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September 25th 1947

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Murder in the Glen

Murder is always shocking but the murder of Mrs Catherine McIntyre was particularly brutal. It took place in a fairly isolated area a few miles from Kenmore.

Both Mrs McIntyre and her husband worked on the Tombuie Estate above Kenmore. Peter McIntyre was in Perth that day and it was assumed that his wife would be at Tombuie House to prepare the house for the laird’s return at the week-end. It was only when it was discovered that Mrs McIntyre had never been to Tombuie House that morning, that their son Archie broke into the locked cottage.

It was a scene of devastation and chaos. When he went to his own bedroom he found the door locked and had to use an axe to break it down. On the bed, covered by a mattress lay the body of Catherine McIntyre. Her mouth had been gagged with a scarf, her hands and feet had been tied together with black bootlaces and she had been battered to death.

Detective Inspector Sim, speaking to the press said, “She has been brutally murdered, probably in the course of the forenoon. Theft appears to have been the motive and £80 mostly in £5 notes is missing.” 

At this time no murder weapon had been discovered, but two days later the police came across a small area about 400yards away from the cottage where the high bracken had been flattened. Within the flattened area was a sawn-off shotgun with the butt smeared with blood. There were other finds made; a bloodstained handkerchief and a used safety razor. The razor blade was found to have traces of a man’s hair hanging to it. These were carefully scraped off. Further searches revealed a return railway ticket dated September 25th, the day before the murder. This was of a type issued to soldiers in uniform.

At this time Taymouth Castle was being used as a resettlement area for 800 Polish soldiers who had decided to remain in Britain. The inmates were interviewed but without any breakthrough. However, witnesses in Aberfeldy spoke of a Pole with a bad cough who took a taxi to Perth on the morning of the murder. Though his identity was not known a fairly detailed description was circulated by the police. “He is about 35 years of age, 5ft 6ins, slim build, thin face, pointed chin and clean shaven……he suffers from a spasmodic cough which is at times quite severe.” 

It was shortly after this that a description of the murder weapon was circulated. It was recognised by a gardener in Old Meldrum in Aberdeenshire. The gun had been stolen from him about the time a Polish labourer, Stanislaw Myszka had left the farm to seek work further south. In addition, the gardener’s wife identified the bloodstained handkerchief as one she had given to Myszka. The net was now closing fast. Another Polish exile, Wladystow Szwec, who had settled in the area contacted the police to say that Myszka had visited them the day after the murder. His Scots wife had read reports of the murder while Myszka was there. “His face reddened up like a fire when he heard the details,”  she said. “He could not sit still after it.” 

Myszka was eventually caught at a former R.A.F. station in Aberdeenshire where he had been hiding. When searched, Mrs McIntyre’s gold wedding ring was discovered hidden in his shoe.

Originally Myszka pleaded insanity saying that he was worried about the fate of his children whom he had heard were to be moved from Portugal back to Poland. However, three psychiatrists, one a Pole, examined him and all pronounced him sane. He then changed his plea to Not Guilty of murder but Guilty of theft.

The trial took place in Perth in January 1948. The prosecution compared the hairs from the razor blade with the hair from Myszka’s beard. “They were,”  said Professor Glaister, “so similar as to be consistent with a common source.”  This carefully worded statement was seized upon by defence council. “Were the two samples,”  he asked, “too similar to exclude the possibility of it being someone else’s hair altogether?”  Professor Glaister was not prepared to be dogmatic but repeated again that the likelihood was that the two samples came from a common source.

It was perhaps a minor victory for the defence but it was less easy to throw doubt on the evidence provided by the shotgun and the bloodstained handkerchief. The jury, at any rate, had few doubts and took but 20 minutes to reach their verdict of Guilty.

Stanislaw Myszka was executed in Perth prison on February 6th 1948, the last hanging ever to take place there.

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