Miscarriages of Justice - Stuart Gair

Miscarriages of Justice

Stuart Gair

Episode Summary

Part One – One night Stuart Gair was at home with his girlfriend and roommates enjoying a chip butty, the very next day he was being interviewed by the police regarding an attempted murder. Before he knew it his life had changed beyond all recognition.  

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

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Episode Summary

Part Two – Stuart found himself in prison for a crime he did not commit, but he refused to accept this and fought hard against his miscarriage of justice. But would he be successful? 

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Appeal case gay theory rejectedInnocent man jailed for 12 years dies just months before £1m compensation | The ScotsmanBBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | Miscarriage of justice man diesGirl Inherits £1m From Jail Dad She Never Knew – Daily RecordTWELVE YEARS IN JAIL. FIVE MORE IN LIMBO. STUART GAIR STILL STANDS ACCUSED OF MURDER , BUT DID THE LAW MAKE HIM A VICTIM TOO? | HeraldScotlandThe tragedy of Stuart Gair | HeraldScotland

An innocent man wins freedom 17 years ago, Stuart Gair was wrongly imprisoned for murder. Brian Donnelly finds out why NEWS FOCUS | HeraldScotland

‘Innocent man’ walks free after 12 years | UK news | The Guardian

Stuart Gair | Law | The Guardian

Rough Justice Victim Drops Dead – Daily Record

Stuart Gair – Evidenced Based Justice Lab – University of Exeter

Stuart Gair – Innocents Database of Exonerations

Scottish Law Reporter: Stuart Gair – a life taken by Scotland’s culture of injustice.

A Diary of Justice & Injustice – Scotland: Injustice campaign ends in death of victim Stuart Gair as questions remain over Crown Office failings

Gair case showed there’s no such thing as a justice system – Scotland – STV News

Ponsonby: ‘Ice cream wars’ shone spotlight on the system – STV News Archive

Miscarriages of Justice Organisation – Bringing Hope To The Innocent

Bitter freedom

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Glasgow and West | Man’s murder conviction quashed

Injustice for all | | The Guardian

John McManus interview: Try freedom | The Scotsman

The story of miscarriage of justice victim Stuart Gair and murder of Peter Smith in Glasgow | Glasgow Times

Scottish Law Reporter: Stuart Gair – Justice ‘must be done’ for the good of Scots law

Strange Justice

ANOTHER MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE – The Ferris Conspiracy Forum

Stuart Gair’s Innocence | STV Footage Sales

Homosexuality: 13 percent of people in the UK believe being gay is wrong

Plean – Wikipedia

STUART MITCHELL GAIR v. HER MAJESTY’S ADVOCATE

STUART MITCHELL GAIR v. HER MAJESTY’S ADVOCATE

Donal MacIntyre – Wikipedia

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn

Hosted by Dawn

Researched and Written by Dawn Young

Produced and Edited by Dawn Young and Peter Bull

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Voice Talent by Eleanor Morton

Music:

Dawn of the Fairies by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Gothic Wedding by Derek & Brandon Fiechter


Linked or Not Linked?

Linked Or Not Linked?

Episode Summary

Part One – The story of eight horrific murders that happened in 1977 and 1978 in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but were they linked?

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

Episode Summary

Part Two – The investigation into finding the murderer or murderers of the eight innocent women killed in Glasgow and Edinburgh in 1977 and 1978. But would all the murders be linked?

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

Episode Summary

Part Three The Eleanor Morton Chat – Dawn and Eleanor have a chat about the darker side of Bonnie Scotland, amongst other random things.

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

Templeton Woods: Did Angus Sinclair’s brother-in-law murder two Dundee women? (thecourier.co.uk)

Angus Sinclair: A lifetime of abuse, rape and murder – BBC News

World’s End murders: Sinclair convicted after change in double jeopardy rule – BBC News

How World’s End murderer Angus Sinclair was finally brought to justice – Edinburgh Live

Angus Sinclair: How far did his killing spree go? | Edinburgh News (scotsman.com)

When the Yorkshire Ripper was quizzed on two unsolved Dundee murders (thecourier.co.uk)

Angus Sinclair dead: World’s End serial killer dies in prison aged 73 – Mirror Online

Angus Sinclair jailed for life for 1977 World’s End Murders | Daily Mail Online

World’s End murder trial: Police never gave up in 37-year hunt to track down monster Sinclair – Daily Record

When was Frances Barker’s death, who was her murderer Thomas Ross Young and was Angus Sinclair involved? | The Sun

World’s End murders: Angus Sinclair jailed for 37 years – BBC News

Who were Anna Kenny, Agnes Cooney and Hilda McAuley, when were they murdered in Glasgow and were they linked to Angus Sinclair? | The Sun

Angus Sinclair | Photos | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers

World’s End beast Angus Sinclair wailed for dead mum on prison deathbed | The Scottish Sun

Evil sex killer Thomas Young dies behind bars aged 79 and still showing no remorse – Daily Record

Angus Sinclair – Serial killer/Serial child abuser | UK Database (uk-database.org)

The World’s End – Outlander Locations

World’s End: Angus Sinclair found guilty of teenagers’ 1977 murders – In The Loop (in-the-loop.net.au)

Angus Sinclair: A lifetime of abuse, rape and murder – BBC NewsHow law change jailed serial killer Angus Sinclair – BBC NewsWorld’s End murders: How DNA caught Angus Sinclair – BBC NewsWorld’s End murders: Angus Sinclair jailed for 37 years – BBC NewsWorld’s End murders: Father’s promise to dying wife he would pursue justice – BBC NewsWorld’s End serial killer Angus Sinclair dies – BBC NewsBBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh and East | Murder accused appears in courtBBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | Judge throws out World’s End caseBBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | World’s End row law chiefs meetBBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | Top judge enters World’s End rowBBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | Judge in second opinion case hintBBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | World’s End father ‘devastated’The World’s End | Outlander LocationsBBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | Lack of evidence at trial blamedBBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | World’s End father gives evidenceBBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | Victim ‘strangled with stocking’BBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | World’s End pub suspect DNA hunt

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | Murder accused’s car was scrapped

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | Murder victims’ last night alive

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | Loner accused in death of women

Angus Sinclair: Scotland’s worst serial killer? – BBC News

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Forces probe unsolved murders

World’s End murders: Sinclair convicted after change in double jeopardy rule – BBC News

BBC NEWS | Scotland | The seven unsolved murders

Angus Sinclair: How far did his killing spree go? | Edinburgh News

BBC News – ‘Scotland’s secret serial killer’

Did Angus Sinclair kill Edinburgh mum Helen Kane? | The Scotsman

World’s End serial killer Angus Sinclair died alone in his cell – BBC News

World’s End jury shown ‘disturbing’ images | Edinburgh News

The World’s End Murders: A night that haunts Scotland’s capital to this day | Edinburgh News

Victim of World’s End murder struggled as killer tied her up | HeraldScotland

Angus Sinclair v. Her Majesty’s Advocate

World’s End Murders – Scottish Review of Books

World’s End murder jury shown ‘distressing’ photos | The Scotsman

World’s End murderer Angus Sinclair is ‘Scotland’s worst serial killer’ who may have claimed up to 10 victims, says ex-top cop – Daily Record

Angus Sinclair dead: World’s End serial killer dies in prison aged 73 – Mirror Online

Angus Sinclair was ‘Scotland’s luckiest serial killer’ – STV News

The World’s End Murders: Amazon.co.uk: Tom Wood, David Johnston: 9781841587493: Books

The World’s End Murders: A Thirty-Year Quest for Justice by Tom Wood

World’s End murder trial: Police never gave up in 37-year hunt to track down monster Sinclair – Daily Record

World’s End murder trial: Evidence against Angus Sinclair is ‘frankly overwhelming’ Lord Advocate tells jury – Daily Record

World’s End murder trial: Angus Sinclair denies rape as teenage victims ‘did not say no’, he claims – Daily Record

Aunt of murder victim Anna Kenny backs new DNA bid to convict killer 38 years on from brutal slaying – Daily Record

World’s End Suspect Faces Nine Murder Charges – Daily Record

Childhood friends' pub crawl ended in murders | Glasgow Times

‘Let him rot’ World’s End victims’ families demand that evil killer dies in jail – Daily Record

Glasgow serial killer Angus Sinclair and the gruesome murder spree that led to World’s End murders – Glasgow Live

World’s End Murder Trial – Finding the Balance in Double Jeopardy | ScotsLawBlog

World’s End beast Angus Sinclair wailed for dead mum on prison deathbed

How World’s End murderer Angus Sinclair was finally brought to justice – Edinburgh Live

Angus Sinclair | Crime+Investigation UK

Angus Sinclair | Photos | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers

World’s End: Angus Sinclair found guilty of teenagers’ 1977 murders – In The Loop

Angus Sinclair – The World’s End Murders By Scotland’s Worst Serial Killer

World’s End murderer Angus Sinclair started killing spree at just 16 by luring seven-year-old girl to his home before raping and strangling her

Angus Sinclair jailed for life for 1977 World’s End Murders | Daily Mail Online

Angus Sinclair – Serial killer/Serial child abuser | UK Database – Sex offenders register

World’s End murder trial: Former police officer tells court he saw accused killer Angus Sinclair with the victims outside the pub – Daily Record

Who were Anna Kenny, Agnes Cooney and Hilda McAuley, when were they murdered in Glasgow and were they linked to Angus Sinclair?

I knew my cousin’s killer Angus Sinclair would strike again – STV News

The twisted life of savage sociopath | HeraldScotland

Gone Fishing: The Unsolved Crimes of Angus Sinclair eBook : Lloyd, Adam, Clark, Chris: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Appeal against sentence by Angus Sinclair against her majesty’s Advocate

BBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh, East and Fife | A life of abuse, rape and murder

Paedophile convicted of girl’s rape and murder 22 years on | The Independent | The Independent

World’s End killer Angus Sinclair cremated in secret ceremony ‘with no family’ – Mirror Online

Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Act 2011 – Wikipedia

Double Jeopardy in Scots Law – Why was Angus Sinclair tried twice? – Criminal Defence Lawyers Edinburgh

Evil sex killer Thomas Young dies behind bars aged 79 and still showing no remorse – Daily Record

Bullied schoolboy with a lust for rape and murder | HeraldScotlandProsecutors ‘blocking’ appeal in murder case | UK news | The GuardianThe Investigator’s Mark Williams-Thomas claims World’s End murderer Angus Sinclair teamed up with Thomas Ross Young to kill Frances BarkerAppeal bid by dead murderer Thomas Young rejected – BBC NewsMurder case sent to appeal after 30 years | UK news | The GuardianLorry driver serving life for 1977 murder fails to convince judges to hear new evidence – Daily RecordNiece of serial killer Angus Sinclair victim devastated to discover wrong man was jailed for her murder – Daily RecordWhen did Thomas Ross Young murder Frances Barker in Glasgow, why did he appeal the conviction and when was his death?When was Frances Barker’s death, who was her murderer Thomas Ross Young and was Angus Sinclair involved?Man jailed for 1978 murder | UK news | The Guardian

Free Stock photo of George Square in Glasgow at night | Photoeverywhere

File:Edinburgh Night castle and Balmoral Clock Tower.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

Prosecutors ‘blocking’ appeal in murder case | UK news | The Guardian

The Investigator’s Mark Williams-Thomas claims World’s End murderer Angus Sinclair teamed up with Thomas Ross Young to kill Frances Barker | The Scottish Sun

Appeal bid by dead murderer Thomas Young rejected – BBC News

Murder case sent to appeal after 30 years | UK news | The Guardian

Lorry driver serving life for 1977 murder fails to convince judges to hear new evidence – Daily Record

Niece of serial killer Angus Sinclair victim devastated to discover wrong man was jailed for her murder – Daily Record

When did Thomas Ross Young murder Frances Barker in Glasgow, why did he appeal the conviction and when was his death? | The Sun

When was Frances Barker’s death, who was her murderer Thomas Ross Young and was Angus Sinclair involved? | The Sun

The World’s End

by Tom Wood and David Johnston

Synopsis

This is an account of the murder of two young women, Helen Scott and Christine Eadie, who died in October 1977. It is the story of these crimes and of the thirty year investigation that followed. This is not a gruesome tale of murder; the families of these young girls have suffered enough. Nor is this account devoted to the controversy in which the trial of Angus Sinclair was brought to an end in the Autumn of 2007.This is a story of heroes, of the families of Helen and Christine who, with a quiet dignity, have carried an unimaginable burden down the years, and the police officers, the support staff and the scientists who over the generations have persisted in their investigations, never gave up and though they suffered many a setback never forgot Helen and Christine. “The World’s End Murders” is an intelligent, compassionate and insightful account of a time and place in Scottish criminal history which both carefully examines the World’s End murders and sensitively restores afresh the memory of two innocent young women, as well as the others who fell victim in 1977 and 1978.

Gone Fishing: The Unsolved Crimes of Angus Sinclair

by Adam Lloyd and Chris Clark

Synopsis

Angus Robertson Sinclair, one of the worst killers the UK has ever seen, was convicted of four murders. His first took place in his home city of Glasgow in 1961, when he raped and murdered his seven-year-old neighbour Catherine Reehill when he was just sixteen. But after spending a mere six years in prison, he was released in his early twenties to kill again. Teenagers Helen Scott and Christine Eadie were last seen at the World’s End pub on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile in October 1977. The next morning both were found murdered; not together, but a few miles apart on the East Lothian coast. The largest investigation in Scottish police history didn’t find their killer. Several years later, in 1982, Sinclair was jailed for life after he was charged with and admitted eleven charges of rape and indecent assault. However, twenty years after this, as Sinclair was beginning to be hopeful about being released on parole, a cold case review showed that Sinclair’s DNA had been found on the body of 17-year-old Mary Gallagher, a 1978 Glasgow murder that had been previously unsolved. These discoveries lead detectives to examine the link between Sinclair and several other unsolved cases. Scientific advances put him and his brother-in law Gordon Hamilton − who died in 1996 − firmly in the frame for the World’s End murders. In 2007 Sinclair stood trial for these murders, but a lack of evidence saw the case collapse. But following the change in Scotland’s double jeopardy law, Sinclair again faced trial for the World’s End murders in 2014, and this time was found guilty and sentenced to a minimum of 37 years in prison. This is the longest sentence issued to anyone in a Scottish court, and ensured that Sinclair would die in jail. But there were more victims. Many more. And in this book we tell their stories.

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn

Hosted by Dawn

Special Guest is Eleanor Morton

Researched and Written by Dawn Young

Produced and Edited by Dawn Young and Peter Bull

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Voice Talent by Eleanor Morton

Music:

Dawn of the Fairies by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Gothic Wedding by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Introduction by Eleanor Morton:

Welcome Wee Ones to Scottish Murders. Dawn will shortly be taking you through a solved or unsolved murder involving people from or living in Scotland. So get ready to hear about the darker side of Bonnie Scotland.

Dawn:

Before I begin, a lot of the information for this episode came from two specific books, one being Gone Fishing by Chris Clark and Adam Lloyd.

It was Saturday the 11th of June 1977 and 37 year old Frances Barker had spent the day at her sister’s home in Parkhead in the East End of Glasgow letting off steam, happily drinking and having a laugh after a long week working at the bakery. Having had a good day and plenty to drink, Frances decided in the late afternoon it was time to go home and so a taxi was called for her. When it arrived Frances’ niece Lily, who was 23 at the time, helped Frances out to the taxi and made sure she got in okay, as she was a bit unsteady on her feet. Lily waved the taxi off with Frances in it, not realising that this would be the last time she saw her Aunt Frances alive. The taxi driver drove Frances to her home in Maryhill Road in Glasgow, just a 16 minute drive away, where Frances, still unsteady on her feet, got out and headed towards her home. The taxi driver watched Frances for a second or two to make sure she was okay, but then got another call and headed off before Frances had made it to her front door.

Frances was only reported missing a week later when her colleagues became worried that she hadn’t been to work. The police were called but despite speaking to neighbours and appealing for information nobody had seen or heard anything. Frances had simply vanished. Sadly, her body was found on a quiet lane 16 days later just outside the village of Glenboig, about 15 miles or 24 kilometres east of where she had last been seen outside her home. Frances was found half naked, with her legs tied together using her tights and her arms tied using her scarf. Her knickers had been put into her mouth to gag her, and she had been raped and then strangled and left in a wooded area covered with leaves and branches to try to hide her body.

According to the book Gone Fishing, the police investigating Frances’ murder came to the conclusion quickly that she had likely been picked up and murdered by a kerb crawler, and so they visited the red light district to speak to the sex workers there to try to establish a likely candidate, and they wouldn’t be disappointed.

One particular lorry driver had been frequenting the red light district and picking up sex workers so often that one of the workers had actually taken down the lorry’s number plate. The lorry was traced to a Thomas Ross Young who was 44 years old. When his lorry was forensically examined hairs belonged to Frances were found, and when his home was searched a distinctive green makeup compact owned by Frances was found under the floorboards. The case was strong, but it only became stronger when another sex worker who had recently been raped picked Thomas Young out of a line-up. Thomas Young was arrested and when he appeared in court he was not only charged with Frances Barker’s murder but also seven other charges, all but one being sexual in nature. Thomas Young had also been charged and found guilty of raping a 19 year old woman in 1967 for which he received 18 months in prison, as well as being questioned in the same year following the disappearance of a 17 year old girl who he had picked up and had sex with, but he had said that he had dropped her off near her home afterwards, and sadly, as there was no body or evidence, there was nothing the police could do. Shortly after being released from his 18-month prison sentence for rape, he then was charged and found guilty of raping a 15 year old girl, for which he was sentenced to eight years in prison. So had he escalated from rape to murder? The police believe so and felt they had a strong enough case to take Thomas Young to trial for Frances Barker’s murder, although not everyone agreed and some felt he could have been set up so easily given his past record.

Thomas Young’s trial took place in October 1977 at the High Court in Glasgow where the jury took just one hour to find him guilty of Frances’ murder and he was sentenced to 30 years, which was the longest prison sentence to be handed down in Scotland at that time. But was Thomas Ross Young the murderer of Frances Barker?

So, because the police had quickly caught Thomas Young for Frances’ murder, holding him in custody until his trial and conviction, the people of Glasgow felt safe to go about their business again. On the 5th of August 1977, nearly two months after the disappearance and murder of Frances Barker, 20 year old Anna Kenny was getting ready for a night out in Glasgow. Anna lived with her dad Francis, mum Mary and brother Frank, and had recently got a job working in a brewery along with her best friend Wilma Sutherland. The pair were inseparable, and having spent a long week at the brewery they both were looking forward to a night out spending their hard-earned wages on a drink or two. The latest pub to be seen in in Glasgow was called the Hurdy Gurdy, and so on Friday the 5th of August Anna and Wilma headed straight there, spending the entire evening there chatting with friends throughout the night. The pair had started talking to a man that they both knew who had a bit of a crush on Wilma, and shortly after the trio were then joined by another man who was meant to be meeting a friend of his but they hadn’t shown up. Having spent the rest of the evening together drinking and laughing in the Hurdy Gurdy pub, at closing time the foursome then left the pub together and Wilma and the man who fancied her hung back and had a wee kiss in a doorway, while the man who had been stood up walked Anna to get a taxi. They had a bit of a kiss too but Anna said that she wasn’t interested in anything more and was going home, at which point he said bye and started walking home himself, catching Anna begin to hail a taxi as he turned away. This would be the last time Anna was seen alive.

She was reported missing to the police the next day. The police initially suspected the man who had walked Anna to get a taxi that night, but thankfully for the male he had encountered many friends as he walked home so they were able to provide him with a strong alibi, leaving the police with no leads as, again, despite appeals for information, nobody had seen or heard anything. Just like Frances, Anna had simply disappeared.

As the months passed and neither Anna or her body were found, Anna’s family and Wilma grew more tormented, however, life did go on for Wilma. Wilma could only bear to return to the Hurdy Gurdy pub twice after Anna’s disappearance, and on her second visit just before Christmas 1977 she met and started chatting to a Gordon Hamilton. The pair started a relationship and married less than a year later in 1978. But the relationship was not a happy one. Wilma soon realised that Gordon was a drinker, a very heavy drinker, but not only that, he was also violent and had extramarital affairs, and so the marriage was short-lived. However, possibly the relationship had been doomed from the beginning, as on the day of the wedding in 1978 Gordon and his best friend had a huge falling out, so huge in fact that his best friend didn’t attend his wedding and the pair never spoke again. No one knows what Gordon and his best friend, Angus Sinclair, argued about that caused such a rift.

On the 23rd of April 1979, six months into the unhappy marriage and almost 21 months after Anna had vanished, the police came to Wilma’s home and told her and her husband Gordon that remains had been found in a shallow grave in remote Skipness in Kintyre. Skipness is either about a three hour drive away from Glasgow where you have to drive northwest of Glasgow first then double back on yourself and end up southwest of Glasgow, or alternatively you could take a car ferry there, which was more of a direct route. The remains were thought to be Anna Kenny’s, which soon after was confirmed as two distinctive earrings were found as well as what was left of the top she had been wearing the night she disappeared. Anna’s top had been ripped and used to tie her ankles together as well as being placed around her neck. It was believed that Anna had been raped, severely tortured and eventually strangled with her own shirt. Anna’s family were severely affected by what had happened to their daughter, and sadly Anna’s dad, Francis, died in 1994 and her mother, Mary, took her own life two years later, leaving only Anna’s brother Frank. Frank did marry and have two sons, however, when one son was 13 and the other 11 sadly Frank died from a heart attack.

On the 1st of October 1977, while the investigation into Anna Kenny’s disappearance was still ongoing and two months since she had disappeared, Matilda, who preferred to be known as Hilda, McAuley was getting ready for a night out. Hilda was 36 years old, was a wife and a mother of two sons; 13 year old George and nine-year-old Mark. Hilda was estranged from the children’s father though and she and her two boys were currently staying with Hilda’s mother, Martha, in the Maryhill Road area of Glasgow. Hilda did have the full support of her mother, who every Saturday evening would look after the boys so Hilda could go out and enjoy herself, however, Hilda was still a single mother and she worked hard to provide for her sons, holding down two cleaning jobs. While things for Hilda were tough, she had a great relationship with her mother and children and it was a happy household. On Saturday the 1st of October, like every other Saturday night, Hilda’s boys, George and Mark, helped her get ready for her night out, laughing and having fun. Before Hilda left for the evening she kissed both of her boys and said bye to them and her mother, and then she was gone.

Hilda met up with three of her close friends that evening where they had a few drinks in local pubs while they caught up with the week they had had, before finally heading to their favourite spot, the Plaza Ballroom, for a night of dancing. As usual, upon entering the ballroom, the friends went off in various directions to chat to other friends and have a dance. It was about 12.15am on Sunday the 2nd of October when Hilda collected her coat from the cloakroom attendant and then Hilda had walked outside, presumably in the hopes of being able to get a lift home, something which she did regularly, sometimes even taking lifts from strangers. Had she maybe met a man at the ballroom who had promised her to lift home?

When Hilda didn’t arrive home after her night out her mother, Martha, began to worry, it was so unlike Hilda not to come home or to call if there was a problem. Martha called around Hilda’s friends but there was no news, nobody had seen her. All of Sunday Martha hoped and hoped that there was a reasonable explanation for Hilda’s delay, that she would walk through the door any minute, however she didn’t, and by the early evening on Sunday the 2nd of October Martha’s worst fears became a reality.  A local newspaper had reported that a body had been found in trees on waste ground in a secluded, obscure spot near the entrance to a caravan site, an area known locally as lovers lane, on the main road from Glasgow to Greenock, about 16 miles or 26 kilometres away from where Hilda had last been seen. If Martha had been in any doubt of the identity of the body, the description of the body and clothing confirmed to Martha that this was her daughter, Hilda. Martha, in a distraught and shocked state, contacted the police and told them the description was of her daughter. Hilda had been found half naked with her hands tied behind her back and had been gagged. Hilda had suffered horrific head injuries, had been raped and then had been strangled. While Hilda’s clothing was strewn around her, items such as Hilda’s bag, shoes, coat and a hairpiece had been taken, none of which were ever found.

The police launched a murder investigation, first trying to track down as many people as possible who had been at the Plaza Ballroom on the evening of Saturday the 1st of October as any number of them could be potential witnesses. However, this task was not an easy one. The Plaza Ballroom was very popular and it had been Saturday night, it was packed with nearly a thousand people there that evening.  Despite the appeals from the police for anybody who had been there that evening to come forward, between 250 and 300 men who’d been there never did come forward. Of the people who did come forward, none of them reported anything untoward. Of those that had seen Hilda they said she had been mostly alone, chatting with one group of friends or another, and she had been seen leaving about 12.15am by the cloakroom attendant who had regularly seen Hilda at the ballroom and who reported that Hilda appeared to be sober. When Hilda left the ballroom it was getting towards the end of the night at this time and it had been busy on the street with people leaving the ballroom for the night. Despite 1,200 people interviewed in Hilda’s murder inquiry, nobody had seen or heard anything that could give detectives a lead. Once again, just like with Anna and Frances, it appeared that Hilda had simply disappeared. I wasn’t able to find out anything about what became of Hilda’s two sons, George who had been 13 and Mark who had been nine, but presumably Hilda’s mother, and their grandmother, Martha, cared for them. Hilda’s mum, Martha, died in 2004 without her daughter receiving justice.

While Hilda McAuley’s murder inquiry was in full swing in Glasgow, over in Edinburgh, about 47 miles or 75 kilometres east of Glasgow, on Saturday the 15th of October 1977, 13 days after Hilda had been murdered, seventeen-year-old best friends Christine Eadie and Helen Scott were on a night out. Helen and Christine had been best friends since high school. Christine Eadie had lived with her grandmother for most of her childhood and it had been a happy childhood. Upon leaving school at 16 Christine began working in a surveyors office as a typist. Being very independent, Christine left her grandmother’s home soon after and rented a flat in Edinburgh with one of her friends, 29 year old Toni. Christine enjoyed going out regularly, she was very outgoing and extremely fashion conscious. Helen Scott had also left school at 16 and found herself working in a kilt shop in Edinburgh in October 1977. While Helen enjoyed this job, her long-term goal was to work in child care as she found herself most happy looking after children, something she regularly did for her two older stepsister’s children. Helen was still living at home with her parents, Margaret and Morain, whom she had a close relationship with, and her brother Kevin. Helen was more quiet and reserved than her friend, tending not to go out as often as Christine did, and had absolutely no interest in fashion, being a country girl at heart. Where the pair may have differed in clothing styles and personality, they made up for with their shared love of pop stars Donnie Osmond and David Cassidy. Before leaving for work in the kilt shop on Saturday morning, Helen told her parents that she would be going straight out after work, but that as usual they could expect her home around about 11.30pm. Helen apparently wasn’t a fan of staying out too late. So, after work, Helen, wearing her new jacket, met with another of her friends, Jacquie, and the pair visited a couple of pubs where they had a chat and a catch up, before heading to meet up with Christine and Toni at about 8pm. From here the small group made their way along what is known as the Royal Mile, stopping in various pubs along the way to say hello to other friends, before eventually getting to the packed pub known as The World’s End Pub about 10pm. The World’s End Pub now marks as far as many residents could go within the old city walls as there was a toll to exit that many couldn’t afford, so it was literally the world’s end, as they could proceed no further. As you can imagine, it was Saturday night and the pub was packed, with possibly as many as 250 people there that night. Christine and Helen managed to order themselves a drink at the bar, despite being slightly underage, and were then lucky enough to find a table to sit at that had just become vacant. The four were soon joined by more of their friends, males and females, and everybody is in high spirits. Gradually the larger group becomes smaller again as one by one somebody would pair off to speak to somebody else they knew, eventually leaving just Christine, Helen, Jacquie and Toni at the table. Jacquie and Toni then decided they were going to mingle as well, leaving Christine and Helen alone chatting. Jacquie and Toni soon returned with news that there was a party planned and Christine and Helen were invited too, only to find the two friends deep in conversation with two men that neither Jacquie or Toni had seen before. Christine and Helen seemed quite happy though and told the other girls that they were going to stay where they were, chatting to the two men. While Jacquie and Toni hadn’t seen the men before and had no idea who they were, they didn’t notice anything untoward about them, and so Jacquie, Toni and others going to the party left the pub, not realising just what danger Christine and Helen would soon find themselves in. Margaret Scott, Helen’s mum, was getting tired and was ready for bed, but she wanted to stay up for Helen coming in to hear about her night out. As 11.30pm passed and there was no sign of Helen, Margaret thought that Helen had probably been slightly held up but she wouldn’t be long. However, as 12.30am came round and Helen had still not come home, Margaret began to develop a feeling of dread. Margaret stayed up all night waiting for Helen, but she never came home. While filled with absolute dread Margaret still tried to convince herself that, despite Helen never having stayed out all night before, there was a reasonable explanation. Maybe Helen had stayed with Christine or Jacquie,or maybe one of her other friends’ homes, as maybe Halen had too much to drink and didn’t want to come home in a state. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

By first light Margaret was in an awful state and so telephoned Jacquie to see if her daughter was with her. Sadly, she wasn’t. Margaret, her husband Morain and an equally as concerned Jacquie, went to Christine’s flat in the hope that Helen was there with Christine. The door to the flat was opened by Christine’s flatmate Toni. Upon Toni hearing how Helen had not come home the previous evening Toni knocked at Christine’s bedroom door to see if she could shed any light on the situation, only to be faced with an empty room. Now the panic really started to set in. Both Helen and Christine were missing. Other friends of the pair were contacted by Margaret and Morain Scott but were told the same story each time, nobody had seen Helen or Christine since the night before at the World’s End Pub. It was a similar story when Christine’s mother, also called Margaret, was contacted, only she said she hadn’t heard or seen from Christine since Thursday morning, days before the last sighting of the girls at the World’s End Pub on Saturday night. There was nothing else for it but to report to the police that Christine and Helen were missing. Sadly, it wouldn’t be long before they received the news that both families had been dreading.

At about 2pm on Sunday, Christine’s naked body was found face up at Gosford Bay in East Lothian, about 15 miles or 24 kilometres east of the World’s End Pub, and about ten feet or three meters from the water. Christine had been gagged with her own knickers, her wrists had been bound by her tights, and her bra was wrapped around her head. Christine had been badly beaten, with injuries to her neck, top half of her body, face and head. She had been stripped, raped and then strangled with her own tights. The official cause of death was recorded as asphyxia following strangulation by ligature and gagging of the mouth.

While it was horrendous for Christine’s family that her body had been found, it was equally as traumatic for Helen’s family, as neither Helen nor her body had been discovered yet. The waiting for news was agonising. It would be four hours later at 6pm, while police were still investigating the scene where Christine’s body had been found, when a report came in that tragically Helen’s body had been found about seven miles or 11 kilometres away in a farmer’s field. Helen had been left face down in the field, naked from the waist down and partly covered with her new jacket, with her hands bound behind her back by her own tights and belt, and her knickers were close to her face, indicating that maybe she had been gagged with them but had somehow maybe managed to get them out of her mouth. Helen had been severely beaten, with evidence that a killer had stamped forcefully on the side of her head with their shoe, then sexually assaulted her, before strangling her, but manually this time as bruises caused by fingers were noticed under her jaw which indicated this. While Christine and Helen’s families were still in a state of shock and disbelief at what had happened, a large-scale murder inquiry began, which, according to the BBC News on the 14th of November 2014, was the biggest manhunt in Scottish police history. It was quickly noticed from investigating where the bodies were found that all of Christine’s clothing had been taken, other than her tights, bra and knickers, and a necklace and rings she had been wearing were also missing. Helen’s jeans, shoes and handbag were missing, but her jacket, that had been partially covering her, would be vital to the investigation. The missing clothing and jewellery were never found.

While some officers investigated the crime scenes and surrounding areas for evidence and clues and roadblocks were set up, other officers began the task of tracing the movements of Helen Scott and Christine Eadie on the evening of Saturday the 15th of October, which led them straight to the World’s End Pub. An appeal was issued for anybody drinking in the World’s End Pub or who had been in the vicinity on the evening, to come forward to be questioned. And as luck would have it, a policeman had been outside of the World’s End Pub on the very evening in question. But even better, he believed he had seen Christine, Helen and the two men they had been seen talking to inside of the pub. PC John Rafferty was patrolling the street that the World’s End Pub was on that evening by foot, and he said that around 11.15pm on the Saturday night he had seen who he later believed to have been Helen and Christine come out of the pub, and as the girls were passing PC Rafferty the girl he believed to have been Christine stumbled and fell to the ground. He said that this girl appeared to be quite drunk and so he helped the other girl, who he believed to have been Helen, pick Christine up from the ground. The girls then started walking away. PC Rafferty then said he noticed a man watching him intently from the pub’s doorway. The same male then walked towards Helen and Christine and appeared to offer them a lift.  As it was getting busy on the street now as the pubs were starting to come out, PC Rafferty got briefly distracted, but when he glanced back to where the girls had been he saw them disappearing further along the street, this time accompanied by two men who were walking behind them, one of which was the man PC Rafferty had seen standing in the doorway. He said that he watched them for a short while and was planning on taking the number plate of the car they got into, however, the foursome turned a corner and were lost to him. PC Rafferty then began to concentrate on the increasing number of drinkers leaving the pub at closing time, and the girls disappearing with the two men went clean out of his mind. That is until the very next day. PC Rafferty said he had seen the man standing in the doorway’s face for 10 seconds and that he had stood out to him as his clothing was completely unfashionable and out of date, describing the man as wearing a V-neck jumper and flared type trousers with a high waistband. While it was assumed that the two girls PC Rafferty had seen were Christine and Helen, and no one else had ever come forward to say this was them that he had seen that evening, still no one was absolutely positive at this stage. Next to be questioned was Helen and Christine’s friend Jacquie, who had been the last one to talk to Christine and Helen that evening, other than the two men the girls were with. Jacquie told the police that she had left the pub with other friends to go to a party and left Christine and Helen talking to the two men that she hadn’t known, but that while the two men seemed quiet she wasn’t getting any bad vibes from them. As more people that had been in the pub that evening were interviewed, a picture started to appear that backed up PC Rafferty’s account, that Helen and Christine had been seen leaving the pub with two men shortly after 11pm and that one of the men had a “brooding presence”. From the description and impression of the men, detectives felt that the men could have been based at the local army barracks, and so they set about the task of interviewing every soldier in the area, armed with a photo fit of the men from a number of witnesses in the pub who had seen them with the girls. This was a massive endeavour, and sadly it didn’t pay off. The police had their first dead end. But that was okay as they had a vast amount of leads that had to be investigated, as well as many anonymous letters suggesting possible suspects. All of these leads and possible suspects were investigated but led absolutely nowhere. According to the Edinburgh News on the 11th of March 2019, in total the police had conducted 150,000 interviews, all of which were recorded on 24,000 pages of statements, all done via paper in pen and filed in filing cabinets as this was before the era of digital records. However, despite the murder inquiry being the biggest manhunt in Scottish police history, and despite the massive amount of people who had been interviewed, the case went cold. Incidentally, on Monday the 17th of October, the day after Helen and Christine’s bodies had been found, the trial of Thomas Ross Young on the charge of raping and murdering Frances Barker began. And even more incredulously, despite the similarities in the rape and murders of Frances Barker, Helen McAuley and Christine Eadie and Helen Scott, these cases were not linked. Thomas Ross Young had been in custody so he couldn’t have carried out the subsequent murders. So, was it just a coincidence that three other girls had been raped and murdered in very similar ways to Frances? And of course Anna Kenny had not been found at this time, but when she was found in 1979 it was determined that she too had been raped and murdered in just as similar a way. But the police did not connect these cases, at least not publicly.

Helen’s mother, Margaret, had never recovered from the brutal murder of her daughter, her health started to decline and she sadly died in 1989, 12 years after Helen’s murder, never having seen her daughter receive justice.

Even though the cases of Frances Barker, Hilda McAuley, Helen Scott Christine Eadie and even Anna Kenny, even though her body had not yet been found, had not been publicly linked by the police, many parents living in Glasgow and Edinburgh began to ask questions and become increasingly concerned for their daughters’ safety, especially if they were on a night out. But equally, for many living in these areas, despite the murders being upsetting and concerning, it wasn’t going to stop them living their lives. One such person who thought like this was 23 year old Agnes Cooney who lived in Coatbridge, about 11 miles or 18 kilometres away from Glasgow City Centre, with her elderly and frail Aunt who needed care. Agnes Cooney had already suffered trauma and hardship from a young age when her mother and gran died tragically when she was 17 years old, leaving Agnes, being the oldest of five brothers and sisters, having to abandon her dream of being a nurse to look after her siblings full time with her dad. It wouldn’t be until three years later when the shy, kind and caring Agnes finally got to begin the journey of becoming a nurse. In December 1977, Agnes, now being a fully trained children’s nurse, had secured a job in a children’s home. She was finally living her dream. On Friday the 2nd of December 1977 Agnes had finished work for the day and had gone into Glasgow to meet her friend Gina, who she had met while at nursing college, and Gina’s boyfriend for a meal, before going to see Gina’s boyfriend play that evening with his Irish band at the Clada Social Club. Following their meal the trio made their way to the Clada Social Club, a 16-minute walk south of Glasgow City Centre, to wait for the rest of the band to arrive in the van full of equipment. Gina and Agnes helped the band unload their van before heading out front where they could enjoy the show. The pair had a great time dancing, singing and drinking, but before long the show was over and again Agnes and Gina went out the back to help the band load the van back up again. It was about midnight before the van was packed up again, which is when Gina and her boyfriend realised that Agnes was missing. Gina checked at the main entrance and staff there told her that Agnes had said bye and had left quite happily not long ago, to travel the 11 miles or 18 kilometres home. Gina and her boyfriend were concerned about Agnes walking about Glasgow by herself and so they went outside checking up and down the street as well as checking nearby bus stops for Agnes, but she’d gone. Gina was still concerned but eventually her and her boyfriend left too, assuming Agnes had hitched a lift back home. The first Agnes’s family knew there was a problem was the next day, Saturday the 3rd of December, when they received a phone call from Agnes’s work to say that she had not shown up. Everybody agreed this was worrying as Agnes was such a dependable person and would never just not show up for work. The police were called and Agnes was reported as missing. While trying to stay positive, the family were also aware of the recent murders of women in Glasgow and Edinburgh after a night out, but, no, there would be a reasonable explanation for Agnes’s disappearance.  However, the family’s hopes were dashed at 9am the following morning when Agnes’s body was discovered in a field near Caldercruix Village, which is about 20 miles or 32 kilometres east of where Agnes had been enjoying herself on a night out less than 48 hours previously. Agnes’s hands were tied behind her back using her own clothing, otherwise she was fully clothed, with one of her socks appearing to have been used as a gag, although it was no longer in her mouth. Agnes had been stabbed 26 times, with the fatal wound being to her neck. Agnes had not been sexually assaulted. It was believed that Agnes had been held elsewhere for at least 24 hours before being taken to the farm and killed, as the farmer who found her would have seen her sooner if not.

A murder inquiry began with detectives quickly establishing from interviewing witnesses that following Agnes leaving the club she had walked alone towards the city centre. She had next been seen near the motorway trying to get a lift. This was the last sighting of Agnes alive. Other witnesses mentioned seeing a white transit van with windows near the club, as well as another witness seeing a white van near where Agnes’s body had been found, however, this van was never traced, and this, and all other potential leads, dried up. As Agnes had not been sexually assaulted, detectives believed that this was because the murderer had been surprised at her strength and had killed her earlier than they had planned. However, despite the speculation and news reports about the similarities of the murder with the previous murders, albeit this was the first stabbing, detectives still refused to connect the Glasgow and Edinburgh murders, although did concede after two weeks that they believed Agnes and Hilda McAuley’s murders were linked, believing that a lorry or car driver on the motorway had likely been the murderer. While police didn’t publicly link all of the murders, a statement was issued saying that they were bearing in mind the murders of Hilda McAuley, Anna Kenny and Christine Eadie and Helen Scott, and that there had been certain similarities. Women were also warned not to leave dancing venues alone. Agnes’s family were deeply affected by the death of their kind, caring, reliable and fiercely protective Agnes. The fact that the murder inquiry went cold only served to further distress the family, and, sadly, Agnes’s dad died without Agnes receiving justice.

