The success of true criminal podcasts such as West Cork, The Last Podcast On The Left, and The Teacher’s Pet presented enthusiastic listeners with cases of murder, extortion, fraud and kidnapping from around the world. Some involve notorious serial killers such as Jack the Ripper or cases such as the so-called Black Dahlia murder, which rocked Los Angeles in the late 1940s and remains unsolved. Others are more recent and less publicized, like the murder of American high school student Hae Min Lee, which became the basis of the award-winning series.
Now a new podcast series, Glasgow Crime Stories, launching today, aims to delve into the city’s criminal past and explore both famous cases such as the Bible John murders and less tradition-steeped crimes. such as those of Alan Hasson, a disgraced former grandmaster. of the Orange Order who was imprisoned for fraud. More than that, the podcast will tell the story of the city itself: through the analysis of the perpetrators, their victims, the police officers who demanded justice for them, and the milieu in which they lived and died.
Narrated by actor Alex Norton, better known as DCI Matt Burke from the popular crime television series Taggart, the podcast is the brainchild of veteran crime reporter Norman Silvester and is based on a series of articles in course of him in the Herald’s sister newspaper, The Times of Glasgow.
“We tell the story of the current police investigation and the inner workings of it, but we also tell the story of the victims and give them a voice,” says Silvester. “We obviously also tell the story of the culprits. And there are variations: we are doing up-to-date things on organized crime figures who were murdered as well as more historical things… There is a lot of interest in the social history of the city and often the best. way to tell this story is through crime. ”
But although Glasgow is mentioned in the title, the potential audience is global for the simple reason that crime and the common reasons for crime – greed, passion, revenge – are universal.
“The crime in Glasgow is absolutely fascinating, it is by no means parochial,” says Silvester. “While we don’t glorify crime or try to exploit it, the city has a fascinating connection to crime and I think a lot of stories translate anywhere.”
The first episode, available to listen to now, tells the story of legendary crime boss Arthur Thompson. Beginning with his days as a money lender pinning debtors’ hands and feet to the ground, he progressed through the 1960s, when he allied himself with infamous London gangsters, the Kray twins, until her death in 1993. By this time her son, Arthur Thompson Jr., was already dead, shot dead outside the family home in Provanmill two years earlier.
“He ticks so many boxes,” says Silvester. “Although he was powerful for several decades, the peak of his power was the 1960s and there is obviously a fascination with that era. A lot of people don’t know it was linked to the Great Train Theft. People forget that the train started in Glasgow and I always thought it was important because you needed someone in Glasgow to organize things. I’ve always been told that Arthur Thompson was involved in this and it has never been denied. But it shows you at what level these people could be operating. It was not just a question of small provincial thugs operating from the subdivisions. The extent of their influence, especially in the case of Arthur Thompson, was national and extended as far as London.
Other episodes will deal with Bible John as well as cases of Henry Senior, Willie McCrae, Alexander Miller, Moira Jones and Eleni Pachou. Together, they cover nearly a century of crime in the city. Senior was murdered by two men at Queen’s Park Recreation Ground in 1920 after being lured there by a prostitute. Miller murdered younger siblings John and Irene McMonigle in a heist at a Govan home in 1976 and has been held in a secure psychiatric unit since his indefinite imprisonment. The bodies of Jones and Pachou were found 24 hours apart in May 2008, the first in Queen’s Park, the second in the kitchen of Di Maggio’s restaurant in the West End.
Both women suffered violent deaths, but like the murders of Henry Senior and John and Irene McMonigle, their killers have been brought to justice. The case of Willie McCrae, however, has long puzzled police and amateur detectives. Lawyer, anti-nuclear activist and SNP activist, McCrae was found conscious but seriously injured in his car in April 1985, apparently in an accident – at least it was believed until a bullet lodged in his brain. He passed away the next day and the facts surrounding his death remain controversial to say the least.
Of course, in many of these cases there are sensitivities to consider regarding the friends, partners and family members of the victims.
“One of the things I’ve tried to do in each of the stories, whenever possible, is contact family members and let them know the story is unfolding,” says Silvester. “In some cases we have quotes from family members… we are aware that even if you take the Bible John murders of the late 1960s, there are still quite a few family members of the victims who are still alive. ”
Police investigating the Bible John murders erect a tent at the scene of the 1968 Langside murder in Particia Docker. Image: daily recording
That said, the general public has a natural fascination with crime and criminals, as evidenced by the ever-renewed popularity of detective stories and television dramas such as Taggart himself.
“But I think if you can present what could be a fictional scenario as a real scenario, people find it even more fascinating. In the end, it’s not always somebody’s imagination. This is real life. It’s happened to people and it always has ramifications. I think there is a real fascination. It doesn’t always justify writing about it, but we try to be sensitive and factual about it. ”
And of course, there is always the possibility that, as has happened on several occasions, new evidence may come to light in the wake of a podcast – new evidence that could well bring a criminal to justice.
“Sometimes people can have information that they are not even aware of,” says Silvester. “It may well be that someone is listening to one of these podcasts and realizes they have information. We are certainly aware of this. Fingers crossed, it would be a fantastic result if we could get some sort of conviction or resolution in a particular case through the podcast. ”
Glasgow Crime Stories will release a new episode every Monday morning on all popular streaming platforms. Tune in to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Amazon Music and listen to the first episode.