Outrage as soldier trio murderer still alive a year after release

Andrew Walker was sentenced to at least 30 years in jail
Andrew Walker was sentenced to at least 30 years in jail
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A MURDERER who killed three soldiers in an armed robbery in Midlothian is still alive a year after he was released from prison on compassionate grounds, despite being told he had only months to live.

Andrew Walker was a corporal in the Royal Scots when he murdered Staff Sergeant Terence Hosker, 39, Major David Cunningham, 56, and Private John Thomson, 25, in a payroll hijacking in Penicuik in January 1985.

He was sentenced to at least 30 years in jail but was moved from Shotts prison to a care home last December after doctors said he had suffered a serious stroke

Upon hearing of the move, Private Thomson’s widow, Susan, who was 19 at the time of his murder, said: “I hope you live a long time – and suffer every minute.”

A prison source said: “He is alive, but cannot do anything for himself. He’s in a bad way.”

The decision by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to release Walker sparked outrage among family members of the dead men – an outcry similar to that which followed the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was released from prison to be treated for prostate cancer in August 2009.

Al-Megrahi eventually died in May last year, almost three years later.

Lothians Conservative MSP David McLetchie said: “I can understand that there will be public outcry and concern that Walker is still alive and free.

“Release on compassionate grounds has to be strictly determined and it appears in this instance that the estimation of Walker’s lifespan is inaccurate, as it also was in the case of al-Megrahi.”

Walker previously had seven years added to his 30-year tariff after he led a riot at Peterhead prison in 1986.

But the killer collapsed in his cell from a stroke in 2009 and was left severely disabled.

The £19,000 he stole from Glencorse Barracks – worth approximately £62,000 at today’s prices – was never recovered and is thought to have been buried in the Pentlands.

At the time of his release a Scottish Government spokesman said such prisoners released on compassionate grounds are either considered by doctors to be “severely incapacitated” or have only up to three months to live.

Walker was working in the transport section of the Scottish Infantry Division Depot at the time of the hijacking.

He had signed out a submachine gun from the Royal Scots armoury for the raid.

The three soldiers arrived in a military Land Rover to collect £19,000 for the barracks’ payroll in Penicuik on January 17.

As the trio drove away with the money, Walker approached Private Thomson and asked for a lift back to camp.

He then produced the gun in the car, and it is thought he shot Sgt Hosker in the chest.

Pte Thomson was then told to drive to a quiet track to Glencorse reservoir.

The major was shot in the head, leaving a trail of blood which leaked from the vehicle into the snow.

Walker then forced the private to move the bodies of his dead comrades before shooting him in the head and abdomen.

At the time of his conviction, judge Lord Grieve described it as a “callous disregard for human life.”

david.oleary@edinburghnews.com