Police inspector Richard Munro withheld Fife murder evidence

Image caption,
Richard Munro was a detective with Fife Constabulary

A former policeman has been convicted of withholding evidence from prosecutors while investigating a murder in Fife 17 years ago.

Richard Munro, 53, was found guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice after a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

As a detective inspector he led the investigation into the killing of Andrew Forsyth in Dunfermline in 1995.

Steven Johnston and Billy Allison were jailed for murder then later acquitted.

Campaign group, Miscarriages of Justice Scotland, said the case was the first time that a corrupt policeman in the UK, in relation to a miscarriage of justice, had been convicted of a wrongdoing.

Munro's trial heard that he engineered the case which led to the Mr Johnston and Mr Allison's convictions for the murder of Mr Forsyth during a drunken row.

He withheld information from prosecutors which could have helped the two men's defence.

He was finally caught after the pair's defence lawyers managed to show that the retired detective chief superintendent could have acted illegally at an Appeal Court hearing in March 2006.

Appeal Court judges thought Munro's actions constituted so much potential illegality that they had no choice but to quash the pair's convictions.

Lothian and Borders Police spent two years investigating Munro and found they had enough evidence to prosecute him.

He was brought to trial earlier this year and after 11 weeks of proceedings was convicted by a majority verdict by the seven men and eight women of the jury.

Witness statements

After hearing the verdict, judge Lord Doherty deferred sentence until next month for background reports.

He told Munro: "You should be under no illusion that a custodial sentence is inevitable in this case."

The Andrew Forsyth investigation was the first time Munro was put in charge of a murder probe.

When Mr Forsyth's body was discovered on 9 November 1995, Mr Munro decided that he had been murdered on 3 November.

He told prosecutors that they should base the 3 November date as the time of death in their prosecution against Johnson and Allison.

But as the murder probe progressed, policemen uncovered evidence that Mr Forsyth had been alive on and after 3 November.

Image caption,
Mr Forsyth was killed at his home in Dunfermline in 1995

Munro then suppressed witness statements and on some occasions even altered the content of what people had told officers.

He failed to tell prosecutors about how he had access to information which showed Mr Forsyth had been alive after 3 November.

During the trial, Munro's defence QC Mark Stewart said his client had accepted that he had made mistakes during the probe.

However, he said this was because he lacked training, managerial experience and had been misled by junior colleagues.

At the end of proceedings, the former detective's wife - who accompanied her husband to court during every day of the trial - started crying loudly.

He turned to her - and said: "It's alright."

A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police, who carried out the investigation into Munro's conduct, said: "It is vital that the public have confidence in the integrity of police investigations, and today's conviction demonstrates that the police service in Scotland will act professionally and effectively when investigating crimes of this nature."

John McManus of Miscarriages of Justice Scotland said: "This is a victory for justice. It's the first time in British history that a corrupt policeman - in relation to a miscarriage of justice - has been convicted of a wrongdoing.

"Hopefully it sends a message to police today that they won't get away with "fitting people up".

"But sadly it doesn't catch the killer of Drew Forsyth - who's been free for the last 16 years."

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