St John’s RC High School, November 1967

The man above is Robert Mone; depraved multiple killer and the murderer of local teacher Nanette Hanson. Having been expelled from St John’s Roman Catholic High School in 1964, Mone returned to exact deadly revenge on the morning of 1st November 1967. Having spent some time serving with the Gordon Highlanders in Germany, Mone had returned to Dundee depressed and vengeful. Armed with a shotgun, he entered the High School and went into a classroom on the first floor, occupied by Miss Hanson and her small needlework class of 14 and 15 year old girls who were quietly making dirndl skirts.

At gunpoint, he threatened Miss Hanson and ordered the terrified girls into the storeroom before ordering the tallest of the girls back into the classroom and subjecting her to horrific sexual abuse in front of her sickened, disgusted and pregnant teacher. He abused a further student whilst Miss Hanson begged for them to be left alone. As he ordered one pupil to leave the room and tell the headmaster what was going on, he forced others to barricade the door closed with desks to ensure they were not bothered. With instruction from Mone that if anyone tried to enter the classroom, he would start shooting, swarms of police officers stood by on the sidelines for fear of a bloodbath.

His demands included that he speak with a female acquaintance of his, Marion Young. A student nurse, 18 year old Marion was roused from her sleep and brought to St John’s RC High School, where she bravely made the decision to enter the classroom where Mone was in lockdown with his captives. Most of the girls remained in the storeroom, petrified with fear, as Mone brought one of the girls he had sexually assaulted back out to sit with Marion. As the women pleaded with him, Mone began to get stressed and erratic. Nanette Hanson bargained with her life for the sake of her young charges, peddling Mone to let the girls go and keep her instead. Surprisingly, Mone agreed, and the shocked, confused and frightened young teenagers were released after a stand off lasting approximately 90 horrifying minutes.

Things soon took a terrible turn for the worse as Mone turned the gun on Nanette Hanson and shot her dead. Cowardly Mone could not look the pregnant teacher in the eye, forcing her to turn away from him as he shot her from behind. By asking Mone to release the girls, 26 year old Miss Hanson’s fate had probably already been sealed. Nanette’s parents travelled from her home town in Yorkshire to receive the body of their daughter, and it is said that around 300 people attended her funeral, including Marion Young, who had been forced to watch in horror as Mone executed the heroic young woman.

Declared criminally insane and unfit to testify, Robert Mone was never actually convicted for the murder of Nanette Hanson, and was instead sent to Carstairs Hospital, a high-security treatment facility in South Lanarkshire. In 1976, along with his friend and lover, Thomas McCulloch, Mone broke out of Carstairs, killing an inmate, prison guard and then a police officer on their way. A car chase ensued down past the border between Scotland and England before the notorious duo were finally apprehended and once again incarcerated. For more details on this, read what the statement by Secretary of State for Scotland, Mr Bruce Millan had to say about the events at the end of this post.

Claiming that his outbursts stemmed from having a dysfunctional childhood, it comes as no surprise to learn that his father later killed three women, including a member of his own family, and was sentenced in 1979 to life imprisonment. He was later stabbed in jail and died in 1983. Unfortunately for the general public, Mone is still alive, but thankfully, still incarcerated.

CARSTAIRS STATE MENTAL HOSPITAL (INCIDENT)

Mrs. Hart (by Private Notice) asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the incident at Carstairs State Mental Hospital yesterday.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Bruce Millan)

The whole House will wish to join with me in expressing its deep regret and sympathy to the families of the three people who died in the tragic events which took place in and near the State Hospital at Carstairs last night, and to the others who were injured.

Since criminal proceedings are pending against the two patients, Mr. Robert Mone and Mr. Thomas McCulloch, who escaped, it would not be proper for me at this stage to comment on the events, and I shall give only a brief summary of what is so far known to me.

The two patients were parole patients —that is to say, they had some freedom of movement within the hospital. A nursing officer, Mr. Neil McLellan. was in charge of recreation. The patients were members of his drama group. Early in the evening of 30th November there was a routine check of patients in wards, and, as some patients in the drama group were absent, a call was made to Mr. McLellan’s office in the old administration block, part of which is being used temporarily as a recreation area. As there was no reply, nurses went to the office and found the dead bodies of Mr. McLellan and another patient, Mr. Ian Simpson, with severe head injuries. Mr. Simpson was also a parole patient and a member of Mr. McLellan’s drama group. A fireman’s axe was missing. This axe had formerly been kept in a safe in the central nursing office in the old administration block. When the new block was opened the axe had been handed to Mr. McLellan to keep in the safe in his office for use in case of fire.

The alarm was given and escape procedure put into operation. It was found that the patients had got over the perimeter fence using a weighted rope ladder, which they had evidently prepared beforehand, by what means is not vet known. It is not the case, as stated in the Press, that the patients got through the gate in nurses’ uniforms. The patients had taken Mr. McLellan’s keys, but these were not used in their escape and they have now been recovered.

The police officers, Constables Taylor and Gillies, were meanwhile on routine patrol in the vicinity of the hospital in a Panda car. They saw two men and stopped to interrogate them. Constable Taylor sustained injuries from which he has since died. Constable Gillies was also slightly injured. The two men made off in the police car until it crashed on the A702. A van stopped at the crash so that the occupants might help. Its two occupants were seriously injured and are in hospital. The van was then taken by the two men, who made off to Town-foot Farm, Roberton, where they secured, apparently under threat of violence, the farmer’s car. The men then made off to the south on the A74, with the police in pursuit. The car crashed at roundabout 43, just north of Carlisle, and after a struggle the occupants were overpowered by the police.

