Oct 10 2012 by Colin Paterson, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Most Scots board a flight from Spain as holidaymakers aware that a return to normal everyday life lies ahead when they get home.
Craig Windsor jnr sat on the plane knowing he was going to prison.
It is 2008 and the boy from the Redbridge area of Coatbridge is coming back to face serious assault charges and begin the long journey of rebuilding his life.
He had fled Scotland a year earlier through the departure gates at Prestwick Airport to Girona, in the north-east of Spain, with a jail term hanging over him.
Years spent mixing with the wrong crowd and doing the wrong things, after leaving the army at 19, were to come to an end as he contemplated a career as a professional boxer.
“Back in the day I was chasing the wrong dream,” Windsor said. “I was doing security and mixed up with the wrong people.
“I was making money from the wrong means. It was bad money and you don’t get any luck from it. I was in so deep that I couldn’t get out.”
In his new book, From Beechwood 2 Hollywood, Windsor, who has followed in the footsteps of boxer dad Craig snr, a three-division Scottish champion, tells how he went abroad to escape justice – and to turn his back on crime.
“It took me until I was 26 before I was away from everything,” he added. “I went to Spain and took part in unlicensed fights to earn money. Spain changed me.
“I left when I was 24 and got on track over there. I knew when I came back I would do time as the police had told me that over the phone. I came back, handed myself in to Coatbridge police station and did my time after getting my sentence at Airdrie Sheriff Court. I did a spell inside when I was 20 after I came out of the army. I was stupid back then and doing stupid things.”
Windsor was imprisoned for the second time for seriously assaulting Paul Hadden, recently convicted of killing Iain O’Brien at the High Court in Glasgow and handed a 10-year sentence last Wednesday.
“The guy I was put in jail for was paid to kill me,” Windsor insists. “It was self-defence. I did a year in Barlinnie of a two-year sentence.
“That sort of thing could happen to anybody. I didn’t wake up that morning and decided that I was going to assault somebody.”
It was during his time in Barlinnie that Windsor made cups of tea for the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of killing 270 people when a jumbo jet exploded over the town in 1988.
“I met him in 2008,” the 29-year-old says. “I actually thought he was quite sound. I didn’t like him but I also didn’t dislike him if you know what I mean?
“I got to talk to him on a regular basis as I was a cleaner on the medical wing. I wanted a job in the gym but I never got it. You had to take what you could get. So I used to make cups of tea for prisoners and people who came to see the doctor. When he came up, I would make him a cup of tea and give him a wee biscuit.
“Everywhere he went, he had prison officers protecting him. He never mixed in the mainstream areas.”
On June 6, 2009, Windsor began life as a professional boxer. At the Thistle Hotel in Glasgow, the light-middleweight defeated Ben Deghani in the third round of a six-round contest.
He has a record of nine wins from 11 fights and hopes to fight for titles. Windsor is in the process of moving his boxing gym from an industrial estate to Coatbridge town centre.
Partner Charlene and daughters Ellie (6) and Eva, coming up for a year old, are his priorities along with excelling in the noble art.
Coatbridge writer Des Dillon planted the idea of writing a book in the mind of Windsor who spent his late teens serving for the army during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. “This book is for young people growing up in this area and encouraging them not to chase the wrong dream,” he says.
“I walked into professional boxing at 26 but there are other things people can do. I know I will never return to the life that I had.
“I’m away from all the bad stuff. I am focused on my boxing and have turned my life around completely. Everybody has a past. Some people who have the worst pasts can have the best future.”
Windsor’s gone from crime to boxing but one thing has stayed the same – his motto. “I bought my first house in Beechwood Drive, Greenend, in 2002 after I left the army and told people that I’ll go from ‘Beechwood to Hollywood’. Now I might be able to get there for the right reasons.”
Visit www.craigwindsorjr.com or call 07449 112100 to obtain a copy of the book.