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Peter  Anthony Manuel


Beast of Birkenshaw


13 March 1927
Kill Total: 15 +

Kill date:

1956 - 1958

Kill Place:

Glasgow & area






Anne Knielands, Marion Watt, Vivienne Watt, Margaret Brown, Isabelle Cooke, Peter Smart,

Doris Smart, Michael Smart



Glasgow high Court
Case No:  








External References

The National Archives Of Scotland


Manuel's Psychiatric Report



Using a Webley revolver, a Beretta pistol, an iron bar, and strangulation Manuel, killed at least seven people in and around Glasgow and the Lowlands of Scotland, and police suspect he may have killer at least 15 people.

Manuel's parents moved from Scotland to New York, returning to Scotland when Peter was just 5-yyears-old.

Manuel  lived with his parents in Birkenshaw.

His young days were spent in and out of approved schools and borstal for a string of petty crimes including theft and burglary. A loner who loved the dark,


March 1946, at age 16 he committed a string of sexual attacks and spent nine years in HMP Peterhead. 

He was convicted of house breaking and rape.

he denied the charges and claimed it was a fantasy story 'Trumped up' by the police. He world not forget the name of the detective who 'Framed' him, Detective Muncie.


October 1952, Manuel is freed from prison and spends a while working for British rail, until his criminal past was discovered. he then worked with his father for The Scottish Gas board.


1955, Mary McLauchlan was walking home alone when approached by Manuel, he dragged her into a field and sexually assaulted her. He then kept hold of her telling her in graphic detail how he was going to kill her by decapitating her.


Manuel stood trial and conducted his own defence. At the trial Mary McLauchlan stated that she felt that Manuel got pleasure from seeing her fear.

His defence was good and he was acquitted.

The Chief detective on the case was Muncie, Manuel was not impressed.

from that day on he always sent Muncie birthday and Christmas cards.


2nd January 1956, Anne Kniekands was stalked by Manuel to East Kilbride golf course. He raped her then attacked her with an iron bar. He was questioned by police, but his farther provided an alibi. Although he was later charge with this murder the case was dropped due to lack of evidence.


17th September 1956, Marion Watt aged 45,her daughter  Vivienne Watt aged 17, and her sister Margaret Brown aged 41, were all shot dead in their home in the Burnside area of Glasgow. Although Manuel was a suspect, police focussed their attention on Marion's husband William. Although he was away on a fishing trip at the time, it was argued he drove the 90 miles there and back to commit the rime. A witness even said they saw him during the night.


8th December 1957, Manuel was in England, in Newcastle looking for work. The body of 36-yerar-old Sydney Dunn was found on moorlands shortly after being visited by Manuel. By the time the body was discovered, Manuel was back in Scotland, an as it is a different legal jurisdiction, Manuel was never charged with this murder. Although once he was in custody an English Coroners court did find him guilty, the evidence being a button from Manuel's coat found in Mr Dunn's car.


28th December 1957, 17-yerar-old  Isabelle Cooke was on her way to a dance when she disappeared. Manuel stalked her then raped and strangled her.

He buried her in a near-by field.

Once in custody he led police to the spot of the body.


1st January 1958, The Smart family were shot dead in their home in Uddingston, shot in the head at close range. Peter Smart aged 45, his wife Doris age 42, and son Michael aged ten had been celebrating hogmanay. After the murders Manuel stayed in the house for a week, eating all the food, and stealing a large quantity of cash that had been stashed as savings.  eventually leaving, taking the family car. He even gave a lift to a local policeman investigating the Isabelle Cooke murder, suggest that the police were looking for the wrong man.


14th January 1958, Police had suspected Manuel but had little evidence, once some of the missing cash stolen from the Smart house turned up police acted. They arrested Manuel's father, which was enough for him to hand himself in, Manuel was arrested and charged.

Once in  custody Manuel confessed  to killing eighteen people, he would only be tried for the murders of eight people.


May 1958, Manuel was tried at Glasgow High Court, He conducted his own defence, and attempted a plea of insanity,  by all accounts he did a good job, but to no avail.

He was found guilty of 7 of the eight murder charges.


Before his execution he confessed to all the murders, and even a few others that the police had not originally attributed to him. It is suspected that Peter Manuel was responsible for the death of  at least 15 people.


8:00am 11th July 1958, He was hanged at HMP Barlinnie prison by executioner Harry Allen. Manuel's  last words were, allegedly, "Turn up the radio and I'll go quietly".


It has been subjected in recent years that Manuel was clearly a psychopath, and that authorities at the time should have conducted more in depth psychological testing, which basically means he would have been jailed for life and would have avoided execution.



Peter Manuel


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