Ice-cream wars confession 'unreliable'

Jason Bennetto,Crime Correspondent
Wednesday 18 February 2004 01:00 GMT

Two men jailed for life for murdering six members of a family in the notorious "ice-cream wars" in Glasgow launched a fresh appeal to clear their names yesterday.

Thomas "T C" Campbell and Joe Steele were convicted in 1984 of starting a fire that swept through a flat and killed six members of the Doyle family, including an 18-month-old baby.

Lawyers representing the men presented evidence to the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh suggesting that the testimony of four police officers who recorded an identical "confession" by Campbell was unreliable. A language expert said that it was "improbable" that four people would record identical words.

Since the convictions, the case has become one of the most contentious in Scottish legal history, with allegations that the police fabricated evidence against the two men.

The killings took place against a background of a battle for control of the city's ice-cream business. The turf war was said to be connected with a lucrative trade in distributing drugs and stolen goods in the East End of Glasgow.

One van driver, Andrew "Fat Boy" Doyle, 18, refused to be intimidated into giving up his route. In February 1984, two shots were fired through the windscreen of his van while he was trading from it. About six weeks later, the fatal fire was started at the door of his home in the Ruchazie district of Glasgow.

Campbell and Steele were each convicted of murder on a jury's unanimous verdict. Campbell was also convicted, again unanimously, of involvement in the earlier shotgun attack on Mr Doyle in his van, and received a 10-year sentence.

Two previous appeals have failed, but the case has come before appeal judges again as a result of a referral by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The central issue of the fresh appeal is the words said to have been spoken by Campbell and recorded by four officers. The alleged killer is alleged to have said: "There was a fire at Fat Boy's" and ended with the words: "It was only meant to be a frightener, which went too far."

The hearing continues.

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