Peterhead Prison was built in 1888 because they needed labour to build the harbour and breakwater and who better to do the backbreaking work than convicts?
In the 1980s it got a reputation for being the hardest prison in Scotland, known as the ‘hate factory’ it housed the worst of the worst in the system. One riot had prisoners on the roof and an SAS rescue mission. In the early 90s they shipped all the hard men out and the prison was reinvented as a specialized prison for sex offenders. Conditions were notoriously poor with some cells without electricity into the 1980s and it was the last prison in Scotland where prisoners had to ‘slop out'(shit in a bucket and empty it in the morning).
The prison closed in 2013 and a new prison HMP Grampian was built next door. The old prison was bought by a local engineering company who use some of it as a training center and for storage. The main prison buildings are still as they were though and it’s run as a museum, an interesting look at the past.
if you go to the museum tour you get a digital player and headphones and there are numbered sections around the prison, you push the corresponding number on the player and it tells you about that section, interesting facts and stories, you get the point.
At one stage in the tour you go up the stairs and you come to an area with a cell, toilet, kitchen area and guard room. You are told that this area housed one prisoner, a man so dangerous he couldn’t be kept with other prisoners, so dangerous he was watched by three guards 24 hours a day. A diagnosed psychopath. It doesn’t tell you who this man was but it leaves you wondering.
Well the man housed here was Thomas McCulloch. McCulloch was sent to Carstairs mental hospital in 1970 after trying to murder two hotel workers after an argument and he was diagnosed as a psychopath at that time. He later escaped from Carstairs with murderer Robert Mone. They murdered a hospital worker and fellow inmate during their escape, McCulloch actual cut off one of the victims ears, living up to his psychopath reputation. They later murdered a police man and badly injured two other men before being recaptured. They were both told they would die in jail.
McCulloch recaptured after the murderous escape
Thomas McCulloch was freed in 2013.
He spent 43 years in prison, including 23 in solitary confinement. I know a few guys who used to work at the prison at the time and they said he was a nice enough guy but used to play mind games, any new officers and he would ‘So do you know why there are three of you?….. Because they know if there was two of you I could kill you haha.’ Or another time an electrician was in installing panic buttons on the ‘you’re wasting your time son, by the time anyone reached it they would all be dead’ without looking up from his newspaper. Well I supposed you need to entertain yourself somehow.
He appealed his sentence to the European Court who decided it was unreasonable to say he would never be released and he would be eligible for parole.
I asked a guy who used to be a Peterhead prison guard how a guy like that got released. He said when Peterhead was changing to a sex offenders jail, there wasn’t enough facilities at the other prisons in Scotland to house all of the category A prisoners so a lot got changed to category B, which made release easier later on. Don’t know if this is true but it’s what he said.
So from Peterhead, McCulloch was moved to Saughton in Edinburgh then to Castle Huntly open prison where he got unsupervised days out. Then in 2013 he was a free man.
He has actually been back to Peterhead Prison museum a few times and gave them some stuff he’d made during his time there, mementos for them to display. You can imagine the face of the ex guard who recognized him.
Im not going to say whether I think he should be released or not, the guy did over 40 years in prison and if that is deemed to be enough, then so be it, he’s closed to 70 years old now.
Is he rehabilitated? I fucking hope so.