Glasgow’s Notorious Criminal, Patrick Carraher
Patrick Carraher (1906 – 6 April 1946) was a notorious criminal from Glasgow, known as “the Fiend of the Gorbals.” He was a prominent figure during the battles between rival razor gangs in Glasgow, and his love for violence set him apart. Born into a respectable working-class family, Carraher had a propensity for fighting from a young age, which ultimately led to numerous imprisonments throughout his life.
A Reign of Violence
Carraher’s criminal activities escalated when he was arrested on 13 August 1934 for the fatal stabbing of James Shaw, a soldier. During his trial, Carraher pleaded that he was intoxicated and unaware of his actions. Surprisingly, he was convicted of culpable homicide instead of murder, resulting in a relatively lenient three-year prison sentence. The jury’s verdict shocked the legal establishment and reflected a reluctance to impose capital punishment.
Prison life only fueled Carraher’s appetite for violence, as he relished the harsh conditions and the prevalence of knife crime within the prison walls. While most inmates aimed to amass wealth through theft, Carraher remained fixated on fighting, influenced by his long-standing addiction to alcohol. His alcoholism constantly fueled his anger, leading to a vicious cycle of malicious acts.
Continued Reign of Terror
Even after his release, Carraher continued his murderous rampage, engaging in razor slashings and assaults. His final act of terror occurred on 23 November 1945 when he murdered another soldier, John Gordon, during a drunken altercation. Motivated by a long-standing feud between his friend Daniel Bonnar and the Gordon family, Carraher sought vengeance and brutally stabbed John Gordon with a sharp chisel. At his trial, Bonnar and Carraher’s girlfriend provided damning evidence against him, leading to a swift guilty verdict for murder.
Patrick Carraher was hanged at HM Prison Barlinnie by executioner Thomas Pierrepoint. His first trial for murder took place in September 1938 at the High Court of Justiciary in Glasgow, and his second trial occurred in the same court in February 1946.
Patrick Carraher, the alcoholic Glasgow brawler with a history of arrests, left a trail of violence and terror in his wake. His life was marked by multiple incarcerations, brutal crimes, and a relentless thirst for combat. While some believed he should never have been granted freedom after escaping the gallows once, Carraher’s reign of terror came to a definitive end when he was executed in Barlinnie Prison. His story serves as a dark reminder of the violence that plagued Glasgow during that era.
– The Dark Scotland website is created by Stewart and Louise – we run DD Tours, walking tours in Dundee city, covering dark local history such as wars, battles, murders, diseases, riots, disasters and executions. Walk with us for an unforgettable storytelling experience.