In six months, from June to December, there had been six women murdered in very similar ways, Frances Barker thus far being the only one to have received justice after the conviction of Thomas Ross Young. But Thomas Ross Young couldn’t have murdered the other women, so who was behind them?  Was it a copycat? An accomplice maybe? These questions, and more, went unanswered as the multiple murder inquiries carried on, before eventually going cold. 1978 came around and there had been no new murders. As the summer arrived people of Glasgow and Edinburgh began to relax a wee bit, not forgetting the horrific and brutal murders and still hoping the killer would be caught, but they began to feel that wee bit safer again going out at night, but they were being lulled into a false sense of security.

17-year-old Mary Gallacher lived in Springburn, about three and a half miles or six kilometres north of Glasgow City Centre, with her parents and six younger siblings. Sadly, there is very little information about Mary Gallacher, other than she was very small, standing at four foot 11 inches or about 1.3 metres, she was shy and worked in a factory as a machinist. It was about 6.30pm on Sunday the 19th of November 1978, and just over 11 months since the murder of Agnes Cooney, when Mary left her home, saying bye to her parents, to go and meet a couple of her friends a short distance away so they could all go to a social club. The distance from Mary’s house to where she was to meet her friends was only a few minutes away, however it was via a secluded path. She had been accompanied briefly on this short journey by an 11 year old boy from the area, but when Mary and the boy saw a man standing on the pavement staring at them intently the boy ran away in fright. Mary never did meet her friends that evening, and her body was found the next morning on wasteland near a footbridge less than half a mile or 0.8 kilometres from her home. Mary’s body was naked from the waist down, with her trouser leg having been used to strangle her. Mary had been raped, before her throat had been cut. A murder inquiry began, and the boy who had accompanied Mary that evening came forward as a witness. He had wanted to help the police desperately to try and track down the man he had seen, but sadly the description he was able to give wasn’t enough to go anywhere. Despite thousands of man hours being spent on this case, despite police carrying out door-to-door inquiries and interviewing over 2,000 people and taking hundreds of statements there were no further leads and the case went cold. Despite regular reviews of all these cold cases over the years, it wouldn’t be until early 2000, when police received credible information about a possible suspect for the murder of Mary Gallacher, that the investigation was reopened, which proved to have a domino effect.

This is the end of part one, but as you can tell this story is clearly not over, there’s so much more to tell in part two that you really don’t want to miss.

You can check out all the source material and photos related to these cases on our website scottishmurders.com.

Granny Robertson:

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn.

Introduction by Eleanor Morton:

Welcome Wee Ones to Scottish Murders. Dawn will shortly be taking you through a solved or unsolved murder involving people from or living in Scotland. So get ready to hear about the darker side of Bonnie Scotland.

Dawn:

As this is the second part of this story, I’d recommend listening to part one before continuing. For those who have already listened to part one, I’m just going to give you a wee recap.

So far I’ve told you about the brutal murders of Frances Barker, Anna Kenny, Hilda McAuley, Christine Eadie and Helen Scott, Agnes Cooney and Mary Gallacher in 1977 and 1978, with only Frances Barker having received justice thus far, with the other murder cases going cold. I’m going to pick up the story again in the year 2000, 23 years after these horrific murders.

It was Spring in 2000 and Strathclyde Police had received information about a potential suspect of the murder of Mary Gallacher in 1978. This information had come from a particularly reliable source, which in turn prompted a reinvestigation of the case. Information collected back in 1978 was gone through and evidence that had been carefully collected from the scene, which had thankfully been stored correctly in the hopes that one day forensics would advance enough to convict someone, was sent for forensic tests. The information that was received from the reliable source was treated so credibly that an investigation into the potential suspect named was also launched. However, all the work put into the suspect named by the reliable witness was blown apart when, due to advances in forensics, a DNA profile was obtained and a match was found on the National Database, which was not of the potential suspect they had been investigating. Instead the match was to 55 year old Angus Robertson Sinclair, who just so happened to be in prison serving a life sentence.

I’m not going to go into the background of Angus Sinclair to a massive degree as there is so much out there about him already and I really wanted to remember and highlight the murder victims and their families more, but if you would like to know more about his background then I’d recommend the books The World’s End Murders by Tom Wood and David Johnston and Gone Fishing by Chris Clark and Adam Lloyd.

Angus Robertson Sinclair was born in 1945. He lived with his father, also Angus, his mother Maimie, and his older brother and sister, John and Connie, in the Maryhill area of Glasgow. When Angus was four years old his father died, having been extremely ill for two years with chronic lymphatic leukaemia. Angus’ mother, Maimie, often wondered if perhaps the loss of his dad at such a young age had somehow contributed to his later behaviour. Angus had always been very small, and as an adult he was only five foot four inches or about 1.6 metres, and he’d been bullied at school due to this. He had also been very introverted and not very popular as a boy. And his unpopularity only increased when in 1961, when he was 15 years old, he was sentenced to three years probation after being charged and convicted of lewd and libidinous behaviour towards an eight-year-old girl who lived near him, which, according to The World’s End Murders by Tom Wood and David Johnston, is one of the minor charges available for sex offenses and it is usually applied when inappropriate behaviour that falls short of sexual assault has taken place. However, just six short months later Angus Sinclair was arrested for the murder of seven-year-old Catherine Reehill. It was the 1st of July 1961 and Angus was alone at home when he noticed a wee girl playing outside his block of flats. This was a close-knit community and most people knew each other on sight, but Angus wouldn’t have recognised this wee girl as she was visiting her mum’s sister, Agnes, who lived in the same block of flats as the Sinclair family, along with her younger siblings, Jim and Margaret, while their mum and dad visited London looking for jobs and a property so they could move there and provide a better life for them and their children. Angus left his flat and approached Catherine playing on the street and asked her if she would go to the corner shop for him and buy a bar of chocolate and bring it back to his flat, which she gladly agreed to. However, upon bringing the chocolate to the flat, Angus pulled her inside and attempted to rape her. Catherine must have been terrified but she put up a good fight as a struggle ensued, which caused Catherine to badly hit her head.  Once Angus had overpowered Catherine he raped her and then strangled her with a bike’s inner tube, leaving her fighting for her life. He then proceeded to calmly throw Catherine’s lifeless body down the stairs of the block of flats, where she soon was discovered by a couple of women who were going out who thought Catherine had fallen down the stairs. Angus appeared almost immediately and said that he would call an ambulance, telling the operator that a wee girl had fallen down the stairs. Everybody was concentrating so much on trying to save Catherine’s life that nobody gave Angus Sinclair a second thought at this time. Catherine sadly died on the way to the hospital. Catherine’s mum and dad, Vera and Patrick, were located in London and told the absolutely horrendous news of their daughter’s death, and they immediately came back to Glasgow. The entire family were so distressed and still in a state of shock, with Catherine’s cousin, Anne, saying in an article in The Sun Newspaper on the 12th of March 2019 that Catherine’s horrific death ripped her family apart. She went on to say that “he ruined so many lives. My family was never the same, my aunt was never the same.”  She remembers feeling such anger that her cousin, Catherine, had been taken from them. Anger was resonated through the family when Angus Sinclair, who ran away from home shortly after Catherine had been taken to hospital, was brought in for questioning. He denied any involvement in the rape and murder of seven-year-old Catherine, but after speaking to his brother, John, whose opinion he seemed to value, Angus confessed to murdering Catherine Reehill, and was subsequently charged. The community was in shock that not only could such a young boy have committed such an atrocious act, but that he appeared perfectly calm in the minutes afterwards when Catherine had been found on the stairs and he had offered to call an ambulance. Psychiatric reports were carried out before he was sentenced, with the BBC News reporting on the 11th of March 2019 that one psychiatric report said “I do not think that any form of psychotherapy is likely to benefit his condition and he will constitute a danger from now onwards. He is obsessed by sex, and, given the minimum of opportunity, he will repeat these offences.” However, another psychiatrist basically felt that because Angus had acted so normally after the murder that this in itself showed a degree of abnormality. Following reviewing all of the reports that had been prepared in order for the judge to pass sentence, on the 25th of August 1961 Angus Robertson Sinclair was sentenced to ten years for culpable homicide, but not murder as the court believed that Angus Sinclair had diminished responsibility. This in itself left Catherine Reehill’s family, and many others, in outrage. However, they were further disgusted when, after serving only seven of the ten years, Angus was released aged 22 years old. Whilst in prison he had undergone an apprenticeship in painting and decorating, with the prison services organising day release work for him to reintegrate him back into the community.

So, upon his release in 1968, Angus, having a job secured in Edinburgh, moved there and found a flat, continuing to work in the job that had been secured for him while still in prison. Two years later in 1970 he married a 20 year old nursing student called Sarah Hamilton, who was the older sister of his friend Gordon Hamilton, who Angus had had a massive falling out with on the day of Gordon’s wedding to murder victim Anna Kenny’s best friend, Wilma Sutherland.  Following their wedding, the couple spent their honeymoon in Campbelltown, which lies on the Kintyre Peninsula in Western Scotland, and, upon their return from honeymoon, the couple made the decision to move to Glasgow, although Angus kept working for the Edinburgh painting and decorating company, meaning he was away from home for long hours. Sarah and Angus had a son two years later who they named Gary. While Sarah said that during their marriage Angus was always kind to her, he did have numerous extramarital affairs, and she said he would regularly spend his weekends away from home with Sarah’s brother Gordon, who had moved in with the couple in 1977, saying that they were going fishing and staying in Angus’ white campervan, although Sarah did say they never came back with any fish.

Despite the extramarital affairs and Sarah and Angus having split up a few times, they always got back together. That is until 1982 when Angus Sinclair was arrested and charged with three rapes and nine sexual assaults from 1978 to 1982, with his victims being all girls between the age of six and 14. Over a four-year period the sexual assault of young girls in specific areas of Glasgow had begun to escalate, and in June of 1982 there being at least two attacks in one day. As each of the very young girls were interviewed, the police began to get a clearer picture of who the perpetrator may be. They were always aware of Angus Sinclair due to his past charges against young girls, and, when a six-year-old girl who had been raped at the end of June was shown photos of potential suspects, she clearly picked out Angus Sinclair. This, added with the fact that a number of the girls had said that the perpetrator had smelled of turpentine and one had even noticed paint on their shoes, all led detectives to arriving at Angus Sinclair’s home, that he had only just purchased with his wife, and brought him in for questioning.

While he said very little during questioning and denied having any involvement in the sexual assaults, when his wife Sarah was asked to sit in on an interview she said she knew immediately that he was guilty, and so told him that if he was guilty he should admit it and not put her or their ten year old son through a trial. Before Sarah left the interview, Angus admitted that he had carried out so many sexual assaults on young girls that he had lost count, incredibly stating that it could be somewhere between 50 and 500. Angus pled guilty to the sexual assault and rape of 11 children aged between six and 14, and in August 1982 he was given a life sentence, to serve at least 15 years in prison before being eligible for parole, however, the judge made it very clear that on this occasion he really did recommend that life meant life.

Sarah and her ten year old son, Gary, moved to England to start a new life, and, while Gary didn’t have contact with his dad again for many years, Sarah did keep up sporadic contact and did visit Angus occasionally. However, Gary really suffered with what his dad had done, not having his dad around anymore and having to move away from his life in Glasgow he really struggled with. He struggled at school, he struggled to control his temper and would become violent, and he drank heavily, and when he was 22 years old he was charged with murder, receiving a life sentence and serving 13 years. If you’d like to know more about Gary’s life before and after his conviction for murder, you’ll find so much more information about this in Gone Fishing by Chris Clark and Adam Lloyd.

So, in Spring 2000, when a DNA profile matching Angus Sinclair is found on evidence collected in the Mary Gallacher murder, the police are very pleased to find out that he is in prison and immediately they want to interview him. It turns out that despite the judge recommending at Angus’ trial in 1982 for the conviction of rape and sexual assault on children that life should mean life, in 2000, 18 years after his conviction, he had already applied to the parole board to be released in 1999, which had been declined, but this was the usual process, being denied parole the first time around. And, so, in 2000 Angus was in the process of getting ready to apply to the parole board for a second time to be released.  Angus had apparently been a model prisoner, he knew he had to play the game and had happily talked about and had worked through what he had done in his past, and he just wanted to be released so he could start a new life. He knew he had to be seen to be doing anything he possibly could to show that he wanted to cooperate, that he was a changed man, and so when he was asked to give a DNA sample to the police to be added to their ever-growing national DNA database, he happily and voluntarily agreed to provide one. And this very act of cooperation and trying to show he was a changed man was in fact his downfall, when his DNA was matched to semen that had been on one of Mary Gallacher’s pubic hairs, who had been murdered in November 1978, with a billion to one chance the semen wasn’t his. Angus was charged with Mary Gallacher’s murder, although he denied any involvement.

His trial took place at the High Court in Glasgow in 2001 and lasted 12 days. One of the many witnesses that took to the stand was the now man who had been the 11 year old boy who had been walking with Mary Gallacher that night but had ran away as he had seen a man staring at them so intently that it terrified him. Despite the passage of 23 years, and Angus being very much older with greying hair and glasses, the witness could identify that the man he had seen that night had been Angus Sinclair. He had never forgotten the eyes like dark holes. After 12 days of compelling evidence the jury took five hours to reach a majority verdict of guilty. The judge presiding over the trail said “This crime was a callous, brutal and depraved act on a young woman for which there’s only one sentence which I am allowed to pass in law, and that is one of imprisonment for life.” Going on to say that he recommended Angus should spend at least 15 years in jail before being eligible to apply for parole, at which point at least 40 members of Mary Gallacher’s family, including her mother, erupted in screaming and hurled abuse at Angus Sinclair, finally there had been justice for Mary Gallacher.

So, now that Angus Sinclair was well and truly on the police’s radar, and following him being convicted for the murder of Mary Gallacher, police wanted to find out if it were possible Angus could have been responsible for any other murders in Scotland, and the first cases to be investigated were the murders of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott, known as The World’s End murders. A small team had been set up in 1997 to look through all the evidence collected from the 1977 investigation and any new lines of inquiry were chased up, one being from an inmate saying that another inmate had told them that they had been involved in the murders and was able to include information that hadn’t been disclosed to the public. This new suspect was interviewed and a DNA swab was taken for comparison, as, due to advances in forensic technology, one DNA profile had been detected on Helen’s jacket, despite Helen and Christine being seen with two men and detectives truly believed that two men would have been needed to bind the two girls.  However, the DNA profile didn’t match the DNA taken from the potential suspect. As new leads came in, the police one by one ruled out suspects based on their DNA not matching the one found on Helen’s jacket. The small team had by this time gone through all of the information taken from back in 1977 and had collected a list of men that not only had been in The World’s End pub after 10pm on the evening the girls were last seen, but also a list of every male who had been interviewed or mentioned in the original investigation. Then the task of tracking them all down to ask for a voluntary DNA sample began. However, after completing this task none of the samples taken matched the DNA sample found on Helen’s jacket. At this time the investigation was wound down briefly until further leads could be generated, everyone believing that this now lay in forensics. As forensics advanced it was then able to be determined that from the DNA profile that had been recovered from Helen’s jacket and semen samples taken from Helen and Christine that the unidentified male had sex with both girls. It still frequently bothered detectives why only one DNA profile had been found when they were so sure that two men had been involved in these murders, but this question would soon be answered, again due to forensic advances.

In 2004 when further tests were carried out on Helen’s jacket, scientists were able to clearly extract a second clear DNA sample that was tiny in comparison to the main one they had been working with for years and had been masking the smaller one, and even more exciting for detectives was that the second DNA sample was on the national DNA profile database. They had a hit! The full DNA sample that had been found on Helen’s jacket was of none other than Angus Robertson Sinclair. After further testing of the knots and tights that had been used to bind the girls, it showed that both DNA profiles were present, albeit Angus Sinclair’s was only a partial one. Two men had been involved in Christine and Helen’s murders, now the police just needed to find out who the second person was. It was also noted that perfect reef knots had been used to tie up Christine and imperfect granny notes had been used to tie up Helen, further backing up the forensics that there had been two men present. Operation Trinity was set up to take the investigation even further, to build a case against Angus Sinclair, to finally find out who the more prominent DNA profile belonged to, as well as determining if Angus Sinclair had been involved in any other murders carried out in Scotland, with the murders of 36 year old Hilda McAuley, 20-year-old Anna Kenny and 23 year old Agnes Cooney being top of the list.  It was concluded that between 1968 and 2003, 1,038 women had been murdered in Scotland. When these were filtered down to those who had been murdered in a similar way to Christine Eadie and Helen Scott, the list not only included Hilda McAuley, Anna Kenny and Agnes Cooney, but also two Dundee murders being Carol Lannen and Elizabeth McCabe, however, these two murders were quickly ruled out as having been carried out by Angus as he had been in prison at the time. However, worryingly, the list also included the name Frances Barker, despite Thomas Ross Young having been found guilty and sentenced to 37 years in 1977. Could Angus and Thomas Ross Young have murdered Frances together? Or could there have been a miscarriage of justice?

Police did eventually conclude that Angus would have known the areas where all the bodies had been found as either they were near good fishing sites, and Angus was known to be a keen fisherman, or he had known these sites as a child, and he had even been to Kintyre for his honeymoon, and Kintyre was where Anna Kenny’s body was found. All was looking promising so far, but finding the second man who had been involved in the murders of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott was more challenging than had been hoped. Bearing in mind Angus had been in prison since 1982, the police went through his life from this time backwards, and eventually they struck gold. According to The World’s End Murders book by Tom Woods and David Johnston, the Y chromosome from the unidentified DNA sample was tested and was determined that it came from the same parental line as the five brothers of Sarah Hamilton, Angus’s wife. After four of her brothers were ruled out, it was determined the second DNA sample found on Helen’s jacket, on her body and on the clothing used to bind her, was that of Gordon Hamilton, with the odds against it being Gordon being 38 million to one. However, Gordon was dead, having died in 1996. But the police were positive they had identified the second man. The police weren’t immediately able to corroborate this DNA being Gordon’s, as since his death six years previous his family had thrown out every last thing he had touched or owned, and his body had been cremated. However, through some great police work and determination, it was discovered that Gordon had carried out some odd jobs for friends and relatives, and a few years before he had died he had decorated a relative’s home. The relative advised the police that Gordon had also put a coving up for her, and so the police sought permission to remove a section of the coving to test, and lo and behold DNA was found which matched the DNA that had been found on Helen’s jacket. They had him.

Gordon had met Angus after his sister, Sarah, had married him, but apparently they didn’t spend a lot of time together. It was Sarah’s younger brother, David, who spent a lot more time with Angus. However, Gordon did live with Sarah and Angus in 1977, before meeting and marrying Anna Kenny’s best friend, Wilma Sutherland, in 1978. Following Gordon and Wilma divorcing, Gordon had taken to drink and ended up homeless, dying from a heart attack in 1996.

Now there had been another line of inquiry that the police had been keen to investigate when it had been established that the DNA found had been that of Angus Sinclair. They had been keen to track down the white camper van Angus had had in 1977 when he and Gordon used to say that they were going fishing, as when officers had gone back over the information from the murders back in 1977, it was noted that some witnesses had mentioned seeing a white camper van near either where the girls had last been seen or near where the girls had been found. Apparently, Angus had quickly sold on the white campervan after the murder of Agnes Cooney in December 1977, but the police were able to trace that the camper van had last been owned by a couple in Scotland, who had done some renovations to the outside of the campervan over the years but amazingly they had never altered the inside, including it still having the original seat covers. The police were so hopeful of finding DNA samples of the other women who had been murdered too, as they really wanted Angus Sinclair to be charged with all of the murders on their list. However, the police were six months too late, as six months previously the couple had scrapped the camper van. And just like that the hope of being able to charge Angus Sinclair with all six murders was gone, as not only had the camper van been lost but so had all the paperwork from back in 1977 from the investigation into the murders of Hilda McAuley, Anna Kenny and Agnes Cooney. Gone, either lost or destroyed. But not only that, there was also the possibility that a miscarriage of justice had taken place back in 1977 when Thomas Ross Young was convicted of the murder of Frances Barker.

So, as the investigation into the Glasgow murders was only circumstantial due to the lack of information, and of the possible miscarriage of justice, it was decided that Angus Sinclair would only be charged with the murders of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott, for which he was charged in Spring of 2005, with the trial beginning on 6th of August 2007. From 2005 until the trial in 2007, detectives spent months and months, hours at a time, interviewing Angus, a lot of the time receiving in reply only a no comment, but despite this the police continued to build what they felt was a strong case against Angus Sinclair. However, by the time the trial came around in 2007, not many were feeling very confident about securing a conviction, as not only had the partial DNA sample that had been found in the knots used to bind the girls been decided too tenuous to present at court, but also the fact that there had been two different knot styles used on each girl. Due to this, it also meant that experts in these fields would no longer be called.  Plus, what was initially going to be a six-week trial was at the last minute cut down to only two weeks by the court. Detectives, and the Crown Office team prosecuting, were feeling very nervous. Angus filed a special defence saying that it was his dead brother-in-law, Gordon, who had carried out the murders, and that any DNA found on or in the girl’s bodies was due to consensual sex. The prosecution did their absolute best to present a strong case, but with the partial DNA, knots and experts not being admissible, as well as the fact that the jury were not allowed to be told of Angus’ previous convictions for rape and murder, sadly their case fell well short, and the trial wouldn’t even last the two weeks. The defence motioned for a no case to answer, which the judge agreed to, and the case against Angus Sinclair was dismissed. And that was it. After years of investigative work, of all the information that had been collected, of the DNA samples that had been retrieved, of all the effort that had been put in by everyone, and, of course, after the family of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott had got their hopes up that finally they would receive justice, just like that everyone’s hopes were dashed. Outside the courtroom, after hearing that his hopes of having his daughter see justice had been shot down, Helen’s dad, 77 year old Morain  Scott said “I am absolutely shattered, words can’t explain how I feel. I am gutted, absolutely gutted.” He went on to say that he did not feel that he had received justice and that he was convinced Angus Sinclair had been involved somehow. But Mr Morain, and everyone else who had been involved in this case, would soon have their hopes lifted once again.

While it is likely Angus Sinclair believed that that was it, it was over, he couldn’t be tried for Helen or Christine’s murder again, he’d gotten away with it, little did he know just what his case being dismissed would stir up. As word spread, everybody was annoyed and disgusted by what had happened. The decision taken by the judge to dismiss the case and not leave the decision to a jury was called into question, members of Scottish Parliament expressed their opinions, debates took place, conversations were had about the double jeopardy law and rules, everybody had something to see on the matter. And, so, in November 2011, the retrospective Double Jeopardy Scotland Act 2011 legislation was passed by parliament, meaning that if there was new evidence brought forward that the person committed the original offense or similar, then, if granted by The Crown, a new prosecution could be brought. This was great news, however, now new evidence had to be found, and again it would be cutting-edge forensics that would be relied on. This time the tights and bras that had been knotted and used to bind Christine and Helen were fully unravelled for the first time, as before it wasn’t felt that forensics would be able to detect what lay in the folds and creases of the clothing. But now, with the latest advances in forensics, when the binds were unfolded, traces of Helen’s, Christine’s, Gordon’s and Angus’ DNA were found there, indicating that they had got there when the clothing had been ripped off and used to bind the girls, not looking like the consensual sex Angus Sinclair had suggested. This was the new evidence that they had been looking for, which the Crown agreed was satisfactory to instigate a further trial.

And, so, Angus Sinclair found himself back in court on the 13th of October 2014, as the first case to be heard under the new double jeopardy law, and this time the prosecution were given five weeks to present every single piece of not only new evidence, but evidence they hadn’t been allowed to present in the previous trial, as well as many many experts in every possible area. Angus Sinclair also took to the stand himself but did nothing to endear the jury to him. If you would like to know more about what transpired during the trial, you can find so much more information from the Gone Fishing book, and a week by week account in The World’s End Murders book. On the 14th of November 2014, after closing statements and direction by the judge, the jury retired. However, they only took two hours to find Angus Sinclair unanimously guilty of the murders of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott. The judge presiding over the trial condemned Angus for what he had done, for the horrendous act he had carried out on these young girls, of the torment he had subsequently caused their families. He then said that he wasn’t going to waste his words on Angus and handed down a life sentence, with the punishment part to be a minimum of 37 years, which was very apt as it was just over 37 years since the murders of both Christine and Helen. The judge basically said he handed down this very lengthy sentence as he wanted to ensure that this man would not have a chance of ever getting paroled, as Angus Sinclair would be 106 years old when he would be eligible. He was then led away. He was 69 years old.

According to the BBC News, on the 14th of November 2014, Helen’s brother, Kevin, said outside of the court that “We finally have justice for Helen and Christine.” Going on to say that the 37-year sentence was appropriate. He went on to describe his sister Helen as a country girl who had beautiful blue eyes and a smile that he would never forget. He said that Christine was popular, friendly and a likable girl, and that her family loved her dearly. Helen’s dad, Morain, who was 84 years old, was also outside of the court with his son, Kevin. Morain had made a promise to his wife just before she died that he would get justice for their daughter, he felt that he had fulfilled that promise and just wanted to get on with his life now. Sadly, Morain died the following year, but he was at peace finally having got justice for his little girl.

There never was an inquiry into whether Thomas Ross Young was innocent of Frances Barker’s murder or if he had acted with Angus, and Thomas Ross young died in 2014 still saying he was innocent. Did Frances get justice?

Gordon Hamilton died before being brought to justice for his part in the rape of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott as well as their potential murder, and due to this he tends to get forgotten about, but Helen and Christine were abducted, bound, tortured and raped by both Gordon and Angus, and murdered by Angus and potentially Gordon too.

Despite Operation Trinity being set up and establishing that Hilda McAuley, Anna Kenny and Agnes Cooney had been murdered in a similar way to Christine Eadie and Helen Scott and therefore it being possible that Angus Sinclair had also murdered them, sadly there was no evidence left from their murder inquiries to be able to prove this one way or another. Hilda, Anna and Agnes will therefore never receive justice. But it is thanks to the careful storage of all documentation and evidence collected in the Christine Eadie and Helen Scott murders that they were able to receive justice, despite the passage of time. There may very well also have been more women murdered in Scotland either by Angus Sinclair or Gordon Hamilton that was never discovered.

And finally, Angus Sinclair died on the 11th of March 2019 following suffering a series of strokes, after his health had deteriorated over an 18-month period where he had progressively been unable to walk, he needed assistance with personal hygiene and dressing, was at risk of falls and had increasing periods of incontinence. He was 73 years old.

Like I said at the beginning, so much of the information for these cases came from two books; one being Gone Fishing by Chris Clark and Adam Lloyd, and the second being The World’s End Murders by Tom Wood and David Johnston. Synopsis and links to both books, and all other source material, can be found under this episode on our website scottishmurders.com. There is so much more information in these books that I wasn’t able to say in the episodes, including the belief that not only did Angus Sinclair carry out all of the murders mentioned in these episodes, but also potentially more.

So, were these murders linked or not linked? I’d like to believe that they were linked and that Angus and/or Gordon committed them, as if it wasn’t either of these men then there is someone else out there who committed these terrible crimes, and got away with it.

Granny Robertson:

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn.


Dundee Murders - 2 Roseangle

Dundee Murders
2 Roseangle

Episode Summary

A horrific crime that began in Dundee, didn’t end in Dundee, but was there justice?

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

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The Law Killers: True Crime from Dundee

by Alexander McGregor

Synopsis

True crime from Dundee, covering the most fascinating and shocking cases from the last century. Having reported on many of them first-hand, journalist Alexander McGregor has unique insight into the cases and his stories are as chilling as they are compelling. In The Law Killers Alexander examines some of the country’s most fascinating and chilling cases and peels back the civilised layers of our society to reveal what lies beneath.

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn

Hosted by Dawn

Researched and Written by Dawn Young

Produced and Edited by Dawn Young and Peter Bull

Voice Talent by Eleanor Morton

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Music:

Dawn of the Fairies by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Gothic Wedding by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Introduction by Eleanor Morton:

Welcome Wee Ones to Scottish Murders. Dawn will shortly be taking you through a solved or unsolved murder involving people from or living in Scotland. So get ready to hear about the darker side of Bonnie Scotland.

Dawn:

It was Sunday the 18th of May 1980 and the residents of Dundee had been enjoying a beautiful hot weekend. Many relaxed in their gardens enjoying the sunshine with a cold drink, while others were enjoying spending time in the parks, including four medical students from the University of Dundee, who, about 6.30pm, were on their way to have a game of football at a nearby park. While on their way they were having a kick about with the ball when one of them accidentally kicked their ball over the railings into the garden of a house in Roseangle. One of the students, Thomas, while being jokingly berated by his friends, made his way over the railings and into the garden to retrieve the ball. Thomas was just about to return with the ball when he happened to notice that a basement window of the property was broken, so, being curious, he decided to take a closer look.

Roseangle is a street in the west end of Dundee, which is known for its cobblestone roads, leafy green areas, older properties and beautiful views of the River Tay. And where Roseangle meets Perth Road is number 2 Roseangle, a magnificent detached home, which is directly across the street from the Dundee West Church of Scotland. 2 Roseangle was a large, grand property, and its occupants were that of Dr Alexander Wood and his wife, Dorothy, both 78 years old. Dr Wood had been a very popular GP in Dundee since 1930, however, due to his ailing health he had retired in 1975 at the age of 73. By 1980 Dr Wood and his wife’s health had deteriorated significantly, with Dr Wood only being able to get around with the aid of two sticks, in part due to him having an artificial leg. On Saturday the 17th of May 1980, Dr Alexander Wood had only been out of hospital for a few days and so the couple’s son, Nicholas, who was a dentist in Banchory, which was about 56 miles or 90 kilometres north of his parents home in Roseangle, had visited his parents to check they were both okay. Nicholas left his parents home on Saturday late afternoon, with the couple waving him off, before going back inside to prepare their tea. About an hour or so later, Dorothy heard the sound of breaking glass coming from their basement kitchen. Despite her frailty she went to investigate. Upon opening the door to the basement kitchen she came face to face with an intruder. She immediately shouted for her husband to phone the police, before pointing at the intruder and shouting at them to get out, at which point the intruder grabbed Dorothy by the arm. Dr Alexander Wood, having heard his wife’s distress and shouting, had also managed to make his way to her side, just in time to see the intruder put his hands on his wife, at which point Alexander began hitting the intruder with his cane. The intruder, shocked by the couple, immediately looked around for a weapon, with his eyes falling on a slater’s hammer lying nearby. He picked this up and began to strike the elderly couple repeatedly, again and again, until they both lay motionless on the floor of the basement kitchen. After the attack, Henry dropped the slater’s hammer and looked towards the couple who were now lying on the floor covered in blood, with their eyes open staring at nothing. At this point Henry began to laugh and cry at the same time, before being physically sick. He then slowly sunk to the floor and sat there in a daze.

29 year old Henry John Gallagher was born in Dundee on the 3rd of April 1951 as Henry John Reid, but had at some point changed his name to Gallagher. He was brought up in Dundee by his mother, but never knew his father. According to an article in The Courier newspaper on the 18th of May 2020, Henry Gallagher had a long record of burglary and assault, mainly directed towards clergyman, having assaulted a minister in Dundee in 1972, as well as a year later attacking a priest, and in 1979 he broke into a property to rob it and when he found they had a pet dog he cut its throat. Henry Gallagher had been on leave from Maidstone prison in England, which is about 531 miles or 854 kilometres from Dundee, where he was serving a three-year prison sentence for burglary. For whatever reason, during his leave Henry Gallagher returned to his hometown of Dundee, whereupon he approached a local club and asked a woman there for directions to the home of the Roman Catholic Bishop and the woman directed him towards Roseangle, where the Bishop’s residence was located. When Henry Gallagher arrived at Roseangle, he saw the grand house directly opposite the church and assumed that this was the residence he was looking for, which he planned to break into and rob. He then proceeded to make his way to the basement window of the property, which he broke and climbed through, where within minutes he would be carrying out his atrocious act on the helpless and frail Dr Alexander Wood and his wife, Dorothy.

Coming out of his daze, which Henry felt had been a long time, following his frenzied attack on Dr Wood and his wife, he got up from the floor and decided to carry out the very robbery he had intended to do in the first place. Going from room to room Henry Gallagher packed a suitcase belonging to the couple full of jewellery and silverware worth about £2,000, which in today’s money would be about £6,900 or $8,600. He then put on Dr Wood’s long raincoat to cover the blood on his clothes, picked up the suitcase and left the property. However, due to the hot weather that evening, Henry’s odd appearance of wearing a raincoat had been noticed.

Thomas, with his football in hand, had made his way to the broken basement window and was now scrambling back up the steps towards his three friends, to inform them of the horrendous sight he had just seen, before then also alerting the police. By 7.30pm, an hour after Thomas had made the gruesome discovery, 2 Roseangle had been declared a crime scene, and Detective Chief Superintendent Jim Cameron had arrived at the property to lead the inquiry into the murder of the “well nigh defenceless” Dr Alexander Wood and his wife Dorothy, both 78 years old. However, despite the lead detective being an experienced old-school detective, he was shocked by the level of violence that had been displayed towards the elderly couple, saying in the Courier newspaper on the 24th of September 2013 that it was “not normal.”. As Detective Jim Cameron surveyed the devastation inside 2 Roseangle, the street outside of the property was a flurry of activity, with a mobile incident van setting up nearby, 40 police officers beginning to canvas the area for witnesses, and an appeal being made for information, and it wasn’t long before a picture began to emerge.

Students from the nearby University of Dundee, who had been sunbathing on the grassy area adjacent to Dr and Mrs Wood’s property on Saturday, had said that they had seen a man leaving the property on late Saturday afternoon, with the couple waving him off from the doorway. It was established quickly that this was the couple’s son, Nicholas, that had been seen, and it was determined, following the post-mortem, that the couple had likely been murdered within an hour of their son leaving. According to the Law Killers book, another witness came forward, who worked at a nearby club, who said that on late Saturday afternoon a man, she estimated to be about 30 years old, had come to the club and asked her to give him directions to the Roman Catholic Bishop’s home, which was located on Roseangle. She went on to say that he was odd looking as he wore a dated style of shirt which had large floral patterns on it. Upon the police speaking to the Roman Catholic Bishop who resided in Roseangle, it was quickly established that the same male had shown up in the garden of the Bishop’s home, but that he’d scarpered pretty quickly when he was confronted by the Bishop’s housekeeper. As news of the atrocious and vicious attack got out, locals were disgusted by what had happened to the elderly couple and made sure to contact the police with any scrap of information they thought might be helpful to catch the murderer. Such information included witnesses coming forward to say they had seen a male on Saturday evening wearing a raincoat and a stained hat carrying a suitcase and hurriedly making his way along Perth Road, which particularly stood out due to the weather being so hot. As more and more witnesses came forward with sightings of this out of place man on the Saturday, it led the police directly to the railway station, although this man had at least a day’s head start so finding out where he went next wasn’t going to be easy.

While detectives were working hard to establish who the murderer was and where he had gone, a phone call that was received from a local GP sounded very promising. The female GP had eventually called the police, having wrestled with her conscience, to give them the name of one of her patients she felt strongly could have committed these murders. This line of inquiry was immediately followed up, however, it shortly fell flat when the GP’s patient had a solid alibi for the time of the murders. With this line of inquiry proving fruitless, the detectives were even more determined to find out who this brutal murderer was, and, so, they appealed for information again, this time though they appealed to the Dundee underworld for information, hoping that they too would be disgusted at the level of violence shown to the elderly couple, and they would be right. However, while they did receive information from the underworld, it also led nowhere. And then a few days after the discovery of the murders, the latest edition of the police Gazette landed on the desk of a detective working on the murder inquiry. While having a quick perusal of it he just happened to notice a short listing about how 29 year old Henry John Gallagher or Reid had not returned to Maidstone prison following his home leave on the 12th of May, and it just so happened that the detective reading this listing knew all about Henry John Gallagher and alarm bells started ringing.

Following Henry Gallagher arriving at the train station in Dundee on Saturday evening still wearing the raincoat and stained hat, he boarded a train to London, about 482 miles or 775 kilometres from Dundee, before boarding another train to Ramsgate, about 80 miles or 128 kilometres east of London located on the coast. He spent a few days hiding out and slowly getting rid of the jewellery and silverware he had stolen from the Woods’ home, before he then met a couple who said they could provide him with new identification in order for him to be able to travel onwards to France. The couple then told him to meet them later that night and they would provide him with the identification he needed, and in return Henry would pay them in jewellery. Henry then strolled away from the couple, before stopping a passer-by in the street to ask for directions to the home of the nearest Roman Catholic Priest, who was frail 88 year old Father Paul Hull who lived with his 73 year old housekeeper Maud Lelean. Upon arriving at the priest’s home Henry knocked on the door, which was answered by the welcoming priest who invited Henry into his home. In return for the kind priest welcoming Henry into his home, he sadly was beaten repeatedly and savagely with his own walking stick by Henry, before Henry also turned the priest’s walking stick onto his housekeeper. With Father Hull and Maud Lelean lying severely beaten and close to death on the floor of Father Hull’s study having sustained severe head injuries, Henry ransacked the house looking for jewellery, money and silverware, before about an hour later being seen leaving the home and walking away wearing a raincoat he had not been wearing when he entered. About 30 minutes later, Father Whealan arrived at the home of Father Hull and went inside. Upon calling out to Father Hull and his housekeeper Maud and receiving no reply, he opened the door to Father Hull’s study, where he faced the devastation that Henry Gallagher had left in his wake. Father Whealan immediately called an ambulance and the police, but sadly 88 year old Father Paul Hull was declared dead at the scene. However, 73 year old Maud Lelean was still alive, albeit barely, and she was rushed to hospital, but sadly she died three days later never having regained consciousness.

With detectives now on the murder scene at Father Hull’s home, and having recovered from the bloodied brutality and violence that had met them, they began to call door-to-door to see if there were any witnesses to this horrific murder, which is when they discovered that a male had been seen arriving at the property and leaving about an hour later dressed in a raincoat, and about 30 minutes before Father Whealan arrived. Now detectives had a brief description of who they believed was their murderer, they just had to find out who and where he was.

Upon a detective working on the murder inquiry of Doctor and Mrs Wood in Dundee seeing a listing in the Police Gazette about Henry John Gallagher having not returned to prison following his leave, he immediately shared his belief with other detectives that Henry may have made his way back to his hometown of Dundee and had been involved in the horrific murder of Dr and Mrs Wood. If this were the case then more people, particularly clergyman, could be at risk of being attacked or worse by Henry too. And so the detectives sought a recent photo of Henry Gallagher from Maidstone prison, which they then showed along with nine other photos of similar looking men to the lady at the club near the Woods’ home who had given directions to the Roman Catholic Bishop’s home located on Roseangle to an odd looking man, as well as to the housekeeper of said home who had confronted a man who had appeared in the garden of the Bishop’s home on late Saturday afternoon. Both witnesses, having looked at all ten photos, picked out the man they had seen on Saturday afternoon, who was that of Henry John Gallagher. The detectives were pretty sure they had discovered the identity of the murderer of Dr and Mrs Wood, however, before any inquiry could be carried out to find Henry Gallagher, word reached the Dundee detectives that an attack and murder had taken place in Ramsgate in England of an elderly priest and his housekeeper. The police immediately contacted Ramsgate detectives and informed them that they believed they were now both looking for the same man, advising them who this man was and what his background was. The hunt was now on to find Henry John Gallagher, a man who had so savagely attacked and murdered four people in the space of seven days, before he was able to strike again.

