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Controversial downtown banner inspired local author to include Wood brothers in true crime compilation

'We have to look at the underside of history, as well as the more noble achievements, if we are ever going to understand it,' says Ed Butts

Local author Ed Butts was already doing research for a true crime compilation when controversy erupted last summer about the inclusion of the Wood brothers’ 1986 conviction for the murder of Karen Thompson on banners being hung downtown.

“I was going through various archives looking for stories for this book and that controversy came up and I thought it was one right here at home,” said Butts. “I just decided to include it.”

That compilation, titled Mad, Bad & Dangerous Vol. 1, is now available for sale in book stores and as an e-book.

Butts has authored a number of books on true crime and said he writes in the introduction of those books that in no way does he intend on glorifying crime or justifying anything the perpetrators have done.

“We have to look at the underside of history, as well as the more noble achievements, if we are ever going to understand it,” said Butts.

The publishers of Mad, Bad & Dangerous Vol. 1 specializes in true crime but were unaware of the story of Philip, David and Colin Wood, who were each convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison before being deported to Scotland.

Those three, along with a fourth brother Douglas, were featured on banners that hung downtown briefly before being removed due to public backlash.

Butts noted that the Wood brothers were so fearsome they were nicknamed the ‘Canadian Krays’ after Ronnie and Reggie Kray, twin brothers that terrorized criminal underworld in London, England in the 1950 and 60s.

The story of the Krays was made into a 2015 film called Legend, with actor Tom Hardy playing both brothers in a dual role.

Late last year, Butts published a book titled Wartime: The First World War in a Canadian Town which focused on life on the home front in Guelph during the Great War.

Butts began working on Mad, Bad & Dangerous Vol. 1 while doing the copy edits for Wartime.

Much of the research and writing has already been completed for a possible volume 2 of Mad, Bad & Dangerous, said Butts.

Although Butts does much of his research online, he said the bulk of it is done in libraries and searching newspaper archives.

“I know there are people who think absolutely everything is available online, and that just is not so. There is a lot of stuff that you have to do further digging in archives and what have you,” said Butts. “Sometimes you have to do some detective work on your own. You have to try and track down facts.”