Clutha FAI: The night tragedy befell ‘a pub without pretension’

The evening of November 29, 2013, was shaping up to be a typical Friday in The Clutha.

From left, top row, David Traill; PC Kirsty Nelis; PC Tony Collins; Gary Arthur; Samuel McGhee (Bottom: left to right) Colin Gibson; Robert Jenkins; Mark O'Prey; John McGarrigle; and Joe Cusker . The 10 were killed in the Clutha tragedy

The bar was busy, with more than 100 patrons in attendance, and a band delivering the night’s entertainment.

The Glasgow pub enjoyed a reputation as a music venue - live acts performed there frequently to appreciative audiences. It was the kind of place that people went out of their way to visit.

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Several of those who died in the tragedy that befell the Clutha that evening were regulars.

One of the victims, John McGarrigle, even had a favoured seat, despite hailing from Castlemilk, which lies four miles away in the south-east of the city.

Relatives of six of those killed submitted personal statements which were read out at the first day of the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) in Glasgow.

Testimonies were heard from the families of Samuel McGhee, 56; Gary Arthur, 48; Robert Jenkins, 61; Colin Gibson, 33; John Mark O’Prey, 44; and Mr McGarrigle, 57.

No statement was submitted on behalf of Joe Cusker, 59, the other customer who died in the Clutha. No statements were made behalf of pilot David Traill, 51, and crew Tony Collins, 43, and Kirsty Nelis, 36.

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Mr McGarrigle was described by his family as a regular at the Clutha, which they hailed as a “pub without pretension”.

The father-of-three was said not to have had an easy life, but “he lived it with energy”. A keen writer and poet, he was active in the Workers City movement which published several radical compilations of prose in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Another regular at the Clutha was Mr Jenkins. His partner, Mary Kavanagh, described him as a gentleman who was well-read, a keen football fan and a regular visitor to the Glasgow Film Theatre.

Her statement was read out by Donald Findlay QC, who said: “Mary finds it very ironic that the FAI is taking place at a venue that Robert held in such high esteem.”

Having retired from his job at Scottish Gas, Mr Jenkins was at the time of his death helping a friend research a book on the city’s cinematic history.

A statement was also read out on behalf of Ian O’Prey, whose son Mark died in the tragedy. The O’Preys would regularly attend the Clutha for family nights out.

Mark was described as a “wonderful son” who “loved life and lived it to the full”.

Mr O’Prey’s statement said he thanked the FAI for the minute’s silence, but said after “five and a half years of silence from the Crown Office” the gesture was “of no consequence” to him.