Unsolved Murders

Daniel Kerrigan

Age: 19

Sex: male

Date: 12 Aug 1935

Place: Cuddie Strip, Buckie Braes, Forgadenny, Perthshire

Daniel Kerrigan was shot dead on Cuddie Strip in Buckie Braes as he was out walking with his girlfriend.

After Daniel Kerrigan was shot, a man came out of the bushes and tied up his girlfriend by her hands and feet and assaulted her.

He had been out in Buckie Braes, which was a popular local recreation spot at about 10pm on the Wednesday night. They then went into Cuddie Strip, which was a lonely stretch of wood through which they were walking slowly when a shot rang out. His girlfriend said that a stream of pellets flew past her head and that as Daniel Kerrigan turned, another shot rang out almost instantly from the direction of a tall thick bush about ten yards away which hit him in the face and chest and he collapsed without a sound.

She said that as she bent over Daniel Kerrigan on her hands and knees, a man appeared out of the darkness. She said that he didn't speak and that that she looked at him appealingly and asked him to watch over Daniel Kerrigan while she went for assistance.

She said that as she then ran off towards a stile in the direction of the nearest houses in the district that she heard footsteps behind her and the sound of someone breathing heavily and that as she was climbing over the stile she was seized roughly and a hand was placed over her mouth. She said that she recognised the man that took hold of her as the man that had appeared after the shots had been fired and said that he completely over-powered her. She said that he then tied her hands and feet and then assaulted her.

When Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend was asked how the man had tied her hands behind her back whilst he had his knee on her chest Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend said that she didn't know, but said that he did.

Also, when she was asked if she resisted the assault she said that she didn't and that she just pretended that she had fainted. She said that she was terrified and that the man was a complete stranger.

She said that she pretended that she had had fainted and that after he had dragged her into the bushes he put his knee on her and started to take off her clothes. She said that he undid the handkerchief that was round her hands so that he could get her swagger coat off and then tied her hands up again. She said that the man then tried to take advantage of her and that he then succeeded.

She said that after, the man went back to where Daniel Kerrigan was lying. It was said that he then spent some time there as it was later found that a handkerchief had been placed over Daniel Kerrigan's face.

Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend said that she didn't see the man again and said that it took her a long time to free herself from her bonds. She said that she managed to get her hand out of the handkerchief but that the handkerchief was still tied around her other wrist when she put her swagger coat back on and crawled to the style. She said that when she got free she stumbled off towards Cherry Bank where she met a man and a woman who helped her. She later noted that after having freed herself she left the rest of her clothes at the scene and only stopped to put on her swagger coat before running off.

The man then rushed to where Daniel Kerrigan was lying and found that he was dead.

By the time the police were informed it was close on midnight.

Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend first described the man that had fired the shot and assaulted her as a small man about five feet three inches tall with a flat nose and a black beard. She said that he was a very little taller than her but appeared to be very strong. She said that he had been wearing a dirty cap, a dark jacket and trousers and had had a reddish complexion with glaring eyes and had been between 30-35 years of age.

A farm labourer was later arrested and tried for Daniel Kerrigan's murder, however, at his trial, the verdict of not proven was returned, although the farm labourer was convicted of criminal assault on Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend as well as housebreaking and theft, and he was sentenced to 10 years penal servitude.

At the trial it was heard that the farm labourer had broken into the laundry at Aberdalgie House in Perthshire where he had stolen a handkerchief and some other articles. The court heard that fingerprints found on the casement window to the laundry matched the farm labourers.

A labourer said that he had been out for a walk in the direction of Buckie Braes on the afternoon of Wednesday 14 August 1935, two days after the murder, when he saw a man with something cocked to his eye. He said that at first, he thought it was a gun but said that when he saw the man come into Cuddies Strip he saw that it was a spy glass and said that he recognised the man as the man charged in court with Daniel Kerrigan's murder who he also identified at the Police Building on 29 August 1935. He said that he had a crack with the farm labourer at the stile for about half an hour. He said that whilst they were talking the farm labourer had asked him if there were any rabbits there and the labourer said that he told the farm labourer that there was a good lot and also a lot of partridges. He said that the farm labourer told him that he had a gun and a rifle but that nobody knew about it.

The large telescope was later recovered from the tent that the farm labourer had been living in and the labourer identified it as the one that he had seen whilst talking to the farm labourer at the stile on Wednesday 14 August 1935.

The labourer said that he didn't hear about the murder until the following day but said that he didn't go to the police until a fortnight later, saying that he didn't go because the man might have been innocent, and he didn't want to blame an innocent man and said that he thought that it was the police's job to find the man.

A police constable later gave evidence about the wound saying that he examined Daniel Kerrigan's body and found various pellet marks distributed over his chest and also found a felt wad for a 12-bore shotgun lying on the chest which had been driven through his clothing and was lying loose on his skin. He said that from his experience with sporting guns that he thought that the range that the gun had been fired at was about ten yards.

