Hero Al­lan back on the beat at 97

Cop who cor­nered psy­co­path vis­its HQ

Lennox Herald - - LIFESAVER - Jenny Foulds

A re­tired po­lice of­fi­cer who won a medal for con­fronting mur­derer Thomas McCul­loch re­lived the chill­ing in­ci­dent last week.

Al­lan McKin­lay, who climbed the ranks to be­come a su­per­in­ten­dent, rolled back the years af­ter be­ing in­vited to the force’s Gar­shake HQ by Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Hazel Hen­dren, divi­sional com­man­der for the area, and area com­man­der Don­ald Leitch.

The 97-year-old, who left the force 42 years ago, has vivid rec­ol­lec­tions of his event­ful polic­ing days, most no­tably from May 16, 1970, when his courageous ac­tions led to him be­ing awarded the Queen’s Com­men­da­tion for Brave Con­duct.

Mr McKin­lay and his boss, Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent David Hutchins, dis­armed and ar­rested gun­man Thomas McCul­loch af­ter he went on a ram­page dur­ing a row over a sand­wich he was served.

“It was him or me and it had to be him,” Mr McKin­lay told the Len­nox Her­ald.

“Dave and I were in the car one night. We got a call in that there had been trou­ble at the Ersk­ine Bridge Ho­tel.

“When we got there we saw this young man stand­ing there and right away I no­ticed he had a gun. Dave and I were a wee bit flab­ber­gasted.”

Mr McKin­lay dis­tracted McCul­loch’s at­ten­tion by point­ing at a ta­ble, telling him they only wanted to get a sand­wich from the buf­fet of an on­go­ing func­tion in the ho­tel.

As McCul­loch turned to look at the ta­ble the of­fi­cer acted fast and “flat­tened” the gun­man. 031117ALLAN_ MCKINLEY_006

He said: “The gun was go­ing back and for­ward be­tween us. As it came around to me I threw my­self at him, knocked him to the ground and took the gun from him.”

At the time the of­fi­cers did not know McCul­loch had shot two mem­bers of the pub­lic.

McCul­loch was de­tained in Carstairs state men­tal hos­pi­tal for the of­fence.

He and Robert Mone butchered nurse Neil MacLel­lan, pa­tient Iain Simp­son and po­lice­man George Tay­lor in a blood­soaked break­out from the hos­pi­tal in 1976.

Ar­rest­ing McCul­loch was one of the most no­table mo­ments for Mr McKin­lay, who had joined the force 25 years ear­lier fol­low­ing six years of ser­vice as a sergeant in the army.

It was at Christ­mas in 1945, while home on leave, that he walked into what was then the head­quar­ters for Dun­bar­ton­shire Con­stab­u­lary on Church Street in Dum­bar­ton.

He said: “I came back and my wife said to me ‘it’s time to get a job’.

“I had my in­ter­view and was of­fered the po­si­tion. I had to tell them ‘Thank you very much but I am go­ing back to Pales­tine to­mor­row.”

He chuck­led: “I looked the part. I was tall and bronzed.”

He re­turned to the Mid­dle East the fol­low­ing day but was dis­charged in the sum­mer of 1946 to be­gin his polic­ing ca­reer. It was a suc­cess­ful ca­reer which saw the of­fi­cer, who grew up in George Street, Bon­hill, climb the ranks to be­come a su­per­in­ten­dent un­der Dun­bar­ton­shire Con­stab­u­lary then Strath­clyde Po­lice.

Mr McKin­lay mostly served in the Bowl­ing, Cly­de­bank and East Dun­bar­ton­shire ar­eas, mov­ing to Cly­de­bank, where he met wife Mar­garet and raised a fam­ily of five chil­dren.

He now lives in Bears­den and has 23 grand­chil­dren and great-grand­chil­dren.

He says polic­ing has not changed too much but reck­ons there is no sub­sti­tute for of­fi­cers walk­ing a beat, talk­ing to and meet­ing mem­bers of the com­mu­nity.

Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Hazel Hen­dren told how Mr McKin­lay cap­tured the hearts of of­fi­cers when he went to the sta­tion’s open day in July.

She said: “He told us lots of fas­ci­nat­ing sto­ries of his time in the po­lice and we really wanted to in­vite him back for a spe­cial visit to take him on a trip down mem­ory lane.

“We gave him a tour of the of­fice and he met our of­fi­cers and youth vol­un­teers. It has been lovely giv­ing him a VIP wel­come.”

Re­leased Thomas McCul­loch was housed in Dum­bar­ton seven years ago

Spe­cial visit Mr McKin­lay with Don­ald Leitch and Hazel Hen­dren

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