Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Music in the Morning No. 453 - Dario Rossi

 

Music?  You may wonder.

But I love this.

 

Sit back, relax and love or hate Dario’s ‘music’.

 

Unknown                                                                                     Dario Rossi

 

Well?

Monday, 23 February 2015

Willie Macrae Part 18: Journey’s Start


For more than two months now, this case has been a huge part of my life and still I haven’t reached the end of the police evidence.  Almost but not quite.  And then I move on to the claims which undermine parts of the official case, but claims which are virtually impossible to substantiate.  That’s when my role becomes incredibly difficult and I don’t know how I will handle that.

But there’s time. I haven’t finished with the police and Crown Office yet.

Today I move back to the fateful Friday, 5th April 1985.  Good Friday.  And the start of Willie’s journey as recorded and released by Northern Constabulary and the Crown Office.  What others have said I’ll look at later in this series. 

The two documents below are the entirety of the police information, as released publicly, about Willie Macrae’s last day as a sentient being.  Both documents have very similar descriptions and clearly Annex A was written using the first page of the synopsis as its basis.

I leave you to read the words without comment or question from me.

Part 18 Macrae A syn

 

image

[Sources: Top – Macrae A syn;   Lower – Annex A]

 Every word written may be true.  I have no evidence to suggest otherwise.

But the picture painted of Macrae could hardly be bettered if one were setting up a murder to be seen as suicide.

A man battling depression and drink; convicted of drink driving with the prospect of prison after an, as yet, untried case. 

A man with the means to kill himself – an un-licenced revolver.

A friend so concerned for his mental health that, having failed to contact Macrae at his holiday home, phones every police station between Glasgow and Dornie.   This is the picture we’re given.

Who could ever doubt that Macrae’s subsequent death could be anything but suicide?

The scene set perfectly.  It is so easy to read the words as too good to be true; so easy to see the set up.

It is so easy too for the proponents of suicide to rubbish the doubters so strong is the evidence of suicide.  The scene set for confusion and antagonism.  And there has been plenty of each.  It is into this picture that I need to start to bring in the evidence, the views and the thoughts of those outside the police and Crown Office.

Only then can we see a fuller picture.

Only then can we form a better view of how Willie Macrae died.  
_________________________________________________________________
If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:
email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or
tweet me at @calumcarr
 

© CalumCarr 2015
__________________________________________________________________
COPYRIGHT
Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.
Please feel free to reproduce extracts and provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.
If you wish to use more than one quarter of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.
The rights to the images used remains with Police Scotland
____________________________________________________________

Music in the Morning No. 452 – Shovels & Rope

 

Again!

Husband and wife, Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, return for their 3rd visit.[1 and 2]

Enjoy …… again.

 

All Those Words                                                                   Shovels & Rope

 

If I were producing new ‘Sunday Morning Coffee’s, Michael and Cathy would be close to the front.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Music in the Morning No. 451 – Praise the Lord

 

For the first time ‘Praise the Lord’ has competition here.  For a time (unknown but could be a year) I’ll be reprising my ‘Sunday Morning Coffee’ series. 

Two musical posts each Sunday but, for me, there is no competition.  You are free to visit none, one or both but this is what truly matters.  I love the music in SMC but here I give myself the opportunity to come closer to, and worship, my Father in heaven.  There is nothing more important.

You’re welcome to join me here each Sunday morning.

 

And Can It Be That I Should Gain

 

Father, You came for me; You wait for me; You are with me.

To You I am worthy but I see not this but massive unworth

And still You are with me.

Amazing love!

 

Father, You have given me everything

and, on my knees, I give you my meagre thanks.

I love You.

Amen

Sunday Morning Coffee with Matt McGinn – Reprise

 

After an absence of four years, my weekly music show returns, not new shows - the preparation time is far too large - but a re-run of the originals. 

Every Sunday morning for more than a year I presented music I love, based on YouTube music videos.  There was always a theme: artist, genre, composer …. whatever. 

It’s been so long that I’ve lost touch with most of the music and so I’ve decided to repeat the series - but not in chronological order.  I long to hear my choices again. 

 

This blog will have different readers too. 

Perhaps you will enjoy the music.

 

I learned so much!  My musical tastes expanded enormously, entering areas which I had deemed no-go areas.  I was open to music!

Today I bring you the first ever Sunday Morning Coffee from the 19th December 2009.

Grab your coffee and enjoy Matt McGinn.

 

The words and music are unchanged although where a particular video is no longer available I’ll replace it with another version, if possible.  I’ll change the size of the videos so that they display the full width of the blog.  Other than that it’s a walk back in time.

---------------------------------

19 December 2009

Welcome to this first in a weekly series in which I present music I like for you to enjoy over a cup of coffee (or tea if you prefer).  If you’re lucky you’ll be able to sit down with your drink, relax and listen.  If you’re very lucky you’ll enjoy the music too.