During the early investigation, witnesses came forward to say that there had been a poaching expedition out in an adjoining field at the time and it was suggested that Daniel Kerrigan might have been shot by a poacher. A man said that he had been out on the night and had been in a field about 200 yards away from the murder scene and said, 'I went out with my girl. I heard two shots ring out. I said it would likely be someone shooting rabbits. Ten minutes later on our way home I heard a third shot'.

Two other men that had been at a farm repairing a motorcycle magneto said that they heard shots at 10pm. One of the men said that he only heard one shot, but the other man said that he heard two shots and they said that they took it to be a poacher. They said that the shots were no unusual, but they noted them as they were unusually near, coming from the Cuddies Strip and thought that they might have been coming from their fields.

The farm labourer was arrested on Wednesday 28 August 1935. He was described as about 30 years of age and with a sallow complexion. At his court trial he was described as a small stickily built young man. He was a farm labourer and had lived in a tent about a mile away from the murder scene.

The police constable also said that on 28 August 1935 they held an identification parade with seven men. He said that Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend looked at the men and that when she came to look at the farm labourer she seemed to become startled and got 'all of a tremble', and then nodded to him. He said that she continued to gaze at the farm labourer and then said, 'What do I do now?'. He said that he asked her if she had identified the man and said that she replied, 'I am nearly certain'. It was heard that a lieutenant then asked her, 'Do you see the man who assaulted you?', and that Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend had replied, 'I am positive'. The police constable said that he then asked Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend to go forward and said that she did so and then pointed at the farm labourer who then said, 'You have made a mistake. I may be like the man'.

The lieutenant later said that about 70 people had taken part in the search for the gun but that no gun was ever found.

A man that examined the wound said that some 44 of the pellets that had been in the cartridge that had struck Daniel Kerrigan had passed without finding a target in his body and that in his opinion the shot had been fired from an oblique angle from the right and that after carrying out experiments had determined that the gun had been fired from not more than eight yards.

The defence also said that it was also remarkable that Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend had not been hit when Daniel Kerrigan was shot considering the angle of the shot. It was noted that although the diameter of the blast was about eight inches, considering where Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend was said to have been standing when he was shot, it was remarkable that she had not been hit by any of the shot at all.

A doctor gave evidence to state that he examined Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend at 1.30am on Thursday 15 August 1935 and found that she had marks and abrasions on her and formed the opinion that she had been assaulted. He said that the marks on her throat were such that would have been caused by the thumb and fingers of a right-handed person. He said that when he examined her she was in a calm state of mind and was able to relate to him that she had been assaulted by a man at Cuddies Strip between 10pm and 11pm on 14 August 1935.

However, when the defence cross examined the doctor he confirmed that there were no other injuries on the front of her body and that the only other injuries, apart from the bruising on her neck, were two small superficial bruises over each of her shoulders which he said looked recent and fresh. He also confirmed that he found no signs of redness about her wrists or ankles whatsoever. He said that he thought that the injuries that he did see were not self-inflicted.

When the doctor was asked whether in his opinion that Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend was not a virgin he said that he would not go so far as to say that but said that the signs were not consistent with virginity.

Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend had said in court however that she had not walked out with anyone before Daniel Kerrigan and that no man had interfered with her before 14 August 1935.

The defence also noted that a singular feature of the case was that apart from sheer bestial, brutal lust, that there was absolutely no motive for the crime.

It was noted that no blood was found on the farm labourer's clothes and the doctor was then asked whether in his experience he had known of young girls to sometimes pretend that they had been criminally assaulted, and the doctor said that it was very common and he agreed that he could mention any number of such cases. However, he agreed that he had never known of a case where a woman had had her lover shot and had then pretended that she had been criminally assaulted.

When the prosecution addressed the jury he said that it was clear that Daniel Kerrigan had been suddenly killed by some lurking ruffian and that while he was laying dying Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend had been assaulted. He then said that the question for the jury was to determine whether the man that had shot Daniel Kerrigan was the same man that had assaulted his girlfriend.

He pointed out that in Scottish law they were able to return a verdict of not proven.

He then went on to say that if Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend’s story was got up then what would her motive have been, adding that he thought that it was difficult to see one.

He then went on to say that if they thought that Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend had told the truth and that Daniel Kerrigan had been shot in the way that she described and that she had then been assaulted as she described then they then had to decide whether it was the farm labourer who had done it. He then noted that the court had heard Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriends sworn statement that it was the farm labourer that had assaulted her, but noted that he did not think that the jury would want to find a man guilty of murder on the uncorroborated evidence of one witness. He then went on to say that there was the most extraordinary evidence of the handkerchief that was found round Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend's right wrist which she had said that the farm labourer had put there whilst tying her up and which was itself said to have come from the laundry at which the farm labourer’s fingerprints were found, which was a mile away from Cuddies Strip.

