie and Mary both claimed to have shouted ‘That’s the man!’ on seeing Slater but a New York detective who was also present claimed that had asked him ‘is that the man?’ while pointing at Slater appeared to have never seen him before.

Nevertheless, the police, the public, and the press were convinced that Slater was the murderer. When it was found out that Slater would be arriving on aboard the Columbia coming up the river Clyde, immense crowds flocked to the riverside. The detectives were so concerned that Slater would be lynched on his return that they had him removed from the ship at Renfrew and then driven into Glasgow by car, as he was being lead from the ship one crew member rushed forward and kicked Slater.

The trial of Oscar Slater was fixed to start on Monday May 3rd in Edinburgh. In the witness box Nellie Lambie and Mary Barton were once again positive that Slater was the man that they had seen on the night of the murder. Adams was still doubtful and a dozen more people testified to having seen Slater that night but who only came forward after they had seen Slater’s photograph in the paper. No mention was made of how Slater would have known Miss Gilchrist or how he would have gained entry to the apartment when Marion was so scared on burglars. The Lord advocate described slater as ‘gasping for money’ but on the very day of the murder Slater had raised £30 on the pawned brooch and had money in his accounts. For the defence, lawyer Mr McClure quoted the case of Adolf Beck. Ten women in London swore that Beck was the man who had stolen jewellery from them on various occasions. Two policemen also identified him. Beck was sent to prison for seven years. In actual fact the criminal was a man named Smith who did not look at all like Beck. Mr McClure asked the jury to be very careful in accepting the identification evidence in the Slater case.
At 4.55pm the jury retired to consider their verdict and returned one hour ten minutes later. They found Oscar Slater guilty of the murder. Slater protested: ‘You are convicting an innocent man!’ Oscar Slater was sentenced to be hanged on Thursday May 27th and a shaken Slater was led out of the court room.

Two days before the date of the hanging Slater’s sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life. The bewildered Slater then set about trying to solve a murder he didn’t commit from his cell. He seized upon the idea that a sweetheart of Nellie Lambie called Nugent was the murderer, although Nugent had been completely cleared by the police. He wrote rambling letters to his lawyer suggesting that a private detective be engaged to look into the case on his behalf and even asked that posters be published in various towns asking for any information that may help catch the real murderer.

Meanwhile many pundits including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle criticised the guilty verdict and the weak evidence against Slater. In August 1912 the famous creator of Sherlock Holmes published a booklet entitled The Case of Oscar Slater, where he suggested that some document, such as a will, and not the jewels, was the real object of the murderer’s quest and that the brooch, if in fact it had been stolen, was only a red herring. Conan Doyle was not the only person taking an active interest in the case, a Glasgow policeman named John Thomson Trench was also re-examining the evidence. Trench had been involved in the case from the very beginning and claimed that on the very night of the murder Nellie Lambie had named the man she saw in the landing and that it was not Oscar Slater, but after the clue of the pawned brooch this identification was dropped in favour of pursuing Slater as the murderer. Trench was firmly convinced that Slater had been wrongly accused.

In the winter of 1912 Trench was brought in on a murder in Broughty-Ferry which bore strikingly similarities to the murder of Marion Gilchrist (this murder is covered more fully in a previous entry). Miss Jean Milne, an elderly, wealthy woman living alone much like Marion Gilchrist was brutally murdered in her home with a poker. Although there was a great deal of money and jewellery in the house nothing appeared to have been stolen and there were no signs of forced entry. Eventually a Canadian man named Charles Warner was arrested for the crime but he had an alibi for the night of the murder and was released, the murder remains unsolved to this day. Could the perpetrator of this crime also be responsible for the murder of Marion Gilchrist?
Due to the persistence of Trench an enquiry was opening concerning Oscar Slater’s verdict. In this enquiry Trench stated that Nellie Lambie had, immediately following the murder, repeatedly referred to a Mr ‘A.B’ as being the man she saw in the lobby, and argued that Mary Barrowman’s sighting of Slater near the flat was false as she was not near Marion Gilchrist’s home at the time, dismissing it as ‘a cock-and-bull story of a young girl who was somewhat late in getting home and who wished to take the edge off by a little sensationalism.’ He also argued that the box of Runaway brand matches that were found in the flat were not available by the box but only by bulk, and none were found in Slater’s house.