Upon Henry Gallagher walking away from Father Hull’s home and carrying out the brutal murders, he returned to meet the couple who had promised him new identification and paid them with some of the jewellery he had not long ago stolen from Father Hull’s home after murdering him. Henry then spent the night at the couple’s home, who had no idea of the horrific murders their house guest had committed. But at first light Henry fled Ramsgate, knowing it wouldn’t be long before the news broke about the attack and murder of Father Hull and his housekeeper, Maud. With the Dundee detectives having alerted the Ramsgate detectives of the likely murderer being Henry John Gallagher, it was immediately arranged by the Ramsgate police for a photo of Henry to be distributed to every newspaper in the country, with headlines stating, according to the Law Killers book, ‘Catch this man’ and ‘Danger Man’. However, back in Scotland, according to the Law Killers book, the newspapers in Scotland were not allowed to publish Henry’s picture in their publications as his identification might infringe on him having a fair trial. Thankfully, Henry wasn’t making his way back to Dundee as had been thought, but instead decided to stay in England, and, due to newspapers there being allowed to publish his photograph at will, Henry would find it harder and harder to evade capture.

Henry made his way back to London again, before eventually ending up in Brighton, about 53 miles or 86 kilometres south of London on the south coast, and it just so happened that the particular weekend Henry found himself in Brighton was when the town was packed with visiting skinheads. Thinking that if he too shaved his head then he might not only blend in more but it also may aid him in remaining undetected by the ever-present police. However, he did such a bad job of shaving his head, which caused many sore, bloodied cuts to it, that it actually had the opposite effect to what he was looking for. Next he tried to pretend he was a tourist and donned a loud colourful shirt, sunglasses and a camera, but again he only seemed to draw more and more attention to himself. He eventually had to flee Brighton as he had overheard the landlady of the guest house he was spending a few days in telling a member of staff that she believed the man who was staying with them was the man the police were seeking. From here, Henry made his way from town to town, always trying to keep on the move, and in one town he broke into a Salvation Army hall and stole £400, which in today’s money is about £2,000 or about $2,500. On the 29th of May 1980, a few days after fleeing from Brighton, Henry eventually ended up in York in England, about 281 miles or 452 kilometres from Dundee and about 273 miles or 439 kilometres from Brighton, where he found himself at the home of local vicar, Derek Hall, and his wife Dorothy. Upon Dorothy answering the door to the knock, Henry, looking worse for wear, asked if he could wash their car. As Dorothy replied that her husband was away from their home with the car just now, she had a nagging feeling that she had seen this man somewhere before. Henry accepted Dorothy’s reply and turned to leave, before Dorothy closed the door and went to a window to watch the dishevelled man walk away. At that point she realised where she had seen the man before, in the morning newspaper, he was a wanted man for murder! Dorothy immediately called the police to advise them she had just had the country’s most wanted man at her door, before going on to ring round every minister or priest in the area to warn them of the dangerous man who may come calling. Upon having the door closed on him with no prospect of cleaning the family’s car, Henry walked slowly off down the street, where after walking for almost a mile or 1.6 kilometres he came upon the home of Father Curristan. He approached the front door and knocked on it, but he received no answer. Henry then sat down on the doorstep and lit up a cigarette. However, Father Curristan was inside the property and had seen from an upstairs window the dishevelled man approach his home and knock on the door. Father Curristan, not recognising this man, made the decision not to answer the door to him, and in essence likely saved his own life. As he continued to watch the man sitting on his doorstep, the phone beside him began to ring. Father Curristan answered the telephone and would have been pleased with his decision not to answer the door, as on the other end of the phone was Dorothy Hall, the wife of vicar, Derek Hall, who was phoning to let Father Curristan know that a murderer the police were seeking was in the area and had not long been at her door, and telling him to be careful about answering his door. As Father Curristan listened in disbelief and relief at what Dorothy was telling him, he noticed a police car passing his home and that the man on the doorstep had got up and was beginning to head in the opposite direction. From his position at the upstairs window, Father Curristan saw the police turn round, approach the dishevelled man and talk to him. However, without any warning the man took off at great speed, and the police officers gave chase. After leading the police on a chase over fences and through back gardens, Henry eventually stopped, turned round and declared “Okay, you’ve got me”, and he was promptly arrested, 12 days after he committed the brutal murder of Dr Alexander Wood and Dorothy Wood back in Dundee.

Both Ramsgate detectives and Detective Jim Cameron from Dundee travelled to York to question Henry Gallagher about the murders in their respective towns. When the Ramsgate detectives questioned him, Henry straight away told them, according to the Courier newspaper, that he was going to come clean and wanted to get it all off his chest, to which he proceeded to make a full confession regarding the murders of Father Hull and his housekeeper Maud Lelean in Ramsgate. Following Henry’s confession to the murders in Ramsgate, it was then Detective Jim Cameron’s turn to question him about the murders in Dundee and, as he had done with the previous detectives, Henry Gallagher made a full confession to the murders of Dr and Mrs Wood, stating that he had kept hitting them both like he had gone crazy. He went on to say that he didn’t think he was right in the head, that he had to be cured and that if he went to prison when he came out there would be more. He also apparently stated that he had told all of this to a psychiatrist ten years before, but they didn’t take any notice. Henry Gallagher was then charged with the four murders.

As Henry was arrested in England, had failed to return to Maidstone prison in England after his leave, as well as two of the murders he was charged with being committed in England, it was decided that he would appear in court for the murders he committed in Ramsgate first, before any further cases would be heard. And, so, in December 1980 Henry Gallagher appeared at Maidstone Crown Court in England where he pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Father Hull and Maud LeLean in Ramsgate on the grounds of diminished responsibility. However, at this time, following assessments and reports being prepared and heard by the judge, the judge made the decision that Henry Gallagher be detained at Broadmoor Hospital with a restriction without limit on his discharge.

According to nhs.uk Broadmoor Hospital is one of three high security psychiatric hospitals that specialise in providing assessment, treatment and care for men from London and the south of England.

A few days after Henry Gallagher was detained in Broadmoor Hospital, the Lord Advocate in Scotland announced his decision that no further action would be taken against Henry Gallagher in Scotland regarding the murders of Dr Alexander Wood and Dorothy Wood.

It is believed that Henry Gallagher remains in Broadmoor Hospital to this day, and therefore has never been tried in Scotland for the murders he committed in Dundee, and this murder case still remains unsolved, despite the confession to the murders by Henry Gallagher.

In 1994 a 22-page book was published by Henry Gallagher while still in Broadmoor hospital, where he detailed his life and the crimes he committed, including the murders of Dr Alexander Wood and his wife Dorothy. When Detective Jim Cameron heard about the book he said in an article in The Courier newspaper that he was delighted to hear that Henry Gallagher had finally confessed to the Dundee murders publicly, going on to say it had finally closed the case for him, and in his eyes justice had been done as Henry Gallagher was placed where he should have been because he was beyond saving.

2 Roseangle, despite changing hands numerous times since the horrific murders that happened there, has stood empty ever since.  Once such a magnificent home is now unrecognisable; being overgrown, all windows boarded up and having been vandalised inside and out.

If you’ve enjoyed this episode then I would be so grateful if you could leave a review or a rating on your listening platform, so that more people can find this podcast. I would love to get more Scottish Murders out there. Please also don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

So that’s it, come back next time for another episode of Scottish Murders.

Granny Robertson:

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn


Dundee Murders - Gordon Dunbar

Dundee Murders
Gordon Dunbar

Episode Summary

James was disappointed that his brother Gordon didn’t turn up to spend Christmas Day with his family, but there was a very good reason for his absence.  

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

ALASTAIR THOMPSON v. HER MAJESTY’S ADVOCATE

Gordon Dunbar, 1992 – DD Tours

“Whenever I’ve heard the expression ‘pure evil’ over the last 25 years I’ve thought about Alastair Thompson”

Murderer who cut up his victim gets life | HeraldScotland

“Whenever I’ve heard the expression ‘pure evil’ over the last 25 years I’ve thought about Alastair Thompson”

Brian Kirk obituary: Superintendent who probed notorious Dundee murders

Detectives Found Human Tissue In Dundee Flat Body In Pond ‘to Look Like Accident’ Detectives Investigating The Murder Of A | Aberdeen Press and Journal | Friday 07 May 1993 | British Newspaper Archive

Murderer who cut up his victim gets life | HeraldScotland

Montrose Visitor Guide – Accommodation, Things To Do & More | VisitScotland

Dundee Law – Wikipedia

Pig’s Head ‘gift’ For Newsman In ” Casw? A Pig’s Head.was Thrown Through The Wfifidow or A Dundee Journalist’s* Home | Aberdeen Press and Journal | Wednesday 08 September 1993 | British Newspaper Archive

Law Murder Appeal Wins Continuation | Dundee Courier | Friday 13 May 1994 | British Newspaper Archive

About Sacro | Sacro

Murder-Accused Denied | Aberdeen Press and Journal | Wednesday 12 May 1993 | British Newspaper Archive

Butterburn Court | UK Housing Wiki | Fandom

National Summary and Outlook Thompson Has Appeal Continued | Dundee Courier | Saturday 22 January 1994 | British Newspaper Archive

Births, M Arri, Ages and Deaths Dunbar Murder: Appeal Lodged | Dundee Courier | Thursday 17 March 1994 | British Newspaper Archive

The Law Killers: True Crime from Dundee

by Alexander McGregor

Synopsis

True crime from Dundee, covering the most fascinating and shocking cases from the last century. Having reported on many of them first-hand, journalist Alexander McGregor has unique insight into the cases and his stories are as chilling as they are compelling. In The Law Killers Alexander examines some of the country’s most fascinating and chilling cases and peels back the civilised layers of our society to reveal what lies beneath.

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn

Hosted by Dawn

Researched and Written by Dawn Young

Produced and Edited by Dawn Young and Peter Bull

Voice Talent by Eleanor Morton

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Music:

Dawn of the Fairies by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Gothic Wedding by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Dawn:

Trigger warning. This episode contains gruesome details that some listeners may find disturbing, so listener discretion is advised.

Before I begin, a lot of the information for this story I got from The Law Killers by Alexander McGregor, which is a book all about murders that have happened in Dundee.

It was Christmas Eve 1992, some people were carrying out last minute preparations for the Christmas Day festivities the following day, while others had started the celebrations already and were enjoying a pint or two at their local pub. Also enjoying themselves that night were two women who had struck up a conversation with two men at Arthur’s Nightclub in St Andrew’s Lane in Dundee. The four had a great night at the nightclub drinking, dancing and laughing Christmas Eve away, and before they knew it it was well into Christmas Day. Wanting to keep the party going, at about 2.30am the women invited the men back to theirs to carry on drinking and partying and they both accepted. One of the men in particular was the life and soul of the small party, keeping the others entertained until about 5am when he finally left, and all would have agreed that they had a great night, and they wouldn’t have believed for one second that there had been a murderer in their midst.

James was really looking forward to Christmas Day this year as his half-brother, Gordon, would be coming to spend the day with his family and have his Christmas meal with them. James knew that Gordon had not had it easy lately and that he’d been quite despondent, so he hoped that Gordon being around all of his family would cheer him up.

Gordon Dunbar had returned to Dundee recently having lived in France for a time with his French partner. Gordon and his male partner had opened up a café in Arras in France, which had proved very popular with the gay community. However, sadly, Gordon and his partner had split up and the business had failed, resulting in a heartbroken Gorden returning to Dundee. Gordon had lived in Scotland since the age of 11, having grown up in the Belgium Congo, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with his parents. It’s not known what happened to Gordon’s parents but at the age of 11 Gordon moved to Scotland and lived with his aunt in Montrose, which is about 38 miles or 61 kilometres north of Dundee. As a young man, Gordon had become an architect and worked for the city on some big local projects. Upon Gordon’s aunt dying he received an inheritance, which is when he moved to France to begin a new life.

However, that life was now well and truly behind Gordon, as in December 1992 he was living in a hostel in Dundee for the homeless and unemployed. According to The Law Killers book, Gordon’s fellow residents at the hostel said that he was colourful in appearance but responsible, quiet and friendly, and that he made no secret about the fact he was gay. Gordon was also said to like jewellery and wore a single earring and a nine carat gold bracelet, which had been made from his grandfather’s watch chain.

The last time Gordon had been seen was on Christmas Eve 1992. He had left the hostel where he was living in the late morning wearing his distinctive long coat and said he was going to visit at the town centre. He was next seen in a bar in Union Street where he spent some time having a festive drink or two with some of the residents from the hostel, before leaving here about 6.30pm and heading to another bar a few yards along the same street. He stayed here for about 15 minutes before leaving, and it was said that he had been alone. Gordon next attended a grocery shop in Hilltown, about a 19 minute walk from the pub, where he bought, according to The Law Killers book, cheese, garlic, granules and powdered soup. Gordon Dunbar wasn’t seen alive again. So where had Gordon gone after leaving the grocery shop?

On Christmas Day, James was disappointed that his half-brother Gordon didn’t turn up for the planned Christmas meal, but he wasn’t initially concerned, maybe Gordon was having a bad day and didn’t feel like spending his time celebrating with his family, maybe it just felt too much for him at this time.  And so the family carried on without Gordon; they ate, opened presents and had a merry time. However, as the days went by and James didn’t hear from Gordon his annoyance at Gordon not even calling to apologise turned to worry, and then fear, when he phoned the hostel where Gordon was staying to be told by the landlord that Gordon hadn’t been seen since Christmas Eve, a week earlier.  This was the point that James began to pray that the body parts that had been found on Dundee Law were not those of his brother, Gordon Dunbar.

Sergeant Ronald Fyffe had enjoyed having Christmas Day and a few days afterwards off to spend time with his wife and young daughter, but it was now the 30th of December and it was time to get back to some normality at the police station. Ronald was in charge of Tayside Police’s dog section and was in charge himself of two Alsatians, Dirk and Tyke, who he exercised up to five times a day on Dundee Law, which was close to his home.

According to Wikipedia, Dundee Law is a hill in the centre of Dundee. It has a war memorial at its summit, is the highest point in the city and is the most prominent feature on the local skyline. Apparently, The Law is what remains of a volcanic sill, which is the result of volcanic activity around 400 million years ago.

Ronald had been called to the police station to take care of other business and, so, on the 30th of December 1992 the morning exercise of the two dogs had fallen to Ronald’s young daughter. She didn’t mind though as Dirk and Tyke were part of the family. Ronald’s young daughter led Dirk and Tyke to Law Road at the bottom of Dundee Law before taking their leads off, expecting them to tear up The Law leaving her to chase after them. But they didn’t do this. Instead the two dogs went straight to three plastic bags that had been left in a grassy area at the bottom of The Law on Law Road. Ronald’s young daughter assumed this was just household rubbish that had been left there and went towards the dogs to shoo them away. However, by the time she reached the dogs and the plastic bags the two dogs had torn one of the bags open, revealing to Ronald’s daughter as she grew closer a severed human arm and hand. Ronald’s young daughter, in a state of fright, put the leads back on the two Alsatians and ran home, where she told her mother what she had seen. Her mother, Pamela, had no doubt her young daughter was telling the truth as she was clearly distressed, and so Pamela immediately called her husband, Ronald, at the police station.

Before long there was a large police presence at the bottom of Dundee Law on Law Road. The two other plastic bags that had been left at the bottom of The Law were opened and revealed, according to The Law Killers book, part of the upper portion of a human torso in one bag and the lower human torso section and upper arm in the other bag. As there was no head found at this time, it made identifying the victim tricky.

Before an appeal could be made to try and identify the killer, firstly the victim had to be identified, and so the parts of the body that had been found were forensically examined and tested until finally the police had a description of sorts to be able to appeal to the public for information on the 31st of December 1992. They advised that from examining the male body parts that had been found on the law on the 30th of December, it could be determined that the male had, according to The Law Killers book, at one time undergone surgery to his stomach and had suffered a fracture to four ribs.  Marks on his left wrist also indicated that a thick bracelet of some kind had regularly been worn there. It was also stated that the male had well maintained hands with fairly long, well manicured fingernails, and was also suntanned. He was thought to be aged between 30 to 50 and be about 5 feet 10 inches or 1.5 metres tall. What wasn’t put in the appeal that had also been found out while examining the body parts was that there had been anal tearing identified, suggesting that the male victim could have been homosexual and that sex may have taken place shortly before his murder.

Keen to find the remaining body parts to be able to build a better picture of how the victim had died, the police, according to The Law Killers book, carried out extensive searches, including sifting through more than 100 tons of Dundee domestic rubbish due to being incinerated. However, despite the extensive searches and the appeal, no further body parts were found at this time.

The police at this point had done all they could, they now needed someone to come forward who recognised the description in the appeal, someone who could positively identify the victim.

James knew he had to phone the police upon hearing the appeal about the male body parts that had been found, but he was in complete shock. Not his brother. It couldn’t possibly be his lovely, kind, quiet brother who the police were describing. But he knew deep down that it was. He knew that his brother had had abdominal surgery, he knew that his brother had four ribs broken one time when he was mugged, he knew his brother took care of himself and had regular manicures, he knew it was him they were describing, he knew. James, with tears in his eyes, picked up the telephone and called the police to let them know that he believed the body parts they had found were his brother, 52 year old Gordon Dunbar.

Upon the police receiving the telephone call from James Dunbar, who confirmed that his brother Gordon had had stomach surgery and previously had four ribs broken, as well as confirming that his brother was homosexual, the police and forensics wasted no time in attending Anchor House, where James mentioned Gordon had been living. Gordon’s room was forensically examined and fingerprints and DNA were collected, which were positively matched to that of the body parts. Now the police had identified the victim as being Gordon Dunbar, they now just needed to identify his murderer. And so they issued another appeal asking for people to come forward if they had any information around Gordon Dunbar’s murder.

While the police waited for information to come in, they began to try and trace Gordon’s last known movements. They began by talking to his fellow residents at Anchor House Hostel, and a few of them said that they had had a drink with Gordon at a bar in Union Street, before he left about 6.30pm to head to another pub further along the street, confirming that he was wearing his distinctive long coat. They also confirmed that Gordon had left the pub alone and that he hadn’t said he was meeting anyone. The police also spoke to Gordon’s landlord at Anchor House, who said that Gordon had left early morning on Christmas Eve saying that he was heading into Dundee, and he said he had been wearing his distinctive long coat. The police were keen to find out Gordon’s movements while he was in Dundee that day, and the search of Gordon’s room at Anchor House would soon turn up some answers. Gordon’s bank had posted out a statement, and upon closer inspection it showed that Gordon had attended his bank on the morning of Christmas Eve, where he had deposited £60 or $75. However, another transaction on the bank statement that occurred on the evening of Christmas Eve caught the detectives eye. It appeared that Gordon had withdrawn £150 or $188 from a cash machine at 9.22pm on Christmas Eve in Commercial Street, which is a two-minute walk from where Gordon was last seen in Union Street and a 34-minute walk from where some of Gordon’s body parts were found at the bottom of Dundee Law. But why would Gordon deposit money on Christmas Eve morning and then withdraw over double the amount again that same evening? Was it perhaps the killer who had done this?

The police then began receiving information from the public which further helped them trace Gordon’s movements on Christmas Eve. A grocery shop owner told the police that he had served Gordon in his shop on Christmas Eve shortly after 7pm, where he had bought cheese, garlic granules and powdered soup. The bags that the body parts had been found in were also forensically examined and it was established that they had been from a particular batch that had been supplied to Spar shops in Dundee, and the closest Spar shop where the body parts had been found was in Hilltown, about a 19 minute walk from Dundee Law, and also the same area where Gordon had bought his groceries on Christmas Eve. So, the police were starting to build a picture of Gordon’s movements that fateful evening. However, his grocery purchases, speaking to the residents and landlord at Gordon’s hostel and from forensically examining Gordon’s room, wasn’t taking the police any closer to identifying a suspect.

That was until the 8th of January 1993 when police received a phone call from a male living in Perth, about 22 miles or 35 kilometres from Dundee, saying that a man called Alistair Thompson had spent the New Year weekend in Perth and that he’d talked in great detail about the Dundee Law murder.

Alistair Thompson was known to the police as in 1967, when he was 18 years old, he had been given a life sentence and ordered to spend at least 16 years in prison before being eligible for parole, having been found guilty of murdering his grandmother by stabbing her 16 times with a carving knife in a frenzied attack, before hitting her in the head twice with a hammer, smashing her skull. Alistair had spent his 16 year sentence in Perth prison, and upon being released in 1984 on license he married a social worker that he had met while in prison. The marriage didn’t last long though and Alistair had moved to England. However, he found himself back in prison again in 1989 having been charged with serious assault, for which he spent two years and six months in prison for. He was released in January 1992, where he returned to Dundee and secured a job working, according to The Law Killers book, as a resident caretaker at a home used by the Scottish Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, whose aim, according to sacro.org.uk is to provide a wide range of direct, innovative services in community justice, public protection and care and housing, which are all designed to help build safe communities by reducing conflict and offending, and at the time of Gordon Dunbar’s murder 43 year old Alistair Thompson was still working as the caretaker for this organisation.

Upon receiving the phone call from the male from Perth who gave Alistair Thompson’s name as possibly being connected to Gordon Dunbar’s brutal murder and dismemberment, detectives headed to Perth to take a statement from the man, and any other potential witnesses they could trace. Following the visit to Perth, the police not only came away with statements from witnesses who had been in Alistair’s company on the New Year weekend in Perth, but also in possession of an antique gold chain that Alistair had given to a female he knew in Perth, which matched exactly the gold chain that Gordon wore on his left wrist. With the police feeling confident they had enough evidence to arrest Alistair Thompson for the murder of Gordon Dunbar, they arrived at the home where Alistair Thompson was a residential caretaker and had a room and arrested him and took him to the station for questioning.

While Alistair was at the police station, police and forensics officers were examining Alistair’s room, and what they found cemented their belief that Alistair Thompson was the man who had murdered Gordon Dunbar. Hidden in a suitcase under Alistair Thompson’s bed was a blood-stained shirt, trousers and a t-shirt. Also found in the room was a block of cheese, garlic granules and powdered soup, the exact items Gordon had bought at a local grocers before disappearing. A scrap of paper with four numbers written on it was also found in the room, as well as a distinctive long coat, which would later be identified as Gordon’s by his brother. But it was a set of keys found in Alistair Thompson’s room that was even more interesting.  It was quickly established that none of the keys opened any door in the property he was living in. But the mystery surrounding where the keys did open would soon be solved, when an electricity bill with the address 91 Butterburn Court on it was also found in Alistair’s room. And it just so happened the Butterburn Court was located close to Dundee Law, and overlooked the exact place where the body parts in plastic bags had been found.

According to the website UK Housing, Butterburn Court was built in 1971, and, at 67 metres or 220 feet tall, it was one of Dundee’s tallest tower blocks, with flat 91 being on the ninth floor of the 22 floors.

After a few checks it was determined that the occupant of 91 Butterburn Court was that of a murderer who was out on license. Could this male also have been involved in the murder of Gordon Dunbar? No, he wasn’t, as it was quickly established that the man who had once occupied the flat at 91 Butterburn Court had left Dundee and moved to London two months prior. Just how Alistair Thompson had come to have the keys of 91 Butterburn Court was never determined, but it was likely that he and the occupant of the flat had been acquaintances in prison, or he and Alistair Thompson had become known to one another through the Scottish Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders Organisation, where Alistair was currently a residential caretaker for them, and perhaps the occupant had handed the keys to Alistair upon him leaving, assuming that Alistair would arrange for a new occupant to move into 91 Butterburn Court. Little did the previous occupant know that Alistair had other ideas of how the flat could be used.

Having discovered the Butterburn Court address and still having the set of keys that didn’t fit in any of the locks at Alistair’s lodgings, the police set off to Butterburn Court, and soon discovered that this indeed was the property where the keys fitted. Upon unlocking the door, the police opened the door of the flat and entered.

Back at the premises where Alistair was residing, while his room was being forensically examined, his fellow residents were being questioned to see if they could remember anything odd about Alistair on Christmas Eve 1992, and the police wouldn’t be disappointed. According to a couple of residents, on Christmas Eve Alistair had returned to the premises shortly before 10.30pm. They said he had been very jovial, flashing cash that he said he had won on the races and wearing a distinctive long coat that he said had been given to him by a female friend as an early Christmas present. They said he had then washed, changed his clothes and headed back out again to enjoy the rest of the Christmas Eve celebrations. Armed with this information, and the evidence that had been found in his room, detectives returned to the police station to question Alistair Thompson about his involvement in Gordon Dunbar’s murder. They started by asking what his relationship to Gordon Dunbar was, how did he know him, and had he had sex with him, to which Alistair stated that he had never been in the company of Gordon Dunbar, he didn’t know him and denied having sex with him. The police then asked how he had come to be in possession of Gordon’s gold chain, as well as a key fob of Gordon’s, which had also been given to another acquaintance of Alistair’s in Perth, to which Alistair stated that he had found both items on the street in Dundee and he had just picked them up, going on to say that, yes, he had given them to acquaintances of his.  The detectives followed up by asking how Gordon’s exact shopping purchases had come to be in Alistair’s room, to which Alistair just shrugged. They asked about the blood-soaked clothing under his bed, but again he just shrugged. Detectives realised they wouldn’t be getting a confession from Alistair, but they were still confident they had more than enough evidence to prove that Alistair had been involved in Gordon’s murder, which was just about to be compounded when police officers opened the door to 91 Butterburn Court.

Upon officers opening the flat door of 91 Butterburn court and walking into the living area, they saw plastic bags similar to the ones that the body parts had been found in. They also found a roll of tape similar to what had been used to seal the plastic bags the body parts had been in. Officers were already feeling pretty sure that this is where the body of Gordon Dunbar had been dismembered, however, their suspicions were confirmed when they walked into the bathroom and found it splattered with blood and body tissue, and on the bathroom floor lay two hacksaws; one broken but both covered in blood. The whole flat was subsequently forensically examined, which only further confirmed Alistair Thompson’s involvement in the murder and dismemberment of Gordon Dunbar. However, back at the police station, upon these latest developments being passed onto the detectives questioning Alistair, he was told he was going to be charged with the murder and dismemberment of Gordon Dunbar, but firstly he was asked, according to the Aberdeen Press and Journal on the 12th of May 1993, if he could help with the recovery of the missing pieces of Gordon’s body, for the sake of Gordon’s family, to which Alistair replied that he knew nothing whatsoever about the murder of Gordon Dunbar. He was then taken away to be held in custody until his trial, while the police continued to take statements from witnesses who called in with information, as well as the results becoming available from the forensic examination of Alistair’s room and 91 Butterburn Court, which all pointed to Alistair Thompson being Gordon’s murderer.

As word spread around Dundee about Gordon’s murder and dismemberment, more and more people came forward with information. One of which was a male who had apparently been the one to lend Alistair the hacksaws, and he had a very interesting story to tell. According to The Law Killers book, this male said that Alistair had asked him on Christmas Day if he could borrow a hacksaw so he could cut up some pipes. However, the very next day Alistair approached his friend again saying that the hacksaw had broken and could he borrow another one, and at which point he admitted his friend that he was using the hacksaws to try and cut up a body, which apparently he was doing for two hitmen from Glasgow who had actually killed the man he was trying to dispose of. Apparently Alistair continued by saying that he’d already disposed of some of the body parts having placed them in plastic bags and taken them to Dudhope Park, an 18-minute walk from Dundee Law and Butterburn Court. He went on to say that he had also disposed of the head of Gordon already by putting it in a skip. He also said that he would be dumping the rest of the body parts at Dundee Law as it was closer. Apparently Alistair also asked the same man if he had an open fire in his home as he wanted to get rid of Gordon Dunbar’s bank card, with the man confirming to the police that Alistair did actually use Gordon Dunbar’s name when referring to the man he was dismembering. The man he had told this to, who was now recounting the conversation to the police, said that he thought Alistair was just joking. However, the police took this very seriously and a team of officers went to Dudhope Park to carry out a search of the area, where they did in fact uncover more of the same plastic bags that had been dumped at the bottom of Dundee Law. Upon forensics being called to the scene, the bags were opened and revealed a lower leg, feet, one of which was in a lady’s stocking, and the remaining arm. Sadly, Gordon’s head and the rest of his upper torso were never found. The police already had so much evidence against Alistair, as well as numerous witnesses coming forward, but the icing on the cake came from forensics.

According to the Press and Journal on the 12th of May 1993, DNA profiling had been carried out on samples taken from a shirt found at the hostel where Alistair Thompson lived and a rug from the Butterburn Court flat, and were found to match those taken from the body parts, with an estimated probability of the DNA profile from the shirt and rug samples matching someone other than the deceased being less than one in 57 million. Also, according to the Press and Journal on the 7th of May 1993, fingerprints matching Alistair Thompson were found on a glass that had been in the flat at 91 Butterburn Court. So, now Alistair Thompson could categorically be placed in the flat where Gordon Dunbar had been murdered and dismembered.  The police now believed they had a good idea of the events that had taken place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, they just needed the results of the post-mortem to confirm exactly how Gordon had died.

On Christmas Eve morning Gordon had gone into Dundee town centre and had deposited some money at his bank, before spending some time around Dundee. He then attended a pub on Union Street, where he spent some time in the company of fellow residents of Anchor House. About 6.30pm he left this pub and went to another one a few yards along the same street, where he had one drink then left about 6.45pm. He then made his way to the Hilltown area, about a 19 minute walk from Union Street, where he stopped at the grocery shop and bought cheese, garlic granules and powdered soup, before leaving the shop. It is believed that he met Alistair Thompson upon leaving this shop to walk home. Upon meeting Alistair Thompson, Gordon must have been persuaded somehow to accompany Alistair to the flat at Butterburn Court, which is a 19 minute walk from the Hilltown area, presumably to have sex. Upon entering the Butterburn Court flat, it appears things carried on in that vein as the post-mortem showed that Gordon did have sex, it just wasn’t clear if this happened before or after his death. However, at some point things turned sinister when Alistair is presumed to have threatened Gordon and robbed him, taking his gold chain from his wrist, his bank card, his long distinctive coat, and a key fob, before making Gordon write down his bank card code, which was later found on a scrap bit of paper in his room. The results of the post-mortem showed that Alistair had then proceeded to brutally punch and kick Gordon before stabbing him repeatedly, with a stab to Gordon’s heart being the cause of death. Alistair then put on Gordon’s distinctive long coat, presumably to hide the blood that would have been on him, then picked up Gordon’s bag with the groceries in it and left the flat. Alistair then walked to a cash machine and used Gordon’s bank card to withdraw £150 or $188 from his account using the four-digit bank code he had forced Gordon to give him, before he returned to his residence where he chatted with his fellow residents who asked him where he had got his distinctive long coat,

with Alistair saying it was an early Christmas present from a female friend. He then headed to his room where he washed and changed his clothes, before he left his room and Gordon’s groceries behind. He then headed to Arthur’s Nightclub in St Andrew’s Lane where he drank, danced, laughed and saw in Christmas Day, before accompanying two women and a male he had met that night to the female’s home, where he continued to party until 5am before leaving. Later on Christmas Day, he then asked his friend for a hacksaw, before returning to Butterburn Court flat where he carried Gordon’s body into the bathroom and placed it in the bath before beginning to dismember his body. He then placed the body parts in plastic bags, which he dumped at Dudhope Park and at the base of Dundee Law. After carrying out this atrocious act, he then travelled the 22 miles or 35 kilometres to Perth where he spent it with friends seeing in the New Year, and giving two of the friends Gordon’s wrist chain and key fob.

The trial began on the 5th of May 1993 at the High Court in Edinburgh, where Alistair Thompson faced the charge of murdering Gordon Dunbar and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by dismembering his body. At the trial all the evidence, including photographs of the scene of the crime and the post-mortem, were presented and witnesses gave their testimony. Alistair Thompson did not take to the stand, but his defence was that he had no part in the murder of Gordon Dunbar and that he had merely helped the two hitmen who had murdered Gordon by getting rid of Gordon’s body for them. No, the members of the jury didn’t believe that story either and on the 13th of May 1993, after an hour and ten minutes of deliberating, the jury returned with a unanimous verdict of guilty.  Before Judge Lord Weir gave Alistair Thompson his sentence he addressed the jury, telling them that “I would not have wished your task on my worst enemy. You have had to listen to sordid, distasteful and horrendous evidence.” He then turned his attention to 43 year old Alistair Thompson, where he gave him a life sentence and to spend at least 20 years in prison before being eligible for parole for his “nauseating and barbaric crimes”. Alistair was then led away.

One reporter who was present at the trial as the guilty verdict was read out stated in The Courier newspaper on the 30th of December 2017 that he would never forget Alistair’s chilling stare in court that he directed to anyone who looked at him after the guilty verdict was returned, and he called them his evil eyes.

And that should have been the end of Alistair Thompson, and Gordon Dunbar’s family should have been able to grieve in peace, but Alistair Thompson had other ideas. Firstly, there were the appeals. One appeal, which was issued shortly after Alistair’s conviction, was subsequently withdrawn, however, in 1994 a second appeal was issued which alleged a miscarriage of justice due to the fact that there was apparently insufficient evidence for the jury to return a guilty verdict on the murder charge, however, as expected, this appeal was duly refused. Then in 2002 a third appeal was issued, which Alistair Thompson conducted himself, this time on the grounds of Judge Lord Weir fixing Alistair Thompson’s punishment part of his sentence to a minimum of 20 years, which Alistair felt was excessive. However, following the appeal judges going through the trial documentation and taking note not only of the barbaric murder but also the act of dismembering Gordon’s body to avoid detection, the trial judges were not persuaded that the punishment period selected by Judge Lord Weir was, excessive, and therefore the appeal was refused. But still Gordon’s family couldn’t grieve in peace. What could only be described as a final act of malice, Alistair Thompson then wrote a letter to Gordon Dunbar’s family offering to tell them where he had hidden the remaining parts of Gordon’s body. According to the Courier newspaper on the 30th of December 2017, in the same letter Alistair also expressed regret over the murder of Gordon and for the pain and anguish it had caused, before going on to offer Gordon’s family a full account of exactly what had taken place on Christmas Eve 1992. Disgusted by this and simply wanting to be left alone to try and go on with their lives, Gordon’s family took legal action to ensure they did not receive any further correspondence from Alistair Thompson.

Alistair died behind bars in 2010 from a heart attack.

Gordon’s brother, James, who lives in Carnoustie, said in an article in The Courier newspaper on the 30th of December 2017, 25 years after his brothers brutal murder, that he still hasn’t come to terms with the events that happened in Butterburn Court. He went on to say that “When I cross the Tay Road Bridge and see the profile of Dundee and the Law, I can’t help but think of my brother. Once it is out of view, it goes to the back of my mind again, but it doesn’t go away.”

On the 30th of June 2013 Butterburn Court was demolished by a controlled explosion.

So that’s it. Come back next time for another episode of Scottish Murders.

Granny Robertson:

Scottish Murder is a production of Cluarantonn.


Dundee Murders - Lynda Hunter

Dundee Murders
Lynda Hunter

Episode Summary

What began as an investigation into the disappearance of a 30 year old social worker, ultimately unveiled the truth and unravelled the intricate deceit and exploitation carried out by someone close to them.

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

The Law Killers: True Crime from Dundee

by Alexander McGregor

Synopsis

True crime from Dundee, covering the most fascinating and shocking cases from the last century. Having reported on many of them first-hand, journalist Alexander McGregor has unique insight into the cases and his stories are as chilling as they are compelling. In The Law Killers Alexander examines some of the country’s most fascinating and chilling cases and peels back the civilised layers of our society to reveal what lies beneath.

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn

Hosted by Dawn

Researched and Written by Dawn Young

Produced and Edited by Dawn Young and Peter Bull

Voice Talent by Eleanor Morton

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Music:

Dawn of the Fairies by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Gothic Wedding by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Dawn:

Trigger warning – This episode covers the topic of suicide.

Introduction by Eleanor Morton

Welcome Wee Ones to Scottish Murders. Dawn will shortly be taking you through a solved or unsolved murder involving people from or living in Scotland. So get ready to hear about the darker side of Bonnie Scotland.

Dawn:

This episode is part of the Dundee themed month which was suggested by Mhairi from New Zealand, who gave Scottish Murders a wonderful review on Apple podcasts. Thank you Mhairi, I hope I do the Dundee murders I’ve chosen to cover justice.

On Saturday the 22nd of August 1987 about 7pm, the police received a phone call from Andrew Hunter who was reporting his 30 year old wife Lynda missing, after she had left the family home on Friday the 21st of August about 10.30am with her beloved 14 year old cross collie dog Shep, in their white Cavalier Anteeb car. When police officers went out to take more information from Andrew, he reported that Lynda had recently discovered she was pregnant, about six weeks, and had been suffering awful morning sickness. He said that on Friday the 21st of August both he and Lynda had the day off from work. Lynda was the second in charge at a residential care home for the elderly and worked mainly night shifts. Andrew said about 10am on Friday he had driven Lynda to a local chemist where she had tried to buy something to help with her nausea, but had no luck and so she tried her doctor’s surgery which was just around the corner, but there had been no GP available and she was to call back later. Andrew said he had then driven an irritated a nauseous Lynda back home, where she went upstairs and proceeded to pack her bag for work, although she wasn’t due at work until 3pm the following day, and then she left the house. 

*Crimewatch programme audio reconstruction clip starts*

Crimewatch Host:

For some reason she began to pack the bag she used for her night shift, though she wasn’t due at work until the following afternoon. Maybe she was going to her parents.

Lynda from reconstruction:

 I’m going out. You can pick up the car from work tomorrow at 3pm.

Lynda’s husband from reconstruction:

Well I did need the car Lynda. But if you’re going to Dundee you could give me a lift.

Lynda from reconstruction:

If you’re ready now then come, if not you can get the bus. Come on Shep.

Lynda’s husband from reconstruction:

Well just give us a minute and I’ll go get my files.

Crimewatch Host:

Neither Lynda nor Shep have been seen since.

*Crimewatch programme audio reconstruction clip ends*

Dawn:

That was part of a reconstruction from the BBC program Crimewatch, which was broadcast in December 1987, and Lynda’s case was the first Scottish case to appear on the programme. Before Andrew could collect his things together Lynda had left the home and driven off. Andrew said he presumed that Lynda had gone to her parents house who lived in Glenrothes, which is about 36 miles or 58 kilometres south of where Lynda lived in Carnoustie, as she was very close to her parents, calling them every other day and often staying with them.

According to Visit Scotland, Carnoustie is a small town situated on the east coast of Scotland about 12 miles or 19 kilometres north east of Dundee, and is famed for its championship golf course, as well as swimming, sailing, windsurfing and fishing being enjoyed at the bay.

Andrew went on to tell the police that he was surprised when Lynda’s sister, Sandra, turned up at their door on the Friday afternoon for a pre-arranged meeting with Lynda, as he thought Sandra would have seen Lynda in Glenrothes where Sandra and her parents both lived, but he thought Lynda had maybe just forgotten Sandra was coming to their home. It wasn’t until the Saturday when he had gone to Lynda’s work at 3pm, Lynda’s start time, to pick up the car to discover that neither Lynda nor their car were there. Police did feel that Lynda’s disappearance was strange and so a description of both Lynda and their distinctive white Cavalier Anteeb car was circulated. However, when Lynda’s car was discovered a day later, what the police had deemed as Lynda’s strange disappearance changed to them becoming concerned for her welfare.

About 10 past 9 on Saturday the 22nd of August in the morning, before Lynda was even reported missing, Lynda’s car had been given a parking ticket having been found double parked behind a railway station in Manchester, England, about 297 miles or 478 kilometres away from her home in Carnoustie. However, it wasn’t until the following evening, Sunday the 23rd of August, when about 6.15pm a passing policeman noticed that the same car had been broken into and the radio cassette had been taken. When the police officer radioed for the car registration number to be checked, it only then was discovered that the white Cavalier Anteeb car belonged to a Lynda Hunter, and that she had been reported missing. The police who had issued the missing person report were immediately notified about Lynda’s car being found and it was arranged for the car to be transported back to Scotland to be forensically examined. But now the police had a mystery on their hands. Where was Lynda? And why would she have driven to Manchester, abandoned her car and then disappeared? The police needed to build a picture of Lynda’s life and her mental state on the lead up to her disappearance and so, knowing how close Lynda was with her sister, Sandra, they started by paying her a visit.

