It was a crime that shocked Scotland.

Five young children were thrown from a top-floor tenement window onto the hard stony ground below with only one intention in mind – to kill them all.

One, a girl, subsequently died and four others were seriously injured.

For police officers at the scene, used to seeing the worse of human nature, it was too much for many of them to stomach. Particularly when they learned that the person responsible was a woman.

The drama that late rainy afternoon had first unfolded around 5.30pm on March 28, 1961.

Reports came in of a child having fallen from a third-storey window in Toryglen Street, Oatlands, on the South Side of the city.

One of the first responders was ambulance driver Jack Kirkland.

At first, he assumed that it had been a tragic accident -a common occurrence at the time.

Most homes had old open-and-shut style sash cord windows without the in-built safety features of modern double glazing.

Reports of both adults and children falling from tenements weren’t particularly unusual at that time,

But it soon became apparent that this was no ordinary fall, and it was certainly no accident.

Before Jack’s ambulance had even reached the scene, a second call came over the radio reporting that not one, but several children had fallen from the same window.

Within a few minutes, the emergency services were taking dozens of frantic calls from the public.

Some were phoning from their homes – other from call boxes in the nearby streets as were common at the time.

Jack would later recall: “As we turned into Toryglen Street we were confronted by a nightmare.

“There was frantic activity, police cars everywhere.

”The policemen were trying to clear a path for us through the shocked and horrified groups of people.

“Women in headscarves and aprons held each other and cried uncontrollably.”

As the responders forced their way through the gathered crowd they were confronted by the sight of five crumpled young bodies lying on the pavement.

One of the bodies, four-year-old Marjorie Hughes, had died on impact and had been covered with a blanket.

However, miraculously the other four children were still alive, though critically injured.

They were all taken to nearby Victoria Infirmary and then transferred to the Royal Hospital For Sick Children.

A neighbour, 45-year-old James Haiming, would later tell reporters his memories of that day.

He had just returned from work when he heard two sickening thuds outside his home in Toryglen Street.

James said: “I looked out and saw two kiddies lying there.

“Having rushed out into the street I saw another child plunging toward the pavement from the third-storey window.

“I half caught him on my shoulder before he fell to the ground – but before I could do anything else I looked up and saw two more kiddies on their way down.

“I felt so helpless, there was nothing I could do.”

As the paramedics attended to the four injured children, the story of the early evening events began to emerge.

It seemed that the children had been invited by a local woman to her top-floor flat to look at a litter of puppies.

But once the children were inside, the woman bolted the door, opened the window, and began to throw the children from the window one by one.

When the terrified children began to realise the reality and gravity of their situation, they tried to escape.

Neighbours hearing the screaming ran up the stairs and began trying to break down the door, while on the other side a sixth child, a young boy, desperately tried to unbolt the same door.

He would escape unharmed but suffered badly from shock.

The dead child was Marjorie Hughes, 4, of Toryglen Street, and the four injured children, Francis Lennon 7, his sister Margaret, 5, Thomas Devaney, 4, and Daniel McNeill, 5, also of Toryglen Street.

Doctors would later tell Marjorie’s heartbroken and inconsolable family that if she had suffered, her pain had been brief because she would have died almost immediately.

Within a matter of minutes, police had arrested the occupant of the third-floor rented tenement.

She was 37-year-old Jean Barclay Waddell, a former hotel receptionist and shorthand typist.

Glasgow Times: Jean WaddellJean Waddell (Image: Newsquest)

She was charged the following day with one charge of murder and four of attempted murder at Glasgow’s Sheriff Court.

It was not initially clear what had possessed her to do such a thing.

During her appearance, she was said to have ‘bitten her lip’ but otherwise seemed quite composed.

During subsequent police investigation and Jean’s appearance later that year at the High Court in Glasgow, a picture however emerged of a deeply troubled individual with a history of mental illness.

It emerged that Waddell had suffered a complete mental breakdown following the breakup of her marriage to soldier Floyd Oakman.

Before the end of the Second World War, she had also entered a sanatorium to be treated for tuberculous,

However, while undergoing treatment she assaulted a nurse and was then transferred to a psychiatric hospital.

She was said to have suffered from delusions and paranoia, sometimes believing herself to be the Empress of Japan.

At other times she was convinced that she was carrying an illegitimate baby, or that the police were watching her.

It would later emerge that Waddell had been subject to electric shock treatment – or electro-convulsive therapy as it became later known – in an attempt to alleviate these symptoms.

The treatment involves sending an electric current through your brain causing a brief surge of electrical activity also known as a seizure.

The aim is to relieve severe symptoms of some mental health problems.

It was common then to treat all types of mental illness, though now it is only used in strictly-controlled circumstances.

Waddell was later said to be so terrified of undergoing shock treatment again, that she would tell people that she would rather die.

It also emerged she had attempted to take her own life, a few days before the murder.

Despite her obvious mental health issues, Waddell was allowed out of the hospital to the flat in Oatlands – where she went on to murder.

Waddell’s trial at the High Court in Glasgow attracted enormous public interest.

However, her defence team said she was insane and unfit to plead and that was accepted by the prosecution.

She was then sent to the State Hospital in Carstairs in Lanarkshire by the judge where she became one of the first ever female patients.

Earlier in the year it had been decided to send women there as well as men.

Over the years, Waddell faded into anonymity and her horrific crime was forgotten except by the victims and their families.

She was eventually released from Carstairs and is believed to have died in a care home in 2009 at the age of 86.

Had she not been found insane and unfit to plead, it is possible that she would have been hanged.

However, the murder of young Marjorie was committed at a time when there was growing opposition to capital punishment.

It would be suspended in 1965 and eventually abolished in 1969. The last woman to be hanged had been Susan Newall in 1923 for the murder of a 13-year-old  paperboy John Johnston at her home in Coatbridge.

Newall was executed at Duke Street Prison later that year after her own insanity plea was rejected.

Glasgow Times: Barlinnie hangingBarlinnie hanging (Image: Newsquest)

It was the first hanging of a woman in Glasgow in 70 years.

The last hanging of a man in Glasgow was in December 1960.

Nineteen-year-old Tony Miller went to the scaffold at Barlinnie Prison after being found guilty of robbing and murdering a gay man 48-year-old John Cremin in Queen’s Park, Glasgow.

His co-accused James Denovan only escaped the noose because he was only 16 at the time.

Appeals by both Newall and Miller were rejected at the time by the Secretary of State of Scotland.

There would only be one hanging in Scotland after that.

Factory worker Henry Burnett at Aberdeen Prison in 1963 for shooting dead his married lover’s husband.

His appeal was also rejected.

In 2015, crime writer David Leslie, in a book about Carstairs’ famous inmates, said of the Waddell case: “By 1961 politicians and most of the public had lost the stomach for marching a female to the scaffold.

“There was also much more sympathy for someone like her, as she was clearly mad.”