Jenny Methven murder: Killer’s suicide attempt alerted police to DNA match
DNA left on her wrist and a bloodied fingerprint on a phone handset were among the vital clues that put 80-year-old Jenny Methven’s cold-blooded killer behind bars.
William Kean was also caught on CCTV outside a newsagents as he drove along a remote country road - a route he had taken to Mrs Methven’s home in Forteviot to avoid going through Perth which has numerous CCTV cameras - and his mobile phone was also logged in the area around the time of the murder.
Kean was a close friend of David Methven and knew his mother well.
Before and after bludgeoning Mrs Methven to death he was on the phone to Mr Methven acting as normal and giving no hint of the horrific crime he had just committed.
In the days following the murder Kean spent a lot of time with Mr Methven who had no idea that his friend had killed his mother.
The brutal murder of the widow at her cottage in rural Perthshire on February 20 shocked the nation.
She was bludgeoned at least eleven times and with such force that her skull was fractured from side to side and splinters of bone were embedded in her brain.
Despite extensive searches the murder weapon has never been found.
The last person to speak with Mrs Methven apart from her killer was her friend of 50 years Elizabeth Cook, from Perthshire, who was on the phone to her.
Mrs Cook said they had been chatting about old friends, family members and the WRI for about 46 minutes when Mrs Methven suddenly said: “Oh there’s a vehicle reversing up my driveway. I have to go and see who it is.”
She rang off without saying goodbye and Mrs Cook never heard from her again.
Police believe that she was murdered shortly after she ended the phone call with her friend.
Mrs Methven was found around 5.15pm by her only son David. He returned from work to find the house in darkness and his mother dead in the kitchen with towels over her head and pools of blood on the floor.
He said at first he thought she had fallen while out with the dog and had somehow managed to make her way home.
Mr Methven said she was cold to the touch and he immediately dialled 999 and said: “I’ve just come home and found my mother unconscious. There’s blood everywhere.”
He frantically tried CPR on her for many minutes before saying: “I think she’s dead.”
Mr Methven said: “It’s the worst thing you could possibly imagine. I was hoping against hope.”
The murder inquiry to hunt down Mrs Methven’s killer was the largest ever mounted by Tayside Police. An appeal was due to be broadcast on BBC’s Crimewatch programme.
Detectives had a fingerprint and DNA left on Mrs Methven wrist, on the sleeve of her jumper and on a tumbler in the sink, but had been unable to come up with a match for them.
Their breakthrough came when Kean, 46, from Blairgowrie, tried to kill himself. He slit one wrist, cut his throat and took 150 paracetamol tablets.
But Kean made sure that he would be found before he died from his injuries or the tablets. Before he even started his suicide bid he phoned his sister-in-law and brother-in-law to say he was depressed and tell them where he was.
His brother-in-law was so concerned he drove to find Kean and subsequently took him to hospital.
Tellingly Kean also phoned Mr Methvan and said: “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Medics who realised that Kean had already been interviewed about Mrs Methven’s murder flagged up the incident to murder squad detectives.
Ten days after his apparent suicide bid Kean was detained by police and charged with murder the next day.
Throughout his police interviews Kean lied and said he had never been at Mrs Methven’s cottage on the day she was murdered.
When he realised he had left DNA and fingerprint evidence behind he came up with a concocted story in court.
Kean now admitted going to the cottage to collect paperwork and two tyres and finding Mrs Methven barely alive and just able to say “David, David.”
The father-of-one said: “When Mrs Methven said: ‘David, David’ I wondered if he had done something before he left for work.”
Kean claimed he tried to give her a sip of water, but drank the water himself leaving his DNA on the tumbler and then just walked out of the house leaving her to die.
But pathologist Dr Helen Brownlow gave the lie to Kean’s story. She told the jury that after the second or third blow rained down on her Mrs Methven would have been deeply unconscious and would have died within minutes.
Dr Brownlow said there was no way she could have spoken.
Just an hour after ending Mrs Methven’s life in an apparently motiveless crime Kean calmly told a work colleague on the phone: “I’ve not had my lunch and I’m going for a cup of coffee.”
When asked about this by his defence QC Brian McConnachie, Kean said: “Yes I was quite cut up about it. I sat there with a cup of coffee and wondered if I should phone the emergency services, but I thought I’d get the blame for something I hadn’t done.”
When Kean met up with this man and another colleague in Broughty Ferry neither of them noticed anything unusual about him.
But they said he deliberately poured bleach over his trousers.
These trousers were found hidden in the eaves of Kean’s garage and when analysed they found traces of Mrs Methven’s blood on them.
Despite all the mounting forensic evidence against Kean he kept saying: “I never murdered Mrs Methven.”
He also bizarrely alleged that he hadn’t hidden the trousers but had kept them for evidence to prove he wasn’t the killer.
In court Kean said that Mr Methven knew who had killed his mother and refused to tell the police.
He alleged that the murder had been committed by drug addicts from Glasgow and claimed that Mr Methven was a drugs courier.
Kean also told the jury that Mr Methven knew he had been at his mother’s cottage that day and had offered him £90,000 hush money.
During his evidence in court Kean sickeningly called on Mrs Methven’s real killer to give himself up. He also claimed: “My life was in danger and still is.”
But the jury saw through his lies. Kean only cried when speaking about his apparent suicide bid. He shed no tears for the woman whose life he had brutally ended.
Mrs Methven was active in the church and in fundraising for good causes.
She sold poppies and helped organise events for Help for Heroes and was always interested in chatting to friends and neighbours and asking after their families and their pets.
Although 80 she was fit and healthy and would walk her black cocker spaniel Kyle twice a day.
Neighbours would often see her in her yellow high visibility jacket which her son bought for her walking along the country roads near her home with her dog by her side.
She also made regular visits to Perth on the bus to do her shopping or visit the doctor.
Mrs Methven was president of the local branch of Women’s Rural Institute. Her husband Andrew, the former senior gamekeeper on the Dupplin estate, died six years ago, aged 81.
A friend and fellow WRI member Mrs Margaret Dennis, 55, said of relationship between Mrs Methven and her son: “David adored his mother and she adored him. They were funny together. They would banter with each other.”
They were planning to go out for a curry the day she was murdered. Mr Methven, who is a contractor, said that morning they had breakfast together.
He said: “It was just a normal Monday. We reminded each other we wouldn’t need an evening meal at home because it was curry night. That was the last words I exchanged with my mother.”
On February 20 there was £159,000 in the Methven’s house. The bulk of it was in a locked cupboard in the living room, but there was also £15,000 in a freezer and £8,000 was found in Mrs Methven’s bedroom and £9,600 in her son’s bedroom.
No money was taken even though some of the money in Mr Methven’s room was lying on the dressing table.
It was 19 days before Mr Methven told plice about the money in the house he said: “Out of privacy.it was a separate incident.”
He described Kean as “a trusted member of our circle,” and added: “There is no one more surprised than me to find William Kean charged with murder.”
The court heard that at the time of the murder Kean’s businesses were financially sound, he had money in his credit account and his wife’s family was well-to-do and she could have helped him out if he was struggling.
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