Glasgow & West Scotland

Search area narrowed in Moira Anderson remains probe

Moira Anderson
Image caption Moira Anderson was last seen by her family on 23 February 1957

Forensic experts have narrowed the search area for the remains of a schoolgirl who disappeared in North Lanarkshire nearly 60 years ago.

Moira Anderson was 11 when she disappeared from her home in Coatbridge in February 1957.

Bus driver and convicted paedophile Alexander Gartshore, who died in 2006, is suspected of the murder.

Last year the Crown Office enlisted the help of forensic soil scientist Prof Lorna Dawson to identify search sites.

After the discussion of ground reports, the Crown Office said further progress had been made in pinpointing the areas where the search should be concentrated.

The search area has not been confirmed but it was reported last year that Prof Dawson had identified a site north of Coatbridge where a farm worker reported an empty bus blocking a lane on the night the schoolgirl disappeared.

Preparatory work is to start in the coming weeks with digging to begin in the autumn.

Det Supt Pat Campbell, of Police Scotland, said: "At the request of the Lord Advocate, Police Scotland has been working with a number of subject experts from across the UK, including Professor Lorna Dawson, Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, to consider a number of potential sites within the Lanarkshire area which may be linked to the disappearance of Moira Anderson in February 1957.

"This work is presently ongoing and a detailed report regarding search options will be submitted to Crown Office for consideration in the near future.

"The ultimate objective is to one day recover Moira's remains and to bring closure to the family of Moira and the community of Lanarkshire."

Image copyright BBC and SWNS
Image caption Police believe child abuser Alexander Gartshore murdered Moira and disposed of her body

Moira Anderson was last seen on 23 February 1957 when she left her grandmother's house and boarded a Baxter's bus that was driven by Gartshore.

Later that year, he was jailed for raping a 17-year-old babysitter.

In 1999, convicted child abuser James Gallogley named his former friend Gartshore as Moira's murderer.

Gartshore's own daughter Sandra Brown was convinced he was the killer and campaigned to have him charged.

In 2014 prosecutors took the unusual step of announcing that Gartshore would have faced prosecution for the schoolgirl's murder if he were still alive.

A plot in Old Monkland Cemetery in Coatbridge was previously searched by experts but failed to find Moira's remains.

Police had been investigating the possibility that Gartshore dumped the youngster's remains in the grave of an acquaintance named Sinclair Upton.

Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC said "good progress" was being made in preparing for new searches.

"I instructed the investigation into Moira Anderson's disappearance to remain open in the hope that one day her body may be discovered and her family be given the closure they deserve," he said.

Prof Dawson, who runs a laboratory dedicated to forensic soil science, has worked on dozens of cases from around the world and helped bring World's End killer Angus Sinclair to justice.

She said: "We have been considering potential locations and their physical characteristics, and developing, together with Police Scotland, a search strategy combining geographical and intelligence led information."

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