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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...


Scottish Government says Thomas McCulloch release ‘a matter for Europe’

May 10 2013

Triple axe murderer Thomas McCulloch’s release on to the streets of Dundee was down to European lawyers, the Scottish Government has claimed. First Minister Alex Salmond dodged the question of whole life sentences when challenged by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson at Holyrood. McCulloch, who was handed Scotland’s first “whole life sentence” after a murderous rampage with Robert Mone from Dundee, had his sentence altered to a fixed term punishment of 30 years after a 2002 appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Last year, the ECHR upheld the principle of whole life sentences for the most dangerous offenders, saying it does not breach human rights, and there are currently more than 40 people in England and Wales who have been told they will die behind bars. Scottish Government officials claimed courts have the power to hand out sentences condemning the most serious criminals to spend “the remainder of their natural life” in prison. When challenged by The Courier over why ministers did not take the same actions as their Westminster counterparts to ensure 65-year-old McCulloch was not allowed out into the community, a spokesman for the Scottish Government said the fixed term appeal had been “a matter for Europe”. He added the diagnosed psychopath’s release earlier this week was down to the parole board, which politicians have no influence over. Scottish Government sources have made it known they are unhappy with McCulloch’s release, but stressed they were unable to do anything about the decision. Ms Davidson has now written to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill calling for urgent talks to introduce legislation similar to England and Wales. During First Minister’s Questions, Ms Davidson said: “It’s simple: life should mean life. Will the First Minister give an assurance... that he will finally take action to give the public the protection they deserve? “Will he ensure that in the most extreme cases, when the most violent criminals are taken off the streets, they will never return?” Mr Salmond replied by saying laws passed by a Conservative Government mean ministers cannot interfere with parole board decisions but both he and Mr MacAskill were “perfectly willing and able to consider suggestions that come forward in a constructive sense”. McCulloch murdered hospital worker Neil McLellan, patient Iain Simpson and police officer George Taylor during the 1976 break-out. He was seen going into partner Susan Perrie’s home in Dundee after his release from Castle Huntly.


Neighbours resigned to axe killer Thomas McCulloch living in Dundee flats

May 9 2013

There was no answer at the home of Thomas McCulloch’s partner when The Courier called. The triple axe murderer was seen going into Susan Perrie’s building on Tuesday afternoon, just hours after he had been released from Castle Huntly open prison. It is understood McCulloch, who murdered three men during a break-out from Carstairs State Hospital with Dundee killer Robert Mone in 1976, may now settle in Dundee. Neighbours greeted the news of his release with mixed reactions. One man said: “I’m fine with him being here so long as he doesn’t come near this door. He should never have been let out. I don’t think you change. He’s obviously sick in the head.” Another neighbour said: “He was getting home visits a while ago so the word went up and down the closie he was here. I was glad to see him on the news so I know what I’m looking out for.” She said youths had been caught throwing things at the windows of the building when he was first released. “That was something to do with him but it (the murders) was a long time ago. He’s an old man now.” One resident was resigned to the fact that McCulloch may now have joined the community. “What can you do about it?” he said. “The guy’s got to get out sometime.” Other neighbours who are friendly with Ms Perrie did not wish to comment. McCulloch’s release on Tuesday ended 43 years behind bars. He was first admitted to Carstairs after he tried to kill a chef and hotel manageress in a row over a sandwich. When he and Mone broke out of the secure unit, they slaughtered hospital worker Neil McLellan and patient Iain Simpson before going on to kill PC George Taylor. McCulloch was released from Castle Huntly early on Tuesday morning and Ms Perrie was seen going in and out of her building throughout the day before his arrival.


Axe murderer Thomas McCulloch launches new bid for freedom

December 10 2012

Triple axe murderer Thomas McCulloch has launched another bid for freedom, The Courier understands. The 64-year-old is apparently applying to the Parole Board for early release just months after his last request was refused in August. McCulloch is in Castle Huntly open prison near Dundee after his 1976 rampage at the State Hospital in Carstairs, Lanarkshire. The notorious killer has been spotted shopping on a number of occasions in Dundee as he is allowed individual days of release under the present scheme. If the board chooses to free him, he will be released on licence in the community under the supervision of a social worker. McCulloch murdered three men during a bloody break-out from Carstairs State Hospital with Dundee killer Robert Mone. Hospital worker Neil McLellan (46) and patient Iain Simpson were struck down by McCulloch with an axe. After making it over the perimeter fence, the two men also killed PC George Taylor (27). Both McCulloch and Mone were given life sentences after the breakout. McCulloch has been trying to be freed on licence since 2006 but has always been ruled too dangerous.


