NOTEBOOK: Time to end this terrible silence that shames the Vale

NOTEBOOK by Bill Heaney

I have been writing a great deal in recent weeks about violence against women, especially in the aftermath of the horrific killing of Sarah Everard and the whole life sentence handed down to the beast who murdered her.  Serving police officer Wayne Couzins deserves to die in jail and one can only hope he drowns in his own porridge, but that would be too good for him.

However, this has set me thinking about our own young woman, Caroline Glackin, who was, like Sarah Everard, innocently walking from her Bonhill home to Renton when she was attacked and murdered on the banks of the River Leven.

The person who did that will not this morning have been supping porridge with the inmates of a high security Scottish prison..

A much more likely scenario is that the rotten, deranged bastard will be having marmalade and toast after two lightly boiled eggs in the company of his family, somewhere pretty comfortable in the Vale of Leven.

I covered the Caroline Glackin murder when it happened 25 years ago. Her father, Willie, was a soldier with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

And that’s why Caroline was born to her mother, Margaret, a salt of the earth Vale woman in Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry. She weighed less than a 2lb bag of sugar, but fought bravely for her life in the Special Care Baby Unit there.

And she won that battle and grew up to be a happy and healthy teenager. Full of life and fun.

Until that bad bastard, whoever he was, squeezed the life out of her and left her to die lying half in and half out of the freezing, swift-flowing river.

There has been a great deal of publicity about women’s safety in the press and television and so many campaigns against domestic violence – West Dunbartonshire is the worst place in the whole of Scotland for that.

The police here have done their best over a long number of years to stir up interest that would lead to the arrest of Caroline’s murderer.

Every time I have myself become involved, helping with publicity for these local campaigns, I am told the same thing: “Everybody in the Vale know who did it.”

That really grates on me. My heart sinks every time I hear that. I recall Caroline’s funeral in St Ronan’s Church in Bonhill with all her full of life school pals there, but not Caroline, whose mother was distraught and being comforted by friends and relatives.

I find it hard to believe there are men and women in the Vale today who were prepared to keep that awful secret. And keep it for so long.

They should think black, burning shame of themselves and call the police today.

Caroline Glackin and her mother deserve better than to be made to suffer while there are people in their own neighbourhood carrying that terrible secret around with them as they have been for days, months and years.

Vale folk are better than that.


A whistleblower has told The Democrat that 200 electric cars funded by the taxpayer have been found unused in Glasgow car parks weeks before the Cop26 climate conference in the city. 

While West Dunbartonshire Council over the past fortnight have been boasting about their climate change credentials and awards they have received for the new £15 million community home heating system in Queens Quay, a similar situation is unfolding near their offices in Clydebank.

The Glasgow vehicles have been lying unused for almost two years. The city council splashed out on the e-vehicles before the pandemic but has said a ban on driving lessons during lockdown meant training was delayed.

Secrect-obsessed West Dunbartonshire Council Council are saying nothing about this, their latest gaff in a portfolio of costly errors and climate change blunders, including chopping down trees on the site of their old offices at Garshake in Dumbarton.

Glasgow City Council told The Times of London it plans to create “a fleet of zero emissions vehicles and it could not be guaranteed such favourable terms would remain on offer” if they held off.

The electric cars were delivered to them after lockdown restrictions were imposed. During that time, the city council spent £403,586 on extra vehicles to carry cleansing staff as refuse teams were unable to travel together in close quarters because of restrictions.

Our whistle blower told us: “West Dunbartonshire Council  has its own cache of unused electric Peugeot iOn cars parked at Aurora House in Clydebank.

“They’re sitting there mouldering and obviously haven’t moved in quite a while judging by the rust on the brake discs and the mould growing on the seats.

There’s a bank of chargers too that must have cost big bucks to install.

“No doubt the rascally virus will have stopped eager WDC employees from saving the planet.”

There is no point in The Democrat asking the council’s forelock-tugging communications department to comment on this if they ever came back to their work at their £16 million refurbished but not fit for purpose HQ in Church Street, Dumbarton.

Nor would we deign to ask Cllr Jonathan McColl, the hubristic leader of the SNP group, for a comment. Is it just me or does the new Sunday night TV drama Ridley Road conjure up visions of West Dunbartonshire Council with you too?


We are in Edinburgh today and hoping to see the new James Bond movie later on. It will be the first big screen event we have seen for some time. I was delighted to discover that it will not be another Zoom production starring Jonathan McColl as James Bond or Joyce White as Miss Moneypenny. Dr No (Comment) McColl would certainly make it as a baddy in Time to Die. Or better. There’s no truth in the rumour that the curmudgeonly SNP council leader has ordered an electric car to replace Bond’s Aston Martin with a taxpayer funded limo.  Or that Joyce White has sent out the Council’s procurement team, now that they have one, to obtain a price for a swim suit. STOP PRESS: Been there now and watched Bond film which has everyone talking. Like the Council’s annual report, it was pure fiction.

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