For his efforts in clearing Slater Trench was dismissed from the Glasgow police and died only a few years later. The outbreak of war in 1914 seemed to end any hope for Oscar Slater, as one of his friends noted ‘who was going to bother about a German Jew in 1914.’ Oscar Slater was finally released from Peterhead in 1927 after serving 19 years for a murder he almost certainly did not commit. He later married, settled in Ayr and died in 1948.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Murder of Jean Milne, Broughty Ferry 1912


West Ferry is the scene of a fiendish murder.

Miss Jean Milne, a lady of independent means, was found lying in her blood in her mansion-house, Elmgrove, yesterday morning, and there was all the evidence of a violent struggle.
The old lady’s face and head bore frightful injuries. Her face was a mass of bruises and clotted blood, and near the body was a poker which had been used with such tremendous force that the knob had been knocked off and blood and hair still adhered to the weapon. After completing his work, the murderer had tied Miss Milne’s legs together, covered the body with a sheet and before leaving he cut the telephone wire. The murder is supposed to have taken place three weeks ago and the murder is still at large.

Elmgrove is a mansion-house of some pretensions, and stands in its own grounds, which are considerable. It is situated at the junction of Grove Road and Strathern Road, and was bought by the deceased’s brother, the late Mr James Milne, who was for many years a tobacco manufacturer in Dundee. Mr Milne died eight years ago, since then Miss Milne has lived alone.

Jean Milne

A wealthy spinster, Miss Milne’s habits and mode of living were thought peculiar and somewhat eccentric. She showed a marked preference for her own society. Friends made many efforts to get her to visit them, but the invitations were always declined with the remark, ‘I just want to live my own life in my own way.’ None the less the deceased was known to a wide circle and was highly respected. She spent much on travel, frequently visiting London and the continent while living for many years without the assistance of a gardener or a maid at home. One friend remarked that the grounds of the impressive mansion had fallen into disrepair: “Time was when she had a maid and a gardener but for many a day up to the time of her death she conducted all her own affairs. The garden became a wilderness and believe me it was an eerie experience to walk up the dark avenue to the silent house.

When at home Miss Milne was almost daily in Dundee where she lunched and had afternoon tea before returning to West Ferry. Her friends more than one remarked to her upon her solitary lifestyle, but Miss Milne, though a small, fragile woman was not afraid and appeared to enjoy the solitary life that she led. One thing is certain that when at home she had next to no social intercourse. She made no visits to the few friends that she had, and she extended no hospitality at Elmgrove, whose interior was something of a mystery to all.

A friend told reporters: ‘I could not tell you how many time I have advised Miss Milne not to shut herself up in that big house. It was unthinkable that a lady well up in years should prefer solitude. She was quite fearless and laughed when I displayed concern about her.’
‘I remember some time ago Miss Milne telling me of an incident which showed how plucky she was. For many years, she had been in the habit of sitting in her dining room writing or reading. The blinds of this room were never drawn, and she sat there in full view of anyone in the garden. Well, one night while she was reading she became conscious of the fact that she was being watched. Lifting her head quickly she saw a man at the window, his face pressed hard against the glass. It was a trying experience, but Miss Milne was in no way alarmed. Rising she walked to the window and coolly ordered the man to ‘clear out’. She admitted afterwards that the sight of the man at the window gave her a start, but she resolutely declined to draw the blinds or get someone to live with her.’

The tragedy at Elmgrove was discovered in a peculiar way. Miss Milne generally didn’t care to be disturbed, on one occasion when the postman called with her letters – despite her solitary life she maintained a very extensive correspondence – she challenged him for ringing the doorbell with the remark: ‘Don’t you know that I keep a letter-box at the back for my correspondence?’. The postman took the hint and from that day all letters and documents addressed to the lady were deposited in a mailbox fixed to the back door.

