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Infamous Scots. / Writings · 15 June 2021

Infamous Scots. Edith McAlinden

House of Blood murders
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Argument during a drinking session
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 17, 2004
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1968
Victim profile: David Gillespie, 42 (her boyfriend)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Crosshill, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment on June 29, 2005

Edith McAlinden (born 1968) is a British murderess who, along with her 17-year-old son John McAlinden and his 16-year-old friend Jamie Gray, was involved in a triple murder at a flat, dubbed “The House Of Blood”, in Crosshill, Glasgow, Scotland on 17 October 2004.


Convicted thief, prostitute and homeless drifter Edith McAlinden was released from prison, where she had served a nine-month sentence for a serious assault, on Sunday 16 October 2004. She visited a top-floor flat on Dixon Avenue, in Crosshill, where her boyfriend David Gillespie, 42, shared with Anthony Coyle, 71, and landlord Ian Mitchell, 67, whom McAlinden referred as “Pops”.

An argument erupted between McAlinden and Gillespie during a drinking session, which spurred her into stabbing a knife in Gillespie’s thighs repeatedly, severing a femoral vein in one thigh that caused him to bleed to death. McAlinden panicked and telephoned her son John for help. John arrived with his friend Jamie Gray by taxi. McAlinden persuaded Mitchell to pay for their taxi fare. He agreed, mistakenly believing that her son and his friend had come to help Gillespie.

When John realised Mitchell was a witness, he fatally stabbed him and kicked his head repeatedly, which caused his brain to bleed heavily. Coyle escaped to his bedroom where he locked himself in. John and Jamie used a drill to remove the door locks and forced their way into the bedroom. Jamie chased and beaten Coyle to death with a golf club.

Two hours later, at approximately 3AM, McAlinden went to neighbour James Sweeney’s house and claimed something had happened at Ian Mitchell’s flat. She begged him to check. Sweeney went to the flat and once he saw the state of the hallway, he phoned 999 on his mobile phone. He later revealed to local reporters that walls and floors were covered with blood, which quickly earned the killings a nickname, “The House of Blood.”


When the police and paramedics arrived, they found McAlinden alone and clinging to Gillespie’s body, screaming at him to wake up. McAlinden was formally charged next day, Monday 18 October, at Glasgow sheriff court for the murders. During the investigation, the police speculated McAlinden didn’t act alone and that there were two or three strong men involved because, according to a police record during the trial, “there was so much blood in the flat that it was impossible to be precise about the details of the violence.”

Two weeks later, homeless unit resident Bryan Gallagher visited police station to file a claim that his fellow resident, John McAlinden, had boasted about the murders the night before. John and Jamie Gray were arrested and formally charged.

Trial and sentence

In May 2005, Edith McAlinden, John McAlinden and Jamie Gray appeared at Glasgow High Court. All denied murdering Ian Mitchell, Anthony Coyle and David Gillespie.

During the trial, prosecutor Sean Murphy QC claimed that the victims had been “beaten with knives, metal files, a belt, and pieces of wood” and “hit with a bottle, punched, stabbed and stamped on the head, and had boiling water poured over them”.

The defendants changed their pleas during the trial. John McAlinden admitted he killed Mitchell, Jamie Gray admitted killing Coyle, and Edith McAlinden admitted killing Gillespie.

On 29 Jun 2005, McAlinden was sentenced to life imprisonment with an understanding that she’s expected to serve in prison until at least 2018. John McAlinden and Jamie Gray were each given a minimum tariff of 12 years.

‘Mother of evil’ jailed for life

June 30, 2005

The Times

A woman dubbed “the mother of all evil” was jailed for life yesterday for her role in an outbreak of violence that ended in the death of three men.

Edith McAlinden, 37, a drifter, murdered her boyfriend by stabbing him twice in the thigh, severing his femoral vein, in the first of three murders after a marathon drinking session in a Glasgow flat. David Gillespie, 42, his blood thinned by a combination of strong wine and cider, bled to death, too drunk to help himself.

McAlinden’s son, John, then 16, who had arrived by taxi with a friend, Jamie Gray, also 16, then murdered the flat’s tenant, Ian Mitchell, 67, amid allegations of sexual impropriety. Mr Mitchell’s flatmate, Tony Coyle, a 71-year-old Irishman, was killed by Gray. Police believe that this was possibly to eliminate him as a witness.

Both youths were ordered to be detained with no time limit.

After the carnage, Edith McAlinden, awaking from “insensibility through drink”, alerted a neighbour who called the police. The scene that greeted officers was such that the top-floor flat in Crosshill, Glasgow, became known as the House of Blood. Walls, floor, and even a ceiling were spattered in pints of blood. Human tissue and pieces of skull and brain were stuck to the floor and curtains.

