The Linwood bank robbery was a bank robbery which took place in Glasgow on 30 December 1969. Two police officers were shot dead and a third seriously injured.
The gang of three robbers robbed the Clydesdale Bank in Linwood. The leader was Howard Wilson, himself a former police officer. Shortly after a police officer spotted them in Allison Street in Glasgow, where he thought they were acting a bit suspiciously.
When a group of officers investigated Wilson pulled out a gun and shot three of them. He then fired a shot into two of them as they were lying injured on the floor, and was about to shoot a third when he was rugby-tackled by another officer. One of the wounded officers died at the scene, another died in hospital a few days later, and the third was put in a wheelchair for life.
Wilson eventually pleaded guilty to two charges of murder, the first time anyone had pleaded guilty to a double murder charge in Scotland. Two officers involved in capturing him were awarded the George Cross.
It is generally accepted that the same gang had carried out the Williamwood bank robbery a few months earlier, along with a fourth man. The subsequent whereabouts of the fourth man are unknown, there is a dubious rumour that he is buried in the pillars of the Kingston Bridge.
Wilson was released after 33 years. He wrote a novel Angels of Death.
Cop Kills Cops
By Reg McKay - DailyRecord.co.uk
Oct. 19, 2007
LET'S rob a bank! His mates all laughed knowing he was joking. Except he was serious. Deadly serious. The ideas man was Howard Wilson.
Tall, smartly dressed, neat haircut, bright, articulate, he was the dominant character in a small group of business pals. He was also an ex-cop.
Wilson had expected to be promoted rapidly through the ranks. When that didn't happen, he resigne a bitter man.
Still, he had faith in his own abilities, this time as a businessman. Too much faith, in that his two greengrocer shops in Glasgow were losing money fast.
By 1969, Wilson was broke and desperate. Desperate enough to rob a bank.
He was in good company. His pals Ian Donaldson and John Sim - an ex-cop and ex-prison warder - were also struggling in civilian life. The bank job was on.
All were members of Bearsden Shooting Club and legally bought a Russian Vistok .22 pistol from the club president - the very type of move that was banned after the massacre of Dunblane.
Recruiting a young man, Archibald McGeachie, as the getaway driver, they were all set.
One day in July 1969, three smart businessmen walked into the British Linen Bank in Williamwood. No one suspected a thing till they pulled a gun and squirted ammonia in the staff's eyes.
Three minutes later, Wilson and his crew were driving away fast, £20,876 richer - a fair sum in those days.
The men weren't stupid. They had a quiet celebratory drink, split the proceeds and got on with life as usual. No new cars, fancy holidays or splashing the cash in pubs. Ex-cop Wilson knew that was a certain way to get nabbed. Very sensible and trouble free. One problem - all had businesses running in the red.
By Christmas they were broke again.
They had crossed the line once, why not cross it again and rob another bank? All agreed apart from young McGeachie.
McGeachie declined the job, exactly why we don't know. Will never know.
On December 23, 1969, he disappeared from his home and has never been seen again.
Was he seen as weak link by the gang? One that had to be shut up?
At the time, the huge Kingston Bridge spanning the River Clyde was being built. Word on the street then, and now, was that young McGeachie was dumped in one of the massive concrete stanchions that support the bridge.
Only one of the team was capable of doing that - Howard Wilson.
On December 30, 1969, Wilson's team hit the Clydesdale Bank, Renfrew. This time, they got off with £14,212 and a large metal box full of coins. Back at a flat Wilson had at 51 Allison Street, Govanhill, they unloaded the car. The cash was in suitcases and the metal box in a cardboard box - no passer-by would suspect anything.
Except they were being watched. Across the way in a shop, Inspector Andrew Hyslop spotted Wilson who he knew from his time in the cops - knew and never trusted.
Hyslop didn't know about the robbery, but he was curious what the men were unloading and decided to look closer.
First radioing his colleagues asking them to meet him at the flat, Insp Hyslop went up the close. Howard Wilson greeted him in a friendly way, inviting him in and offering him a drink. It was close to Hogmanay, after all.
Wilson gave Hyslop permission to look in one of the cases. As the cop opened it and discovered it packed with bank notes, Wilson pulled a gun, stuck it in the cop's face and pulled the trigger - it jammed. He fired again and sent a bullet crashing into Hyslop's skull. He was alive, but paralysed.
Almost instantly, constables Sellars, MacKenzie and Barnett ran into the room. A trained marksman, Wilson shot MacKenzie and Barnett in the head. Sellars narrowly escaped and took refuge in the bathroom.
MacKenzie was still alive. Coldly, Wilson stooped over him, placed the gun to his forehead and fired. A fatal shot.
With one bullet left, Wilson turned and, noticing that Hyslop was still alive, bent over and placed the barrel of his gun on the cop's head.
Just then, a DC Campbell barged into the room, sussed the score immediately, and dived on Wilson. The gun went off, but the last bullet crashed into the ceiling. Battle over. MacKenzie was dead. Young Barnett died soon after from the bullet lodged in his brain. Hyslop survived, but bullet fragments remained in his skull ruining his health till the day he died.
At his trial in 1970, Wilson's team were found guilty only of the robberies and sentenced to 12 years each. Wilson accepted full responsibility for the murders and became Scotland's only cop turned cop killer of modern times.
Sentenced to 25 years, Wilson at first fought the system in riots and attacks on screws.
He was so difficult to manage he ended up in the cages at Porterfield Prison, Inverness, ironically along with Jimmy Boyle, who he had once staked out as a cop.
Later, Wilson settled down in jail and took to writing. A novel, Angels of Death, was a best-seller and won the Koestler Award. After 33 years in jail, he was released and slipped quietly into obscurity. Alone with his thoughts now, does he recall the time after he was sentenced?
When women and kids policemen's families from all over Scotland - demonstrated in George Square, calling for the return of the death penalty, which had been abolished two weeks before the murders.
So horrified were the politicians that they considered giving in to the women's demands.
Cop killer Howard Wilson almost swung - by his neck.