I’ve stolen this idea from Kevin and Jenny of the Bartoy Blog  - I hope they don’t mind: they’re on an indefinite break at the moment and I loved this feature there.

 

Opening this series is Matt McGinn, the late Matt McGinn (d 1977).  Matt was from Glasgow (b1928) and shared the humour and left-wing politics of that age.  A well-known folk-singer – Pete Seeger even took him to the States: to Carnegie Hall – he wrote, so the story goes, a thousand songs but as Billy Connolly lovingly relates “he couldna’ sing, no sense of timing and no sense of music at all”.  Don’t let this worry you at all: he could write and he could entertain. 

His politics and his humour is seen in his songs but there was also tenderness and this we see in the first piece:

 

Coorie Doon (aka A Miner’s Lullaby)

“Coorie” is a Scots word meaning “snuggle down” or “crouch down”.  I used “coorie” with our kids when much younger when they wanted to snuggle in for a cuddle or just to get warm.

How typical of McGinn is this that even in a lullaby he links harsh working conditions with a baby sleeping.

 

With Fire and  with Sword

Politics was McGinn’s driving force and he wrote many powerful protest songs.  For me this is his best – “With Fire and with Sword” and this is also the only film of McGinn in action.

Strong stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.

 

Ballad of John MacLean

More politics here, the next choice telling the story, not surprisingly, of John MacLean – a Scottish working class hero from the time of the First World War.  No more commentary from me is needed.

 

Apparently if there were any trade dispute, e.g. when the workers from the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) staged their work-in, McGinn would be there helping and singing. 

After the politics it’s time for humour and there is plenty choice from McGinn and here we start with a classic.

 

The Jeely Piece Song  (or the Jelly Sandwich Song)

In the tenements of Glasgow, kids were always (well almost) out playing.  Mothers used to throw pieces out the windows down to their children.  When the tenements were demolished to be replaced by high-rise flats this practice was impossible hence the song.

This isn’t fantasy: Mrs Carr’s parents both remember this practice.

 

Red Yo-Yo

Another children’s favourite now and the whole world looks for a lost red yo-yo.

 

The Effen Bee

Sometimes McGinn could sing down to the Glasgow humour as he does in this song about a beekeeper from the French town of Effen.  Is there such a place? 

Yes, I know that you know what is coming but I bet you smile anyway.

 

Gallowgate Calypso

Nearly finished now and we listen now to humour with social commentary.  The Gallowgate is the area of Glasgow in which McGinn was born and raised.

 

Magic Shadow Show

For all the politics and humour Matt could write beautifully and here he is in brilliant form.  I’ve appended the lyrics below.

The Magic Shadow Show
 
In and out, above, below
Phantom figures come and go,
Just a magic shadow show
Come, love, watch with me.


It may be sad, it may be fun,
The leaves of life fall one by one,
The wine of life too soon is done
In this magic shadow show


A loaf of bread and you and me,
A jug of wine beneath the tree,
We will sit and we will see
A magic shadow show


A thousand blossoms of today
Will soon be scattered into clay,
Today becomes a yesterday-
Magic shadow show


Leave tomorrow and yesterday,
With old Khayyam come sip today,
Listen to my Rubaiyat,
Magic shadow show


Could you and I with fate conspire
Remould the scheme of things entire
Nearer to the heart's desire,
What a magic shadow show

 
 

 

Matt died in 1977 at the ridiculously young age of 49.  What on earth would he have made of Maggie Thatcher who came to power in 1979.  I bet he’s regaling the souls in heaven.

He is sorely missed here on earth.  A rare talent -  especially one who can’t sing.

Please drop by next week for another coffee and some music.

 

Sources:  www.mattmcginn.info

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Is Anyone There?

 

In the last few weeks I kept coming across the Political Compass diagram showing the relative positions of the UK parties.

 

PC2015

 

And so I decided to check my position again, having done so in 2007 and 2014.  The diagram below shows my (slightly) changing positions.

 

Political Compass over time

 

It’s lonely!

 

Is anyone there?

 

Music in the Morning No. 450 – Galuppi

 

Who?

I know. 

An  18th century Italian composer.

He was new to me.

But this is irrelevant.

Beauty.  That’s all we really need to know.

 

Sit back, relax and listen.

 

Concerto for Flute, Strings and Basso Continuo in D major (II Adagio)
                                                                                          Baldassare Galuppi

 

and  …… love.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Music in the Morning No. 449 – Ossian

 

Ossian last graced this series more than four years ago and more than thirty-five years have gone since I first heard Ossian at Stirling Folk Club.  I loved their music then; I love it still.

