Divers search canal for re­mains of school­girl

Po­lice: 11-year-old Moira van­ished from home 60 years ago

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY PAUL WARD

Po­lice divers have started search­ing a canal af­ter sev­eral “ar­eas of in­ter­est” were iden­ti­fied in the hunt for a school­girl who dis­ap­peared more than six decades ago.

Moira An­der­son was 11 when she dis­ap­peared from her home in Coat­bridge, north La­nark­shire, in Fe­bru­ary 1957 while run­ning an errand for her grand­mother.

In 2014, pros­e­cu­tors took the un­prece­dented step of an­nounc­ing that lo­cal bus driver and con­victed pae­dophile Alexan­der Gartshore – who died in 2006 – would have faced prose­cu­tion for the school­girl’s mur­der if he were still alive. A rein­ves­ti­ga­tion set up in 2013 iden­ti­fied six po­ten­tial de­po­si­tion sites in Coat­bridge, with a 170m area of Mon­k­lands canal the pri­or­ity area.

Spe­cial­ists in sonar scan­ning, ground-pen­e­trat­ing radar and mag­ne­tom­e­try be­gan scour­ing the area last week for any sign of re­mains, jew­ellery or cloth­ing and have now es­tab­lished five ar­eas of in­ter­est within the canal that divers will in­ves­ti­gate fur­ther.

A Po­lice Scot­land spokesman said: “The con­clu­sion of this first scop­ing phase has re­sulted in five dis­tinct ar­eas of anom­alies be­ing iden­ti­fied by spe­cial­ist re­sources. The se­cond phase of this op­er­a­tion will com­mence on Mon­day with divers from Po­lice Scot­land’s marine unit, con­duct­ing a search of the iden­ti­fied ar­eas.

“The se­cond phase of the op­er­a­tion will fo­cus on iden­ti­fy­ing and re­mov­ing rel­e­vant items lo­cated within the es­tab­lished ar­eas of in­ter­est.”

Those in­volved in the search and anal­y­sis of ma­te­rial found in­clude foren­sic soil ex­pert Pro­fes­sor Lorna Daw­son and Pro­fes­sor Sue Black, di­rec­tor of anatomy and hu­man iden­ti­fi­ca­tion at the Univer­sity of Dundee.

A plot in Old Mon­k­land Ceme­tery, 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 body in the grave of an ac­quain­tance named Sin­clair Up­ton.

Last week, De­tec­tive Su­per­in­ten­dent Pat Camp­bell said he hoped to finally bring clo­sure to the case with the canal search.

“The land round about (the canal) has not changed much in 60 years.

“We know it’s been dredged three times but that’s taken place only re­ally at the sides of the canal in gen­eral.

“We re­main op­ti­mistic that we can re­cover her re­mains and bring clo­sure to her fam­ily, but it will be chal­leng­ing and we’ve ex­plained that to both Moira’s sis­ters.”

IN DEPTH IN­QUIRY: Po­lice Scot­land divers search the Mon­k­lands Canal for the re­mains of 11-year-old school­girl Moira An­der­son yes­ter­day

Moira dis­ap­peared when run­ning an errand

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