Mr. Mone and Mr. McCulloch were brought before the Sheriff Court at Lanark this morning on a charge of murder. They were committed for further examination and sent to Barlinnie Prison.

These are the main facts as so far known to me. I am already pursuing my own immediate inquiries to satisfy myself that the incident does not reveal any obvious security deficiency that should be dealt with at once, but the House will know that the security record of the State Hospital has been a good one. In view of the nature of the incident, however, it is my intention to set up as soon as possible an independent inquiry into the circumstances in which the escape was possible and to report on any additional measures that might be taken in the interests of security.

Finally, I wish to express my appreciation of the prompt, brave and effective action taken by the police and of their ready co-operation with the hospital. I should also like to pay tribute to the constructive and devoted work done by the hospital staff in the care of patients, often in circumstances of the utmost difficulty.

text copied from http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1976/dec/01/carstairs-state-mental-hospital-incident

Gow’s Gun Shop, City Centre, February 1989

What started out as a disturbing fantasy of kidnap soon turned into bloodshed when two friends got together to put their devilish plans in motion. Ryan Monks and Paul Mill planned to kidnap the eldery mother of a local bakery owner and hold her to ransom for £200,000. Having worked in the bakery, Ryan Monks knew the company was doing well, and enlisted the help of his friend to put his plan into motion. Thankfully, for the baker and his mother, the plot was not carried out, but this was not due to the killers abandoning their plans – instead, events had taken an even more sinister turn during the course of collecting their supplies, resulting in the untimely death of Gordon Johnston.

Johnston, 54, was managing Gow’s gun shop in Union Street when Monks and Mill entered the premises, using what was described as “overwhelming force”. He was brutally murdered; the shop plundered of a variety of weapons, ammunition and cash. Monks and Mills were believed to frequent the shop, so it is likely that Johnston knew his attackers. 48 axe or iron bar wounds were counted on his hacked and lifeless body, found by a policeman after lying dead in the shop all day. The young killers had locked the front door behind them, giving themselves time to escape before the alarm was raised. It is not known if Johnston was alive when they left the crime scene, but his injuries were sufficient to believe that he died at the hands of his attackers.

Monks confessed to his uncle, Lucio Ianetta soon after the murder, asking him to help burn blood stained jeans, trainers and a jacket which Monks had brought to his home in plastic bags. Frightened and confused, Ianetta complied, and threw the clothes into his fire. Giving evidence at the trial, Ianetta told the jury he had helped his nephew buy a set of car license plates days before the murder, unaware of his nephew’s plans at that time. Seemingly unable to cope with the pressure of endless media campaigns and pictures of Gordon Johnston’s face, Monks’ uncle turned his nephew and Mill over to the police. Monks was later reported to have said that his uncle handed them over to the police in order that he could claim the reward for information leading to their apprehension.

Both youths were arrested and the trial took place at Perth Sheriff Court in November 1989, with Lord Mayfield presiding. During the trial, both men blamed each other for the murder, insisting that they were merely the getaway driver, whilst the other was, in fact, the murderer. Detective Sergeant Edward Boyle interviewed Mill after a stash of armaments were found at his home and was initially advised by Mill that he was nowhere near the shop at the time of the murder. When pressed about this, Mill reportedly changed his story and said that he had picked up his friend, Monks that morning and had driven him to the gunshop, where he was complicit, but not a part of, the robbery.

Conversely, Detective Sergeant Eric Drummond told the court that in a tape recorded interview, Monks alleged that he was the driver, and Mill was the one who had carried out the attack. According to Monks’ account, he had stayed in the car for a while before entering the shop to see what was going on. He maintained he spoke briefly to Mill before returning to the car to wait to his return. When Mill reportedly returned to the car, Monks claimed Mill changed his clothing whilst ordering Monks to drive. In reference to the burning of the clothes, Monks stated they belonged to Mill, and he was merely getting rid of them for him.

Danna Henderson, Mills’ girlfriend at the time, told the Court how, months after the incident, Mill confessed to her that Monks had entered the shop with the intention of merely subduing the shop manager in order to steal the items they needed for the kidnap, but everything had “gone wrong”. Monks was alledged to have told Mill that “his head burst open” when Monks hit Johnston during the scuffle. Monks’ wife, Anne, also confessed to knowing about the robbery one week after it happened, but kept the information to herself.

In a trial that lasted 3 weeks, the jury unanimously found both parties guilty of murder. Detailed plans relating to the kidnap attempt, as well as a Postal van robbery were found in the homes of the pair, along with various weapons and objects needed to carry out their scheme. Mill was released in 2002 on licence, whilst Monks was released in 2003.

Hawkhill, Dundee, 17th August 1833

Janet Kelley lived with her husband, Enos, in a flat in the Hawkhill area of Dundee. On the evening of 17th August 1833, Enos staggered home particularly drunk, turning up at his neighbour’s house to ask for some tobacco. Turning him away, the neighbour, Mrs Kay, could hear him entering his flat and bothering his wife, Janet, who lay asleep in their bed. An argument ensued, and Mrs Kay ran to Janet’s sister, Susan, for some help. Mrs Kay left Janet’s sister and returned to the Kelley’s property on the urging of her son.

When she got there, Janet was in the midst of what appeared to be a fit, with foam coming from her mouth. Enos asked for help getting Janet to bed, which she did before leaving the property. The commotion had roused many of the neighbours, and Mrs Kay told anyone who would listen of what she saw of Janet, claiming she looked almost dead. Whether curiosity or concern prevailed, Mrs Kay returned to Kelley’s flat shortly after this, to check on Janet. Being told she was well, but fast asleep, Mrs Kay eventually returned to her own home. Something didn’t sit well with her, however, and she sat up listening and waiting.

