James Morrison (1760–1807) was a British seaman and mutineer who took part in the Mutiny on the Bounty.
James Morrison was a native of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland where his father was a merchant and land entrepreneur. He joined the navy at 18, serving as clerk in the Suffolk, midshipman in the Termagant, and acting gunner in the Hind. In 1783, he passed his master gunner’s examination.
James Morrison was the boatswain’s mate on board the Bounty. The master gunner’s position having been filled two days prior to his application, he may have taken the lesser post because of his eagerness to go along on the ‘scientific expedition.’
After the mutiny, Morrison was one of 16 mutineers who returned to Tahiti after the failed attempt to build a colony on Tubuai, while Fletcher Christian and 8 others sailed the Bounty on to Pitcairn Island.
Along with the others who then lived as ‘beachcombers’ in Tahiti, he was captured here by Captain Edward Edwards of HMS Pandora on 29 March 1791, and brought back to England for court martial.
While on Tahiti, he led an eight-month effort to build a schooner from local timber with which he secretly hoped to get to Batavia in the Dutch East Indies and from there return to England. He kept this to himself until the project was nearing completion, when he took a few others into his confidence. The schooner completed and christened Resolution, they spent many days boiling seawater to get salt sufficient to cure hundreds of pounds of pork for which they in turn had to build casks. They departed from Tahiti the day before the Pandora dropped anchor in Matavai Bay; but in the end the voyage was given up as impracticable owing to their lack of navigation instruments, problems with the schooner’s rigging and their inability to carry sufficient water. Captain Edward Edwards confiscated the schooner, ordered her re-rigged with canvas and rope from Pandora’s stores and renamed her Matavai. Pandora departed with the mutineers locked up in “Pandora’s Box”, and the schooner, manned by some of the Pandoras, was taken along as a tender. Six weeks later Pandora and Matavai became separated, and after waiting for her for several weeks at the agreed rendez-vous Anamooka, Edwards, giving her and her crew up for lost, sailed on. The Pandora was later wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef, and the surviving crew and prisoners, 99 men in all, had to use the ship’s boats to continue on. When they reached Samarang, Java, the Matavai and her crew were there. Having arrived in Surabaya five weeks earlier, they were making their way to Batavia (Jakarta) under a military escort, the Dutch governor suspecting them of being pirates from the Bounty. Pleased to see their ‘lost’ shipmates again, they had a happy reunion. The schooner was eventually sold to a local merchant in Batavia.
At the court-martial judgment, delivered on 18 September 1792, Morrison was sentenced to be hanged. However the court recommended mercy to the King, and, perhaps aided by a letter testifying to his good character from Captain Stirling of the Termagant, he and Peter Heywood were pardoned on 26 October 1792. While incarcerated, Morrison wrote an account describing the Bounty’s journey and the island and customs of Tahiti. He was very critical of Bligh’s behavior toward his officers. He was even more critical of the officers at the time of the mutiny, writing “The behaviour of the Officers on this Occasion was dastardly beyond description none of them ever making the least attempt to rescue the ship…”
Following his pardon, Morrison returned to naval service. He reached the rank of master gunner, and saw action in the Mediterranean. After serving as a gunnery instructor in Plymouth, he joined Admiral Sir Thomas Troubridge in his flagship HMS Blenheim, in which he had served as a young gunner’s mate before his Bounty experience. Blenheim sank sometime in February 1807 in a tropical cyclone off Madagascar with the loss of all on board.
Date of arrest: December 28, 1999 (in Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Date of birth: 1961
Victims profile: Barry Oldham, 28 / Barry Wallace, 18
Method of murder: Slashing their throats
Location: Kilmarnock, Avrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life in prison in 1987. Conviction overturned on appeal. Released in 1994. Sentenced to life in prison on October 12, 2001
Life for limbs-in-loch murderer
October 12, 2001
Police have described a man jailed for life for murdering a teenager and then dismembering his body as a “serial killer in the making”.
William Beggs was convicted – at the High Court in Edinburgh on Friday – of murdering 18-year-old Barry Wallace after a Christmas night out in 1999.
Beggs, 38 and originally from Northern Ireland, picked up the teenager in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, took him back to his flat, also in Kilmarnock, and sexually assaulted him.
Barry Wallace, who worked in a supermarket, was then murdered by Beggs who dismembered his body, leaving the parts in Loch Lomond and throwing his head into the sea off Troon.
After the High Court jury delivered their majority verdict it was revealed Beggs was once cleared of a similar murder by appeal court judges on a technicality.
Beggs was jailed in 1987 at Teeside Crown Court for murdering a barman he met in a gay nightclub by slashing his throat, only to have the conviction overturned by the Court of Appeal.
The Edinburgh court, on Friday, also learned that at the same trial, Beggs was convicted of two charges of wounding and sentenced to four months for each.
He was also jailed for six years in 1991 for slashing the leg of a man who escaped by jumping through a glass window.
Trial judge Lord Osborne said: “Having regard to the circumstances of the case, in particular the seriousness of the appalling offences involved and having regard to your previous convictions, the part of your sentence which must be specified is 20 years.”