Sandra was asked when she had last seen her sister and she replied that it had been Thursday the 13th of August, eight days before Lynda disappeared. She said Lynda had driven to her home in Glenrothes and the pair had spent the afternoon talking. When asked what the pair had spoken about Sandra had said that Lynda had told her she was pregnant, going on to say that Lynda was overjoyed, although it was slightly marred as Lynda had been suffering terrible morning sickness. When asked if the pair had spoken about Andrew or Lynda’s relationship with him, Sandra mentioned that, yes, Lynda had said that they had been having some marital problems and they had been arguing, but Sandra stated that she didn’t think it was anything serious and she thought it would likely blow over. I mean, Lynda had been pregnant, which she had always wanted and was delighted about, she had married the man she loved, she lived in a nice house, had a great job and was earning good money. What more could she want? Sandra said the last time she had seen or spoken to Lynda was as she watched her drive away from her home after the visit on the 13th of August, after Sandra had agreed to come to Lynda’s home on the afternoon of the 21st of August so they could spend the afternoon together, a meeting that Lynda never showed up for. Sandra did mention that she had been concerned about Lynda not showing up and she had called her parents and Lynda’s friend and ex-partner, Ian Glover, but they hadn’t seen Lynda. Concerned for her sister but thinking that she may simply have forgotten, Sandra said she spent the afternoon and early evening with Lynda’s husband, Andrew, until finally heading back to her home in Glenrothes about 6.30pm.

Lynda Cairns had grown up in Glenrothes, which according to Wikipedia is a town situated in east central Scotland approximately 30 miles or 48 kilometres south of Dundee, with her parents and younger sister Sandra. According to the Law Killers book by Alexander McGregor, Lynda had led a life devoted to helping others. As a youngster, Lynda had such a caring nature and she just wanted to help people, and so she became a girl guide and then a girl guide leader. As an adult, she then moved to Aberdeen, in the northeast of Scotland, to gain teacher training experience, where she worked with children with mental disabilities, and she also became a Samaritan. Following completing her teacher training, Lynda moved to London and continued to work with children with mental disabilities. She really did have such a caring nature, which again was evident when she left London and moved to Dundee, where she worked as a social worker so she could be nearer her parents, who she adored, who lived in nearby Glenrothes as their health had deteriorated significantly. Lynda then met Dr Ian Glover in December 1980 when they both lived in Dundee, and the pair had quickly fallen in love. When Lynda’s parents health improved slightly, she then decided to move to Edinburgh for a training course, and Ian agreed to move there with her too, and by April 1982 they were living happily together in Edinburgh. Upon Lynda’s course finishing, the pair then decided to move back to Dundee, buying a house together in Broadford Terrace in Broughty Ferry, which is about a 10 minute drive east of Dundee. Initially the couple had a loving sexual relationship, however, around about July 1983 their relationship became platonic, with the pair agreeing to be just friends, but they continued to live together, sleeping in separate bedrooms. Lynda then met Andrew Hunter sometime in late 1984, when Lynda would have been 27 years old and Andrew would have been 33 years old. They both had moved to Broughty Ferry and lived across the street from each other on Broadford Terrace; Andrew with his wife, Christine, whom he had married in 1974, and their nine-year-old son Colin, and Lynda with her ex-partner Dr Ian Glover. By this time Lynda, who had such a caring and giving nature, had been working for the Samaritans for many years and was a fully qualified social worker, and so when her neighbour, Andrew Hunter, approached Lynda to ask if she would help him to gain a qualification in social work too, Lynda was only too happy to help him study. The two grew closer, found that they had lots in common, including wild uninhibited sex, and eventually they embarked on an affair. When Ian found out about Andrew and Lynda’s affair in December 1984 he wasn’t surprised, having suspected earlier that something was going on between them. Andrew’s wife, Christine, however had not suspected anything, and when she also found out in December 1984 about her husband’s affair she was distraught and pleaded that the pair ended their affair immediately, which Andrew agreed to. However, his affair with Lynda began again within weeks, with Lynda finally moving out of the house she shared with Ian Glover in July 1985 and moving to a new house she bought in Carnoustie, and she expected Andrew to join her there. However, for a time Andrew was happy to have the best of both worlds, going between his wife and lover, but he soon did leave his wife and son and move in with Lynda, but he still maintained contact with his son. While Lynda moving out of the home she shared with Ian Glover didn’t affect Ian too much and the pair continued to remain close friends, the same could not be said for Christine, she was distraught by the ending of her marriage and became depressed.

 On the 14th of December 1985, about three months after Andrew had finally left his wife, Christine dropped her and Andrew’s son at the children’s home where Andrew worked so Andrew could spend some time with his son. Andrew took his son, Colin, to the cinema and then they had their tea together, before Andrew returned his son to the family home as planned. Despite Andrew’s persistent knocking on the door and shouting through the letterbox, Christine did not answer the door. He became worried as he knew Christine was home as her car was in the drive and the lights were on in the home, so Andrew went across the street to Ian Glover’s home, as both he and Lynda were still friendly with him but mainly Lynda, to ask if he could use his phone to try to get an answer from Christine, but there was still no reply. Beginning to panic Andrew then went to a neighbour who had a spare key to the property, before running back to the family home and opening the door. It appeared that Christine had been unable to cope with the ending of her marriage, unable to cope with the betrayal of her husband, and sadly she had ended her life, a fact that Andrew took very hard, and took out on someone close to him.

While the police were trying to gain a better picture of Lynda, her mental state and her marriage to Andrew, forensic teams were working on Lynda’s car, and what they found only further deepened the mysterious disappearance of Lynda. Firstly, it was noted that the driver’s seat had been set for someone much taller than Lynda. So, if Lynda hadn’t driven the car to Manchester then who had? Also, the two grey front seat covers had been removed, as well as the passenger floor mat. This strongly indicated to the police that someone was trying to hide forensic evidence. But stranger still, the spare wheel from the back of the car had been fitted to the front offside, suggesting the driver had had a flat tyre that needed changing somewhere on the journey from Carnoustie to Manchester. However, the damaged wheel and tyre, along with the tools to replace a tyre, were all missing. What was found in the boot space was Lynda’s handbag and the bag she had packed for work. Lynda’s three credit cards and £30 or $38 in cash was missing, but medication Lynda’s dog Shep needed for a heart and bladder condition were still there in Lynda’s bag. Also found in the boot space of the car was a single earring that belonged to Lynda. While the police had initially believed that there would be an explanation for Lynda’s disappearance, that perhaps she just needed some time to herself, the more days that went by and the more they found out about Lynda and her relationship with Andrew, and now the car having been examined, the more they began to be very concerned for Lynda’s welfare.  And so it was time to try and find out more about Andrew and Lynda’s relationship, which included speaking to Lynda’s ex-partner and friend, Dr Ian Glover. And soon a more detailed picture emerged.

Following Christine’s sad death, Andrew appeared to blame Lynda for what had happened, and when a fight broke out between them in public two days after Christine’s death when Linda suggested that Andrew didn’t need to go to Christine’s funeral, Andrew pushed her violently against a car. This wouldn’t be the last spout of violence in their relationship. During one argument at their home, Andrew hit Lynda in the face with an umbrella. On another occasion Andrew had twisted Lynda’s arm so severely that she’d gone to hospital, but no treatment was needed. Ian Glover also reported that when he came home one night he’d found Lynda in his home, explaining that they had keys for each other’s houses. Lynda told him that Andrew had hit her and placed his hands around her neck. Lynda had reported this incident to the police, but no further action was taken. It was reported that in January 1986, a month after Christine had ended her life, Andrew Hunter had become suicidal and had received treatment in hospital for about four months. Following being discharged from hospital in June 1986, with Andrew and Lynda’s wedding imminent, Andrew postponed the wedding as he wasn’t sure how he felt about Lynda. Following this, Lynda, worried about her future with Andrew, took an accidental overdose of her sleeping medication and was treated in hospital for a week. However, on the 1st of November 1986 the pair married. Andrew and Lynda had a church wedding and Lynda’s younger sister, Sandra, was her bridesmaid. From the photos Lynda and Andrew appeared to be so happy; Lynda smiling and looking beautiful and Andrew looking proud in his full Highland dress. The pair spent their first married night together in the 480 year old Grand Fernie Castle in Fife, before heading on to Israel for the remainder of their honeymoon. Upon their return the pair seemed really happy, content, and life got back to normal. Ian Glover also attended the wedding and confirmed that after the marriage there appeared to have been no further violence. Until that is six weeks before Lynda disappeared. Ian received a phone call from Lynda where she said that Andrew was showing signs of aggression again, no physical violence, but that his demeanour had changed.

The last time Ian Glover had seen Lynda was on Thursday the 20th of August as Lynda had been looking after his dog Jimmy from the 18th of August while he had been away on business. Ian came back on Wednesday the 19th of August but Lynda had said there was no rush to pick up his dog. However, he had then received a phone call from Lynda on Thursday the 20th of August to ask him to pick up his dog as she wasn’t feeling too well, and if he could also pick up Andrew and Colin from Dundee that evening as they were going to a football match for Colin’s birthday, which Ian did. Ian then stayed at Lynda’s and Andrew’s chatting until about 10pm, and he felt that there was some kind of tension between the pair. He said he then received a phone call on Friday the 21st of August from Sandra, Lynda’s sister, wondering if he had seen Lynda, which he hadn’t. He found out Lynda had been reported missing on the Saturday by Andrew.

While the police were building a much better picture of the relationship between Andrew and Linda, there still was far more to find out. With the police now very concerned for Lynda’s welfare and beginning to focus on the possibility her husband Andrew may be involved, they once again arrived at his home to ask him to make a statement describing in detail his movements on the lead up to and the day after Lynda’s disappearance, and it is as follows. Andrew had gone to work as normal on Thursday the 20th of August, arriving home at about 3pm. Lynda had been off sick on Thursday as she’d been feeling unwell and had spent the day in bed. Upon Andrew arriving back home though Lynda got up and helped him get some food ready for Andrew’s son, Colin’s 11th birthday celebration that evening. Lynda then returned to bed and Andrew took Lynda’s dog, Shep, and their friend Ian’s dog, Jimmy, out for a walk, arriving back home again about 4.20pm. Shortly afterwards, Andrew and Colin left the home in the minibus of the children’s home where Andrew worked, which he had borrowed for the evening. He then drove around picking up Colin’s friends to take them to a local football match scheduled for 5pm, which Andrew was refereeing at. After the football match, Andrew dropped all but one of Colin’s friends back at their homes, before returning the minibus to his workplace. Andrew, Colin and Colin’s friend, Grant, were then picked up by Dr Ian Glover and taken back to Carnoustie. Andrew, Lynda, Ian, Colin and his friend, Grant, all enjoyed a birthday tea, before Grant and Colin went to bed, as Grant was allowed to stay over as a birthday treat. Ian Glover stayed and chatted with Lynda and Andrew until about 10pm, before he and his dog Jimmy left and headed home. On Friday the 21st of August, Andrew got up about 7.20am to prepare breakfast for his son and his friend and to pack Colin’s bag, as he was staying at Grant’s house that evening, before Colin and Grant then left the house about 8.20am to catch the school bus. Lynda was still not feeling well and so she stayed in bed until just before 10am, when she asked Andrew if he would take her to the local chemist. Andrew had driven Lynda to the nearby chemist about 10am, before she went to the doctors, and then drove Lynda back home, arriving home about 10.20am. Lynda then apparently proceeded to go upstairs, pack her bag and leave, despite Andrew asking her for a lift into Dundee. Andrew did get a bus into Dundee, where he went to his work to hand in an essay that had been due as part of his training, and chatted briefly with his colleagues, before saying he would see them that night for the work party, and then left. Then about 1pm he was at a building society withdrawing money, before catching a bus home to Carnoustie, arriving back home about 2pm. He then did some tidying up, some washing, and then worked in the back garden. Then, as arranged, Lynda’s sister, Sandra, arrived at 3pm, which was a surprise to Andrew as Lynda hadn’t mentioned it. After waiting all afternoon to see if Lynda showed up, Sandra called her parents and Lynda’s friend, Ian Glover, to see if Lynda was with them, only to find out she wasn’t. About 6pm Sandra and Andrew left the house and went to a local hotel for some tea, then Sandra left to drive home between 6.30 and 6.45pm. Andrew then got himself ready to attend his works party. He said he was picked up and driven to the night out by his next-door neighbour about 8pm, and then proceeded to have a good night out. His neighbour kindly then came and picked him up again and dropped him off at his home shortly before midnight, before Andrew headed straight to bed. On Saturday the 22nd of August, Andrew left his home about 11am and went to a local shop to buy a newspaper. He then got a bus into Dundee where he had a haircut, went to a bar where he had a pint and something to eat, then he purchased a pair of trainers for his son, which he still had the receipt for and showed the purchase had taken place at 1.06pm. He spent some time just wandering around Dundee, before about 3pm heading to Lynda’s work at the elderly people’s home in Dundee to pick up the car and Shep, only to find no Lynda, no car and no Shep. He then called Ian Glover to see if he had heard from Lynda but he hadn’t, before then getting a taxi to Grant’s parents home in Broughty Ferry, where Colin had stayed the previous night, where he mentioned to Grant’s parents about Lynda not being at work, before asking if Colin could stay another night with them, which they agreed to. Andrew then went back home to Carnoustie and spoke to his neighbours about Lynda’s disappearance, before eventually calling the police to report her missing about 7pm that evening.

While Andrew was giving a detailed account of his movements on the run-up two and after his wife Lynda’s disappearance, the detectives noticed that he had shown no emotion while talking about the last time he’d seen his pregnant wife alive, and so asked him why this might be, to which he replied that this was just his way, he had trained himself to show no emotion. They also asked Andrew again about the state of his marriage and if he had been seeing anyone else, to which he replied that his marriage was okay, he said that he and Lynda did have arguments and that Lynda had been especially irritable lately due to the morning sickness, but that he had not been with anyone else since he married Lynda. The detectives also asked Andrew on numerous occasions why he thought Lynda might have disappeared, and the only explanation Andrew could come up with was to think that she just wanted space, although Andrew seemed able to have come up with other reasons when he was talking to Dr Ian Glover, which Ian had told the police about when they spoke to him. Ian said that Andrew had told him that there had been tension between himself and Lynda and that Andrew felt Lynda was behaving irrationally, believing that Lynda had disappeared in order to try and change Andrew’s behaviour towards her. While the police were beginning to suspect Andrew had been involved in Lynda’s disappearance, he appeared to have a cast iron alibi, but their instincts were telling them a different story. They were sure he was involved somehow, but how?

As sure as the police fell that Andrew had some involvement in Lynda’s disappearance and presumed death, without any witnesses, evidence, Lynda’s body, and Andrew’s cast iron alibi, there was absolutely nothing they could do. The police had gone as far as driving to Manchester from Carnoustie and taking the train back to Dundee to see if the trip could be done, between Andrew getting dropped off at home on Friday just before midnight and him purchasing trainers for his son at 1.06pm, which was the only definitive evidence of where he was. And it turned out that this could be done, as the train from Manchester to Dundee on Saturday the 22nd of August left Manchester at 7.35am and arrived in Dundee at 12.49pm, giving Andrew about 15 minutes to spare before buying his son’s trainers, assuming that is that his trip to the newsagent at 11am, his trip to the pub and the hairdressers didn’t actually happen. The police did speak to the guard who would have been on the train from Manchester to Dundee, however, when the police showed the guard Andrew’s photo he was unable to identify Andrew as being a passenger on that train. The police had the same results when showing Andrew’s picture to his local newsagent, where he supposedly bought a newspaper about 11am on the Saturday morning, when they showed his picture to the hairdressers he said he had attended, and when asking the barmaid if she could say for sure that Andrew had been in the pub at the time he said on the Saturday. Not one person could categorically say that he had attended their premises on the day and time in question. Although even the assistant in the shoe shop where Andrew had bought his son a pair of trainers on Saturday the 22nd of August at 1.06pm, for which he had a receipt for, couldn’t identify Andrew either. So, again the police were no further forward, there was no proof either way. Although the police did learn something interesting.

When speaking to the barmaid, Carol, who had been working on the 22nd of August. She told the police that she felt Andrew had been trying to coerce her to give false information. Apparently he had talked about his wife’s disappearance before it had even been in the newspapers. He had told Carol that he’d been in her pub that day having a pint asking if she remembered him being there, but she told him she didn’t, at which point Andrew told Carol that the police would be coming to speak to her and he was there so when they did if she could just tell them that he was there.

The police did interview Andrew numerous times following Lynda’s disappearance and each time he appeared less and less interested in his missing pregnant wife. The police continued to appeal for witnesses to come forward, but with nothing to work with and such a large search area, spanning from Scotland to England, the case was going nowhere. This is when the police approached the producers of the British program Crimewatch UK. Crimewatch UK, according to Wikipedia, is a British television program produced by the BBC that reconstructs major unsolved crimes in order to gain information from the public which may assist in solving the case, and back in the 1980s it was broadcast once a month. A reconstruction of Lynda’s final known movements appeared in the December 1987 Crimewatch broadcast. Following the reconstruction, Detective Inspector Leslie Liney, who was working on Lynda’s case, discussed some of the details of the case with the presenter, such as describing Lynda’s distinctive car and the fact it had been found in Manchester, what had been found in the car, and what had been removed, and asked for any witnesses to come forward if anyone had seen this car or indeed Lynda since her disappearance on Friday the 21st of August. He also asked anyone to come forward if they’d seen Lynda’s beloved dog Shep, who had still not been found either and who Lynda adored and took absolutely everywhere with her, since she had saved him from being put to sleep at a rescue centre seven years prior. Shep had some distinctive markings, such as all of his paws were white, he had a small surgical scar on his right back leg, and he had been neutered. When Detective Liney was asked by the presenter what his thoughts were on finding Lynda alive he said

*Crimewatch programme audio reconstruction clip starts*

Detective Liney on Crimewatch:

We’re very concerned for Lynda’s safety and I would certainly appeal to Lynda, if she should be watching this program, to please contact us.

Host of Crimewatch:

 Do you think there is a faint possibility she might still be alive?

Detective Liney on Crimewatch:

A remote possibility I think.”

*Crimewatch programme audio reconstruction clip ends*

Dawn:

However, what was actually believed by the detectives at this stage was that Lynda was dead, and that she had been killed by her husband Andrew, they just needed to find evidence of this or hope that a witness came forward. And following the reconstruction and appeal for information on Crimewatch, that was exactly what happened, when two separate witnesses, who had been traveling through the area on Friday the 21st of August, reported citing a car that looked very much like Lynda’s white Cavalier Anteeb. Both witnesses said the car had been driven by a male, and a female had been in the passenger seat. Both witnesses believed that this was the Hunters’ they had seen, with one of the witnesses picking out Andrew Hunter and another man in an identification parade as being similar to the driver of the car, and that the female in the passenger seat looked very similar to Lynda Hunter, and that she seemed in a distressed state. One area where this sighting had taken place was near Fernie Castle, where Andrew and Lynda spent their first night as a married couple, which is 26 miles or 42 kilometres south west of Carnoustie, which is where the couple lived, and a 14-minute drive away from Glenrothes were Lynda’s parents and sister lived. Things weren’t looking too good for Andrew, but the police still needed to find Lynda’s body. And, so, when another witness came forward saying that they had seen a male carrying a bundle from a light-coloured car into St Michael’s Woods, even though these woods were located 12 miles and 19 kilometres north east of Fernie Castle and nearer to Carnoustie, the police believed this was where Lynda had been buried. And so a massive search began in December 1987 at St Michael’s Woods, with Andrew even lending a hand. However, following an extensive search lasting three days, Lynda’s body was not found. Desperate to keep the case moving forward, the police tried a different tack. On the 5th of January 1988, detectives spoke to Andrew again, this time wanting more information about Shep’s lead and collar. Andrew again advised that Shep’s lead and collar were missing from the house, which wasn’t unusual as Lynda loved Shep so much and worried all the time about losing him that she had attached two separate tags to his collar; one with her address on it and one with her parents address on. Andrew confirmed that Shep never left the house without his collar and lead. This line of questioning might have seemed odd at the time, but it would later prove vital. 

In the meantime though, again, the police had no leads and the case was in danger of becoming cold. Until that is the 11th of February 1988, almost six months after Lynda had disappeared, when Lynda’s body was found in Melville Lower Wood, Ladybank, by a dog walker. These woods are a six minute drive away from where a witness claimed to have seen who they believed were the Hunters’, and who picked out Andrew and another man from a line-up, as well as reporting that the female passenger appeared to be distressed. Incidentally, the woods where the initial search and sighting of a male carrying a bundle into the woods was about 13 miles or 21 kilometres away. So, if Andrew did have something to do with Lynda’s murder, then he helped the police search in these woods safe in the knowledge that Lynda’s body would not be found, as he had dumped her body miles away.

Having found Lynda’s body, and following the post-mortem, it was discovered that Lynda had been murdered by strangulation, and she actually had been found with her dog Shep’s lead still around her neck. The police attended Andrew’s home to tell him the news and to see his reaction to Lynda’s body being found, and it wasn’t quite what they expected to find. Upon attending Andrew’s home they discovered that he had company, namely a sex worker. Upon Andrew being told that his wife’s body had been found, detectives were surprised that he didn’t appear to be overly concerned or upset, preferring to talk about football instead. However, following the revelation that Andrew enjoyed the company of sex workers, he certainly would have reason to be concerned when detectives began to pursue this line of inquiry, and it wouldn’t be long before the real Andrew Hunter would finally be revealed.

Andrew didn’t have a great start in life as his mum had died three weeks after giving birth to him, and shortly afterwards his dad abandoned him, leaving him to be brought up by his aunt. Andrew craved family and, so, as a young man he joined the Salvation Army in Glasgow, where he met and fell in love with Christine, who was 11 years older than him. Andrew received the love, care and encouragement from Christine that he had lacked as a child, and, so, when Andrew brought up that he would like to become a social worker, Christine encouraged him all the way. Andrew and Christine married in 1973, when Andrew would have been 22 and Christine would have been 33, and in 1976 they had a son who they named Colin. While Christine was in married bliss with her wonderful husband and beautiful new baby boy, little did she know that her husband had begun having an extramarital relationship with a male he had met at a sauna. In 1977 Andrew had gained employment in Dundee at a children’s home as an unqualified social worker and so the family relocated to Dundee. The pair continued to work at the Salvation Army, but Andrew wanted to help more, and so he also began working closely with vulnerable young women who had addiction problems, whilst he also worked towards becoming a qualified social worker. However, Andrew was not there to help these vulnerable people, he was there to exploit and seduce them. This continued throughout his relationship with Christine, as well as him often turning to sex workers to satisfy his sexual appetite. Following Christine finding out about his affair with Lynda, and before going to live with Lynda, Andrew started seeing the male he had met at the sauna years before again, unbeknownst to Christine or Lynda. This affair also began again in early 1987 before Andrew married Lynda. It also emerged that before Andrew finally agreed to marry Lynda he had an affair with a female colleague, all the while still visiting the sex workers of Dundee, with many believing he had spent time with most of them. And he continued to have sex with sex workers throughout Lynda’s disappearance, finally being caught out when police arrived at his home to tell him that they had found Lynda’s body when he’d been found in the company of a 22 year old sex worker, who also was one of his vulnerable clients who was addicted to drugs. Detectives were keen to speak to the vulnerable client of Andrew’s, however, sadly, she died shortly afterwards from what was believed to have been an overdose, although some friends of the female speculated that Andrew could have possibly given her the fatal dose, while others believed that she may have felt guilty, as apparently Andrew had been complaining to her about how annoying his wife was and so the sex worker had suggested that he “bump her off.”, according to the Scottish Daily Mail on the 4th of August 2018. And, so, police were very keen to speak to friends of the vulnerable female, as well as sex workers that Andrew spent the most time with, which they did.

And then finally on the 9th of April 1988, just short of eight months since Lynda had gone missing, after police had interviewed more than 5,000 people and taken about 1,200 witness statements, Andrew Hunter was arrested. It was at this point that a search was carried out of Andrew’s home, and what this revealed was felt to be conclusive evidence that Andrew had been involved in Lynda’s disappearance and murder.

While being questioned, Andrew allegedly told detectives “I would like to tell you, but it is past that now and I still have Colin to think of.” He went on to say that “I keep wanting to get it over with. It has been a long time, but I can’t. And who would believe me now?” Following these comments though, Andrew then stuck with no comment. The murder trial began at the High Court in Dundee on Tuesday the 19th of July 1988.  Due to Lynda’s disappearance appearing on Crimewatch, it had thrown the case into the spotlight, which in turn brought vast numbers of people to the High Court every day in the hope of getting a seat in the courtroom. The accused, Andrew Hunter, faced the charge of murdering Lynda Hunter by strangling her with a ligature on the 21st of August 1987. Andrew issued a special defense of alibi saying that on Friday the 21st of August he had been in the company of various people between the hours of 7.30am and midnight on that day. After the formalities the trial began.

Witness after witness stood in the dock for the prosecution; the barmaid, the shoe shop assistant, the train guard, the hairdressers, and all when asked were unable to say whether they had seen Andrew Hunter on Saturday the 22nd of August, as Andrew was stating. Next in the dock was Lynda’s ex-lover, Dr Ian Glover. Ian reiterated what he had told the police, including him being aware of the violence directed at Lynda from Andrew before their wedding, and the fact that Lynda had told him that Andrew’s behaviour had changed to aggression again six weeks before Lynda’s disappearance. He also mentioned that in the months between Lynda going missing and her body being found, Andrew Hunter had said to him on at least four separate occasions that “I’m not going to feel guilty this time.” Dr Ian Glover went on to say, according to The Courier and Advertiser Newspaper on the 22nd of July 1988, that he assumed Andrew was referring to the death of his first wife and that he felt guilty because it might have been something to do with his behaviour leading to her death. Dr Glover went on to say “I did however, prior to the discovery of the body, feel that Hunter thought Lynda was already dead.” Next in the dock was one of the detectives working on Lynda’s case, Detective Sergeant Snedden, who stated what the those working on the case believed to have happened on the fateful day Lynda went missing. They believed that when Andrew and Lynda returned from the chemist on the morning of Friday the 21st of August an argument between the two had broken out and Lynda had stated that she wanted to go to her parents in Glenrothes, she often stayed overnight with her parents to care for them, and Andrew had offered to drive her and Shep there, as Shep went absolutely everywhere with Lynda. It was believed that the pair had continued to argue in the car, leading to Andrew to pull over into a lay-by by woods in a quiet bit of road, grabbing Shep’s lead from the back seat, placing it around Lynda’s neck and strangling her. Quickly, before anyone happened upon them, he got out of the car, went to the passenger side and picked Lynda’s lifeless body up and carried her about 100 feet or 30 metres into the woods and just left her there, before quickly returning to his car and driving off. It is then believed he stopped a few miles along the road, removed Shep’s collar and put him out of the car, before driving off and leaving him there. He then is believed to have parked his car a few miles away from his home, got a bus to Dundee and gone to his place of work to hand in an essay, get money from the building society and return home, where Lynda’s sister, Sandra, would shortly be turning up. After attending his works night out and being dropped off at home shortly before midnight, it is then believed he walked to where he had parked the white Cavalier Anteeb car and drove it the 297 miles or 478 kilometres to Manchester, stopping briefly to repair the puncture, before abandoning the car on double yellow lines at the back of the train station, before getting on the 7.35am train, which would take him back to Dundee arriving at 12.49pm, just in time for him to go to the shoe shop and purchase trainers for his son. When cross examined by the defence, it was put to Detective Sergeant Snedden that this would have been a very elaborate and risky plan, and Andrew had done this apparently with not one single person having seen him, with the detective agreeing that there was no evidence of this, but equally that there was no evidence to confirm where Andrew was from about midnight on Friday the 21st of August to 1.06pm on Saturday the 22nd of August, and that he could very well have been in his home overnight. However, before Detective Snedden stepped down from the witness box he advised of the search that had been carried out on the Hunters’ home at Carnoustie after Andrew had been arrested, and of the fact that Shep’s dog collar had been found behind a laundry basket. He went on to say that Lynda would never leave the home without Shep having his dog collar on, and she would never leave without Shep, which suggested to him that Andrew had to have been with Lynda and Shep before their disappearance, and had made the ultimate mistake of taking the collar back home with him, only for the police to find it months later. Detective Snedden then stepped down from the dock pleased with himself and safe in the knowledge that Andrew would have no explanation for the dog collar being found at his home.

Next in the witness stand was a sex worker who Andrew had been having a regular relationship with, and she instantly contradicted a statement Andrew had made to the police about not having been with anyone since his marriage to Lynda by stating that he had paid for her services on numerous occasions since his marriage to Lynda, going on to say that when she had been with him in August 1987 he had told her that he had been looking for a job in Manchester, the very place where Lynda’s car had been found. Coincidence? According to The Courier and Advertiser on the 2nd of August 1988, Pauline, another of Andrew’s regular sex workers, advised that she had been with Andrew at his home in his marital bed in December 1987 after Linda had gone missing, and on one occasion she had noticed ladies shoes in the wardrobe and asked Andrew about them, to which Andrew apparently answered that they were his wife’s but that she was dead, two months before Lynda’s body had been found.

The two witnesses who had been driving separately through Fife also took to the stand, and told the court that they had firmly believed they had seen the white Cavalier Anteeb car, with Andrew driving and Lynda in the passenger seat looking distressed, near to where Lynda’s body had been found.

Next in the dock was a Salvation Army officer who had worked with and was friends with Andrew, and he told of how upset and concerned Andrew had been at the disappearance of his wife, despite Andrew showing no emotion to the police. He went on to say that Andrew must have been the best actor he had seen if he was not genuinely upset about his missing wife, although Andrew had hidden quite well the fact that he was having sex with vulnerable people he was supposed to be there to protect, so it’s possible he was a great actor.

Lynda’s sister, Sandra, also took to the stand and, although she may have told the police at the time of her sister’s disappearance though while her sister and Andrew may have been having marital problems she believed it would blow over, she was saying something entirely different now. She told the court that apparently Lynda had been quite upset by something Andrew had repeatedly said to her following his wife Christine’s death, which she repeated to Sandra. Andrew had apparently told Lynda that “It is you who should be dead and not Christine.” This could just have been Sandra trying to ensure her sister’s alleged killer didn’t get away with it, there is no way to know for sure if Andrew did in fact say this to Lynda.

However, after the next witness took to the stand, it certainly became more likely that he had. Gillian Pelc, who had been quite a close colleague of Andrew’s, told the court that on an occasion before Andrew and Lynda married, Andrew said to her that he was only marrying Lynda to screw up her life the way she had screwed up his. She went on to say that following Lynda’s case being shown on Crimewatch, the pair had been out for lunch and she said that, as Andrew was describing the details of the program to her, he seemed amused by it.

Andrew Hunter also took to the stand and did a good job in answering all the questions put to him and had an answer for most of them, all except how Shep’s collar had been found in his home, for that he had no answer.

On the 2nd of August 1988, after a two-week trial, the summing up by the prosecution began. They reminded the jury of all the witness statements made throughout the trial, but crucially it was hammered home about finding Shep’s dog collar behind a laundry basket at the couple’s home in Carnoustie, saying that there were only two possible explanations for this; either Shep had left the home without his collar, which Lynda would never do as she was terrified of losing him, or, as usual, when leaving the home, Lynda had put Shep’s collar on, but then Andrew had brought it back to the home after killing Lynda and abandoning Shep in the middle of nowhere. This would point directly to Andrew being Lynda’s murderer. It was then time for the defence to sum up. The court was told there were absolutely no witnesses to Andrew either abducting, strangling or carrying Lynda’s body into the woods, that there was not one shred of evidence to suggest Andrew had caused any harm to Lynda, going on to ridicule the prosecution’s suggestion that Andrew had travelled the 297 miles or 478 kilometres to Manchester and returned to his home in Carnoustie without one single person seeing him, but had overlooked one vital piece of evidence by bringing Shep’s dog collar home and leaving it behind a laundry basket, and going on to suggest that the dog collar had never left the home in the first place. He ended up by saying that the prosecution had failed dismally to prove that Andrew had committed the murder of his wife and that the jury should pass a verdict of not guilty, or at the very least not proven. Judge Lord Brand then directed the jury to a number of other statements made throughout the trial by witnesses, before asking the jury to retire to determine a verdict, which they did by majority less than two hours later.

37 year old Andrew Hunter was found guilty of the murder of his 30 year old wife Lynda Hunter. Following the verdict, Andrew was told by Judge Lord Brand “You are an evil man of exceptional depravity”, before he gave Andrew a life sentence. Andrew was then taken away.

While Lynda’s family were relieved at the outcome and had justice for Lynda, the pain of losing a daughter, a sister, and the added grief for Lynda’s unborn child, was still desperately raw. According to the Scottish Daily Mail on the 4th of August 2018, Lynda’s sister, Sandra, spoke outside her home at Glenrothes saying “It doesn’t go away.”

Andrew Hunter lodged an appeal citing that Judge Lord Brand had misdirected the jury and that the prosecution’s evidence fell far short of proving that Andrew committed the murder beyond a reasonable doubt. However, an article in The Herald newspaper on the 30th of June 1989 stated that the appeal had been rejected by three judges who stated that “This was not a narrow case”, and that the judges were “Certainly persuaded that the evidence before the jury was not only sufficient but ample and eloquent of the guilt of the appellant.” Andrew returned to Perth prison to serve out his sentence. However, on the 19th of July 1993, five years after being convicted of the murder of his wife Lynda, 42 year old Andrew died from a heart attack. The death of Andrew Hunter also put an end to the possibility of a case being built against him for the murder of Dundee’s sex worker Carol Lannen in 1979. Andrew was well known to have visited sex workers regularly, having thought to have used the services of all of the sex workers in Dundee at some point, and his aggressive behaviour had been evident in his treatment of Lynda. This, coupled with the fact that a photofit of a male last seen with Carol was deemed to look very much like Andrew, could have led to him also being convicted of Carol’s murder, and for Carol’s family finally to have justice. However, if he was the murderer then this opportunity has now gone. I’ll be covering Carol Lannen’s case, along with another female found murdered very close to where Carol was found, in an episode for the Dundee murders theme, if you’d like to know more.

And finally, now, I’m giving a wee trigger warning here as it’s about what happened to Lynda’s dog Shep.  Shep had been found wandering near St Michael’s Woods, the same area a witness had seen a man carrying a bundle from a light-coloured car into the woods, and he had been taken to a rescue centre. However, sadly for Shep, it wasn’t until Lynda’s case appeared on Crimewatch that someone working at the rescue centre recognised the description of Lynda’s dog’s Shep to be the same dog that had been brought to them, having been found wandering near St Michael’s Woods. However, by the time Lynda’s case appeared on Crimewatch in December, four months after Lynda and Shep had gone missing, Shep had already been put to sleep, as it had been determined after one week that, as no one had come looking for Shep, he must be a stray, as he was without his collar.

I’m sorry to leave it on such a sad note, but that’s the end. Come back next time for another episode of Scottish Murders.

Granny Robertson:

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn.


Love Triangles -Sanday Dunes

Love Triangles
Sanday Dunes

Episode Summary

Relocating to a quiet and tranquil Orkney Island should have been a dream come true for Robert, Jack and Margaret, but instead turned into a nightmare.

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn

Voice Talent by Eleanor Morton

Hosted by Dawn

Researched and Written by Dawn Young

Produced and Edited by Dawn Young and Peter Bull

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Music:

Dawn of the Fairies by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Gothic Wedding by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Introduction by Eleanor Morton:

Welcome Wee Ones to Scottish Murders. Dawn will shortly be taking you through a solved or unsolved murder involving people from or living in Scotland. So get ready to hear about the darker side of Bonnie Scotland.

Dawn:

52 year old Robert or Bob Rose who was a builder had decided he needed a change of scenery, a fresh start, and once he made the decision to move house it felt right. Now he just had to decide where he wanted to move to. Bob had lived in South Yorkshire in England with his beloved wife until her passing. Their children Katie, Chris and James were grown up and living their own lives and so the world was truly Bob’s oyster. However, it came as a bit of a surprise to Bob’s family when he settled on moving to the Orkney Isles in Scotland, which is about an 11 and a half hour drive north of where the family lived in South Yorkshire and can only be reached by a ferry or plane off the Scottish Mainland, and they were a bit concerned. However, Bob was determined he wanted the quiet, the peace and a bit of land where he could keep his animals, and Sanday in the Orkney Isles was his destination. According to the website sanday.co.uk, Sanday has a population of around 550 and according to sanday.com it stretches for around 16 miles or 26 kilometres from end to end. Bob then sold the family property in South Yorkshire and bought a small property in Sanday that needed renovated. The property also had a small area of land attached which Bob had wanted to keep animals on. And then in March 2008 he said his goodbyes to his family and he and his Jack Russell dog called Patch began the long journey to their new home.

Upon arriving and settling into his new home on Sanday, Bob being, according to his daughter Katie in an article in the Express Newspaper on the 4th of February 2010, a happy and chirpy man immediately made friends, and while still being seen as an outsider he was well liked and accepted by the locals and became a regular at the pub where, according to an article in the BBC news on the 2nd of March 2010, he enjoyed a pint, a game of chess and was known to his friends there as a diamond in the rough. One man who Bob became close friends with upon first arriving in Sanday was 49 year old Stephen Crummack, who lived in a caravan near to Bob’s property. Once Bob had settled in he then bought three South American alpacas and he kept them on his wee bit of land. He enjoyed going to the local pub and catching up with the locals, and every Sunday you would find him there enjoying his Sunday lunch. His family, seeing how happy the move had made him after the sad passing of his wife, accepted that this move had been good for Bob, and despite the vast distance between the family they still kept in regular contact. However, it wasn’t just the move to Sanday and its quiet and tranquillity that was helping to put a spring in Bob’s step.

Margaret Johnston was 32 years old and living in Falkirk, which, according to Wikipedia, is a large town in the central lowlands of Scotland, with her two children when she met 57 year old Jack Campbell. Margaret loved monkeys, especially marmoset monkeys, and when hers had sadly died she came across Jack Campbell’s name and contacted him hoping he might be able to help her get another one. Jack Campbell was very passionate about monkeys and had set up a monkey sanctuary in the central lowlands in 1997 where monkeys who had been subjected to testing by pharmaceutical companies but were no longer needed could go to be rehabilitated and try to live like monkeys again. Margaret, also being a monkey lover, felt an instant connection to the sanctuary and the monkeys when she visited and told Jack that she wanted to be involved. Margaret hadn’t just felt a connection to the sanctuary though she and Jack also made a connection, and so they began a relationship and fell in love. The pair worked together in the sanctuary helping to rehabilitate the monkeys, both in their element. Margaret and her two children moved in with Jack and before long Margaret and Jack were welcoming their first child together. In late 2006, when Margaret and Jack had been together for about a year, the couple made the decision to move their family to Sanday on the Orkney Isles for a new start, a better life, and they began making plans to open up a rescue sanctuary for lab monkeys on the large piece of land that they had purchased there. They had big plans. They would open the sanctuary to tourists and Jack would give sessions with the aim to educate more people about opening up monkey sanctuaries and what it entailed. The residents of Sanday loved the idea and were more than happy to help out at the sanctuary when it eventually opened. All was going well until May 2007 when Jack and Margaret’s plans to increase the number of monkeys they could take at the sanctuary was met by opposition by the Orkney Council, which would take both time and a substantial amount of money to resolve. Jack and Margaret’s dream of being able to rehabilitate more and more lab monkeys was in jeopardy. It also appeared that Jack and Margaret’s relationship was having problems around this time too and had become volatile, with Margaret saying in the Daily Mail newspaper that she broke up with Jack after he attacked her for the second time, the first time by strangling her and the second time by bashing her head off the kitchen floor. While the couple did break up, Margaret continued to live in the house with Jack, who she had a child with, and Margaret’s other two children, but it wasn’t a happy situation. However, upon a newcomer coming to the island, who was described as being a kind and generous man who left a good impression, Margaret finally found someone she could turn to, who would comfort her and provide a safe place for her and her children when things got too bad living with Jack, and it came in the form of Bob Rose.

