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Scotland and its History (crime)

14 June 2022
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The Appin Murder.

On May 14, 1752, Colin Roy Campbell of Glenure was shot near the Scottish town of Appin. Campbell was not a well-liked man, as he was a government agent in charge of local evictions. He was killed when he was on his way to evict members of the local Stewart clan, to be replaced with members of his own family. Ailean Stewart was the main suspect. He fled, but was tried and sentenced to death in his absence. His brother, James, was also sentenced to death as an accomplice, even though an alibi placed James nowhere near the shooting.

The case has been held up as a terrible miscarriage of justice. The head judge and 11 of the 15 jury members were from the Campbell clan. In 2008, a Scottish lawyer petitioned the government to have the sentence officially overturned, stating there was “not a shred of evidence” that the Stewarts had been involved. In 2013, modern forensic analysis determined that there must have been two gunmen. That contradicted the report from the sole witness of the crime, who claimed to have seen a single shooter on a hill.

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According to research by author James Hunter, the shooter is a man named Donald Stewart. Hunter claims it was well known among many Stewarts at the time, but they didn’t want to give Donald up to the authorities, so they let James take the fall. He says the secret has been passed on through several generations over the years. While this particular case is still capable of stirring strong emotions among some Scots, it’s likely to never be completely solved.

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