Today they bring us ‘I Will Set My Ship In Order’.  The uploader wrote this,

A traditional song sometimes known as I Drew My Ship. The tune for the Ossian version was written by singer Tony Cuffe, to words from Ord's Bothy Songs and Ballads originally published in 1930, and this tune is taken up in Capercaillie's version on their album Choice Language.

I find Capecaillie’s version to be too polished and so it is Ossian you find here.

 

I Will Set My Ship in Order                                                           Ossian

 

George Jackson and vocalist Tony Cuffe no longer make music.

 

But their brilliance shines on!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Sunday Morning Coffee Reprised

 

Next Sunday, after an absence of four years, my weekly music show returns, not new shows - the preparation time is far too large - but a re-run of the originals. 

Every Sunday morning for more than a year I presented music I love, based on YouTube music videos.  There was always a theme: artist, genre, composer …. whatever. 

It’s been so long that I’ve lost touch with most of the music and so I’ve decided to repeat the series - but not in chronological order.  I long to hear my choices again. 

 

This blog will have different readers too. 

Perhaps you will enjoy the music.

 

I learned so much! 

My musical tastes expanded enormously, entering areas which I had deemed no-go areas. 

I was open to music!

I was alive!

 

Join me next Sunday morning, 22 February, from midnight UK time.

 

Don’t forget your coffee!

Music in the Morning No. 448 – Rachael Yamagata

 

This wonderful lady has featured here before and it’s a delight to welcome her back.

Close your eyes and let the words and music reach deep inside.

 

Meet Me by the Water                                              Rachael Yamagata

 

Aaaah!  And that’s my 4th time through.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Willie Macrae Part 17: Post Mortem and Forensics


How did Willie Macrae die?

What would the post mortem examination uncover?

What would forensic analysis yield?

Only two official documents refer to the post mortem in any detail although two others mention it or a finding [the latter two can be read here and here].

The two which give detail are the first page of the Lord Advocate’s 1990 letter to Nicholas Fairbairn and Annex A (part of FOI response to Steven Semple).   The relevant parts of each document are shown below: the letter first followed by Annex A.

Part 17 Macrae G Lord A E1 Grayed

Part 17 Annex A E1 Footer Out

These documents are full of observations, conclusions and more and so, in Table 1, I label key words in the order in which they appear as observations, reasoning, conclusions, view and fact.


TABLE 1 – Observations, Reasoning, Conclusions, Fact and View
LORD ADVOCATE’S LETTER
died as a result of a single gun shot wound to the head Conclusion
[PM] examination showed that the muzzle of the gun had been held firmly against the skin Conclusion
there was only one shot wound to the head Observation
There were no other bullet injuries Observation
ANNEX A
the entrance wound was in the temple Observation
suggestive of suicide Conclusion
Microscopic examination of the skin immediately around the entrance wound showed no powder driven into the superficial layer of the skin Observation
There was abundant powder residue in the track of the gunshot wound extending quite deeply into the subcutaneous tissue.  A mixture of fine and course [sic] particles was discovered. Observation
The presence of much powder debris in the wound [R] was typical of contact or near contact between the muzzle of the gun and skin [C] Reasoning plus Conclusion
This view was reinforced by finding no evidence of powder spread around the entrance wound [R] suggesting that there was no room for such spread to occur [C] and that the muzzle was held firmly against the skin [C] Reasoning plus 2 Conclusions
Taking these findings into account [R], the pathologist was of the view that the wound was self-inflicted [V] Reasoning plus
VIEW
The cause of death was certified as a gunshot wound to the head. Fact

I debated with myself about the first three observations.  Were the observations or facts? They were observed during the post mortem and so I leave them as observations.

The two observations listed in the Lord Advocate’s letter tell us nothing about whether Macrae’s death was suicide or murder but they were the first to state that there was only one shot wound to the head and no other bullet injuries.

Interestingly there is nothing in Annex A which refers to either of these two points.  Annex A talks about the ‘entrance wound’ in the singular implying that there was only one head wound.

There is nothing in Annex A about the presence or absence of bullet injuries elsewhere on his body.  In fact, Annex A tells us nothing about Macrae’s body other than his head wound.    I assume the post mortem covered Macrae’s whole body but we are not told.


There is no observation listed which supports the Lord Advocate’s conclusion – Macrae died from a single gun shot wound to the head but I accept that the damage done by the bullet was sufficient to cause death.

The Lord Advocate’s second conclusion I’ll ignore because I’ll cover it off under Annex A.

Now let’s look in more detail at the four conclusions which come from Annex A.

suggestive of suicide
This is based upon the observation that the head wound was in the temple.   And I don’t quibble with the conclusion: it is suggestive of suicide. 

