Monday, 23 February 2015

Willie McRae Part 18: Journey’s Start

For more than two months now, this case has been a huge part of my life and still I haven’t reached the end of the police evidence.  Almost but not quite.  And then I move on to the claims which undermine parts of the official case, but claims which are virtually impossible to substantiate.  That’s when my role becomes incredibly difficult and I don’t know how I will handle that.

But there’s time. I haven’t finished with the police and Crown Office yet.

Today I move back to the fateful Friday, 5th April 1985.  Good Friday.  And the start of Willie’s journey as recorded and released by Northern Constabulary and the Crown Office.  What others have said I’ll look at later in this series. 

The two documents below are the entirety of the police information, as released publicly, about Willie Macrae’s last day as a sentient being.  Both documents have very similar descriptions and clearly Annex A was written using the first page of the synopsis as its basis.

I leave you to read the words without comment or question from me.

Part 18 Macrae A syn



[Sources: Top – Macrae A syn;   Lower – Annex A]

 Every word written may be true.  I have no evidence to suggest otherwise.

But the picture painted of Macrae could hardly be bettered if one were setting up a murder to be seen as suicide.

A man battling depression and drink; convicted of drink driving with the prospect of prison after an, as yet, untried case. 

A man with the means to kill himself – an un-licenced revolver.

A friend so concerned for his mental health that, having failed to contact Macrae at his holiday home, phones every police station between Glasgow and Dornie.   This is the picture we’re given.

Who could ever doubt that Macrae’s subsequent death could be anything but suicide?

The scene set perfectly.  It is so easy to read the words as too good to be true; so easy to see the set up.

It is so easy too for the proponents of suicide to rubbish the doubters so strong is the evidence of suicide.  The scene set for confusion and antagonism.  And there has been plenty of each.  It is into this picture that I need to start to bring in the evidence, the views and the thoughts of those outside the police and Crown Office.

Only then can we see a fuller picture.

Only then can we form a better view of how Willie Macrae died.  
If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:
email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or
tweet me at @calumcarr

© CalumCarr 2015
Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.
Please feel free to reproduce extracts and provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.
If you wish to use more than one quarter of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.
The rights to the images used remains with Police Scotland


  1. "the picture painted of Macrae could hardly be bettered if one were setting up a murder to be seen as suicide"

    Well I suppose the same could be said of the events leading up to many or even most suicides.

    But I think if one were setting out to murder the man one would be unlikely to design such a bizarre scenario as actually unfolded, although unlikely things do happen, of course, including in some suicides.

  2. Ah! Subtle used of language.

    You're right if one was setting OUT to murder, one might not use that particular place.

    BUT if, after the event, one wants to set UP murder as suicide then my outline is excellent.

    Of course, there are other options beyond straightforward suicide and murder.

  3. I think people forget that suicidees do not act rationally and often do not act with planning, indeed many talk normally about their future plans a mere few hours before the event. Something flips. An accident and/or alcohol can be a trigger. Everything can appear strange and irrational in many suicides. Of course some suicides are very carefully planned, but many are clearly not what the person intended just a few hours before. This is confirmed by some who came very close but stepped back. Serious evidence, not wild circumstantial speculation would be needed to justify serious consideration that anyone else may have been involved in this event.

  4. I've heard this too, Andrew. That the swing in mood can be extreme and very quick.

  5. I believe we should also bear in mind that we are dealing with a very traumatic incident for the family of WM too. I unfortunately have a little indirect experience on the matter of suicide and sudden death, so please respect the feelings of his friends and family while speculating on his state of mind. If you want to know a little more about the likely fallout and the signs of anxiety, depression or other ailments which might have lead up to WM taking his own life, these two links are worth a look.,d.d24&cad=rja


    1. For the record, the first link is a good source of further material, the second gives an insight into the likely effect of his sudden death on friends and family, and an outline of those external services that would have been involved at the time. Obviously there will be some differences between the reality of this event in 1985 and current practice.

