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Man jailed for murder of much-loved Glasgow Big Issue vendor Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly was a well-known face in Glasgow, famous for his 'don't be shy, give it a try' catchphrase

Paul Kelly

A 47-year-old man has been found guilty of the murder of Paul Kelly, a Big Issue vendor who was one of the best-known and most popular faces in Glasgow.

Jason Cowan was found guilty after a four-day trial at the city’s High Court and jailed for a minimum of 18 years.

Kelly died outside his home after a violent attack on the morning of June 15, 2019.

The 50-year-old vendor was famous for his calls of “don’t be shy, give it a try” and had been part of The Big Issue family for 15 years, selling in Glasgow and East Kilbride.

Writing on Facebook after the verdict, one woman said Paul “used to run and open the doors for customers to M&S East Kilbride, was always so polite, friendly, helpful while selling the Big Issue… People were always giving him things, food, coffee, clothes and money. Lovely wee guy.”

“Knew Paul for years. all my family had a soft spot for him,” wrote another. “Such a gem of a guy.”

One man commented Paul “was a really nice guy, always chatty. Always thought M&S could have given him a job as he spent that long opening doors for customers and always polite. Such a waste of a life… RIP.”

After his death, The Big Issue was inundated with hundreds of tributes from his customers, shop workers in the area and others who would stop to say hello on their way to work.

A vigil held on his pitch outside the Sainsbury’s on Buchanan Street was attended by dozens who shared their memories.

Paul Kelly vigil
Paul-Kelly-vigil-hero

One well-wisher, who worked on the street across from Paul, spoke of how the vendor was an example to him. He said: “If we treated each other more like the way Paul treated people then I think the world would be in a much better situation.”

And another local business worker ensured that Paul’s timeless catchphrase would ring out on his pitch once more, encouraging everyone at the vigil to shout, “Don’t be shy, give it a try” in his memory.

Big Issue founder John Bird said at the time of Paul’s vigil: “Paul Kelly’s memorial in Glasgow should remind us of the perils of poverty. Thankfully he had a life of friends and admirers and did not pass unnoticed through poverty’s vale of tears.

“He reached out and touched us all. The Big Issue is bigger by far because we knew this man.”

Writing in his weekly column, Big Issue editor Paul McNamee called Kelly “a gentle pulse in the heart of Glasgow”.

“Paul was loved,” he wrote. “The incredible volume of messages we have received, that we are still receiving, is testament to his quiet and glorious impact.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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