Axe murderer Thomas McCulloch released to go shopping in Dundee

December 13 2011

One of Scotland's most notorious killers has been on day release from prison in the centre of Dundee. Axe murderer Thomas McCulloch (63), who killed two people during a hospital rampage in 1976, enjoyed a day out last week. Using a walking stick, he was accompanied by another man on his day release from Castle Huntly open prison near Dundee. He laughed and joked as he made his way around the city centre, having earlier been dropped off at the Seagate bus station. McCulloch spent over an hour in the Wellgate Centre, surrounded by shoppers oblivious to his horrific acts of violence, and was seen in Murraygate. Councillor Liz Fordyce, whose ward includes the city centre, said she was ''shocked and horrified'' at news of McCulloch's appearance in the city. She said: ''I think it is shameful that he is allowed into Dundee, especially given his connection with Robert Mone.'' A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: ''We do not comment on individual prisoners. However, all prisoners are assessed before they progress to the open estate and we apply the strictest possible criteria.'' McCulloch was denied parole earlier this year, but is allowed individual days of release. His reputation as one of Scotland's most notorious killers dates back to a winter day 35 years ago when he and Dundee killer Robert Mone went on the rampage after escaping from Carstairs state hospital. They killed nurse Neil MacLellan, Carstairs patient Ian Simpson and policeman George Taylor before they were eventually recaptured. While on the run, the pair also maimed two workmen and held a family hostage. Prior to his escape with Mone, McCulloch had been sent to the state hospital after trying to kill two hotel workers following a row over a sandwich in 1970.


RELEASED: Triple axe killer Thomas McCulloch freed from Castle Huntly

May 7 2013

Following more than three decades behind bars, notorious killer Thomas McCulloch was finally released from prison at 8am on Tuesday morning. The triple axe murderer was driven away from Castle Huntly open prison in Longforgan near Dundee in a red Citroen. McCulloch was a passenger in the car, which was driven by an unknown male. The 65-year-old left the jail after a parole board approved his release. It is understood he has gone to the home of a female friend. McCulloch murdered three men during a bloody break-out from Carstairs State Hospital with Dundee killer Robert Mone in 1976. Hospital worker Neil McLellan, 46, and patient Iain Simpson were struck down by McCulloch with an axe. McCulloch used the weapon to hack off Mr Simpson’s ears during the infamous break-out. After making it over the perimeter fence, the duo also killed PC George Taylor, 27. While on the run, the pair maimed two workmen and held a family hostage. McCulloch was initially sent to Carstairs State Mental Hospital in 1970 after attempting to kill two hotel workers over a row about a sandwich. Despite initially being told he would die in jail, the killer used human rights laws to secure a fixed sentence of 30 years, after which he was free to apply for parole. For full coverage and reaction to McCulloch's release, see Wednesday's Courier or try our digital edition.


