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CCTV COULD CLEAR MAN JAILED FOR GANGSTER SLAYING; EXCLUSIVE Trial was told there were no tapes.. now they've been found.

Byline: By GILL SMITH

A MAN convicted of gunning down a gangster could walk free after new evidence shows he might not have been at the scene of the crime.

Career criminal William Gage was jailed for 20 years in 2002 for executing drug-dealer Justin McAlroy, son of Labour party donor and businessman Tommy McAlroy.

The prosecution pinned its case against Gage on a getaway car, a white Saab, which was later found burnt out.

Police claimed Gage had driven the Saab from the murder scene in Cambuslang, Lanarkshire, to Easterhouse, Glasgow - a route lined with 43 CCTV cameras.

At the trial, it was stated that CCTV footage from the route wasn't available.

But after his conviction a BBC documentary revealed that, in fact, there were some CCTV images - which showed no sign of the white Saab.

Now the tapes are being scrutinised by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC). Gage has always maintained his innocence. His solicitor Aamer Anwar said: "CCTV footage which is critical for Mr Gage's appeal is apparently now available.

"We're in the process of requesting it - and understand the SCCRC may have seen this footage. If it is indeed in existence I would hope this would prove Mr Gage's innocence.

"It would be impossible to have driven from Cambuslang to Easterhouse without the car showing up on one of the 43 CCTV cameras on that route."

Justin McAlroy had been under surveillance by the Scottish Drugs Enforcement Agency for more than a year before his death in March 2002.

The murder took place just days after he had attended a Labour fundraiser with First Minister Jack McConnell and other senior party members, including the then Health Secretary John Reid.

The event was one of the now infamous "Red Rose Dinners", which raised funds for McConnell and other Labour election campaigns from businessmen, including the building firm run by Tommy McAlroy.

It was claimed that Gage, 33, shot McAlroy, 28, five times outside his home in a row over a pounds 50,000 drug debt.

Gage, who lost an appeal last April, has always claimed he was the victim of mistaken identity and a cover-up.

Prosecutors insisted that the car tied Gage to the murder. But during the trial witnesses couldn't agree on the make of the vehicle. One said it was a Metro or Maestro, another as a white Volvo.

Witnesses described the killer as 5ft 10in with a round face and cropped hair. Gage is a 6ft 2in and had long hair at the time.

But it was the testimony of McAlroy's wife Tracy that damned Gage at his trial.

She insisted she would "never forget those eyes" when she pointed out Gage in court. Yet she initially told police she only "glimpsed" the killer as he ran from the shooting - and failed to mention his eyes. Witnesses, including Mrs McAlroy, said the killer had been wearing a padded jacket and that his face was covered.

But police later showed her a tailor's dummy with distinctive eyes dressed in the cagoule found in a burnt out car.

It was only then that she changed her description of the jacket - and mentioned the killer's eyes.

John McManus of the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (MOJO), which is campaigning for Gage's release said: "This footage was, for some reason, witheld from the defence team.

"The only thing that linked Willie Gage to this whole crime was the so-called white Saab found in Easterhouse - and so-called witnesses saw a white car leave the scene of the murder.

"I'm hoping for the sake of justice the CCRC will send this case back to the appeal court.

"Willie Gage's life has been wasted in jail for a crime he didn't commit."

A spokesman for the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission confirmed it was investigating Gage's case - but refused to comment on the CCTV footage.

g.smith@sundaymirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

THE VICTIM Gangster Justin McAlroy; THE SCENE McAlroy's luxury home; THE DEMONSTRATION Miscarriages of justice campaigners demand Gage's release; Convicted.. Gage is serving 20 years; In court.. Tracy McAlroy
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 1, 2007
Words:681
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