HeadLine: What made a normal guy go nuts?
Daily Record, 30/11/1999, p6&7
by SHAUN MILNE & PETE RICHARDSON
HORRIFIED relatives of the Scot who ran amok in a church with a samurai sword flew to London yesterday to try to find out what made him snap.
Eden Strang’s brother Jamie admitted he could not explain the rampage which left 11 people wounded.
And as Strang was charged with attempting to murder one worshipper at St Andrew’s Catholic Church in Thornton Heath, that shock was shared by all who knew him as he grew up in Glasgow.
They remembered the 26-year-old as a gentle, polite, handsome young man, a million miles from the naked lunatic who caused such carnage on Sunday.
Both his parents are believed to have died suddenly during his
childhood – he was raised by his grandmother – and he suffered two knife attacks in his teens.
But none of those traumas seemed to come close to explaining how
Strang, a married man with a young daughter, could have changed so horribly.
A former classmate of Strang in Glasgow, Karen Calayeh, summed up the
bewilderment by asking: “How could someone so good go so bad?”
Jamie, Strang’s younger brother, said: “I can’t believe what has
“This would not be like my brother at all. He moved away with his wife
and everything was fine. Something must have happened recently in
Jamie admitted he dreads going to his brother’s home near the scene of
the attack in Brook Road, where blood still stains the pavements.
“I don’t want to go,” he said. “But I have to be near him to help.”
Jamie, a successful DJ at some of Glasgow’s leading dance clubs,
removed the nameplate from his front door before he left.
Soon after the attack, Strang’s wife Michelle told a neighbour she
could not begin to explain what her husband had done.
John Gunner, 64, said: “I asked her if she was all right and she just
nodded and said yes.
“She told me her little girl was OK but didn’t know what had happened.
“Then she said, ‘I don’t know how I am going to tell her.’
“She looked shell-shocked. I felt so sorry for her.”
Michelle is being comforted at home by her parents. Other relatives of
Strang are understood to be flying in today from Jamaica.
Back in Glasgow, Strang’s former girlfriend decribed him as “the
perfect guy and a perfect gentleman” who doted on his gran and brother.
Laura Robertson said: “I can’t believe it was Eden, that he could do
such a thing. It’s just so not him.
“Something must have happened if he has just flipped like this.
“I don’t know what happened in London, be it drugs or depresssion, but
the Eden who did that in a church is not the guy I used to know. He was
Laura, 26, told how she met Strang when she lived next door to him in
Glasgow’s North Woodside Road.
“We were pretty close,” she said.
“He was in the year above me at school and we used to walk there
“I used to go to the dancing with him and his friends because he always
looked older and could get us in.
“He was good-looking, very well dressed and just so polite. Everyone
seemed to like him.
“He was no ned – just the opposite. Carrying knives wasn’t his style.
“If you showed me 10 guys and asked which one had done this, I wouldn’t
even consider Eden. He was big but a gentle giant.”
Laura added: “He did quite well at lessons and was a great one for
sports. He played rugby and was a good runner.
“Even though he was black he didn’t seem to get as much abuse as you
Laura said Strang was knifed near his home aged 16 in a case of
mistaken identity, then stabbed in the back two years later during a
mugging at a cash machine in the city centre.
“He was quiet afterwards but he didn’t seem to let it get him down,”
said Laura. “But who knows what effect it might have had on him?”
She said Strang never talked about what happened to his parents, but
cared deeply for his gran Phylis.
She added: “I last saw him a few years ago after he had moved to be
with his girlfriend. He came to see his gran carrying a baby girl he
said was his.”
Laura’s neighbours remember Strang as a quiet, friendly boy who ran
errands for his grandmother.
One local resident said: “Phylis was very proud of the boys,
particularly Eden, because he did well at school and was a gentleman.
“She was pretty active, but you would always see him or Jamie running
to the shops or the chemist for her. They did everything for her. The
three of them were always very close and I think the brothers still
keep in touch despite the distance.”
Another local said: “I used to speak to his gran often and she just
doted on them. She called them her boys.
“She was beside herself when Eden was stabbed the first time, and worse
when it happened again.
“But he just laughed it off and told her not to worry. He was good that
Eden Strang was born in February 1973. Jamie followed a year later.
His father James was a male nurse, who lived with wife Carol-Anne in
prosperous Wilton Street in Glasgow’s west end.
James took his young family to live in London, where Eden started
But tragedy struck when James and Carol-Anne died. Eden and Jamie were
sent to Glasgow in 1981, under the guardianship of Phylis, James’
mother. She got a council flat for them in North Woodside Road.
Eden, already big for his age, was sent to Hillhead Primary School to
meet his classmates in Primary Five.
There, he forged friendships which lasted into his time at Hillhead and
Cleveden secondary schools.
He passed five O-grades – arithmetic, craft and design, technical
drawing, history and English.
Outside school, he was in the 1st Glasgow Boys Brigade, went on their
troop camps and attended Bible classes every Sunday.
In the early 90s, Strang got a job as a part-time barman at the Moat
A former colleague said: “He always struck me as very polite and happy.
He seemed popular enough.”
At around the same time, Eden and Jamie were getting involved in the
Glasgow dance music scene.
Jamie was the DJ and Eden took care of the public relations for their
act, under the name Freestyle Productions.
Another North Woodside Road resident said: “I think clubbing was one of
the reasons Eden went to London.”
Strang is due to appear before Croydon Magistrates this morning charged
with the attempted murder of 50-year-old Paul Chilton.
As he prepared to face court, the off-duty policeman who used a church
organ pipe to disarm him was already back at work.
Despite his traumatic experience, PC Tom Tracey, 40, turned up as
normal yesterday at London’s South Norwood police station.
He was helped against Strang by bank clerk Bob Wright, who armed
himself with a crucifix on the end of a pole. Both have been praised
for their courage.
Worshippers from St Andrew’s yesterday prayed for Strang and his
victims at the scene of the bloodbath. Many of the 100-strong
congregation were in tears, having witnessed the attack 24 hours