Wednesday, 31 July 2013

James Griffiths - Demented Gunman

James Griffiths went on a murderous gun rampage after two Glasgow cops went to question him over the alibi of an arrested man in a notorious murder case.  Griffiths hailed from the textile town of Rochdale where he graduated to crime at an early age, getting involved in armed robbery and safe breaking.  Incarcerated in Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight, he did not make friends in there, due to his excessive boasting.  He shared a cell with a scot, soon to be infamous butler & serial killer, Archibald Hall.  He did make friends with well known Glasgow villain Patrick Meehan.  Griffiths actually managed to escape from Parkhurst, reached the mainland, but was recaptured some hours later.  When released, Griffiths was invited up to Glasgow by the now released Meehan.  

    Events turned very ugly on July 6th 1969, when two men burst into the Ayr home of elderly Abraham & Rachel Ross, torturing the couple into revealing the whereabouts of all their valuables.  Mrs Ross died.  Police had an immediate suspect in Meehan, as they knew he had been in the area that night.  When arrested, Meehan remained silent.  Meehan was identified by Mr Ross as one of the assailants.  Now facing a murder charge, Meehan told his alibi.  He and Griffiths, he said, were on their way to Stranraer to look over a Post Office they intended to rob.  He told them where Griffiths was living.  Two cops went to speak to Griffiths over the alibi, but events were to go horribly wrong.

    The Police went to 29 Holyrood Crescent on July 15th, but as they approached, Griffiths saw them and opened fire with a shotgun.  One of the retreating officers was shot in the back.  From his window, he opened fire at anybody that moved.  He went out to his car and removed a rifle from the car, along with ammunition belts.  He then went through his attic window and over the roofs to escape.  In Henderson Street, he came upon James Kerr in his Ford Anglia, where he fired a shot to scare him, dragged him from his car and drove off in it, firing at pedestrians.  He crashed in Carnbrae Street, and so went into the Toll Bar pub, scattering the customers and screaming that he had already shot two cops.  Grabbing a bottle and drinking, an elderly man, Bill Hughes, made a small movement, to which Griffiths shot him.  Mr Hughes died.  But the barman, Jim Connelly, called Griffiths a dirty bastard for shooting an old man, and actually grappled Griffiths and threw him out of the pub!  Before he could retaliate, he heard sirens approaching.

    Lorry driver John Craig had innocently pulled up near the pub, when shots rang out and he saw Griffiths running towards him firing.  He jumped out and ran, and tried to hide behind a lamp-post, with Griffiths aiming shots at him.  He then drove off in the lorry but he kept firing at anybody.  He turned towards the Springburn district.  He drove into Kay Street but found it a dead end.  The cops were closing in.  He broke into a flat in Kay Street, and then started firing at anybody.  A baby was in a pram with bullets flying around until somebody managed to pull it to safety.  An eight year old girl, in a playground was wounded, as was a newly married 18 year old woman.  Her husband went to attack Griffiths but was pulled back.  A man who had just come out of hospital after being stabbed, was hit in the neck.  Armed Police had swarmed into the Street and it was mooted to bring in the Army to deal with him.  Two cops had managed to make their way into the block of flats, and poked a gun through the letterbox.  Griffiths saw it and run to the door.  The cop fired, wounding Griffiths, and they burst in to overpower him.  He died from his wound by the time he had been brought down to the street.

    With this, the alibi for Meehan had collapsed and he was convicted for the murder of Rachel Ross.  He spent seven years in jail before his conviction was overturned on appeal, led by a campaign organised by leading Glasgow solicitor Joe Beltrami.  The killers of Rachel Ross have never been apprehended.  Griffiths lies in an unmarked paupers grave.