The smartly dressed good looking 28-year-old stood on the front steps with both arms raised to the acclaim of the waiting crowd.

Photographers pushed forward to get his picture that sunny Friday afternoon and reporters were eager to hear what he had to say.

Champagne was popped and a few minutes later the same smiling young man was driven away at high speed by jubilant friends.

However this wasn’t a film star, boy band member or millionaire footballer celebrating their latest success.

The grim-faced police officers and the huge sandstone columns of the High Court in Glasgow flanking the young man was testimony to that.

A rising star of the Glasgow underworld Paul Ferris had just been cleared of murdering convicted drug dealer Arthur Thompson Jnr in the longest and most costly trial in Scottish legal history.

READ MORE: Glasgow crime stories: Arthur Thompson

Glasgow Times:

His alleged victim was the son of Glasgow’s infamous crime godfather Arthur Thompson Snr.

A former friend and ally of the Thompsons, Ferris was said to be closer to the father than even his own son.

At the tender age of 19 he had become the crime boss’s feared enforcer, collecting debts on  his behalf.

But that was all in the past for Ferris as he savoured his dramatic acquittal on June 12, 1992.

READ MORE: Glasgow crime stories: The murder of lawyer Marshall Stormonth

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Ten months earlier young Arthur, above, had been shot outside the family home in Provanmill Road, Glasgow.

The 31-year-old gangster - nicknamed Fat Boy by his detractors - was sentenced to 11 years in prison for heroin dealing in 1985 He had been released that Saturday morning from Noranside Prison in Angus on a weekend parole as pat of a training for freedom programme.

Young Arthur had enjoyed a celebratory dinner with his father and other family members at the popular Cafe India restaurant in Glasgow’s Charing Cross. They then returned home for a nightcap.

Around 10pm, on August 17, 1991, Arthur left his parents house to walk the short distance to his own home where he lived with his wife and daughter.

Out of the darkness stepped a mystery man who opened fire before escaping in a stolen car with two other men.

Three shots at close range from a .22 pistol hit young Arthur.  The first bullet grazed his cheek, the second smashed into his ribs, a lung, the third, tore through his gut and pierced his heart.

His father and younger brother Billy alerted by the shots found him dying on the pavement outside the family home known locally as the Ponderosa, after the ranch in the popular 70s cowboy series Bonanza.

It was rumoured to be fitted out with secret passages, hiding spots, and its own underground  tunnel.  If that was true then young Arthur’s decision to take the night air was to prove fatal.

His bullet ridden body was rushed to Glasgow Royal Infirmary but he died a few hours later.

His death was to prove the beginning of the end for the Thompson family fiefdom.

For more than 30 years Thompson snr had ruled Glasgow’s criminal underworld with an iron fist through his interests in extortion, money lending, illegal casinos, robbery, prostitution and latterly drugs.  In the 1960s he was a close ally of notorious London gangsters The Kray twins, Ronnie and Reggie  But with the son banged up and old Arthur’s influence waning other gangs  began to see the chance of rich pickings.

In the late 1980s Thompson had a lucky escape when he was shot in the groin in a demolition yard he owned in the East End of Glasgow. The gunman, an IRA hitman, had been hired by a rival to kill him.

But in a time honoured tradition he refused to pick his would be assassin out at an identity parade.

It was even the same when young Arthur was murdered with family members told to say nothing to the police Though Arthur Snr knew who had murdered his son he would not be sharing that information with the authorities.

The subsequent police investigation centred on Ferris and two friends and associates Joe Hanlon and Bobby Glover.

Within a few weeks Ferris had been arrested, but Hanlon, 23, and Glover, 31, remained free.

It laters transpired that they would have been better off inside prison.

READ MORE: Police pledge to solve murders of gangland figures including Arthur Thompson Jnr 30 years ago

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow Times:

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Both were found dead in the well of a Ford Orion car parked in Darleith Street outside the Cottage Bar in Shettleston on the morning of young Arthur’s funeral on September 18, picture above.

Their bodies were discovered by the pub’s manager who was passing at the time on his way to open up He recognised them immediately as both men and Ferris were regulars.

Glasgow Times:

Robert Glover

Glasgow Times:

Joe Hanlon

Given the timing of the double murder the killing of Hanlon, 32, and Glover, 23, was seen as an act of revenge by Arthur Snr.

Ferris only escaped a similar fate because he was on remand at Barlinnie Prison awaiting trial.

Had they lived both Hanlon and Glover would likely have stood trial alongside Ferris as alleged accomplices in Arthur Thompson Jnr’s murder. Ironically Ferris’s incarceration by the authorities saved his life.

Hanlon and Glover had both been shot dead - the same treatment dolled out to young Arthur  whose funeral cortege was due to pass nearby that afternoon. It was clear to everyone in the city’s underworld what type of message was being sent out with their murder.

There’s also little doubt that Arthur Thompson Snr ordered the killings and someone else did it as a favour to him.

Thompson suspected both men of being involved in his son’s murder and is said to have paid a hitman £20,000 to execute them.

Legend has it that the crime boss later viewed their bodies and shot both men in the chest with another gun.

Both bodies are thought to have been stored stored at business premises not far from the Cottage Bar then driven to Darleith Street around mid morning.

A few days after the double murder, armed police raided the Ponderosa looking for evidence but nothing was found.  Thirty years later no one has ever been charged with the murder or stood trial.

Glasgow Times:

There was a massive turn out for young Arthur’s funeral that afternoon with key members of the city’s underworld there to pay their respects to both the victim and more importantly his father.

One of the mourners was former Great Train Robber Buster Edwards who was close friends with the crime boss.

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The subsequent murder trial which began the following March lasted 56 days and cost an estimated £4million.

Ferris was also cleared of attempting to murder Arthur Thompson Snr by repeatedly  driving a car at him and threatening to murder another man William Gillen by shooting him in the leg.

Charges of illegal possession of a firearm and supplying heroin, cocaine and ecstasy were also thrown out by the jury.

Glasgow’s criminal underbelly was laid bare during the weeks of evidence and it’s hard won City of Culture status took a battering.

In his summing up Lord McCluskey, the trial judge, described the case ‘’an extraordinary catalogue of lies and deceit, cruelty and death’’.

Arthur Thompson was one of 300 witness called to give evidence.

In a bravura performance from the witness box he denied he was Glasgow’s Godfather and criticised the police.

At one point he even joked about speaking with cotton wool in his mouth – a technique used by Marlon Brando to sound like a mob boss in the Godfather.

Friends of Thompson say he was never the same following young Arthur’s death.

Nine months after Ferris’s acquittal in March 1993, Thompson died in his bed from a heart attack at the age of 61.

He was buried in the family plot at Riddrie Cemetery beside his son and daughter, Margaret, who suffered a drugs overdose in 1987.  In 1998 Ferris was convicted at the Old Bailey in London and sentenced to ten years imprisonment - later reduced to seven - after being convicted of gun running and possessing explosives.

While in prison he co-authored his best selling biography The Ferris Conspiracy with Reg McKay and has since published four other books.

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A film based on his life, The Wee Man, featuring Line of Duty star Martin Compston as Ferris was released in 2013.

In an interview in our sister paper the Herald that year Ferris denied that the movie glorified crime and hoped that young audiences would question if that was the life that they wanted to lead.

He added:”I’ve spent 13 years of my life in prison and there’s no glamour attached to that.”