CARNTYNE cop-killer John Caldwell features in the latest of our special crime series.

Evening Times crime reporter Stacey Mullen has researched the stories of 10 judicial executions in Glasgow between 1946 and 1960... the men who were hanged at Barlinnie

IT was the ‘desperate and callous’ murder which shocked the city – a retired detective sergeant gunned down outside his neighbour’s home in Carntyne.

James Straiton, 61, left his Edinburgh Road home and ran to the aid of his neighbour who was being burgled by the gunmen.

They turned on him after he asked them to give themselves up and he was brutally gunned down so they could make their escape.

In a story covering the murder in 1946, we reported: “He died from a bullet wound within a few minutes, while his assailants, firing wildly in a headlong flight, vanished into the darkness, despite a valiant effort by the driver and conductor of a passing bus to intercept them.”

Evening Times:

With gunmen on the loose in the city of Glasgow, this murder on March 26, was at the forefront of the top detectives of that day’s mind – and a major manhunt was launched.

That probe started with a key piece of evidence one of the bandits had left behind – their shoes. They were found in the garden by police and a description of the footwear was issued in a bid to catch those responsible for the murder.

Cops also started their investigation with the theory that one or both of the gunmen had made their escape by getting on a tramcar in the Duke Street or South Carntyne areas.

But aside from finding those responsible, police officers had to say goodbye to one of their own.

Evening Times:

The funeral of Straiton, who had work for the Eastern Division of Glasgow Police, brought the East End of the city to a standstill.

“Bagpipes and crepe-covered drums of Glasgow Police Pipe Band played a lament,” as the funeral cortege headed out of Edinburgh Road.

We also reported: “Hundreds of neighbours stood respectfully by the roadside, men doffing hats and caps, and the women bowing their heads.

“The dead man’s widow, leaning heavily on the arm of a daughter, came to the door of her trim little villa to catch a last glimpse of the flower-covered coffin as it was placed in the hearse.”

While respects were made to Straiton, officers continued their manhunt and issued an appeal for items which were missing from the house where the murder took place.

Investigators then got the break they needed and on April 1, 1946 we reported of John Caldwell’s first court appearance – with a 15-year-old boy attending the city’s juvenile court.

Caldwell, 20, had served in the army and was arrested by top detectives at a house in Bridgeton’s Fielden Street when he was in bed. Cops arrived at property in the early hours of the morning having cracked the case.

Lord Stevenson passed the death sentence on Caldwell with his hanging at Barlinnie announced to take place.

He was found guilty by a jury on several charges after an absence of just 50 minutes. He did not show any emotion as he was taken below to the cells – though his sister sobbed bitterly as the death sentence was read out. The jury recommended that he should be shown mercy on account of his age.

On the day of Caldwell’s death, the Evening Times revealed exclusively how officers nabbed their man through, among several other things, a fragment of thumb print on a glass he had left at the scene of another robbery.

Evening Times:

Only a few men were present outside Barlinnie prison when the notice was pinned to its doors confirming that the execution of John Caldwell had been carried out.

He had killed a man who had served the city as a police officer. But his victim was honoured in the best way possible, by Glasgow cops nabbing their killer through some good old detective work. 

  • See tomorrow’s Evening Times for the story of the two Govan brothers found guilty of murder – but only one went on to pay the ultimate price of death.

In case you missed it:

Barlinnie: The men who were hanged and their crimes: the 'Fiend of the Gorbals' Patrick Carraher​

Hanged at Barlinnie: The men who were executed and their crimes: Govanhill 'Crosbie' gang member John Lyon

Hanged at Barlinnie: Bloody history of Glasgow's killers who walked to the gallows