Peter Manuel: who was Scottish-American serial killer played by Martin Compston in ITV drama 'In Plain Sight'?

Martin Compston plays Peter Manuel in ITV drama In Plain Sight (Getty Images/ITV)Martin Compston plays Peter Manuel in ITV drama In Plain Sight (Getty Images/ITV)
Martin Compston plays Peter Manuel in ITV drama In Plain Sight (Getty Images/ITV)
In Plain Sight is being shown on ITV this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

ITV is showing a rerun of crime drama In Plain Sight this week which details the crimes of serial killer Peter Manuel.

Martin Compston is at his chilling best in the drama as Manuel who terrorised the people of Glasgow in the late 1950s.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The series follows a Manuel recently released from a nine-year prison term for a series of sexual assaults, determined to make the local police force responsible for his incarceration pay the price.

Over sixty years on from carrying out several murders Manuel remains one of the most notorious criminals in Scottish history.

Who was Peter Manuel?

New York-born Manuel, who was dubbed “The Beast of Birkenshaw,” was hung at Barlinnie prison in Glasgow after being convicted of seven murders between 1956 and 1958.

His family initally moved to Detroit, Michigan before migrating back to Scotland in 1932, initially settling in Birkenshaw, Lanarkshire.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Bullied as a child, Manuel was known to police as a petty criminal during his teenage years and was sentenced to nine years in Peterhead Prison when he was sixteen for a string of sexual assaults.

Manuel confessed to eight murders in total, including rape, but was ultimately only convicted of seven. His victims were both male and female, and ranged in age from 10 to 45, but the precise number of people he attacked is unclear.

He would represent himself in court at a senational trial in Glasgow.

He died at the age of 31 in 1958 and was the second to last person to be hanged at Barlinnie Prison.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

His murders led to calls for the creation of a single police force in Scotland, a call that was realised in 2013.

Who were his victims?

His first victim was Anne Kneilands who he stalked, raped and bludgeoned to death in East Kilbride on January 2, 1956.

The following September he shot family members Marion Watt, Vivienne Watt and Margaret Brown in their Burnside home.

In December, 1957 he shot and killed taxi driver Sydney Dunn while looking for work in Newcastle.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That same month he stalked, raped and strangled 17-year-old Isabelle Cooke in Mount Vernon.

On January 1, 1958, Manuel shot dead Peter, Doris and Michael Smart in their Uddingston home. He would stay in their home for a week following the murder eating leftovers from their Hogmanay meal.