Glasgow Gangster Brings Karma To Cambodia's Killing Fields

From Andrew Drummond,
Sihanoukville, Cambodia
He ran with the notorious Glasgow gang ‘The Tongs’, notorious for their razor slashings in the city’s old tenements.
As a kid he was in and out of approved school borstal and Barlinnie Prison, Glasgow, the infamous ‘Bar L’.
His father was a convicted armed robber and lorry hijacker. His
brother TC Campbell has convictions for assault and attempted murder
And as he came of age Lauchlan ‘Lockie’ Campbell, a member of one of
Scotland’s prime crime families, became an equally notorious drugs
trafficker eventually spending 12 years in a Chinese prison for his
But when the Mail on Sunday caught up with Lockie Campbell, now aged
56, he was dressed in the saffron cloth of a trainee Buddhist monk
teaching kids in a temple in Cambodia’s former killing fields the ‘art
of polite English conversation’.
Here in the port town of Sihanoukville the new soft tones of Lockie
Campbell starkly contrast to the days when he might have offered to kick
somebody’s ‘heid’ in, or give them a ‘Glasgae kiss’ – a butt to the
And Cambodian kids from aged six to sixteen are flocking to his free
classes at Wat Leu, a Buddhist temple just outside this city which are
being sponsored by the Glasgow’s former notorious crime families.
The classes at the moment are free but he calls it the ’50p School of
English Conversation’ looking to the time when he hopes it will become
self supporting.
Meanwhile he says ‘There’s been lots of people chipping in including my brother Tommy.
‘Paul Ferris has also been very supportive,’ he adds referring to the notorious former gun runner.
‘I’m a changed man,’ he said. ‘But I changed myself. Now I would not
even step on an ant. All I want to do is really help people less off
than myself. Can you believe that?
‘The Cambodian ‘wee uns’ are so receptive. They just want to learn.
They are in the classroom long before I arrive. They don’t want to waste
a minute.
‘I cannot describe how gratifying and rewarding that can be. I feel like I am doing something really worthwhile.
‘A year ago I was sitting in my tenement in Green St, Glasgow,
getting addicted to heroin. All my family saw what was happening to me.
They knew I had studied both both the Hindu and Buddhist faiths and
thought it would do me good to return to Asia.
‘I tried China for a while because I learnt Mandarin during my time
in prison. But it never worked. Instead I found happiness here in
‘The people are beautiful but everywhere you can feel a sort of
sadness and that must be a legacy from the Khmer Rouge and the ‘Killing
‘When I first arrived I went on a week long meditation course at a Buddhist temple in Battambang, in north west Cambodia.
‘Local friends have helped me with accommodation and to be honest I
can live on a pound a day and that’s a lot more than some of the local
people earn in a week.
‘It’s a far cry from the time when I was sitting in the back of a
Ford Cortina in Uddingston with a sawn off shotgun waiting to do the
local post office.
‘I remember that well. I did not want to get involved. My arse was
flapping like a gold fish and I managed to talk my pals out of it.’
Brought up in Calton and Dennistoun at the age of 15 Lockie Campbell
was sent to approved school in Paisley for robbing the till of a local
off licence.
He ran with ‘The Tongs’ while his younger brother Tommy ‘TC’ Campbell
ran with the ‘Gouchos’. ‘But I wasn’t one of those guys who carried a
With a history of robbery, cheque fraud, car theft, assault on police he eventually ended up in Barlinnie.
After serving three years he came out and lived a crime free live for
ten years. But after a divorce he went into the smuggling business,
starting with electrical goods from Hong Kong, then to gold and finally
smuggling hashish from Nepal to Japan and occasionally to Australia.
‘I would buy a kilo for US$50 and be able to tell it in Japan for US$5000. I was good.
I was even able to buy myself a bar called ‘Jock’s Rock’ in Borocay in the Philipinnes.
He was held by Australian police in 1989 after riding shotgun for two
other Britons who were smuggling hashish into Australia. But the court
in Freemantle ruled there was no case to answer as he was not carrying.
But his drugs smuggling days finally came to an end on a train from
Xing Jang to Shanghai on August 4th 1991 when he decided to smoke some
of his own ‘stash’.
But officers of China’s Public Security Bureau pounced when he stepped off the train at Shizou with his 18-yr-old son.
His son was acquitted but Campbell got 15 years 12 of which he served
mostly at Shanghai central prison. He had been travelling with 20 kilos
which would have brought him a return of US$100,000 in Tokyo to where
he had booked his passage.
‘I have had a wasted life. I taught myself that. And I now accept
that as a fact. Of course in prison in China we had to publicly confess
and atone for our crimes every month.
‘At the time I just wrote down what they wanted to hear. It was the
only way you could get a reduction of sentence. But I did come to mean
‘Now my life is very simple. My needs are little. Those of other people are much greater.
I pray every day for justice for my brother Tommy who has still not been
compensated for 20 years he spent in jail for a crime he did not
commit, a sentence which broke him.
‘And I pray for the kids here in Cambodia who deserve so much more.’
I left Lockie to prepare for his next day’s lesson. Here in Cambodia
he rises at 5am and goes to bed at dusk. His heroes now are the Dalai
Llama and Burmese fighter for democracy Aung San Suu Kyi
His spare time he devotes to painting, an art he picked up while serving time in China.
As I left the temple Wat Leu one of the monks Piseth Ech who is also
learning English said: ‘Lockie really is a good man. He has told us
everything about his life. But he would still make a very good monk.
He’s kind to everybody he meets’