The prosecution then went on to say that there was also the evidence from the labourer who had said that the farm labourer had told him that he did own a gun and that he had put it away because he didn't have a licence for it and that the farm labourer was also seen near the scene on 14 August at 4.15pm and also between 8.15pm and 8.30pm. He also said that there was also the evidence that the farm labourer had been up there spying with his glass. The prosecution then asked whether if they were satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that the identification of the farm labourer by Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend was true and that the evidence regarding the handkerchief was also true then what about the shooting, asking whether the farm labourer was the man that had fired the shot that had killed Daniel Kerrigan as well. He noted that the farm labourer had been on the spot a second or two after Daniel Kerrigan had been shot. The prosecution admitted that the shot had been fired from a distance of 8 yards but said that nobody else was seen at the place and asked where the farm labourer had come from if it were not from the place where he had been concealed and from where he had fired the gun.

The judge then told the jury that he proposed they consider the three charges, the first whether or not the farm labourer had stolen the handkerchief, noting that if they thought that he had not then they need not consider the other charges. However, he said that if they thought that he was guilty on the first charge that they would then need to consider whether the charges of murder and rape stood or fell together.

The judge then said that mere suspicion in any case, least of all in a murder charge, would not do and said that they were not there to speculate or conjecture and said that the sole question for the jury was to decide whether the Crown had satisfied them beyond all reasonable doubt that the farm labourer was the man who was guilty of the crimes charged, and particularly of the murder of Daniel Kerrigan.

He noted that the story told by Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend was a most remarkable one. He said that so frightful, indeed, was her story, that if it were true, that it was almost incredible that any sane human being should have behaved as she had said that the man had behaved whom she had seen in  the Cuddies strip that night. He then asked if they could believe that any one who was not mad, noting that there was no suggestion that the farm labourer was mad, could have been guilty of such a horrible and revolting conduct as Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend had alleged. He then said that a singular feature of the case, which would not have escaped their attention, was that apart from the sheer bestial, brutal lust, that there was absolutely no motive alleged in the case. He added that neither the farm labourer or Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend had ever seen each other  and that there was no evidence that the farm labourer had ever known Daniel Kerrigan, concluding that the ordinary motive of jealousy which was so often at the bottom of so many crimes of that type was completely out in that case. He added that even the lesser motive of robbery had disappeared. He noted that the farm labourer had earlier in the trial also been charged with taking Daniel Kerrigan's pocket book but that charge was dropped and noted that neither had the farm labourer been charged with taking away Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend’s clothes.

The judge also noted that the opinion the jury formed on the reliability of Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend as a witness was also absolutely crucial, noting that if they did not accept her as a credible witness then it would have a very profound result on their verdict. He added that he was not suggesting that Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend had come with an entirely false story, saying that something very terrible had indeed taken place in Cuddies Strip that had resulted in the death of Daniel Kerrigan and that he would be the last person to unfairly criticise the evidence of a girl that had gone through the experience which she must have gone through when Daniel Kerrigan was shot. He noted that Counsel did not say that she had made up her story of the shooting of Daniel Kerrigan, but noted that he did say that while the main part of the story, the shooting of Daniel Kerrigan, was true or might be true, that the whole of her story was not one that they could accept implicitly. He then asked the jury if they were satisfied that they had got the whole truth and nothing but the truth from Daniel Kerrigan's girlfriend? The judge then said that the girl's whole story was so improbable that it was not one which in such a grave case they should accept as a full and truthful account of what happened.

The judge then recalled the description that the girl had first given of her assailant and then pointed to the farm labourer and asked them if they saw any resemblance at all to the description and then answered himself, absolutely none.

The judge then went on to describe the evidence of the handkerchief as flimsy. He noted that the handkerchief had come from India and had ended up in Perthshire and said that he could not help feel rather intrigued at how it had come to be a clue of such importance in a murder trial. He then said that he did not think that the jury could come to convict a man of murder on evidence so flimsy as a silk handkerchief.

The judge then told the jury that he felt that the only decision they had to make was whether the verdict of not guilty or not proven should be returned in the case of the housebreaking charge and said that he felt that the prosecution had failed to prove their allegation against the farm labourer and asked for verdicts of not guilty.

In total, in his summing up, the judge spoke for two hours.

The jury retired for two hours themselves and returned a not proven verdict on the charge of murder but a guilty verdict on the charges of housebreaking and assault.

After the verdict was read out the judge disclosed a number of previous convictions against the farm labourer and sentenced him to ten years.

Daniel Kerrigan had lived at 18 Union Lane in Perth and had been employed as an apprentice glazier.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see find.galegroup.com

see "Youth Charged With Murder." Times [London, England] 26 Nov. 1935: 16. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 3 Mar. 2013.

see The Scotsman - Friday 30 August 1935

see Yorkshire Evening Post - Tuesday 03 September 1935

see Dundee Courier - Friday 16 August 1935

see Dundee Courier - Friday 29 November 1935

see Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Thursday 22 August 1935

see The Scotsman - Friday 29 November 1935

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 15 August 1935

see The Scotsman - Monday 02 December 1935

see The Scotsman - Saturday 30 November 1935

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Friday 16 August 1935