Archive for Police

Blue Murder in Glasgow

Posted in Biographical with tags , , , , , on June 12, 2019 by telescoper

We have our final meeting of the Examination Board in the Department of Theoretical Physics at Maynooth University tomorrow in the presence of External Examiner who is visiting for the purpose.

For some reason thinking about this impending event reminded me of a strange encounter I had many years ago when I worked at Nottingham University and had almost forgotten about. Perhaps it’s just because it was the same time of year. Anyway, while I remember it I thought I might as well write about it here.

One day in June 2003, when I got home to my house in Beeston after work, I found that a card had been put through my letterbox. It was from Nottingham CID and bore the name of a Detective Sergeant followed by `Vice Squad’. I forget his actual name. Apparently the Officer concerned had called when I wasn’t in and left the note asking me to call back. I was a bit perturbed that it was apparently to do with something under the remit of the Vice Squad but it didn’t give any details except for a telephone number. Anyway, being a cooperative person, I phoned the number and a few days later the policeman came to my house to interview me.

It turned out to have nothing to do with the Vice Squad nor even anything to do with Nottingham. It was to do with an incident in Glasgow that had happened almost a year previously (in 2002): the policeman who interviewed me just happened to be available to run this particular errand on behalf of the Glasgow CID.

The police had traced me because I had paid a bill in a curry house in the Byres Road area of Glasgow’s West End with my credit card. I should explain that the reason I was having a meal in Glasgow that night was that at that time I was External Examiner for the undergraduate courses in Astronomy at the University of Glasgow, a task that involved staying two nights in a B&B near the University. In fact when I spoke to the Police Officer I was about to go to Glasgow again for the same purpose.

I was asked to recall my movements for the evening concerned (24th June 2002). It was almost a year previously and I couldn’t help much, but I did remember that I (along with some companions from the Department) tried to get into the curry house earlier in the evening, but it was very busy so we adjourned to a pub for a pint or two before returning and getting a table. A helpful comment below reminded me that the establishment concerned was  Ashoka in Ashton Lane, in the West End of Glasgow.

 

I could remember only two things really. One was that it was a warm sunny evening and there were lots of people outside drinking in the sunshine. The other that it was getting dark when we left Ashoka after the meal, which at that time of year would make it rather late. The Officer pointed out that my credit card had been charged after 11pm, which fits with that recollection. I had paid for my meal with the intention of claiming the cost on expenses. The food was excellent, by the way.

`Can you describe the other people in the restaurant when you were there?’ he asked me. I could barely remember who was at my table, never mind any strangers, and couldn’t think of anything useful to say at all except that it was very busy.

`What’s this all about?’, I asked the Officer.

It was then revealed to me that somebody had been murdered that night, just around the corner from where I was staying. Actually he had been left for dead in the driveway of his house with serious head injuries received in the early hours of the following morning, and died a few days later. The police strongly suspected he had eaten in the same restaurant we were in, possibly with the person or persons who killed him. The Officer showed me a picture of the victim but it didn’t ring any bells.

Because of the time that had elapsed I wasn’t able to help very much at all, though to be honest I doubt I would have been able to help if I’d been asked the day after the event. I just wasn’t paying much attention, and there wasn’t a row or anything that I might have noticed.

And that was that. Interview over. I signed a witness statement and the Officer left.  I never heard any more about it.  It was obviously a cold case then – otherwise the Police  wouldn’t have been following such tenuous leads – and it’s an even colder case now. I believe the case was featured on Crimewatch or some such, but without success.

The murder (still unsolved) was of a man called Alex Blue. According to Wikipedia:

A businessman from the city’s west end, Blue was found outside his home with head injuries. He died two days later. Blue ran a taxi business with an annual turnover of £7m. One theory is that he was the victim of a house buying scam. He told friends he was in the process of buying a new house and planned to view it the day after he was attacked. It was later discovered the home had never been on the market. Although nobody has been charged with the murder, Blue’s mother and brother are convinced they know who murdered him. His brother said: “I know who was behind this but they got someone else to carry out their dirty work for them.”

It’s very unlikely now that whoever killed him will ever be brought to justice.

Death and Other Inconveniences

Posted in Biographical, Brighton with tags , , , on April 7, 2014 by telescoper

It would be an exaggeration to say that this has been a good day. It started in Cardiff when I got to the Central Station and discovered that my train was late. It was only 12 minutes late, in fact, which isn’t at all unsurprising for Late Western. Nevertheless I was a bit annoyed that the 12 minutes turned into 20 minutes and that the Train Manager never once offered an explanation or apology on the entire journey into Paddington.

I did eventually find out the reason for the initial delay via Twitter. Earlier there had been a “person hit by a train”. My irritation turned to deep sadness, at hearing yet again that coded message indicating a death by suicide.

Sitting on the train I remembered seeing fallen cherry blossom in Bute Park. The morning rain had brought it down. That would provide a much more poetic excuse for late running than the usual “leaves on the line”, a poignant reminder of our mortality and all that. I didn’t realize how apt that would turn out to be.

After arriving into Paddington I took the tube to Victoria and had only a short wait for a train to Brighton. All went well until we reached Gatwick Airport at which point we were held at a signal for some time. The train manager then announced that the train would be diverted via Lewes and would therefore be late. The reason? Unbelievably, another “person hit by a train”, this time near Hassocks. Two in one day. Grim.

The train reached Lewes but didn’t stop at a platform but up a branch line some distance from the station. The driver changed ends and we went through Lewes station again without stopping, this time on the branch line to Brighton. We then passed Falmer (my intended destination) without stopping too.

Soon we arrived in Brighton, and I had to get another, stopping, train back to Falmer. I got on the next one, which sat for 20 minutes without moving. Diversion of all the mainline trains onto the Lewes line was causing congestion. As time ticked away I was starting to worry I would miss my 5pm lecture. I decided to give up on the train, left the station and proceeded to take the Number 25 bus to Falmer from the nearest stop.

That turned out not to be a wise move. The bus managed to travel a few hundred yards only before the driver announced that the Lewes Road had been closed by the Police owing to an “incident” at the gyratory system beside Sainsbury’s. We sat on the bus for a while just south of the area that had been cordoned off and then the driver told us the inevitable news that the bus was terminating and we all had to get off.

The main bus garage lies on the Lewes Road just north of the gyratory system, so I thought there was a chance some buses might be operating the other side of the blockage. I went to investigate.

As I skirted round the police cordon I counted at least ten police cars scattered about, along with two large vans. Armed officers were swarming around, and some were on the top of the Sainsbury’s building. There was also a uniformed officer with a loud hailer. Apparently someone, apparently armed, was inside one of the nearby flats. I didn’t hang about to find out more.

There were no buses northbound that I could see, and by now it was pouring with rain. I couldn’t see any possibility of getting to campus with my luggage, so decided to give up and go to my flat. By now my phone battery was nearly flat so all I could so was leave quick messages on Twitter and Facebook, before it croaked, to say
I was cancelling my lecture.

As I write the incident at Lewes road appears to be continuing, but at least nobody seems to have been seriously hurt.

I’m of course very disappointed at having had to miss a lecture, and some other things I wanted to do this afternoon but the three events that impinged on my journey are of far greater consequence for the people affected than my own inconvenience. It’s no doubt been a rougher day than I can possibly imagine for a great many people today.