Mr James Sidders, the postman, started to notice that the letters he was placing in the box were accumulating and thought that something may be amiss. However, fearful of arousing Miss Milne’s short temper the postman decided that it was better to continue to push the letters in the box, supposing that Miss Milne has most probably gone on a short holiday and would be back to clear the mailbox soon. Yet he was surprised that Miss Milne had not communicated with the post office, remembering that she was a woman of most precise habits and that her invariable custom had been to instruct the postal authorities when she went on holiday to forward her mail to London or continental hotels, and she never failed to send a postcard advising of her return to West Ferry.

As the mailbox became more stuffed it was decided that an attempt should be made to get in touch with Miss Milne by telephone, but there was no response despite repeated attempts. The postman then alerted the police who were reluctant to force entry into the house as some time ago Miss Milne’s absence had given rise to fears for her wellbeing, the house was entered by the authorities and everything was found in order. Miss Milne had been on holiday and was greatly indignant on her return to discover that the police had entered her home.

Despite this the police did eventually visit, they found all the windows on the ground floor fastened and the doors secured. A window was forced open and the police entered only to discover the body of Miss Milne lying in the hall, not far from the foot of the stairs, blood stains were everywhere and the head of the body was fearfully bruised. Nearby lay the fifteen inch long steel poker which had been wielded with such terrible effect on the body of the old lady, still covered in tufts of grey hair and clotted blood.

An examination of the body showed that Miss Milne had been repeatedly struck by the murderer, there was one terrible scar on her chin and the skull was dented in several parts, the face was a mass of congealed blood with the eyes protruding from the sockets, her set of artificial teeth had also been broken in the struggle, part of them were found near the body and the rest on the stairs. Her legs had been tied with the cord of a window blind and the telephone wires had been cut to prevent all possibility of making an effort for assistance. Near the body various articles of furniture has been upset: vases were smashed and high upon the globe of a gas bracket was a lamp bespattered with Miss Milne’s blood.

At first it occurred to the authorities that the tragedy might have been due to Miss Milne having fallen down the stairs. The murderer seems to have supposed that the authorities might have arrived at this conclusion because the body bore evidence of having been dragged in order to make it appear as if Miss Milne has fallen over the balustrade. Yet this clumsy attempt as concealment was hampered by the murderer leaving the murder weapon behind and by tying the victims feet and finally covering the body with a white sheet.

It was supposed that the crime had taken place nearly three weeks ago, as the body was in an advanced state of decomposition. When police opened the letter box they found that all letters prior to the 14th of October (three weeks ago) had been opened by Miss Milne while all letters after this date had been untouched. So accustomed were Miss Milne’s neighbours to her habits of quietly departing for a lengthy holiday that no one was seriously alarmed at the fact that no lights showed from the house at nights. This accounts for the delay in discovering the crime.

It is thought that the author of the crime must have been aware of Miss Milne’s solitary habits; one theory is that the murderer had concealed himself in the house while Miss Milne was gardening and on her return to the house had taken her unawares and stunned her with the poker. Friends said:
‘I shall always remember her as a cheery little lady with a good word for all, although she resented intrusion upon her seclusion.’

The case remains unsolved to this day

Saturday, 21 February 2015

" He died, as an erring man should die, Without display, without parade." - The Execution of William Perrie 1837

Paisley in the 1900s

From 1837 to 1901 Queen Victoria presided over the world's biggest empire - and during her 64 year reign approximately 1,100 judicial hangings were carried out in Great Britain and Ireland - the execution of William Perrie on the 18th of October 1837 was the first Scottish Victorian hanging.

A broadside ballad (a form of popular song often reporting dark or salacious deeds,filling the place occupied today by the tabloid press) inspired by the execution begins: 'The morning came, the hours flew past:- / Yea, the fatal hour, poor Perrie's last, / Drew near, on which he was to die, / And meet his God, his Judge on high.' Under the title a small quotation has been provided: '"He died, as erring man should die, / Without display, without parade."

William Perrie was a native of Glasgow, but  at the time of the murder had resided for eight years in Paisley. He was a tobacco-spinner by trade and was generally described by those who knew him as a quiet inoffensive man. However, Perrie was without a doubt a dangerously jealous man when it came to matters of the heart. Twice married, his first wife was described in contemporary reports as 'a respectable woman' who 'always conducted herself with propriety'. Despite this Perrie continually jealous,  'keeping up a constant espionage upon her motions, and finding cause for suspicion where none such existed'.

