He was known as the detective the criminals loved to hate.

In a distinguished 37-year career, Robert Kerr had a reputation for always getting his man.

During that time Kerr was said to have taken part in more than 100 successful murder inquiries.

He also played a key role in tracking down the gangs behind two of the biggest armed robberies ever seen in the city.

Kerr was one of a family of nine from Dumfries and Galloway.

His father was a shepherd, but policing appeared to be in the blood as his older brother William would go on to have a successful career ending up as chief constable of Kirkcudbright.

From an early age Kerr had an interest in detective work and would avidly read the crime reports in newspapers.

He also overcame tragedy early in his life when his first wife died from TB at the age of 22.

Kerr decided to move to Glasgow in the late 1920s where two of his married sisters lived and to pursue a career in policing.

Glasgow Times:

From an early stage he was said to have the dogged determination and painstaking attention to detail - said to be the hallmarks of a great detective.

Once when searching the house of a safe robber he noticed that the nib was missing from the top of a fountain pen.

When he looked inside, he found a piece of paper which was in fact a left luggage ticket.

When they searched the locker, they found £4000 inside and details of other cash stashes.

Kerr insisted that his men worked the same long hours that he did. However, it also meant he had a high success rate in solving crime.

Kerr was also a great innovator in criminal investigations.

He adopted a policy of keeping in touch with the wives of criminals who were often happy to pass on gossip or information when their men were inside.

Glasgow Times:

Kerr also saw that they weren't short of money with regular payments being made to keep them onside.

Having become a detective in 1931, he quickly rose through the ranks.

By 1960 he was made head of CID in Glasgow at the rank of detective chief superintendent - a post which he held for three years.

Only a few days into the job he led the investigation into the murder of a sex worker that had shocked Glasgow.

The woman - who was in her 50s - had been found hanging from railings in Glasgow Green close to his offices in Turnbull Street.

A few days later a 25-year-old barman handed himself into a police station on the Southside of the city.

He had read about the murder of the woman and realised that it must have been him.

The barman told police he was prone to taking epileptic fits then not remembering what happened afterwards.

He had put his hands round her throat but recalled nothing of events after that.

Doctors ruled that he was insane at the time and had not intended committing murder.

Instead, he was found gutty of culpable homicide and given 15 years behind bars.

One of Kerr's most famous cases involved Walter Scott Ellis, a man charged with shooting dead a taxi driver.

Facing the death penalty, he was cleared on a unanimous not proven charge at the High Court in Glasgow - even though the evidence gathered by Kerr and his team seemed overwhelming.

In a case that gripped the city, Scott Ellis had denied shooting taxi driver John Walkinshaw in the head in Castlemilk.

The cabbie had been discovered slumped over his steering wheel in the early hours of July 23, 1961.

During the murder investigation police interviewed 1279 taxi drivers and took statements at 1430 houses.

Kerr had the idea of handing out special questionnaires to local residents asking where they were at the time of the murder.

Four days after Mr John Walkinshaw's death, detectives charged Ellis, 29, who was already well known in the city's underworld.

The jury was told that the taxi driver had picked up Scott Ellis from a party in Bridgeton and taken him to Castlemilk.

He then shot the driver after his taxi stopped In Tormusk Road.

Scott Ellis then ran through the nearby Glen Wood emerging on the other side in Ardencraig Road, to take a second taxi the short distance to his parents’ home in Stravanan Road.

The second taxi driver, John Mcleod, said Scott Ellis was the man he had collected.

Two types of glass found on the kerb beside the murder taxi appeared to match glass found in the heel of Scott Ellis' left shoe.

However, his legal team said the fragments found in his shoe was so common they could have come from anywhere.

There were no eyewitnesses to the shooting and no evidence that he had shot Mr Walkinhshaw or even been in his taxi.

Scott Ellis' defence team said it was unlikely that a man who had just murdered a taxi driver would then try to pick up the second cab in the street a few minutes later in the same housing estate.

The jury agreed and took just 43 minutes to return their unanimous not proven verdict.

However, Kerr was undeterred.

A few months later Scott Ellis was back behind bars after being sentenced to 18 months for possession of explosives.

Kerr also made his name bringing two big robbery gangs to justice.

In July 1955, four men stole a bank van in Ibrox and escaped with £45,000 (more than £1.25m today).

At first the police investigation hit a brick wall with little information from the public or underworld sources, causing speculation that the gang may have been from south of the border.

Kerr made an appeal on television, the first time such a thing had been done by police in Scotland.

The robbers had made their one and only mistake when they had left behind a set of brown overalls with initials in the bank van.

Kerr appealed for the owner to come forward and an AA patrolman in London said they were his.

That find led then to one of the gang members, John Blundell, who was arrested in his home in Fulham and others quickly followed suit.

In January 1956, six men went on trial at the High Court in Glasgow with three including Blundell receiving lengthy jail terms.

In the summer of 1959, a branch of the Clydesdale Bank in Shettleston was robbed of £40,000.

The prime suspect Sammy ‘Dandy’ McKay was arrested and remanded at Barlinnie Prison. 

However, he made a daring escape and went on the run for almost a year on the proceeds of his bank robbery - living the high life in New York, Miami, London and Ireland.

One day Kerr got an anonymous letter with a photograph from the Big Apple.

It appeared to show showed McKay in Fifth Avenue in the heart of Manhattan.

The police then extended their search to the city but their suspect was long gone by then.

Kerr realised they had been duped by McKay who had sent the picture himself to thwart their investigation.

However, the police chief never gave up.

Thanks to his network of informants McKay was eventually caught 11 months later in Dublin - where he had been living in secret with his wife and family - and returned to Barlinnie.

At his trial in the High Court in Glasgow in early 1961, McKay denied any involvement in the robbery and the jury were told there was no witnesses or fingerprint evidence.

But the 15 members thought otherwise and found him guilty of the robbery in front of a packed court.

McKay was sentenced to 10-years for the bank robbery and subsequent escape.

Kerr also played a key role in bringing serial killer Peter Manuel to justice for the seven murders he committed between 1956 and 1958.

Three of the victims were Marion Watt, her teenage daughter Vivienne and her sister Margaret from Rutherglen.

Police had mistakenly locked up 45-year-old Mrs Watt’s husband William.

Kerr was able to persuade his colleagues that Watt was innocent and Manuel was their man.

He also recovered stolen property sold in Glasgow by Manuel which linked him to the murders.

The crimefighter retired in 1963 and died 10 years later at home in Dumbreck.

While many tributes were paid at the time, an article published in 1960 best summed up the dedicated crimefighter.

It said: "He adds a lean and sallow appearance to his policeman height and perhaps more important his unruffled calm has always proved crisis proof."