Beggs was also placed on the sex offenders’ register after the jury ruled that he had sexually assaulted Mr Wallace after handcuffing him by the arms and legs.
Prior to sentencing advocate depute Alan Turnbull QC described the slashing incident at Beggs’ flat – the same flat Barry Wallace was murdered in.
He said: “He (Beggs) assaulted a young man, repeatedly cut him on the leg with a knife, caused him fear and alarm such as to cause him to jump through a glass window of the first floor at the house.”
Mr Turnbull also said that Beggs’ went through an extradition process after he fled to Amsterdam in The Netherlands. He eventually appeared in a Scottish court on 10 January 2001.
At the 1987 trial, Beggs insisted the killing of Barry Oldham was self-defence.
The Crown applied to try him on a number of wounding charges involving other men alongside the murder charge.
The judge at his trial, at Teesside Crown Court in December 1987, allowed the application – but the Court of Appeal said he was wrong to have done so.
At the appeal hearing in June 1989, the judges said: “The prejudicial effect of these facts (on the charge of murder) must have been enormous.”
However the man who led that inquiry had no doubt Beggs would strike again.
Retired detective chief superintendent Tony Fitzgerald, the former head of North Yorkshire CID, said: “When we caught Beggs all those years ago, we seriously thought we had caught a serial killer in the making.
“We thought we were lucky because we had managed to catch him after his first killing.”
He was shocked when the conviction was overturned.
Mr Fitzgerald said: “When his conviction was overturned on appeal, I remember I was quite aghast at what had happened in the light of what we knew about this man.”
Outside the courtroom today, friends and colleagues of Mr Wallace, who had worked at the Tesco supermarket in Kilmarnock, sobbed and hugged each other.
His parents, Ian, 51, Christine, 50, and brother Colin, 23, remained composed as the verdict was returned and throughout the sentencing.
Defence counsel Donald Findlay QC said Beggs, who showed no emotion as the sentence was handed down, was “not unmoved or unaffected” by the events that led to his murder conviction.
He said: “It should not be thought that Mr Beggs is unmoved or unaffected by the events that occurred in December 1999, but to convey that, either to the court or indeed to anyone else, places one in the danger of saying something that may seem to be trite.”
Mr Findlay added that Beggs’ conviction for wounding Mr McQuillan in 1991 was currently being considered by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Beggs’ catalogue of violent crime
Friday, 12 October, 2001
The darker details of William Beggs’ past have been largely obscured by the macabre nature of the evidence which emerged during his trial for the murder of Kilmarnock teenager Barry Wallace.
When this is considered alongside other episodes in Beggs’ life over the past 12 years, a picture emerges of a violent man with a penchant for preying on young men.
In the late 80s and early 90s Beggs spent time in prison for one violent knife attack and a murder conviction which was later quashed on appeal.
Chillingly, the murder involved an attempt to dismember the body.
William Frederick Ian Beggs, 38, is originally from Moira, County Down, Northern Ireland.
The first indications of his violent disposition emerged in 1987 he was convicted of murdering Barry Oldham.
During the trial, the court was told that Beggs picked up the 28-year-old student in a Newcastle nightclub.
He was then said to have killed Mr Oldham in his flat after having sex.
In circumstances that would later be echoed in the tragic murder of Barry Wallace, Beggs was said to have tried to cut off Mr Oldham’s head and legs before dumping his body on the North Yorkshire Moors.
Beggs was given a life sentence for the murder but he served less than two years.
In 1989 his conviction was quashed after appeal judges criticised evidence led by the prosecution.
But he was back in prison two years later after being convicted of slashing a gay man at his flat.
Beggs was released early from his six-year sentence in 1994 for good behaviour and moved to Scotland some time later.
He worked as a computer consultant while studying for a PhD at Paisley University and undertook some tutoring work.
It was during this time that Beggs’ appetite for violence surfaced again.
Several men told police that they suffered terrifying ordeals during encounters with Beggs’ during the late 90s but he managed to avoid another conviction.
Beggs’ catalogue of violent sex-related crime finally came to an end on 12 October 2001 when he was convicted of murdering Barry Wallace.
The life sentence handed down by Lord Osborne means that he is unlikely to be free again unless any future appeals overturn the conviction.
Slashing victim ‘expected to die’
Friday, 12 October, 2001
A man has told how he thought he was leaping to his death as he jumped naked from the window of limbs-in-the-loch murderer William Beggs’ flat.
The attack on Brian McQuillan took place a decade ago at Beggs’ home in Kilmarnock – the same flat where teenager Barry Wallace was murdered in 1999.
He was left with a number of slash wounds – and told BBC Scotland’s Frontline programme that he did not think he would get out alive.
Beggs – who was sentenced to life imprisonment on Friday for the murder of Mr Wallace – was jailed for six years for the earlier attack.
Mr McQuillan said he woke up to find that he was being slashed by Beggs, who he had met at a gay nightclub in Glasgow.
