THE THIRD INTERROGATION. At Beattie's trial the police claimed Beattie had told them details about the scene of crime that only the murderer could have known. There were three key points: Beattie knew where the body had been, he knew where a large knife had been left stuck in the ground - and he knew where the girl's suitcase had been thrown ( a hundred yards and more from her body).
The police claimed this was "special knowledge". Beattie had revealed his guilt during two interrogations on the night of the Wednesday after the murder. Then he had shown them these secret locations on the Thursday morning.
What the police "forgot" to tell anyone was that there was a third interrogation on the Wednesday night - during which Beattie was "fed" all this information.
The first interrogation at Carluke Police Station began at about eight o'clock at night. The second interrogation began at about 9:30. Beattie was charged with the murder at around one o'clock in the morning. The interrogators were two officers from the CID in Lanark - D.C. John Semple, and Sergeant Dougie Mortimer.
THE ROUGH SKETCH.
Semple took the first hour. Beattie said he'd been along the same path as the dead girl on the Friday evening. But where had he been, what had he seen? To clarify matters, Semple drew a rough sketch of the scene of crime at Beattie's direction.
Semple drew a line down the page showing the path along the top of the glen where the body was found. Near this line he drew another - the fencing along the nearby railway line. He then drew two circles at the bottom of the path; they were two trees at the entrance to the glen where the pathway began.
During the trial John Semple was asked if he had made any other marks on the rough plan - he said " The rest of the stuff was not done by me".
Mortimer made more marks. Beattie said he had fallen down on the footpath. Mortimer marked the spot with a short line.
Beattie showed him where the path led to when it came out of the glen. It went by the remains of a children's roundabout. Mortimer marked the roundabout's position with a large circle.
Mortimer then traced Beattie's walk along the path through the glen - up to the point where Beattie said he fell and picked up an umbrella. Beattie had thrown it away in the general direction of the wreck of a car that had been pushed down the side of the glen. Mortimer drew a square indicating the wreck.
Both officers were questioned closely about this rough plan during the trial because they claimed that Beattie had described where the attack on the girl took place, and where her umbrella had been left after the attack.
There is no evidence that Beattie ever touched the sketch. And according to the police no other officer touched it either. The official story is that after Mortimer finished the second interrogation Beattie was charged with the murder. He was then taken to the cells in Lanark - and during the car journey there, said Mortimer, Beattie mentioned a knife for the first time. He said he would show the police where it had been left at the scene of the murder.
Mortimer took Beattie down to the scene of crime early the next morning. Beattie showed him where the knife had been stuck in the ground by a concrete post. He also showed the police where the girl's body had been and where her suitcase had been thrown.
This demonstration of "special knowledge" - particularly the location of the knife, only 20 yards from the body, left a deep impression on the jury at Beattie's trial.
The jury did not look at the "rough plan" - and that was a major mistake which has cost George Beattie the best years of his life.
In fact there were other marks on it which neither of the interrogators had mentioned. In particular the three main points of "special knowledge" are clearly marked!
First, the sketch clearly shows the location of the concrete post and the knife beside it. It is all carefully drawn in. There are dots showing the actual locations and they have been ringed as if someone has pointed them out.
How could this be? Semple had not mentioned the knife, nor had Mortimer. Beattie mentioned the knife for the first time in the car on the way to Lanark - and he was never anywhere near the "rough sketch" from the moment he left the Carluke Police station.
More other significant extra marks were added. The place where the umbrella was actually found had been drawn in. Who did that? Mortimer specifically said that Beattie only knew the general direction.
Next, there is a line drawn along the path where the dead girl fell. It ends where her body was discovered. That was supposed to be an absolute secret! But it gets worse - towards the bottom of the "rough sketch" there is another line - drawn along the path the murderer took to throw the suitcase into the burn. That too was a "secret".
None of this information was discussed during the two recorded interrogations. But there was a third, secret, interrogation. Close observation shows that neither Semple nor Mortimer was lying. Their pencil marks are identifiable. Semple's lines are more sure than Mortimer's. Mortimer first sketched his lines in lightly - then drew a darker line on top.
But on the completed sketch it's obvious there was a third hand drawing lines. And this third man drew in all the incriminating information on the sketch. The lines of this person's additions are so strong and fine that they most likely came from a propelling pencil.
Who was the third man who took over interrogation from Mortimer?
In fact there is only one suspect. The only officer on duty who knew the locations of the knife, the body and the suitcase was Detective Chief Inspector Willie Gold. He was in charge of the investigation whilst his boss Chief Superintendent Muncie was off duty.
And that raises an interesting point - because Beattie always claimed that Gold had conducted a third interrogation with him, after Mortimer's. Beattie claimed that Gold had said he would make up a story for Beattie to tell - a story which incriminated him.
Willie Gold is now dead. We may never know if he had a pencil with a particularly sharp point. What we can say is that is not surprising that Beattie gave the police "special knowledge" when he went to the scene of crime the next morning. He had been shown it all during the third interrogation the night before. He had even had a picture of it drawn for him.
It was a drawing that gave Beattie a life sentence for a crime he did not commit.
- Peter Hill
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