Scotland’s deadly gangland feuds came to fore again this week with a horrible machete attack in broad daylight in the capital – and it looks like the fall-out from the execution of Bradley Welsh refuses to die down.
The attempted murder of James “Peem” Davidson is just the latest in a long line of violent targeted assaults in a deadly feud that links crime gangs from across the country.
To understand what lies behind these attacks, you need to look in detail at the lead up to Welsh’s doorstep execution.
Welsh had no idea he was on a “death list”. He’d put his violent youthful past behind him and spent his days running his boxing gym and carrying out charity work.
He still kept in touch with old pals from back in the day – turning his back wasn’t his style – and it’s known he tried to play peacemaker between two warring gangland bosses.
Underworld sources said Brad’s only “crime” was to be caught in the crossfire in a feud between drug lord Mark Richardson and George “Dode” Baigrie.
Although not charged with anything, Baigrie was named several times during the trial of hitman Sean Orman as being the man who ordered the hit on Welsh. He is said to be in hiding for fear of reprisals.
Gang members say 48-year-old dad Bradley was targeted to “get at” his pal Richardson.
When he was gunned down outside his home by lone shooter Orman in April 2019 it set off a violent chain of events that is leaving a trail of blood in its wake.
This week there was another machete attack when 31-year-old “Peem” Davidson was ambushed by two assailants and suffered serious injuries. An older man who was with Peem was also hurt as he tried to help Davidson fight off his attackers.
It came just weeks after a friend of Davidson’s, Jason Smith, was set upon by two machete wielding thugs in the middle of an Edinburgh retail park. Smith was left in a critical condition.
The two victims are said to be pals with Orman – so casual observers can be forgiven for thinking chickens are coming home to roost for certain factions within Scotland’s criminal fraternity.
Police have long been worried about the repercussions that would come about from such a high profile murder. It’s causing “major headaches” as they grapple to stay in the loop and gather intelligence on the lucrative drug trade the gangs thrive on.
One senior detective, who specialises in gangland activity, told me: “When Mark Richardson was put away other gangsters saw it as an opportunity.
Remember Richardson was part of a £200million operation. It’s all about supply and demand with these people – cash is king.
“But even though he’s behind bars it’s clear Richardson was still in control and some people didn’t like that. Taking out Brad Welsh was a biggie. It sent a clear message that another group wanted a slice of the action and be the top dog.
“Murdering one of Richardson’s closest friends and attacking another was to rile him up and it appears to have worked. This isn’t going away anytime soon.
“We have no doubt there will be other attacks. Forget the police, the gangs deal with things in their own way despite our efforts to disrupt their networks and put a brake on the violence.
“Mark Richardson is also aligned with the Daniels family in Glasgow and George Baigrie with the Lyons. The two biggest crime families in the country.
“They’re leaving it to ‘Edinburgh’ to sort out, for now, and the last thing we want to see is any involvement from the Glasgow mob.
“Edinburgh is a tinderbox right now and everyone’s waiting to see what is going to happen next.”
Vengeance might be one of the driving forces behind the spate of recent attacks but the bigger prize is who retains control of the Edinburgh lucrative illegal drug trade. Eye for an eye justice is alive and kicking in Scotland.