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Comedian who helped bring notorious paedophiles to justice raises money for mental health charity with Glasgow show

© Andrew CawleyComedian Colin Higgins
Comedian Colin Higgins

Life has been full of laughter for comedian Colin Higgins since he confronted past traumas which led to Scotland’s most dangerous paedophiles being jailed.

Targeted as a schoolboy growing up in Largs by killer child abusers Charles O’Neill and William Lauchlan, he was just 15 when he found the courage to blow the whistle on the men described by a judge as “despicable and evil”.

Now, he’s helping to raise money for the charity Brothers In Arms with a comedy show in Glasgow’s famous Tennent’s Bar in Byres Road, which will transform into the Gallus Palace next Saturday night.

The line-up promises a night of laughter with top stand-ups Susie McCabe, Steven McLeod and Charlie Wallace.

Higgins said: “I’m delighted to be helping such a wonderful charity which has helped thousands of men and their families, and Saturday’s show will be an outstanding event with our best comedians joining us on stage.

“Brothers in Arms is a very special charity which has done amazing work reaching out to teenage boys and men suffering depression and stress, doing their best to prevent suicide which is still the number one killer for men under 45.

“Having experienced the depths of depression and despair after what happened to me, it is a great honour for me to be able to give something back and this charity, with its special app which ensures they are available to help anyone 24/7, is a tremendous cause.”

“I discovered laughing was the best possible medicine:” How abuse survivor followed his dreams to become comedian


While O’Neill, 59, and Lauchlan, 53, will be behind bars for decades, Higgins has carved a successful career making other people laugh, appearing in television documentaries about his comedy hero Billy Connolly, doing shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, and appearing at gigs across the country.

He is appearing soon in a television quiz show with comedian Jason Manford, and he is busy preparing for a documentary about his incredible life.

Higgins said: “Until I found the courage to speak up and confront the past, I could never have imagined following my dreams. Now I live to make others laugh.”

The brave young comedian was still at school when he became responsible for seeing O’Neill and Lauchlan brought to justice twice, over both child abuse and the 1997 murder of Rothesay mum Allison McGarrigle, 39, who they killed and dumped in the sea after suspecting she was going to report them.

The effect of the trauma he suffered led to a 20-year nightmare for Colin, which ended when he spoke out about his life in The Sunday Post three years ago. 

Higgins said: “I’d carried the horror for so many years, it had been eating me up inside. But speaking out about it gave me a freedom and changed my life.

“Those two evil men destroyed the lives of so many people, and until I spoke up about what they had done, I found it impossible to break free from their reign of terror.

“Now I’m following my dreams, working as a professional stand-up comedian and I’ve discovered that laughing in the face of evil has been the very best medicine for what happened to me.”