He knew who had attacked him, 38-year-old Martin Dunleavy told the Glasgow detectives at his hospital bedside. “But I’m not telling you,” he added. “I’ll get them myself.”
It was not a promise he could keep. Within hours he was dead.
Dunleavy had been rushed to Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital on the evening of JULY 7th, 1950, bleeding profusely from a face wound inflicted with a broken bottle. The zigzag gash stretching from his cheek to his chin was so deep that his tonsils were visible.
Detectives learned that he’d been involved in a fight with the Harris gang, led by 28-year-old Paul Christopher Harris and his 30-year-old brother Claude. Several others had been injured in the brawl in a tenement building in Neptune Street in Glasgow’s Tradeston district, and the Harris brothers and one of their gang were charged with murder.
Pleading not guilty when they appeared at Glasgow High Court, they claimed they had acted in self-defence. But their four-day trial ended with the brothers’ conviction and both were sentenced to death, while the third man was acquitted.
As the Harrises’ execution date approached, they were visited in their condemned cell by their MP. He intimated that if one of them confessed that he had inflicted the fatal wound, the other might be shown mercy.
As a result, Paul Harris admitted responsibility. It is stupid for us both to die,” he said. “A life has been taken and I’m giving mine in return. That should satisfy the world.”
His execution followed on October 30th, 1950, and his brother Claude was reprieved a week later.