Hero Allan back on the beat at 97
Cop who cornered psycopath visits HQ
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