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COP KILLER FREED; Police anger at murderer's chance for parole after serving 32 years for officers' deaths.

Byline: ANDREW WILSON

COP killer Howard Wilson - one of Scotland's most notorious criminals - has been freed from jail after 32 years.

The force argued life should mean life after Wilson - himself a former police inspector - was jailed for murder.

He shot dead two constables in cold blood after a bank raid in 1969.

His attempt to kill their inspector only failed because his gun jammed.

The 1970 trial recommended he serve at least 25 years before consideration for parole, yet after 32 years inside he had become one of the nation's longest- serving inmates.

Last week, Wilson turned to new European human rights laws to seek his freedom.

Yesterday, it emerged the 64-year-old had been released on Monday from Castle Huntly prison near Dundee.

The High Court in Glasgow ruled he should not have served more than 25 years and a parole board meeting agreed to release him.

Last night, police described the move as a "bitter blow".

Scottish Police Federation chairman Norrie Flowers said: "We feel deeply disappointed Howard Wilson has been released.

"This man killed officers while they were on duty protecting the public.

"In the absence of capital punishment for anyone who kills a police officer, life should mean life."

However, the new European legislation rules all lifers must be told how long they will serve before they can apply for release on licence.

Wilson's descent into crime began when he left the City of Glasgow force angry that he had been looked over for promotion.

He opened a greengrocer's in Allison Street, Govanhill, but it soon ran into financial troubles. So, along with another ex- policeman, John Sim, and Ian Donaldson - all members of a Bearsden gun club - he held up the British Linen Bank in Giffnock, Glasgow, in July 1969.

The trio made off with more than pounds 20,000.

Five months later, they made a similar raid on the Clydesdale Bank in Linwood, Renfrewshire, and again fled with thousands of pounds.

But this time, they were spotted by DI Andrew Hyslop, who summoned PC Eddie Barnett and DC Angus McKenzie. They followed the gang to Wilson's shop flat.

But Wilson refused to give up and shot McKenzie twice, killing him, before turning his .22 gun on Barnett, who died instantly.

Wilson had already shot DI Hyslop in the face.

The officer only survived because the gun jammed as Wilson tried to finish him off and another policeman wrestled the robber to the ground.

NOTORIOUS INSIDE AND OUT

WILSON repeatedly refused to serve his time in jail quietly.

He joined former Glasgow gangster Jimmy Boyle in the infamous Inverness jail "cages" riots. And the double murderer was also involved in a series of violent protests at Peterhead prison.

Wilson was sentenced to an extra six years for attempting to murder six prison officers during an escape bid.

Then in 1994, on the 25th anniversary of his killings, he again began protesting, claiming he was being held as a political prisoner.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 2, 2002
Words:495
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