But that is all it is.  It is suggestive of, but not definitive of, suicide.

typical of contact or near contact between the muzzle of the gun and skin
This conclusion comes from the observation that [t]he presence of much powder debris in the wound.  Here I accept that this conclusion is definitive.

suggesting that there was no room for such spread to occur and that the muzzle was held firmly against the skin
This is based upon there being no evidence for the spread of powder around the wound entrance and this is definitive for the gun being held firmly against the skin.  I have no problem here.

pathologist was of the view that the wound was self-inflicted
Later I’ll come back to the fact this was called a ‘view’ but for now let’s see on what this is based.

There are three indicators:
      - position of head wound in temple
      - powder debris driven into the wound
      - no powder spread around the wound entrance

We need to be clear that although there are three indicators the second and third are related.

If a gun is held firmly against the head there will be powder debris in the wound AND there will not be powder spread around the entrance.  These two together confirm that the gun was held firmly against the head.  They tell us nothing about suicide or murder.

Therefore, we are down to two suicide indicators:
      - temple wound
      - gun held firmly against the head

These two are indicative , suggestive only.  They are not definitive.

Of those who choose to commit suicide with a gun, the temple is one of the positions of choice.

Holding the gun against the head is also common.

And so I see how the pathologist has come to his view BUT a murderer could, if he chooses, hold his gun tightly against his victim’s head and shoot him in the temple.

Therefore, we have observations which are typical of suicide and atypical for murder – whatever our definitions of typical and atypical I don’t know.

The most we can glean from the post mortem information released is that Macrae died from a gunshot wound to his temple with the gun held tightly against his head

I need to come back to ‘the pathologist was of the view that the wound was self-inflicted. '

Clearly we don’t know what words the pathologist used in his report but I find it incredible that the writer of Annex A chose to use such weak words as ‘was of the view’ as regards whether Macrae’s death was suicide or not.


An expert witness who used such a phrase in court would be taken apart.  The credibility of such a witness would be destroyed.

And this is what we are given!!

In the title I mention forensics.  Other than the firearms analysis, nothing!  There is nothing about powder debris on Macrae’s hand, clothes, nothing about anything which might bring some enlightenment.

This is a case which is long on rumour and speculation and short on facts and as long as this remains the case the authorities can sit and claim that there is insufficient evidence for an inquiry.

This reminds me of the Probo Koala incident in which toxic waste produced by Trafigura was dumped in Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire.  I wrote extensively during 2010 and 2011 and there was a massive truth gap between what we knew about Trafigura and what they acknowledged publicly. 

Here we have a truth gap and the refusal of the authorities to release information reinforces the gap. 

Sometime those in authority are their own worst enemies.

__________________________________________________________________
If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:
email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or
tweet me at @calumcarr
© CalumCarr 2015
__________________________________________________________________
COPYRIGHT
Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.
Please feel free to reproduce extracts and images provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.
If you wish to use more than one quarter of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.


Sunday, 15 February 2015

Music in the Morning No. 447 - Praise the Lord

 

Father, how far I’ve fallen

Oh so low

Where I am far from You

Too embarrassed to turn

But turn I must

My way is not Your way

No longer can I walk without You

No longer can I …………

 

Father, You know what followed.

 

And now I look to You.

 

Grace Flows Down                                                            Christy Nockels 

 

Amazing love
Now flowing down
From hands and feet
That were nailed to the tree

 

Amen

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Clumsy Thinks This Is Funny Too!

 

Calum by Clumsy 2    Feb 2015

Clumsy is now sleeping in the shed!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Clumsy Thinks ……

 

Calum 

this pic of me is funny!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Willie Macrae Part 16: Gun – Physical Aspects


Parts 12 and 13 looked at the evidence, released by the authorities, about where the gun was found and how it got there. 

In Part 14 we saw how the Crown Office contradicted itself over the number of bullets recovered from Macrae during his post mortem.

Today in Parts 15 and 16 we look at what else the released documents have to say about the gun itself, the bullets and spent cartridges.

Part 15 dealt with one key point in particular but also raised other points of interest (to me at least).

Here Part 16 will deal with physical aspects of the gun, the post being split into four sections,
- what gun is it?
- how this gun works
- the gun worked but ….
- implications for Macrae case

What Gun Is It?

macrae 2

In their 1990 book published 15 years before Northern Constabulary released photographs of the gun and details of the  firearms testing, Scott and Macleay claimed that the revolver was from 1948 or earlier. [Tartan Terrorism and the Anglo-American State ’ by Andrew Murray Scott and Iain MacLeay, Mainstream Publishing (1990); the relevant chapter is available here],

They were correct that it was earlier than 1948 but were much further out than they could ever have imagined.

The gun was at least 117 years old when it was used to kill Willie Macrae.

I am utterly confident that the revolver found was a Smith & Wesson Model 1, 2nd issue, produced no later than 1868 [between 1860 and 1868].

