Ron MacKenna looks

at a random killing

which had its motives

steeped in sectarianism

FOR the thousands of fans streaming out of Celtic Park on October 7 last year, it was just another Saturday watching their team in action.

For schoolboy Mark Scott, a random encounter with a young man whose upbringing had been steeped in sectarianism would leave him lying in the gutter of an East End street with the lifeblood literally pumping out of him.

Mark, a pupil taking highers at Glasgow Academy, and two school friends had decided to make the 20-minute walk along London Road and into town to catch a train after the game. They knew that around 10 minutes after leaving the ground, they would pass through Bridgeton Cross and past two pubs popular with Rangers supporters.

However, Celtic had been playing Partick Thistle that day and the prospect of sectarian trouble was probably far from their minds. Mark and one of his friends had made the journey on foot without any trouble the previous week when the Old Firm had met. The streets were busy anyway, it was daylight, and the boys had put their team colours away.

Tension, however, rose as they entered the Bridgeton area. Rangers fans were standing at the doorway of the Windsor Bar and the bookmaker's shop across the road. Passing a pub, beer was spat at them, just missing James Friel, 16, and the son of a north Strathclyde procurator-fiscal, but landing on Mark and fellow schoolboy Ian Spierits, 16.

The trio did not react and walked on but, unknown to them, they had been picked out by Campbell, an unemployed van boy whose father had been involved in one of Glasgow's most notorious trials almost 20 years ago.

Mark probably did not even see his killer. Without any warning, Campbell, wearing his trademark orange jacket, came up behind him and slashed at the 16-year-old's throat, inflicting a horrific wound which a doctor would later describe in court as ``unsurviveable''.

The youngster staggered a full 26 yards with blood pumping from his arteries, his bewildered schoolfriends struggling to comprehend what had happened, before collapsing at the edge of the street and dying.

Campbell turned and sprinted to his home just a few hundred yards away where the family was having a party for his nephew Carson's twelfth birthday. He quickly showered, changed, and then left, travelling later that night to stay with friends in Greenock.

He probably hoped to melt into the background and thought his family's connections and fearsome reputation in the area would inhibit any witnesses who might have seen the shockingly quick attack from coming forward.

Sectarianism had played an unavoidable role in Jason Campbell's upbringing. When he was seven in 1979, his father Colin Campbell and uncle William Campbell were convicted in Glasgow of being part of an Ulster Volunteer Force terrorist gang.

The jury in Jason Campbell's trial had heard his mother admit that her husband had been jailed on a serious charge, and that she had brought the boy up. They were not told the nature and seriousness of the offences.

In one of the most high profile and heavily policed trials in Scottish criminal history, Colin, now 53, and William Campbell, now 54, were given, along with another seven men, Scotland's longest ever prison sentences.

The total was 519 years for charges ranging from the bombing of two Catholic pubs in Glasgow, the Clelland Bar and the Old Barns, and a criminal conspiracy to further the cause of the UVF by gathering arms and explosives. The two brothers were convicted of the conspiracy.

Colin Campbell was jailed for a total of 57 years - the longest sentence being 15 years - while his brother William ``Big Bill'' Campbell, 54, said to have been the UVF's overseas commander, was sentenced to a total of 62 years, with the longest individual sentence being 16 years.

Both men were back in the same court to hear the evidence against Jason. During the trial, the court was told of the family's fearsome reputation in the Bridgeton area, but the nature of the murder might have prompted people to come forward.

The killing had taken place in streets busy with homeward-bound football fans, women shopping with their children, and people going about their daily business.

The story of what had happened spread through Bridgeton like wildfire, and was to prove to be Jason Campbell's downfall. Within hours, police were said to have taken 50 anonymous phone calls naming Campbell as the murderer and they were on his doorstep within 45 minutes.

Witnesses did come forward and Campbell was picked out by various people as the young man clad in a pink shirt and denims they saw running away from the scene. Only one, a housewife from Cumbernauld who was in the area shopping with her sister, saw the actual crime being committed. She identified Campbell as the killer at an identity parade and in the dock.

Another couple saw him with a knife before the murder. But Campbell was cockily confident that he would not be convicted. At one of the parades, during which Mark's friends failed to pick him out, he remarked to a stand-in: ``Long live the not proven verdict.''

There was, however, silence from many people who police thought might have seen something. Detective Chief Inspector John Boyd, of London Road police station, who headed the murder inquiry, said: ``We want to commend the people who came forward, although it was noticeable the majority were females.

``People didn't fall over themselves to come forward, however, and we have got to ask why so many males managed to cram themselves into the toilets of the two public houses.''

The brutality of the murder may have shocked people into talking, and detectives are in no doubt that it was horrific. ``It is that old cliche of the worst murder I have ever seen,'' added Mr Boyd. ``Except in this case it was. It was so pointless, so motiveless, and so brutal.''

People didn't fall over themselves to come forward, however, and we have got to ask why so many males managed to cram themselves into the toilets of the two public houses.

Chief Inspector John Boyd