Joseph Beltrami (15 May 1932 – 24 February 2015) was a Scottish lawyer of Italian-Swiss descent.[1] He is acknowledged as one of the foremost criminal solicitors in Scottish legal history.[2]

Joseph Beltrami
15 May 1932

Died24 February 2015 (aged 82)
Other namesJoe Beltrami
Alma materSt Aloysius' College, Glasgow, University of Glasgow

Early life and family edit

Beltrami was born in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire on 15 May 1932. His father, Egidio Beltrami, was an Italian-Swiss man who had moved to Scotland to open a fish and chip shop, his mother Isabella was Scottish.[3] Beltrami was brought up in Glasgow and educated at St. Aloysius' College.[4] He graduated the University of Glasgow in 1953 having studied Law.[3]

He struggled to find an apprenticeship at a legal firm, due to his Roman Catholic heritage, so after a period in the Intelligence Corps for his national service in the 1950s, he set up his own firm Beltrami & Co.[3]

Beltrami married nurse Brigid Delores Fallon on 14 January 1958 at St Andrew's Cathedral, Glasgow, and the couple had three sons who each went on to become lawyers.[3] Edwin is the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service in Wales,[5] Adrian is a KC specialising in commercial litigation,[6] and Jason is a lawyer in Glasgow.[7] He died, aged 82 on 23 February 2015.[8][9]

Career edit

Beltrami was involved in several high-profile cases, including the campaign for the release of Patrick Meehan. He defended such names as Johnny Ramensky, Colin Beattie and gained the first ever Royal Pardon issued in Scotland defending Maurice Swanson.[3]

Beltrami's most famous "client" was Hercules, a trained grizzly bear, who featured in Octopussy. The bear disappeared during filming of an Kleenex tissue advert on Benbecula, and was missing for over three weeks. His owner, Andy Robin, was prosecuted for failing to control a wild animal, but Beltrami successfully defended the man on the basis that Hercules was not wild as he was a "working bear".[3]

He successfully defended Glasgow crime figure Arthur Thompson on many occasions throughout the 1980s, leading to the phrase "get me Beltrami" being coined as a plea for help in desperate circumstances amongst Glaswegians during the time.[10]

Before the abolition of the death penalty in 1965, Beltrami successfully defended in 12 capital murder cases with all 12 of his client's not having to trouble the hangman.[11]

Works edit

  • The Defender: Joseph Beltrami, Famous Cases of the Celebrated Criminal Lawyer. (1980) ISBN 978-0550203540
  • The Defender: Tales of the Suspected (1988) ISBN 978-0951396308
  • A Deadly Innocence: The Meechan Files (1989) ISBN 978-1851582976

Honours and Recognitions edit

  • 1953 - Bachelor of Laws (LLB), University of Glasgow, Scotland
  • 2009 - Honorary Life Membership of the Law Society of Scotland

References edit

  1. ^ "Joseph Beltrami obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  2. ^ Walker, Clive (1999). Miscarriages of Justice: A Review of Justice in Error. Oxford University Press. pp. 324–. ISBN 9781854316875. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Findlay, Donald R. (10 January 2019). "Beltrami, Joseph (Joe) (1932–2015)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  4. ^ "Joseph Beltrami". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  5. ^ "The Cymru-Wales Management Team". Crown Prosecution Service. Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  6. ^ "Adrian Beltrami QC". Three Verulam Buildings. Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  7. ^ "Jason Beltrami". MSM Solicitors. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Top Glasgow defence lawyer Joe Beltrami dies aged 83". BBC News. 24 February 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Joe Beltrami, defence lawyer - obituary". The Telegraph. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  10. ^ "About Joseph Beltrami". Beltrami & Co. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  11. ^ "Beltrami 12, Hangman 0". The Scotsman. 15 November 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2015.