Bob first became aware of Jack and Margaret when he was introduced to them by mutual friend Stephen Crummack, who lived in a caravan near to where Bob lived and had been one of the first people to befriend Bob when he moved to the island. Bob would have been happy to have made more friends, and as they were not from the islands either they may even have had a bond, but he certainly would have been happy when his bond with Margaret began to grow stronger over time, with the pair eventually falling in love.  As Bob’s property was under development Margaret and her children were not able to move in with him initially, and so they continued to stay in the home with Jack. And while Jack made it clear outwardly of his contempt for the newly formed relationship to Margaret, underneath he was bubbling over with hatred directed towards Bob Rose. In his eyes Margaret was still his woman and Bob had stolen her from him, despite the pair having broken up before Bob arrived on the island. Margaret did move in with Bob briefly, with Bob offering Jack £10,000 or $13,000 to buy the monkey sanctuary for Margaret as she just loved the monkeys, but Jack refused and Margaret moved back in with Jack, picking her love for the monkeys over living with Bob, however, soon the monkey sanctuary would be no more.

Margaret and Bob’s relationship continued until February 2009, when Bob had been on the island less than a year, until one day Margaret took her three children and left the island, Bob and Jack as she couldn’t see any other way she could be happy, not while living with Jack. While Jack and Bob would have been upset by the sudden departure of the woman they both claimed to love, that should have been the end of the rivalry as Margaret was gone. But things are never that simple. Margaret had cut off all contact with Jack, even changing her mobile number, as she had had enough of his behaviour while she was living with him. However, when Jack found out that Margaret was not only still in contact with Bob but that she’d been sending him topless photos of herself, his rage and jealousy bubbled over.

Bob had been sad at Margaret’s departure and so in March 2009 he decided to take a wee trip back to Rotherham to see his family for some TLC. His daughter, Katie, was pregnant at this time and Bob was so looking forward to becoming a grandfather. He enjoyed his time in Rotherham and seeing his family again had cheered him up no end, and so he was ready to head back to Sanday. Needing some cash for everyday living and for materials for his house renovation, Bob withdrew £5,000 or $6,500 before heading back to Sanday.

Now, also around this time Jack wouldn’t be the only resident of Sanday who was directing their anger towards Bob. There was also Stephen Crummack. Stephen was an alcoholic and Bob being a kind and supportive man he wanted to try and help Stephen come off the drink, sober up and do something with his life, but Stephen wasn’t interested and he became angry towards Bob for his interfering. So, when an anger-filled Jack approached Stephen to ask if he would help him get rid of Bob, he was only too happy to oblige.

And, so, late on Saturday the 6th of June or in the early hours of Sunday the 7th of June 2009, four months after Margaret had left the island, Jack, still consumed by rage and contempt for his perceived love rival, along with Stephen, who was irrationally annoyed at Bob, made their way to Bob’s home. Bob had spent the evening at the local pub, having a drink and chatting with friends, before heading home for a quiet rest of the night, sending a joking text to his pregnant daughter Katie saying, “Ha ha. Just having a boys’ night in.” And, so, he would have been surprised when there was a knock at his door, and even more surprised to see Jack and Stephen standing there. The pair forced their way into the house where a fight ensued, with Bob being repeatedly struck by the pair on his head and body with their fists and other implements, before Bob was hit over the head disarming him. A pillow was then placed over Bob’s face and he was suffocated. Campbell and Crummack then took Bob’s wallet and the remainder of the money he had brought back from Rotherham, which he had stored in a suitcase, before wrapping his body in a duvet and putting his body in the back of the car, before digging a shallow grave in sand dunes and burying Bob’s body there. They then are believed to have burnt the duvet Bob’s body had been wrapped in and his wallet. It was reported that they either burnt or washed the clothes that they had been wearing, but it’s not clear which. They then parked Bob’s car near the pier to give the impression that Bob had left on the ferry to go to the mainland, which was the story that the pair told locals when people started wondering where Bob was when he missed a pre-arranged appointment on Monday, as well as the fact that Bob had asked the pair to look after Patch while he was gone. However, the locals were well aware of the issues between Jack and Bob so they didn’t believe this story for one minute, and so reported Bob as missing on Monday the 8th of June 2009 and a massive hunt for Bob began.

Bob’s children, Katie, Chris and James, came to the island and made an appeal for any information about Bob’s whereabouts, saying they just wanted to know what had happened to their dad, describing him as being around five foot four inches tall or 1.73 meters, being a slim man with a ruddy complexion and short almost balding grey hair. 

For nearly two weeks the police searched the island for Bob, forensically examined Bob’s house for clues and questioned the islanders, including Jack and Stephen, who remained tight-lipped and united despite being questioned on numerous occasions as Jack’s rage at Bob was well known. Until that is their unity was blown out of the water by paranoia and a laugh.

On one of the occasions when both Jack Campbell and Stephen Crummack were at the police station being interviewed Stephen came across Jack laughing with his solicitor. In Stephen’s mind he believed the pair were conspiring against him to stitch him or fit him up for the murder of Bob Rose, and so he decided he had to get in first.

On Friday the 19th of June, nearly two weeks after Bob had gone missing, Bob’s distraught family finally found out what had happened to their kind and caring dad, when Stephen told the police that Jack had murdered Bob out of rage and jealousy and that he had helped in the murder, before Crummack finally led the police to an approximate area in the sand dunes where the pair had buried Bob’s body. Sniffer dogs were brought in to locate the exact area of Bob’s body, which was then slowly uncovered in order to preserve any forensic evidence, which only further prolonged the family’s torture.

Jack Campbell and Stephen Crummack were both arrested and charged with murder, they were taken off the island and held in custody, before appearing in court charged with Bob Rose’s murder, although, unlike Stephen, Jack denied any involvement in Bob’s murder.

Following Bob’s disappearance, his home was forensically searched and, according to an article in the Scotsman newspaper on the 2nd of March 2010, a blood spot on a pillowcase was found, which upon testing was deemed to belong to Jack Campbell. As well as DNA being found on a cigarette end in the fireplace and on a sleeping bag, which matched Stephen Crummack.

The residents of Sanday were in shock about the murder of Bob, with one islander who was born and raised on Sanday and who had been a friend of Bob saying, according to an article in the BBC News on the 2nd of March 2010, that he still couldn’t believe that Bob was gone and that he had been murdered on the peaceful, tranquil Isle of Sanday.

The trial for the murder of 54 year old Robert Rose began at the beginning of February 2010 at the High Court in Glasgow, with 59 year old Jack Campbell pleading not guilty and 51 year old Stephen Crummack pleaded not guilty to any part in the murder, but did admit that he had helped cover it up. Many residents of Sanday who had been friends of Bob’s attended as witnesses, including Frances Muir, who was a nurse and midwife on Orkney. Frances told the court how she had been asked to visit Jack Campbell after Margaret had left the island with his child, after his GP felt he was depressed. She told the court how Jack Campbell had told her that he was having financial problems, that his wife and child had left the island and he had no way of communicating with them, but also that he believed Margaret was still in contact with Robert Rose and that they were having an affair. According to an article in the Express Newspaper on the 4th of February 2010, Frances told the court that it was during this conversation when an angry Jack Campbell had told her that one day he would go up to Robert Rose and kill him. She told the court that her notes following this visit described this, as well as noting that Jack was depressed. According to the Daily Mail on the 3rd of March 2014, other islanders and friends of Bob had also been aware that Jack had threatened Bob in the weeks running up to his murder, with Bob telling his friends that Jack had told him “Your day is coming.” Next in the dock to be questioned by Jack Campbell’s QC was another friend of Bob’s on the island, a Mr Sinclair, who owned the local hotel. Mr Sinclair told the court that upon finding out Bob was missing, himself and two other men went to Jack Campbell’s home to see if he was aware of Bob’s whereabouts, going on to say that they found Stephen Crummack at Jack’s home too. Mr Sinclair said that when he asked Stephen Crummack if he knew the whereabouts of Bob he just shrugged and said no. When he was asked if Stephen had shown any concern about Bob’s disappearance Mr Sinclair said, “No not to my knowledge.”  Evidence was also given by two pathologists that contradicted Stephen Crummack’s claim that he had no part in the murder when they said that, due to the injuries found on Bob’s body, it indicated he had died fighting for his life, and it was very unlikely that only one man could have been involved in his murder. And despite Jack Campbell denying his involvement in the murder of Robert Rose, apparently he was unable to stop himself from bragging and confessed to the murder to a cellmate while he was being held in custody, and his cellmate was more than happy to tell all to the police. Margaret Johnston also took to the stand and said that Bob Rose was a very nice person, that she had developed feelings for him and thought that they could have had a good future together, if it had not been snatched away. She confirmed that Jack Campbell was not happy about her having a relationship with Bob, going as far as saying that, yes, she felt he was capable of murder when he lost it. Margaret went on to say she had not been going backwards and forwards between Bob and Jack, that she had ended her relationship with Jack and had fallen in love with Bob. She was not a scarlet woman.

The month-long trial finally came to an end on the 2nd of March 2010, and the jury took six hours over two days to come back with a verdict of guilty for Jack Campbell and culpable homicide for Stephen Crummack, with both also being found guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice. While the judge deferred sentencing for both men until the 30th of March 2010, he did say to Jack Campbell that the only option for him would be a life sentence as he had been convicted of an atrocious crime and of callously disposing of Bob’s body. There was a huge sense of relief for Bob’s three children, Katie, Chris and James, who said in a statement after the conviction “Words can’t describe how much of an impact this has had on our family and close friends. Our dad was a great man. He was kind and generous, the kind of man who always left a good impression. The only thing we now hope for is that we get justice for our dad. But no matter how long a sentence is given, it will never replace the life that has been taken.”

28 days after Jack Campbell was convicted of murdering Bob Rose and Stephen Crummack was convicted of Bob Rose’s culpable homicide, the pair were back in court to be sentenced. Judge Lord Turnbull spoke firstly to Jack Campbell saying “You have been convicted of murdering Mr Rose, motivated by your dislike of him and your reaction to his involvement with your former partner.” He went on to say that despite him continuing to protest his innocence, despite the fact he lied to the police and tried his best to cover up the crime, he had been undone by boasting to a cellmate. Jack Campbell was then handed down a life sentence and expected to serve at least 16 years in prison before being eligible for parole. He was also given a further three-year sentence for attempting to defeat the ends of justice, which was to run concurrently with his 16-year sentence. Then it was Stephen Crummack’s turn to have his sentence handed down for the culpable homicide of Robert Rose, with Judge Lord Turnbull saying to him that had he not come to assist the police in their investigation into finding Bob Rose, “it is not possible to see how the police inquiry would have ended.” He then sentenced Stephen Crummack to ten years for culpable homicide, and a further one year for attempting to defeat the ends of justice. The pair were then taken away to begin their sentences.

While Katie, James and Chris did attend the court to hear the sentencing, they did not make a statement afterwards. I hope they felt that they received some sort of justice for their beloved dad.

Katie, James and Chris returned to Sanday for an equally as distressing reason, they took their dad’s ashes there and scattered them on a part of the island that had quickly become their dad’s favourite. Katie would have given birth to her child before the trial started, a child that would never meet his happy and chirpy, kind and generous grandfather, Robert Rose.

So, that’s it. Come back next time for another episode of Scottish Murders.

Granny Robertson:

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn


Love Triangles - Tangled Web

Love Triangles
Tangled Web

Episode Summary

TRIGGER WARNING- This episode discusses domestic abuse and themes targeting children, so listener discretion is strongly advised. 

In June 1955, 20 year old Sheila married her prince charming in a lavish ceremony. She was the envy of the town having landed the wealthy and powerful Max. Nobody, least of all Sheila, could have ever predicted the tangled web she would become part of.

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

Murder World Scotland – A Killing at Kinky Cottage

by Steve MacGregor

Synopsis

This is the true story of a murder which took place in Scotland in 1968. It attracted huge media attention at the time, but it has since been largely forgotten. Perhaps the reason for this is that, in the most basic terms, there is no mystery here. We know who was murdered and who pulled the trigger and we have a reasonable idea of why. What makes this case so fascinating is that the three people involved in the murder all gave very different accounts of what happened.

Depending on who you choose to believe, this could be the story of a fragile woman, traumatized by the incessant and bizarre sexual demands of her overbearing and violent husband, who sought solace in the company of a besotted young man and was then further traumatized and punished when he unexpectedly took bloody revenge on her husband. But, it could also be the story of a ruthless and manipulative woman who used her sexuality to inveigle a naïve young man to commit murder on her behalf and then discarded him when he was of no further use to her. Or, it could be none of these things.

Let’s take a look at the fascinating case of the killing at kinky cottage and see if we can make sense of the evidence.

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn

Hosted by Dawn

Researched and Written by Dawn Young

Produced and Edited by Dawn Young and Peter Bull

Introduction Voice Talent by Eleanor Morton

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Music:

Dawn of the Fairies by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Gothic Wedding by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Dawn:

Trigger warning. This episode discusses domestic abuse and themes targeting children, so listener discretion is strongly advised.

Before I begin, a lot of the information in this episode I got from The Storyteller Violent Delights podcast by Isla Traquair. This podcast is full of information about the case; from interviews, court records and many other avenues, a lot of which I wasn’t able to say in this episode. So, if you’d like to know even more in-depth information about this case and the main people involved, then I’d highly recommend giving The Storyteller Violent Delights podcast a listen.

Wendy Garvie was born in 1956. She was the first daughter of Maxwell and Sheila Garvie. From around four years old Wendy was made to feel like a huge disappointment. By 13 she was living in foster care. At 16 she was married to a 21 year old, and gave birth to a daughter when she was 18. Three short years later at the age of 21, Wendy was divorced and had left her daughter with her ex-husband. Wendy then began drinking alcohol to excess. For many long years Wendy’s life continued to spiral out of control. What could have taken place in Wendy’s young life to have caused such long-lasting and obvious trauma?

Wendy’s parents, Maxwell and Sheila Garvie, had met at a dance in January 1952 and had quickly fallen in love, eventually marrying on the 21st of June 1955 in a lavish ceremony when Max was 22 and Sheila was 20. The couple then moved into a lavish five-bedroom farmhouse called West Cairnbeg, which Max Garvie had just inherited after it had been in his family for many years. West Cairnbeg is located less than a mile or 1.5 kilometres outside of the town of Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire. And Laurencekirk, which is known as the Lang Toun or simply the Kirk to locals, is situated on the east coast of Scotland, approximately 30 miles or 48 kilometres south of Aberdeen. Max’s family were well known in the area, owning vast amounts of land around Laurencekirk, and the Garvie family were extremely well off. While Max was known as a farmer, you’d be mistaken if you thought he was the conventional kind where he worked the farmland traipsing around in his wellington boots. No, Max had staff and a grieve for that, and his grieve, who was also a special constable, oversaw the running of West Cairnbeg farm on a day-to-day basis, but Max still did take an interest in how the farm was being run and had a keen interest in agriculture. By the time Max met Sheila in 1952 he already had a reputation as being an extravagant man, a ladies man, having loved and left many girls. He was seen as a handsome eligible bachelor, he just hadn’t found the right girl. Then in walked Sheila Watson.

Sheila was the daughter of a stonemason who worked at Balmoral Castle, the Queen’s estate, and who was known as a sombre man, of having a short temper and of being very frugal. Sheila’s mother, Edith Watson, was, according to the book A Killing at Kinky Cottage by Steve MacGregor, described as being upright, forthright and of having inflexible views. Sheila had quite a strict upbringing under the watchful eyes of her parents and had feelings of being quite stifled, a feeling which only increased when as a teenager Sheila began working at Balmoral Castle as a housemaid.  Although when Sheila was about 18 she finally would get a bit of freedom, as she and her family made the decision to leave their jobs at Balmoral Castle and move to the town of Stonehaven, which was about an hour’s drive away from Balmoral Castle. Sheila was so pleased to finally be able to make some friends her own age, to go to dances and just basically have a bit of fun in her young life.  However, she was still very much under the watchful eye of her parents, so, when she met and was swept off her feet by the wealthy and showy Maxwell Garvie, Sheila could finally see a way out.

Max and Sheila Garvie were seen as the perfect couple, Max being rich, tall, dark, well-dressed and handsome and Sheila being a slim, beautiful blonde, and so it was no surprise when the pair married. Sheila had craved the high life that Max could offer, and so it wouldn’t be long before the couple were enjoying eating in the best restaurants, attending nightclubs, splashing out on the latest fashions, hosting lavish parties at West Cairnbeg, holidaying abroad and indulging in Max’s passion for fast cars. The couple then had their second daughter, Angela, in 1957, when Wendy was a year old, and from the outside they really did appear to be the perfect couple living the perfect life. However, things are not always as they seem. While Sheila and Max initially were very happy together, by the early 1960s life in the Garvie household was anything but bliss, the main problem appearing to be Max Garvie. From a young age Max knew he could have anything he wanted, he could have it all, and sadly this fact appeared to have made him very restless, getting bored very easily with things, and he was always on the lookout for the next big thing to give him a rush. Sadly, this didn’t just include material things, like always having a new car, a better car, a faster car, this also included his family. Max began to pick on Sheila, criticising what she would wear, how she looked, how she behaved, how she parented their children, and he even began to criticise her in the bedroom. From Sheila’s perspective she could do nothing right. Max had grown bored of Sheila and their sex life, she wasn’t shiny and new anymore and he wanted to try different things, and so he began to look for ways that being with Sheila could be more interesting again, continuing to constantly criticise Sheila, before turning more and more to alcohol until he found something or someone that would satisfy him.

By this time the swinging 60s were taking London by storm, not so much however in the small villages of east Scotland, much to Max’s dismay, and so he set about bringing a bit of London to the village of Laurencekirk, firstly in the form of erotic photographs. Sheila of course was expected to be involved in this and, while she had no interest in being photographed erotically, she went along with it, as she always did, to try to please her husband and stop his constant criticism of her. Max also decided to involve his close friends in this venture, and he even started distributing the erotic photographs featuring Sheila around his friends, until that is he was told bluntly by the police that this was not acceptable and that he should stop it immediately or risk being prosecuted. Never one to be deterred though, Max then bought a cottage about 20 miles or 32 kilometres away from West Cairnbeg farmhouse and began planting trees on part of the surrounding land. Of course, none of the locals saw this as odd as maybe he was doing this to protect his farmland or animals from exposure to the cold winds. Although it did seem ever so slightly strange that the trees appeared to have been planted to enclose a small triangular piece of land. It would appear that Max’s intentions for the cottage and the triangle of trees was to start his very own nudist colony.

Now, while Sheila and Max were blessed with two healthy daughters, Wendy and Angela, Max’s need for perfection and having the perfect family was marred by his perception that his daughter, Wendy, was overweight, and sadly he was not shy about letting Wendy know on a regular basis just how much of a disappointment she was to him, with Wendy saying in an article in The Scotsman newspaper on the 1st of February 2002 that she had been left traumatised by her father’s disappointment in her for being overweight, remembering the jibes as far back as when she was four or five years old. So, with Wendy’s dad’s constant criticism about her weight ringing in her ears as a child, to then be told that she was to partake in his nudist colony was very distressing for Wendy, because, yes, of course Max expected his wife and children to be involved in his nudist camp. Wendy recalled in an article in The Scotsman newspaper “I was forced to strip off. Being fat I was terribly embarrassed. There were old men sitting watching. I remember undressing in the freezing cold.” Sheila and the girls had also been made to attend nudist colonies by Max previously while they holidayed in Corsica. There are a couple of differing stories about Sheila’s participation in the nudist colonies at Laurencekirk. One version says that Sheila was initially strongly against stripping off for the nudist colony in a triangle of trees on the rather cold and windy east coast of Scotland, where it would also be desperately embarrassing for both Sheila and the girls to be naked in front of people that they knew. However, as before, Sheila was eventually worn down by Max’s berating and criticism that Sheila was frigid and boring for not taking part. However, another version reports that while Sheila did attend the very first welcome meeting of the nudist colony, she refused to remove her clothing and did not return again. However, if Wendy had memories of having to strip naked in the cold of Scotland, then did that mean that her mother, Sheila, was not present or was she there too but just didn’t want to remember being forced to strip naked? Wendy would have been as old as eight or nine before Max moved on to other more extreme ventures.

Max wasn’t satisfied with just the nudist colony for long and, according to The Kinky Cottage book by Steve MacGregor, it wasn’t long before the nudist colony gatherings had escalated into drink fuelled orgies and wife swapping. Again, whether Sheila was involved in this or not is not clear. What is clear though is that Sheila was becoming very depressed and told friends that Max had become physically violent towards her, at one point threatening to shoot her. Sheila felt that no matter what she did to try and please Max sexually it just wasn’t ever enough, and his requests were becoming more and more demanding.  According to The Kinky Cottage book by this point Max was drinking very heavily, now four or five bottles of whisky a week, was exceeding the daily allowance of caffeine-based stimulants, as well as taking a chronic insomnia drug barbiturate, something which is advised not to be taken for more than two weeks or with alcohol, both of which Max was doing. Max’s behaviour continued to escalate and be erratic, until 1964 when Sheila gave birth to the couple’s only son, Lloyd.  At this point Max began to reduce his drug and alcohol intake and life became more tolerable for the Garvie family, well for most of them, as Max still continued to torment Wendy constantly about her weight.

During this time of stability, Max gained his pilot’s licence and bought himself a small aircraft and started a flying club, which was located about a seven minute drive away from West Cairnbeg. While this new adventure appeared to satisfy Max for a while, it wouldn’t be long before Max became restless and began drinking again. He would often take his small aircraft out after drinking heavily and was known to fly erratically and very low over Laurencekirk, being dubbed by locals as the flying farmer. Max was approached by the police on several occasions after scaring drivers as he flew so close to them while they drove along below, but Max was a charismatic and likable man and appeared able to talk his way out of situations. Sheila would also be encouraged to go flying with Max, which made her very anxious due to his erratic behaviour and drinking, but again she obliged, anything to make Max happy, but it just never did. However, soon Max would meet someone who would make him happy, very happy, for a while at least, but which would ultimately lead to his downfall.

The Garvie children; Wendy, Angela and Lloyd, did their best to live a normal life and do normal things while they were not at the farmhouse, because when they were at home there was always the threat of more nudist colony exploits, of Max and Sheila arguing and  laterally of Sheila becoming distant and cold towards the children, and of course Wendy being regularly tormented by her father about her being overweight, which had never stopped. So much so that when Wendy was 11 years old Max produced slimming tablets for Wendy and instructed her to start taking them, which she did. However, much to Wendy, and Max’s dismay, even this didn’t help Wendy lose weight, and the constant criticism by Max continued, a constant reminder for Wendy of just how much of a disappointment she continued to be to her father. However, Wendy then began to notice a difference in her father, he seemed happier, the criticism from him seemed to lessen and she noticed that her mother and father didn’t seem to be arguing as much. Wendy realised that this change seemed to have happened around the time 21 year old Brian Tevendale came on the scene and began spending more and more time at the farmhouse. Whatever the reason, Wendy was just pleased that her mother and father had stopped arguing as much, and that her father didn’t bring up her weight as often. Then one evening in late April 1968 Wendy, who was now 12 years old, walked into the living room at the farmhouse and was shocked to find her mother kissing Brian Tevendale. Wendy wasn’t the only one shocked, with Wendy saying in an article that her mother begged her not to say anything, which Wendy promised that she wouldn’t as she didn’t want to upset her mother. However, Wendy’s decision to stay silent stayed with her throughout her life, it caused Wendy no end of trauma and guilt, and led to her spending her life asking the question, what if? So, while 12 year old Wendy was thinking that things had settled down at home and that her mother and father appeared to be happier since the arrival of Brian Tevendale, she could have had no idea just what had been going on while she lay sleeping at night. In 1967, three years after Max and Sheila’s son Lloyd was born, when Max was 33 years old, Max met 21 year old bartender and mechanic Brian Tevendale.

Brian was a slim, good-looking, shy man who enjoyed drinking, however Brian did not come from a wealthy family and so could not afford to indulge as much as he would have liked. And so when Brian began to receive the attention of the extravagant Max Garvie, who clearly had a sexual interest in him, Brian was more than happy to become friends, just without the benefits. Max and Brian began to spend more and more time together, drinking together, flying together, and Brian started to become a regular overnight visitor at West Cairnbeg farmhouse after enjoying a drinking session with Max and Sheila. Max was clearly very taken with Brian and enjoyed his company, even if it had not turned sexual as Max had hoped. While Max was happy with his relationship with Brian, Max still was frustrated by his frigid and boring wife Sheila. And, so, wanting to spice up their sex life, Max came up with the perfect idea to get Sheila interested in sex again. It was reported in the Daily Record newspaper on the 19th of October 2007 that one evening in late 1967 when Brian was staying at the farmhouse and had gone to bed in the spare room, he suddenly found his door thrown open and Max pushed a naked and shivering Sheila into the room with Brian, before Max left them alone, locking the door behind him. Max had decided that in order to get frigid Sheila more interested in sex again he would make her sleep with a younger lover. Sheila had been instructed by Max in no uncertain terms that she was to sleep with Brian that evening. Brian was 21 at this time and found Sheila to be extremely attractive, and so the pair spent the night together. Max was delighted, wanting to know every single intimate detail from Sheila afterwards. And this arrangement continued for a while, before Max decided that he wanted in on the action too and suggested that the three of them should sleep together, which Brian agreed to but made it clear that he was not interested in having sex with Max, only Sheila, who Brian was fast becoming infatuated with. Max found this new setup exciting, especially as Sheila became more and more interested in having sex with Brian.  Apparently, Max and Brian would occasionally toss a coin to decide which of them would have sex with Sheila first that evening, but often if Max lost he would just insist that they all slept together. This arrangement continued for a while, but as ever it wasn’t long before Max grew tired of even this setup, although he was pleased to find that Sheila seemed happy to continue to sleep with Brian, which in his eyes meant that he was free to find himself another lover, which he did and who came in the form of Trudi Birse, who just so happen to be Brian’s sister and who was married to a local policeman, Alfred. Max and Sheila already knew Trudi as her and her husband, Alfred, had frequently attended Max’s nudist colony. So, Max and Trudi began an affair, which was made known to both Sheila and Trudi’s husband Alfred, but neither appeared to be concerned by this. Max liked Trudi as she appeared to be as keen on varied sex as he was, with the pair frequently going flying in Max’s small aircraft with Max putting the autopilot on so the pair could satisfy their sexual appetites. It got to the stage that Max and Trudi would spend the evening having sex in Sheila and Brian’s marital bed, while Brian and Sheila would spend the evening having sex in the spare room, then sometime during the night Trudi would knock on the spare room’s door signalling that it was time for Sheila to go back to the marital bed to have sex with Max. One evening even Trudi’s husband Alfred got in on the action. Max, Sheila, Trudi, Brian, Alfred and a mystery female, who had been invited to attend the gathering by Max, had spent the evening at West Cairnbeg drinking in the living room. Brian and Sheila then drifted off to have sex, followed by Trudi and Max, until it was just Alfred and the mystery female left, and they too had sex. Everybody appeared to be having a great time, everyone that is except Sheila.

Sheila was very depressed, she was on sleeping tablets, and was just worn down by Max and his physical, mental and sexual abuse. Although for Sheila there did appear to be a slight glimmer of hope as she had began to develop strong feelings for Brian, had started to look forward to their time together alone, and may even have started to see a future away from Max. Knowing that she would need support if she were to even consider the possibility of leaving Max she firstly turned to her mother, Edith, who was known to be forthright and have inflexible views. Despite Edith being aware of how Max was treating her daughter, as Max took great delight in telling her the intimate details including how he and Brian tossed a coin to decide who would have sex with Sheila first, as predicted, Sheila would be deeply disappointed as her mother would not support this decision, she should stay with her husband for the children, she needed to try and make it work, divorce was not an option. Next, Sheila turned to her local priest for support and guidance, but again received the same outcome, she should stay with her husband for the children’s sake, divorce was not an option. It was also reported in the Press and Journal newspaper on the 30th of November 2011 that Sheila also sought help and support from her doctor when Max had become so physically violent towards her she had to wear an neck brace. However, again, Sheila was to be severely let down by her doctor as her doctor had immediately telephoned Max and told him what Sheila had said, and in essence sent Sheila straight back to her increasingly intolerable life with Max. And then things became even worse.

Max had grown tired of Brian and Trudi and wanted new sexual partners to join him and Sheila in the bedroom. However, much to his shock and annoyance, he realised that Brian and Sheila had begun to have feelings for one another and that the lovers had no intention of giving each other up. This enraged Max. While he was happy to force his wife to have sex with other people, he always wanted to be in control and was very domineering, and so to have his wife not immediately cut Brian off in favour of new sexual partners, as well as to have developed feelings for another man, did not go down well with Max. He became more physically and mentally abusive towards Sheila, trying to force her to bend to his will, as he had done time and time before, and so he was furious when Sheila took the three children and left him to be with Brian. However, Sheila knew she had no support from anyone, other than her 22 year old lover she was completely alone. And, so, when Max threatened to shoot all of them if Sheila did not return to him, scared and completely beaten down Sheila returned to Max. Sheila did find some amazing courage to leave Max one more time to be with Brian, although this time she didn’t take her children. While away from Max once again she visited a solicitor to find out her rights, however, yet again, Sheila was severely let down. She was told that regardless of what Max had been doing or had been making Sheila do sexually, Sheila was still an adulteress and if she were to apply for a divorce she would lose her home and children. Distraught and completely beaten but knowing she would be unable to be without her children, Sheila returned to Max once again, only this time Sheila was desperate and out of options.

The physical and sexual abuse from Max continued and Sheila started taking a prescription drug to help with her increasing anxiety and depression, which made her appear to be detached and cold, which only angered Max further. Sheila did continue to see Brian though, much to Max’s annoyance. Sheila had begun to see Brian as her only escape from a terrible and traumatic reality, and one evening in late April 1968 when Brian and Sheila were alone together and she said to him that life would be so much better without Max in it, a seed was planted which set about a motion that would destroy so many lives and lead to murder.

On Tuesday the 14th of May 1968, a few weeks after Wendy had caught her mother and Brian kissing in the living room, a fact that 12 year old Wendy had forgotten about by this point, Wendy was again in the living room at West Cairnbeg, but this time she was watching television before heading to bed. Wendy, who was 12, and her younger sister, Angela who was 11, were allowed to stay up a bit later than their four-year-old brother Lloyd, but soon it would be Wendy and Angela’s bedtime too. Wendy remembers that her father wasn’t home at this time, with her mother telling her that he was at a meeting but would be home later. The main reason Wendy remembers this bedtime particularly is because her mother made her and her sister go to bed earlier than normal, and after her mother had kissed her and Angela good night Sheila apparently said, according to an article in The Scotsman newspaper on the 1st of February 2002, “No matter what, don’t get up.” Wendy thought this was strange but she was tired and so thought nothing more about it and went to sleep, and had no reason to get up until her mother woke her in the morning for school. Now, while Wendy was devastated at always being taunted by her father about her weight, Max was still her father and she loved him, and so when her dad wasn’t there in the morning she asked her mother where he was, to which Sheila said he had gone for a few days, which wasn’t unusual as he often was gone for meetings or to do with his flying club. However, after a few days of Wendy not having seen or heard from her dad she again asked her mother where he was. It appeared that Sheila too was becoming concerned by Max’s absence, and even though his car had been found parked at the airstrip suggesting he had gone off in his plane, on the 20th of May, five days after Max was last seen, she telephoned the police to report him missing. She told the police that Max had returned late and had been drunk on the night of the 14th of May, that they had had an argument and Sheila had gone to bed and Max had slept elsewhere, and that he was gone in the morning when she got up. She did state to the police however that he most likely was just with his flying group somewhere and that he had an arranged meeting planned for that same evening and she was sure he would return for that. But he didn’t. And so the police began to take Max’s disappearance more seriously. They firstly attended the farmhouse to have a look around for anything unusual, to double check that Max definitely wasn’t there, and to speak to Sheila, although Sheila’s mother, Edith, was there who took charge, leaving Sheila to fade into the background. Edith did not appear to be overly concerned about Max’s disappearance, offering the opinion that he was likely off with his flying group somewhere, as his car had been parked at the airstrip which suggested this. However, on closer inspection it turned out that Max’s actual aircraft was still in the hangar. Could Max perhaps have left his aircraft there and flown with another group member? It was definitely a possibility, especially after, according to the podcast The Storyteller Violent Delights by Isla Traquair, a local farmer who lived near the airstrip came forward to say that he had heard a small aircraft taking off from the airstrip about 6.30am on the morning of Wednesday the 15th of May.

Max and his erratic behaviour was well known to the police and while it appeared that he was just off somewhere of his own free will, a description of Max was placed in the Police Gazette in June 1968, not a very flattering description to say the least. According to The Storyteller Violent Delights podcast it read ‘Spends freely. Is a heavy spirit drinker and often consumes tranquilisers and Pro Plus tablets when drinking. Is fond of female company but has strong homosexual tendencies and is often in the company of young men. Is a man of considerable wealth, and until three years ago was completely rational. Of late became very impulsive, probably brought about by his addiction to drink. Has threatened suicide on at least one occasion. Deals in pornographic material. Is an active member of nudist camps, and is an enthusiastic flyer. May have gone abroad.’ Max’s younger sister, Hilda, also reported him missing at the time, but she only gave a physical description of Max to the police. While there were a few sightings of Max reported to police none ever checked out. Max hadn’t been in touch with friends or family, and even more alarmingly his bank account had not been touched. Max had vanished.

As the days became weeks and the weeks became months more and more people in the community began to believe that something had happened to Max, that he had possibly been murdered. Wendy became more and more upset and worried by her father’s disappearance as the time passed and became more and more difficult to console, so much so that Sheila was unable to cope on her own with the children, and so asked her mother, Edith, to move into West Cairnbeg to help her. While the community were speculating about what may have happened to Max, and Wendy the couple’s eldest daughter was becoming more and more upset by his absence, Sheila appeared to be at her happiest. She spent more and more time with Brian, they were seen holding hands and laughing together in public, which only further increased speculation about Max’s disappearance.  However, there was no evidence of foul play and there was no body so the police were not able to do anything. That is until Friday the 16th of August 1968 when Wendy recalls the police arriving at the farmhouse.

Wendy had been in the kitchen with her siblings and mother making the dinner when there was a knock at the door. Before Wendy knew what was happening her mother was shouting to her to watch the potatoes as they were nearly ready and that her grandmother would be along shortly to look after them, before her mother was led out of the house and into a waiting police car. Wendy was 12 years old, first her father had disappeared and now her mother was being taken away by the police. Wendy was distraught. But she would only have to wait a couple of days before being bluntly told by her grandmother, Edith, and her mother’s brother that her father was dead and that he had been murdered by her mother. Wendy’s young and traumatised life as the daughter of perfectionist Max Garvie was further being turned upside down. Wendy recalls everything happening so quickly after hearing this news, she and her siblings were whisked away by their grandmother, away from their friends and all that was familiar to them, but this was done to protect them from the media frenzy that was about to descend.

So, what had happened for the police to suddenly bring Sheila in for questioning after Max had been missing for three months, and for her to be arrested for his murder? It transpired that Max had been able to orchestrate one final blow to Sheila.

And that’s the end of part one. Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss the conclusion to this story.

Dawn:

Trigger warning – This episode discusses domestic abuse, so listener discretion is strongly advised.

This is part two of the story Tangled Web, so, if you’ve not listened to part one already or you need a reminder then stop and give it a listen now, and then come back to this episode. If you’re all up-to-date then let’s continue with part two.

Following Max’s disappearance Sheila and Brian became closer and closer, despite the growing gossip. They began to spend more and more time together, and had eventually made the decision to move to Aberdeen with Sheila’s three children to start a new life together. However, while Edith watched on quietly as her daughter spent more and more time with Brian, when she found out that Sheila planned to move to Aberdeen with her children to live with Brian, Edith could stay silent no longer.

Earlier in the day on Friday the 16th of August 1968, 59 year old Edith Watson had entered the local police station and almost collapsed she was in such distress about what she was about to say. She told police that she strongly believed that Max was dead, and that her daughter Sheila and Brian Tevendale had been involved in this. She said that the day after Max had gone missing Sheila had said to her that she would have no more worries and that Max wouldn’t be back. Edith said she had asked Sheila outright if she meant that Max was dead, to which she said Sheila had nodded. She said that Sheila had gone on to say that she had a strong man at her back, to which Edith said she asked if she meant Brian Tevendale, and Sheila again nodded. Edith said she then asked her daughter if Brian had been involved in Max’s murder, to which she said Sheila nodded again. When Edith was asked why she had come forward now she said that Max had told her that should anything happen to him she was to ensure that Brian Tevendale never had any contact with his children. And, so, while Sheila and Brian were planning on taking the children to live in Aberdeen, Edith felt she had to put a stop to it one way or another, even if that meant her daughter being charged with her husband’s murder.

Shocked by this development the police immediately made their way to West Cairnbeg to bring Sheila in for questioning. Brian was also brought to the police station for questioning on the same day, and to the detective’s surprise Brian quickly admitted his part in the murder of Max Garvie. However, upon Brian and Sheila both appearing in court on the charge of Maxwell Garvie’s murder, Sheila too decided to start talking, however, her version of events were completely different to what Brian had said.

Sheila said that late on the 14th of May to early 15th of May she had been in bed with Max when she’d been woken by a man whispering for her to get up and come into the hall. The man was Brian. She said that another man she knew only as Alan was also in the hall when she got there. She said she then noticed that Brian was carrying a rifle, which was later identified as being Max’s. Brian then told Sheila to go into the bathroom, which she did and closed and locked the door. She said she then heard awful thumping noises coming from the bedroom and then silence, before Brian knocked on the bathroom door telling her to unlock it and to instead stand guard at the children’s bedrooms in case they came out, while Brian and his friend wrapped Max’s body in a sheet. Sheila watched in shock and horror as the pair then bumped Max’s body down the stairs and outside to Brian’s friend Alan’s waiting car, and Max’s body was placed in the back of the car. Apparently the plan was for Brian to drive Max’s car to the airstrip and leave it there and then for Brian and his friend to dispose of Max’s body. However, like I said, Brian’s version of events was slightly different.

In his statement he said he had received a distressed phone call from Sheila saying that she had accidentally shot Max during a fight, after Max threatened her with a gun. Brian said he did go to the farmhouse and he did dispose of the body of Max, but only to help Sheila out, as Brian admitted being in love with her. Brian made no mention of his friend Alan being present, doing his best to protect him. But upon Sheila making a statement mentioning Alan being there, Brian told the police exactly who he was and where he lived.

On Saturday the 17th of August Brian then took detectives to Lauriston Castle where Max’s body was. And detectives later said that if they had not been led there directly to the location, Max’s body likely would never have been found.

As a youngster Brian had spent time at Lauriston Castle and its grounds and he knew the place like the back of his hand. He led the police to an unknown narrow tunnel and told them Max was about 20 yards, or 18 metres, into the tunnel under large boulders. The tunnel was so narrow and low that police officers had to crawl along it on their hands and knees, but they soon became aware of a rotting smell, before finding a pile of stones, under which was Max’s body. Following a postmortem, it was determined that Max had died three months previously from a gunshot wound to his neck and from being hit brutally on the head. Following West Cairnbeg being searched, it was discovered that the rifle that had been used to kill Max was his own. The friend of Brian’s who Sheila said was also at the farmhouse on the night Max had been murdered was 20 year old Alan Peters, who was also a mechanic and worked with Brian.

Alan Peters was arrested on Sunday the 18th of August 1968. 33 year old Sheila Garvie, 22 year old Brian Tevendale and 20 year old Alan Peters were arrested and charged with the murder of Max Garvie.