By 4am, Mrs Kay heard a series of knocks on her ceiling, coming from the Kelley’s flat, along with muffled crying. She went to the property and found that Janet was cold and dead. The foam that had secreted from her mouth only hours earlier had been replaced with blood. Enos sat crying on the floor as Mrs Kay fled to another neighbour’s house to begin alerting people to the death. Following a medical examination, Enos Kelley was arrested for the murder of his wife.

Forbes Inglis writes that the wording of the indictment against acted against the Crown in this case, with the charge as follows:

“..did murder his wife, in so far as you, on 17th August 1833, in your house at Hawkhill, Dundee, wickedly, maliciously and feloniously attacked and assaulted the said Janet Mitchell otherwise Kelley, and did with your fists, and with a poke, or with some other weapon to the Prosecutor unknown, inflict one or more wounds on the head, and other parts [on] the person of the said Janet Mitchell otherwise Kelley, and did violently throw or knock her down to the ground, and with your hands and knees did violently press her body to the ground; by all which the said Janet Mitchell otherwise Kelley was severely and mortally injured; and in consequence of which injuries she immediately or shortly thereafter died, and was thus murdered by you the said Enos or Innes Kelley.”

Despite witnesses placing him at the scene of the crime, as well as confirming his argument and his subsequent scuffle with Janet on the night in question, the proceedings were about to take a twist that would see Enos Kelley literally get away with (alleged) murder. Whilst Kelley agreed that he did push his wife that evening during an argument, she began to have a fit and he could not get her to bed himself. He refuted any allegations held against him and pled not guilty.

2 medical examiners were called to take the stand during the trial. Whilst one examiner told the court exactly what they needed to hear in order to secure a conviction – that Janet’s death was caused by violence, the other examiner took a different approach. Dr Webster contradicted Dr Crichton’s medical assessment by stating that he did not believe that the physical violence she may or may not have suffered had anything to do with her cause of death. He believed that the cause of death was asphyxiation.

Inglis writes that this caused considerable issued for the prosecution, as the judge felt it was his duty to advise the jury that they must make their decision on the charge as it was presented in Court. If any of the jury thought that it was possible Janet was choked or somehow asphyxiated to death, by any means, they could not return a verdict of guilty based on the original charge. It seemed as though more than one or two members of the jury believed Dr Webster’s account, because the case against Enos Kelley was found Not Proven. He quotes:

“Lord Meadowbank concurred, and then addressed the prisoner in the most forcible terms – told him that it was an ambiguity in the indictment which had induced the jury to acquit him, while they could have had no doubt of his guilt; and that as it was, he had to depart from this bar with the mark of crime upon his forehead.”

Is it possible that Enos Kelley was in fact, innocent? Perhaps Janet did have a fit and it caused her to choke – we’ll never know for sure. If he did do it, which most people seemed to assume he did, then it’s fair to say that Kelley got away with murder.

Law hill, August 2001

As Anne Nicoll walked her parents’ Airedale terrier by the Law on 2nd August 2001, she became the victim of a brutal and senseless killing.  Stabbed a total of 29 times, the body of Anne Nicoll had been so savagely mauled that even her bones had been cut.  It emerged that her voicebox had been sliced in the attack, preventing her from screaming out for help, as she was mercilessly stabbed to death.  Concerned for his girlfriend when she did not return home what should have been a routine walk with the dog, Gordon McKenzie went out to search for her.  He quickly found the dog wandering around, and was quickly guided to Nicoll’s lifeless, battered and bloodied body.

Her killer was red-haired teenager, Robbie McIntosh.  15-year old McIntosh had his identity concealed at the start of the investigation, but as more details of his heinous crime were revealed and he appeared in court, he turned 16 and his anonymity was revoked.  During the trial, Judge Lord Bonomy quoted a witness as saying she had been “butchered, and no better description could be applied to the way in which she met her death”.  It also emerged that McIntosh had stamped on his Nicolls’ head as she lay helplessly at his feet.  The murder weapon, believed to be a boning knife, was never recovered.

Police enquiries led them to McIntosh after questioning two shop workers who revealed that McIntosh came into their place of work on the night of August 2nd and told them there had been a murder on the Law, and that the victim had been stabbed and beaten to death.  A young boy who had spoken to McIntosh in the days proceeding the murder said that McIntosh had appeared to know far too many details about the murder, which struck him as bizarre.  McIntosh also told a care worker during his detention at Rossie School, that he was not willing to go to prison for a crime he did not commit.  He then divulged that he had been at the scene of the crime on the night in question, but it was his friend Robbie Soutar who had attacked Nicoll following an altercation between the two.

When Police questioned McIntosh, he constantly changed his story.  From outright denial, to claims of smoking cannabis, as well as trying to incriminate a friend, McIntosh weaved a web of lies in a desperate attempt to deflect attention from himself.  Indeed, McIntosh had returned home from the Law, showered, dressed and was on his way to meet up with some of his friends when he stopped by a local fish and chip shop to tell two workers of the murder.  Forensic analysis linked McIntosh directly to the crime, by matching blood found on his clothing to Nicoll and his fate was sealed.

At the High Court in Forfar, on the 11th day of the trial and following an arduous deliberation, a jury of 15 found McIntosh guilty of murder.  Judge Lord Bonomy sentenced him to a minimum of 15 years for his crime, detaining him in custody with no fixed time limit.  An appeal was lodged with the Court of Appeal in 2003, claiming that evidence and statements presented were circumstantial and this was not advised to the court at the time of the trial.  The motion for appeal was refused, stating that it was “without substance” and no miscarriage of justice had been done in the sentencing of Robbie McIntosh for his violent and savage attack.

