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(C) Underbelly Magazine 2018

Frank McPhie: The Real "Iceman"



Frank McPhie was born in Lennoxtown on the outskirts of Glasgow on October 21st, 1948. His parents then moved to Edinburgh when Frank was 12 years old; his parents then moved again, taking the Frank and his siblings to live in Maryhill - a rough housing estate in the North of Glasgow. Being the only boy in a family with five sisters, Frank learned to look after himself and his sisters from an early age. His mother came from a travelling family, she gave up the travelling life as her family started to grow. She hated having to stay in one place but felt her children deserved more security and a permanent home. Stability she never experienced while growing up. Frank and his sisters also spoke "Sheltie": the language used by the Irish travelling community; so when ever Frank and his sisters were in their mother’s presence; they spoke to her only in Sheltie.

Frank McPhie walking his fighting dogs

An old friend of Frank’s once said: “When we were younger, we used to go around for Frank; his mother would speak this unusual form of Irish, like Brad Pit in the movie Snatch. We were clueless to what she was saying, though Frank always had a look of embarrassment on his face as if she was talking about us”. When Frank was, growing up, those who knew him spoke of an extremely dangerous young man, who was cold and calculated when inflicting violence on those who crossed him. Growing up Frank had an unhealthy interest in illegal dog fighting, yet, to Frank it was a sport and his dogs were his friends. He trained and conditioned his dogs, turning them into lethal fighting machines. A cruel sport for cruel men they say, although, to those involved in the blood sport, it is a conflict between two dogs that love to fight; the breed was made for that purpose they claim. When a date for the fight has been agreed between the two dog owners, the training, is then stepped up a level. The term used in illegal dog fighting is “Putting your dog in keep”. The dog owner will prepare and condition his dog for the length of the keep, sometimes it is a three-week keep, sometimes a six-week keep, the length of the keep arranged by the owners of both dogs or the organiser of the fight. During the keep, the dog should be worked on a treadmill each day, plus given long bouts of road work, (Walking).


Along with this, the dogs are given a balanced diet of proteins and carbohydrates until they reach peak condition and their perfect fighting weight. Both dogs should be evenly matched in weight, but this rule is not always followed. There are two main types of dog fighting: street fighting and professional dog fighting. Street fighting is less structured and serves more as a status symbol for people who take part (frequently young gang members). It is also the area where dog fighting is growing fastest in the UK. Heavily involved in the professional side of the blood sport, street fighting was not Frank’s thing, he believed this to be below him, “young boys with status symbols” he would say. Their dogs would not last 10 minutes in the pit with the gladiators Frank and his associates bred and fought, Frank McPhie’s contacts in the sport grew throughout Europe and the UK. He regularly visited Ireland; he had friends amongst the paramilitary communities from both sides of the divide. Frank McPhie progressed to be one of the best trainers in the country in his later years His contacts included the infamous Farmer boys syndicate from Tandragee, in County Armagh, Northern Ireland.

The Farmer Boys: Stephen Barriskil, Paul Dunkell, Gerard Calvan,

This syndicate, were the best in Europe in the illegal sport, Stephen Barriskil, Tom Bell and Gerard Calvan, all from Ireland and Paul Dunkell from Finland, all names at the top of the illegal blood sport and they all knew Frank McPhie. Frank also had contacts in Holland, Finland, Lincolnshire and Nottingham, some say Frank was on his way to becoming the Don King of the illegal sport. When the 1970’s began, Frank was starting to associate with a higher level of criminals. He was well on his way to being a man known for his ability to inflict extreme levels of violence. Frank began renting ice-cream vans and was doing well in the trade, but like others, he got caught up in the violence and intimidation that became routine for the van owners in the housing schemes of Glasgow. Franks brother in law ‘Archie Steen’ (below) was running a van in Castlemilk, he had some bother with other van owners, Frank went to help him out, guns were fired and people beat up.


