You wouldn't have thought, would you, that the first conclusion the Police would draw when a young man is stabbed in the chest was that he committed suicide? Incredibly, that's what the investigating officers from Fife Constabulary decided when their 23 year old son Colin Marr died suddenly after a row with his girlfriend at his home in Lochgelly.
For a long time, the Police just refused to accept that there could be any other explanation. Willie Rennie has been helping the Grahams in their quest to find out the truth of what happened that night since 2008. It took a long time for their concerns to be taken seriously. It's not easy to challenge the heart of the establishment, but every parent will understand why they felt the explanation of their son's death was wanting and their need to get to the bottom of what happened. The way they have kept going when a succession of doors was slammed in their faces is a huge credit to them.
A fatal accident inquiry last year was unable to decide whether Colin's death was suicide or homicide. A new independent review by retired senior CID officer David Swindle reached the same conclusion and made five important recommendations which are:
• A review of the fingerprint and forensic evidence
• Five key witnesses to be re-interviewed
• An uncooperative witness to be interviewed
• A review of the crime timeline
• Actions previously identified but never carried out to be pursued
Yesterday, Stuart and Margaret were interviewed for BBC News after Willie and fellow Mid Scotland and Fife MSP John Park called for the re-investigation to be carried out by another Police force given the criticism of Fife Constabulary. They are asking Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland to meet with the Grahams to discuss the next steps.
Margaret Graham said yesterday:
It's five years, almost to the day, since my son, Colin, died at home from a stab wound to the chest. This report confirms the suspicious nature of his death.
I share Mr Swindle frustrations at the “basic and serious failings” in the investigation.
There are many lessons for Fife Police contained in this report but to find the truth about my son’s death there five key recommendations that give us hope.
As Fife Police have been criticised so heavily in this report Colin’s family want another police force to continue the investigation.
Following this independent review and the recent Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI), it is clear that Colin's death was not suicide. We don't know exactly the details of what happened but we've believed for some time Colin did not take his own life.
It's now five years on from Colin's death and this report provides an opportunity to get to some of the truth about what happened on that sad evening in Lochgelly.
This is the second time in 12 years that Fife Constabulary has been found wanting in the way it investigated a suspicious death. Last week former Fife detective Richard Munro was jailed for five years for withholding evidence in the murder of Andrew Forsyth. This led to Stephen Johnston and Billy Allison serving 10 years in prison for a murder they did not commit.
It's not hard to see why an outside force needs to come in and look at all the evidence relating to Colin's death again. Let's hope that the authorities take swift action to set this in motion. The Grahams' ordeal will never be over, but now that the failings of Fife Constabulary in this matter have been officially recognised, they and we need a re-investigation we can all have confidence in. I also think it's high time Stuart and Margaret Graham received a decent and heartfelt apology for the fact that it's taken so long to even get to this point. Why do the authorities have to be so hostile when challenged?