April, 1821

In the early hours of a Saturday morning in late April, 1821, Margaret Shuttleworth woke up and made her way down to the kitchen to fetch a glass of water. At the foot of the stairs lay the lifeless body of her husband, Henry. Neighbours awoke to Margaret’s deafening screams from the inn which they both ran, and came to see what the fuss was all about. They found Margaret hysterically screaming and babbling incoherently about how she had found her husband lying at the bottom of the staircase, having probably fallen and tripped. Blood had formed in a pool around Henry’s lifeless body as she continued to scream and mumble. From the look of Henry’s skull, even to the ordinary man on the street, this was no accident.

With a questionable background (her father was involved in the smuggling trade in Montrose and was eventually found dead in a ditch), and a reputation for drinking too much, Margaret’s story was not entirely believable. Added to this were witness reports of frequent arguing between Margaret and her husband, with Henry threatening to leave several times over the course of many years. Margaret was arrested and charged with his murder, despite her protestations of innocence and the presence of an unconcealed iron poker with blood, hair and skin matter clearly attached to it.

Witnesses claimed that when Margaret was drunk, she would become abusive and violent, often throwing things at her husband with the clear intent of harm. Experts as well as eye witnesses stated that it was clear Henry Shuttleworth’s injuries were not caused merely by falling down the stairs. According to everyone who was questioned, Margaret had blood on her hands both figuratively and literally. It did not take the jury long to announce a guilty verdict, and she was sentenced to hang on Friday 2nd November, with her body being given to science for dissection and study.

Forbes Inglis’ book murder and misdeeds, quotes Margaret as saying “I have no doubt I will suffer, but I will die innocent of the crime of which you have found me guilty.” Forbes also goes on to speculate that there was another person who may have been responsible for the crime, but, upon being questioned, a Sheriff had deemed this person innocent. Did Margaret, with a chequered past and a history of drunken, abusive behaviour really kill her husband, or was she just a very easy scapegoat for the real killer?

Law, December 1992

A young woman was walking her father’s police dog on the morning of December 30th, 1992 by the Law when she made a horrifying discovery. Lying in the underbrush was a severed arm. Alarmed, she rushed home to notify her father, who reported the grim find. A further search of the area uncovered numerous plastic bags, each containing body parts. A public appeal led to information relating to a man’s disappearance, noted due to his absence from his family’s Christmas dinner. That man was Gordon Dunbar, 52. Identification of Dunbar was restrictive due to the fact that, despite his body parts being scattered all over the Law, his head was never recovered. Forensic analysis and tell-tale scarring were the only means of identifying Dunbar as the tragic victim.

As the search for Dunbar’s killer intensified, it became clear that Dunbar was last seen on Christmas Eve. With the knowledge that he was to attend the family dinner the following day, but never made it, it is assumed he was murdered either on Christmas Eve or early Christmas morning, with the former being the preferred assumption. With no evidence forthcoming about the murder, Police were given a breakthrough when a tip-off led them to investigate a man called Alastair Thompson. Whilst searching Mr Thompson’s belongings, they came across a key to a flat on the 9th floor of Butterburn Court, a multi-storey apartment block within a moderate walk from the crime scene. Evidence in the flat linked Dunbar’s murder to this property, such as the plastic bags used to wrap the body parts and the remnants of stickers that were on the bags found on the Law. In addition to this was the startling and grim discovery of a blood-drenched saw and human tissue matter which DNA analysis matched to Dunbar.

Thompson’s violent and disturbing history included the murder of his own grandmother, for which he had been sentenced to life for in 1968 – later to be released in 1984, having served 16 years. He moved around the country before settling in Dundee shortly before he murdered Dunbar. It is believed that Thompson lured Dunbar to the flat in Butterburn Court under the pretence of sexual dalliance before he attacked him. What is evident, however, is that Dunbar suffered a horrific death before his body was cut into pieces in the bathroom with a hacksaw before being placed into plastic bags and strewn over the law. It is not noted anywhere whether or not this murder was a homophobic attack or whether it was motivated by the need to kill, a need for money, or just a quarrel that got out of hand. Thompson was not an openly gay man, although Dunbar was, however, news of Thompson’s apparent bisexuality spread as his story exploded in the media. Indeed, it later transpired that Thompson gifted a gold chain to his girlfriend – the same chain worn by Dunbar at the time of his murder.

Edinburgh’s High Court head the case against Thompson in the year preceding the murder. His defence was that he did not actually perform the murder/robbery of Dunbar, but had merely disposed of the bodies for who he described were “Glasgow heavies”. These so-called “heavies” were never identified, and, as the only suspect in one of the most brutal and callous murders in Dundee, a jury sentenced him to a minimum of 20 years imprisonment at Perth Prison, where he died in December 2010. Dunbar’s head was never recovered, and Butterburn Court has since been demolished, eradicating forever the scene of the crime.

Read Alexander McGregor’s book “The Law Killers” for the full story, or do a bit of digging for yourself…

6th September, 1865

When Captain John Greig Junior set sail from Montrose to London in his father’s schooner on 6th September 1865, he was blissfully unaware of his fate. The schooner was towed from Montrose harbour, out of the shallower waters of the bay with a crew of three men, plus their Captain, not long after midday, carrying their cargo of wooden flooring. As they began to head South, Captain Greig, feeling the effects of the afternoon heat, soon lay down on the deck to take a nap, leaving the other three men to control and navigate the vessel. Those three men were Andrew Brown, who was the ship’s Mate, John Pert, who manned the tiller, and an older crewman, Alexander Raeburnes, who worked the rigging.

