This is basically a podcast instead of a book, but I got it through Audible originals and it has an Amazon page, so I am counting it. It’s also pretty much just Scottish Serial. The case involves a woman who goes missing right before she’s scheduled to be at work. She’s captured on CCTV right up until she shows up to work, and her coworker and former lover is arrested and is in jail for her murder. Like most true crime stories, it both tracks and makes sense to see the boyfriend as likely guilty.
The case however is significantly more complicated because of the extraordinary amount of circumstantial evidence that the prosecution relied on for their conviction. Here’s some of the basics: the CCTV images not only are vague in the final few pictures, meaning that her identification relies solely on a continuation on the idea that this is in fact her, and not more definitive proof. So there’s no clear evidence that she made it to work. This is further complicated by the fact that one camera en route to work that she would have had to pass for the chain of pictures to be accurate did not produce a picture of her.
Next, the prosecution lays out the case that the accused met her at the door, lured her to the basement, and murdered her there, and later removed and absconded with her body in his car. The window for the meeting, luring, and murder all must have happened within a time frame of 25 or so minutes. The complication shows that the actual window of time would be closer to seven minutes and there’s no direct evidence that he met her, that he was in the basement at all, that she was in the basement at all, that there was any conflict in the basement as well. The basement theory was tested and presented in court through the testimony involving a corpse-sniffing dog who registered that a corpse had been present there.
So to recap the main issues with the case: there’s no specific evidence that this woman has been killed, only that she’s missing. The former lover cannot be placed at the scene of a crime because there’s no scene of a crime, and there’s no physical evidence tying him to foul play.
So the whole case is purely based on speculation. Part of the additional problem with the case is that a simple majority of the jury is needed to convict in Scotland, not a unanimous one.
As with most cases like this, police investigation should obviously be guided by the deductive reasoning of the person with the most likelihood of killing someone should begin as the primary suspect. However, what has clearly happened here is that that assumption not only took over the investigation, but also took over the criminal case. And the jury believed it.
I’ve been on a criminal jury before and some things that stood out to me is that defense attorneys are viewed as spoilers and arguers, while prosecutors are viewed a presenters of the truth. I’ve witnessed with my own eyes how much prosecutor shape evidence and present an argument, but an argument presented as the only way to interpret the evidence. I was taken with how convincing they are, even when you’re not convinced. I had the prosecutor in my case essentially tell us the accused confessed, but shows video evidence that does in fact not show that. And I’ve seen the same prosecutor cite evidence that according to him was shown in the video, but refused to find or show us the same evidence, relying on police testimony for this part. It was extraordinary. But I’ve also witness the jury work hard to make the prosecutor’s case for them. They wanted to convict the person of the crime because he most likely did it. (And I agreed that he most likely did), but what was clear was that the evidence presented did not make that case. Luckily, the few holdouts in our case were able to convince the others of this…that what they were experiencing was doubt, not certainty, and that should sway their choice.
In this case, we have the same issue. A convincing and compelling narrative is drawn up to explain things, and the jury almost certainly did the heavy lifting. But there was zero physical evidence of even A death, let alone the very specific case they suggested. Instead they have a bad relationship and a shifty accused, and then evidence to fit the narrative, not the other way around.