A CRIME fighter who helped disarm gun-totting triple murderer Thomas McCulloch during his illustrious police career was given the VIP treatment on Friday.

Former Superintendent- and Bonhill man- Allan McKinlay enjoyed a tour of Dumbarton police office after senior officers rolled out the red carpet.

Accompanied by his son George, Mr McKinlay, now 97, was shown round the offices by Chief Superindendent, Hazel Hendren and Chief Inspector Donald Leitch, the Area Commander for West Dunbartonshire, and he saw first hand 21st Century policing in action.

And it was a far cry from when Allan joined the force, way back in 1946, after spending six months at the end of World War 2, as an army sergeant in Palestine.

Allan, who grew up in George Street, Bonhill, spent 30 years in the police force- from 1946 to 1976.

He told The Reporter said: "I was in the police or 30 years and in the army before that, where I did six years in the Middle East, Italy, North Africa and Palestine.

"After I got demobbed from the six years I did in the Army, I sat about the house and my wife said: "It's time you got a job.

"Everybody said get into John Brown's or something like that but I wasn't interested. Then I got a fright. I thought 'what am I going to do?"

"So I applied for the police, was interviewed and whipped in front of the Chief Constable. But I went back to Palestine for six months, then I was offered the job.

"I was tall and bronzed, so I looked all right!

"I didn't sit any tests or anything. The war had just finished so it was good to have a job. And I never looked back."

Allan, who has five children- Margaret, George, Grace, Gordon and Elizabeth, lifted the lid on his time in the force and told how his 'patch' was different to the one which exists today.

He said: "Most of my service was to the east of Bowling.

"That included Old Kilpatrick, Clydebank, Bearsden, Milgnavie, Kirkintilloch right over to Cumbernauld, which was a one-street village at the time."

During his time in the police he picked up a Queen's Commendation for disarming a man in the Erskine Bridge Hotel, back in 1970. That man turned out to be notorious triple axe murderer Thomas McCulloch.

McCulloch was sent to Carstairs in 1970 for attempting to murder two hotel staff during an argument over a sandwich- an incident to which Allan had to respond to.

But in 1974, McCulloch escaped over the Lanarkshire institution with fellow patient Robert Mone and they murdered three people over a six hour period.

They killed a hospital worker and patient with an axe before murdering a PC- and seriously injuring two other men.

But in 1970 Allan collared McCulloch after he pulled out a gun at the Erskine Bridge Hotel.

Allan takes up the story: "We got a call to say there'd been some trouble at the hotel.

"When we were there, there was a function with people up from England. But there were guys buttoned up saying to us 'He's up there."

"We went in and this young man was standing there and right away we had a gun in front of us. We were a bit flabbergasted.

"The gun was between us but we did not know was that he (McCulloch) had already shot people (a chef and a manageress).

"But I threw myself at him and knocked him to the ground."

For that bravery Allan was bestowed the Queen's Commendation, to go along with an array of other medals he picked up in his police and army career.

Despite retiring back in 1976, Allan, who is a widower, continues to take an interest in police matters and even attended the Open Day at Dumbarton police office in July, where his presence prompted senior officers to invite him back.

Chief superintendent Hazen Hendren said: "George got in touch and thought it might be nice if he could come down to the office.

"He came along during the Open Day and we got huge interest about it.

"We wanted to take Allan down Memory Lane because he's got such vivid memories of working here. So we brought him in for a tour and he met a lot of the young officers, youth volunteers, went down to see the cells and saw the changes to fingerprinting techniques.

"Allan met the officers and asked them what it's like now and a lot of things have not changed, it's all about public expectations and public confidence."

Being the son of a top cop, though, did have its disadvantages, says son George, not least with all the flittings the family had to endure.

George joked: "It was tough because I started school in Elgin Street, Clydebank, then he would get promoted and we've move again!.

"I was then at Westerton Primary, Low Moss Pimary, Goldenhill Primary, then we went from Clydebank, Bearsden, Lenzie, back to Clydebank, then Milngavie!

"But dad loved the open day in July and we thought it would be great to bring him back for a tour."

And the police connection doesn't end there, as daughter Grace works for Police Scotland too.