Shortly after Wendy had witnessed her mother being escorted from West Cairnbeg by the police, a family member turned up to look after the children. Wendy was distraught. Wendy’s world would further be rocked when a few days later her mother was charged with her father’s murder and was remanded in custody. From there on in Wendy and her siblings were told nothing further about what was happening with their mother, they weren’t allowed to see their mother and they were not aware of the sensational court case and shocking headlines that would dominate the newspapers. The children were well protected by moving them into a hotel about 70 miles, or 120 kilometres, away in the hope nobody would know who they were. All of the newspapers were removed so that the children would not have to endure the horrific details that were about to be exposed about their mother and father’s lives. This was particularly hard for Wendy, being the oldest sibling  

The trial for the murder of Maxwell Garvie was to take place in the High Court in Aberdeen on Friday the 18th of November 1968, and it was set to be quite the show. The streets outside the High Court in Aberdeen were lined with people, some of whom had queued from the early hours of the morning, desperate to get a peek at the main players as they arrived, as well as a seat at the trial of the century; a beautiful young rich woman, her lover and the lover’s friend on trial for the murder of her wealthy, flamboyant, ladies man of a husband, where the couple’s sexual exploits were devoured by all present and scandalised in the newspapers. And, so, the trial began with the prosecution claiming that Sheila had persuaded her lover, Brian, to murder her husband so the pair could get married and claim Max’s life insurance, worth more than £55,000, which would be just over £1 million or about $1.3 million dollars in today’s money, as well as inherit Max’s money, properties, land and cars. They also claimed that Alan Peters had been involved in both the murder and the disposal of Max’s body. All three pleaded not guilty, with Sheila council lodging a special defence that the two men had killed her husband and she had no prior knowledge of their plans, and Alan’s council lodging a special defence that Sheila and Brian had carried out the killing and that he had simply been drawn into their tangled web. Sheila and Alan would take to the stand to tell their own version of events, but Brian did not, allowing his defence advocate to speak for him. When Sheila’s mother took to the stand she became so distraught and unwell at the very first question of “Do you recognise the accused?” that she was unable to answer this question and an ambulance had to be called. She did however take the stand the following day. Throughout being questioned, Edith, Sheila’s mother, told of how she had seen a change in Max’s behaviour, how she had been shocked when he had quite openly told of how he and Brian had been flipping a coin to decide who would sleep with her daughter. She had also been aware that Max had been physically abusive to Sheila, having seen the evidence, as well as Max having admitted to her that he regularly twisted Sheila’s arm so far up her back that Sheila feared her shoulder would break. She believed that the change in Max had been due to his drink and drug habit. She also told how her daughter had confirmed to her the day after Max had gone missing that he wouldn’t be back, that he was dead, and that Brian Tevendale had been involved. When it was Sheila’s turn on the stand, she told of how her wonderful marriage to the man she loved, Max Garvie, had turned from a fairy tale to a living nightmare. She told of how Max had drunk to excess and took drugs. She told of his unrelenting pressure on her to perform more and more sexual acts, which she described as disgusting. She told of his ever-increasing violence towards her, of how she felt more and more like a possession of Max’s to be used and shared. Sheila told of the awful physical, mental and sexual abuse she had endured at the hands of Max Garvie, of how she had tried to leave but had no support.  And finally she told of how she had fallen in love with Brian Tevendale. Sheila then told her version of what had happened on the evening of the 14th of May 1968. She reiterated that she had absolutely no idea that Brian was planning to come to her house that evening, and had absolutely no idea that he had planned to murder Max. She said she was in a state of shock and disbelief, and had asked Brian if Max had suffered, to which Brian had said no. She was asked why she had continued a relationship with a man who she had known had killed her husband, the father of her children, to which she replied that she felt responsible, she had let Brian Tevendale fall in love with her, and that she had vowed to protect him. Brian’s version of events were read to the jury from his statement to the police where he said that Sheila had in fact shot Max by accident and he had merely helped dispose of the body, again, because he loved Sheila and would do anything for her. So far the jury had heard differing versions of what had happened and who knew what about what had happened that night, such as that it was thought that Brian had murdered Max and that Sheila knew Max was dead but hadn’t been aware of Brian’s plan to kill Max, or that Sheila had accidentally killed Max and Brian had only helped dispose of Max’s body to help her, so when it was Alan Peters’ turn to take the stand, things started to get even more interesting.

Alan Peters was 20 years old and had married his pregnant wife only a few weeks earlier on the 26th of July, where Brian was his best man and Sheila had provided the catering, although in Sheila’s statement to the police at the time of her arrest she said she hadn’t known Alan’s surname. Alan worked with Brian at the same garage, both being mechanics. He said that a few weeks before the murder Brian had said to him that he was wanting to get rid of Max and asked Alan if he would help him, although Alan said in court that he hadn’t realised that that had meant by murdering Max. That was until the pair arrived at West Cairnbeg on the night of the 14th of May, where Alan said Sheila let both him and Brian in by the garage. He said Brian and himself then had a drink in the living room while Sheila went to check on Max. When Sheila came back to tell them that Max was sleeping and to follow her, Brian then picked up Max’s own .22 rifle and they both followed Sheila upstairs. Alan said he was terrified at what was transpiring, but was afraid to say anything for fear of being shot himself. He said they both then went into Max’s bedroom while Sheila stayed outside, and Brian then shot Max threw a pillow in the head. The pair then wrapped Max’s body in a sheet and placed his body in the back of Alan’s car. The pair then dropped Max’s car off at the airstrip, before traveling to Lauriston Castle grounds and placing Max in the tunnel and covering him with boulders. So, now the jury had more to think about; Sheila and Alan both said that Brian had shot Max, but now Alan was saying that Sheila had known exactly what was planned and she had actually let the pair into the farmhouse.

Trudi Birse, Brian’s sister, was next to give evidence, and she told yet another version of events. Trudi said that she had spoken with Brian within hours of Max being murdered and Brian had told her that it had been Alan who had struck the first blow, apparently striking Max on the head with a steel bar. Brian told her that he was sure Max was already dead before he actually shot him. However, there was never any evidence that a steel bar had been involved, although Max was struck on the back of the neck. And this was a different story to the one Brian had told the police, saying instead that Sheila had shot Max by accident. Things were becoming more tangled, and it was only to get worse. Trudi also gave more of an insight into the horrific abuse that Sheila had been receiving from Max. She said that Max was obsessed with Brian and would ask Trudi to find out all she could about the intimate details of Sheila and Brian’s sex life, with Max taking great pleasure from every little detail. She confirmed that Max pushed Sheila and Brian together continually. Trudi said that Max would tell her that he had more pleasure from sex from one evening with Trudi than in his whole marriage to Sheila, as well as telling Trudi that he loved Brian more than he loved Sheila. Trudi confirmed that Max would say these heartbreaking things to Sheila too.

Next on the stand was Alfred, or Fred, Birse, Trudi’s husband and previously a policeman. However, a strange statement was made by the defence before Fred was questioned. They basically said that due to legal reasons Fred and Trudi would not be asked too many questions or be pressured too much. The reason why would soon become clear. As Max had been shot while he was lying in bed, there was a significant amount of blood splatter on the mattress, and so Brian had rolled up this mattress and taken it to Fred and Trudi’s home to store briefly, before Fred and Brian took it to a quarry and burnt it. Trudi then agreed that Sheila could have her and Fred’s mattress from their bed and Trudi would purchase a new one, as obviously it would be too risky for Sheila to suddenly purchase a new mattress. Trudi’s mattress was however too small to fit Sheila and Max’s bed, but Sheila did her best to hide this fact by using blankets and a valance sheet.  And, so, when the policeman came to have a look around West Cairnbeg when Max had first gone missing, they could be forgiven for missing this detail. However, upon the house being forensically examined after finding out Max had been murdered, not only was the ill-fitting mattress discovered but also traces of blood on the headboard and the wallpaper, which Sheila had tried to hide by moving the bed to cover the stains. It was also revealed at the trail that Fred had burnt Max’s clothes and I.D. So despite Fred being a policeman at the time of Max’s murder, he still was happy to help cover up the crime. Fred Birse resigned from the police force shortly after Sheila and Brian were arrested. It is speculated that initially there were five people on the charge of being involved in murdering Max Garvie; Sheila, Brian, Alan, Trudi and Alfred. However, if all of the above were charged then there would be no witnesses, and so it is believed that is why Trudi and Alfred never were charged with any crime. But can what they said in court be truly believed? 

Shockingly, Max’s skull was also presented in court, so that it could be shown to the jury just what damage had been done to Max’s brain and bone structure following being shot. The bullet had still been embedded in Max’s skull when his body was found. One jury member collapsed in distress at seeing Max’s skull and was removed from the jury, with it continuing with just 14 members.

Eventually, ten days after the trial began and after the closing statements, it was time for the jury to retire and decide on the verdict. On the 2nd of December 1968 Alan Peters received a verdict of not proven. This is unique to Scotland and, according to Wikipedia, it is typically used by a jury when it is a belief that the defendant is guilty but the Crown has not provided sufficient evidence. Brian Tevendale was unanimously found guilty of Max’s murder, and Sheila Garvie was found guilty of murdering Max by a majority verdict, with both being served a life sentence. Upon hearing the verdict Sheila and Brian briefly embraced and kissed, before the pair were led away to begin their sentences. While the pair did send each other love letters initially, three months into their life sentence Sheila sent a letter to Brian saying “I have decided to have nothing more to do with you ever again”, and she asked Brian to destroy all of their love letters. Brian was devastated, but it transpired that Sheila had been advised to cut off contact in order to be able to see her children, as it didn’t look good if she were continuing a relationship with the murderer of the children’s father. However, despite this sacrifice, Sheila never did get to see her children whilst she was in prison. Not only did Sheila not have the prospect of ever seeing her children while they were still little, but six months into her life sentence she received a word that her mother was very unwell, and sadly she died shortly afterwards. Sheila’s father had passed away by this time. Now Sheila was completely alone; no children, no lover, no mother, but also there was no Max.

During and following the trial, Sheila’s children; Wendy, Angela and Lloyd, had been living with their grandmother, Edith, but upon her death they had all been placed with a foster couple in England. However, Sheila’s oldest daughter, Wendy, began to really struggle. She had endured so much in her young life, her perceived weight issue and disappointment from her dad from such a young age, being subjected to nudist colonies while being ashamed of her body, the arguments of her parents, the change in both her father due to drink and drugs, and her mother due to prescription pills, the murder of her dad, her mother being sent to prison, her grandmother dying, being placed into foster care, and finally not being allowed to see her mother. But there was something even more damaging that Wendy was dealing with, her guilt. Wendy had convinced herself that if she had said something, anything, when she had found her mum and Brian Tevendale kissing in the living room weeks before her father had been murdered, then none of this may have happened; her dad might not be dead, her mum wouldn’t be in jail, she wouldn’t be in foster care alone without anyone. She believed it was all her fault, and the more she thought about this the more she spiraled out of control. Wendy continued to have body and weight issues, her mental health began declining, and all she really wanted was to be loved. When Wendy was 16 years old she began working in a chemists, where she met a boy and they began dating. She told him about her past and he accepted it, seeming to only care about Wendy, which was just what Wendy thought she needed, to be loved. The pair married when Wendy was 18 and the couple had a child three years later. However, Wendy just could not escape her past, it still tormented her, and when her marriage began to fail Wendy, no longer able to cope, left her husband and child, before starting on a journey that would leave her feeling even more alone. Wendy began drinking to excess, and her mental health deteriorated even further, eventually being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Wendy sadly continued to drink to excess for quite some time, desperate to try and blot out the guilt, the overwhelming guilt of what if. Then in 1978 Wendy began to see a glimmer of hope, her mother, Sheila now 43 years old, had been released from prison after serving ten years for the murder of her husband, Max Garvie, and Wendy wanted to see her, she needed to see her, needed to talk about what happened with someone who was there. Her brother, Lloyd, had been too young at the time and her sister, Angela, didn’t want to talk about it, she had moved on and was doing fine and Wendy had grown apart from them. Wendy would soon realise that Sheila, her mother, wasn’t going to be her saviour, she didn’t want to talk about it either, it was in the past and she was looking forward.

Following her release from prison, Sheila had moved to Aberdeen to run her aunt’s guest house and one of the guests staying there was David McLellan who was from Rhodesia, now modern days Zimbabwe, and within six months of being released from prison Sheila had married David. This marriage lasted only a couple of years, with Sheila saying that she’d only married David because she had been lonely following being released from prison. Not long after the divorce Sheila left the guesthouse and Aberdeen and moved to Stonehaven, about 16 miles or 26 kilometres south of Aberdeen, and about 15 miles or 24 kilometres from where she had lived with her murdered first husband, Maxwell Garvie, where she ran a bed and breakfast. Soon after moving to Stonehaven she met and married Charles Mitchell, who was a drilling engineer, and the pair remained happily married in Stonehaven until December 1992 when sadly Charles died of a heart attack. Sheila continued to stay in Stonehaven and run the bed and breakfast following Charles’ death. She never married again. In her later years, Sheila developed dementia and went to live in a nursing home. She continued to deny any knowledge of what had happened to her husband, Max, on the evening of the 14th of May 1968 until her death in December 2014 at the age of 80.

Brian Tevendale also had been released in 1978 when he was 32 years old. Whilst in prison he struck up a relationship with a female who wrote to prisoners and the pair were married. Brian and his new wife moved to Scone in Perth, about 65 miles or 104 kilometres away from where Sheila ran her bed and breakfast, where Brian was a pub landlord. According to the Free Library in an article in the Scottish Daily Record newspaper in 1999, 30 years after Max was murdered, Brian Tevendale finally broke his silence about his involvement in the murder. He said that Sheila had planted the seed saying that it would be better if Max was out of the way. He said that he was infatuated with Sheila, thought that he was in love and would have done anything for her, and so the pair started to plot Max’s downfall. He went on to say that Sheila had let him and Alan into the farmhouse that night and that Sheila had given him Max’s .22 rifle. He then admitted that he had then placed a pillow over Max’s face and had indeed shot Max once in the head while he lay on his back. He said he regretted it instantly and wished he could change that night, but he was completely under Sheila’s spell and knew that he had to see it through, he just wanted to be with Sheila and he thought that was the plan, however, he felt that Sheila had other ideas. Despite the pair living only about 65 miles or 104 kilometres away from each other, they never saw each other again. Brian continued to work as a landlord in his pub in Scone until December 2003 when, at the age of 57, he died of a heart attack, days before he planned to emigrate to Africa for a new life.

Trudi and Alfred Birse’s marriage was not able to survive the strain the murder and subsequent court case and revelations about their sex life and involvement in covering up Max’s murder had put on it, and so in 1971, three years after the trial, the couple split up, with Alfred getting custody of their three children. Alfred did remarry in 1984, however, he died a year later from cancer. Upon Trudi’s marriage failing, she began to work as a housekeeper, however, in 1988 she also died of cancer, four years after Alfred.

Wendy, Sheila’s long-suffering daughter, continued to suffer. She soon realised that her mother would not be able to help her through her torment, her grief, her guilt, leaving her feeling more lost and unloved as ever. Sadly, Wendy’s struggle, which had been inflicted upon her by people who should have been protecting and loving her, alienated her from her brother, Lloyd, and sister, Angela, as well as her own daughter, who Wendy had not had contact with since she left her ex-husband. Wendy continued to live in England and did eventually seek counselling and did manage to stabilise her drinking and mental health, eventually gaining employment in a local mental health charity shop. According to the Free Library, in 2001, when Wendy was 45, she reached out to the Daily Record newspaper to tell her side of the story. She said that “I don’t have a past and it’s difficult to look towards a future. What happened that night has ruined many people’s lives, including mine.” She went on to say that “It’s hard to hold down relationships when you come with as much baggage as I do. I just want to be able to put the past behind me now.” However, Wendy felt that the legacy of what happened that night lives on and she doesn’t think she will ever be able to escape it. Wendy went on to say that she does forgive her mother. She confirmed also that she would be starting to write a book about the murder, as she felt this was the only way she would be able to work through and deal with the baggage she perceives to carry. Sadly, the book Wendy vowed to write was never forthcoming, and Wendy died in 2015 at the age of 59, one year after her mother passed, possibly never having been able to work through the trauma she had experienced.

There are so many victims in this story; clearly Sheila was an abused wife and it was just the time she lived in that dictated that she must stay with her husband, must stay married, stay for the children, despite the torture and torment she was being subjected to by her husband. However much of a brute Max appeared to be, he did not deserve to die. It was clear he had issues with drink and drugs, and he likely had homosexual tendencies, which at that time was illegal. Again, had he been living in today’s society, he would have been able to explore those feelings without reprisal. Brian also was a victim, he loved Sheila so much, he would have done anything for her, and he couldn’t stand to see her being treated so poorly by Max. Whether it was Sheila who instigated the plan to murder Max or whether Brian did of his own accord, whether Sheila pulled the trigger or Brian did will never be known for sure, but what is known is that Brian was infatuated with Sheila and had been manipulated by Max, he too was a victim. However, Wendy was the inadvertent victim and seems the person who had the most deep rooted and long-lasting trauma. Like I said, a lot of the details for this episode came from the fantastic podcast The Storyteller Violent Delights by Isla Traquair.

It’s a ten episode podcast with additional bonus episodes, and there is so much more information about this case in that podcast that I could not possibly say in this episode. It is so informative with interviews and re-enactments of the trial by voice actors. I would highly recommend giving this podcast a listen if you would like to know even more about the life and the love triangle of Max, Sheila and Brian.

So that’s it, come back next time for another episode of Scottish Murders.

Granny Robertson:

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn.


The Janet Rogers Murder

The Janet Rogers Murder

Episode Summary

In March 1866, Janet Rogers had gone to her brother’s farm to help him out for a while. Two days after her arrival, Janet was found savagely and brutally murdered.

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

The Mount Stewart Murder

by Chris Paton

Synopsis

In March 1866, Janet Rogers travelled to the Perthshire-based farm of her brother, William Henderson, to help with chores while he looked for a new domestic servant. Three days later she was found dead in the farm kitchen, killed by multiple blows from an axe. Ploughman James Crichton was suspected of the atrocity, and after a lengthy investigation was arrested and tried in Perth, with the case duly found non-proven.

Was Crichton the guilty party? If not, why did William Henderson try to frame him? Why was the previous servant on the farm sacked, and why did she wait eight months to accuse Crichton of being responsible? And what led to Henderson being driven insane, ultimately to end his days in a Perthshire lunatic asylum?

The murder investigation remains the UK’s oldest unsolved murder case. Just who was the killer at Mount Stewart Farm?

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn

Hosted by Dawn and Cole

Researched and Written by Dawn Young

Produced and Edited by Dawn Young and Peter Bull

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Music:

Dawn of the Fairies by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Gothic Wedding by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Dawn:

In March 1866 Janet Rogers had gone to help her brother out at his farm. Two days after her arrival Janet was found savagely and brutally murdered.

Dawn and Cole:

Hi Wee Ones, I’m Dawn and I’m Cole, and this is Scottish Murders.

[THEME TUNE]

Dawn:

Janet Rogers, who was 55 years old in 1866, had been happily married to James Rogers for 30 years. James was a labourer by trade and tended to spend a lot of time away from home working on large estates. The couple had five daughters. Their eldest daughter, also called Janet who was 28, was married to William Hay Paton and the couple had three sons, making Janet and James proud grandparents. James and Janet’s two youngest daughters, Anne and Mary, continued to live at home with Janet and James, but they both had secured themselves work as weavers. James and Janet and their two youngest daughters lived in a village called Airntully in Perth.. Airntully is a village in the Perth and Kinross area, west of the River Tay, about eight miles or 12 kilometres north of Perth and about 53 miles or 85 kilometres north west of Edinburgh. Airntully had thrived on cottage weaving from the 18th century, and to this day the village remains a relatively unspoiled charm.  Airntully  village was also where Janet, her younger brother William and their two younger sisters had been brought up. Janet and her three sisters got married and left the family home, but William, who was two years younger than Janet, did not marry and continued to stay with his parents, until his mother’s death of heart disease around 1843. At this time William and his father, Andrew, had been devastated by William’s mum’s death and they had reluctantly made the decision to move away from the long-established home, and indeed the village they had lived in for so many years, to take up a lease at Mount Stewart Farm, which was located just outside the small village of Forgandenny, about 15 miles or 24 kilometres south of Airntully. This decision had proven fruitful for the pair as there was much work to do to make the farm a success and it kept the two happily busy. Over the years their employees had grown to include several labourers to help with the work on the farm, as well as a domestic servant to keep house and clean up after the men and prepare their meals. All of their hard work was paying off and the two men again became financially comfortable and content with life. This was until April 1851 when William’s father, Andrew, suddenly died from influenza. This was yet another blow for William, one that was thought he never recovered from. Following his dad’s death, William took over the lease of Mount Stewart Farm solely and took care of the day-to-day running of the livestock and the crops. He also inherited £164, which is about £23,000  and $31,000 in today’s money, from his father, so he was financially well off. However, now he had nobody else to rely on but himself. William continued to work the farm with his labourers relatively happily until the cattle plague, which was first detected on British shores in July 1865, began to ravage its way through the country. Farmers all across the United Kingdom were having to slaughter their animals to try to stop the spread, but it was all to no avail. While it seemed that the plague had not entered the Forgandenny parish as yet, William did begin to struggle financially due to the plague that was affecting his fellow farmers across the country, and he had to lay off most of his laborers. However, he found that he just couldn’t manage everything by himself, and so in October 1865 William hired John Crichton to be his ploughman, one less job for him to do. William also continued to have a domestic servant to help keep the house in order and to cook his meals, however, he seemed to find them difficult to hold on to. In fact his latest servant had left abruptly on Thursday the 22nd of March 1866. Irritated by the servant’s bad timing of leaving him at a particularly difficult time when he especially needed an extra pair of hands to help him as he had an expectant cow who was due to give birth any day, William travelled by horse and cart to his sister Janet’s home in Airntully, which was 15 miles or 24 kilometres north of Mount Stewart Farm, to ask if one of his nieces would be able to come to Mount Stewart Farm and help him out until he found another domestic servant. His sister Janet wouldn’t hear of it, insisting that she would come herself as there was no one else better able to keep house and tend to the expectant cow than herself. William was delighted and expected the pair to set off back to Mount Stewart Farm that day.  However, Janet told him that she had things to do before she could leave her house for a while, so he could pick her up at the railway station in Perth, about 7 miles or 11 kilometres from Forgandenny, on Wednesday instead. Remember however this was back in 1866 when there was only horse and carts, no main roads or cars, so not only would this have taken longer than it would in a car today but also the going would have been rough.  Anyway, it wasn’t an ideal situation for William as he would have to travel to Perth to pick Janet up, again taking time away from his farm, but it was the best he was going to get. So he travelled back south by himself that day, promising to pick Janet up on Wednesday the 28th from the railway station, which he did, and the pair then travelled back to Mount Stewart Farm. Janet then spent the next couple of days settling in and getting the house in some order. Back in 1866, Wednesdays and Fridays were market days in Perth but Friday’s market was the main event, and so on Friday the 30th of March 1866 William, as usual, planned to spend the day in Perth at the market. Upon waking, William went about his duties in the farm, before giving his ploughman, John Crichton, the tasks he wanted him to do that day, which was to remove fence posts that were erected between two of the farmers fields, before ploughing the whole area. The ploughman would barely have acknowledged William’s demands as the pair were definitely not on speaking terms, as William had had a break-in at the farm in January that year and he had been robbed. He blamed John Crichton for the break-in, although he could never prove it. On the day of the break-in John and William had gone to the market in Perth early on a Friday to buy some farming supplies, however William had business to attend to in Perth so he asked John to take the horse and cart back to Mount Stewart Farm and unload the delivery. William didn’t arrive back at the farm until the evening. When he made his way to his bedroom to change he found that the window in his room had been broken. Upon further inspection of his bedroom, William noted that money he had kept in his room was missing, along with a watch, a chain and a pair of trousers. William reported this break-in and robbery to the police officer in Forgandenny but the culprit was never caught. William however was positive in his own mind that his ploughman, John Crichton, had been behind it, having had plenty of opportunity to break in while William had been away in Perth all day. However, with no evidence what could he do. So, with William no longer trusting John and John obviously being aware of being suspected of the robbery, the relationship grew tense, until they were barely on speaking terms. So, upon William making sure that John had understood the tasks he was to do that day, William then returned to the farmhouse where he and Janet sat and had their breakfast.  Shortly after breakfast William got his horse and cart ready, said bye to his sister and about 10am he set off for Perth. While at the market William attended an auction where he purchased a pig. With business complete he then took himself to his favourite tavern where he met fellow farmers. They then all proceeded to spend the rest of the day having a good old gossip about the state of affairs in the world and closer to home, namely the cattle plague that was inching closer and closer, while obviously partaking in a few drinks. Having enjoyed his afternoon in Perth, William set off for home about 5pm, arriving in Bridge of Earn about 6pm. Bridge of Earn is about four miles or six kilometres south of Perth, and three miles or four kilometres west of Forgandenny. William had stopped here to pick up some supplies, before carrying on towards home. It was about 7pm when William finally made it to Mount Stewart Farm. By this time it was pitch black. William noted that John was still at the farm in the stables and so shouted to him to come and help him unload the supplies and the pig from the cart. Having done this John took off for home and William made for the kitchen door, longing for his bed no doubt. However, when he reached the door he found it to be locked. Again, this might not seem unusual for nowadays, but back then doors were rarely locked. He banged on the door and window to the kitchen shouting to Janet to let him in, but the room beyond remained dark. Getting no response he turned to ask John if he had seen Janet recently as obviously he had still been at the farm, but John had disappeared down the hill towards his cottage already. William made his way round to the other entrance to the house, which was barely used, however this door was locked too. Then something came back to William, something his sister had said to him when he had collected her from the railway station in Perth. She said that she had sent a note to their Uncle who lived in Perth asking if she could visit him, and she said to William just two days earlier that if he replied and said yes you could come and visit she would be taking off.  So William thought perhaps she had heard word and had left to go to Perth, but surely she would have mentioned it to John, the ploughman  before going. But maybe John had been busy in one of the fields and instead she had left the back door key with John’s wife. John and his wife lived in one of the two cottages at the bottom of the hill to Mount Stewart Farm. So, perhaps a bit irritated and most definitely cold by this time, William made his way down the hill to John’s cottage. Upon speaking to the ploughman he found out that John didn’t actually know that Janet was William’s sister.  He said that he had seen her about 11am standing at the kitchen door talking to a man, but that he had not seen her since. Now perhaps thinking that Janet had indeed received a note from their uncle and had taken off to see him, forgetting maybe to leave the keys behind, William accepted that the only way he would be getting into his property that night would be through a window. Knowing that all the windows on the ground floor would be locked, William just hoped that Janet had left the window in her bedroom unlocked. William retrieved a ladder from one of the sheds, he placed the ladder against the side of the house and began to climb tentatively up the ladder in the dark. Upon reaching the top he once again called out Janet’s name just in case she had taken herself to bed unwell, but there was again no reply. He then gently opened the window, which he was grateful to find was unlocked, and made his way through into the house. He glanced in the direction of the bed once again checking to see if Janet was there, but nope the bed was empty. William then slowly made his way down the stairs in the dark and fumbled his way towards the kitchen, bearing in mind there was no electricity back then and he hadn’t had a chance to light any candles yet. As he opened the door to the kitchen it too would have been pitch black if it were not for the remains of a long ago lit fire burning ever so slightly. Once in the kitchen William made his way to one of the drawers to get a candle to light. On the way he tripped over something lying on the floor, it was a wooden chair from around the table that had been knocked over. With his eyes now adjusting to the darkness in the kitchen, William saw something else lying on the floor that looked to be a bundle of clothes. Getting closer to the clothing William realised that it was actually the bedding from a small bed that was in the kitchen for the servants when they worked there.  Wondering what on earth they were doing there he went closer to pick them up, and upon lifting the top sheet up he saw an outstretched hand. He was shocked and dropped the sheet, before composing himself and lifting it up completely to reveal his sister’s face staring back at him with open eyes. William could not process what he was seeing at first. He then realised that he was standing in something wet, and upon closer inspection in the dim light realised to his horror that it was blood. Janet’s blood. He also then noticed that Janet’s hair was covered in blood as well, as well as the caps she was wearing on her head and the blanket that had been covering her. In a state of shock he quickly left the house through the front door, which thankfully did have a key in it, and made his way back to the cottages at the bottom of the hill to Mount Stewart Farm. As he did not get on with the ploughman, William made his way to the cottage next door where a man named James Barlas lived with his wife and two sons, who were in the process of eating a late supper as James had returned late from working in Bridge of Earn that day. By this time William was in a state of hysteria and shouted at the man that he had to come quickly as he had found his sister dead surrounded by blood. The two men and James’s wife made their way back to the farmhouse. James’s wife stayed outside but James went into the farmhouse and saw for himself the horrendous scene in the kitchen. Stepping outside to discuss what to do next, the two men noticed that Crichton was talking to James’s wife. James’s son had apparently gone next door to the Crichtons cottage and had excitedly told the family of what William had said, leaving John feeling that he should come and see if he could help in any way. Upon having the murder confirmed by James, Crichton stated that he would go to Forgandenny and let the police officer there know. It was then decided that William would go to Bridge of Earn and get Dr Laing and let the police officer there know too. William then set off on foot to walk the approximate three miles or four kilometres to Bridge of Earn. When William knocked on Dr Laing’s door he was told by his wife that he wasn’t at home, but that she was expecting him to be on the train due to arrive shortly in Bridge of Earn coming from Edinburgh, which would then go on to Perth. William’s next stop was the police station where he told Constable Alexander Cumming of what he had come across at his farm, and the pair immediately headed to the railway station to await the doctor’s arrival. While they were waiting for the train to arrive, the Constable suggested that William write a note requesting that the Procurator Fiscal in Perth come as soon as possible saying that there had been a murder at the farm.

Cole:

Just so everyone knows, a Procurator Fiscal is a public prosecutor in Scotland.

Dawn:

Yep, it is. This note was then given to a passenger on the station platform waiting for the train to take them to Perth that evening, who agreed to kindly go to the offices of the Procurator Fiscal and give them the note. At about 9.20pm, the train pulled into Bridge of Earn Station and Dr Laing was quickly apprised of the situation, and all three men made their way to the carriage that had been there to pick up Dr Laing to take him home, but instead was used to transport them all to Mount Stewart Farm. Upon arriving back at the farm, Dr Laing and Constable Cumming’s were met by Constable Rowley from Forgandenny. Constable Rowley led the two newcomers into the house via the front door and into the kitchen, where, by the light of a single candle that had been lit, Dr Laing confirmed what was already known, that Janet was indeed dead. It was decided that all that could be done was to secure the crime scene and to await the arrival of the Procurator Fiscal and his team. Unfortunately, the Fiscal was at another location, so the Deputy Procurator Fiscal John Young, Superintendent Henry McDonald, Criminal Officer Sergeant Charles Ross, and a couple of other police officers, finally arrived at Mount Stewart Farm at 12.40am.  Thoughtfully, by this time, the waiting constables from the local area had made sure that the room was illuminated as well as it could be by plenty of candles, to allow for both Janet and the crime scene to be carefully examined. Dr Laing was then given permission to go back into the kitchen and have a rudimentary perusal of Janet’s body, and he was shocked by the sight that awaited him. His observations were that Janet’s body was still warm to the touch, estimating that Janet may have died somewhere between afternoon to late evening. He noted a wound stretching from her earlobe to her cheek, and that due to the amount of blood on the back of the caps you wore on her head there most likely were more wounds on the back of her head. He stated that the wounds had most likely been caused by a weapon hitting her and not something she would have sustained from merely falling over. Dr Laing would need to wait for a warrant to be delivered to him before he could move or examine Janet’s body any further, which the Deputy Fiscal John Young planned on obtaining once the crime scene had been examined and secured. Dr Laing left the kitchen area to allow for a full examination of the kitchen to take place by Superintendent Henry McDonald and Sergeant Charles Ross. Upon examination of the kitchen, it was noted that an axe with blood and hair on its blade was leaning against a wall, bloodied footprints were seen in front of the fire, blood drops had spattered on items around the room, a pair of women’s bloodied leather boots were found near the bed in the kitchen, which were assumed to have been removed from Janet’s feet after she had been killed but it wasn’t clear why. They also found three paper bags on the table, two empty and one with snuff in it bought by Janet.

Cole:

Okay, so what’s snuff?

Dawn:

It’s tobacco made from ground or pulverized tobacco leaves. It’s not smoked but inhaled up the nose. Snuffed.

Cole:

Okay, I’ve never heard of that before.

Dawn:

Yeah, I hadn’t either, but our gran had. I asked her, she told me.

Cole:

Oh did she.

Dawn:

Yeah. That’s because she’s a wrong-un. She must have been snuffing in her time.

Dawn:

(Laughs) Two of the bags were covered with blood having been touched by the murderer. They also found under a pillow on the floor in the kitchen a broken clay pipe with pieces missing and a tin top. A tin top has holes in it like a pepper or salt shaker, and it’s placed over the end of the pipe to keep the tobacco good. The men noticed that the room looked like it had been pulled apart, as if somebody had been looking for something, the furniture was overturned and drawers were removed from the cabinets. A mental note was made to ask William if anything was missing, or was this perhaps just an attempt at misdirection. For completeness, an architect, by the name of David Smart, was also called upon to draw plans of both the house and all the rooms, taking extra time to record the exact placement of the items in the crime scene. David went as far as re-enacting how William had gained entry to the house the previous evening, assuring himself and the police officers that it could actually be done. The two officers, having examined the kitchen thoroughly and making extensive notes, as well as being confident that the crime scene was secure, decided that the Deputy Fiscal would head back to Perth to secure a warrant for Dr Laing to examine Janet’s body fully. Just before the Deputy Fiscal climbed into the waiting carriage, he firstly wanted to speak to Constables Cumming and Rowley about their opinions of William Henderson and John Crichton, upon being summoned by each man to come to the farm. Constable Cumming stated that William had told him that he had been at the market all day, before returning to the farm about 7pm and describing what happened when he got there. Constable Cumming said that obviously William had been agitated at this time. However, the Constable did note that when he had asked William if he thought the killer had still been on the property he had said no, but had gone red at the same time, something the Constable had found strange. Constable Rowley said that John Crichton had been calm and simply told him of what had occurred at the farm that evening, although when relaying the story he said that he believed it was William who had killed his sister, stating that he believed that William had plenty of time to kill Janet in the time he had left William at the farm and William had appeared at the cottages saying he had found Janet. Constable Rowley did admit though that the pair didn’t exactly get on. The Deputy Fiscal then departed for Perth, while William Henderson, John Crichton and James Barlas were asked to go into the parlour and wait to be questioned. While a police officer stood guard at Mount Stewart Farm to preserve the crime scene and William Henderson, John Crichton and James Barlas remained in the parlour to be questioned, back in Perth the Deputy Fiscal was relaying his findings to Chief Constable Gordon and Mr Hugh Barcley, who was the Sheriff substitute of the county. Following the briefing, a warrant to enable the post-mortem of Janet’s body to be carried out was sought, which would be delivered to Mount Stewart Farm within a few hours. Chief Constable Gordon, a second physician Dr George Absolon, the Deputy Fiscal and a couple of constables then set off for Mount Stewart Farm, arriving shortly before 7am on the Saturday morning. Chief Constable Gordon first went to the crime scene to look around for himself, as well as asking for a debrief from Dr Laing, Superintendent Henry McDonald and Sergeant Charles Ross, who had all stayed at the farm and had informally spoken to all three men being held in the parlour. It was reported that Crichton had remained calm and quiet, and it was felt that if he had committed the murder he would have been more agitated, especially at having to stay put in the house where the murder had been committed, but he had an air of almost being uninterested in what had taken place or was going on. William Henderson was said to have been in shock, and that James Barlas had no real part in what had happened other than to be informed of the death by William and had come to check that Janet was indeed dead. It again was noted that the kitchen had been upended as if someone had been searching for something, and again it was to be determined if anything was actually missing or had this simply been done to suggest robbery was the motive for the murder. But then what other motive could there possibly have been? Following Chief Constable Gordon being appraised by his colleagues, he finally ventured in to talk to the three men waiting in the parlour.  Firstly though, as it had been determined that James Barlas had nothing actually to do with the investigation, he was allowed to leave and go home. William Henderson and John Crichton were asked for their versions of events of what had happened the evening before. William was asked if he or Janet had smoked but he said they didn’t. Both men were then asked to remove their clothes so they could be examined for blood. It was noticed as the pair began to remove their clothes that there was a vast difference in their cleanliness, with William’s appearing to have been worn continuously without being washed for weeks, whereas John’s clothing appeared to have been put on fresh. Neither men’s clothes were noted to have any blood on them and they were returned to the men to put back on. William was then asked to accompany the officers through the house to try to determine if anything had been taken. This is when it was noted that it wasn’t just the kitchen area that looked like it had been turned upside down as William’s bedroom was in the same state. Upon searching the strewn about contents of William’s bedroom, he determined that money he had kept there was missing, however, everything else seemed to be accounted for. With William and John  having had their clothes examined, been questioned and William’s bedroom having been checked for anything missing, and no sign of the warrant as yet, there was nothing left to do but wait for the Procurator Fiscal and the warrant to arrive, which both did just before 9am, accompanied also by Constable John Cameron who was also a criminal investigator with Perth Constabulary. Dr Laing and Dr Absolon set about the task of fully examining Janet’s body.

Cole:

Oh so Janet’s body was going to be examined at the farm?

Dawn:

Yes, it was. Post-mortems were typically carried out at the actual location of the incident. And so tables within the kitchen area were used to lay Janet’s body on, they were replaced as close to the window as possible to ensure the most light. The kitchen door would have been opened to give even more light but unfortunately the key to this door was still missing. Once Janet’s body was on the table and everyone had been asked to leave the kitchen, apart from the two doctors, the Fiscal, Constable Cameron and Chief Constable Gordon, Janet’s clothes were then removed, including the two caps she still had on her head which were covered in blood. A small snuff box was found between Janet’s breasts and was given to the officers present outside as evidence.

Cole:

Right, okay, so a snuff box, is that where you keep your snuff?

Dawn:

Exactly. It’s just a wee tin box.

Cole:

Got you.

Dawn:

From the post-mortem, the doctors found that there had been bleeding around the eye causing discoloration to Janet’s skin, that there was a cut from the lobe of Janet’s ear to the back of her ear, which had gone all the way through to her brain tissue. Many wounds were also found on the top of Janet’s head, some larger than others but between one and five inches in length, as well as cuts on the other side of Janet’s head. She had clearly been struck many times. With the post-mortem completed, the doctors told the waiting police officers that they determined that Janet had died due to the blows to the head she had sustained, with bone going into her brain tissue, and that time of death was between 2pm and 3pm. The Fiscal, Constable Cameron and Chief Constable Gordon were all thinking the same thing, that the murder could not have been carried out by William Henderson as he had been at the market in Perth all day and did not return home until 7pm, which both James Barlas and John Crichton had confirmed. Following this revelation, Chief Constable Gordon ordered that an immediate search be carried out to determine if there were any strangers present in the area on the Friday, and if so they should be found. While police officers went door to door in the local and surrounding areas trying to find any information they could, back at Mount Stewart Farm all the evidence found was recorded and labelled.

