HeadLine: DEATH AT BUS STOP
Daily Record, 09/05/1997, p2
by Charles Beaton and Shaun Milne
Dad-of-two Ralph Sprott was shot dead in broad daylight as he strolled past a bus stop.
The security boss, nicknamed Big Ralphie, was blasted twice in the head by a hitman who fled on a motorbike.
It’s thought the murder may be linked to Ralph’s business, organising bouncers for nightclubs and discos.
His car was firebombed a few months ago, and he’d fitted security cameras at his home.
Ralph, 34, died in a busy street yards from home as he headed for his day job as a fireman.
The killer, wearing a black crash helmet, lay in wait across the street before walking calmly up to Ralph and opening fire at point- blank range.
The shooting was witnessed by horrified locals making their way to work.
A police source said: “This was a professional, clinical murder.”
The assassin fled on the motorbike despite a heroic bid to stop him.
Passing bus driver Jim Daldry, 36, leapt from his cab and grabbed him.
But the hitman threatened him with his gun before speeding off.
Shocked locals, one in her nightclothes, rushed from their homes in Kilbowie Road, Clydebank, near Glasgow, after hearing the shots.
But it was too late to do anything for Ralph.
One resident said: “My wife heard a bang. We looked out the window and saw the man’s body on the pavement.
“My daughter ran from the house in her pyjamas to try and help, but he was already dead.”
Ralph’s heartbroken wife Pauline and son Paul, nine, hurried to the murder scene as police began a massive hunt.
Locals said the hitman’s grey bike had been in the area for almost two days before the shooting.
The police insider said it may have been “pre-placed” for the gunman, adding: “That adds weight to the line of inquiry that this may have been a contract killing.”
A police helicopter tried to pinpoint the fleeing hitman, but he was last seen heading towards Glasgow.
Ralph, a 16-stone martial arts expert, was cleared two years ago of attempting to murder his ex-partner in a nightclub security firm.
He ruptured John Ferrier’s pancreas with a powerful kick during a row over the business.
The jury decided he acted in self defence.
The Record tried to contact Mr Ferrier yesterday, but staff at the office where his business used to be based said he was abroad on holiday.
Local people were stunned by Ralph’s death.
A close family friend said: “He was a character, much-loved about the town.
“I can’t believe he was gunned down like a dog.”
Postie Roland Mitchell, 36, added: “Big Ralphie was a man not to be trifled with – a real hard man.
“But he was a good guy.”
A staff member at a chip shop near the murder scene said: “I liked Big Ralphie, but I know others didn’t.
“Why did they have to go and kill him?”
Ralph worked at Clydebank Fire Station for 11 years. Strathclyde assistant firemaster Rab Coke said: “I’d like to convey our sympathy to his family.”
Hero bus driver Jim was interviewed by detectives.
Police appealed for witnesses to the shooting. They also want to speak to anyone who may have seen the motorbike in the area.