They had barely reached Inverkeillor, by a place called Red Head, when Pert is alleged to have heard two loud, dense thuds, like something heavy had fallen onto the deck. He was not prepared for what he saw as he turned towards the source of the sudden noise. Captain Grieg lay dead on the deck, his head split open almost in two separate parts in a bloody mess on the wooden deck. Standing over him with an axe, ready to deal yet another blow was the ship’s Mate, Andrew Brown. In horror, John Pert watched as Brown struck a third time, slicing the Captain’s head in two.

Panic and an overwhelming need for survival must have overwhelmed Pert, forcing him up from his position at the tiller and towards the murderous Brown. Pert gained possession of the axe and quickly threw it over the side of the schooner into the waters of the North Sea. Knowing that there was no way he could get away with what he had done, he ordered the two men to help him sail to Stonehaven, so he could see his mother one last time before he was taken into custody. Probably fearing for their own safety, the two men obliged, and they turned to set a new course.

Brown’s temperament was varied during the hours-long journey to Stonehaven, ranging from fear and anger to carefree and nonchalant. At one point, it is alleged he asked the crewmen to help him push the body over the side of the schooner, named ‘Nymph’, but the men refused. At another, he was said to have confessed that he had yet another man to kill. Despite the warmth of that day, the poor men must have felt chilled to the bone. The murder took place at around 5pm, so from this time until they reached their new destination about midnight, the men had sailed with the murderer and his victim.

The tension aboard the vessel must have been almost unbearable for Pert and Raeburnes – alone with an axe-murderer at sea with hours to go until docking, all the while, trying to avoid looking at the mutilated remains of their Captain, whose blood and brain matter must have been splattered over and seeping into the decking where he lay prostrate. Each of the three men took turns in different positions on the bloodied schooner, probably having to walk past or step over what would now be the congealing body of the ill-fated man. During part of a conversation both crewmen stated that Brown had said there was an old grudge between himself and Captain Greig, and that he had made threats against both men’s lives during the course of the their journey.

As they reached Stonehaven, two of Brown’s uncles were the men who approached the schooner to guide them into the pier. Understandably, they were horrified at what they saw, and Brown was said to have tried to prevent the vessel from docking, without success. As soon as they were close enough to land, both Raeburnes and Pert fled the scene and rushed to report the murder to local police. Brown went to see his mother, and it was at her home that he was arrested. It was some months before his case was called to Court, but his case was heard in early January the following year, where he pled Not Guilty on the grounds of insanity and the influence of alcohol.

Whilst both Pert and Raeburnes said that Brown was not heavily under the influence of alcohol at the time he murdered his Captain, who was also believed to be his friend, both the policeman who arrested him and Brown’s uncle, testified that Brown was definitely inebriated at the times they saw him. Further to this, it was heard that Brown suffered from debilitating headaches and changes in mood after a couple of unrelated childhood accidents that resulted in invasive medical intervention. As he grew older, he became more aggressive when under the influence of alcohol.

Despite more witnesses attesting to his erratic behaviour, and with a minority of the jury recommending mercy in light of this, Brown was found Guilty as charged and sentenced to the gallows where he would be hung until he was dead. With his place of execution set as Montrose, Brown was incarcerated in Forfar prison until 31st January 1866 when he was transported to Montrose amid a furore surrounding his execution.

William Calcraft was his executioner. With a reputation for theatrics and harbouring a sadistic nature, Calcraft preferred the “short-drop” hanging option; allowing the accused to slowly choke to death as the rope casually tightened around their neck. If the accused took too long to die, it is said that he would put his weight on their body, pulling on it to create tension enough to snap their spine at the base of the skull. Upon his death, Brown’s body was returned to Forfar and interred in the prison grounds.

Below is an extract of the trial, with some witness statements:

John Port, sailor, deposed, – I was engaged on the 4th of September to go a voyage on board the schooner Nymph, of Montrose. I was engaged by Mr. Greig, one of the owners of the vessel. I sailed on the 6th (Wednesday), about 1 o’clock in the afternoon, for London. There were on board, besides myself, Alexander Raeburnes, Andrew Brown (the prisoner), and John Greig (the master). The prisoner was mate. John Greig was the son of Mr. Greig, who engaged me. I first saw the prisoner two or three days before we sailed. We were all sober when we sailed. The prisoner was so, so far as I saw. I had seen him every day for two or three days before that, and had not observed him to be the worse of drink. The schooner was taken out of the harbour by a tug, and we set sail for London’ with a cargo of wood. The master lay down on the deck till tea was ready, and when I called him for tea he told me to let him lie a bit longer. Brown and I had tea together, after which I took the helm from Raeburnes to let him have his, and Brown went und lighted his pipe and walked the deck. A little afterwards Raeburnes carne up from the cabin and went forward to wash the deck. Shortly after Brown slipped forward and went to the forecastle. I did not see him come aft, but I found afterwards that he had slipped behind me. My attention was first directed to that by hearing two heavy blows. I looked over my right shoulder on hearing them, and saw the master’s head lying in two halves. I was stunned for a little bit, and Brown, who had the axe up, let it down again before I could get hold of him. The two blows I first heard were given quickly one after the other, and the prisoner had the blows struck before I had time to interfere I then rushed into the bulwarks and took the axe out of his hand and threw it overboard. The master was apparently dead by this time.

After I had thrown away the axe Brown said, “I have done the deed, and I will have to suffer for it.” A few minutes afterwards he asked me if I would come and see him hanged. About five minutes after I had seized the axe from him he said, “Jack, it’s a good job you got the axe, or else you would have got the same.” I had a good twist with him before I could get the axe out of his hands. When I was struggling with him he did not speak. I am sure he was sober at that time. I do not think he had much drink that day.

