Treasure of the month - April 2009
Murder at Ardlamont?
It is a unique quirk of the Scottish legal system that a verdict of 'not proven' may be declared. Such was the verdict of the jury at the trial, in Edinburgh's High Court of Justiciary, of Alfred John Monson (34) who was charged with the murder of Cecil Hambrough (20) in 1893.
Among the witnesses for the prosecution was Dr. Joseph Bell - a surgeon and forensic detective who served as the archetype for Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. In his opinion, Monson had indeed murdered Hambrough. Dr. McMillan, who examined the body, "gave it as his opinion that [the gunshot wound] might have been caused by Mr. Hambrough holding his gun incautiously" on the assumption that Hambrough had used a short 20-bore gun but subsequently, Dr. McMillan withdrew his report and death certificate when it was ascertained that the gun had, in fact, been a long 12-bore (Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, September 3rd, 1893).
The public thought Monson guilty too. Later, in 1933, after reading the trial transcript, Scotland Yard's senior firearms expert Robert Churchill wrote that "the evidence is 100% for conviction".
So, what happened? And why do we have a pair of socks in Special Collections?
For the answers...