McGladdery as chief suspect

I was speaking to my friend Tommy Donaghy last evening about the Pearl Gamble murder and he too – like everyone of that era – has a strong memory of those few weeks after when McGladdery strutted the streets of the town basking in his new infamy.

McGladdery very quickly became the chief police suspect and there were officers allotted to observe him closely.

‘Constable Maurice J Manson said that while on duty at Damolly on January 29th – the day following the discovery of Pearl Gamble’s remains on Weir’s Rocks, Upper Damolly – at about 2.15 pm he saw Robert McGladdery leave his house by the back door and walk through a number of fields until he came to the Clanrye River at a point about 200 yards on the Banbridge side of Damolly factory.

He saw him stand for a minute or two and look around him. He then walked into the river which was swollen at the time and crossed to the other side. The water came up to his chest and he had both arms extended above him while crossing. When he reached the far bank the Constable saw him walk across some more fields until he reached the canal which he crossed by means of a footbridge. He went into a partly-demolished house, stayed there about five minutes and when he came out, the witness saw him begin to walk along the towpath towards Newry. Witness’s view was then obstructed by the Damolly factory. Witness then saw Special Constable Crawford’s car coming from the Newry direction.

This latter Constable took up the story.

He testified that on the day in question he was sent to a point on the towpath between the second and the third lock-gates approximately opposite Damolly village. He saw McGladdery walking towards him soaking from the waist down. He asked him to accompany him to the Police Station to get a change of clothes. At the station he did this and McGladdery stayed until his clothes were dry.’

It was clear that the Police were tailing McGladdery to see if he might lead them to some missing incriminating evidence. People all over the town participated in the search of the area. I know that my late friend Paddy Campbell of O’Neill Avenue, then part-time caretaker of the Bosco Club in Linenhall Square was among them.

Unfortunately Robert McGladdery quickly began to bask in the notoriety this frequent ‘tail’ brought him and indeed he often had a further tail of voyeuristic youths.

It was almost a fortnight later before the crucial evidence was uncovered.

…. more testimony later…

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