Characters, — July 24, 2009 10:15 — 0 Comments

Flipping knives: McGladdery

I have a clear memory of Robert McGladdery. He was an agricultural labourer who, like many others, was frequently unemployed. 


He was a tall, blond, good looking chap.  He was also a bit of a thug who was often involved in fights at dances etc.  Sadie and I sometimes saw him at dances in Newry Town Hall, and made sure we avoided him.  He was said to carry a hatchet, but whether or not this was true I cannot say.  More than once I saw him standing at the market entrance, which was opposite the office, flipping a knife.  

 

He was the last man to be hanged in Northern Ireland.

 

In modern time murder has become almost commonplace in Northern Ireland but in the early 1960s it was an unusual and sensational event and occupied the media for months.  

 

After a dance in the Newry Orange Hall he followed a local girl, Pearl Gamble, stabbed and strangled her and dragged her body over three fields.  He was an early suspect and the police put a continuous tail on him, following him everywhere – including the local Dole office when he signed-on.  

 

He would arrive in the office, cocky and confident, while his police tail slipped in behind him.  He would sign his docket and dive quickly out, forcing the detective to exit rapidly also.  He led the police all over the countryside, wading through mud and rivers.  Eventually he led them to where he had hidden the incriminating evidence, clothing hidden in a septic tank close to the murder scene.  

 

… more later …

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