Sunday Mail News Special: COPS FRAME SHAME

Sunday Mail News Special: COPS FRAME SHAME; Secret police report slams murder squad officers who tried to fit up 12-year-old for the death of his brother.

Byline: By RUSSELL FINDLAY

A SENIOR police officer has claimed detectives faked diaries and planted evidence in a bid to frame a 12-year-old for the murder of his older brother.

A secret police report released last week brands the murder squad who investigated the death of 14-year-old Lawrence Haggart criminal and incompetent.

The report by James Mackay, the then assistant chief constable of Tayside Police, shows officers became so obsessed with nailing Lawrence’s young brother Dennis for the crime that they ignored the true killer – serial paedophile Brian Beattie.

Lawrence was battered in his own home as he lay sleeping on the sofa and then set on fire by Beattie.

The report says detectives found a hammer and petrol in Beattie’s van – but accepted his alibi that he had been out cruising for gay sex in Edinburgh.

The Mackay report reveals how police# Faked entries in an official diary of the murder inquiry at a later date.

# Failed to carry out basic searches of paedophile killer Brian Beattie’s criminal record.

# Contaminated the crime scene and destroyed evidence.

# ‘Discovered’ a hammer sitting in the Haggart family’s kitchen – after their home had already been searched NINE times.

# Did not even consider a sexual motive for the murder.

# Lost a possible murder weapon and ignored another in the killer’s car.

The shocking report was ordered after claims police attempted to frame Lawrence’s brother Dennis for the killing It has remained secret for seven years but was released last week to Lawrence’s dad Larry under new Freedom of Information rules.

Lawrence was battered by killer Brian Beattie who had simply walked in to the family home in Larbert, Stirlingshire.

But police wrongly suspected Lawrence’s brother Dennis.

In his report Mackay includes the damning statement: ‘Clearly there were matters of a disciplinary nature and also aspects of the murder investigation which may have been considered criminal.’

The Mackay report reveals a catalogue of astonishing incompetence by the murder team led by Detective Superintendent Jim Winning and Inspector John Bunyan.

They spent almost 18 months trying to pin the murder on Dennis and his older brother John, then 16. They did question Beattie – but ignored his track record for attacking boys in their homes.

A new team, led by Superintendent Joe Holden, was appointed and they nailed Beattie who is now serving a minimum of 15 years. Winning retired through ill-health while Bunyan had his knuckles rapped.

The report suggests police planted a potential murder weapon – a hammer – in the Haggart house to fit in with their theory that the killer was his brother.

The report says: ‘On 22 March 1996, two officers recover a hammer. This apparently significant find came after the house had already been searched nine times. They found a hammer with a head hair adhering to it. At the time this was a potential murder weapon and a significant find.

‘The officers who searched the kitchen on 18 March were confident the hammer was not there during their search.’

One detective sergeant who made the bizarre ‘find’, Bob Beveridge, was disciplined with colleague Alan Stewart and later booted out of CID.

Mackay also reveals how detectives faked entries in their own diary of the murder inquiry. They blundered by referring to Lawrence as ‘the deceased’ before his death.

Mackay states: ‘There are four references to the ‘deceased’ Lawrence Haggart purporting to be made on 16 March 1996 but he did not die until the following day.

‘Retrospective entries had been made which further compromises its contents and integrity.’

Mackay reveals how officers lost a piece of green metal which may have been used to murder the teenager.

Officers claimed they had logged it with a production room at Falkirk police office but staff there denied it.

Mackay also slates the decision to name Dennis as the person responsible for the murder in a report to the fiscal.

He said: ‘Police information against Dennis Haggart was devoid of any evidence.’

The team did not even consider the likelihood the killing was sexually motivated. Mackay states: ‘A pair of pants was the only article being worn by Lawrence Haggart at the time of his discovery.

‘This article was never sent for examination.

‘This was a significant oversight particularly when these pants yielded a number of hairs when examined during the review inquiry.’

The document also reveals how Beattie, finally convicted of the murder, was a walking timebomb.

He was jailed in 1994 for breaking into a house in Stenhousemuir and indecently assaulting and abducting a young man. While in jail, Beattie ‘spoke of ‘wishing he had killed the young man afterwards so that he wouldn’t get caught In June 1994 social workers warned Beattie was ‘considered a very high risk of reoffending’.

Officers knew of his history of sex attacks on male youths and fire-raising.

Mackay says: ‘No checks were carried out on Beattie during the murder inquiry.

‘It was not until January 1997 that Beattie’s criminal record was accessed.’ Beattie was quizzed by police and two officers searched his car and caravan but ignored a petrol container and a hammer.

The officers then went to Lawrence’s home where they took samples and risked contaminating the scene.

Fire officers were in the living room for 90 minutes after the blaze – destroying fingerprint and footprint evidence.

Police photographs of the scene showed a glass bottle in the kitchen.

Mackay says: ‘Beattie is known to have struck a previous victim over the head with such a bottle yet this fact appears to have been overlooked.’

The force has made a public apology and paid pounds 20,000 compensation to Dennis and John.

But they refuse to release sections of the report dealing with the criminal probe against murder squad officers.

Last week Larry Haggart appealed against the decision to keep secret the final pieces of the Mackay report

The Mackay report:

The secret police report condemns the way murder squad officers investigated the death of Lawrence Haggart. Assistant chief constable James Mackay revealed how they#Faked entries in official diary of the murder inquiry at a later date.

# Failed to carry out basic searches of paedophile killer Brian Beattie’s criminal record.

# Contaminated the crime scene and destroyed evidence # ‘Discovered’ a hammer in the Haggart family’s kitchen – after their home had already been searched NINE times. #Did not even consider a sexual motive for the murder.

# Lost a potential murder weapon and ignored another in the boot of the killer’s car

CAPTION(S):

United in sorrow: Janet Haggart with sons John and Dennis who police tried to frame for the murder of brother Lawrence; Murdered: Lawrence Haggart was killed and set on fire as he slept on sofa in his home; Rapped: Resigned: John Bunyan Jim Winning; Evil: Beattie killed teenager after breaking in to his home; Report: James Mackay

COPYRIGHT 2005 Scottish Daily Rec
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