Newspapers of the time recount an episode where at a party where Perrie was playing the violin to the company, his wife was asked to dance by one of the guests. Perrie was immediately seized with a jealous rage and springing from his seat, he tore his wife from her partner, and broke the bow of his violin over her head.

This and other instances of Perrie's jealousy no doubt led the end of his first marriage. His second was to a woman 'of light character' (read: a flirt) who had  already borne several children to another man in Paisley. Although Perrie was aware of his wife's chequered history before he married her, he made her promise that she would give up all association with other parties. He was described to have been infatuated to the point of obsession with this woman and his tendency to jealousy was exacerbated by her tendency toward flirtation although he had no real reason to conclude that she had ever been unfaithful to him. No doubt frustrated by her husband's unending charges of infidelity, it was said that she used to taunt him and was in the habit of hinting that some cause existed for his suspicions. His friends also used to amuse themselves by hinting that all was not right at home, and by jokes and insinuations.
One the day of the murder, Perrie left his workshop at an earlier hour than usual and returned home. After dinner he dismissed his two children (which he had by the first marriage) and having then bolted the door, he began to accuse his wife of infidelity which she denied. During the scene, he got up in a fit of ungovernable passion and stabbed his wife several times with a small file, with which he used to polish the head violins: she died almost immediately. 
Following his arrest Perrie hoped that his punishment of death might instead be commuted to a prison sentence and while he displayed some degree of remorse he also spoke of his wife's provocation and received some sympathy from the press:

‘the murder was not committed either for love of cruelty and bloodshed or from the cold calculations of gain, but was almost a complete example of murder prompted by the mingled feelings of jealousy and revenge, such as we pity, and almost admire, in Othello on the stage.’

Despite this the sentence of death remained and William Perrie was hanged on October 18th 1837, his execution prompting debate in the local press on effectiveness of the death penalty itself:

‘This execution at Paisley, of William Perrie, happened on the 18th of October; that week, Agnes Colquhoun was murdered and thrown in the Clyde. The same day, Mr Angus McDonald of Glasgow disappeared with property on his person; and from evidence already before the public, is believed to have been murdered, although the body has not yet been found. A few days after, Nov 11th, a gamekeeper on the estate of Sir W Anstruther, unable to overtake Dickson and another poacher in their flight, wantonly shot them both, for which he was been sentenced to several months imprisonment. Soon afterwards, Nov 16th, another man, Daniel Campbell, was fired at, and dangerously wounded, between Greenock and Paisley, by two villains, who made their escape. It appears, therefore, that the execution of Perrie, if it has produced any effect, has been a provocative to crime.'

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

1927: Woman's Head Found in Clyde and Mutilated Remains Found in Coal Bunker

'The finding of a parcel containing parts of the dismembered body of a woman on the North Side of the River Clyde on Saturday led police to a house at 213 Main Street, Glasgow, South Side, yesterday afternoon. In the coal bunker of the house, the remaining portions of the body found hidden under a layer of coal and dross. The police have taken the son of the dead woman into custody and he is charged with her murder.'

The discovery of the gruesome parcel was made shortly after 8 o'clock on Saturday morning by Mr George Geddes who was rowing up the river in a small boat. About 100 yards east of St James's Bridge, Mr Geddes observed a bundle lying on the mud bank on the north side. On rowing toward it and undoing the rope which bound it he was horrified to discover a women's head. The parcel also contained an arm and two legs. The remains were taken to the Central Police Station.

Due to the lack of clues the case presented considerable difficulty for the investigating detectives. It was decided to conduct a huge search of most houses in the Central, Eastern, and Southern Districts in search of the trunk of the body, almost every police constable in the city was recalled to help in the search.

In the course of the day, a woman entered Central Police Station and stated that her mother in law was missing. The woman had been on holiday in Rothsay and it was not until she returned and visited her mother-in-law's house that she discovered it was unoccupied. Shown the remains, the woman identified them as those of her mother-in-law, a Mrs Agnes Arbuckle.