This is where the” ICEMAN” name came from. Frank was and still is the known as the one and only ICEMAN, and it suited his personality, he was cold as ice when working on robberies or when inflicting violence on others. A reporter gave Jamie Stevenson the “ICEMAN” name, even writing a book with this title, but Jamie is “the BULL” and always will be the “BULL”, why Russell Findlay from Scotland’s Sunday Mail tried to give him the “ICEMAN” name we do not know? Frank started putting himself up for robberies, armed or not, he wanted to make money and did not care how he came about it, the bigger the job the better. In 1978, Frank was sentenced to five years for a robbery, he was sent to the notorious Napper, AKA, Peterhead prison. Just before, Frank appeared for sentence, the woman he was in a relationship with found out she was pregnant; she had a baby girl in late 1979, whom she named Heather, with Frank being in prison - the relationship didn’t last, but Frank kept in touch with his daughter, after he was released he continued that connection until the day he died. Heather McPhie, Frank’s only daughter is the long-term girlfriend of Scott Mackenzie - who was accused of stabbing Stephen McGovern of the McGovern crime family to death. While in Peterhead Frank had just about completed three-thirds of his sentence and had only a week left to serve, when some friends in the prison decided to riot, because of the conditions in prison and treatment of visitors. Frank, knowing he only had a week before he was freed, still took part in the riot to help his friends, because of this he lost the third of his sentence that the prison authorities granted for good behaviour; so he served his full five years. When he was finally released in early 1985, Frank met Bridgett Divers who was to become his long-term partner. Frank and Brid set up home in Maryhill where Frank had grown up, it was his area, his scheme, he felt safe there, Frank and Brid then went onto have four sons. Just after his first son, Frank Junior was born in 1986, Frank was caught again, doing another armed robbery, he was sentenced to another five years imprisonment. He served his sentence the same as he did any other sentence, using his time to earn extra money, running the drugs and tobacco in whatever prison he found himself in, and then passed his profits out to his common law wife Brid. Frank was released again in early 1989, by 1990, His second son Patrick was born and again Frank was arrested, this time accused of being involved in a £42.000 armed robbery, in the Northeast of Scotland. After lying on remand, fully committed for trial(110 days), Frank was cleared of any involvement in the armed raid, this time he had gotten away with it, his third son Sean was born in 1991. At least Sean had his dad around for the first year of his life, a blessing his two older brothers and their stepsister did not. However, 1991 was a terrible year for Frank, he was a gun for hire; some say he was the man who kidnapped Bobby Glover and Joe Hanlon the night they were murdered. The story goes that after the murder of Arthur Thompson junior, an acquaintance of Glover’s named William Lobban, made a phone call to Bobby Glover to arrange a meeting with him to collect some money Bobby was giving him, Lobban was an escapee, he had absconded from Dungaval prison, a few months previous and Bobby Glover had been looking after him.. Bobby Glover, Joe Hanlon and Paul Ferris, had been suspected in the death of Arthur Thompson junior, the son of Arthur Thompson senior, also known as the Godfather of Glasgow crime. Thompson senior wanted revenge. Ferris was in prison charged with the Thompson junior murder and a long list of other charges, but Bobby and Joe were on the street and Thompson senior knew this. The STORY goes, Bobby Glover’s car had been impounded by Strathclyde police over the kneecapping of William Gillan, so Bobby called his close friend Joe Hanlon for a lift, Joe obliged, he picked Bobby up from his house and drove him to the meeting with Lobban. They were to meet at the back of Tam McGraw’s pub, the Caravel as the car pulled into the car park at the rear of the pub, Joe stopped to let Lobban into the back of the car, Frank is said to have stepped out the darkness and slid into the other back door of Hanlon’s Ford Orion, stuck a sawn-off shotgun into the back of the driver seat and said, “lovely night for a drive”. Frank is then meant to have forced both men to drive to an open field, made both men get out, as they did a car is said to have turned up with Arthur Thompson senior behind the wheel, Thompson is then meant to have got out and cold bloodily executed both men. Then supposedly, Frank and another man were then told by Thompson, " remove their bodies and put them outside Bobby Glover's pub, the Cottage Bar in Shettleston, Glasgow". The press had a field day with these murders, some published articles saying, “Frank shot both men in the back with a sawn-off shotgun”, but the autopsy report states that both men were shot with handguns, once each in the chest with a 38 revolver and once each in the head with a .22 handgun Joe Hanlon also had a wound to his right knee. Therefore, that story is a myth. It was William “Billy” Manson, Lobban's uncle and close friend of Thompson seniors who got into the back of Joe Hanlon’s Ford Orion abducted, then murdered Bobby and Joe; Frank McPhie had nothing to do with the abduction and murders of both men. There were other rumours and inaccurate press stories that Frank and James Kingy King had been paid £200.000 for their involvement in the Glover and Hanlon killings, again this is myth-making, this most likely originated from the fact that Frank had connections with the Blue Angel motorbike gang and was closely linked to one James “Kingy” King who was a leading member of the biker gang, Kingy, was also known as Arthur Thompson's armourer, so these relationships was most likely the cause of those rumours. Around this time Frank was still deep into dog fighting and had been fined £1000 for attending a dogfight in Perth, he also was using the Water houses at Barrhead reservoirs to hold dog fights; he was forcing the man who managed the reservoir to let him use one of the buildings for that purpose, he was also forcing the person to dispose of the dead dogs in the reservoir; the person who we cannot name, approached a close friend of Frank’s and paid him a tidy sum to get Frank off his back, but the man kept the money, then went and told Frank about the deal. Frank went up to the man’s house, when he opened the door he drew a blade and slashed him across the face, the guy ended up leaving his job and home then left Scotland altogether. Frank was now moving into the drug game, he and Kingy decided to start dealing cannabis, they had set up funding of £29.000 from Arthur Thompson junior, before his death. They had set up an agreement to acquire £29.000 of cannabis from a drug ring from Newcastle, the cannabis costing £29.000, when sold would have made both men around £200.000 on the street, better money than robberies right enough and easier, so Frank thought.

