Returning to their Glasgow home from a cinema on the night of MARCH 26th, 1946, Mr. and Mrs. James Deekan were alarmed to see a light in the front bedroom. So Mr. Deekan fetched his neighbour James Straiton, a retired detective sergeant, asking him to bring his truncheon.

Mr. Deekan’s key wouldn’t open the front door, the lock’s catch having been put down to prevent anyone entering, so he went round to the back of the house and climbed in through a window left open by whoever was inside the home.

Switching on a light, he saw two youths at the top of the stairs. Then he quickly released the front door catch and Straiton entered just as the intruders came down the stairs, one of them carrying a pistol.

“All right, sonny,” Straiton said, “you’d better put that gun down.”

“You’d better let us through, or he’ll get it,” the youth replied, pointing the gun at Deekan.

Then as Deekan and Straiton closed in the youth pulled the trigger and a bullet whistled past Deekan. Straiton raised his truncheon and hurled himself at the gunman, who fired two more shots. His first bullet missed, but the second struck Straiton in the stomach and he collapsed, mortally wounded. Then the youths bolted, dropping jewellery down the street as they fled.

Detectives found that the house had initially been entered by one of the youths who had scaled a drainpipe, breaking an upstairs window and then letting his companion in through the ground-floor window Mr. Deekan had found open.

Examining clues found at previous similar burglaries, the investigators singled out a fragment of a thumbprint and found it matched that of 19-year-old John Caldwell, recently released from borstal. Caldwell was promptly arrested, and Mr. Deekan identified him as the youth who had shot dead his friend and neighbour.

Convicted of James Straiton’s murder, Caldwell was hanged on August 10th, 1946. The case against his 15-year-old accomplice was dismissed after he was found to be mentally retarded.