Compassionate release for triple killer who staged army payroll robbery

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THE former soldier who gunned down three of his comrades in cold blood, including two Borderers, so he could steal an army payroll has been released from prison on compassionate grounds.

Corporal Andrew Walker, pictured, was serving with the Royal Scots when he staged the payroll heist in Penicuik in January, 1985.

As well as 25-year-old Private John Thomson from Galashiels – who was in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers – Walker shot retired Kelso-born Major David Cunningham, 56, and Sergeant Terence Hosker, 39, from Bradford, before fleeing with the £19,000 in wages which had been destined for troops stationed at Glencorse Barracks.

Walker was originally sentenced to 30 years. Another seven years was added to his term after he led a riot at Peterhead Prison in 1986.

Walker appealed against his sentence in 2002 and it was cut by three years after his lawyers argued that the 30-year stretch was excessive.

But following a stroke in 2009, he was left severely disabled and taken to Wishaw General Hospital in Lanarkshire where he remained under supervision until he was moved into a care home last month. The Scottish Government, however, would only confirm that a prisoner had been granted compassionate release. Such inmates 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 killings. After signing a submachine gun out of an army armoury at Kirknewton, he lay in wait in Penicuik town centre for the Land Rover carrying his three intended victims.

As the soldiers were about to drive away with the money, Walker approached Private Thomson, a married father of one, and asked for a lift back to camp. He then got into the vehicle with Major Cunningham and Sergeant Hosker, and it was during the journey that Walker took out the weapon. It is believed Sergeant Hosker was shot in the chest after trying to tackle Walker.

After telling Private Thomson to drive along a quiet track to Glencorse reservoir, Walker shot Major Cunningham through the head. With a line of blood dripping into the snow-covered ground from the army vehicle, Private Thomson, who had been in the army since the age of 17, was forced at gunpoint to unload the bodies of his comrades before Walker also shot him in the head and abdomen.

The missing payroll cash has never been recovered and is thought to be buried in the hills.

Walker was sentenced later that year to a minimum of 30 years in jail by judge Lord Grieve who said the murders were “callous, brutal and calculated”.