    2. Re "we should also bear in mind that we are dealing with a very traumatic incident for the family of WM too."

      We should indeed, but we should also bear in mind that WM has also been covered by two recent stage plays and the tragic death by a large number of newspaper articles and web discussions. I don't think anything in Calum's blog could add to any continuing trauma after all that public airing and all manner of speculation.

  6. Andy,

    Since 1985 there have been two TV programmes, two plays, and more than 50 media articles about Willie and his death. I doubt I have written anything which has not been said many times before.

    My speculation reflects only information which the police and Crown Office have put into the public domain but, hopefully, my words about Willie are respectful even if possibly difficult for the family.

    For most death and grief is private but for a few this happens in public. The Macrae family found itself in this latter position.

    Regardless of how much we feel for the family, we cannot not investigate a possible mystery because the publicity might be difficult.

    The pursuit of justice, whether by state or individuals is paramount, and the family, through no fault of its own, was subjected to information and speculation which it might rather have been kept private. Justice prevails over privacy.

    We must also bear in mind that it is not the private details of the remaining family which are revealed but details of Willie's life. Are we meant to suppress this for the family's sake even when relevant to his death? No!

    If you still feel that I have disrespected the feelings of friends and families please let me know where and when so that I can explain my position or, if I agree with you, amend my words.

  7. I have no problems with any of what has been said so far, and in no way do I think you have disrespected the feelings of friends or family. I repeat my earlier apology if that was the way my remark was taken. I was more concerned that you familiarise yourself with the current thinking regarding suicide, and avoid the mistake others have made of repeating various unsubstantiated claims about WM's state of mind.

    In other words, in order to try to understand what might be likely to lead up to an individual considering taking their own life, I merely was suggesting that you need familiarise yourself with current thinking and best practice, rather than assume anything.

    The repetition of unsubstantiated speculation might be considered likely to cause offence, but from the clarity and care you have taken with your analysis so far, I feel it unlikely you will make this mistake.

  8. As someone who writes in a professional capacity about medical and scientific research I am always extremely cautious about phrases such as "current thinking and best practice". Views on "current thinking" and what is considered "best practice" can change like the wind. Each case of suicide or presumed suicide is unique, and nobody else can really know what was going through a person's mind, or what is going through it, as they comntemplate or commit suicide. I am following Calum's consideration of the case with interest, but I do suspect it can only end up at "We don't know and now we never will."

  9. Thanks Andy for your clarification and kind words.

    I have been careful but I write, primarily, not to be respectful to Willie and his family. If I am, that is a side effect. My respect is for truth and justice.

    But respect for truth and justice means that I must write about even unsubstantiated speculation but I must not give such speculation a credibility it does not deserve. This where some have let themselves down. What is clearly unsubstantiated, albeit it might be correct, some write as fact.

    If I read the two documents to which you linked I will do so out of general interest: I don't see them as being relevant to my approach. In the immediate aftermath probably, but after 30 years I think nothing beyond respect is needed.

  10. Hi Andrew,

    Sorry I missed your comment at 15.05 yesterday. You'll see that I was replying to Andy at the same time and so when my comment loaded so did yours but I saw only mine.

    Like you, I think we will end up not knowing what really happened. But I hope we will make some progress so that some 'speculation' will be firmed up and some will disappear as being plainly wrong.

    Therefore, we'll end up knowing more but not knowing what we want to know.

    1. We will know that we know we know nothing with justification, rather than knowing nothing without checking. It is best to know what we don't know rather than not to know but not know that we don't know it, I feel. But then... Oh... I don't know.

      I confess I feel I have spent enough time on this issue now, unless you have some significant insights yet to be revealed. If so, let me know.

  11. I can understand your thoughts, Andrew. I think there is information which would interest you but my approach has kept that from readers. I think my slow and deliberate walk through the case was right but, if I were to start this study again, I would contrast the police evidence with the additional reported information at each stage of the study. Therefore, rather than having to wait until Part 21 for information which really asks questions of the police they would have been there from the start.

    Unfortunately, I didn't do it that way.