Three corpses lay crumpled and scattered around them were an axe, knives, a hammer, lumps of wood, a baseball bat, golf clubs, metal files and a belt. An electric drill had apparently been used to remove the locks of a bedroom where Mr Coyle took refuge. Boiling water had been poured over Mr Mitchell’s head, possibily to make sure that he was dead.

Midway through a trial at the High Court in Glasgow last month, Edith McAlinden changed her plea to admit the murder of Mr Gillespie. John McAlinden, now 17, pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Mitchell, and Gray to murdering Mr Coyle.

All three had been charged with three counts of murder. At the High Court in Dunfermline yesterday, the judge, Lady Dorrian, set a minimum tariff of 13 years for Edith McAlinden before she may be considered for parole. Gray and John McAlinden must serve 12 years each before any parole.

The public benches, packed with relatives and friends of the dead men, erupted in anger.

Mr Gillespie’s former partner, Violet Cahill, 45, who had three daughters by him, shouted as Edith McAlinden was led below: “She took a father’s life and she’ll be free in 13 years.”

Trio given life for flat killings


June 29, 2005

A woman, her teenage son and his friend have been jailed for life following the murders of three men in a Glasgow flat.

Edith McAlinden, 37, will have to serve a minimum of 13 years before being eligible for parole.

Her son John, 17, and 16-year-old Jamie Gray were each given a minimum tariff of 12 years.

McAlinden admitted killing David Gillespie 42; her son to killing Ian Mitchell, 67, and Gray to killing Tony Coyle, 71.

Three separate guilty pleas were accepted at the High Court in Glasgow at the end of May.


They were sentenced at the High Court in Dunfermline on Wednesday.

McAlinden had been the girlfriend of Mr Gillespie. The pair were both homeless, as was McAlinden’s 17-year-old son John.

The court heard that the men were subjected to “appalling levels of savage violence” at the flat on Dixon Avenue in the Crosshill area of the city last October.

They were attacked with a variety of weapons, including an axe, a baseball bat, golf clubs, a hammer, boiling water, knives, metal files, a belt and pieces of wood.

Passing sentence, Lady Dorrian said of Edith McAlinden: “I recognise that you were initially charged with three murders whereas the Crown have accepted a plea to one murder and that in very different terms from the way in which it was originally charged.

“In all the circumstances I fix the punishment part at 13 years.

“In doing so, I have taken account of the fact that you tendered a plea of guilty, which although tendered during trial, nevertheless cut short what would otherwise have been a much longer trial.

“And I have reduced the punishment part from the 14 which I would otherwise have imposed.”

Reacting to the sentence, the mother of Mr Gillespie’s children, Violet Cahill, said: “I am just disgusted, yet they go down the stairs laughing as if the whole thing is a big joke.

“There are animals on the street better than these people. They are scum.

“My children stay up crying all night because they’ve lost their dad.”

Trio admit ‘savage’ flat killings


May 26, 2005

A mother, her son and his friend face life sentences for the murder of three men at a Glasgow flat in October.

Edith McAlinden, her son John and Jamie Gray, were accused of murdering David Gillespie and Ian Mitchell, both from Glasgow, and Tony Coyle, from Donegal.

Three separate guilty pleas were accepted at the High Court in Glasgow.

Edith McAlinden pleaded guilty to the murder of Mr Gillespie, 42, her son to the murder of Mr Mitchell, 67, and Jamie Gray to murdering Mr Coyle, 71.

McAlinden, 37, was the girlfriend of Mr Gillespie. The pair were both homeless, as was McAlinden’s 17-year-old son John.

The court heard that the men were subjected to “appalling levels of savage violence” at the flat on Dixon Avenue in the Crosshill area of the city, which was owned by Mr Mitchell.

The three will be sentenced at the High Court in Dunfermline at the end of June.

McAlinden and son.

A witness who lived in the flat below had described hearing a “noise like thunder” and told how the ceiling shook just hours before the three men were found dead.

The court heard that the men were attacked with a variety of weapons, including an axe, a baseball bat, golf clubs, a hammer, boiling water, knives, metal files, a belt and pieces of wood.

BBC Scotland investigations correspondent Bob Wylie said the attacks had taken place following a drinking session.

He said: “We know, according to the court, that David Gillespie died of stab wounds in his legs, we know that Mr Mitchell died of several stab wounds in his chest and injuries consistent with having his head repeatedly kicked.

‘Horrific’ crimes

“And we know also that Mr Coyle died of a severe beating, consistent with being beaten about the head with a golf club.”

Mr Coyle had locked himself in a bedroom, so had not seen the killings but was the only witness in the flat apart from McAlinden, her son and Gray, 16.

He was killed after a drill was used to remove the locks and boiling water was then poured over Mr Gillespie and Mr Mitchell’s heads in a bizarre attempt to see if they were still alive.

The jury had been shown a harrowing video of the carnage inside the flat.