Frank's Kennels

The meeting was at Frank’s kennels, where he kept his beloved pit-bull terriers, the handover of money and drugs were taking place between Frank and the Geordies when the police arrived like the cavalry. The police came driving at high-speed along a dirt track towards the kennels and the group of men, they all scattered in all directions leaving several large holdall bags strewn about the ground. They were all caught. At the police station, Kingy had an idea, earlier in the year there was a break in at Crockett’s gunsmiths in Glasgow city centre and a relatively large number of firearms were stolen, Kingy had access to those stolen firearms. Kingy made the police an offer. “Give me and Frank bail on the drug charges and I will get you back the stolen guns from Crockett’s.” An offer the police could not refuse. They did not need or want any more guns on the streets of Glasgow.it was in the middle of a war, one officer said at the time, “ when the suggestion was made I asked King if he was in a position to pass the guns over”. "Aye," he replied, “I’m Arthur Thomson's armourer". He asked for the use of a phone and made a quick call; he dialled a number and said, "Can I give those things to the Polis?” The reply from the man's voice on the other end of the phone was "Aye" with that the call was ended. Kingy had called Arthur Thompson Snr, Thompson did not want or need both Kingy and Frank in prison, for a start they owed him £29.000, plus he was in the middle of the biggest gangland war there had ever been in Glasgow at that time. Frank and Kingy appeared in court on the drug charges and were given bail. When the case came about in 1992, a note was passed to the judge informing him that both men had been of assistance and helped in the return of stolen guns. Frank was sentenced to eight years, not a significant penalty for someone with a record like Frank’s, but still large enough to doubt the help from the judge. In prison, Frank just went back to his usual routine of doing his drugs and tobacco and making more contacts. He was moved to Perth prison when he got there and started dealing his drugs and tobacco, one man was said to have taken offence. The man had been doing drugs in Perth Perth prison before Frank got there and was not about to let Frank tread on his toes, not without a fight. William Worm Toye (below left) came from Clydebank area of Glasgow; he was a known drug dealer with a reputation for violence. He was serving a sentence for butchering a man who was about to testify in court against his brother, he was also a close friend of the mad Spanish hit-man, Ricardo Blanco.