Murderer Robert Mone reveals horror of Carstairs escape killing spree

October 5 2015

Killer Robert Mone has spoken for the first time about the horrifying Carstairs breakout that saw three people slaughtered. Along with fellow patient Thomas McCulloch, Mone escaped from the state hospital in a murderous rampage which left nurse Neil McLellan, 46, patient Iain Simpson, 40, and policeman George Taylor, 27, dead. Since then Dundee-born Mone, now 67, has become Scotland’s longest serving prisoner. In a series of letters to be published in a new book, Carstairs: Hospital For Horrors, Mone relives the “terrifying night” of November 30 1976, describing it as a “nightmare of shattered dreams and grotesque, maniacal butchery”. His account of the night differs from the findings of an official inquiry headed up by Sherriff Reid in 1977. In the letters, Mone paints himself as an unwilling participant instead of one of two sick protagonists, which Sheriff Reid found. Mone and McCulloch would spend hours together in prison making soft toys. The pair also spent time at the hospital’s drama department and Mone edited the official magazine. It was these resources they exploited in their escape. Mone and McCulloch spent six months amassing a deadly array of weapons, using the cover of building “props” for a Christmas drama production, to make good their escape. Nazi-obsessed McCulloch made a rope ladder from stolen material and hid it in a loudspeaker. He also amassed garottes made from violin strings, fake wooden pistols, an axe and three knives which he decorated with SS symbols. Mone, meanwhile, used his job on the hospital’s in-house magazine to manufacture fake identity cards. He also plundered the drama department for disguises including false moustaches and nurse outfits. “All of the equipment was made or stolen under the very noses of the staff who were supposed to be ultra vigilant,” says Mone. Nurse Neil McLellan was escorting the pair to work within the confines of the secure hospital when they put their plan into action. Also present was fellow patient, Iain Simpson. McCulloch was carrying a box containing the rope ladder and weapons which everyone assumed contained props for their production of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men. “Ahead I could hear McCulloch chatting unconcernedly with Neil. Within the hour he would hack Neil to death and leave him in a pool of blood,” Mone says. Mone first sprayed paint thinner in the unsuspecting nurse’s face to disable him. He claims Mr McLellan was “transfixed” his eyes “bulging in terror” at the terrifying spectacle of McCulloch repeatedly hitting Simpson with an axe behind them. After a violent struggle, in which Mone was injured by Simpson, he and Mr McLellan were killed by McCulloch. The pair used the rope ladder to scale the perimeter fence and, making for the road, Mone lay down pretending to be a victim of an accident to stop a passing car. It just so happened a police car on a routine patrol also ground to a halt. “As one officer approached me, I saw McCulloch suddenly attack the second officer with a dagger or a truncheon,” says Mone, who brandished an axe at PC Taylor, a father-of-six, as a “warning”. “PC Taylor did not hesitate and ignored the warning, immediately launching himself at me. With his superior size and strength, he literally swung me about like a rag doll.” PC John Gillies was seriously injured but managed to escape. PC Taylor would die from stab wounds. Mone and McCulloch stole the police car and raced away, with Mone making false radio reports to throw other officers off their scent. McCulloch lost control on the icy roads, crashing into a ditch. Covered in blood and soaking wet, the terrifying pair then stopped a van carrying workmen Jack McAlroy and William Lennon. Mone stabbed Mr Lennon in a fit of anger, one of the few events he claims he now regrets. “I have only fragments of memory of the confrontation but recollect screaming at him to ‘stay down’ as he tried to rise,” he says. They went on to target a “random” remote farmhouse, where they terrorised a young family. Fearing police were hot on their heels, they left the family unhurt, only taking their car to England. Mone claimed as they sped south, he contemplated “opening the car” and throwing himself out, fearing McCulloch could turn on him. After crashing into a roundabout on the outskirts of Carlisle, they abandoned their getaway vehicle before attempting to hijack a fourth car but were caught by police. “Almost with a sense of relief I felt hands grasp my arm and I was pulled from the front passenger seat,” Mone states. He claims he was told McCulloch, now 67, had planned one final murder that night. “According to what I was told, official records revealed McCulloch planned to murder me as soon as he had evaded the police pursuit,” he says. Following their escape, the pair were deemed such a risk to national security they were given full life terms in jail. That decision was reversed in 2002, which eventually led to McCulloch being released in 2013. However, Mone still languishes in Glenochil prison.

Perth & Kinross

Clansmen and women head home to Scottish roots

February 18 2017

Members of an ancient clan whose ancestral  lands lay in Glenshee and Glenisla will be heading from around the world this summer for a gathering in Perthshire. This year the clan MacThomas members have also been invited to take in a performance of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, marching on to the castle esplanade wearing the clan tartan. Following their appearance at the tattoo on August 24,  the clan gathering will be staged in Pitlochry and Glenshee from August 25 to 28. Events will include a tour of the clan territory, genealogy research, attendance at the Strathardle Highland Games in Kirkmichael, and a clan dinner in the presence of the 19th chief, Andrew MacThomas of Finegand, in Pitlochry. There will also be a ceremony held at Clach na Coileach in Glenshee, battle re-enactments in both Glenshee and Glenisla and a ceilidh. Mary Grundberg (nee Thoms), the clan's European secretary, said: "The gathering is always a memorable get together with clansfolk coming from all over the world. “This year will be extra special with the opportunity of taking part in the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo.” According to the society’s research Tomaidh Mor “Great Tommy”, from whom the clan takes its name, lived in the 15th century in Glenshee. To the government in Edinburgh they were recognised as a separate clan and known as MacThomases. The 7th chief extended the clan's land into Glen Begg,  Prosen and Strathardle and he purchased the Barony of Forter in Glenisla. Cromwell won the 7th chief's admiration but this soured his relationship with the neighbouring clans and on the restoration of Charles II in 1660, he found himself in trouble with parliament, who fined him heavily. The fine, a feud and a cripling law suit that followed ruined the MacThomases, and following the 7th chief's death, his sons were forced to sell their lands and the clan started to drift apart with some taking the names McCombie, McComb and McCombe as well as the anglicised forms Thom, Thoms, Thomas and Thomson. The Clan MacThomas Society was founded in 1954 and information on the tattoo appearance and the gathering is available at  www.clanmacthomas.com.