Before we went to dinner on shore we had a drink of ale together, but that was all .The murder took place at about 5 o’clock, when we were running off the Forfarshire coast. We were two miles and a-half from land. I called to Raeburnes, and he came to where I was. He reached me immediately after the axe was thrown overboard. The prisoner was then standing beside me and beside the body. The prisoner took the tiller and steered the vessel east, and in the opposite direction from where we were going. He said he was steering the vessel to Stonehaven. We put the sails right on his telling us where he wanted to go, I said to him, “Better go to Montrose with the vessel,” and he answered “No.” he said. “I want to go to Stonehaven to see my mother.” While off Bervie he asked Raeburnes to help him to throw the master’s body overboard. He next came to the ship’s quarter-deck and asked me to give him a hand to throw the body over the side; but I would not do so, and told him to let the master lie where he was killed. He did not tell me why he wanted to throw the body overboard.’ I was then steering the vessel.

I had taken the tiller when he went forward to speak to the old man. This would be about 11 o’clock at night; and from the time of the murder we had all had a turn at the steering. Brown had steered for three or four hours without stopping. There did not seem to be anything odd about him. He spoke about his mother, and in course of conversation said, but that he wished to see her, he would go over the side. I understood by that he would drown himself, but that he wanted to see his mother. He asked the loan of a shilling from me after we passed Bervie, and said he had a sixpence and he would give 1s 6d to his mother. He said it would be the last money he would over give her. He asked Raeburnes and me to wash up the blood, which we did. We saw the Montrose schooner Union, which we thought of signalling, just about half an hour after the deed was done, Raeburnes went up to the rigging and waved his cap to the Schooner. Brown called to him – “If you don’t come down I’ll heave you over the side.” He gave up when he heard the prisoner say that. After the disturbance that had taken place on board we were afraid of Brown. I said to Brown, “Better signal to some o’ these ships.”

There were two schooners in sight at that time. He said “No, never mind signalling; I am going to Stonehaven.” I asked why he killed the master, and he said it was for an old grudge. I did not ask what was the old grudge, Raeburnes and I kept very much together, but watching the prisoner. He asked how long the tide would stand at Stonehaven. We could not tell him, and he went below to consult the tide table and called on one of us to take the helm. He told us after he came up that the tide would carry us in. It was before he took the tiller that he said he would have to suffer for it. It was about an hour after the deed was done that he asked me if I would come to see him hanged. I made no answer. He was not weeping at any time. He said, “Jack, I am going stark mad out of my mind. This was said about two hours after the deed, and while he was steering. He seemed to know quite well what he was doing. He took the vessel into Stonehaven himself. A pilot boat came alongside a little out from the harbour. The pilots were the two uncles of the prisoner. One of them came on board. The prisoner told the pilot he had killed the master, and, pointing to the body, said, “There’s him lying by me.” It was about one in the morning when we got into Stonehaven harbour.

Raeburnes and I went ashore, leaving the prisoner and the pilot on hoard. We went to the police office, from which we returned to the ship. The police went to the prisoner’s mother’s house for him. He had left the ship before we returned to it. The axe was a common carpenter’s axe. I never noticed anything odd about the prisoner. I never noticed the effects of drink on him. He might have had drink of his own on board, but I did not see it. He was twice down the cabin after the murder, but I did not know what he was doing there. The captain’s age was about 26. About an hour after the murder he said, “I’ve got one more to kill before I die,” I did not ask who it was. Sometime before that he said, “Have you got a knife to lend me?” I said, “No.” I did not regard the one remark as connected with the other. The body remained untouched after the murder till we arrived. The master was asleep and snoring when he was killed.

Cross-examined.-The prisoner and the master appeared to be good friends. I never heard angry words between them. He was quite quiet when he asked me to come and see him hanged; he did not seem in the least excited by the prospect of it.

Alexander Raeburnes corroborated the evidence. He said they were all sober when the vessel sailed, but the prisoner had had a glass, Heard Pert call out ‘ My God! The mate has killed the skipper.” Saw the axe heaved overboard, but did not see Pert take it from prisoner’s hands. Pert called out, “My God! What will we do with the ship?” We wanted to get to Montrose. The prisoner then took the helm, and ordered me to go aloft and take a reef out of the topsail. I went aloft, and waved to the schooner Union, which was passing at the time, and the prisoner cried that if I waved there he would throw me overboard when I came on deck. I made no noise, but simply waved my bonnet to the schooner. Prisoner told us, “I’m master of the ship, and want to go to Stonehaven to see my mother.” We tried to get from him the best way we could the reason for the murder, and he said with great violence, and slapping his breast, “I have another to kill.” We asked what he had done this for. He simply replied, in a lamenting way. “I have done the deed and will have to suffer for it.” We asked him who the other person was he had to kill, but he would not tell us. I do not think he meant himself. I did not observe any difference in his spirits after the murder. He was not like a drunken man. He was not swearing or using any harsh language.

During the afternoon he came and asked, when off Bervie, if I would sanction to throw the master overboard. The words he said were:-” Wouldn’t you sanction me to throw the master overboard?” I understood by that he wanted me to help him. I said, “No; you have killed the master, and he shall be here till more see him.” Before he proposed to throw over the body he said to us, “What will you say to save me?” And we replied that we could say nothing. In sailing into Stonehaven he always gave the orders, and gave them correctly. If this deed itself had not been done, there would have been nothing about him to attract attention at all.

Cross-examined. – I saw no exhibition of I’ll feeling between the master and the prisoner. It did not strike me that there was anything wrong about his mind. I was much surprised by the deed.

