IN the long annals of violent Glasgow murders it was one of the most brutal and brazen ever seen in the city.

Three men had stood watching and waiting patiently in Rose Street, Garnethill in the heart of Glasgow’s Chinatown.

Shortly before 12.30am they stepped out of the shadows and launched a frenzied attack on their target with machetes.

Seconds later, well-known restaurant owner Philip Wong, 48, lay dead in a pool of his own blood.

READ MORE: Philip Wong murder 35 years on: Cops appeal over businessman who was hacked to death in the city centre

Glasgow Times:

The popular businessman and community leader was killed in what was later described as a “myriad of swords” attack.

In reality it was a cold-blooded execution, the likes of which Glasgow had never seen before.

Wong, who ran the nearby Lucky Star restaurant, was heading home having taken part in a late night game of Mahjong at Garnethill’s Tin Tin bookshop.

Present at the game were around 20 Chinese friends and business acquaintances.

As he was about to put the keys in his Mercedes car, his three killers launched their savage attack.

Matchsticks had been placed in the door lock to distract their victim and give them more time to carry out the murder. Minutes later the killers were in a car heading south on the nearby M8, their night’s work carried out with chilling efficiency.

It’s believed they escaped to Birmingham or got a ferry to Northern Ireland.

Almost 35 years after his murder on October 9, 1985, Mr Wong’s three killers still remain at large and have never been arrested or put on trial.

One of the first men on the scene was community police officer Constable Simon Keenan.

He’d worked for the previous three years as the ethnic liaison officer to the city centre’s growing Chinese and Asian population.

Simon knew Mr Wong well and had the grim task of identifying the murdered man as his body lay in the street.

For the following two months he worked closely with police colleague to try and break down the wall of silence surround his death.

However, shortly before Christmas he had to be moved to another department after both he and his mother received sinister threats.

Simon, 64, who now works as a leadership consultant, said: “The senior officer who was running the murder inquiry told me they had heard from a reliable source that my life was in danger so I was taken off the inquiry and my role as ethnic liaison officer

“My mother also got a phone call at 4am one morning by a man with a Chinese accent saying: ‘we know Simon and we know you.’

“I knew then that I had become a thorn in the flesh of some key players in the Chinese community.

“It was one of the scariest times of my life.

“The night of the murder I was working nearby and told to report to Rose Street where Philip’s body was still lying.

“I got to the scene about 20 minutes after the attack and discovered it was Mr Wong.

“I then remember telling the senior officer at the scene, ‘you’ve got a real problem here’.”

READ MORE: Glasgow crime stories: Arthur Thompson

Glasgow Times:

The police investigation was hampered from day one by a lack of information from the Chinese community, who feared reprisals from the Triad gang leaders said to be behind the killing.

Triad gangs had first emerged in Scotland in the 1970s, following the arrival of Chinese families in the 50s and 60s.

Their activities at the time tended to include loan-sharking, protection, counterfeit goods, prostitution and illegal gambling.  The killers knew any eyewitnesses would be too scared to tell the police what they had seen.

Even his fellow Mahjong players – who came running out of the bookshop when they  heard Mr Wong’s cries – claimed to have seen nothing of the  attack.

So why had Mr Wong been killed and why were people so terrified to speak out?

At the time of his death he was a leading light in Glasgow’s 5000-strong Chinese community and successful in business.

As well as the Lucky Star, Wong ran restaurants in Edinburgh, Perth and Stirling and a thriving video shop in Garnethill.

Mr Wong had arrived in Scotland in 1958 and lived with English wife Josephine and their three children in Barrhead.

His opinion was also highly regarded and he was often asked to intercede in local disputes in the community.

Mr Wong was also rumoured to be a senior member of the rival Shui Fong Triad group, holding the prestigious title WhiteFan.

It’s believed Wong was murdered because he refused to do business with senior members of the Wo Shing Wo – China’s oldest triad group.

They were said to want a share of his lucrative Chinese video rental business.

Mr Wong had obtained a franchise from a Hong Kong TV station to sell videos of popular Hong Kong soaps.

There was even more money to be paid from pirated versions.

At that time a single video of a counterfeit Hong Kong episode could gross the equivalent of £40,000 today now in weekly rental fees.  Mr Wong is also said to have offended a Hong Kong-based Wo Shing Wo leader by refusing him a share in his video business.

Simon added: “It was my job to win the confidence and trust of the local community and Philip Wong was an important figure in the Chinese community. He’d been visited just a few weeks earlier by some significant individuals from Hong Kong.

“He did not acquiesce in the way that they wanted.

“They certainly put paid to him horribly and tragically.

“I think his popularity in certain areas was also upsetting  some people and creating a lot of resentment.

“They say ‘success has many enemies’ and that applied to Philip Wong.”

READ MORE: Glasgow crime stories: lawyer Joe Beltrami

Simon retired from the police in 2003 at the rank of Superintendent.

He rejoined in 2005 as a civilian and led Police Scotland’s leadership and professional development unit until 2014.

Mr Wong’s slaying led to one of the biggest ever murder inquiries by police in Scotland with more than 50 detectives involved at one stage.

A specialist south-east Asian intelligence desk was set up and detectives even learned to speak Cantonese.

As their investigation unfolded it became apparent to the police that the timing and brutality of the killing was significant.

It was not only a punishment to Mr Wong, but a lesson to the wider Chinese community on what they could expect if they disrespected the Triads.

Glasgow Times:

Former Labour MSP and retired police chief, Graeme Pearson got to know Mr Wong well while investigating an extortion racket against 16 Glasgow Chinese restaurants in 1979.

The ring leader was jailed for five years after Mr Wong spoke out.

Mr Pearson received a phone call from a Chinese contact within minutes of the machete attack to say that Wong had been murdered.

He immediately passed the information on to colleagues who were already heading to the scene.

Though not directly involved in the murder inquiry, Mr Pearson provided colleague with vital information on Mr Wong and the Triad organisations then operating in Glasgow.

Glasgow Times:

Mr Pearson, a former head of the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency, added:”Philip Wong was a decent bloke and a very hard-working guy.

“He came to Glasgow with nothing, as so many of the Chinese did in that day.

“His murder was a very brutal and cowardly act.

“There were clearly some  people who did not like him and were jealous of his success in business.

“I don’t think the fact that he was involved with the Triads, meant he was involved in any criminality.

“After all this time it would be justice for his family if those responsible for his murder were finally put behind bars.”