Frank arranged a sit down with Toye to sort out their differences, but what happened during that sit down in Toye’s cell no one knows. Whatever went on led to Toye’s life being ended that day, Toye was stabbed through the heart and died almost instantly. Frank and a fellow prisoner were charged with killing Toye, they both stood trial for Toye's murder in 1998, the jury returned what’s known in Scotland as that bastard verdict "Not Proven". A witness in the case, who had visited Toye’s cell for a cup of tea at the time of the murder, refused to state in his testimony that Frank and his co-accused were in the cell with Toye when he arrived for his cup of tea, Frank had walked on murder. His reputation grew as did his confidence, he thought he was invincible, when Frank was finally released he came right back out and got straight back in amongst it. Frank was close friends with Colin McKay from Balornock, like Frank, Colin had a keen interest in pit-bull terriers. While Frank had been in incarcerated in HMP Perth, McKay and a friend of his Christopher McGrory from Lennoxtown on the outskirts of Glasgow had been visiting Frank regularly, some people say, "this is when Frank found out about McGrory's wealth and started telling Colin to get McGrory into the drugs trade". McGrory had recently sold his milk round and had made a tidy profit.

Left to Right Frank McPhie, Colin McKay and Christopher McGrory

However, we found out that McGrory was already dabbling in the sale cocaine before he met both men. McKay and McGrory had also been selling drugs together while Frank was locked up, but now Frank was released he wanted a piece of the action. Frank thought he was untouchable. He was taking no prisoners this time, he had plans to make Scotland the dog fighting capital of Europe, plus he was beginning to build a network of contacts in the drug world. He was connecting drug dealers from all over the north of England, Glasgow, and Ireland. The three men hatched a plot to bring in drugs from Ireland, McGrory putting up the money and Frank getting the contacts. Christopher McGrory was getting married, Colin McKay was to be his best man, McGrory asked Frank to be his usher. Colin and Chris had been inseparable when Frank was in prison, now he was out it was different, Colin started acting more stressed said McGrory's wife and Chris had been ignoring his calls. At the wedding McKay turned up unshaven and tired looking, he said to Annemarie - McGrory’s wife to be, that he had fought with his girlfriend the night before. McGrory’s wife said at the time, “Chris was splitting away from them both, saying he wanted to do his own thing”. “He did not like the level of violence that Frank would inflict, he did not like the way Colin was so eager to participate in this violence”. He was out his depth, he had bought a few horses and had flown Frank and Colin over to Ireland for the wedding, while there they had made the contacts needed to obtain the drugs. But something went wrong, a kilo of cocaine went missing, the drugs had been supplied by Frank’s Irish connections. One claim is Frank stole the kilo, but the facts are not clear, whoever took the cocaine started a series of events that would lead to murder. The Irish firm wanted to be paid. Frank was insisting McGrory pay for the drugs, but he underestimated Christopher McGrory. After his wedding, Chris and his new wife went on honeymoon to Paris, while there Chris made contact with the Irish firm, explaining the situation surrounding the drugs going missing and informing them of his suspicions that Frank was involved. The Irish firm knew Frank and his reputation, so they phoned Frank and told him of McGrory’s claims. They are said to have told Frank to sort out the payment or they would send over two men who would sort it out for them.

