A FORMER gangster who claimed to be the intended target of one of Edinburgh’s most notorious assassinations has died from heart failure.
Hoodlum John McGranaghan, 72, passed away last week maintaining to the end that the 1974 murder of boxer Neil McCann in Craigmillar was a case of mistaken identity as HE was the intended victim.
In 2008, he broke decades of silence to reveal he was the target of the bungled contract killing that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades.
Ex-boxer Neil McCann, 37, was stabbed and beaten to death in Craigmillar Castle Loan as he walked to his girlfriend’s home on February 20, 1974.
However McGranaghan maintained a businessman, who now lives in Spain, went to Glasgow crime baron Arthur “the Godfather” Thompson to organise the gangland hit which resulted in McCann being killed in error.
A fresh report on the case was passed by police to the Crown Office in 2009, but the inquiry has not been re-opened. The four men said to have carried out the bungled assassination on McGranaghan – an east coast rival to feared Thompson – are now dead.
It is understood McGranaghan, originally from Niddrie but who lived in London for decades before moving to Durham, died at home after being told doctors could do little for him.
He was jailed for life in 1981 after being found guilty at the Old Bailey of a rape and indecent assaults against three women between 1978 and 1980. But following a campaign by Rough Justice, he was freed after forensic evidence showed there had been a “miscarriage of justice”, according to appeal judges.
A relative, who asked to remain anonymous, said the funeral and cremation service – to take place in Durham on Friday – is unlikely to be well attended.
“In his final years John didn’t have much to do with his family and I honestly don’t think he will be missed,” he said.
“The only one who is upset will be his brother in London but to be honest no one in Edinburgh is particularly worried.
“Half the people who knew him in Edinburgh were his enemies and they won’t shed a tear that he’s died.
“I don’t think there will be many people at the funeral in Durham.”
And they added: “John was in hospital but was sent home to die because there was nothing more they could do for him.
“He always said right to the end that he was the target of the Neil McCann hit.”
Neil McCann was part of a large family from Tollcross, including brothers Gibby, Benny and Peter, who were highly respected on the amateur boxing scene.
The McCann murder is one of 93 unsolved killings across Scotland that have been logged on a special database by Police Scotland.
The database collates information to help identify cases that could be cracked through advances in evidence gathering techniques such as DNA profiling.
It is thought there are 11 historic murders that are still unsolved in Edinburgh.