Cole:

Now, with the shock of what had happened to Janet and the police trying to coordinate to get the right people and paperwork in place, Janet’s husband, James Rogers, had been forgotten. Now, it’s not as if someone could have just given him a phone call or popped round in the car being back in 1866, but maybe it would have been nice if a police officer in the area had been told to tell him that his wife had been brutally murdered.  Unfortunately they didn’t manage to do that, he found out from Janet’s brother-in-law, Peter, while he was at work. In a state and initially not believing what he was being told, James eventually arrived at Mount Stewart Farm about 12 noon on Saturday with Peter and Peter’s eldest daughter Mary. James and Mary found William inside and immediately broke down, James was in complete shock. James and William were allowed to go into the kitchen where Janet still lay on the table, with the crime scene still as it was when she was found. This further shocked James to see the room in such a disarray and his wife’s blood scattered around, but he composed himself and went to his wife. Having spent a few minutes with Janet he then turned to William and asked him to tell him what had happened. The pair spent some time together in the kitchen talking, trying to make sense of the senseless, before agreeing that the kitchen couldn’t stay the way it was and that they were going to have to clean it for Janet leaving. But before Janet, now having been washed and placed in a dress found in a room in the farmhouse, could be taken from the farm for burial on Sunday morning, William and James found themselves in the barn helping the cow give birth, the very reason that William had asked Janet to come and help him on the farm in the first place due to the imminent birth. Upon the birth of the cow, William finally broke down having held in the tears over the last couple of days. The two men comforted each other before carrying on quietly with their tasks, lost in their own thoughts, before finally exhausted and having worked up an appetite began to make their way to the farmhouse in the dark for their tea. Upon entering the front door, the kitchen door key still being missing, they heard a noise coming from the kitchen. When they opened the door they were surprised to see a woman there obviously looking for something within the bedding on the bed in the kitchen. When the men came through the door she let out a yelp and rushed past the two and out the door, disappearing into the night before either men could get a word out. It turned out the woman was called Christina Miller and had been William’s previous servant that had left the Thursday before, another reason why William had sought the help of his sister at the farm. William was pretty angry at the cheek of this woman to have walked out on him suddenly only to find her in his house without his permission, rummaging through stuff. But the incident was soon forgotten as the pair set about preparing and eating their meal. The following morning, now Monday, James happened to come across William’s ploughman, John Crichton. They spent a moment chatting, with John making it clear he was not fond of William and that he suspected him of the killing. James asked John if he had seen anyone around the farmhouse on the Friday, to which John replied that yes, he had seen a man at the kitchen door talking to Janet about 11am.

Dawn:

Which was the exact same thing that he’d said to William himself on the night William found his sister dead.

Cole:

The pair parted company and it wasn’t long before the undertaker’s carriage arrived to collect Janet and take her and James back home to Airntully, where Janet’s funeral would take place. James said bye to William, with William replying that he would see him in Airntully for the funeral, before Janet started her journey taking her to her final resting place. Janet’s funeral took place on Thursday the 5th of April, six days after her body had been found. Many friends and family gathered outside Janet and James’s home in Airntully to see Janet’s coffin be carried from her home to the waiting hearse. Janet’s husband, her brother and her uncles followed behind in a coach, followed by other male mourners who walked behind. It was a custom that women would not attend a funeral, and so Janet’s female relative stayed behind at Janet’s home already having said their goodbyes. Hopefully it wouldn’t be long before Janet’s murderer would be caught and her family could finally grieve in peace.

Dawn:

Now, upon door-to-door inquiries been carried out in the area, it was quickly established by Constable Cumming that there had been a visitor seen in the area on the Friday, not just that but that they had been seen walking up the hill to Mount Stewart Farm at about 11.30am. The visitor’s name was Betsy Riley and she was a hawker who lived in Perth.

Cole:

Okay, so what’s a hawker?

Dawn:

It’s a person who has various items to sell and travels about the place going door to door trying to get a buyer. In Betsy’s case she was selling pottery. Now, Betsy, who was 48 and married, was quickly located at her address in Perth and brought to the Fiscal’s office for questioning by the Fiscal himself, John McLean, also Sheriff Barclay and Superintendent McDonald.

Cole:

That must have been really intimidating for her to be sat in front of all of them.

Dawn:

Yeah, it must have been, I would have been intimidated. Anyway, they told her that there had been a murder at Mount Stewart Farm and that they’d been told she had been at the farm on the same day and could she tell them if she saw anything or anyone strange while she was there.  Betsy explained that she’d only gone up towards Mount Stewart Farm to get access to a footpath on the other side of the yard, and that she hadn’t actually gone up to the farm to sell her wares as she had seen William Henderson heading for market so she hadn’t expected anyone to be in the farmhouse. However, she went on to say that as she was walking towards the farm she saw a woman, who was presumed to have been Janet, standing at the kitchen door speaking to a man. She approached the pair but was told that nothing was needed and so she kept walking. When she was asked for a description of the man, Betsy said that she had only got a brief look at the side of his face, which she thought hadn’t been shaved, that he might have been about 40 years old, about five foot eight inches, wore a dark coat, dirty trousers and a dark cap with a long peak. She also said that there was a dog lying there too, but she didn’t know who it belonged to. Betsy advised that she hadn’t come back via Mount Stewart Farm and that she hadn’t seen the man again. Betsy also said something a bit scathing about William, she implied that he couldn’t keep a servant as he was always trying to get a bit more for his money, as in bed them. The men in the room quickly shut this down as it was not helpful to the investigation and they were not interested in that kind of gossip. Upon Betsy leaving the room it was immediately decided that Betsy’s description of the man seen at the kitchen door talking to Janet would be circulated, which it was on the 2nd of April 1866, five days after Janet had been found brutally murdered. Journalists by this time had also heard about the murder and the details of Janet’s brutal murder was printed in newspapers far and wide. With this, along with a description of the man seen by Betsy being circulated, it wasn’t long before telegrams from police stations throughout Scotland started to arrive at Perth. One of which advised that a man meeting the description circulated had been caught and was in custody at Burntisland police station in Fife. Deciding that the only way to determine if the man being held at Burntisland was indeed the man Betsy had described was for Constable Cameron and Superintendent McDonald to travel there by train and bring the suspect back to Perth with them for Betsy to identify. Upon seeing the man Betsy immediately said that it wasn’t the man she had seen. Plus, this man also had an alibi, he had been about 22 miles or 35 kilometres away in Longforgan, not far from Dundee, where he had spent the night in a local inn, which was confirmed. Two days later on the 4th of April, full details of who had been murdered, a description of the murder scene, the fact that the kitchen door key was missing and its description and again the description of the man seen speaking to Janet at the kitchen door on the day of her murder, was circulated to the newspapers and the surrounding areas, again asking for anyone with any information to come forward. Also on the 4th of April, Detective Officer James Leadbetter from the Edinburgh police arrived in Perth to help the investigation and cast his more experienced eye over the evidence and details of the case. Upon being updated on the case so far, Detective Leadbetter, Constable Cameron and the Fiscal made their way to Mount Stewart Farm to formally interview William Henderson and John Crichton, where Leadbetter could also take the opportunity to familiarise himself with the farm and farmhouse. While Detective Leadbetter was being shown around the farm, Constable Cameron decided to have a chat with John Crichton. While the pair were chatting, Cameron took out his pipe and lit it, before asking if Crichton would also like a light for his pipe, to which Crichton replied that he didn’t smoke.

Cole:

Alright, I see, so he’s kind of sneakily trying to determine if maybe that broken pipe that was found in the farmhouse kitchen could have been his?

Dawn:

Yes, exactly. Detective Cameron then told Crichton that he would be interviewed next and they would see him at his cottage. The

Cole:

Three police officers then went to the farmhouse with William Henderson to interview him. William went over the events again of his day leading up to Janet being found, but there was no change, his story remained the same. Detective Leadbetter then asked William about his domestic servants and the fact that there had been rumors that he may have been trying to have relations with some of them, to which William angrily denied that this was rubbish, he had no interest, despite the best efforts of his last servant Christina Miller. He went on to say that she had basically tried to throw herself at him but that he just wasn’t interested and so shunned her. Only for her then to turn her attention onto John Crichton and turn nasty against William, trying to show him up in front of Crichton and generally make his life impossible. He continued that the day before he had sacked Christina she had just disappeared, before appearing again the next day. A fight had ensued again, getting so bad that John Crichton stepped in to ensure that William would not strike Christina. William then promptly sacked Christina and told her to collect her things, items which she had in her chest from the kitchen, and leave at once. Crichton apparently had taken Christina’s chest to his house for her to collect at a suitable time. William then was asked to tell them about his relationship with Crichton, to which William repeated the story of the robbery months earlier at his home and his suspicions, as well as the fact that he suspected Crichton may have murdered Janet too. He was however unable to offer any proof of either allegations. When asked if there was anything else he would like to say, William said that before finding Janet’s body Crichton had said to him that he’d seen Janet talking to a man at the kitchen door about 11am, a fact which he had repeated in the presence of Janet’s husband, James. This was new information to the police. William went on to say that he had noticed when he had returned from the market on Friday night that Crichton had changed his clothes, having worn darker, dirtier items in the morning before William had set off to the market, but had been wearing new clean clothes on his return, namely a white jacket and a shirt, as well as different trousers. All men agreed that this was new information and would be followed up. Next up was Crichton himself. The three officers ventured down the hill from Mount Stewart Farm to Crichton’s cottage, where they were met at the door and brought into the kitchen, where to their surprise was not only Crichton’s wife but Christina Miller.

Dawn:

Oh right, had she come back for her chest?

Cole:

So yes, and no. She’d come back for her chest but had decided to stay with the Crichtons for a few days, as it turned out she was the cousin of Crichton’s wife.

Dawn:

Oh Okay.

Cole:

Once Christina and Crichton’s wife had left the kitchen the interview began. Crichton was first asked when he had saw Janet, to which he had replied that he had seen her talking to William just before he left for the market. When asked if he had seen Janet again that day he replied no. Upon being told that William had reported Crichton had told him he had seen Janet about 11am talking to a man he replied that William was mistaken.

Dawn:

Hang on a second, but he had told not only William that but Janet’s husband, James. I wonder why he’s changing his story now.

Cole:

He did. However, he did go on to say that he had seen a man walking along a footpath near to where he was ploughing a field at about 3pm. Unfortunately he was too far away for Crichton to give a description of this man, although he did say he wore dark clothing and could have been middle-aged.

Dawn:

Okay, well that’s new information.

Cole:

We haven’t heard that before, but it’s a bit funny that his story is changing now. Crichton was then asked what clothes he’d been wearing that day. He replied he had worn a white jacket, white vest and trousers. [laughs]

Dawn:

What?

Cole:

Just… [laughs]  in my mind I went, oh kinky asking him what he was wearing.

Dawn:

[laughs] Trust you.

Cole:

When it was put to him that they had been advised he had been wearing darker clothes in the morning and that he had perhaps changed clothing throughout the day he denied this, going on to say that on Thursday he had changed his clothes midway through the day and put on these same clothes on the Friday morning, but insisted that he didn’t change his clothes throughout Friday. Upon being asked to describe his relationship with William, Crichton confirmed that there had been some tension between the two, and that there were apparently clear signs of contempt shown for William.  Crichton further bad-mouthed his employer by backing up the rumours that Betsy had told the police about William having a reputation for trying to get his servants into bed. Regardless of the gossip about William’s reputation with his servants, William was not considered a suspect in Janet’s murder at all, he had definitely been at the market in Perth all day and he had not returned home until after Janet had been murdered. This didn’t stop the gossips talking and speculating about William’s involvement. Crichton on the other hand the police still had doubts about and questions that needed answering regarding his movements on the Friday, and what of the claims that he had definitely changed his clothes on the Friday. Of course though there was always still the man that Betsy had seen talking to Janet on the Friday to find. 

Dawn:

Hoping for more information from Crichton’s next door neighbours, James, his wife Jean and their son Robert, they too were interviewed. James had been at work all day and so wasn’t able to really give any information about the Friday, however, he did confirm that Crichton did smoke pipes, mainly at meal times.

Cole:

Oh, but didn’t Crichton tell the police officers that he didn’t smoke? 

Dawn:

Yes, he did. I think the police took note of this for now, maybe hoping to confirm that at a later date. He also confirmed the rumours about William’s ways with his servants. More interestingly though he said he had noticed a pair of Crichton’s trousers drying on the grass outside his house having been washed on the Friday.

Cole:

Oh he’s a very naughty man. [laughs] That’s very odd isn’t it?

Dawn:

Well, yes, it could be odd, but Crichton did say that he’d changed his clothes the day before, so maybe they were just getting round to washing the clothes on the Friday.

Cole:

We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

Dawn:

But with other witnesses saying that Crichton had been wearing different clothes on the Friday then, yes, it does seem a bit strange.

Cole:

Or, I guess witnesses could just be confusing their days.

Dawn:

Yeah, cause he did say he’d changed his clothes on the Thursday, maybe they got mixed up between Thursday and Friday. I don’t know.

Cole:

It’s a possibility.

Dawn:

So James’s wife, Jean, said that she had been in Perth most of the day, but on returning at about 5pm she said she had seen a tub at the Crichtons back door and assumed that Mrs Crichton must have been washing that day, something Mrs Crichton didn’t normally do.

Cole:

What, wash?

Dawn:

[laughs] No! She didn’t normally wash clothes on a Friday.

Cole:

Alright, okay.

Dwan:

However, their son, Robert, had been at the house that day in the garden and he said that he too had seen an elderly man about 3pm walking near the farm.

Cole:

Alright, so that backs up what Crichton had said.

Dawn:

Yeah, it does. Robert also said that he had seen Crichton smoking a pipe, but couldn’t remember if this had been before or after Janet’s murder. He also couldn’t describe the pipe that Crichton had used.

Cole:

The pipe again! The pipe! I mean the pipe! It’s all about the pipe! They were really determined to establish if Crichton actually smoked because of the pipe under Janet’s body.

Dawn:

They were, they needed to know this.

Cole:

I need to know.

Dawn:

(laughs) So much so that Sergeant Ross attended the local shop to try to establish if Crichton or his family had ever bought tobacco there and this is what he found out. One shopkeeper remembered that following Janet’s murder Crichton had bought tobacco from his shop, but couldn’t remember if he had done so prior to the murder. However, he did say that the tobacco would have come with a new pipe.

Cole:

Oh, so it could have been Crichton’s pipe found at the farm and this was him getting a new pipe. Also, he said that he didn’t smoke so, you know, that seems like important information, seems like he’s trying to cover his back.

Dawn:

Well I just think they’re trying to establish if he smoked before, during, after the murder and what he smoked, what kind of pipe it was.

Cole:

They asked him straight out do you smoke? And he said no. So he’s a liar.

Dawn:

Another shop owner also said that he had sold Crichton tobacco a few times, but again couldn’t remember if this had been before or after Janet’s murder. Another shopkeeper questioned said that before the night of the murder she hadn’t even known Crichton, but apparently on the night of the murder he had come to the shop late asking for candles, at which point he told the lady about what had transpired at the farm and that he had seen someone talking to Janet about 11am.

Cole:

Okay, so he’s told William and James this, then he’s denied it to the police, now a completely independent shopkeeper is saying that he also told her this. Is he okay?

Dawn:

(laughs) I have no idea. I think he’s getting himself a wee bit confused as to what he’s told to whom by the sounds of it.

Cole:

I think that’s correct too, and do you know what it is Dawn, you can’t lie about the truth, you can’t get confused about the truth.

Dawn:

This is it, Colel. However, another man did confirm that Crichton had smoked a pipe on many an occasion in the past, as well as using snuff now and again, but that he hadn’t seen Crichton for quite some time so didn’t know if this was still the case.

Cole:

Oh god he’s a snuffler too. (laughs)

Dawn:

It just sounds disgusting.

Cole:

Okay, so we’re no further forward. He’s saying to the police that he doesn’t smoke a pipe, but he’s actively been seen buying tobacco, so I mean it sounds like he’s lying.

Dawn:

Yeah. It’s anyone’s guess at this point, does he smoke does he not smoke?

Cole:

But it’s not anyone’s guess, he smokes. [laughs] It’s not a guess, it’s fact, he smokes.

Dawn:

But was he smoking at the time of Janet’s death?

Cole:
Why is he telling me that he doesn’t smoke if he smokes? 

Dawn:

Yes, why lie? Why lie, unless you’ve got something to hide.

Cole:

And also, you know, if there’s a murder investigation going on and the police come to my door and say do you smoke? I’ll say occasionally, like, not often. I maybe did like two months ago, but I don’t anymore. Because it’s a murder investigation and I’d be pooing my pants by this point. I’d be open and honest. I wouldn’t say no, I don’t smoke, because then they’d go into my car and they’d find a packet of cigarettes and they’d say well, well well, what do we have here?

Dawn:

The other thing that the police were determined to establish is what Crichton had actually been wearing on the day of the murder, as there had been two different versions already. And so the police again visited local farmers to see if anyone had seen Crichton working in the fields on Friday, and more importantly what he had been wearing. And this is what they found out. One man had seen Crichton ploughing a field at about 11.30am and he said he had been wearing dirty working clothes. Another man had seen Crichton about 12 noon working with his horses on the land and had been wearing a jacket and dirty trousers. A third man had seen Crichton between 4 and 5pm ploughing the field, but this time wearing remarkably clean white clothing. 

Cole:

Alright, so he had changed his clothes that day and not on the Thursday like he said?

Dawn:

Well, that’s what it’s beginning to look like, yes. However, it wasn’t enough. Determined to keep the momentum going on the case and find Janet’s killer, a reward of £100, or about £12,000 or $16,500 in today’s money, was offered to anyone with information that led to a conviction. Following the reward being publicised, there were numerous names given of potential suspects from all over Scotland matching the description of the man in question. Each time the men in question were detained and police officers from Perth would collect the men and take them back to Perth station to be questioned, where, after having their alibis corroborated, Betsy would be sought to try and identify if it was the man she had seen at Mount Stewart Farm, each time answering in the negative, no. Until Tuesday the 17th of April when Betsy was once again asked to attend the police station to see if she could identify their latest potential suspect, a Mr John Henderson a hatter from Aberdeen.  This time after studying the man’s face closely Betsy’s reply was different. Betsy was convinced this was the man she had seen. The man had finally been caught! Although John Henderson vehemently denied the allegation, proclaiming he hadn’t even been in the area. Superintendent Henry McDonald though wasn’t quite as convinced that this was their man.  He decided to reserve judgment until after John Henderson had been questioned.

Cole:

What made him not so sure, do you know?

Dawn:

I think his feelings were that Betsy was a bit of a gossip, she liked to be the centre of attention and she also had a poorly husband and they badly needed some money. Now that there was a reward he maybe just wondered if there was an ulterior motive.

Cole:

Okay. Well did he have an alibi upon being questioned?

Dawn:

He did, yes. He said that he’d been in Edinburgh the day of the murder, as well as the days before and after, where he had been selling clothes. Fortunately he had the names and addresses of the places he had stayed whilst there, as well as the names of witnesses who could vouch for him being there. However, before John Henderson’s alibi could be corroborated, the newspapers got hold of the fact that John Henderson was being held in Perth station, and they were questioning why he was being detained longer than any of the previous men who’d been brought there to be identified by Betsy. Had the killer been caught? Now, you remember how I said that there had been gossip about William’s involvement in his sister’s murder, even though he’d had an alibi and was miles away at the time of death?

Cole:

Yeah.

Dawn:

Well, his brother-in-law, Janet’s husband, had gotten wind of this too and was none too pleased. He made a statement, which was reported in one of the newspapers, where he basically said that William had nothing to do with Janet’s death, saying what state William had been in when James had arrived on the farm and asking what his motive could possibly have been.  He urged people to stop the rumours and suspicions as William had nothing to do with it and the family didn’t need this. However, James didn’t stop there, he went on to basically rip apart the police from start to finish, right from when he had had to find out about Janet’s murder from a family member and not the police down to how he had serious concerns about the police’s efforts in finding Janet’s killer.

Cole:

But from what you’ve told me they’ve done everything right, they’ve done everything that they could so far.

Dawn:

Yeah, I feel the same, but James was grieving and he obviously wanted answers, they just weren’t coming quick enough for him.

Cole:

I understand that, but it seems like they’d already been under stress and pressure due to all the potential suspects that they had to eliminate, like, maybe he could just give them a little break.

Dawn:

Yeah, I think they were doing their absolute best. They wanted to solve the murderer too. Anyway, now the pressure was really on to be seen to be doing something and to bring Janet’s killer to justice as soon as possible.  However, the man that they currently had in their cells, who had been identified by Betsy as speaking to Janet the morning she died, and their best lead, was about to be blown apart. Following a thorough investigation in Edinburgh speaking to the accommodation owners where John Henderson said he’d been staying at the time of the murder, as well as the days before and after, everybody corroborated what he had said, that he had been staying there throughout this time. John was well known in Edinburgh and frequented the taverns and so there were many many witnesses who could also back up the fact that he had been drinking in taverns around the time the murder happened. Now, again, remember it’s back in 1866 so while it’s only 42 miles or 67 kilometres from Edinburgh to Forgandenny, that would have taken a lot longer back then by walking or by horse and cart than it would nowadays by car. For example, to walk that distance it would take about 14 hours.

Cole:

Yeah, there’s absolutely no way John could have walked 14 hours to Mount Stewart Farm, killed Janet, then walked all the way back to Edinburgh, firstly because someone would have seen him, secondly because it’s just too long to get there and back and not be missed in Edinburgh, it’s more than a whole day, even if he didn’t stop.

Dawn:

Exactly. And the police must have known this too, this wasn’t their man. Betsy had lied. 

Cole:
Well, you know that I think the man’s Crichton, so she was clearly just after the money wasn’t she?

Dawn:

Well, I think there’s two possibilities; she could have genuinely thought that this was the man or, yes, she did it for the money.

Cole:

Yeah. And obviously this is in a time where he would have been hanged for his crimes and she knew that and was still willing to commit him to that fate. What if he didn’t have an alibi and there were no witnesses?

Dawn:

Yeah, it doesn’t bear thinking about. I’d like to think that if that had been the case surely Betsy would have owned up about it. Thankfully though we’ll never know, as, following John Henderson’s account being corroborated, he was released.

Cole:

I bet the police were so disappointed. But, you know, they are looking in the wrong place, because it was Crichton.

Dawn:

You’re just determined aren’t you?

Cole:

I know who it was and my mind will not be changed.

Dawn:

Okay. Well, for the police it was back to the drawing board.

Cole:

It’s not, it shouldn’t be a very big drawing board, it should just have Crichton on. So what happened to Betsy?

Dawn:

Well, nothing, other than her testimony now was deemed not enough to make an arrest. Even worse though, thoughts started to creep in that if Betsy could lie about John Henderson being the man she had seen at the farm, what else could she lie about. Was her testimony one big lie?

Cole:

I mean, she did say that she saw the man at the farm before the reward was offered, so it could have been the truth.

Dawn:

Yeah, you’re right, it could have been but, because of the lie there were doubts cast. It’s a shame. After the police’s best suspect had been released the newspapers went to town and the pressure really mounted for the police. Now, do you remember that both James Crichton and Robert Barlas said that they saw an elderly man walking across the fields about 3pm on the Friday?

Cole:

Correct.

Dawn:

Well, this man was identified to be William Gormack, a 77 year old farmer who resided in Forgandenny. He had been walking across the field to get to a house nearby that he wanted to look at. When questioned he said that he’d seen Crichton come from the stables with two horses, where he harnessed them and started to plough the field, but that he couldn’t remember what he was wearing. He did add that he thought that as he had passed Mount Stewart Farm he had noticed that the kitchen door had been shut.

Cole:

So was this man a suspect at all?

Dawn:

No, no not at all, he was frail and very ill. No, the police saw him more as a potential witness, because he’d said that he thought at the time Crichton must have had a long lunch as 3pm was quite a late time to be starting back ploughing, his break should have been over by 2pm.

Cole:

Alright, okay, so do you think that he’d been up to something or was he just, you know, skiving? 

Dawn:

Who knows. However, with little actual evidence other than suspicions that Crichton may have changed his clothes in the middle of Friday and that he may have smoked a pipe in the past, it was felt that a conviction would not be sought if Mr Crichton was arrested at this stage, and so the case began to go cold. Just as the case began to halt, departmental changes were undertaken. Many of the officers involved in the Mount Stewart Farm case were moved to other departments and completely new officers were to take over. The Fiscal himself became so ill that he had to retire, eventually dying in February 1867. It was an unsettling time for all involved. These reshuffles would certainly contribute to the Mount Stewart Farm case going off the boil. Why on earth would you remove officers who had been investigating the murder case from day one and who knew all the ins and outs of it? Something was bound to be missed. Anyway, in May 1866, Crichton left Mount Stewart Farm to find work elsewhere, something that he would struggle with locally as many still had suspicions that he had been involved with Janet’s murder. Crichton eventually found work at a farm on the outskirts of Dunfermline, about 24 miles or 38 kilometres south of Forgandenny. Crichton wasn’t the only one who was struggling, William was finding it harder and harder to stay at the farm where his sister had been murdered in the kitchen, where he had to sit every night and eat.

Cole:

I think I’d have problems with that too you know.

Dawn:

(laughs) Yeah, it was definitely time for William to move on. In October 1866 William left Mount Stewart Farm for the last time, moving to Perth where he had rented a couple of rooms. Now, in November 1866 an interim Fiscal for Perth was appointed, James Barty, and he requested that all witnesses in the Mount Stewart Farm murder be re-interviewed, and this is where Betsy changed her story. She now wasn’t sure if the man she had seen at the door was indeed a stranger, he might actually have been someone from the area, but she hadn’t got a good look at him so couldn’t really say, before eventually admitting that her eyesight was failing and she didn’t see very well.

Cole:

She was adamant that that man, she had seen a man and he was going to hang for it, but now she’s saying oh my eyesight’s not too good.

Dawn:

Yeah, it was a bit of a blow. The other witnesses were also questioned but nothing new came up. The only person that hadn’t been questioned at all was William Henderson’s previous servant, Christina Miller.

Cole:

Oh yes, I’d forgotten about her. She’s not to be trusted either. I know she wasn’t in the area at the time but she was staying at Crichton’s house following Janet’s murder, maybe she had heard something.

Dawn:

That’s what the police thought too, and they certainly were concerned that the previous officers hadn’t thought it prudent to interview her. Anyway, Christina was brought in for questioning by James Barty himself, as well as Superintendent Henry McDonald. Christina began to tell about her time working for William Henderson at Mount Stewart Farm and it became clear that there was no love lost between them.  She reiterated that he had fired her and that her chest was taken to the Crichtons for her to collect at a later date. Christina was then asked whether Crichton had smoked a pipe before the murder, to which she confirmed that Crichton had, he regularly walked about the farm smoking his pipe. She also advised that it had been slightly broken and had a tin top.

Cole:

What a shocker, he smoked a pipe which was slightly broken and had a tin top, who would have thunk it. Hmm.

Dawn:

Hang on though, there’s more. She also said that on her return to the Crichtons house to collect her chest,following Janet’s murder, Crichton was still smoking but now he was using a new pipe, looking to only be a few days old.

Cole:

Well my, my, my, what do we have here? We’ve got ourselves a little liar, don’t we? He said that he didn’t smoke, remember that?

Dawn:

Oh but the best is yet to come. Christina was then asked whether the Crichtons had mentioned anything about Janet’s murder during the time she had stayed with them for a few days. Christina was initially hesitant as Mrs Crichton was her cousin and she didn’t want to get involved, however, she eventually said that she thought James Crichton was responsible for Janet’s murder. Christina said that while both Crichton and his wife spoke openly while Christina was there saying that they both believed William had killed Janet, an entirely different conversation took place between the husband and wife once Christina had gone to bed. In the kitchen of Crichton’s cottage there were two beds where the family slept, during the time Christina stayed there she slept in a bed with Mrs Crichton while John slept with his sons in the other. One night Christina went to bed at the same time as the boys, leaving Mr and Mrs Crichton in the kitchen by themselves. There was no living room, the kitchen was the living room, the kitchen and bedroom rolled into one. After a while had passed when the couple thought that Christina and the boys had gone to sleep, they began to talk. She heard Crichton tell his wife that if anyone found out that he had killed Janet he would be hanged, with Mrs Crichton replying that if it was found out that he had killed Janet she didn’t know what she would do, it would be a disgrace for the whole family.

Cole:

Why would she keep that to herself? Had she fallen out with Crichton and maybe this was payback? Was she wanting the reward money?

Dawn:

Well, no, they were still friendly, nothing had happened, but yeah the reward money, it could have been that. Or it could have been that she just couldn’t keep the secret any longer, despite them being her relations. However, there was a problem.

Cole:

Of course there was.

Dawn:

Christina was a single woman who enjoyed the company of men, lots of men. She was young and single and quite happy, but of course this was looked down on and of course her morals were brought into question.

Cole:

I mean in this day and age you wouldn’t bat an eyelid at that, but I imagine that was a big problem back in 1866.

Dawn:

Yeah, it seems to have been. However, the police believed that despite this Christina was still a credible witness. So, on Saturday the 15th of December detectives travelled to the farm near Dunfermline where Crichton was now working and he was arrested and transported back to Perth police station for questioning. The following day John Crichton was questioned as to his movements on Friday the 30th of March, to which Crichton reiterated what he’d already told police officers. Again, he was asked what he’d been wearing on the Friday morning, to which he again adamantly replied dark trousers and a white jacket, and no he had not changed his clothes at all on the Friday. He then said that at 2pm after his lunch he had firstly removed large posts from between two fields before then ploughing the field until the light faded. When it was put to him that he had actually smoked a pipe at the time of Janet’s murder as Christina had said that he’d let her use it even though he denied this to the police officers at the time, he simply said that Christina was mistaken. The questioning continued for three hours before Crichton was taken back to his cell. After the information and evidence was looked over by the Fiscal to determine if there was enough evidence to secure a conviction, on Saturday the 22nd of December a warrant to further detain Crichton for trial was agreed. Crichton was then taken to prison where he would stay until the trial.

Cole:

Oh my God, I’m so shocked that he got taken to jail and would stay there until his trial, he’s quite clearly an innocent man.

Dawn:

Oh my God you’re so sarcastic. However, before the trial could take place a couple of worrying things happened. Firstly, you remember William Gormack the elderly man walking across the field on the day of Janet’s murder?

Cole:

Yes.

Dawn:

Well he had been deemed a particularly important witness as he had said that he thought the fact that Crichton was just starting back at work again at 3pm was strange, however, on Wednesday the 19th of December he died. Although all was not lost. Mr Gormack had told his daughter the story and she was willing to testify on his behalf.

Cole:

Alright, that’s… I mean that’s good. it’s a shame he passed away, but obviously that’s good that she can testify on his behalf. So, what’s the other thing?

Dawn:

Apparently once Christina had finished giving evidence to the police she decided to stay in Perth, where she visited a pub and met a soldier she had previously known. The couple stayed drinking for most of the evening before then getting a room and spending the next two nights together, which in the eyes of her peers would have been bad enough, however, while drunk Christina had been very vocal about the fact she would be coming into some money very soon and that she planned to emigrate to America. This soon got back to James Barty, the interim Fiscal, and a warrant for Christina to be apprehended was drawn up. Christina was then escorted to Perth where she denied the claims that she had said she was coming into money and planned to emigrate to America. However, scared that she would do just that upon receiving the reward money and the case against Crichton would collapse, the deputy Fiscal said she would only be released if she paid £20, which is about £2,500 and $3,500  in today’s money, knowing full well that she couldn’t afford this. So Christina was to be held in prison until the trial.

Cole:

Okay, can they do that?

Dawn:

Apparently so. On Tuesday the 9th of April 1867 the trial began, with Sir Dees presiding over the trial. The courtroom was filled with locals and reporters alike, as well as the 15 male jurors. William Henderson was the first witness called where he recounted the events leading up to the murder as well as the day itself, which William did with obvious emotion. On cross-examination, William was asked to describe his relationships with his previous female servants, obviously having listened to the gossip and implying that he had tried to bed them. William refused to rise to this and simply explained their roles, ending in the circumstances surrounding Christina’s dismissal. Janet’s husband and eldest daughter were also witnesses, where they were asked to describe Janet and William’s demeanour on the run-up to the murder, the day off and afterwards. James Barlas was questioned where he too was asked to describe William’s reaction upon finding Janet’s body, as well as confirming that he had seen Crichton smoking on several occasions. Dr Laing was called to the witness stand where he described in great detail the state of Janet’s body, with gasps being heard in the courtroom at this, before stating that death would have been almost immediate and it would have been no later than 3pm.  He also noted that when William Henderson and Crichton’s clothing had been examined he was surprised to see just how clean Crichton’s were. Jean Barlas was also called to testify that she had seen washed clothes lying on the grass outside the Crichton’s cottage on the day of the murder. Then it was Superintendent McDonald’s turn on the stand, where he outlined the police’s findings and evidence that had been found throughout the investigation. And then finally it was Christina Miller’s turn to take the stand, the key witness. Christina firstly told that Crichton had in fact smoked a pipe, before recounting her story from being sacked by William Henderson to overhearing the Crichtons talking about how Mr Crichton had murdered Janet. This was damning evidence indeed for Crichton, but his Council, Charles Scott, would soon put paid to the credibility of this testimony. He then proceeded to systematically destroy Christina Miller’s name by providing account after account that she basically slept with any man who came her way, including the soldier she had met and spent two nights with, going as far as asking her if she could remember any of the mens names, to which she said she couldn’t, and therefore her testimony should be deemed as not credible.

Cole:

What’s that got to do with anything there?

Dawn:

Absolutely nothing, but he destroyed her, much to the amusement of the people in attendance at the trial. Christina was left humiliated.

Cole:

Well I do feel a bit sorry for Christina, I still don’t think she’s to be trusted, I think she wants that money, but, you know, let her sleep with who she wants to sleep with, it’s no one else’s business.

Dawn:

Well it’s not, but what he did worked. Their star witness’s testimony was reduced to nothing.

Cole:

That’s some bull[ __ ].

Dawn:

John Crichton didn’t testify, but a declaration following him being questioned by the police was read out in court. The court was then adjourned until the next day. Wednesday the 10th of April at 10am everyone was back in court for more witness testimony. First up it was Betsy.

Cole:

Alright, but it’s been determined that she’s been lying.

Dawn:

Well, yes, she had lied when she had wrongly identified the man she had seen at Mount Stewart Farm’s kitchen door so she could get the reward money, but it still hadn’t been determined if she had lied about seeing someone there in the morning Janet was murdered.

Cole:

But didn’t she say in the end that she didn’t get a good look at the man and that her eyesight was failing?

Dawn:

Mmh hmm she did, but it was believed that by not having her testify as a witness it would cause more damage than if she did.

Cole:

So, you get the woman who has the proof of the pipe smoking and the overhearing conversations about him murdering Janet and you throw that out because she sleeps with loads of people, right?

Dawn:

Yeah.

Cole:

Then you get the woman who has openly said yeah, yeah I’ve lied about that, but you get her to testify anyway because you think it’ll look bad if you don’t get her to testify?

Dawn:

Yep, that’s it pretty much.

Cole:

That makes so much sense.

Dawn:

I’m not in charge of this trial. I’m sorry. [laughs]

Cole:

I don’t think it appears that anyone’s in charge of this trial.

Dawn:

So, Betsy recounted her story, saying that she was adamant she had seen a man at the kitchen door speaking to Janet about 11.30am. Neither side pressed her and she was only on the stand briefly. People thought this was because they didn’t feel her testimony held much weight so it wasn’t worth bothering about.

Cole:

Wait a minute. So, they found out that she was lying, right? Because she wanted the reward money. Then they decided to put her on the trial anyway because they thought that it would be better to hear from her than not hear from her at all. Then she’s adamant that she saw someone at 11 o’clock in the morning, even though she said that her eyesight isn’t good and she can’t confirm whether she did see someone or not. And now you’re telling me that they didn’t spend much time on her because they didn’t feel that her testimony had much weight?

Dawn:

Yeah, that’s, that’s right, yeah.

Cole:

Okay, next.

Dawn:

Throughout the day there were more witnesses, including William Gormack’s daughter, Christine, who testified to what her father had said about Crichton on the Friday, repeating that her dad had thought it strange that Crichton was only starting the ploughing at 3pm in the afternoon. However, another neighbour countered this by saying that going by the tasks Crichton had completed upon his lunch break finishing at 2pm, it was entirely plausible that he would only be taking the horses out to plough the field at 3pm. After two days of witness statements and cross-examination and both sides having summed up their case, the jury retired to deliberate. What do you think was the verdict, Cole, based on the evidence you’ve heard so far, and why?

Cole:

Is that a serious question, Dawn?

Dawn:

(laughs)

Cole:

I think I’ve made my views very clear on this subject.

Dawn:

So you think it would be guilty?

Cole:

Yes. (laugh) Well, I mean, if anyone’s got any sense. The man smoked a pipe, he lied about it. He smoked a pipe that looked exactly like the one that was found under Janet’s blood. He was missing for like an hour or something, no one knows what he was up to. He had a change of clothes. I don’t care whether he said he didn’t have a change of clothes or not, he did have a change of clothes. The man even said that they were too clean to be working in a field all day, which I agree with. So, I would say Crichton’s guilty and that’s that.

Dawn:

Okay, well thanks for that little sum up. So, after only 11 minutes the jury returned with a verdict of not proven, which is a verdict only found in Scotland meaning that the accused might indeed be guilty but that there is not enough evidence to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.

Cole:

Can I just say, right, if this was modern day times, which it’s not that’s fine, um, if it was modern day times you get the pipe, you take it into DNA analysis, bish bash bosh you’ve got your man, right?

Dawn:

Right.

Cole:

How can they say there wasn’t enough evidence? His pipe was under Janet.

Dawn:

Well, they couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was his pipe, they just couldn’t. Like you say, short of forensics.

Cole:

Well, no. Yeah, that’s true, but if you found my boyfriend’s car keys under my body when I was found dead you’d certainly be going, huh.

Dawn:

But…

Cole:

But nothing. Okay. He did it.

Dawn:

The keys are quite identifiable, a pipe is just a pipe.

Cole:

No, that’s incorrect, because they didn’t have car keys back then, what did they have to identify them? Pipes!

Dawn:

Yeah, I can see why that wouldn’t have stood up in court either mind.

Cole:

Why? It’s a small place, it’s not like it’s, you know, America, there’s loads of people, it’s a tiny place. 1860 something whatever. Um, I think we could have proved this.

Dawn:

But why? This is what the r… Why would he have killed her? What would have been the reason?

Cole:

Why not?

Dawn:

What would it have gained? He’s not done it in the past as far as anybody knows.

Cole:

As far as anybody knows.  I know who did it, I know why he did it and that’s that.

Dawn:

Anyway, John Crichton was acquitted of the murder of Janet Rogers. People, including Cole, were shocked by this verdict, but none more so than William Henderson who had always been convinced of Crichton’s guilt. Crichton would be the only man to ever be brought to trial for the murder of Janet Rogers. Over the next few days, while Janet’s family came to terms with the fact that Janet’s killer was still on the loose, the newspapers dissected every last detail about the case and evidence provided, and of course Christina Miller’s testimony was debated back and forth, had she been lying or had she told the absolute truth. The implications of Christina’s character being attacked and therefore her testimony, if in fact true, being disregarded was clearly felt. The police’s investigation was also attacked, putting the Perth police uncomfortably in the spotlight. I have to say here, and obviously I’m not a police officer and I wasn’t around back in the 19th century, but from what I’ve read and of course the fact that back in the 19th century there were no forensics, fingerprints and nobody actually witnessed the murder, I think the police officers back then did everything they could possibly do, they looked at every avenue.

Cole:

I don’t disagree with you, I just think people were unhappy that they didn’t have definite answers. Shame that I wasn’t there though because if I was they would have the definite answers, and it would be Crichton.

Dawn:

Okay. Eventually things calmed down, life went back to normal and Janet Rogers’ murder faded from people’s minds, all minds except her family, and for a time Crichton. It was reported that he had been harassed for quite some time afterwards, not being able to walk along the street for being chased, many people believing wholeheartedly that he had been Janet’s killer. Crichton moved to Fife about 19 miles or 30 kilometres away from Forgandenny and continued to work as a labourer, until his death in 1894. William Henderson eventually moved to New Scone, about nine miles or 14 kilometres away from Forgandenny. For all William was financially secure and lived in a substantial house in the country, he never got over the murder of his beloved sister Janet, or of Crichton, who he was sure had killed her, not being brought to justice. In 1881, 15 years after Janet’s murder, William was detained in an asylum having been deemed to be mentally unsound, where he stayed for three months before being released into the care of his family, who hoped they could help him. William however continued to go downhill and was readmitted to the asylum many times over the years, until his eventual death on the 22nd of January 1890, aged 77.

Cole:

It’s really sad he didn’t get any definitive answers or justice.

