Belfast Telegraph

Murder stain saved when bank closes

The most infamous blood stain in Northern Ireland's criminal history is to be saved after a bank where it was recovered more than 140 years ago closes down.

It was found on the counter close to where a cashier was hacked and stabbed by a rogue policeman who went on to investigate the murder before he was eventually caught and executed.

Northern Bank customers in Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone, said they were saddened the doors will not be re-opening. One said: "The building was a landmark and the murder so much part of the town's past."

It was here, at the corner of Main Street on June 29 1871 that William Glass was murdered and robbed by his close friend, Royal Irish Constabulary officer Thomas Hartley Montgomery. Glass was found impaled from ear to ear on a filing spike.

Montgomery, who once worked in a neighbouring bank, was desperate for cash and hid the money in Grangewood outside the town. He then took charge of the investigation into the killing and for a time fooled everyone into believing there was a killer on the loose.

But suspicions were raised once his financial difficulties became known and he was later arrested and charged.

Two juries failed to agree as to his guilt and it took a third trial before it was confirmed. He was the last man to be taken to the gallows in Omagh jail and as the skies darkened over Newtownstewart 10 miles away on August 26 1873, Montgomery's final words were: "Is hanging a painful death?"

The blood from Glass's fatal injuries could be seen under the varnish on the top of the bank's counter for generations afterwards and during refurbishment the stain was cut from the wood and mounted inside a glass case.

It is an important Northern Bank artefact which will be moved once the branch closes on June 16, but senior management have yet to decide where.

A Northern Bank statement said: "We appreciate that the items of historical interest in the branch are of great interest locally. We can reassure people that we will ensure that these items are kept in the most appropriate and secure location. We are currently considering a number of different options for this."

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From Belfast Telegraph