For thirty-one years James Straiton had been a police officer diligently serving the public and working long hours in difficult and dangerous conditions.

When he left the force in 1934 at the age of 50 he then worked as an investigator for a furniture company topping up his hard-earned pension.

By March 1946 James was looking forward to a well-earned retirement particularly as he had recently suffered from heart trouble.

READ MORE: Glasgow Crime Stories: The story of the Pollokshields railway murders

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow Police Museum 

During the Second World War, one of his sons had been killed in action in Libya.

However, he had the consolation of his other son following his footsteps into the police.

James had joined Lanarkshire Constabulary in 1903 was then moved to the City of Glasgow Police.

By 1925 he had reached the rank of Detective Sergeant in 1925 and had been commended by the Chief Constable ten times for his bravery.

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

Glasgow Times:

The 62-year-old lived with his wife in a neat semi in Edinburgh Road, Carntyne in Glasgow's East End and was well known and respected in the area.

Glasgow Times:

Around 8.30pm on Tuesday March 26, 1946, their neighbours James and Annie Deaken had arrived home by bus after a night out.

As they neared the house Mr Deaken noticed that the light was on in their house.

They immediately suspected a break, as Annie had switched everything off when they left earlier.

James told his wife to ask Mr Straiton for advice on what to do, knowing that he had been a policeman.

When she explained their suspicions the former detective did not hesitate.

Despite his deteriorating health he fetched his old police baton and went immediately to help his neighbour.

His own wife was at the cinema and he was alone in his house at the time.

Mr Deaken was unable to open the front door with his key confirming his fears that someone had broken in.

He offered to climb in one of the rear windows and open the door from the inside, while James Straiton covered the front.

Once in the house Mr Deaken switched on the downstairs light and opened the front door.

At this point, he heard a noise and saw two men at the top of the stairs.

One was armed with two guns which he carried in both hands.

When the intruders tried to flee the house Mr Deaken used his body to block their escape.

The older of the two armed intruders opened fire but narrowly missed him.

There was a violent struggle and James Straiton hit the gunman on the head with his old police baton.

The blow knocked the intruder to his knees and in retaliation he shot James Straiton in the stomach.

Both intruders then ran off, leaving the retired police officer dying in the gardens.

The gunman then aimed a parting shot at Annie Deaken who was by the garden gate but missed.

Glasgow Times:

It was not until after 10pm that Mrs Straiton returned from the cinema and saw a large crowd outside her house.

Glasgow Times:

She broke down in shock after learning of her husband’s murder Chief Superintendent William Ewing, the head of Glasgow’s C.I.D. interviewed the Deaken's, obtaining detailed descriptions of the two intruders who had brutally murdered their neighbour.

They were circulated to Glasgow’s various hospitals as it was felt that the killer might seek treatment after being hit with James's baton.

A search of the garden revealed that the burglars had entered an upstairs room by climbing a drainpipe and one of them had removed his shoes to allow him to climb. Crucially he had also left them behind in the garden Police also had three spent cartridge cases from the semi-automatic pistol used to kill James.

Two members of the public, a bus driver and his conductor had seen the two men escape and had tried unsuccessfully to apprehend them. Not only had did the police have four eyewitnesses but they also had some good quality forensic evidence including the killer's shoes.

Surely it wouldn't be long before the culprits were behind bars.

However, five days later the trail began to go cold.

There had been two previous burglaries in the Dennistoun area involving a firearm where the intruder got in through a drain pipe In one in Whitehill Drive a bullet was fitted to force open a locked door.

In the second in nearby Golfhill Drive, a gun was used to threaten the owner after he disturbed them.

Superintendent Gilbert McIlwrick head of the Identification Bureau decided to search for criminals between the ages of twenty and twenty-five who had previously broken into homes using a drain pipe.

Fingerprints of those so identified could then be compared to a fingerprint which had been left at the scene of the Golfhill Drive break-in.

If they could get a match they would then have a credible suspect for the murder.

A total of 450 criminals were selected and the painstaking comparison of their fingerprints began of competing each one began - giving the culprits even more time time to cover up their tracks.

But suddenly they got the breakthrough that all murder inquiries need.

After just ten minutes had elapsed, Detective Constable Douglas Hamilton got a match on their fingerprint database.

Detective Chief Superintendent Ewing was told that the thumbprint belonged to John Caldwell, a twenty-year-old absentee soldier, who lived in Fielden Street, Bridgeton, Glasgow.

He was arrested at 2am on April 1 1946, by Detective Lieutenant Robert Colquhoun, head of the Eastern Division C.I.D., together with Detective Lieutenant Dow and Detective Inspector McCartney.

Following Caldwell’s arrest, the detectives also arrested a 15-year-old boy who was also charged with James Straitons murder.

Both men appeared separately the next day in court on murder and burglar charges.

Caldwell was remanded in custody at Barlinnie Prison to await trial.

His father James, aged 57,was also charged with receiving large quantities of clothing and jewellry from the house-breakings.

The subsequent funeral of James Straiton brought Edinburgh Road to a standstill as hundreds of people lined the street in silent tribute as the funeral cortège made its way to the cemetery.

John Caldwell's trial took place at the High Court in Glasgow in June 1946 and the public galleries were packed every day to har the evidence.

Were he to be found guilty he would almost certainly hangs the crime he had commited was one that carried the death penalty.

The 15 years old who had been charged with Caldwell was not fit to stand trial and was instead locked up in a secure hospital.

The fingerprint evidence coupled with the ballistic evidence were the key to the case.

Professor John Glaister, Regius Professor of Forensic Medicine at Glasgow University said James Straiton had died after a bullet had been fired at point blank range at his stomach causing massive haemorraghing.

The prosecutor Douglas Johnston, Advocate-Depute told the jury that the evidence against Caldwell was overwhelming.

However Caldwell's defence team asked the jury to accept that Caldwell was acting under ‘diminished responsibility’ at the time of the murder and was not responsible for his actions.

The jury did not agree and returned a majority verdict of ‘Guilty’ to all charges after 50 minutes, although they did recommend mercy on account of the killer's age.

Caldwell did not show any emotion as he was taken below to the cells – though his sister cried as the death sentence was read out by the judge who had donned the traditional black hat.

A subsequent appeal against hanging was dismissed by the Criminal Appeal Court in Edinburgh Shortly after 8am on Saturday, August 10, 1946, John Caldwell was executed at Barlinnie Prison and his body was buried in the prison ground.

Retired Inspector Alastair Dinsmor, who is curator of the Glasgow Police Museum, said that James Straiton's bravery and disregard for his own safety should never be forgotten.

He added: "One thing that stood above the all was the courage and sense of duty that James Straiton had displayed on the fateful night.

"Here was a man in his early sixties, in questionable health, who had ‘done his bit’ over a period of thirty years in the police being asked to ‘stand up and be counted’ one more time to assist a neighbour.

"He could have shrunk back from the challenge, but he was not that kind of man and had not been that kind of policeman.

"It was the policeman’s sense of duty that James Straiton found irresistible and he paid for it with his life."