Margaret Collie, public housekeeper, de-posed that the captain had ordered a bottle of whisky and a half dozen of beer for the journey, and that the beer was sent to the ship, and the mate came for the whisky just before sailing.

John Greig, senior, shipmaster. Montrose, the father of the deceased, deposed that the prisoner and deceased had sailed together for seven months. He thought the prisoner temperate for a sailor. Had no reason to suppose that there was ill-blood between them. Drink was observable on the mate before sailing, but no more. It did not unfit him for duty. It was not observable upon the others.

Andrew Brown, pilot, uncle of prisoner, de- posed that the prisoner, before leaving the ship, poured something from a bottle and drank it, and threw the empty bottle away. It had the smell of whisky. When the prisoner had drink, he made an entire fool of himself and would be con- trolled by nobody.

John Gordon, police-sergeant, who apprehended the prisoner in his mother’s home, deposed that prisoner said to him. “This is a bad job”; that the deceased was a bad fellow, and had led him to the bad houses about London, where he spent his money, so that he had nothing to take home to his mother. He spoke about having received a letter from his mother a few days before, and that she had complained she had neither money nor clothes, and that he had taken that so much to heart that he had committed the crime he had done. During the conversation he said that he was “quits with him now.”

Two declarations by the prisoner were read. In the first taken at Stonehaven on the 7th of September, he gave a circumstantial account of the murder, completely agreeing with the sea- men’s statements. He added:-“I had no cause of complaint with the captain except that he led me on to a bad life all the time I was with him, and I took that to heart. It came to my head all at once that I would kill him, and I went immediately and did it. When I was away from home the captain used to take me to bad houses when we were on shore and led me into drinking habits, and that is what I “meant by saying that he led me on to lead a bad life.” The second declaration was taken at Forfar on the 9th. In it, his statements were more vague, pleading want of recollection and understanding. He struck the captain, he declared, but could not tell if he had killed him. He did not know he was doing when, he struck the captain. He did not know what he was doing any harm, else he would not have done it.

Evidence was then culled for the defence, to show that the prisoner had sustained a fall in boyhood, that he had had a full four years ago which led to a surgical operation, that; a block had fallen on his head about a year ago, and that he had suffered other bodily injuries, which had his intern deposed, changed his disposition from cheerful to sullen, and that he had gradually fallen into, habits of drinking. The witnesses stated that very little drink produced great excitement in him, and some thought he was not right in his mind. As one witness expressed it, “The dram went to his brain.”

The Solicitor-General addressed the jury for the Crown, contending that there was no insanity proved, and that the prisoner’s conduct in charge of the ship showed perfect possession of mind. Mr. Nicolson endeavoured to show that the prisoner’s acts were those of a madman, and, as an example of insane delusion, pointed to his statement that deceased had led him into evil courses, of which there was no proof.

The Lord Justice Clerk, in charging the jury, dwelt on the prisoner’s first declaration as giving a perfectly intelligent account of the murder and one in entire accord with the seamen’s evidence. There was no proof that reason had been dethroned, but on the contrary, the prisoner knew the act he was committing and the consequences of it. As to the alleged delusion, there was no proof that it was a delusion, and even assuming the prisoner’s statement on this point not to be true it was more like the falsehood of cunning then the dream of an insane person.

The jury were about 50 minutes, and returned to court with a verdict of guilty, with a recommendation to mercy on the part of a minority of their number.

The Lord Justice Clerk said he would immediately send the recommendation to the proper quarter, but would delay sentence till Wednesday morning on account of some practical difficulty in appointing the place of execution.

The prisoner betrayed no emotion on hearing the verdict the Court adjourned after a sitting of above 12 hours.

Kirriemuir, 1890

In August 1890, the wife of a Kirriemuir landlord, John Webster, fell ill. The local doctor attended the ailing woman and diagnosed gastroenteritis. Within 3 days, Mrs Webster had died, but this did not conclude the matter. Suspicions were rife that something sinister lurked beneath the surface of this cut-and-dried case. John had taken out a life insurance policy for both himself and Mrs Webster, ensuring him a £1000 payment upon becoming a widower. Although her symptoms were initially diagnosed as being gastrointestinal, it had also been suggested that perhaps the diagnosis was, in fact, wrong. With murder on their minds, a warrant was issued for the exhumation of the woman’s body. Dr Littlejohn performed the post mortem on her body and found not only that it was very well preserved, showing none of the signs of post death decomposition, but also that her death was due to arsenic poisoning.

Arsenic is a chemical element and can be found in many natural minerals. Miniscule amounts of arsenic are essential elements in animals’ dietary requirements (including ours), but any more than our bodies require causes toxicity, illness and a rapid, painful death. In Victorian times, “white arsenic” was mixed with vinegar and chalk and eaten to improve (whiten) complexion. The toxicity of arsenic was quickly discovered, but until the introduction of the Marsh Test in 1836, there was no sure way to detect it, so it remained a very popular drug of choice in the act of murder. Even with the test available, arsenic was still a favourite for those with murderous intent, and it was often overlooked unless suspicion was aroused. In 1841, the Reinsch Test allowed for the detection of more poisonous metals in the body and helped pave the way for further forensic study in this field.

Both the Marsh and Reinsch tests were used on Mrs Webster’s body, with each concluding that she had indeed died from arsenic poisoning. Mr Webster was accused and stood trial for the murder of his wife at the court in Edinburgh the following February. Amidst accusations of ill-feeling between Webster and his wife, the life insurance policy and the allegations that Mrs Webster had been drinking a popular tonic known as Fowler’s Solution, which was known to have arsenic in it, the jury listened for three days. After much deliberation and no real, substantial evidence from either party, a conclusion could not be reached, and so a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict was passed. John Webster returned to his pub in Kirriemuir a free man.

