From ganglands to galleries

Have your say

Hugh Collins was 25 when he was sentenced to life imprisonment after murdering rival Willie Mooney in a Glasgow gangland fight in 1977.

He spent 16 years in jail, the last eight in Barlinnie’s special unit, set up to offer violent inmates a means of channelling their anger through therapies such as art.

His history of gang fights and violent outbursts in prison – he stabbed three prison officers while in Perth jail – led to him being branded Scotland’s most violent criminal.

But along with fellow special unit inmate Jimmy Boyle, Collins turned to literature and art in prison, eventually receiving commissions for his work, including one from Edinburgh Zoo.

Collins set up home in the Royal Mile with his wife, Caroline McNairn, on his release in July 1993.

In 2002 it was reported that Collins had struck up an unlikely friendship with Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, who sent the artist letters from his prison cell.