It was August 1966 and two weeks earlier England had won the World Cup.

Meanwhile, around 60 ­police officers many of them armed had surrounded a flat in Stevenson Street, Calton in the East End of Glasgow. Inside was one of the most wanted men in Britain – 37-year-old John Duddy.

Five days previously he was part of a gang that had murdered three unarmed police officers in a street in London – a crime that had shocked Britain.

Duddy, who was from the ­Gorbals, had personally shot one of the officers in cold blood and fled home to Glasgow.

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Glasgow Times: Pictured: Pictured: John Duddy and Harry RobertsPictured: Pictured: John Duddy and Harry Roberts (Image: newsquest)

The three murders happened four miles from Wembley Stadium and led to calls for the death penalty to be reintroduced.

The victims were Detective Constable David Wombwell, 25, PC Geoffrey Fox, 41, and Detective Sgt Christopher Head, 30.

Both Wombell and Fox were ­married with families.

The DC had two young children and PC Fox had three teenagers.

At 8am that morning, the three had met at Shepherd’s Bush Police Station to take part in an anti-crime patrol using an unmarked police car.

Meanwhile, Harry Roberts, John Duddy and Jack Witney were planning to steal a car to use as a getaway in a forthcoming bank robbery.

Shortly after 3pm the three cops spotted Witney’s scruffy blue 1954 Vanguard estate which they pulled over.

They were naturally suspicious about what the three occupants were up to.

Roberts, 30, along with Witney, 36, and Duddy, 37, panicked.

They had false number plates in the back of their vehicle, along with three guns in a bag.

DC Wombwell approached the car and spoke to Witney who was driving. He saw the car was untaxed and an insurance document he was then given was out of date.

DC Wombwell discussed the situation with DS Head and then went to the passenger side where Roberts sat and asked to see what was in the canvas bag

Without warning, Roberts took out a semi-automatic 9mm Luger pistol and fatally shot DC Wombwell, through his left eye.

Terrified DS Head desperately ran back towards the police car. But more carnage was to follow.

There was no way back now for the three villains, particularly ­Roberts.

Glasgow Times: Pictured: PC Geoffrey Fox, DC David Wombwell, DS Christopher HeadPictured: PC Geoffrey Fox, DC David Wombwell, DS Christopher Head (Image: newsquest)

As children played in the busy residential street, he leapt from the car and fired a single shot into the sergeant’s back.

The officer fell to the floor bleeding profusely before Roberts stood over him, aimed the gun at his face and pulled the trigger – only for the weapon to jam. PC Fox, trying to save his colleague, reversed his car straight at Roberts.

Duddy grabbed a .38 Enfield revolver from the same bag, climbed out of the Vanguard and fired three shots into the police car. The last hit PC Fox in the temple, leaving him dead, slumped in his seat.

The killers fled dumping the car in a lock up and burying the guns on Hampstead Heath.

Witney was captured first, three days later, and named Duddy and Roberts as his accomplices.

Duddy, who also worked as a ­lorry driver, fled back to his native Glasgow leaving his wife Teresa and children in London.

Perhaps he thought he could seek sanctuary with his family.

But it was his loved ones who would ultimately be responsible for bringing him to justice.

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Though he had been living in London for the past 10 years, the City of Glasgow Police had also assumed, correctly, that he would head back to his home town to hide out. A team of detectives visited all his known haunts speaking to friends and relatives.

His brother Vincent Duddy had last seen his brother in London two years earlier.

So when John arrived at his home unexpectedly on August 15 – three days after the triple murder – he was surprised.

The sibling said he had returned to Glasgow after leaving his wife.

However, the next day a horrified Vincent saw a report on television naming John as a fugitive wanted in connection with the murders.

Later, he met his brother by chance on New City Road in Cowcaddens and asked him about the killings.

Duddy feigned ignorance and told him: “I don’t know what it is.”

Vincent, along with his other brothers, Bernard and Charles, and sister Betty were all questioned by police about their sibling’s possible whereabouts. It was then they learned the gruesome facts of the triple slaying and Vincent, worried for his brother’s safety, reluctantly agreed to lead police to his hiding place. Duddy was holed up in the first-floor tenement flat in Stevenson Street when Vincent, turned up. By then the block had been surrounded by the 60 officers in case he escaped.

Vincent knocked on the door and called through the letterbox: “John, it’s me, Vinnie.”

The door was opened by the landlady and Vincent saw his brother lying on a single bed.

At this point, armed officers rushed the flat and took him ­prisoner.

He was however apprehended without a struggle and driven from the flat in Calton at high speed by detectives to Glasgow Airport where he was flown in handcuffs to London.

At the other end, officers from Scotland Yard took him to a police station for questioning.

The Glasgow arrest had been carried out personally by the head of the City of Glasgow CID, Detective Chief Supt Tom Goodall,

He was accompanied by Chief Inspector David McNee, who would later become Chief Constable of the newly-formed Strathclyde Police in 1975 and Chief Commissioner of the Met in 1977.

When asked why he had carried out the arrest himself, Goodall told reporters: “We cannot send a younger man to do something we should do ourselves.”

McNee also received a bravery award for his part in Duddy’s detention.

Once in London, Duddy sought to lay the blame on Roberts.

He told police: ‘It was Roberts who started the shooting. He shot the two who got out of the car and shouted to me to shoot.

“I just grabbed a gun and ran to the police car and shot the driver through the window.

“I didn’t mean to kill him. I wanted money the easy way. I am a fool. Up until six weeks ago, I was a driver. I must have been mad. I wish you could hang me now.”

Many of the dead men’s colleagues in the Metropolitan Police no doubt shared that wish.

Capital Punishment had only been abolished in 1965 or Duddy would almost certainly have been hanged.

Glasgow Times:

More than 600 Met police officers later lined the route of the three victims’ funeral procession from Shepherds Bush to Westminster Abbey, which was attended by prime minister Edward Heath.

However, Roberts was still at large.

Despite dozens of raids on potential boltholes, an appeal by his mother on television and a £1000 reward, it would be another 91 days before he was caught.

Roberts was eventually discovered camping out in Epping Forest using survival techniques he had learned serving with the Army.

The trial of Witney and Duddy began on November 14, 1966, but was abandoned when Roberts was captured, so all three men could be tried together.

Roberts pleaded guilty to the murders of DS Head and DC Wombwell. Duddy and Witney denied all charges.

Witney testified, claiming he and Duddy were terrified by Roberts.

However, six days later a jury took just 30 minutes to find all three guilty.

The judge, Mr Justice Glyn-Jones, recommended they each serve at least 30 years before becoming eligible for parole.

Duddy died in Parkhurst Prison in 1981. Witney was released in 1991 and in 1999 was beaten to death with a hammer by his flatmate at their home in Bristol.

Roberts was controversially released in October 2014 by the then Home Secretary Theresa May, having served 48 years.

No-one knows to this day what prompted the small-time criminals to murder three police officers in cold blood.

Roberts had already served time for a violent robbery and knew he was facing at least 15 years behind bars if caught with the guns.

Perhaps it was all or nothing for him and in those frantic few seconds, there seemed only one option.

He was also seen as trigger-happy by associates and had talked about being a criminal legend like the Kray twins.

All three had been drinking on the day of the robbery so alcohol may also have played a part.

In an interview following Roberts’ release in 2014, David Wombwell’s son Daen, then 53, revealed how the family’s lived with his loss every day.

He added: “It’s a wound that never healed. Our family never got over it. We never will get over it, you just bear the scars.”