July 6, 2022

Infamous Scots. Andrew Walker.

Andrew Walker was a corporal in the Royal Scots who killed three Army colleagues in a payroll robbery in the Pentland Hills, south of Edinburgh, in January 1985. He was ultimately sentenced in to 27 years in prison.


On 17 January 1985, retired Major David Cunningham, 56, Staff Sergeant Terence Hosker, 39, Royal Army Pay Corps and Private John Thomson, 25, of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers picked up a £19,000 payroll from a Penicuik bank to take to the Glencorse Barracks in Penicuik, Midlothian where all were stationed.

According to the prosecution at his trial, Corporal Andrew Walker, age 30, armed with a sub-machine gun that he had signed out from the armoury, forced the trio to drive away from the bank. He shot Sgt. Hosker in the chest when he was tackled. Telling Private Thomson to drive along a quiet track to a reservoir, he shot Major Cunningham through the head. Thomson was then forced to unload the bodies of his colleagues before being shot himself in the head and abdomen. The money was never recovered and is thought to be buried in the hills. Walker left several clues in the deep snow and was arrested after a three-day manhunt.


While on remand for the murders, Walker shared a cell with 18-year-old Andrew Lowden, also on remand. Lowden claimed that Walker was physically violent towards him and threatened to kill Lowden’s father and girlfriend, and that Walker had confessed to the murders in lurid detail on the eve of the trial. When Lowden was released, Walker blackmailed Lowden into taking a letter out of the prison, placing the blame for the murders on the Provisional Irish Republican Army. The letter was confiscated by the guards, and Lowden was later called as a prosecution witness at Walker’s trial.

As a defense, Walker claimed he was driving elsewhere during the murders and that they were the actions of a terrorist organization. He claimed that the shells linking him to the murder weapon were planted.

Walker was found guilty of murder, the theft of the money, and attempting to pervert the course of justice for trying to smuggle the letter out of prison.

The judge, Lord Grieve, jailed Walker for life and recommended that Walker should serve at least 30 years. Lord Grieve noted “This was a calculated crime. The accused, if he was to achieve his purpose, had to kill. I am quite satisfied that the crime was carefully planned, and I am also quite sure that the substance of the evidence given by Walker was a tissue of lies.” He called the crimes “callous, brutal and calculated”.

Walker’s conviction was upheld on appeal, but the sentence was shortened to 27 years as Walker successfully argued in 2002 that he should not have been treated more harshly than other murderers.

Background and motive.

Walker was in debt at the time of the murders. He owed £2,000 on a car bill and was about to take delivery of a car worth £8,500. His army colleagues reported that he was a liar and braggart, and generally unpopular. After an initially successful career in the army, with three tours to Northern Ireland and a mention in dispatches, he had been having disciplinary issues in the months before the robbery and murders. A commanding officer, Lt Col Fairweather, had disciplined him and said: “Unless you get a grip of yourself, I can see you wearing a blue suit and eating porridge”.


In 2009, Walker suffered a stroke which left him severely disabled; in December 2011, he was released from prison on compassionate grounds.

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Scottish Architecture. Linlithgow Palace.

Once a majestic royal residence of the Stewarts, Linlithgow Palace today lies roofless and ruined. Yet entering the palace gates still inspires awe in visitors.

James I ordered work on a palace to begin in 1424, following a fire that severely damaged the earlier residence. The elegant, new ‘pleasure palace’ became a welcome rest stop for royals on the busy road between Edinburgh Castle and Stirling castle

The Stewart queens especially liked the peace and fresh air, and Linlithgow Palace served as the royal nursery for:

  • James V – born 1512
  • Mary Queen of Scots – born 1542
  • Princess Elizabeth – born 1596

But the palace fell quickly into decline when James VI moved the royal court to London in 1603, following his coronation as James I of England.

The palace’s north quarter, which probably housed the queen’s apartment where Mary was born, fell to the ground in 1607. It was rebuilt around 1620, on the orders of James VI. The end came in 1746, when a great fire swept through the palace.

An ancient site

Linlithgow Palace stands on a low hill above a small inland loch. The name Linlithgow means ‘the loch in the damp hollow’.

The site was first occupied as far back as Roman times 2,000 years ago. There has been a royal residence here since at least the reign of David I (1124–53). He also founded the town that grew up around the royal residence.

Peace in Linlithgow was shattered in 1296, when Edward I of England invaded Scotland. The ‘Hammer of the Scots’ had a formidable defence built around the royal residence in 1302. He called it his ‘pele’ (from the Old French ‘pel’, meaning ‘stake’).

No visible features of the original Linlithgow Peel survive. The name is now used for the attractive parkland that surrounds the remains of the later Stewart palace.

A longstanding Stewart project.

James I had begun work on the new palace shortly after his return from captivity in England. Over the course of the next century and more, his heirs completed the great task.

Palace highlights include the:

  • Great Hall built for James I
  • royal apartments added by James IV (1488–1513)
  • three-tiered courtyard fountain added by James V in 1538
  • north quarter rebuilt for James VI (1567–1625)

The end result was a hugely impressive quadrangular palace, its four ranges grouped around a central courtyard.

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