I’ll explain soon why I am so confident but I am not alone.  In early January this year, and totally independently, Robert Lewis blogged about Macrae and came to a very similar conclusion.  He wrote,
The pistol MacRae is alleged to have owned, and shot himself with, turns out to be a Smith and Wesson Model 1, of the first or second run. That means it was at least 117 years old.
I believe we can rule out the 1st issue of the Model 1.

What Led Me to this Model?
Strathclyde Police’s firearms report was critical.  They described the gun as,
A 7 chamber, top hinged, external hammer, single action revolver of American manufacture (Smith & Wesson) designed to chamber .22 short rim fire cartridges. It bore the serial number 90686 and was in fair outward condition.
A Google search for
Smith and Wesson 7 chamber .22 top hinged single action
gave me the Wikipedia’s page on the Model 1 as the top hit.  When I saw photos I knew I had found the gun.  Had I searched with ‘Smith & Wesson’ I would have taken longer to get home.

The next image – of an Model 1 2nd issue - was on that page and below that pic 6, from above, tweaked to show just the revolver.

Part 16 SW M1 2I Mike HelmsA
Part 16 Macrae 2MOD

Other than the engraving and the handle in the Macrae gun they look identical.

On the next two images I have highlighted 7 small features which are identical.

Part 16 SW M1 2I Mike HelmsARinged
Part 16 Macrae 2MODRinged

Don’t be put off by the engraving on the Macrae gun.  Smith & Wesson made specials.  For every two hundred or so standard Model 1 revolvers, one or two were factory original full silver plated finish and/or ivory grips. 

Beyond this too were some which were factory engraved.  Many photos of such are around, for example,
SmithWessonModel12ndIssueA
this gun which is engraved and has a pearl handle.
Welsh described the Macrae gun as
His partner Welsh was aware that Macrae possessed a small calibre, possibly .22 revolver, which was chrome, silver finish with a pearl handle. [Macrae A syn]
Unfortunately, the Macrae photo quality is so poor that we cannot tell if the handle is light wood, ivory or pearl.

But handle apart I hope you’ll agree that the Macrae gun is matches those displayed here.

The Model 1 was manufactured between 1857 and 1882, there being three variants - 1st, 2nd and 3rd issues.

The 1st issue can be ruled out for two reasons.  Firstly the hammer, in the 1st issue, was of two part construction whereas the 2nd issue was a one-piece hammer

Part 16 SWModel1I1 Hammer
Part 16 SW M1 I2 Hammer







                1st issue                                                                           2nd issue

and secondly on the basis of serial number. 

Only about 12,000 1st issues were made (between 1857 and 1860, serial numbers 1 to abt 12,000) and the 2nd issue serial numbers followed on from those used for the 1st issue (between 1860 and 1868, about 12,000 to about 120,000).

The Macrae gun’s serial number, 90686, falls outwith the 1st issue and towards the top of the 2nd issue production.

But the serial numbers for the 3rd issue were reset and they ran from 1 to about 131,000. The Macrae gun’s number would fit within this range too.

Fortunately the 3rd issue incorporated a  design change which rules this out as an option.  The grip design was more curved as shown below.

Part 16 SW M1 I3 Grip
Part 16 SW M1 I2 Grip
              2nd issue                                                                            3rd issue

Therefore, I am convinced that the gun which killed Willie Macrae was a Smith & Wesson Model 1 2nd Issue 7 shot, top hinged, external hammer, single action revolver designed to fire 0.22 rim fire cartridges made between 1860 and 1868. 

These guns were not the first but were early adopters of self-contained cartridges i.e. where all the components necessary to fire the projectile were contained within one package.

How This Gun Works
The Macrae gun is a single action revolver which, possibly counter-intuitively, requires two actions to fire whereas a dual action revolver requires only one action to fire!

The two actions for the Smith & Wesson Model 1 are ,
- pull back the hammer which rotates the cylinder and puts the next bullet to be fired in the correct position (i.e lined up with the barrel
- squeeze the trigger which releases the hammer which initiates the series of actions which result in the bullet being expelled from the cylinder and barrel


In this type of the gun the trigger has only one action, hence single action.

With a dual action gun, squeezing the trigger pulls the hammer back, rotates the cylinder into position and initiates the firing sequence.  Therefore, the trigger alone does the two actions listed above for Macrae’s gun.  Hence dual action.

Macrae’s gun uses .22 ammunition.  The ’.22’ refers to the maximum diameter of the cartridge in inches.  Therefore, Macrae’s gun uses cartridges which are .22 inch in diameter (i.e. 0.22 x 25.4mm = 5.6mm)

The gun worked but ….
That the gun worked is obvious unfortunately but one part was so worn that it didn’t function correctly.

I mentioned in the previous section that pulling back on the hammer should rotate the cylinder and put the next bullet in line with the barrel but that did not work in Macrae’s gun.

Part 16 Macrae R E2 Mod 1
Therefore, the killing gun required three actions to fire:
- pull back hammer
- rotate the cylinder
- pull trigger
Now this extra step is clearly no show-stopper.  Whoever pulled the trigger went through this process.  The gun works.