The body of Mr Mitchell was lying on a settee on one side of the living room littered with knives, a baseball bat, golf clubs, bottles and broken furniture.

Mr Coyle was lying on another settee and Mr Gillespie was in between them, lying on the floor in front of the fireplace.

The bodies, walls, floor and ceiling were covered in their blood.

McAlinden, who had only been released from prison the day before after serving nine months for serious assault, had stayed at Mr Mitchell’s flat on previous occasions.

When police arrived she was in an hysterical state holding onto Mr Gillespie’s body, screaming “wake up, wake up, don’t do this to me”.

There had been suggestions the dispute started over getting more money to buy drink. McAlinden also refuted allegations surrounding the relationship between her and Mr Mitchell.

Prosecutor Sean Murphy QC said there was so much blood in the flat that it was impossible to be precise about the details of the violence or be certain about the sequence of events.

Violet Cahill, who had been Mr Gillespie’s partner for 20 years before splitting up three years ago, said she could not comprehend the killings.

She said: “I hope they rot in hell for what they’ve done to two old men and my ex-partner.

“Justice should be done for the horrific things that they’ve done, knives and axes and drills and kettles – they said they put boiling water over them to see if they were dead – how evil can people get?”

She added: “Edith McAlinden, in particular, is a monster.”

A statement read out on behalf of the families of the two other victims said: “Tony and Ian were the best of friends they didn’t deserve to be murdered.”

Outside the court, Detective Superintendent Willie Johnstone, who led the inquiry said: “The crime scene was the most chilling I have every visited.”

Triple murder flat ceiling shook


May 13, 2005

A bus driver has told a murder trial he heard a “noise like thunder” and the ceiling shook just hours before three men were found dead in the flat above.

Isher Singh Dass lived below the flat in Glasgow’s Crosshill where the bodies of Ian Mitchell, Anthony Coyle and David Gillespie were found in October.

Edith McAlinden, her son John, 17, and Jamie Gray, 16, deny the murders.

The High Court in Glasgow heard claims the men were attacked with an axe, a baseball bat, golf clubs and a hammer.

Boiling water

The prosecution claimed that Mr Mitchell, 67, and Mr Coyle, 71, were also beaten with knives, metal files, a belt, and pieces of wood.

It also said that Mr Mitchell and Mr Gillespie, 42, were hit with a bottle, punched, stabbed and stamped on the head, and had boiling water poured over them.

Mr Coyle, it is claimed, had a cushion pressed on to his face with feet.

Earlier, the prosecution began to build a picture of the three dead men.

Mr Mitchell’s son John, 38, said that his dad was a retired joiner and the flat in Dixon Avenue where he was found dead was the family home.

Murder accused

He told the court that Mr Coyle, who came originally from Ireland, had been a lodger in the house for 10 years. Six months before he died he had retired from his job as a labourer.

When asked if he had ever met murder accused Edith McAlinden, Mr Mitchell replied: “Three or four times.”

He added: “She was in the flat when I went to see my dad.”

Mr Mitchell said he was not sure if she was a friend of his father’s.

Three Men Slaughtered At The Hands Of A Mother, Son And His Teenage Pal


Februry 8, 2008

A FEW quid for a taxi fare wasn’t much to ask and the old man duly obliged the younger woman, a good friend. Little did he know the taxi was bringing hell on Earth.

Ian Mitchell, 67, was the man who dished out the money.

They were in his home at Dixon Avenue in Crosshill, Glasgow, which he shared with his close pal, Tony Coyle, 71.

A couple of old codgers who drank a bit, they were harmless and well liked locally.

The woman asking for taxi money was Edith McAlinden, 37, a close pal of Ian who even had a pet name for him, Pops.

Edith had a booze problem and was a bit of a handful. She was not long out of jail for yet another minor affray but Mitchell always welcomed her into his home.

It was the fourth person in the flat who was causing concern at that time. Big concern. They thought he was dying.

David Gillespie, 42, was McAlinden’s partner. The pair had been drinking most of that day and had a lover’s tiff as they sat together on the couch in Ian Mitchell’s home drinking with him and Tony Coyle.

McAlinden had stabbed Gillespie twice in the thighs. Major arteries run through the legs and he was seriously wounded. It looked like he was dying.

McAlinden panicked. For reasons only she knew she decided to get help – not an ambulance or the police but her son, John McAlinden, 17, and his pal, Jamie Gray, 16.

She phoned her boy and they arrived in a taxi. That’s when Edith asked Pops for the taxi money. They didn’t even have their fare.

If Ian Mitchell and Tony Coyle were expecting Good Samaritans they were sadly mistaken.

Two hours later, Edith McAlinden arrived at the house of a neighbour, James Sweeney.

“Something has happened, Jim” she saidand begged him to go to Ian Mitchell’s flat .

