Date: 18 Feb 1989
James Hassard was found dead in a car park near Torcastle Crescent early on the morning of Saturday 18 February 1989 by a milk boy.
He had been staying with his sister and her husband at their house in Kilmallie Road in Caol and was found dead about 200 yards from it in a pool of blood.
His post mortem revealed that he had died from head injuries. The police described the attack on James Hassard as a vicious one.
The police said that there was no known motive for his murder and said that they had ruled robbery as a motive out.
He was last seen leaving the Lochaber Bar earlier that morning not long before closing time at 1am. However, no one came forward to say that they had seen him at all after he left. He was said to have left the bar 'with a good drink in'.
The police said that they thought that he might have been elsewhere after leaving the bar and before his body was later found. They said 'There is a strong possibility he was in a house after leaving the bar. It is unlikely he was lying there from after leaving the bar and no one saw him'. However, the place where he was found would have been a short cut between the Lochaber Bar and his sister’s house in Kilmallie Road.
He was known to have had a set of black plastic rosary beads in his possession on the night he was murdered, but when his body was found they were not on him.
When his body was found it was described as being rain soaked. The police said, 'His clothing was wet through, but this is no good indication as to how long he was lying in the car park as it was an extremely wet night. His movements after leaving the bar are a mystery'.
James Hassard was described as being short, with a stocky build and to have been noticeably balding. When he was last seen he was wearing a green anorak-type jacket, grey checked trousers and a green and white Celtic scarf.
He was from London and had been on holiday with his sister at the time.
The police said that they were trying to apply the police computer HOLMES (Home Office Large Major Enquiry System) in his murder investigation. The police said, 'HOLMES is definitely an asset because we would not have been able to cope with the same amount of information over the same period of time without it. Hundreds of statements from Fort-William have been indexed into the system for easy access and cross reference'.
James Hassard's funeral was held on Tuesday 24 April 1989 at St Johns Church in Caol and he was buried at Kilmallie Cemetery in Corpach.
It was noted that an anonymous female caller had called 999 on 8 April 1989 saying that she had information regarding James Hassard's murder, and the police appealed for the woman to call again. She had said that there had been a brawl in a garden and on the pavement of Kilmallie Road near the junction with Glen Nevis Road. The police said 'It may be this altercation was seen by a number of people passing in a car and I believe they are in possession of information which may be crucial to the investigation. There are obviously people who know something about this murder but haven't spoken to the police. And I'm convinced the answers to this case lie within the community of Caol. Twenty-one years is a long time and it's possible that relationships or loyalties may have changed, which may now give people the confidence to come forward. Maybe now someone will want to clear their conscience'.
The police later released a special number for local people to call them and said, 'We firmly believe that someone within the community at Caol has vital information concerning this murder who, for their own reasons, don't want to reveal their identity. They should feel free to speak to the police at any time of the day or night at this number without any pressure being placed on them to reveal who they are'. The police also appealed for people not to shield the murderer.
The police later carried out a cold case review of his murder in September 2010 stating that significant new information had come to light.
James Hassard had lived in London for the previous twenty years.
see Sunday Express
see Daily Record
see The Scotsman
see The Herald
see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Tuesday 21 February 1989
see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Tuesday 09 January 1990
see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Friday 24 February 1989
see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Monday 27 February 1989
see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Thursday 27 July 1989