But there might be another complication.  From the admittedly small amount of reading on revolvers I think there are two aspects of cylinder rotation to consider.  The first I have already described: the cylinder did not move on its own and so had to be manually placed in position.  The second is that there is a mechanical stop which maintains the cylinder in the correct position.  I don’t know if this was part of the Smith & Wesson Model 1 2nd issue and, if it was, I don’t know if it was working.

Why is this important?

Well, if it worked then once the cylinder was rotated into position it would be held there and the alignment of cartridge and barrel would be maintained.  If not present, or present and not working, would mean that there was no fool-proof way of aligning the cylinder correctly and no way of keeping it in that position until fired.

The diagrams below show the three possibilities proper alignment, large misalignment, and slight mis-alignment.

Part 16 Misaligned Cartridge
Part 16 Aligned Cartridge 1
Part 16 Partially Misaligned Cartridge

With proper alignment the orange cartridge is symmetrically aligned with the green barrel and the hammer’s pin (black spot) strikes the cartridge on the rim (hence rim fire cartridges) and detonation and firing occur properly.

When the cartridge and barrel are badly misaligned the  pin misses the rim of the cartridge and, clearly, no detonation can occur.

With partial misalignment the rim can be struck with the possibility of detonation and firing.  What happens then, I don’t know.


Implications for the Macrae Case
There is nothing about the gun, its age, type, mechanism or flaws which favour suicide over murder or the reverse.  I’ve researched it out of interest rather than with any hope or expectation that I would uncover an important fact.

The gun killed Macrae.

There are many unanswered questions though:
- why did he have a gun?
- why such an old gun?
- why such a small and low-powered gun?
- where did he get it?
- when did he get it?
- where did he get the ammunition



__________________________________________________________________
If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:
email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or
tweet me at @calumcarr
 

© CalumCarr 2015
__________________________________________________________________
COPYRIGHT
Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.
Please feel free to reproduce extracts and provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.
If you wish to use more than one quarter of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.
I, CalumCarr retain the rights to the three diagrams of cartridge and barrel
The rights to the other images used remain with Police Scotland (Macrae gun and documents), Mike Helms (where shown) and other unknown.
____________________________________________________________


Willie Macrae Part 15: Gun and Bullets


Parts 12 and 13 looked at the evidence, released by the authorities, about where the gun was found and how it got there. 

In Part 14 we saw how the Crown Office contradicted itself over the number of bullets recovered from Macrae during his post mortem.

Today in Parts 15 and 16 we look at what else the released documents have to say about the gun itself, the bullets and spent cartridges.

Here we’ll focus on one key point in particular but also raise other points of interest (to me at least).

Part 16 will deal with physical aspects of the gun.

The key point which emerges from the documents released by Northern Constabulary and the Crown Office is that,

Macrae was killed by a shot from his gun which was the gun found at the scene of the crash.

Let’s split this claim in two and then look at each.
-  Macrae owned the gun found at the scene
-  Macrae was shot with the gun found at the scene

Macrae owned the gun found at the scene

Below are the three relevant extracts each of which states that the gun was Macrae’s.
Part 14 Macrae D E2
Part 14 Macrae G E2
Part 14 Macrae O E1
[Files: Macrae D, Macrae G and Macrae E: Click on each image for the original document]

Each of these is very clear: this was Macrae’s gun.

But the released documents do not support this certainty.  My reading of those documents is that there is strong circumstantial evidence but no more. 

I am not saying that the gun was not Macrae’s.  I say only that, within the released information, one cannot say, without doubt, that the gun belonged to Macrae.

Why do I say this?

Only in Macrae A syn and in Annex A is there reference to Macrae’s ownership of a gun.
His partner Welsh [Ronald Cullen Kerr Welsh] was aware that Macrae possessed a small calibre, possibly .22 revolver, which was chrome, silver finish with a pearl handle. [Macrae A syn] Note: Annex A contains virtually identical wording.

In the second page of the synopsis we find,
police officers carried out a search of the locus and found the weapon, previously described, [Macrae B syn]

Mention is made once that an empty cartridge case for .22 bullets (size and type for the gun found) was found in Macrae’s car. [Source]

Part 15 Macrae O Firearm Rep E1 Hi

Nowhere else is this item listed, not even in the list of Macrae’s property.

This is still, however, another piece of circumstantial evidence supporting Macrae’s ownership of the gun but again this alone or with the other evidence is not conclusive.

We see from the third of the group of three images above that Macrae had no Firearms Certificate for the gun which was found.  With no paper record of ownership we are left with Welsh’s statement, the cartridge box and the fact that a gun of similar description was found.

This is all there is within the officially released records.

Circumstantial but not definite.

