John McCullagh April 8, 2008
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Woman Constable Elizabeth Ann McCance testified that she was on duty in plain clothes in Newry Town early on the day of Pearl Gamble’s murder when she saw McGladdery and a friend shopping at the hardware counter at Wollworths.


It is believed it was then that Robert bought the file with which he stabbed Pearl Gamble some ten hours later. Later evidence, from a book found with puncture marks in McGladdery’s home (Mickey Spillane’s The Long Wait) intimated that the crime was coldly premeditated and he had practiced his stabbing skills with such a tool on the book.

McGladdery’s companion was William James Copeland (22) of Talbot Street Newry employed in Damolly Spinning Company. He said that on Friday 27 January he was in Hollywood‘s public house in Hill Street when Robbie McGladdery came in. He knew McGladdery and had gone to school with him. McGladdery joined him drinking and playing darts. They left the pub at 5.15 and they had discussed going to the dance that night together. They went to McGladdery’s house so he could change. McGladdery had no key to the door: he just pushed it and it opened. McGladdery showed him a chest expander and demonstrated how to draw it. He put his foot in one handle and pulled the other up and down about five or six times.

‘I tried it a couple of times and then put it back in the cardboard box. I did not see it slip when Robbie was using it but I did say that if it slipped it would knock your head off’. McGladdery was later to tell detectives that cuts and bruising evident on his face were the result of this expander slipping when he was practising with it.

They walked to town and did a bit of a pub crawl, Hollywoods, Magees and St Catherine’s Club and the British Legion where they arrived at 10.20 and left at 11.15 for the Orange Hall.

‘When we got to the dance I gave McGladdery 5/- to pay for both of us in. I danced with a girl I knew. McGladdery danced too. Between dances he and McGladdery met and stood together. He saw McGladdery dance with Pearl Gamble and he thought it was the third or fourth dance from the end. He only saw Robert dance once with Pearl and at the end of the dance McGladdery had not come back to stand with him. He did not see McGladdery again in the hall.’

Copeland, it emerged from evidence and on the trial’s completion, was entirely innocent of any involvement in this heinous crime. 

…………. more later ……….

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