Dawn:

Yes, it is. But Janet would never be forgotten and she lived on through her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even as far as her great, great great grandchildren. One of these great, great, great grandchildren is a man called Chris Paton. Almost all of the information for this story I got through reading a book called The Mount Stewart Murder, which was written by none other than Chris Paton. I really enjoyed this book. I have a real interest in history and knowing how people lived back then and Chris’s writing in this book really transported me back there, describing everything brilliantly. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to know more about Janet’s story or what it was like living in Scotland in the 19th century. There is so much more information in The Mount Stewart Murder book that I just wasn’t able to cover in this episode.  Let us know if you’ve read it and what your thoughts are.

Cole:

Are you sure you didn’t cover the whole book in this episode?

Dawn:

[Laughter] I really didn’t, Cole. You’ve no idea how much I’ve had to miss out.

Cole:

Well thank you so much for condensing that book into a short hour and a half, maybe two hour podcast for us all.

Dawn:

[laughs] You’re very very welcome.

Cole:

You’re so kind.

Dawn:

And that’s the end. If you’ve enjoyed this episode and know just the person who’d also like it, please share it with them don’t keep it to yourself.

Cole:

Please also get in touch on social media if you have any questions, comments or suggestions and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. All social media and contact details are on our website scottishmurders.com, as well as all the source material and photos related to this episode.

Dawn:

So that’s it, come back next time for another episode of Scottish Murders.

Dawn and Cole:

Join us there. Bye.

Granny Robertson:

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn.


The Helen Priestly Murder

The Helen Priestly Murder

Episode Summary

TRIGGER WARNING – This episode contains child sexual abuse references, so listener discretion is advised.

When eight year old Helen Priestly went missing, the answer to what happened to her was more unexpected than anyone could ever have thought. 

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

Coe:

Trigger Warning – This episode covers the topic of child abuse, so listener discretion is advised.

Dawn:

When eight-year-old Helen Priestly went missing, the answer to what happened to her was more unexpected than anyone could ever have thought.

Dawn and Cole:

Hi Wee Ones I’m Dawn and I’m Cole, and this is Scottish Murders.

[THEME TUNE]

Misty Mysteries Podcast Promotion

Dawn:

It was 5am on the morning of Saturday the 21st of April 1934, when missing eight-year-old Helen Priestly’s body was found in a sack within her own tenement block, having thought to have been strangled and raped. The hunt began for the monster who had carried out this terrible act on Helen. Helen Priestly, who was tall and had fair hair, lived in a first floor flat of a tenement block at 61 Urquhart Street in Aberdeen, a city in the northeast of Scotland, with her parents, John who was 47 and Agnes who was 33.

Cole:

And for anyone that doesn’t know a tenement block is a type of build shared by multiple dwellings, typically with flats, or apartments, on each floor with a shared entrance stairway access.

Dawn:

Agnes was a stay-at-home mum and John was a painter and decorator. There were seven other families living in the tenement block, including on the ground floor below the Priestly’s 38 year old Alexander and Jeannie Donald and their eight-year-old daughter also called Jeannie. Across the hall from the Donalds lived 29 year old shopkeeper William Topp and his pregnant wife 28 year old Mary Topp. The Joss family also lived in one of the top flats in the tenement. Like in many tenement blocks, not every family would get on. In this tenement it was Agnes Priestly and Jeannie Donald who had not been on very good terms, something which had gone on for about four years.

Cole:

Why was that? Do we know?

Dawn:

Well, apparently, Jeannie Donald said it was because she had not taken Agnes Priestly’s side when she had an argument with an upstairs neighbour. But Agnes felt it was because Jeannie was a busybody who became jealous if others prospered.

Cole:

Oh right, okay. In what way?

Dawn:

Well, according to the Blood and Granite book written by Norman Adams, it could have been because after Agnes Priestly had inherited a small amount of money she had bought Helen, who was very musical, a piano, as well as paying for piano lessons. As Jeannie’s daughter was also musical and she always wanted to give her daughter the very best, Agnes thought that she was jealous of the fact that she had been able to give her daughter something Jeannie couldn’t give hers. But it’s not known for sure.

Cole:

Okay. So basically they just didn’t like each other?

Dawn:

Yeah, pretty much. On Friday the 20th of April Helen had been at school in the morning, before returning to her flat for lunch. At about 1pm, Agnes had sent Helen to the local baker to buy a loaf of bread, an errand Helen would never return from. Agnes Priestly wasn’t initially worried when Helen didn’t return straight away, she thought she had maybe got talking to someone. Helen may have been a bit shy but she was very confident and well known in the area. She’d not be long. So Agnes continued with her own tasks waiting for her daughter to return. However, as the time passed and there was still no sign of Helen, Agnes became concerned. She initially went to Helen’s school thinking that Helen had maybe just gone back there and had forgotten about the bread. Apparently Helen loved school.  However, Helen hadn’t returned to school after the lunch break. A pupil at the school did say that they had seen Helen just a few steps from her tenement block front door while on lunch, but that they hadn’t noticed if she had actually gone inside. Agnes then went to the local bakery shop to see if her daughter had actually made it there. When she arrived and asked after Helen she was told that Helen had indeed been in earlier to buy a loaf of bread, but had left hours ago. After finding this out, Agnes immediately contacted the police, as well as advising her husband who had been working locally. A massive search subsequently was carried out by police officers, as well as friends, family and strangers from the surrounding areas who had all volunteered to help. The search involved checking every building in the vicinity, alleys and public areas, as well as areas within Helen’s tenement building, including the coal shed and communal toilet. Agnes and her family and friends approached anyone they came across asking if they had seen Helen, and this is how the first lead was generated. A wee boy who had been friends with Helen told how he had seen Helen being dragged onto a tram car by a man, saying the man was about five foot ten inches and wore a dark coat. He also said that he had seen Helen carrying a loaf of bread and had been wearing a blue tammy hat. Spurred on with this witness statement, the police immediately made an appeal asking if anyone had seen the man in question. Teams of police and volunteers continued to search for this man, asking people in the area if they had seen this man or if they had witnessed a young girl being taken forcibly, but no one had. The search continued into the evening and on past midnight, by which time Agnes and her husband John’s worry had turned to fear. At about 2am on the Saturday, and with the heavens now opening over Aberdeen, it was decided to halt the search and proceed again at 5am.  Wanting to carry on searching but knowing he needed to rest, Helen’s dad finally agreed and went to his flat to try and get some sleep, with a neighbour from across the street agreeing to come to his flat at 5am to waken him up again. And so, other than the rain pouring down on the streets, everything was quiet for a few hours while everyone got some sleep. Well, almost everyone. Just before 5am, true to his word, John’s neighbour made his way across the street to 61 Urquhart Street to awaken John up to continue the search. He would have been relieved when the rain finally began to stop as he stepped outside. He pushed open the communal door into the tenement building and made his way to the stairs to the first floor, and then stopped suddenly. At the back of the tenement block where the communal toilet was he saw lying there on the floor a large sack. He opened the sack and looked in, only to see Helen’s dead face looking back at him. That was the end of the quiet, the whole place erupted. He ran up the stairs and banged on John and Agnes’s door to get their attention. He then ran down into the street shouting, banging on the doors of the Topps and the Donalds as he passed. Everybody appeared from their flats to see what the commotion was all about. Well almost everyone. William Topp had already left for work at 4am that morning but Mary Topp was still there. When she found out that Helen had been found in the tenement block she fainted in shock. It would turn out that due to the shock she would later suffer a miscarriage.

Cole:

I can’t believe the trauma from these events caused her to have a miscarriage, that’s so unfortunate.

Dawn:

Yeah, I know it is, it’s sad. And then there were the Donalds who also lived on the ground floor, they never made an appearance.

Cole:

Alright, do you think that’s a bit weird? I mean, you hear commotion outside your front door, and presumably Agnes and John Priestly in distress, and you don’t want to know what’s going on.

Dawn:

Yeah, it is a bit strange. According to the Blood and Granite book written by Norman Adams, apparently the pair thought that it was just Agnes Priestly causing a scene because she wanted to go back out to search for Helen and she was being stopped.

Cole:

Alright, but would you still not want to check everything was okay?

Dawn:

Well, I would, but remember these two women didn’t get on, so maybe she just wanted to stay out of the way. Anyway, the police were quick on the scene as they had already arrived to continue the search again.  They made sure that everyone was back inside before going to inspect the sack.

Cole:

So, does that mean that if Helen’s dad walked through the tenement block at 2am and there was no body, then his neighbour came back into the tenement block at 5am and Helen’s body was now there, does that mean it was placed there within that time?

Dawn:

Well, yeah, that’s what it seems.  The first thing that was noticed by the police was that the sack and Helen were bone dry, as was the floor under the sack.

Cole:

Oh that’s really interesting, because it was raining outside. So does that mean that Helen must have been in that tenement block the whole time?

Dawn:

Well it would seem that way, because if the body had been outside of the tenement block and brought in then it would definitely have been wet and left a puddle on the floor. After Helen’s body had been examined, the doctor’s first impression was that she had been strangled and raped.

Cole:

Oh God, that’s awful.

Dawn:

So now it was believed that the killer was a male living within the tenement block.

Cole:

Didn’t a school friend of hers say that he had seen her being abducted by a man? Are the police under the assumption that this man lives in the same tenement building as Helen?

Dawn:

Well, no. Following Helen’s body being found the police again spoke to the boy hoping for more details about the man he had seen, only for the boy to admit that he had lied, he hadn’t seen Helen that day at all.

Cole:

What a waste of time.

Dawn:

Yeah, I don’t think the police were too impressed, but he was just a silly wee boy. So Helen’s body was taken away for a postmortem to be carried out, where it was determined that she had died from asphyxiation. Bruises on her upper thigh were also discovered, as well as signs that her sexual organs had been mutilated. However, all was not as it seemed, but I’ll come back to that. When these facts were made known to the public only one thing was on the minds of the people in the area, vengeance. Large groups of people carrying weapons began to stalk the streets in search of this murderous predator and carry out their own justice.  While the police were concerned about this and they did not want any vigilante type behaviour being carried out, however, while there were such numbers of people roaming the streets then surely this monster wouldn’t strike again. They knew that the sooner they found the culprit the better. Door-to-door inquiries were carried out in the area and it was determined that a neighbour had heard a scream coming from Helen’s tenement block around about lunchtime, but that they didn’t think anything of it at the time. Following an appeal being made for information into the murder of Helen, a slater, who didn’t live in the area but who had been working at the back of Helen’s tenement block that day, also said he heard a scream coming from inside the tenement block around lunchtime, but again he didn’t think anything of it at the time, maybe just kids playing around. Other neighbours told the police how Jeannie Donald and the Priestly’s had had a falling out and that Helen and Jeannie Donald were forever having quarrels. Helen had been in the habit of calling Jeannie Donald a coconut. 

Cole:

A coconut? What does that mean?

Dawn:

I don’t think it’s anything particularly derogatory, it’s just something Helen said to annoy Jeannie Donald. 

Cole:

Okay.

Dawn:

They also found out that Jeannie Donald was always chasing Helen away from outside her windows when she played there. She apparently had also slapped Helen once, which obviously didn’t go down too well with Helen’s mum and dad, further fuelling the already tense relationship. Armed with this information, on the 25th of April, the police went to question the Donalds as to their whereabouts on the day of Helen’s disappearance, at this point still not having decided if they had enough evidence to arrest them yet. Alexander Donald, who was a barber, said he’d been at work all day in the barber shop and had worked late that evening, only coming home briefly for his lunch and tea. Jeannie Donald had quite a busy day, which she talked about quite openly. She said she had left the flat about 1:10pm or 1:15pm on the Friday to go to a market held weekly behind Union Street, which was about a 25 minute walk away from the tenement block. She went on to say what she had bought and the exact prices of the items. She said she then went to a material shop where she priced up material to make a dress for her daughter, before then walking back home.  As she was arriving back home she said she had seen Agnes Priestly standing at the grocer’s shop, which was located across from the tenement block. Upon entering the tenement she said that Mrs Topp had come in from the back and that they’d spoken briefly, but she said that Mrs Topp never once mentioned that Helen was missing. She then said she spent the rest of the afternoon in the flat ironing five of her daughter’s dresses, as her daughter was to attend a dancing rehearsal that evening, which both Jeannie’s parents also attended.  Following the interview the police asked if they could search the flat, which the Donalds agreed to. Upon looking under the sink, the police found a red stain. While further examinations were conducted in the Donalds flat to determine if the red stain was in fact blood, word began to get out of what was going on and a crowd began to congregate outside the tenement block. Finally it was decided that the red stain could in fact be blood and the Donalds were immediately arrested and charged with the murder of Helen Priestly. Upon being taken from the tenement block, the couple were jeered at and the crowd became more and more hostile. The couple were quickly taken to the police station only to be met by more crowds waiting outside, who also showed their disdain and disgust for the couple. Back at the flat, samples of the red stain were taken and analysed, and later, after examination, it was determined that it was not blood. However, they found much more evidence so it didn’t matter, the couple would not get away with Helen’s murder for lack of evidence. Firstly, there was the sack that Helen’s body had been found in. On examination a hole had been found in the top corner of it, as if it had been placed over a hook. And lo and behold, guess what they found in the Donalds flat?

Cole:

Was it a sack with a hole at the top?

Dawn:

Yes, it was, many sacks.

Cole:

Oh.

Dawn:

Apparently Jeannie Donald used these sacks to keep cinders in that she would reuse. Nobody else in the tenement did this. Cinders were also found in the sack that Helen’s body had been found in. Upon closer examination of the sack, a hair was found, which was deemed to match Jeannie Donald’s hair. Also bacteria found inside the sack that Helen had been in was found to match bacteria found in the Donalds home. Although the red stain under the sink was determined not to be blood, blood was found in the Donalds flat, specifically type O blood, which matched Helen’s blood type. Obviously that wasn’t enough on its own to prove this was Helen’s blood or that she had been murdered there, but that was okay they had all the evidence they needed. But more was still to come. In the meantime, Alexander and Jeannie Donald were being questioned over and over again to what had taken place the day Helen had gone missing, but each time their story didn’t change. So the police went back onto the streets again to try to disprove the couple’s stories, knowing that the stories couldn’t be true because the evidence now spoke for itself. What they found out though was that Alexander Donald was telling the truth, he had been at work at the time Helen went missing, and this was corroborated by both his barbershop colleagues as well as customers he had that day. After six weeks of being questioned and held in police custody, Alexander Donald was finally released without charge. Despite being found innocent and having witnesses corroborating that he couldn’t have been involved in Helen’s disappearance, the locals weren’t ready to forgive and forget what had been done to wee Helen just yet. Not feeling safe, Alexander Donald took his daughter and they both left the area. Alexander Donald died in 1944 from cancer, ten years after Helen’s murder. So, while it had been proven that Alexander Donald had been telling the truth and had been at work at the time of Helen’s disappearance, Jeannie Donald’s story was starting to unravel. Due to the exact details she had told the police of what she had bought at the market and the prices she had paid, upon investigating it was established that these prices were special prices and had only been available at the previous week’s market. So, Jeannie Donald did not set off for the market between 1:10pm and 1:15pm at all, she had been in her flat, unknowing that only 15 minutes later she would be carrying out a truly horrific deed. It was also established that she had not been in the material shop that day pricing up materials.

Cole:

She must have known she would get caught out.

Dawn:

Maybe she thought no one would check out her story as she couldn’t possibly have been involved as she was a woman and it was assumed Helen had been raped.

Cole:

That’s very naïve.

Dawn:

I agree. It would be Jeannie Donald’s own daughter who put the final nail in her coffin. Jeannie said that when she came home from school and had some bread, she noticed that it was different to the bread they usually bought. In fact upon checking with the baker where Helen had bought the bread her mother had sent her out to get, it was the exact same type of bread that Helen had bought that Jeannie had described.

Cole:

Oh God, so she killed Helen and then kept her bread and fed it to her daughter? I mean that’s a bit twisted isn’t it?

Dawn:

Yeah, it’s a bit sick. Now that Alexander Donald had been released, Helen’s body was again closely examined to try and explain away the perceived rape. It was eventually determined that a hammer or a broom handle had been used in order to replicate a rape. Whatever object had been used, it had been so roughly inserted that Helen’s intestines had been ruptured.

Cole:

God, that’s disgusting.

Dawn:

The evidence against Jeannie Donald was pretty substantial, but on the opening of her trial in Edinburgh High Court on Monday the 16th of July 1934, she pleaded not guilty. She had no witnesses, no alibi, no nothing. I think everyone was shocked by this, none more so than the crowd of men and women outside of the courthouse. The story of what had happened to Helen hadn’t just been confined to her hometown of Aberdeen it had been heard far and wide, and the people outside the courthouse made sure everyone was aware of the disgust that was felt at what had been done to wee Helen. Police were on hand to make sure there was some sort of order and proceedings inside could carry on. During the trial 164 witnesses were called including Jeannie Donald’s daughter, many forensic experts, neighbours and shopkeepers. The only defence Jeannie Donald had was to say that how could she have been involved, she was a woman and Helen had shown signs of being raped.

Cole:

Yeah, but we already know that that’s been faked.

Dawn:

Yes, we do, but I don’t think she or her defence solicitor did, but they were about to be given both barrels. In fact three separate pathologists who had independently examined Helen’s body had come up with the same conclusion. Jeannie Donald had been defeated. The jury retired and after 18 minutes of deliberation they found Mrs Jeannie Donald guilty of murder.

Cole:

Yeah, I don’t know how she thought she was going to go away with that one.

Dawn:

Yeah, I know. But for back in 1934 the forensics had been instrumental in convicting her. In fact, according to the Daily Record…,

Cole:

Which is a Scottish newspaper.

Dawn:

in an article from the 19th of October 2007, Jeannie Donald was one of the first people in the world to be convicted on forensic evidence.

Cole:

Oh wow, really? That’s pretty impressive.

Yeah, I think so too. Upon hearing the verdict there was loud cheering heard from outside. Justice had been served. Jeannie was sentenced to death by Judge Lord Aitchison, who actually started crying at having to wear the black cap and be passing down a death sentence penalty to a woman. Jeannie Donald was then taken to Craiginches Prison in Aberdeen to wait for her sentence to be carried out. However, just over two weeks later on the 3rd of August Jeannie Donald’s solicitor lodged an appeal. Amazingly she won the appeal and her sentence was changed from a death sentence to a life sentence, and she was transferred to a women’s prison in Glasgow to serve her new sentence.

Cole:

Alright, was there any reason for that?

Dawn:

Well I believe higher up people got involved to try and get this reduced to a life sentence. I mean you heard what state the judge presiding over the trial got into at having to sentence a woman to death, maybe it didn’t sit too well.

Cole:

Well, if that’s the reason it’s kind of ridiculous. I mean, personal feelings shouldn’t have to come into that, she had carried out a horrendous murder on a wee girl. I’d be pretty angry if I was Helen’s parents.

Dawn:

There’s actually no report on what their thoughts were, but yeah, they must have been devastated, for a second time. There also was nothing reported about how they felt when Mrs Jeannie Donald was released from prison to continue her life just ten years later.

Cole:

What? Why?

Dawn:

Well, remember that I said her husband, Alexander, had died from cancer in 1944?

Cole:

Yes.

Dawn:

Well when it was found out he only had a few days left to live, Jeannie was released from prison and actually looked after him in his last few days. It was then decided, for whatever inexplicable reason, that she should just be set free.

Cole:

Wow, that’s crazy.

Dawn:

Upon being released from prison, Jeannie Donald changed her name and carried on with her life, before finally dying at the age of 81 in 1976. At no point did Jeannie Donald ever tell what had possessed her, a hard-working woman who had no criminal history, to carry out such an atrocious act of violence. No one will ever know exactly what happened that fateful day, but one theory is by Sir Sydney Smith, who was a professor of forensic medicine at Edinburgh University and was a witness at the trial. He thought that Helen had returned to the tenement with the loaf of bread, opened the front communal door and there she found herself in front of Jeannie Donald. It is then thought that an exchange of some kind took place, maybe Helen called Jeannie a coconut again, but whatever was said Jeannie Donald snapped. It is then thought she grabbed Helen and shook her violently enough that Helen passed out. Thinking that she may have killed Helen she carried Helen into her flat and proceeded to violently insert an object into her sexual organ.

Cole:

That’s some really dark thinking, from oh God I think I might have accidentally killed Helen to I know what I’ll do to misdirect people. It’s just strange.

Dawn:

Well what’s even stranger is at this point Helen wasn’t actually dead.

Cole:

Oh God. What?

Dawn:

Upon having something inserted roughly into her she came round and screamed.

Cole:

Oh God, that’s horrible. And that must have been what the neighbours and workmen must have heard.

Dawn:

Yes, it was. And at this point Jeannie Donald then proceeded to strangle Helen.

Cole:

Why would she not check for a pulse first instead of just assuming she was dead?

Dawn:

Well, to be honest, she was probably hoping she was dead because if she hadn’t killed her she had at least shaken her hard enough for her to pass out and that’s assault, she would have known she was in serious trouble by this point anyway.

Cole:

Yeah, she was in serious trouble but she wasn’t in rape and murder a little girl kind of trouble.

Dawn:

Yeah, I know. I can’t believe that’s where her mind went either. It’s just awful. After she had actually killed Helen she then put her under the sink in one of her cinder bags. It is then thought that she spent the rest of the afternoon in the flat washing and ironing her daughter’s dresses for the upcoming play. She had presumably looked out of the window and saw Helen Priestly talking to the grocer across the street from her flat, not as she was coming back from the market.

Cole:

Oh. And what about Mrs Topp having seen her coming in the front door as she came in the back?

Dawn:

Well, it’s thought that she’d stood just inside the door waiting for Mrs Topp to appear so she could pretend she was just back from the market.

Cole:

Oh right, I see, that’s very calculating and kind of clever.

Dawn:

All the while Helen is lying dead under her sink in the same room as her. Her husband, Alexander, and her daughter, Jeannie, would then have come home for tea, before Alexander went back to work. Jeannie and her daughter would have left the flat shortly before 6:30pm to attend the dancing rehearsal, before finally returning back to the flat about 11pm after the rehearsal had finished. By this time the search for Helen would have been in full swing.

Cole:

So did they help with the search?

Dawn:

I can’t find that they did for definite, but it would have looked a bit strange if they hadn’t, at least if the husband hadn’t. Now there’s a picture on our website of the actual room where this took place, but it’s basically a living room, kitchen, bedroom room. 

Cole:

All in one room.

Dawn:

Yes, that’s an absolutely better way to say that. Yeah. Anyway, it’s very small. Have a look. The family all shared a bed in this room; her husband Alexander slept at the wall side, her daughter Jeannie in the middle and Jeannie Donald on the outside. Jeannie would have waited for them both to fall asleep that evening, waited until 2am for everything to go silent, then leave the bed, go to the sink cupboard, take out the sack with Helen in it, carry it to the door, go outside, place it in the communal hall, come back in and back to bed, without either her daughter or her husband waking up.

Cole:

Well I’ve had a look at the picture and it is a very small room so I can’t imagine that no one woke up, but she could have just said that she was going to the toilet.

Dawn:

Yeah, going to the toilet with a big sack over her back.

Cole:

They could have slept through her going to the toilet and just been awake when she came back from the toilet, and she wouldn’t have had a sack.

Cole:

Yeah, I guess that’s a theory too.

Dawn:

However, in an article in the Scotsman Newspaper on the 22nd of February 2018, writer Dermot Mogg said “It is inconceivable when you look at the room that the husband and child could have slept through this.” He went on to say that he felt Alexander Donald “could have been prosecuted for trying to cover up the crime.” His feeling is that Alexander Donald wasn’t charged along with his wife so that their daughter was left with at least one parent.

Cole:

And they couldn’t charge Alexander Donald with Helen’s actual disappearance because he had an alibi.

Dawn:

Exactly. We’ll never know for sure though if he was involved, even if only in getting rid of Helen’s body. Although, why on earth would they have left Helen’s body so close to their own home?

Cole:

Yeah, that is a mystery.

Dawn:

Helen was buried in Aberdeen’s Allenvale Cemetery and her headstone read ‘Grant that her little life, so short here, may unfold itself in thy sight.’

Cole:

Oh that’s quite nice.

Dawn:

It is.

And that’s the end. If you’ve enjoyed this episode and know just the person who’d also like it, please share it with them don’t keep it to yourself.

Cole:

Please also get in touch on social media if you have any questions, comments or suggestions and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. All social media and contact details are on our website scottishmurders.com, as well as all the source material related to this episode.

Dawn:

So that’s it for this week, come back next time for another episode of Scottish Murders.

Dawn and Cole:

Join us there. Bye.

Granny Robertson:

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn.

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn

Hosted by Dawn and Cole

Researched and Written by Dawn Young

Produced and Edited by Dawn Young and Peter Bull

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Music:

Dawn of the Fairies by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Gothic Wedding by Derek & Brandon Fiechter


Out in the Cold

Out in the Cold

Episode Summary

TRIGGER WARNING – This episode may be upsetting and does contain crimes targeting children so listener discretion is advised.

In 1868 a group of boys from Greenock in Scotland stowed away on a ship bound for Quebec in Canada, all thinking they were bound for adventure, but faced a harsher and more shocking reality they never could have expected that would leave most of them out in the cold.

Please Be Advised – This episode may contain content that some may find distressing. As always, we advise listener discretion. This episode it not suitable for anyone under the age of 13.

Listen on:

Scottish Murders is a production of Cluarantonn

Hosted by Dawn and Cole

Researched and Written by Peter Bull

Produced and Edited by Dawn Young and Peter Bull

Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Music:

Dawn of the Fairies by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Gothic Wedding by Derek & Brandon Fiechter

Dawn:

Trigger warning Wee Ones. This story may be upsetting and does contain crimes targeting children, so listener discretion is advised.

In 1868 a group of boys from Greenock in Scotland stowed away on a ship bound for Quebec in Canada, all thinking they were going to have a great adventure, but instead faced a harsher and more shocking reality they never could have expected, that would leave most of the boys out in the cold.

Hi Wee Ones it’s just me, Dawn, today, so let’s get started.

[THEME TUNE]

Greenock lies on the south bank of the mouth of the River Clyde on the west coast of Scotland, and is about 27 miles or about 44 kilometres west of Glasgow. It was the 7th of April 1868 and 11 year old John Paul lived in Dalrymple Street in Greenock. Times were hard back then and John Paul didn’t even have shoes, however, he did have a good friend called Hugh McEwan who was also aged 11, and just like many young boys today they loved adventure and thought their next adventure would take them away from the hardship they were experiencing. So the two friends, John Paul and Hugh McEwan, decided to make their way to Victoria Dock in Greenock, where wooden trading vessels would set sail carrying their cargo to far-flung destinations, and hopefully carrying the two friends away to a better life. They soon found a ship, the Arran, named for the island to the west of Greenock in the Firth of Clyde, and the two friends decided to stowaway onboard. It was common in those days for boys to sneak on board ships in the harbour seeking escape, so ships were routinely checked for stowaways and any found were sent back to the shore on tugs. It wouldn’t be long before two stowaways were indeed discovered during a routine search of the Arran while still in the Firth of Clyde, however, seemingly lucky for the two friends they were not the two discovered and they remained on the ship. The Arran then sailed onwards down the Firth of Clyde and downed the Irish Sea, leaving Greenock far behind to head across the Atlantic Ocean to deliver its cargo of coal and oakum, which is a fibre made of painstakingly untwisting old ropes, and heading to Quebec in Canada. John Paul and his friend Hugh McEwan were relieved to have not been found and they hoped this would remain the case. However, when the ship’s carpenter was preparing to batten down the hatches for the ship’s long journey across the Atlantic, he found the two friends and hastily took them to the captain. However, by this time it was too late for them to be sent back to Greenock. Captain Robert Watt, who was 28 years old and was from the island of Arran, the ship’s namesake, had a reputation for treating those under his command kindly. When the boys reached the captain he grabbed John Paul by his collar and demanded to know what he was doing there. John Paul explained that he and his friend wanted to be sailors, to which the captain laughed. He then asked them what they had had to eat since they had got on board. John Paul told the captain that they had just had four of the ships barn biscuits between them. The captain told them not to expect much more from him, but told the carpenter to take the two boys to the cook, William Saltoun, who was good-hearted and gave them a warm meal, and the two were allowed to sleep in a sail locker. However, it seemed that the Arran wasn’t just joined by the two friends, John Paul and Hugh McEwan, as it wasn’t long before five more stowaways made themselves known to the crew. They were 12 year old Hugh McGinnes, who like John Paul was without shoes, twelve-year-old Peter Currie, James Bryson and David Brand, who were both 16 years old, and finally 22 year old Bernard Reilly, all of whom were also given food and a place to sleep. Although there were now seven extra people on board, the captain initially allowed the boys an ample supply of rations and initially treated them quite reasonably, despite the unexpected nature of their presence on board. The stowaways were given tasks throughout the ship, which included washing down decks and other menial tasks often allotted to boys onboard a ship.

For the first few days of the voyage things didn’t seem so bad and there was fine weather, but as they continued they began to encounter rougher weather and a series of strong gale force winds, which made the stowaways feel very seasick. This was witnessed by the ship’s first mate who ordered the steward to withhold most of their rations, despite there being plenty of food on board. The first mate was 31 year old James Kerr, who was from Lochranza on the island of Arran, and was described as being a rough-looking man with a coarse, unfeeling and dominating nature. James Kerr and the captain were brothers-in-law. The first mate, when passing the boys, would kick them without provocation, although one of the boys, 12 year old Peter Currie, was spared most of this as his father was a friend of the first mate. From then on the boys were only given a few of the ship’s biscuits each day, however, the kindness of the cook continued and he slipped the boys a few scraps of food, along with any potato and turnip peelings, but the boys still had barely enough food to survive so they started to steal whatever they could get their hands on from the ship’s stores, which included currants, oatmeal and more of the ship’s biscuits in order to stave off their hunger, but they were severely punished when caught.  This included when a barrel of grain was found to have been opened and the boys were suspected immediately of being responsible, so they were handcuffed together and had no food at all for an entire day as punishment.

As the Arran continued its journey across the North Atlantic, the lack of food was not the only problem the stowaways had to endure as the harsh conditions also became a challenge, and a member of the ship’s crew later described the boys as being thinly clad and not being able to stand the severe cold that even the men struggled with, especially as John Paul and Hugh McGinnes had bare feet. John Paul and Hugh McGinnes did try to escape the bitter cold by going below deck to the relative warmth there, however, when the first mate discovered they were missing he would drag them back up onto the deck and beat them. James Bryson, who was 16 years old, was singled out for particularly brutal treatment, which started when others complained he was dirty. So, one day the first mate told James to take off his jacket, waistcoat and shirt, leaving only his semmit or vest on, before proceeding to flog James with a coil of rope about half an inch or 2.5 centimetres thick for about three minutes, inflicting many horrible and painful blows to his back, causing James to scream in agony. James was then made to remove the rest of his clothes and lie down on the deck naked, the first mate ordered one of the crew to draw water from the sea and several buckets of ice cold sea water were thrown over the boy as he lay shivering and cold on the deck. The captain, who was easily influenced by his brother-in-law the first mate, joined in by scrubbing poor James all over his body with a broom, all while the first mate stood over James holding a rope threatening to  strike James should he run away. The first mate then took the broom from the captain and scrubbed James even harder than the captain had. When he had finished he ordered one of the other stowaways, 16 year old David Brand, to scrub James for a third time, all while being held down by the first mate. James was scrubbed from his neck to his foot, on his back and front, until his blood flowed. Once finished, James was then ordered to the forecastle at the bow of the ship, while still naked, and he was made to wait around half an hour before his vest was finally returned, followed later by his jacket. He was made to remain at the forecastle until nightfall, before finally being allowed to return below deck. Also, all the boys, except for 12 year old Peter Currie whose father was the first mate’s friend, were beaten on a regular basis.

As the Arran ship began to approach land in early May 1868, it encountered large fields of ice floating in the sea off the North Atlantic, and the ship drifted into St George’s Bay on the coast of Newfoundland. The ship was moored to the ice, with Captain Robert Watt and the first mate, James Kerr, disembarking briefly. This brief respite gave the boys, who were all starving due to the lack of food, the chance to get what they could while the captain and first mate were off the ship. David Brand entered both the Captain’s and first mate’s cabin and made off with a pocketful of the ship’s biscuits. He mentioned this to James Bryson who also went to see what he could find, but all he could find was a barrel of currants, which he managed to grab a pocketful of. Unfortunately, just as he was making his way out of the cabin, he was caught red-handed by the captain and first mate, who had just returned from their foray onto the ice. David had managed to dispose of the biscuits from his pockets, but there was no escape for James, whose currants were ordered by the captain to be given to the rest of the boys. James Bryson was again brutally punished by being made to strip naked and being lashed by the first mate with the ship’s lead line, which is a rope with a lead weight on the end used to determine the depth of water. He was then made to sweep the decks, whilst still naked. Another member of the crew who witnessed the barbaric punishment James endured described the boy’s skin afterwards as resembling red and white tartan.

The Arran was now trapped in the ice in St George’s Bay on the coast of Newfoundland. The eldest of the stowaways, 22 year old Bernard Reilly, started to consider leaving the ship as he had dreams of making it to Halifax in Nova Scotia to work on the railways there. So he persuaded James Bryson that it might be worth attempting to cross the fields of ice towards the barely visible land to escape the misery on board the ship. At that point a trek across the ice would have seemed like the only way to escape the harsh punishment James had to endure on board, the other boys however were terrified of the idea of leaving the ship and crossing the ice. While the plan by the stowaways to leave the ship was still been discussed, somehow the captain learned of Bernard Reilly’s plan to leave the ship and offered him the use of his telescope to get a better view of the shore. While Bernard declined the use of the telescope, the captain assured Bernard that there were houses not so far away. Bernard passed this information along to James Bryson, who decided to join Bernard to make his way across the fields of ice towards the distant shore. However, there was soon no choice in the matter, as while the other stowaways were deciding what to do, the captain ordered that all of the stowaways would be put overboard, with the exception of 12 year old Peter Currie who was the son of the first mate’s friend. George Henry, who was another member of the crew, later said he heard the youngest boys crying when they were asked to go, and he was concerned as the ice was broken and very rough looking, and two of the boys had bare feet and their clothing was ragged when they left the ship. It was around ten to 15 miles or 16 to 24 kilometres from the ship to the land and George Henry thought it unlikely that those without shoes would ever reach land.

On the 9th of May 1868 at around 8 or 9 in the morning, the stowaways set off across the fields of white desolation, with the ship’s first mate only sparing the boys one biscuit each as they left. The ice flow was made up of slabs of various sizes, some as large as a football pitch but many others much smaller, so as the stowaways reached the end of one slab of ice they had to jump towards the next slab to make progress towards the land. John Paul’s friend, Hugh McEwan, who had been especially unwell during the journey across the Atlantic and had even been seen spitting blood occasionally, started to lag behind the others as they made their way across the ice. Hugh McEwan accidentally slipped into the freezing water but was pulled out by James Bryson. He continued onward, before falling yet again into the cold and icy water.  This time he managed to pull himself free, but was growing weaker with every step. John Paul witnessed his friend Hugh McEwan slip and fall into the water for a third time, where he tried to kick and get out of the icy grip of the water. John Paul was also in the water at this point and his friend tried to get hold of him, but he let go. John Paul managed to get out by scrambling onto the edge of the ice, and he was only able to watch as the ice closed over the head of his friend. He never saw him again. It would be a few hours later when Hugh McGinnes was overcome by exhaustion and sat down on the ice, his shoeless feet swollen and sore. He was urged to continue by the others or he would be frozen, but he said he couldn’t go any further. The others were left with no choice but to leave him there, with nothing to protect him but his ragged and frozen clothes. The remaining four stowaways continued their perilous journey towards land, but as they got nearer and nearer the large slabs of ice became rarer and rarer, but they continued to struggle with each of them slipping and falling into the water, somehow managing to get free. This only caused their clothing to freeze solid to their bodies. Somehow they managed to reach the end of the ice just as the sun was starting to set. However, although they could see a few houses and lights, they had not reached shore as there was a channel of water and drifting ice around a mile or 1.5 kilometres wide between them and the relative safety of dry land. 22 year old Bernard Reilly and 16 year old David Brand tried to paddle towards the shore on the pieces of ice and a batten board they had manage to get from the ship, but this stranded the other two boys, John Paul and James Bryson, who were frozen, famished and exhausted, but shouted for help in the thinly veiled hope that someone on shore would hear them.

On the southern shore of St George’s Bay in Newfoundland was Highlands, a busy agricultural and fishing community where fishermen lived in little cabins on the beach. Catherine Ann McInnes was one such resident whose family had emigrated to Newfoundland from Loch Morar in the Scottish Highlands. Catherine either saw the boys in the fading daylight or heard their cries, and she raised the alarm. It is believed that her husband would have been among the local men who set out to rescue the boys. It would have been difficult to see the boys from a mile or 1.5 kilometres away at that time of evening, if they’d arrived just half an hour later they may not have been seen at all, and were therefore very fortunate to have survived their ordeal.  The four cold and frostbitten stowaways were taken to the villagers homes to recover. The boys had been blinded by the glare of the ice and it took a week for them to be able to see properly again. John Paul’s feet were also badly lacerated from the long walk on the ice without shoes, which took over a month to heal. He also lost fingers to frostbite. Unfortunately the bodies of John Paul’s friend, Hugh McEwan, and the other boy, Hugh McGinnes, were never found.

When the ship, the Arran, finally arrived in Quebec, Canada, one of the crew sent a letter back home to Greenock in Scotland describing the cruelty and treatment that the stowaways had endured whilst on board. When the letter arrived news quickly spread around Greenock. A telegram was sent asking for information about what had happened, and in reply it was stated that four of the six boys who had been put down in the ice had survived and three of them were still in Newfoundland, but the fourth, Bernard Reilly, who was the eldest of them, had already set off to find work in Nova Scotia.

Almost six months after the Arran had set sail from Greenock with the stowaway boys on board, the remaining three boys who survived their journey across the ice to Newfoundland arrived back in Scotland. However, there was some confusion about the returnees, when one of the boys believed to be alive was named Hugh McGinnes, but his mother was devastated to learn instead of expecting to greet her son she found out instead he had perished on the ice due to exhaustion. Also one of the boys believed to have perished in the ice was John Paul, but in fact he had returned alive.

The story of what happened made news all around the world even back in the 1860s, as people were horrified of what had happened to these boys on the ice.

The three boys had returned home just in time to appear as witnesses at the trial at the High Court of Judiciary in Edinburgh of Captain Robert Watt and the first mate James Kerr of the Arran. On the final day of the trial on the 25th of November 1868 the Scotsman Newspaper reported that the courtroom was crowded, with many waiting outside for several hours in the hope of gaining admission. James Kerr, the first mate, was found guilty of assault and sentenced to four months in prison. Robert Watt, the captain, was charged and found guilty of culpable homicide, which is roughly the equivalent to manslaughter in English law, and he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. However, as the Scotsman Newspaper reported in their edition the following morning, the verdict was received by the audience with loud hisses.

After serving their sentences both men returned to their jobs and sailed for many years. Of the stowaways, James Bryson emigrated to the United States where he became a tram conductor. David Brand started a ship engineering firm in Queensland, Australia. Bernard Reilly, who went to Nova Scotia, probably never returned to Scotland.  And John Paul married and started a family and became a riveter and rose to the rank of foreman in Greenock’s shipyards, but when his wife died he left for Southampton. When John Paul himself died he was given a grand funeral with a polished elm coffin covered in beautiful flowers and wreaths, and a large number of people assembled at the cemetery to pay their respects, including 100 members of the Boilermaker’s Society in full regalia. Peter Currie, who had remained on board the Arran, died of tuberculosis two years later after returning home. The Arran herself was wrecked on Sand Island in the Gulf of Mexico in 1886 while sailing from Greenock to Mobile, Alabama.

Much of our story came from the BBC article “The boys on the ice” by Sarah McDermott.

Although it may be over 150 years since the tragedy of what became known as the Greenock Stowaways, their story will never be forgotten, of the boys left out in the cold.

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Cole:

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Dawn:

So that’s it for this week, come back next time for another episode of Scottish Murders.

Dawn and Cold:

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Granny Robertson:

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