There have been newspaper reports in which Macrae’s younger brother is quoted as saying that he took Willie’s gun from him for his own (Willie’s) protection.  Because this is not included in the police documents at this stage I cannot use it to support ownership.

In case some wonder why I pick up on such apparently trivial points, let me explain.  I have no interest in promoting or diminishing any viewpoint but I am determined to be as accurate as I can even on points which might seem unimportant.  I couldn’t work if I were to be rigorous only when I deemed it important.  I need to be rigorous all the time.

And now the second part of the claim.


Macrae was shot with the gun found at the scene

The evidence here is clear cut and can be read in Macrae O, Q, R and S.

From their markings, the two spent cartridges found in the gun were confirmed as being fired by that gun [when compared with the marks on a cartridge test-fired during the analysis].

From the rifling marks, the bullet recovered from Macrae was confirmed to have been fired by that gun [when compared with marks on bullets test-fired during the analysis].

Provided the gun sent for analysis was the gun found at the scene, these results stand but I have no reason to doubt the gun found and analysed was the same gun.

My view?  Macrae was shot by the gun found at the scene which probably was his gun but the evidence of ownership is not conclusive.
_____________

Now we move on to a series of points,
- fingerprints
- two spent cartridges
- cartridge box
- photographs
and we’ll look briefly at each.

Fingerprints
Newspaper reports have claimed that fingerprints were found on the gun and that none were found.

Confusion!

The official documents having nothing to say about fingerprints.

Surprising but true.

I asked three forensic companies, each involved in fingerprint collection and analysis, a general question about whether one would expect fingerprints on a gun to have survived immersion in flowing cold water for about 36 hours and whether these would have been recoverable using techniques available in 1985.  One has replied and I thank them but will not name them.
I look not for you to carry out work on my behalf but to answer what, I hope, is a very simple question.
Currently I am writing about a 30 year old case which involves death by shooting with an old revolver.  Although there is speculation, none of the publicly available information mentions the presence or otherwise of fingerprints on the recovered gun. 
The gun, an old Smith and Wesson with silvered metal parts and an ivory handle, was found in a very small stream between 34 and 38 hours after the shooting.
Would one expect fingerprints to be recoverable and detectable after this time in cold running water using 1985 technology?
I should make clear that I am looking for a general answer and, regardless of whether you answer positively or negatively, I will use your answer only in a general sense.  For example, if you say that you would have expected fingerprints, if any were originally present, to have been recoverable I will be clear that you are referring to a general situation only and that your response cannot be used to state that fingerprints would have been recoverable in the case in question.           [Email from me 26 January 2015]

The relevant part of the reply is,
Ok, the very simple answer is No, I would not expect there to be any useable [sic] fingerprints on an item found as described.

Sweat is 98% water, so that would have washed off, the remaining 2% is made up of fats, acids and general gunk, so after that time I would have expected that to go as well especially in running water.

And who is to say the person holding/discharging the weapon was capable of leaving a sweat mark in the first place? The success rate for chemical treatments nowadays is only about 40% and that’s with modern techniques. [Email reply from fingerprint expert to my email of 26/1/15.  Received 6 Feb 2015.  Emphasis is mine]

On the basis of this, it is reasonable to suppose that no fingerprints would have survived on the Macrae gun but I must stress again that the expert replied to a hypothetical situation albeit one which should closely resemble the actual conditions to which the gun was exposed.


Two Spent Cartridges

I mentioned above that the two spent cartridges found within the cylinder were fired in that gun.  We know one bullet killed Macrae but the whereabouts of the other is unknown. 

I find the same assumption in official and unofficial reports: both bullets were fired in the crash incident.

But why assume that?

Was the possibility considered that the two bullets were fired in two separate incidents at totally different times and the spent cartridge left in the revolver?

Was any testing carried out to check this?  Would any forensics have survived immersion in the burn?

No mention is made in the official papers.


Cartridge Box
A few lines above, I showed the only 9 words in the released documents which refer to an empty cartridge box.
Empty cartridge box for .22 bullets found in car

Nothing else!

No description beyond these few words!

Was it an old box? A new box?

Was it battered or well-preserved?

What size was it?

Where in the car was it found?

Had Welsh seen the box?

Had Fergus Macrae?

Empty!

Just enough bullets to fill the cylinder.

I don’t know what benefit would accrue from having answers but, without answers, there can be no benefit.


Photographs

Only three photographs of the bullets and gun were released publicly but those were numbered 5, 6 and 7. 

Macrae 1
Macrae 2
Macrae 3

Clearly there were other photographs,
1 - 4 and possibly 8, 9 etc.
Also two photographs (6 and 7) were of such low quality that many details on the gun cannot be seen properly.