Two detectives were dispatched to Mrs Arbuckle's house at 213 Main Street, South Side and when the door was opened and a search of the home made, the remaining body parts were found under a layer of coal and dross in the coal bunker. The trunk, which was cut in two parts, and the missing arm were taken to the Mortuary at the Central Police Station. 

The woman's son, a man aged between 36 and 40 was taken into custody and charged with Mrs Arbuckle's murder.

A next door neighbour yesterday described Mrs Arbuckle, a 60-year old widow, as a woman of very quiet habits who had lived at her home on Main Street for 17 years. During the past few years she had lived alone, one of her sons was reporting missing during the war and another had died six years ago. It was known that she called at the local post office to collect a pension in respect of the son who was killed in the war, and the last time she was seen alive by any of her neighbours was three weeks ago. On that day, it is believed she left to visit the post office as usual but she did not return. 

Many aspects of the case were similar to those of the recent London Trunk Murder.  In the Arbuckle case, the assailant in dismembering the body had taken deliberate precautions against the identification of the victim, The face and head, which had been severed at the neck, had been shockingly cut and bruised, apparently with some sharp heavy instrument, In addition to the head, the gruesome package found on the river bed contained two legs amputated below the knee, a thigh, a left arm, and a hand from which the ring finger had been cut off. The missing finger, from which a wedding ring had been recently removed was also found in the package. The appearance of the remains suggested that a sharp saw had been used in the dismemberment by someone with some skill. The singed condition of the back of the head and neck indicated that the woman had been knocked into a fireplace by a blow or that an attempt had been made to dispose of the evidence by burning.

The authorities take the view that while the woman had probably been dead two or three days, the bundle had only been deposited in the river on Friday night or early Saturday morning.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Saturday 17th January 1976 – Two children found brutally murdered in Govan

Golspie Street before it was demolished

In January 1976 a massive police hunt was launched to find the killer of two Glasgow children brutally murdered in their home in a case that senior detectives at the time described as possibly the most brutal they had experienced.

On Saturday 17th of January 1976, the bodies of John McMonigle aged 13, and his sister Irene McMonigle aged 12, were found bound, gagged, and battered almost beyond recognition in their home at 108 Golspie Street, Govan, by their father when he returned home with his other daughter, 9-year-old Elizabeth, after a visit to a flat in Pollock to which the family were due to move that night.
Irene and John McMonigle
The children were watching television when their father, Mr John McMonigle aged 36, left for Pollock with Elizabeth around 2.30pm. A meal had been prepared for the children and they had also been given money for sweets. It is thought that the children were attacked sometime between 2.30pm and 4pm.

The McMonigles were the only family still occupying a flat in Golspie Street, an area that was to be pulled down under a redevelopment scheme. Hardly a window remained intact in the close of No.108, neighbouring tenements also presented a similar picture of decay and destruction. Relatives spoke of Mr McMonigle’s constant battle to keep his home intact from vandals, squatters and down-and-outs.

Golspie Street before it was demolished

After the murder councillor Andre McMachan who represented Govan in Glasgow District Council suggested that immediate efforts should be made to demolish all empty tenements in Govan – ‘My heart goes out to the father of these kids’ he said, ‘Tenements like these, which have been emptied of all or most of their official tenants, are an incitement to madmen. They are being used unlawfully by some dubious people and they represent a risk to the community. I think it is necessary now to demolish them.’
The flat had been broken into a fortnight earlier, and the children were under strict orders from their father not to let anyone in while he was away.
Alexander Miller
On the day of the murder John was wearing a blue pullover with Bay City Rollers style tartan flashing on the shoulders while Irene was wearing a brown tweed dress.

In the hunt that followed for the killer, a team of 60 detectives took statements from more an 3500 people. Two months later 28 year old Alexander Miller was arrested and charged with the murders. Miller had lived next door to the McMonigles but had moved away under the redevelopment. He has broken into the McMonigles’ house a fortnight earlier and was returning to steal a television that he has spotted previously.
When Irene interrupted him shouting, ‘I know you, I’ll tell my daddy’, he tied both children up and battered them to death.
He was charged with murder but admitted culpable homicide with diminished responsibility. He was described at the time as ‘mentally defective’ and was sent to Carstairs.

New Golspie Street development