“The pain that I felt was something that I had never experienced before,” he recalled.
Mr McQuillan said that he leapt from the bed and grabbed Beggs by the wrists.
“He (Beggs) was completely calm. He was a completely different person from when I met him earlier,” he said.
“His eyes were vacant. There was nothing there.
“All he kept saying was, ‘Come back to bed. Everything will be okay. Things will be over soon. You have made me do this’.
“At that point I knew there was no way that I was getting out of there alive.”
He said that when he jumped through the window he thought he was jumping to his death.
“I never expected that I would survive it,” he added.
“It was not a concern to me, it was almost an acceptance, this is the end but at least if I go this way then people will know and this man will be caught.”
Beggs was convicted on Friday of murdering Mr Wallace after sexually assaulting him at his flat.
Beggs then dismembered his body, leaving the parts in Loch Lomond and throwing his head into the sea off Troon.
After the verdict it was revealed that Beggs had been cleared of murder by the appeal court on a technicality.
He was convicted in 1987 of murdering barman Barry Oldham, 28, slashing his throat and mutilating his body.
However, he was freed by appeal court judges who ruled that the trial judge had allowed the jury to hear evidence which should not have been put to it.
The original trial judge, Sir Christopher Staughton, told Frontline that he felt the Court of Appeal was wrong to overturn his conviction.
“I would say that the way I directed the jury was right.
“The Court of Appeal thought it was wrong and of course what they say goes, but I think if one looks at the law as it now is since the House of Lords decision, it is possible that I was right after all.
“Killing is always deplorable and if people are let out and turn out afterwards to have killed again then it is doubly deplorable,” he said.
A woman also told the BBC how Beggs had threatened to kill her after Mr Oldham’s death.
Former friend Carole Smith said that Beggs had told her that he was suspected of murdering the barman.
“I just looked at him and said ‘Did you?’ It was probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever said.
“He said ‘Yes, and you’re next’,” she recalled.
Beggs trial: Timeline
Friday, 12 October, 2001
William Beggs has been sentenced to life in prison at the High Court in Edinburgh for the murder of Kilmarnock teenager Barry Wallace in December 1999.
BBC News Online Scotland traces the two-year route to trial and conviction.
5 December 1999: Barry Wallace fails to return home after a works night out in Kilmarnock.
6 December 1999: Police divers on a training course find human limbs in Loch Lomond, north of Glasgow. A full scale search recovers more body parts in the days ahead.
15 December 1999: A human head is found on Barassie Beach, near Troon, by a woman walking her dog.
21 December 1999: Police are granted a warrant for the arrest of William Beggs.
23 December 1999 In a rare legal move the Crown Office allows Strathclyde Police to issue a picture of William Beggs.
28 December 1999: William Beggs is arrested in the Netherlands after he walks into an Amsterdam Police station with a lawyer.
30 December 1999: A Dutch lawyer representing William Beggs says his client will fight extradition proceedings from the Netherlands to Scotland.
9 January 2000: Police divers recover more body parts, belonging to Barry Wallace, from Loch Lomond.
14 January 2000: The Crown Office confirms that it has made a formal request to the Dutch authorities for the extradition of William Beggs.
29 February 2000: Barry Wallace is laid to rest at Grasards Cemetery in Kilmarnock – 87 days after he was last seen alive.
28 March 2000: William Beggs’ extradition hearing opens in Amsterdam District Court of Justice.
11 April 2000: The Dutch court grants the extradition of William Beggs to Scotland.
25 April 2000: Dutch lawyers acting for William Beggs lodge an appeal, to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, against his extradition.
26 September 2000: The Dutch Supreme Court rules that Beggs should be extradited but the decision is referred to the country’s justice minister.
15 November 2000: Dutch Justice Minister Benk Korthals upholds the decision to extradite Beggs to Scotland.
22 November 2000: Beggs’ legal team launch a last ditch challenge to the extradition order in the Dutch Civil Courts. They argue that media coverage in Scotland has jeopardised his chance of a fair trial.
5 January 2001: The Dutch Court of Justice in the Hague rules that Beggs must be extradited to Scotland to face trial for the murder of Barry Wallace.
9 January 2001: Beggs is extradited to Scotland. He arrives at Edinburgh Airport under police escort.
11 January 2001: Beggs appears in private at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court. He makes no plea or declaration.
18 September 2001: Beggs goes on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh for the murder of Barry Wallace.
12 October 2001: Beggs is convicted of handcuffing, injuring, sexually assaulting and murdering Barry Wallace before dismembering his body.
Gay Serial Killer Denied Bid For Freedom
April 6, 2006
(London) A 42 year old man appealing his conviction for the killing and dismemberment of a gay Scottish teen has been denied release while the appeal is being heard.
William Beggs was sentenced to serve at least 20 years in prison for the killing of Barry Wallace. His lawyers have cited nine grounds for appeal, including sensational news coverage of the murder that the attorney’s say tainted the trial.
But at the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday, Lord Eassie refused to release Beggs on bail.