Edinburgh crime: The unsolved murder of Neil McCann who may have been wrongly targeted by hitman
Neil McCann, 37, was stabbed on his way back from the pub on a quiet street in Craigmillar in 1974. It was suspected that his death was a targeted hit by a professional – who killed the wrong person.
February 20th, 1974
In the busy International Bar in Tollcross, Neil McCann bumped into old school friend Charlie McGranaghan. The pair had a few drinks together, before sharing a bus back to Craigmillar. They parted, and Neil headed down Craigmillar Castle Loan towards his girlfriend’s house, when a car screeched to a halt next to him.
Men leapt out and repeatedly stabbed him, before racing off. He was able to get to his feet and shout for help, but by the time he was taken to hospital, he had died. Neil was a popular, and well known man. He was a former soldier, and an ex-boxer. He had moved back in with his mother after his divorce. He was teaching his son and his nephew boxing, he didn’t drink or party much, but was always lively and entertaining.
Despite detectives’ beliefs that his murder had all the hallmarks of a professional hit, Neil had no connections with any local gangs and there appeared to be no reason for him to be targeted. The Daily Record reported that officers interviewed almost 10,000 people, with leads taking them all over the country, but without success.
In 2008, John McGranaghan, brother of Neil’s friend Charlie, spoke to the Edinburgh Evening News, saying that he believed that he was the intended target that night. It had been 34 years since the crime when John approached the paper with his story.
He believed that a city businessman, who believed that John was responsible for a West End fire at the time, had organised the hit with Glasgow crime baron Arthur 'the Godfather' Thompson – who died in March 1993.
John believed that four hired killers were sent from Glasgow and paid £12,000 but went after the wrong man by mistake. He remembered that the businessman had asked him to go for a drink at the International Bar in Tollcross on the night of the murder, but he decided not to go, and sent his brother instead. Charlie went along, didn’t see the businessman there, but did bump into his old friend Neil.
John also claimed a friend in the know told him the next day that he had been the intended victim of a professional hit.
Police Scotland don’t consider a case closed until it’s solved, and so anyone with any information should call 101, or Crimestoppers (Scotland) on 0800 555111, where information can be given anonymously.