Carstairs Hospital

The State Hospital for Scotland and Northern Ireland (also The State Hospital or Carstairs Hospital) is a psychiatric hospital providing care and treatment in conditions of high security for around 140 patients from Scotland and Northern Ireland who need to be detained in hospital under conditions of special security that can only be provided by the State Hospital. The hospital is located near the village of Carstairs, in South LanarkshireScotland. See also Broadmoor and Rampton Hospitals

The hospital is run by the State Hospitals Board for Scotland which is a public body accountable to the First Minister of Scotland through the Scottish Government Health and Wellbeing Directorates. They are a Special Health Board, part of the NHS Scotland and the only hospital of its kind within Scotland. Following a restructuring of secure psychiatric services in Scotland a new hospital is being constructed on the current site at a cost of £60m.

The Board and the Hospital has around 700 staff.

Their aim is “to help patients recover sufficiently from their illness to enable them to be transferred to services closer to their homes. Where this is not possible, we strive to help them to cope with their disabilities, and to live their lives as fully as possible.”

It houses some of the most mentally-ill paedophiles, rapists and killers in Scotland. 


The hospital has an alarm system that is activated if any patient escapes to alert people in the vicinity, including those in the surrounding town of Lanark, and local villages such as Ravenstruther. This alarm system is based on World War II air-raid sirens, and a two-tone alarm sounds across the whole area in the event of an escape. The system is tested on the third Thursday of every month at 1300hrs when the all clear siren, consisting of three 30 second blasts, sounds.

One infamous incident of a break out happened in 1976, when two patients Thomas McCulloch and Robert Mone, brutally murdered a nurse, patient and a policeman in a pre-planned murder plot.


  • In August 1999, a convicted killer walked free from Carstairs after his lawyers exploited a legal loophole. Noel Ruddle, who served seven years for shooting his next door neighbour with a semi-automatic Kalashnikov type rifle in 1991, was given an absolute discharge by a sheriff because his mental illness was deemed untreatable. He admitted that he has not been cured and has also boasted about beating the system. A year after his release, Ruddle escaped a prison sentence for threatening to kill a priest

  • In December 2004, paranoid schizophrenic Michael Ferguson was allowed an unsupervised visit to see his fiancée at East Kilbride Shopping Centre. He failed to report back to Carstairs staff two hours later as agreed. First Minister Jack McConnell ordered an urgent report into the decision to allow such a dangerous man to go on a public visit unguarded.

  • In September 2008, it was revealed that there was a cost of £630,000 a year to provide the only female patient at Carstairs State Hospital a ward to herself. Labour health spokeswoman Margaret Curran said: “This defies common sense. This cannot be in the interests of the NHS or the patient… We need immediate explanation and action.”

  • In October 2009, bosses at the psychiatric hospital were criticised by worried staff and politicians for offering patients the chance to win £50 by solving a wordsearch which would help pick names for the wards, due to open next year. One insider said: “It seems strange that some of the most dangerous criminals in the country could end up naming the new Carstairs… Perhaps the victims of some of these violent criminals will share the concerns expressed by some staff that this isn’t appropriate.”

Notable child killer/paedophile patients

Brian Docherty, who killed Kieran Hegarty in January 1994 after discharging himself from a psychiatric hospital, was transferred from prison in Belfast to Carstairs without limit of time. The boy was on an errand to a local shop in his home town of Strabane when he was snatched by Docherty.He tortured the boy before throwing him into a quarry and killing him. He then tried to set fire to the boy and continued to mutilate him. 

THIS baby-faced child-killer was locked up more than 41 years ago … and is STILL behind bars at Carstairs. Sam Glass, now 61, has done more time than any other prisoner or secure hospital patient currently held in Scotland.It has cost £10million at today’s prices to hold Glass for so long, and sources say there’s little chance of him ever walking free.

Karl Tonner, (now dead) was one of Scotland’s most notorious child-killers, he abducted Hazel Phin as she made her way home from school. Tonner’s original intention had been to rape the Charleston schoolgirl, but he later told police he had decided to strangle her with a length of rope instead. He stripped off her clothing and strangled her in a tenement close, leaving her body under a pile of rubbish in his cellar.

On 1 November 1967, armed with a shotgun, he entered a girls’ needlework class at St John’s School and subjected the 14–15-year-old pupils and their pregnant teacher, Nanette Hanson, to a 1½-hour ordeal, before shooting Hanson dead and raping one girl and sexually assaulting another. Robert Mone, whose motive was apparently revenge for being expelled from the school three years prior, was found to be insane. In 1976, Mone and his lover Thomas McCulloch broke out of Carstairs Hospital, murdering another inmate and a male nurse in the process and also killing a police officer before being recaptured.

A child rapist has won a legal bid to be allowed fizzy drinks and chocolate in the State Hospital at Carstairs. Clifford Lyons, 38, was admitted in 1990 after raping a 10-year-old girl in a field near his then home in Drumchapel, Glasgow. At the time he was on bail for another sex offence – molesting a 12-year-old boy after luring him into a field and forcing him to strip