Racist Scots killer planned daring high-security jail break-out years after court escape plot

A killer tried to break out of a high-security prison as part of a campaign to protest his innocence.

Michael Ross, who’s serving life for shooting a waiter at an Indian restaurant on Orkney, cut a hole in one fence then tried to climb another with a homemade ladder.

When he was captured prison officers found food, clothing and a toothbrush in his jacket pockets.

Ross later said: “It’s only natural for captive animals to want to get out of their enclosure.”

Former soldier Ross was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in 2008 for the racist murder of waiter Shamsuddin Mahmood.

The 26-year-old was shot in the head as he served diners at a restaurant in Kirkwall in 1994.

Ross was just 15 at the time and went on to become a sergeant with the Black Watch, serving in Iraq.

Bangladeshi waiter Shamsuddin Mahmood
Bangladeshi waiter Shamsuddin Mahmood

He wasn’t arrested for the killing until a witness came forward in 2006. He claimed to have seen Ross wearing a balaclava and holding a gun in a public toilet shortly before the shooting.

Ross, who has always protested his innocence, previously revealed a plot to escape the High Court in Glasgow, armed with explosives and a machine gun, after his guilty verdict in October 2008.

Ross bolted from the dock but was tackled by an official yards from freedom. A hired car packed with guns was found in a nearby Tesco car park.

His latest escape bid happened at HMP Shotts in Lanarkshire in July 2018.

Picture taken inside the hire car of murderer Michael Ross.
Picture taken inside the hire car of murderer Michael Ross

Dad of two Ross, 43, appeared via videolink at Hamilton Sheriff Court today and admitted attempted prison breaking.

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The court heard an alarm went off around 2.45pm and Ross was seen on CCTV trying to scale a fence near the prison sports field.

Jennifer McCabe, prosecuting, said: “Ross was seen wearing an orange hi viz jacket and attempting to climb the fence with a homemade ladder.

“Prison officers attended and found he also had a climbing rope.

“Items of food, clothing and a toothbrush were found in his jacket pockets.

“It was discovered that he had gained access to the area by cutting the sports field fence.”

Ross’s lawyer said it had been an attempt to get publicity for his long-running campaign to clear his name and he had been ”realistic” about the chances of escape.

She described Ross as a “model prisoner” but said he’d been punished “severely” for his escape bid. He had been put in segregation for several weeks and lost all privileges.

The lawyer said Ross’s campaign to overturn his murder conviction continues.

Pic shows glove compartment containing smoke grenades
The car Ross planned to use in his 2008 exhaust contained explosives

She stated: “There is still momentum from him and his supporters to try to prove one day that he suffered a miscarriage of justice.”

The court heard that Ross will not be released until at least 2035.

Sheriff Thomas Millar said he would not add to that and jailed him for two years with immediate effect.

But the sheriff warned that the latest conviction could affect his parole application in the years ahead.

In a letter published shortly after the incident, Ross said: “I don’t do these things without thought or with a careless attitude.

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“Me taking action and doing what I’ve done would, I hope, make the public think ‘Well, he’s a bit different and he’s trying to do something about it’.

The Scorpion machine pistol weapon which was found in the car hired by Ross, an Iraq war hero serving a life sentence for murdering a Bangladeshi waiter
A gun found in Ross’ car in 2008

“I feel that says more about me, taking action.

“After this recent escape attempt I told the independent prison governors I feel they should be doing more to allow prisoners opportunities to bring focus on to their case if it’s potentially a miscarriage of justice.”

Trial judge Lord Hardie branded the waiter’s killing “the vicious, evil, unprovoked murder of a defenseless man.”

But a campaign group, Justice4Michael Ross, insists the verdict was “a catastrophic miscarriage of justice that has destroyed a family, damaged a community and denied justice to the victim of a horrific murder.”

Ross has attempted to have his murder conviction overturned, but the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission refused to refer the case to the Appeal Court.

His solicitor Aamer Anwar maintains there are “serious doubts” about the credibility of trial witnesses.

He intends to use a public meeting in Orkney to appeal for fresh information.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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