Garvie killer dies planning move abroad

BRIAN Tevendale, the killer at the heart of one of the most notorious Scottish murder cases in recent years, has died of a suspected heart attack, only days before he planned to emigrate to Africa.

Following his release from prison, Tevendale became the landlord of a village pub in Perthshire. He died at his home in Angus Road, Scone, aged 58, as he prepared to leave Scotland for a new life in Gambia.

Thirty-five years ago, on 2 December, 1968, Tevendale and his lover, Sheila Garvie, were both jailed for life for the murder of Garvie’s farmer husband, Max, who was shot as he lay sleeping.

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The trial of the two lovers - the barman and the glamorous wife of one of Scotland’s wealthiest farmers - gripped Scotland.

It was a tale of adultery and orgies at a rural hideaway nicknamed "Kinky Cottage", which culminated in a calculated murder.

Every day, throughout the trial at the High Court in Aberdeen, massive crowds queued to be sure of a seat in the public benches as the evidence unfolded.

Sheila Garvie, then 33, was a woman who appeared to have it all. In 1955, she had married Max Garvie, the "flying farmer" regarded as the most eligible bachelor in the area.

The couple had three children and appeared to enjoy an idyllic life at their home at West Cairnbeg Farm, near Laurencekirk.

But the trial revealed a dark side to Garvie that was to draw first his wife and then Tevendale into a web of orgies and deceit that eventually cost the farmer his life.

It began when Garvie took his wife and their two young daughters on a trip to a nudist colony while holidaying in France.

After they returned to Scotland he forced his wife to accompany him on trips to a naturist colony near Edinburgh and then to a nudist retreat near Alford in Strathdon, dubbed "Kinky Cottage" by locals.

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Max Garvie then began a series of affairs. Trudi Birse, the policeman’s wife who became Garvie’s favourite mistress, later boasted of how she and Garvie had made love in the cockpit of his two-seater plane as they flew over the North-east.

But when his wife learned of her husband’s affair, Garvie forced her into the arms of Mrs Birse’s brother, Brian Tevendale, a man 11 years her junior.

The court was told that Garvie had encouraged the relationship because Sheila was "frigid" and he believed the affair would make her a better lover.

It was to prove a fatal mistake. When Garvie eventually tired of his affair with Mrs Birse, he discovered his wife and Tevendale had fallen in love. Sheila Garvie fled to Bradford with her lover but later returned because she could not bear to be parted from her children.

She was subjected to repeated physical abuse at the hands of her husband. And it was then, the court was told, that she and Tevendale began plotting Garvie’s murder.

In the early hours of 14 May, 1968, Sheila Garvie let two men into their West Cairnbeg home. One was Tevendale and the other, his friend Alan Peters, who was not proven of Garvie’s murder.

In the darkness, Garvie guided Tevendale to where her husband lay sleeping. Tevendale knocked Garvie senseless with a rifle he was carrying and then placed the muzzle to his head and fired.

Tevendale then disposed of the body in an underground tunnel at Lauriston Castle, near St Cyrus.

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The chances are that Garvie’s body might never have been discovered. But Sheila Garvie told her mother, Edith Watson, she "thought" her husband had been murdered by her boyfriend and Mrs Watson, in turn, informed the police.

The ten-day trial made headlines around the country. The public began queuing outside the court at 3am on the day the jury returned their verdicts and both Tevendale and Garvie were jailed for life.

But three months after they were sentenced, the passionate affair which had driven the lovers to murder was over.

In a letter from her prison cell, Garvie told Tevendale: "I have decided to have nothing more to do with you ever again."

A year after her release in 1978, Garvie married David McLellan, a Rhodesian oilworker, but the marriage lasted only two years. Shortly after divorce, she married again, living with her third husband, Charles Mitchell, a drilling engineer, at their home in Stonehaven until he died in 1992.

Today, Garvie is a pensioner who still frequently walks her dog along the town’s beach. There was no reply at her home yesterday.

The two former lovers have never spoken to each other since their release from prison. In his last newspaper interview, published four years ago, Tevendale recalled: "Having Max out of the way meant we could get married and I assumed that was her motive. Looking back on it now, I’m not so sure.

"There was a lot of money to be gained from it. And I was under her spell."

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He added: "If I could go back and undo it now, I would. But when I did what I did, I was stupid and naive and probably thought I was in love."