Sandyford murder case

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The Sandyford murder case was a well-known proceeding of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United Kingdom. The case revolved around the brutal murder of one Jessie McPherson, a servant, in Sandyford Place, Glasgow, Scotland, in 1862. McPherson's friend Jessie McLachlan discovered the body, and stood accused of having murdered McPherson.

The Sandyford case was the first Scottish police case in which forensic photography played a role, and the first case handled by the detective branch of the Glasgow Police.[1]

The case went to the Glasgow Circuit Court in September 1862. During the trial, McLachlan resolutely declared her innocence, and accused the women's employer, one James Fleming, age 87, of having committed the crime, perhaps in a fit of passion when McPherson refused his amorous advances. The jury found McLachlan guilty of murder and sentenced her to death, which was to be carried out by hanging on October 11, 1862.[2]

However, in an unprecedented action, a Court Commission was appointed to investigate the evidence in the case. The commission did not declare her innocent, but did commute her sentence to life imprisonment.

McLachlan served 15 years in Perth General Prison before leaving Scotland with her son, who was then 18 years old. She is believed to have died in Michigan, USA, at the age of 89.

The case is given a passing mention in the last chapter of E.C. Bentley's 1913 detective novel Trent's Last Case and in the third chapter of Gladys Mitchell's 13th Mrs. Bradley crime novel, When Last I Died, published in 1941. It was recounted by Jack House in his 1961 book Square Mile of Murder, which was dramatised by the BBC in 1980. There are two references to this case in Seeing is Believing (also published as Cross of Murder) a Sir Henry Merrivale novel by John Carter (aka John Dickson Carr) first published by Morrow (US, 1941) and Heinemann (UK, 1942). In Chapter 20 there's quite a long account of the Sandyford Murder Mystery.


  1. ^ "The First 100 Years".
  2. ^ "The Life of Calcraft: An Account of the Executions in Scotland for the Past 200 Years".