William Gage, 40, claims he did not shoot Justin McAlroy, 30, five times outside his home in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, in a gangland “hit” over a £50,000 drug debt.
A few days before his death, Mr McAlroy and his father, Tommy, a builder and then a major shareholder in Motherwell’s Dalziel Golf and Country Club, had attended a Labour party-backed fundraising function at the club with senior politicians, including former First Minister Jack McConnell, former Home Secretary Dr John Reid, and Lanarkshire MP Frank Roy.
The death became known as the Red Rose murder.
Gage, nicknamed “Tiler”, of Hillhead, Glasgow, was ordered to serve at least 20 years of a life sentence after being convicted at a trial in 2004. He lost an appeal in 2006, but petitioned the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates possible miscarriages of justice. It referred the case back to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.
Yesterday, the court announced that the second appeal had been refused. Gage’s solicitor, Aamer Anwar, said: “For eight years William Gage has protested his innocence and will continue to do so. He is deeply disappointed by today’s decision.”
He added that an appeal to the Supreme Court in London would be considered.
The trial had heard that Justin McAlroy “was a man with contacts and enemies in the criminal world.” A partially burned-out Saab car was found in Easterhouse, Glasgow, shortly after the shooting. Gage’s DNA was found on the neck of a drinks bottle and on clothing recovered from the car. The clothing was also contaminated with firearms discharge residue.
The appeal judges said criticism could be made of some strands of the evidence against Gage but when it was looked at as a whole “the case against him was, in our view, compelling.”