Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Hometown Murders.


Happy Halloween lovelies! The spookiest time of the year is upon us. I personally love Halloween, but I'm fairly boring - give me a scary movie and some "leftover-not-at-all-just-bought-for-us-to-eat" sweeties meant for trick-or-treaters and I'm happy, so I don't have any fancy costumes or makeup looks to share. I don't even have any movie recommendations - my favourite is The Exorcist, hardly a hidden gem - so I'm choosing to share something a little different with you this All Hallow's Eve.



Last year, during Blogtober, I talked about my very limited spooky experiences. Since writing about my horrible feeling at a stately home called Gosford House, a body was sadly found there. Bit creepy! I've also been listening to a lot of My Favorite Murder, and have particularly enjoyed their 'Hometown Murder' segment. So I thought I'd talk about my own!

I just want to state that I mean absolutely no harm or disrespect by talking about these cases, particularly the most recent ones - I just thought it might be interesting to hear about them. My thoughts and love go out to all the relatives of the victims. 


The murder flat.

In 2012, my bestie Amy and I moved into our fourth flat together (did anyone else move every year throughout uni or was that just us?). One day, while filling out student loan applications before my return to uni, I made the mistake of Googling our address. From this, I learned about a fatal love triangle. 

Margaret May married Thomas Guyan in Aberdeen in February 1957. They had a child in September 1958, but a second baby born in 1961 was not Guyan's. As you might expect, this caused a bit of friction in the marriage - Margaret consulted solicitors regarding a divorce in 1962, but Guyan refused. Things didn't get much better: by May 1963, Margaret had moved out of the marital home to live with a colleague named Henry John Burnett.

Burnett couldn't just be cool though and started locking Margaret in their house to prevent her from leaving him. Margaret obviously wasn't happy, and decided to go back to Guyan. She took a friend with her when she returned to Burnett's property to collect her son and return to her husband, but Burnett held a knife to her throat, locking the friend out of the property while he screamed that Margaret wouldn't leave him. 

Eventually, Margaret escaped and with her friend, made her way back to Guyan's flat. Burnett however was off stealing his brother's shotgun, before making his way to Margaret and Thomas' property. He forced his way in, where he shot Thomas Guyan at close range in the face, killing him instantly. He abducted Margaret, stole a car from a petrol garage and drove north to Ellon, where he pulled over and submitted to arrest by the police, who had followed them from Aberdeen.

Due to the fact that murder by firearm was a Capital Offence, Burnett was sentenced to death. Aged just 21 years old, he was hanged at Craiginches Prison in Aberdeen, and was in fact the last man ever to be hanged in Scotland.

And I got to live in the flat he'd committed his crime - fun! 

Neighbours.

In 2000, my father and stepmother moved to a village just outside of Edinburgh called Ratho. Ratho has grown a lot since then but when we first moved there it was a small, sleepy little place. In 2001, however, a horrific incident occurred.

Two neighbours had been embroiled in a nasty row, which became a tragedy. One woman believed the other had pushed burning paper through her letterbox and fueled by alcohol while on a drinking binge with her uncle, swore revenge. She retaliated days later, again putting burning material through the letterbox of 24-year-old Gail Ross, who was pregnant. Distressingly, instead of leaving the house as she was advised to do on a 999 call, Gail attempted to reach her two-year-old son but did not make it. The son thankfully survived the fire, saved by his closed bedroom door.

I can vividly remember when this happened - it completely shocked the community. Hilda Robertson, who had started the fire, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 14 years for the murder. It's so, so sad to think that all of this occurred due to such pettiness and that this tragedy was completely preventable.


My dad's colleague.

This is a bit confusing, so stay with me! My father was a teacher at a well-respected state school in Edinburgh, where he worked with a history teacher named Alan Wilson who was gross af, and was jailed for 'indecency offences against male pupils'. While in prison he befriended a man named Ian Sutherland, who seems like a lovely chap seeing as he was in there for rape.

