The Murder of Mrs Margaret Irvine
Mrs Irvine's home after the murder
Mrs Margaret Irvine lived in Galston,Ayrshire.
She was 91 years old and had been a widow for over 30 years.
She was brutally murdered on Sunday, 28th September 2003.
Every room in her home showed signs of an intruder. Drawers had been opened, jewellery boxes opened and items had been moved.
Yet, in the spare room was a locked wardrobe that had not been broken into. Indeed there was no sign of any attempt to force it open.
Police later found the key.
When they opened the wardrobe they found a pink make up bag, an envelope and a cardboard holder, each of which had money in them.
In total there was £8,150.
The evidence does suggest that this was an attempt to make it look like a robbery, yet the only cupboard with over eight grand in it had no signs of being tampered with.
Mrs Irvine had lived alone for over 25 years and had been housebound for the last seven years of her life.
Around 6 weeks prior to her murder,Mrs Irvine was burgled.
During the night of July 4th 2003, Mrs Irvine's home was broken into and £1000 was stolen.
No one was ever convicted of this first robbery.
Mrs Irvine's only regular visitors since the break-in had been her home helps and nephew Charles Keers, who lived next door.
Everyone in the village of Galston and beyond was shocked that such a terrible thing could happen to such an old lady.
Media reported extensively on the case. It was a very high profile story for some time.
“There have been reports that Mrs Irvine had been tied up and beaten, but police would not confirm this.
However, the man leading the murder hunt, Detective Chief Inspector Willie Prendergast, admitted that it was a particularly vicious attack.
He revealed that a friend spoke to her early on Sunday morning - the last anyone heard from her before her body was found later that evening.
Police fear she lay dead for several hours before the alarm was raised.”
Source: Evening Times : Date: 9/30/2003
Many pages in newspapers covered the story, including the extensive reporting on the injuries poor Mrs Irvine suffered at the hand of her killer/killers.
One village shopkeeper, who didn't want to be named, said rumours were flying thick and fast, with everyone saying the police didn't have a clue.
Mrs Fiona Marshall, 39, who also lives nearby, said she was
inclined to think from the number of police in the area they
considered the killer was definitely a local person.
She said: "Everyone is totally disgusted. We feel it must have
been someone who knew her house wasn't secured during the day and
that's the most worrying thing."
Mrs Irene Paterson, 63, said: "I just wish they would hurry up and
catch someone. Why were the posters so long in going up? Someone is
hiding the murderer." Source: Evening Times Date: 10/28/2003
The police received only 20 calls from the public in the first five days
of the murder hunt, compared with 300-400 usually received during
Detective Superintendent Stephen Heath said: "We are putting the
net out to meet and speak to people.
Her home in Barward Road had been broken into into in July, and
detectives are investigating a possible link between the unsolved
break-in and her murder. Source: Evening Times Date: 10/4/2003
Galston was a town gripped by fear and the media reported this. One headline 2 days after the murder said,
"At 91, Margaret should have been shown respect. Instead she was tied up and beaten to death as she fought off thug; Police hunting killer of frail widow reveal she was victim of bungled house raid"
DCI Prendergast wouldn't reveal if anything had been stolen from the house.
DCI Prendergast said several local criminals had been questioned and released following the murder.
Police officers were today drafted into the town, which has been gripped by fear following the murder. Source: Evening Times Date: 9/30/2003
Mrs Irvine's nephew Charles Keers, 51, told the jury that his aunt's death was the 'talk of the village' and how he had been told two days later in a pub she had been found 'tied up and battered' to death.