Residents on Glasgow’s Castlemilk estate heard a taxi pull up outside a house on Sunday, JULY 23rd, 1961, heard two men talking, heard the taxi’s radio crackling – then heard the shattering sound of two shots.

The curious went to their windows and saw a man running towards the darkness of nearby Glen Wood. They also saw the taxi driver, John Walkinshaw, slouched over his wheel, dripping with blood. The windscreen of his cab was shattered, and he died before an ambulance arrived.

Police charged Walter Scott Ellis, a man with a criminal record, much known and much feared in Glasgow. The prosecution alleged that the crime was motiveless, but that Ellis was the man who was seen running into the wood after Walkinshaw was shot. Fifteen minutes later, they alleged, he emerged on the other side of the wood and hailed another taxi in Ardencraig Road.

Giving evidence, this second taxi driver pointed to Ellis in the dock and said he was the man he had picked up in Ardencraig Road. The trip was only three-quarters of a mile to where Ellis’s parents lived and the fare was only two shillings, despite which the passenger gave the driver five shillings.

The prosecution’s case, although strong, was entirely circumstantial, and the jury, who were expected to be a long time deliberating, returned after only half an hour with the Scottish verdict of Not Proven.

Ellis’s jubilation lasted for another five years, when he was cornered trying to hold up a bank in Pollokshaws. He was sentenced to 21 years for armed robbery and attempted murder. Released after 14 years, he made a bungled attempt at holding up a licensed grocer’s shop, using a toy gun. Unfortunately for him the two men behind the counter turned out to be karate experts, and Ellis was incapacitated.

He was reduced to a shadow of his former swaggering self when he appeared in court to answer the charge. He was sentenced to another three years.