Triple axe murderer Thomas McCulloch expected to be released on Tuesday

May 6 2013

Triple axe murderer Thomas McCulloch will be released from prison on Tuesday and could be set to settle in Dundee. It is understood the 65-year-old will leave Castle Huntly open prison in Longforgan on licence after Scotland’s parole board approved his release. McCulloch murdered three men during a bloody break-out from Carstairs State Hospital with Dundee killer Robert Mone in 1976. Officials have now deemed him as no longer a threat to the public. McCulloch has been spotted shopping in Dundee and has been granted over 100 unsupervised visits to the city. It emerged last year that McCulloch was in a relationship with Dundee woman Susan Perrie, who he saw during his breaks from prison. Scottish Conservative justice spokesman John Lamont said: “I think a lot of people would think many prisoners should be released at some point but, in this case, life should mean life. “The general public will be shocked and appalled this killer will be allowed back into the community.” Hospital worker Neil McLellan, 46, and patient Iain Simpson were struck down by McCulloch with an axe, which he used to hack off Mr Simpson’s ears during his break-out with Mone. After making it over the perimeter fence, the duo also killed PC George Taylor, 27. While on the run, the pair maimed two workmen and held a family hostage. McCulloch was initially sent to Carstairs State Mental Hospital in 1970 after attempting to kill two hotel workers over a row about a sandwich. Both he and Mone were given life sentences after the break-out. Despite being told they would die in jail, they used human rights laws to secure fixed sentences of 30 years, after which they would be eligible for parole.

Angus & The Mearns

Robert Mone should die in jail, says ex-cop, 40 years after bloodbath

November 28 2016

A colleague of a slain police officer has called for notorious Dundee murderer and child rapist Robert Mone to die in jail. Forty years have now passed since Patrick Anderson’s former colleague George Taylor was butchered by Mone and his gay lover Thomas McCulloch during their bloodbath breakout from the State Hospital on November 30 1976 which left three people dead. Mr Anderson, from Letham in Angus, said “life should mean life” for Scotland’s longest-serving prisoner who remains in a high security establishment. Mone had been sent to Carstairs after blasting pregnant teacher Nanette Hanson to death and holding her class hostage at his old school in Dundee. He raped one child and molested another during the 1967 siege. Mone still languishes in Glenochil prison 40 years on after being sent back to maximum security in 2008 after bosses suspected he was planning a jailbreak. The Scottish Prison Service said any decision on Mone’s future release would be made by the parole board but it “wouldn’t be appropriate” to discuss individual cases. Mr Anderson, who served with PC Taylor during his service in Lanarkshire, said Mone should never be released. “Life should mean life and Robert Mone should die in jail,” he said. “He is a danger to the public even now. “He shot dead pregnant teacher Nanette Milne in 1967 at St John’s High School in Dundee then planned a murderous escape from Carstairs in 1976. “Mone and McCulloch murdered another inmate and a male nurse in the process and went on to murder my former colleague Constable George Taylor. “He also injured George’s colleague and as I recall he died early in life following his ordeal. “I knew George well during my service in the Lanarkshire Constabulary and my wife and I met George’s widow and his family this year at the 13th annual Scottish Police Memorial Service of Remembrance at Tulliallan. “In my opinion Mone should never be released.” After crashing into a roundabout on the outskirts of Carlisle during their escape, Mone and McCulloch abandoned their getaway vehicle before attempting to hijack a fourth car but were caught by police. At Edinburgh High Court, Mone pleaded guilty to killing the policeman and McCulloch the nurse and patient. Mone and McCulloch were then jailed for life. That decision was reversed in 2002, which eventually led to McCulloch being released in 2013. Mr Anderson said: “I was at Carluke and George was at Carstairs and early in 1976 I went to Lanark Police Office and fuelled the patrol car and collected the mail. “I asked George if he had seen the advert for a six-month secondment to the Scottish Home Office working in the police headquarters in Glasgow. “He told me he wanted to join the Lanark CID and would not be applying. “I did and took up the position in November of 1976. “Ironically, I attended George’s funeral just days after starting my new post.”