Thornton man shares memories of horrific night when three children were stabbed to death at Blackpool Victoria Hospital - hours after he was discharged

It was a close call which altered Paul McClean’s perspective on life.

By Claire Lark
Monday, 7th March 2022, 3:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th March 2022, 9:58 am

He was just five years old when an eye doctor stabbed to death three children in their hospital beds at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

He was too young to understand the devastating consequences of the incident, which happened just hours after he was discharged from the exact ward where the horrific crime was committed. For Paul, fate had thankfully intervened.

Dr Ahmad Alami had stalked the corridors of the hospital’s children’s ward in a schizophrenic rage – armed with a vicious looking Spanish clasp knife with a four inch blade on February 17, 1972. The children were stabbed as they slept in their cots in the dimly lit ward. Another child and two nurses were left seriously hurt.

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Police search the hospital grounds outside the area of Blackpool Victoria Hospital where the children's ward was

Now 55 years old, Paul has shared his account of that day following an emotional read in The Gazette which marked the 50th anniversary of the tragedy.

"I’d been in the ward for some time recovering from meningitis. It was touch-and-go,” he said.

“Having been in hospital for some time and showing good signs of recovery, my mother was very insistent that I be released that morning.

"The ward team were reluctant at first and requested I stay for my lunch and be assessed by the doctor shortly after.

Paul's picture was printed in the Daily Mail, the day after the stabbings took place at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

"I do recall a not so nice bowl of semolina pudding that needed to be finished, to show my appetite was back too.

"My mother, being very strong-willed and insistent, continued to press the doctor during my exam and he agreed to release me at that time.

"We knew nothing about the events later that evening until late that same night, we were woken by a reporter linked to the Daily Mail.

"I can’t say I knew what was going on but do remember being asked to hold my older brother’s teddy bear for a picture to be taken.”

Dr Ahmad Alami who murdered three young children at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on February 17 1972

In the hours after the stabbings, the police team, including tracker dogs, began a methodical search of the grounds for the murder weapon.

The grim riddle was solved several hours later when Dr Alami, who had gone back to work at the hospital after the stabbings as if nothing had happened, was arrested in his flat in the doctors’ quarters.

Family man Paul, who recently became a grandfather, has remained on the Fylde Coast ever since and currently lives in Cleveleys. He recalled how his mum Jean, who passed away in 2006, felt shocked and petrified at what could have been.

“Apart from feeling distraught at what happened to the children, there was always an underlying feeling of how different it could have been.

Paul McClean, who was discharged from Blackpool Victoria Hospital when he was five-years-old, on the afternoon of February 17 1962. It was just hours before Dr Ahmad Alami stabbed three children to death on the same hospital ward

"I remember her animation, insisting that I was ready to go home and the semolina puddings. For me as a five-year-old, I just wanted to go home.

“I kind of recall from the time what could have happened and since then, as an adult, I've looked at life as a whole in a different way - it definitely has had a knock on effect.”

After being interviewed by the Daily Mail, Paul’s photo was on the front page of the paper, headlining above the results of the general election the next day.

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