SELF-SACRIFICING Paul Christopher Harris features in the latest of our special series on Barlinnie: The men who were hanged and their crimes.

A total of 10 judicial executions by hanging took place at HMP Barlinnie between 1946 and 1960, replacing the gallows at Duke Street Prison. This was before the death penalty was eventually abolished in the UK in 1969. All the executions took place at 8am. The public executioners during that time were Thomas Pierrepoint, Albert Pierrepoint and Harry Allen. The remains of all executed prisoners were the property of the state. They were buried in unmarked graves within the walls of the prison. During renovations at the prison in 1997, Barlinnie’s gallows cell, which was built into D-hall, was finally demolished and the remains of all the executed prisoners were exhumed for reburial elsewhere on the grounds. This is the story of Paul Christopher Harris who was executed by Albert Pierrepoint on October 30, 1950, several years after the three death penalty sentences given to John Lyon, Patrick Carraher and John Caldwell in 1946.

TWO Govan brothers found guilty of murder - but only one went on to pay the ultimate price of death.

Evening Times:

Neptune Street today

The Harris' brothers Paul Christopher, 28, and Claude Milford, 30, were found guilty of murdering unemployed scaler Martin Dunleavy in Govan's Neptune Street on July 7,1950.

His death came at the end of a trail of terror left by the pair. They had been drinking heavily in the pub with their friend Walter Drennan, 26, prior to the killing.

When they left the pub, the group became embroiled in several fights which ultimately resulted in the death of Dunleavy.

A single man at 38, Dunleavy also lived in Neptune Street.

The Evening Times reported on the first court appearance for the death which signalled the violence the brothers had become embroiled in during their night of terror.

For this appearance only one of the brother's, Paul Christopher was in the dock. He was joined by drinking buddy Drennan.

The public benches in the court were crowded while the details of the early morning fights unravelled.

Those in the court that day learned that on the night of their rampage, the pair were also accused of assaulting Francis Murray, another resident of Neptune Street.

The charge stated that they struck Murray on the face and body with their fists. It also stated that they kicked him on the body with their feet to his severe injury.

The victims continued and another casualty of their boozing was Richard Doyle, of Rafford Street. This assault also appeared on a separate assault charge. They were accused of striking him on the face with a bottle to the effusion of blood and to his severe injury during a fight.

The final charge which ultimately led to the younger Harris' brother's death was concerning the murder victim Mr Dunleavy. They were accused of assaulting him by striking him on the face with a bottle whereby he received injuries which resulted in his death and they did murder him.

The men were arrested at 3.16am, a few hours after Mr Dunleavy had died at the Southern General hospital.

During that court appearance, which lasted two minutes, Drennan appeared in the dock without a jacket or shoes, perhaps a sign of the chaos which unfolded the night before.

A further assault charge, which took place the same night, was mentioned in a later court appearance - which this time included the other accused brother Claude.

As the boozing fight gang's case came to an end, the jury were directed to consider the Harris' brothers for the murder alone.

Lord Thomson, the presiding judge, in addition directed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty in the case of Drennan so far as the murder charge was concerned.

The Evening Times court report from that time stated: "Accordingly, so far as this murder charge is concerned, the matter is restricted to the brothers Harris."

And with that direction, the Harris' brothers were sentenced to death for their part in the crime.

Evening Times:

Barlinnie cell

The condemned men even shared a cell in Barlinnie right up until their final days together.

Paul Christopher was hanged at two minutes past eight, a time so in sync with the hangings which took place before him.

He was hanged on October 30, 1950, despite an appeal against the execution.

His brother Claude was also heading for the same fate and was due to be hanged on the same day. But he was granted a week's respite.

Evening Times:

No black flag was flown at Barlinnie, above, as a crowd of 24 men, women and two children watched from a distance of a 100 yards from the gates.

A formal inquiry held in Glasgow Sheriff Court shortly after the execution confirmed that Paul Christopher had nothing to say in his final moments.

As for Claude, it would appear that his younger brother had saved him in his final moments.

A message from Hector McNeil, Secretary of State for Scotland, stated that he had postponed his execution.

The Evening Times report said: "The message stated that the action had been taken to permit consideration of certain statements which had been made.

"The last-minute respite for Claude Harris is believed to have been the result of a confession by the other brother."

It was in his final act in life that Paul Christopher made the ultimate sacrifice for his own blood. A confession saved Claude but would his remaining life be any better knowing his brother took the death penalty?

  • Next Friday, the involvement of a city bobby in a unmarried mother's murder made for one of the most scandalous High Court trials the people of 1950s Glasgow had ever witnessed.

In case you missed it:

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

Hanged at Barlinnie: Govanhill 'Crosbie' gang member John Lyon

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

Barlinnie: The men who were hanged and their crimes: Carntyne cop killer John Caldwell​