All photographs should be released.
__________________________________________________________________
If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:
email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or
tweet me at @calumcarr
 

© CalumCarr 2015
__________________________________________________________________
COPYRIGHT
Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.
Please feel free to reproduce extracts and provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.
If you wish to use more than one quarter of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.
The rights to the images used remains with Police Scotland
____________________________________________________________











Monday, 2 February 2015

Willie Macrae Part 14: Crown Office Contradicts Lord Advocate



One bullet or two?

The Crown Office has contradicted a previous Lord Advocate!

I don’t know if the Crown Office are, or will be, embarrassed but embarrassed is the very least they should be. 

Let me take a step back and explain.

Part 12 covered where the gun was found and Part 13 how it  got there.  I had intended Part 14 to be about the gun, bullets and all the testing which was done but one issue flew to the top and so I write about that here.  Parts 15 and 16 will now cover the rest of the gun, bullets and testing and will be published together next Monday.

Since 1990, when the then Lord Advocate, Peter Fraser, published his letter to Nicky Fairbairn, the publicly available official view has always been that:
-  two shots were fired from the gun
-  Macrae was shot once
-  one bullet only was recovered during his post-mortem
-  the second bullet was not found
-  there was no bullet damage to Macrae’s car
PART-14-Macrae-G-Lord-A-E1_thumb2

This view was supported by information put into the public domain in 2005 by Northern Constabulary. 

Throughout the firearms testing, carried out by Strathclyde Police on 10 April 1985, reference is always made to one fired bullet.

Part 14 Macrae O Firearm Rep HI
Part 14 Macrae Q Firearm Rep Hi
Part 14 Macrae S Firearm Rep Hi

And in 1993, Northern Constabulary wrote to West Mercia police to answer their (West Mercia’s) questions about statements made in a book.
Part 14 Macrae E West Mercia Extract 1 arrowed

There was consistency in every record published.

There were newspaper reports that a nurse claimed that two bullets were found in Macrae’s brain.  This was never substantiated.

The official record of there being only one bullet found and that in Macrae’s brain still stands.

There is one other released document which refers to the gun, bullets and testing: Annex A which is part of the Crown Office response to Steven Semple’s 2014 FOI request.  The Crown Office refused to release the information requested by Semple but they did append this Annex which they stated contained the information already released.

….. but this is where the Crown Office should become embarrassed and should answer questions.  This is where they have contradicted themselves; not just a previous Lord Advocate – Peter Fraser – but every other reference to the number of bullets found.
I have read Annex A countless times and it is clear that it has been compiled from, in many places copied directly from, these previously released documents but then I found this in the section on firearms testing.

Part 14 Annex A Bullets E1Hi

Part 13 Bullets plural Annex A E1 H1 arrowed
This is clear.  This document states that more than one bullet was recovered during the post mortem and that those bullets underwent analysis by Strathclyde police.  This contradicts all other statements.

One bullet or two?

My instinct is that the Annex A writer has made a mistake, probably a simple error.  It isn’t though a simple typo because it appears twice.  It is much easier for me to imagine this as a simple mistake in the writing than as the uncovering of a long-held lie.

Let me explain my reasoning.

Imagine that Annex A is correct and that two bullets were removed from Macrae’s brain during the post mortem.  Then there could be no doubt that there was a conspiracy to hide this fact.  Every released record, other than Annex A, shouts out ‘1 bullet’, even the request to Strathclyde police for the firearm analysis.

If I were involved in such a conspiracy I would want to keep to a minimum those who knew.  I wouldn’t send both bullets for analysis to another force and have them report as though there were only one bullet.  That’s opening up the conspiracy to those who have no need to know.

Part of me would love to uncover that piece of evidence which confirms cock-up, conspiracy or suicide – that’s my need for validation – but I can’t push a line which I feel isn’t justified.

You may wonder then why I chose to write a post about this point alone when I believe there has been a simple mistake.  There are two reasons.
My view is only my view.  It doesn’t become true simply because I believe it to be true.  What if I am wrong?  Others must decide for themselves.
Even if a mistake, the Crown Office has left itself open to ridicule by issuing contradictory statements on such an important issue.

Simple mistake or not, the Crown Office has issued contradictory statements.  They should be mightily embarrassed.

We require the truth, the entire truth!

The Crown Office must not only clarify the situation publicly they must release ALL relevant documents.

We have been waiting almost 30 years. 

Do it now!

I hope …. but I won’t hold my breath.

__________________________________________________________________
If you have thoughts, or more, feel free to:
email me at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom or
tweet me at @calumcarr
 

© CalumCarr 2015
__________________________________________________________________
COPYRIGHT
Copyright over this article is retained by me, CalumCarr.
Please feel free to reproduce extracts and provided you attribute the words and images to me taking into account the provisos below.
If you wish to use more than one half of the article then contact me for permission at calumsblogATgmailDOTcom.
The rights to the image used remains with Police Scotland
____________________________________________________________