In the annals of violent crime in Glasgow alcohol has sadly all too often played its part.

Seventeen years ago a late-night drinking session resulted in the murders of three innocent men in what became known as the House of Blood.

Glasgow Times:

Former joiner Ian Mitchell, 67, had rented out a room his top floor flat home in Dixon Avenue, Govanhill for the last ten years to his close pal, Tony Coyle, 71, above. Both men were well known and liked locally.

Tony hailed from the village of Bloody Foreland near Donegal in the west coast of Ireland and was a devout Catholic.

The recently retired labourer spent his spare time doing repairs and gardening work for the elderly free of charge, usually at the request of his parish priest.

Both men were good friends. Tony was teetotal while Ian enjoyed a few drinks but not usually to excess.

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Glasgow Times:

On October 16, 2004, Ian had spent the evening at his local while Tony was out and about doing odd jobs for local OAP's Edith McAlinden, 37, above, had just left prison having served nine months for serious assault and was with her partner David Gillespie, 42.

The pair had been drinking most of that day and met Ian, who they knew, in a pub close to his flat that evening.

Ian being a friendly sort invited them back to his home for some more refreshments.

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Glasgow Times:

While the trio were sitting drinking together an argument broke out between McAlinden and Gillespie, above, who stabbed him twice in the thigh, severing an artery that caused her lover to bleed to death.

Ominously she decided to call her son, John McAlinden, 17, and his pal, Jamie Gray, 16, rather than an ambulance. They both arrived a short time later in a taxi. Ian agreed to pay the taxi fare, mistakenly believing that her son and his friend had come to help David Gillespie.

However they were there only for one reason to eliminate the main witness to a murder committed by Ms McAlinden.

On entering the flat her boy set about Ian, who had a grown up son of his own.

He fatally stabbed the retired joiner and then kicked him repeatedly on the head, causing his brain to bleed heavily.

Glasgow Times:

At this point, Tony, above, came home and popped his head in the front room to say hello to his landlord and best pal.

When he saw the saw the bloody carnage he fled to the safety of his bedroom and locked himself inside.

He was now the only witness too what had now become a double murder.

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow Times:

John and Jamie, above, chillingly used a drill from Ian's toolbox to remove the door locks and force their way in. Jamie then chased and beat Tony to death with a golf club.

Other weapons used in the frenzied attacks on both men included an axe, hammer, belt, baseball bat, metal files, and lumps of wood.

Kettles of boiling water were also poured on Ian and Tony's heads to see if they were alive.

A few hours later McAlinden went to one of Ian's neighbours asking for help, pretending she had just come across a murder scene.

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow Times:

The man went inside to check for himself and discovered the house covered in blood and three men dead.

He then called the emergency services who found Edith McAlinden clinging to Gillespie's body, screaming at him to wake up.

The bodies of Ian Mitchell and Tony Coyle were slashed, battered and beaten almost beyond recognition.

When the paramedics eventually eased Gillespie out of McAlinden's arms, he was dead.

McAlinden was charged later that day with the three murders but police realised more than one person must have been involved in the atrocity, given the damage to the bodies and the flat.

Forensic tests quickly linked John McAlinden and Jamie Gray to the crime scene and they were both charged a few days later with murder.

In May 2005 all three stood trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

The jury were told that their victims were subjected to "appalling levels of savage violence".

Prosecutor Sean Murphy QC said there was so much blood in the flat that it was impossible to be precise about the details of the violence or be certain about the sequence of events.

The jury were shown a police film of the murder scene and warned by Mr Murphy that it was distressing.

Ian's South Side flat was trashed and the floor littered with objects and bottles of booze.

The jurors could see a golf club with blood-stained tufts of hair and a knife with fleshy matter sticking to the blade and handle.

Human tissue and pieces of skull and brain were also stuck to the floor and curtains.


The body of Mr Mitchell was lying on a settee on one side.

Mr Coyle was lying on another settee and Mr Gillespie was in between them, on the floor in front of the fireplace.

The bodies, walls, floor and ceiling were covered in their blood.

Suddenly, the defence announced a change of plea.

The accused would plead guilty to murder but only of one man each.

Glasgow Times:

John McAlinden pled guilty to Ian Mitchell's murder, Gray to Tony Coyle's and McAlinden to David Gillespie's.

All three were sentenced to life at the High Court in Dunfermline the following month.

The teenagers were ordered to serve 12 years before they could be considered for parole and Edith McAlinden to a minimum of 13.

Glasgow Times:

Relatives at the High Court in Glasgow 

The public benches, packed with relatives and friends of the dead men erupted in anger at what they thought were lenient sentences.

Glasgow Times:

All three killers have now completed their sentences and little is known about their whereabouts and circumstances Former Detective Superintendent Willie Johnstone, above, who led the triple murder investigation, told the Glasgow Times:"The crime scene was the worst I have ever seen.

"It was really awful and has had a lasting impact on me to this day.

"I had visited murder scenes where people had been killed in a house party because of drink, but this was different.

"One of the first people on the scene was a Special constable who left the police shortly after that."

Mr Johnston says Tony Coyle's death was particularly brutal.

He added:"Tony's whole life was built around his local church.

"He was a very methodical and religious gentleman and a pillar of the community "Someone who wouldn't say boo to a goose.

"He was always helping people out, often people he didn't even know."

Mr Johnston retired in 2006 after 30 years service with Strathclyde Police and has since worked as a security consultant at home and abroad.

He added:"After Tony walked in on the murder of his friend, he ran to his bedroom and locked the door.

"What took place after that was awful.

"Tony must have known what was going to happen to him and that there was no way out.

"He couldn't even escape out the window it was so high up."

Mr Johnston says the original injury to David Gillespie was not serious but McAlinden was too drunk to render basic first aid.

He believes that had she done that and phoned ambulance then he would have lived.

Mr Johnston added:"David like the other victims was from a nice family and a working guy.

"How he managed to get connected to Edith is a mystery.

"It was his eventual undoing."

The former police chief believes that both teenagers were ready to harm Ian Mitchell from the moment they got in the taxi.

He said"When we first spoke to the boys they did not give the impression that they were capable of such gruesome crimes.

"However the forensics proved beyond doubt that they did it."

Mr Johnston also believes that Edith McAlinden would have killed anyone that night to stay out of prison.

He continued:"You had a woman who had a very nonchalant approach to death and drew her own son into committing murder.

"Two people had been witnesses to two murders and they both had to die.

'She did not want to go back to jail and was prepared to so anything to stop that happening."