I was born on June 27, 1948 in Glasgow and was predominantly raised in the Calton and East End areas, noted not so much for producing 'Coppers' but moreso for breeding their adversaries.
However, as fate would have it, I managed to avoid the clutches of the law long enough to obtain a fairly decent education and start my working life as a trainee Metallurgist, followed quickly by almost two years as a trainee in Surveying. Both were apparently coveted occupations, but it did not take me long to figure out that working in a lab or behind a drawing board was not for me.
I was actively involved in sports and athletics and trained at the Eastern Police Division Gym in Glasgow where I met then Sgt. John Scott - a giant of a man who was the British Police Hammer throwing champion. It was John who convinced me to join the 'Polis' in 1967, much to the chagrin of my dad who feared the worst in that I would soon be arresting friends and family.
Not to worry, for after only 3 years in the Glasgow Police, I was looking for new adventures that would take me far from my local stomping grounds. As a result, I applied for both the Hong Kong and Bermuda Police Services and was successful in both pursuits, finally opting for Bermuda.
The strange thing that drew me to Bermuda was that Hong Kong was experiencing civil unrest at the time and I didn’t fancy being part of any Riots..........Well! I arrived in Bermuda on Oct. 2, 1970 and within a very short time was being gassed and barraged by stones and bottles on Court Street. In fact, as I recall, shots were fired at us and we beat a hasty retreat led by the indomitable Inspector ‘Red’ Hebbard. "Remember the colored discs on your Rover so that you can return to it", he had reminded us as nevertheless we all piled into the nearest vehicle.
Hong Kong didn't seem that bad now, as the Bermuda riots were to become yearly events and most usually at New Years which was almost sacrilegious to the Scottish contingent who valued their 'Hogmanay'. Oh well, it did often brighten some otherwise uneventful evenings.
I made some very good friends in Bermuda such as Billy Butterworth (was best man at his wedding), Paul Wakefield and Gerry Ardis (my mentors at the Marine Section) and Pat McBride, fellow Scot and Tug O' War task master. As in Glasgow, I was again involved in sports which I enjoyed tremendously, including tug of war and boxing where I befriended the recently passed Jerry Perry, a gem of a Bermudian (R.I.P).
I wonder how many gearboxes were ruined practicing tug o' war pulls against the Police trucks supplied by Keith Pratt, a true gentleman with a giant of a smile. Luckily, he looked after the Police Fleet.
Work wise, I was very fortunate too, being assigned fairly quickly to Central C.I.D following a couple of stints in the Murder Squad. It was there that I met one of the finest police officers in my career, one Chief Superintendant Bill Wright of the London Met, who along with his partner Basil Hadrell helped solve several Island murders including that of Police Commissioner George Duckett.
I gave evidence in two murder trials i.e. that of Paul Belvin who raped and murdered Mary Jean Burrows a young English lady, and James Downie who killed his mother, Florence Ethyl Ray. The strange thing is that in the first, I had played the murdered girl's role as Belvin re-enacted the crime for Mr. Wright (creepy really!) and in the second, I gave evidence about a rather large Bra that I had recovered at the scene of the second homicide. Makes one wonder!
Still, perhaps due to the fact that Gwillam Williams (another fine Welshman) and I had been involved in interviewing Belvin and that the investigations were successful, Mr. Wright recommended me for transfer to Central C.I.D. unbeknownst to me. It had been my intention to apply for the Marine Section which I was able to do later, but for a year or so, despite receiving a Commissioner's Commendation, I was a fairly reluctant D.C.
The best job in my entire career was serving in the Marine Section aboard the “Blue Heron”. The Marine Section, very ably run by Dave Garland, and manned by Gerry Ardis & Paul Wakefield (my mentors), Les Tomlinson and Peter Swann, and the dynamic duo of Alex Arnfield and Graham Maddocks, was a joy to work in. In fact, at times I felt that I should be paying for the priviledge of sailing Bermuda's waters.
My final Posting was in God's country, St. David's, along with local boy Perry Fox (Patch) who was transferred to the Marine Unit following an almost fatal attack on him with a machete which missed his jugular by mere centimeters but still left him with an almighty scar across his face. I will never forget the kindness of Perry and his late wife Antoinette (Tony), who graciously helped my wife and me in our final weeks prior to leaving for Canada by letting us stay with them while we sorted our affairs.
I had met and married a pretty young Bermudian lass named BettyAnn Benevides and it had been my intention to return to Glasgow and continue my police career there. But Scotland, and its wet weather, was not for her and she convinced me to head for Canada, which we did on April Fools Day 1974. Luckily, this was not a forecast of things to come.
I joined the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force and later transferred to the Peel Regional Police which is to the North-West of Toronto, and from which I retired in 2006 as a Detective Sergeant.
I was always amazed through the years by how many ex Bermuda Police Officers I was to come across, starting with Connell McBurnie, one of my first instructors at the Ontario Police College, Dave Parsons, By-Law officer in Elmira near to where I lived, Bill McCormack, who was to become Chief of Police in Toronto, to Des Rowland, who was my Superintendant in Peel. Also in Peel, I served with fellow Scot, Ian Ganson, my pal Dick Coulthard, Ian (Abey) Mitchell and later, Jeff Baker and Ian Kittle. The numbers continue I am told.
I even traversed the country on an investigation to Vancouver while in the Fraud Bureau and met up again, with Pat McBride who was then a sergeant in nearby Mission, B.C. There has also been quite an active group of Bermuda Ex-Po’s in Ontario including Ian 'Paddy' Ackroyd, Paul Hendrick, Colin MacKenzie, Dave Needam and others, all of whom I have come across during my tenure in Peel.
It amazes me how quickly 40 years have flown and where I am now, back in Bermuda. My wife and I returned 5 years ago after my retirement to help nurse her terminally ill sister who has since passed, and I am currently employed as a Compliance Manager with a local security company. Two of my sons, who are Bermudian, are also here and both have successful business careers on the Island. Alex is also an Inspector in the Bermuda Police Reserve and Mark is an Officer in the Bermuda Regiment, having previously served in the Intelligence Branch of the Canadian Army.
My third son, Jason, is an engineer living in Brisbane, Australia. I treasure my time with my granddaughter Abigail who was born here in 2007 and love speaking with my 3 other granddaughters in Australia - Emma, Sophie and Kira.
My wife BettyAnn continues to have a caring heart and works in palliative care in Agape House at KEMH. We also maintain a home here and in Canada so, who knows where we go from here – but, wherever I am, I will always have the fondest memories of my time within the ranks of the Bermuda Police Service.