Arbroath, 8th October 1826

On 14th April 1827, Margaret Wishart appeared at Perth Circuit Court, charged with the wilful poisoning of her blind sister, Jane, and her newly born son. The charges laid against her were: ‘[having] administered a quantity of arsenic to her sister, Jane Wishart, residing with her in Arbroath, on the 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th days of October 1826, which poison was mixed up with a quantity of porridge or gruel, and given to her to eat, – as also to an infant male child of which the said Jane Wished had been delivered up the said 6th October, – in consequence of which poisonous mixture the said Jane Wishart immediately thereafter became violently ill, and lingered in great pain until the 8th day of said month, when she died in consequence thereof.’

Despite these charges, Margaret pled her innocence. Key witnesses to the life of the two sisters were put on the stand and cross-examined to prove Margaret’s guilt. Janet had given birth to a boy on 6th October, and it was heard that Margaret had only been informed of Janet’s pregnancy in the week leading up to the birth. This was Janet’s second child, although her first had sadly passed away. The father was alleged to be a man named Andrew Roy – a man who’s own reputation was questionable.

It was also intimated that he and Margaret had been more than just acquaintances in the not-so-distant past, and that there may have been more to their relationship recently than had been publicly known. Janet had been urged by both her sister and Andrew Roy not to reveal the identity of her children’s father. To add to this, during the period leading up to the birth of the child, despite Janet’s obvious deteriorating health, Margaret seemed nonchalant. Janet herself blamed bad food for her sudden downturn, and Margaret did not disagree with her assumption. On Tuesday 3rd Oct 1826, Janet began to complain of pains in her stomach and bowels (which happens to coincide with Jane confiding in Margaret about her pregnancy, and, more than likely, the identity of the father).

It wasn’t uncommon for the sisters to have lodgers, and it was one of these lodgers, David Edwards, who told the court Jane had confessed to him that Andrew Roy was the father of her children. He testified that, during those days, he had seen and heard Janet vomiting. Margaret seemed to do very little to help ease her sister’s suffering. Despite this, Jane gave birth to her son. Margaret was alleged to have told David Edwards that the birth of the child was ‘a great affront to them…and were the mother to die, it would be given out…’ By the time Jane had delivered her baby, she was so ill she could barely speak other than to tell a friend she felt like she was dying.

The baby was also clearly unwell, and was seen to be vomiting and in distress. When a family member offered to get a doctor, Margaret was dismissive of any help stating that no ‘doctors in Arbroath can do you any good.’ Another witness claimed to have seen Margaret feeding the baby with a milky-like liquid, and, when she noticed she was being watched, acted as though she had been caught doing something she shouldn’t have been. Jane died on Sunday 8th October; her child died the following day, only 3 days old. They were both buried a few days later in St Vigean’s cemetery in Arbroath, where they lived.

In a small town like Arbroath was back in 1826, gossip and speculation ran rife that Margaret had somehow been responsible for the deaths of Janet and her son. The authorities were alarmed by the accusations of murder, and the bodies were promptly exhumed in front of an entire congregation the following Sunday morning during the church service. Margaret was arrested and detained in Arbroath’s Tolbooth until the Crown had decided what to do with her. A decision was eventually made that she was to be tried, and her day in court came on 14th April of the following year. An examination of Jane’s intestines revealed a very small amount of arsenic, and it was from this finding that the examiner concluded that Jane had been administered the poison. He further speculated that the arsenic had been administered over a period of time, most likely within the last week. Whilst conceding under cross-examination that the symptoms surrounding Jane’s death may have been caused naturally, and that the amount of arsenic found was not of a significant volume, the seed had already been planted that would seal Margaret’s fate.

A jury, unconvinced with Margaret’s pleas of innocence, and unmoved by any of the defence’s character witness testimonies or arguments, found Margaret Wishart guilty of the murder of her sister and her days-old nephew. Her sentence was death by hanging. Those who doubted Margaret’s guilt petitioned on her behalf for clemency, but it was refused. Protesting her innocence, even to the end, Margaret went to the gallows with remarkable restraint and dignity, meeting her end on Saturday June 16th, 1827.

Roseangle, May 1980

A beautiful building stands on the corner of the intersection between Perth Road and Roseangle. It stands empty and haunting, a tragic tale of murder hidden within it’s walls. Dr Alexander Wood was a very well-known and respected doctor within Dundee. At 78 and in ailing health, Dr Wood and his wife Dorothy were brutally butchered when an unknown assailant entered their home on a balmy evening in the middle of May, 1980.

The perpetrator was later to be identified as Dundee-born Henry Gallacher, a 29 year old man with a shady history of theft and burglary. Aged and defenceless as they may have been, Dr Wood and Mrs Wood tried to defend themselves from the attack, but sadly fought in vain as Gallacher bludgeoned them to death with a hammer.

After murdering the elderly couple, Gallacher stole from their home before fleeing the city. Their bodies were discovered on May 18th, 1980 by a young medical student who was retrieving a football from their garden that had been kicked there unintentionally. Upon peering in the window to see if he would get into trouble for being in the garden, he happened upon a nightmare scene of bloodshed and carnage.

Gallacher had no motive for killing the pair, but it began the start of a killing spree for him when his confession to a priest was met with horror. Once apprehended by police, Gallacher was sentenced for his crimes in England and incarcerated at Broadmoor Hospital, a high-security psychiatric hospital, previously known as Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. To this day, he remains there. Unfortunately for Dr and Mrs Wood, Gallacher was never brought back to Scotland to stand trial for their murders.

Various ideas for renovation are still being considered in an effort to restore what was once a magnificent building and a happy home.