Apparently, upon release, the history teacher became infatuated with Sutherland and the two moved in together. Sutherland had a girlfriend and insisted he was heterosexual, but many people including the girlfriend believed he and Wilson were sexually involved. The girlfriend said that Sutherland liked to play her and Wilson off against each other and enjoyed being the centre of their attention. 

On the day of the murder, Wilson and Sutherland got drunk together, and Sutherland woke to find Wilson beside him in bed. He snapped, strangled Wilson to death, and then fled to England with his girlfriend. Days later, he returned, cut off Wilson's head and limbs, and placed the remains in bin bags which were left in the back green and a nearby wheelie bin.

Sutherland was later jailed for life with a minimum of 15 years.

My mum's colleague.

My mum used to work part-time in a Spar around the corner from her house. Very close to this shop is the entrance to one of Edinburgh's numerous 'walkways' - old railway lines that are now paths through the city accessible to walkers and cyclists. On Hogmanay 2008, a cyclist on the stretch of walkway closest to the shop found an Ikea bag containing... a human head.

Originally it was believed that the head came from a person who had died 10 to 15 years ago, but that wasn't the case (in fact, in a weird coincidence, the remains were DNA tested to see if they belonged to Louise Tiffney, the woman who was eventually found at Gosford House...!). Following the discovery, a huge search was conducted around the north of Edinburgh with other remains being found in numerous locations.

The victim was Heather Stacey, the girlfriend of one of the other Spar workers, Alan Cameron. Cameron denied murdering Heather, saying that she had died of natural causes while he was out of the house and that he had not called the police as he was concerned about an outstanding warrant for his arrest (again, Cameron was a convicted paedophile. Wonderful humans everywhere). He admitted hiding the body for months, saying he only 'disposed' of the body when he received a letter addressed to Heather, evicting her from her flat over unpaid rent.

However he also had stolen over £5000 from her Post Office account in the months following her death, so I don't buy that he had nothing to do with her death. He continued living in her flat while her body decomposed there for over a year. Due to the severe decomposition, it was impossible to conclude how Heather died. Cameron was originally sentenced to life with at least 25 years served, before this was reduced to 14 years.



This ended up a bit like 'my family all work with weirdos' which was not my original intention, but oh well! It just goes to show how you never can tell about people, and how one action can change the course of so many lives.

I hope you found some of these stories interesting - do you have any of your own Hometown Murders? Feel free to share them in the comments.
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3 comments

  1. Love this - your family don't all work with weirdos, lol! My Dad once found a dead body floating in a river once when he was kayaking so *shrug*

    Mel ✨
    meleaglestone.co.uk
    @meleaglestone

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  2. Amazing post. Definitely different and interesting. We live in such a crazy world and as you say, can never tell about people. I ended up googling some of these and turns out my SO was staying in a flat last year on the same street Wilson's body parts were dumped.

    A guy I briefly dated 10 years ago is currently in prison for murdering a young woman and my primary school janitor's son was murdered by his friend. Apparently he went round to kill his friend but out of self-defence he was the one who ended up dead. There is probably more that's happened too close to home but would be here all night researching it.

    Susan
    https://sheisonplanetsaturn.blogspot.co.uk/

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  3. This is so interesting and well written, Beth! I was hooked from the start! The closest I've ever come to a story like this is when my Dad's cousin was good friends with one of the young women killed by Steve Wright, the Ipswich sex worker serial killer! My Dad had been at a wedding with his cousin and one of the women and spoken to her just a few weeks before her death! It was really horrible and everyone at the time was just terrified whilst watching the news every night! The only other similar incident that spring to mind happened in Leicester - my best friend from sixth form lived in a part of Leicester called Evington, and during his masters degree he rented a flat on a street that ran parallel to one where a body was found chopped up in a suitcase! Delightful! There's some funny old people about ...

    P.S. Your photography is beautiful here!

    Abbey ❤️ http://www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk

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