‘No evidence’ police officers played role in man’s death in 1997

Kevin Mcleod.
Kevin Mcleod.
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Detectives investigating the death of man more than 20 years ago have said there is no evidence police officers were involved.

The body of Kevin Mcleod, 24, was recovered from Wick harbour on February 9, 1997 after a night out with friends.

Last year Police Scotland made an “unreserved apology” for “serious failings” in the initial investigation by Northern Constabulary, saying early opportunities to gather vital evidence were missed.

Detectives who are re-examining the case have spoken three times to a potential new witness who came forward earlier this year claiming he saw two police officers stand watching Mr Mcleod struggle in the water on the night he died.

The man told a local radio station in January that the two men “let him drown”.

Detective Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair said officers had spoken to the potential witness after he was highlighted by the Mcleod family.

He said: “Since January, officers from Homicide Governance and Review have met this individual on three occasions and noted a detailed and comprehensive statement.

“The information from the new witness is currently subject to ongoing assessment which has resulted in a number of additional statements being taken from related persons as well as engagement with independent national experts in certain fields.”

He added: “Throughout the course of this matter, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) have been kept fully aware of all developments including historical and current suggestions that police officers were involved in the death of Mr McLeod.

“In relation to the historical suggestions, these have been extensively investigated, reported to COPFS and have been found to have no evidential basis.”

Mr Mcleod’s family have previously called for an independent inquiry into why Northern Constabulary ignored a direction from prosecutors to investigate the death as a murder.

They believe Mr Mcleod, an electrician, had massive internal injuries consistent with being kicked several hours prior to his drowning.

In 2007, the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland said Northern Constabulary had behaved with “institutional arrogance” in the way it handled complaints from the Mcleod family.

In a letter sent to the family in December, Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “It is Police Scotland’s unequivocal position that we fully accept that an instruction was indeed given by the then procurator fiscal to treat Kevin’s death as a murder and to investigate it accordingly, a matter which Northern Constabulary at that time failed to do.”