Sweeney agreed – and walked right into the House of Blood.

That’s what the media would call Ian Mitchell’s place and with good cause. The ceiling and walls dripped with gore and three men lay dead in the carnage.

Sweeney managed to hold down bile rising in his gullet and phoned 999.

Even experienced cops and paramedics blanched at the scene they found. In the middle of it, sat Edith McAlinden nursing David Gillespie in her arms.

The bodies of IanMitchell and Tony Coyle were slashed and battered, almost mashed.

It was obvious that this was not the work of one woman.

They tried to get David Gillespie away from Edith McAlinden.

She wasn’t for letting go but sat, rocking, gripping him in her arms, repeating: “Wake up. Wake up.”

When they eventually eased the man out of her arms, they found he was dead.

Glasgow cops are too used to dealing with murder. The city didn’t become Murder Capital of Europe overnight.

But this was a triple murder and rare, thank God.

Edith McAlinden was blood smeared with her DNA all over the scene and the dead men – but they were too damaged and the flat too wrecked for one person to have committed the atrocity.

The cops reckoned there had to be three or four others involved, men, strong men.

They were soon to be proven wrong.

Homeless hostels in Glasgow are a collection of those fallen on bad times and those who have never known anything else.

There are ex-offenders, former psychiatric patients, alcoholics, drug addicts and just plain lonely people.

That doesn’t mean to say there is no sense of right and wrong.Young Bryan Gallagher lived in such a homeless unit and had something to tell the cops.

Hostel resident John McAlinden had been boasting to him the night before.

“Stabbed a guy in the legs, man,” he had said. “There was blood everywhere. It was a fella tried to rape my ma. So I had to teach him a lesson, eh.”

With Gallagher nodding, smiling, managing to hide his horror McAlinden was encouraged to tell the whole tale of torture and beating to death of three men helped by someone he called his “brother” really his pal, Jamie Gray.

Then he added: “And I did my ma’s boyfriend.”

Bryan Gallagher went to the police. John McAlinden joined his mother on a murder charge, along with Jamie Gray.

In May 2005, Edith and John McAlinden along with Gray all appeared at Glasgow High Court. Each denied murdering all three men.

Even before the proceedings started, the three giggled and chattered in the court like they were at some party.

Forensic evidence tied the three to the murders as well as JohnMcAlinden’s confession to Bryan Gallagher.

Then the judge, Lady Dorian, agreed to allow a police film of the murder scene.

The jury were warned by the prosecutor, SeanMurphy QC, that it was distressing.

The grubby flat was trashed and the floor littered with objects and bottles of booze.

The walls ran blood red and around the room lay a hammer, a golf club, baseball bat, lumps of wood and an electric drill – all smeared red. Now and then the camera zoomed in to one item – a golf club with blood-stained tufts of hair, a knife with fleshy matter sticking to the blade and handle.

The jury must have been sick to their stomachs. It did the trick.

Suddenly, the defence announced a change of plea. The accused would plead guilty to murder but only of one man each, aploy to reduce the level of punishment.

It didn’t change the fact that there had been an orgy of killing on the night the teenagers turned up at the flat.

At the trial they made some claims that their plan was to make it look like someone else had committed the murders since it was obvious that David Gillespie was in a bad way and unlikely to survive.

They were covering up for Edith McAlinden, even if that meant murdering innocent men.

They started on IanMitchell, stabbing him so hard and repeatedly his brain bled. John McAlinden pled guilty to his murder.

Tony Coyle fled in terror, locking himself in his bedroom but they battered the door down and beat him as he fled through the flat. Jamie Gray admitted to finally smashing his head in with a golf club.

Later, they poured kettles of boiling water on the heads of elderly pals Mitchell and Coyle. Why? To test if they were alive, they said. They might have been.

It was multiple murder and entirely motiveless unless the trivial row between Edith McAlinden was any motive. Not to most decent people.

The two young men were sentenced to 12 years each and Edith McAlinden to a minimum of 13 years, in her case for the murder of David Gillespie.

They had fooled no one by pleading guilty to only one murder each.

The bloody details of the murders had sickened even the most experienced lawyers and court officials.

Yet after they were sentenced, the three murderers were still laughing and joking as they were led away.

If the public were disgusted by Edith McAlinden’s crimes, so too were some prisoners.

On her arrival at Cornton Vale, she boasted about being the woman from the House of Blood. Not for long.

Some prisoners took her aside and told her she was in trouble, that they were going to punish her.

When that grief cooled down, McAlinden showed another side to her character by embarking on a series of lesbian affairs with many women including Michelle Morrow, a drug dealer, and the murdering chef, Pamela Gourlay.

Maybe that’s why the horrors had started that night.

Maybe David Gillespie had tried to have sex with the woman who was known as his partner.

Then again, maybe Edith McAlinden simply hated men. Hated them to death.

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