Soil expert to assist fresh Moira Anderson search

A FRESH search for the body of missing schoolgirl Moira ­Anderson is to begin in the coming days.
Moira Anderson: Fresh search in next few days. Picture: PAMoira Anderson: Fresh search in next few days. Picture: PA
Moira Anderson: Fresh search in next few days. Picture: PA

Soil expert Professor Lorna Dawson, who worked on the World’s End murder case, is to start searching various locations in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, where the 11-year-old was last seen in 1957.

Part of her investigation will focus on an isolated pond in the Carnbroe area of the town where it is thought her body may have been dumped as well as nearby mine shafts.

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Sandra Brown fought for more than 20 years to see her father, convicted paedophile ­Alexander Gartshore, charged with Moira’s murder.

He had told her that the pond, known locally as Dick’s Pond, would be an ideal place to dump a body.

Moira disappeared during a snowstorm on 23 February, 1957, after she took a bus into town to shop for errands. Her body was never found.

Mrs Brown’s late father, who died in 2006 aged 85, was driving the bus and was the last person to see her.

The country’s top prosecutor, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC, announced in April that he had drafted in Prof Dawson to help with the case.

Speaking yesterday, Mrs Brown said: “The searches are about to start happening and I am hopeful this could finally provide a breakthrough. The Lord Advocate has been very supportive in bringing in this forensic expert who worked on the World’s End murder case and he has placed a lot of faith in this lady. She can look at soil and tell if there has been any disturbances in the last 100 years which is remarkable.

“The expert will now look at a number of locations in the Coatbridge area and that includes about 36 mine shafts. It’s amazing to think that in the next month we might see the final breakthrough happening.”

Last year the Crown Office took the unusual step of issuing a statement in which they laid out the evidence against Gartshore and said he would have been indicted for Moira’s murder were he still alive.

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Mr Mulholland has said the case will remain open until her remains are found and her family receives closure.

Prof Dawson is a specialist in forensic soil science from the Hutton Institute in Aberdeen and has worked on more than 70 cases from around the world. She helped bring World’s End killer Angus Sinclair to justice last year. A grave in Coatbridge’s Old Monkland Cemetery was exhumed in January 2013 over fears Moira could be buried there but the search found no trace of the schoolgirl.

The wave of worldwide publicity that followed resulted in a number of new witnesses coming forward, including one woman who positively identified Gartshore dragging a young girl by the arms on the afternoon Moira went missing.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “Given the public concern about the disappearance of Moira Anderson the Lord Advocate last year took the unprecedented step of naming Alexander Gartshore as the person who would have been indicted for her murder had he been alive today.”