Chris McGrory was last seen at his stables being for ced into a white transit van by two men. Later that day he was found dead in the back of his own van at the side of Dougalston Golf Club, at Milngavie, on the outskirts of Glasgow. He had been strangled by someone using their bare hands. Frank was arrested along with Colin McKay - Christopher McGrory's best man at his wedding three months prior. Chris and his wife had only been back from their honeymoon for three days when he was killed.


Red mark Frank McPhie, green dot, snipers hide, yellow dot CCTV

Frank McPhie had been shot once in the head; left-right had lain in wait in a drying area, high up in the flats opposite Frank’s house on Guthrie Street, as soon as Frank stepped out his van and towards his door the sniper fired one shot, an accurate and deadly hit, a shot that took down one of Glasgow’s most notorious and dangerous men. The sniper calmly left his weapon at the scene and walked away, - leaving Frank dying on the street. Frank managed to get his mobile phone out and call his wife who ran downstairs to find her 11-year-old son: Frank junior, cradling his dying dad in his arms.



Snipers hide and E-fit of as suspect sniper The weapon used was an ACZ Brno rifle, the rifle is used as a varmint catcher or rat catcher, but is said to be one of the most accurate bolt-action rifles available in Scotland. There are various different types of ammunition available for the gun; it also had high-quality telescopic sights fitted. The rifle is popular with terrorist gunmen, the IRA is thought to have dozens of these type rifles in concealed weapons dumps.

ACZ Brno rifle


It must be said, there were several different stories released of the events on this day.

Each newspaper printing a different story.

One said Frank was chased by men in a car and when he reached his house an assailant jumped from the car, shooting Frank at point blank in the head, the assailant then escaped through the maze of flats in the area.

Another claimed, he was chased by a blue car, then when he got out his van a man walked over and shot him with a pistol in the head, dropped the gun and ran into a waiting car.

None, of the above claims, are accurate; Frank McPhie’s death is still an active murder investigation, so not a lot of the facts about the case can be put in print.

John McCabe, Jamie Daniels' right-hand man was arrested and charged with Frank McPhie’s murder, the charges were eventually dropped due to insufficient evidence.

McCabe only lived about 200 yards from Frank’s house, and Frank had assaulted his son, he was the obvious choice for police.

Two brothers from Maryhill McGrory after they had been spotted entering Frank’s flat dog fighting Guthrie Street. The Clark brothers were friends of Frank’s and were soon released.

Was it the Clark brothers had been calling for backup?

When Frank was first hit he called his wife Brid on his mobile, "he couldn’t speak" she said, how did she know Frank was outside, had she been told he was on his way home and was being pursued by the men in the car?

The white van Frank used was never registered in his name, he kept it in the name of the previous owner, this caused the man untold problems with police after Frank died, but that was Frank McPhie, always one step ahead, or so he thought.

To this day, no one has been convicted of the murder of Frank McPhie.

A sigh of relief was heard all around Glasgow when Frank McPhie was killed.

Most of the serious players in Glasgow were wary of Frank McPhie, they all knew if you had a go at Frank you had to kill him, if not he would come back for you.

So who Killed Frank McPhie?

That’s a question that will be getting asked for years.

Was it an Irish relative of Chris McGrory? (Gun used by Irish terrorists)

Was it a revenge killing from another team; After all Frank was treading on people's toes?

Was he killed over the missing kilo of cocaine?

Did Tam McGraw get fed up with Frank’s demands; after all McGraw was spotted looking at the same type of location while planning a similar type hit on Paul Ferris?

Did one of the farmers who Frank was extorting have enough and kill Frank? (The weapon used to kill Frank is used by farmers)

Somebody had enough of Frank McPhie that’s for sure

The police met a wall of silence in the Glasgow underworld, no one was speaking, most were relieved he was gone. This assassination was one of the best-planned ever to go down in Glasgow. Whoever did it knew what they were doing. The sad thing is Frank McPhie was a partner, a father and a brother; those he left behind will mourn him forever.