Murder squad officer;

Murder squad officer;

Born: October 23, 1927; Died: September 21, 2013.

Angus MacLeod, who has died aged 85, was involved in 31 Scottish murder cases in Strathclyde, all of which were solved bar one.

He was born on the MacLeod family croft and brought up in the village of Swordale on the Isle of Lewis, where his first language was Gaelic. He learned only faltering English at Knock School, which he left to go to work as a ploughman at the age of 13.

On the March 19, 1949, he took the boat to the mainland and joined Dumbarton Burgh Police Force. He was the last officer to be recruited by that small force before it was disbanded and integrated into Dunbartonshire Constabulary, which later became part of Strathclyde Police.

The beat allocated to him by Chief Constable Bert Gunn was Dumbarton High Street and the working-class communities of Brucehill and West Bridgend. Big Angus, as he was widely known, developed his English on the beat, making himself hugely popular in the community where people loved his friendly ways and his lilting Gaelic accent.

The children especially liked him for the fact he chased them for playing football in the street or stealing apples from gardens in nearby upmarket Kirktonhill but never seemed able to catch any of them.

The recalcitrants and criminals in the west end of the town were wary of him, however, because he seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to finding out who had been involved in a fist fight or carried out the latest housebreaking, robbed a gas meter or stolen someone's purse.

He was transferred to Dunbartonshire CID in 1960 after his potential as a detective was spotted by Chief Constable William Kerr, who had himself been a member of Royal Protection Squad. He moved swiftly through the ranks of detectives and worked under some notable police officers including Kerr and later Acting Chief Constable Sir David McNee, who became Chief Constable of Strathclyde and Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

One of the first murder cases MacLeod was involved in was as a young constable in the notorious Dumbarton Surgery murder on his beat in West Bridgend. It began when a young apprentice aged only 14 walked into a police station and told the officers he had been coaxed into a disused shop by a fat man with a scar on his face who offered him 10 shillings to help lift a fireplace grating. The stranger produced a gun and tried to tie him to a chair and gag him, but the youngster escaped and ran home to his father, who took him to the police.

Detectives were sceptical at first until they found paint in the empty shop used to black out the windows and a chair similar to the one the victim had told them about. The shop owner said the premises had been rented to a Mr Green whose description matched that given by the boy, but despite extensive inquiries in July 1962 the trail to Mr Green went cold.

Then, a few weeks later, Fred Dowden, aged 15, vanished from his home in Dumbarton. A massive hunt drew a blank. Police who scoured the town with tracker dogs failed to find Fred.

Reports stated the inquiry was going nowhere until the then PC Angus MacLeod noticed someone had used paint to black out the windows of Dr Alexander Forrester's old surgery at 66 West Bridgend.

Remembering his briefing to be on the lookout for anything that might bear a similarity to the earlier incident, he peered inside and saw, tied to a chair, the body of the young victim who had been asphyxiated, his face and mouth covered with sticking tape.

Police eventually arrested Philip Givens, 35, who pleaded guilty at the High Court in Glasgow in March 1963 to abduction and murder and was sent to the State Hospital at Carstairs.

Another of Detective Chief Inspector MacLeod's high-profile cases was that of Dumbarton sex killer Robert Gemmill, a gardener who had spent 14 years in mental hospitals after attacking four young women but who was freed from Carstairs before murdering the daughter of a Nottingham millionaire.

Lynda Jane Walters was stabbed to death in the grounds of luxury Stonefield Castle Hotel near Tarbert, Argyll, while she was holidaying in Scotland with her parents.

Gemmill was originally accused of murdering Lynda Jayne but the Crown agreed to reduce the charge to culpable homicide and Lord Kincraig sentenced Gemmill to be detained indefinitely.

A murder which DCI MacLeod and his Strathclyde colleagues failed to solve is still on the books of Police Scotland. Although he often said privately that although he was convinced he knew who had killed photographer "Wee Eddie" Cotogno, who lived in Valeview Terrace, Bellsmyre, Dumbarton, in July 1979, the criminal might never be brought to justice due to lack of evidence.

The body of Cotogno, who was 63, was discovered in his burning flat but experts quickly established that he had not died as a result of smoke inhalation or flames.

DCI MacLeod retired from Strathclyde Police in 1980 with distinction after 31 years in the force.

He was married to Mairi, a nursing sister, who died in 1988. He is survived by their daughter Lorna, son Angus and seven grandchildren. He was a long-time member of Dumbarton Rotary Club after he retired from the police and Mairi joined the Inner Wheel Club.