He is wearing a dark, collarless jerkin over a sparkling white shirt and an extravagantly patterned tie.
His arms are spread in the air in triumph, a wide smile splitting his handsome, boyish face, marred only by an old scar running from the right side of his mouth to chin. The neatly-parted hair is immaculately barbered.
He could be an office worker or young bank clerk celebrating an unexpected bonus or a lottery win, and in a sense he is, although it is much more important to him than that.
Paul Ferris leaves Glasgow High Court
The background, however, provides a context, the grim-faced police officers and the huge sandstone columns flanking him, in the foreground the jostling crowd of reporters, cameras and punters are thronging the steps below him. Paul Ferris has just been acquitted of murdering young Arthur Thompson, aka ‘Fat Boy’, in the longest and most costly trial in Scottish legal history.
It’s July 1992, almost a year after Thompson died from three gunshot wounds outside the family home, known as the Ponderosa, in Provanmill Road. Ferris has also been found not guilty of a raft of associated charges, including drug trafficking, conspiracy and possession of firearms.
Spool back to September 1991, a month after the murder, Ferris is in jail accused of it, Thompson’s body has been released to his family and it is the day of his funeral. Early that morning the charge hand at the Cottage Bar in Shettleston notices a dark blue metallic Orion car parked in adjacent Darleith Street.
He looks inside to see a body in the front seat and one in the back, both clearly dead. These are Bobby Glover and Joe ‘Bananas’ Hanlon, both of whom would have stood trial alongside Ferris as alleged accomplices, had they lived. Actually there probably wouldn’t have been a trial without Ferris’s incarceration, which surely saved his life.
Arthur Thompson attends the funeral of his son Arthur junior
The symbolism of this could not have been more obvious. Both had been shot in the head, with one bullet up the backside, as had been done to Thompson. The Cottage Bar was Hanlon and Glover’s gang hut, Ferris was often there, and Fat Boy’s funeral cortege was due to pass nearby that day.
Ferris claims that he learned of the brutal end of his two pals when a gleeful prison officer told him early that morning of the funeral, September 19. Whether true or not, he must have felt like kissing the four stout walls protecting him.
There’s little doubt that Fat Boy’s father ordered the killings, or that someone else did it as a favour to him, but no one has been convicted of the double murder and the suspicion is that the police are hardly in a hurry to resolve it, bad guys killing other bad guys.
Some time after Ferris walked free he came up with his version of the Fat Boy murder, which doesn’t so much strain credulity as hospitalise it. He blames someone called the Apprentice, together with two hit men from London.
If that wasn’t enough there’s the Apprentice’s mistaken shooting of a man in Glasgow in 1991. Can this be John Hogg, whose hip was shattered in a gun attack aimed at another man? In that same year the anonymous hitman also kneecaps petty crook William Gillen. Paul Ferris was charged with both of these shootings, but cleared by a jury.
Perhaps the dropping of the double jeopardy rule, which now means someone can now be tried twice for the same murder, has made Ferris uncharacteristically reticent?
Ferris’s route to the High Court began in Blackhill, breeding ground of so many Glasgow neds, his early teenage crimes involving weapons and violence and young offenders’ prisons. His older brother Billy was convicted of murder in 1977 and again in 2003 for stabbing a 15-year-old to death. Paul was the youngest of four – two boys two girls – born to a Catholic mother and a Protestant father, brought up as a ‘Billy’ with a hatred of Celtic. That, along with his fearlessness and readiness for violence, must have been what endeared him to Old Arthur Thompson. They also had a common enemy in the Welsh family from Blackhill. It was even said that Arthur had a picture of the enforcer he recruited at 19 on his mantlepiece, until it all went wrong.
The Ponderosa in Provanmill Road
That appears to have happened when Ferris was arrested in an armed police raid at the Thompson holiday home in Rothesay the day after he arrived to hide out. He was on the run after a stabbing and while he was awaiting trial for possession of offensive weapons. Further charges followed the Bute raid, a rag-bag of alleged offences including attempted murder and possession of heroin with intent to supply. The most serious charge was later dropped and Ferris was found not guilty of the drugs charge, but he went down on an 18-month sentence on the earlier weapons one.
His hatred of the Thompsons was bitter, as it was of Tam McGraw, another criminal who profited from the collapse of the Ponderosa empire.
McGraw, a major Glasgow drug dealer, was universally known as The Licensee, either because he owned a Barlanark pub, the Caravel, through his wife, or because, in Ferris’s version, he had a licence to commit crime provided by Strathclyde police because he was a top-level informant. A grass.
Ferris maintains that McGraw was involved in the aftermath of the Fat Boy killing, displaying the dead bodies of Hanlon and Glover to Old Arthur in the Caravel. Whether true or not, it is the case that after an underworld tip to police that they would find evidence concerning the killings in the pub, the Caravel was pulled down overnight and without planning permission.
Paul Ferris in 2013
The feud between Ferris and McGraw didn’t stop at words. In May 2002 a peace meeting between them ended in a knife fight and the Licensee was punctured several times, despite wearing a bulletproof vest. Ferris had been convicted of gun-running at the Old Bailey in London in 1998, caught with three Mac-10 sub-machine guns and ammunition, and, ironically, was out on licence. It was revoked and he returned to Frankland prison.
Paul Ferris now claims to be on the straight and narrow. He has been involved with security companies, a heavily fictionalised film version of his life, The Wee Man, did not bust the box office, he has authored books (in association with the late Reg McKay) and if you look up his Wikipedia entry it classes him as ‘writer’.
You surely wouldn’t want to risk giving him a bad review.
- Part I Arthur Thompson
- Part II Paul Ferris
- Part III Tam McGraw
- The McGovernment
- Part IV The Lyons v the Daniels
- Part VI Stewart Boyd
- Part VII Walter Norval
- HANDS UP ALL THOSE WHO ARE DEAD! Ian Brady, Myra Hindley, The Glasgow Godfather, Savile, The Krays, Robert Black & More
- BONZO DANIEL: Member of infamous Glasgow gangster family shot in face while driving in city centre
- THE KING RAT: The Godfather, The Krays, Massey, Domenyk & Paedophiles
- NONCE JAILED: HARRY YOUNG Ex-Enforcer for Glasgow gangster PAUL ‘The Rat’ FERRIS gets 2years for abusing girls
- STEVEN PURCELL, Cocaine, Gordon Brown, McCann & Castle Craig
- Death of Godfather Arthur Thompson’s son Billy marks end of #Scotland’s feared crime clan
- Circles & Rings: Major, Minor & Magic
- Spot The Paedo Child Killers & Myra Hindley is ALIVE?