Suzanne Pilley murder: Hours of preparation, then history is made

The St Giles clock across the cobbled High Street had barely struck seven, and the first television satellite van was already camped outside the High Court in Edinburgh.

The habitual early-starters in the building are accustomed to passing perhaps only the odd insomniac tourist on their way into work, and while they have seen media scrums for the “big” cases in the past, a presence at that time of the morning made the head turn.

It may have been David Gilroy’s day in court, but the broadcasters themselves were almost as big a news item. For the first time in the UK, the sentencing of a murderer – or at least the judge imposing the sentence – was to be filmed.

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Restrictions imposed on the event by the legal authorities dictated that there would be no shots of the killer or his family, or his victim’s relatives. Indeed, no-one in the court other than Lord Bracadale and his clerk and macer.

Those able to find a seat in Court Three could see a lone television camera on a tripod and operator in the jury box, and a single stills photographer. Otherwise, it seemed just another sentencing.

Another clue to the novelty of the occasion, however, was the careful choreography that saw Lord Bracadale take his seat on the bench exactly as the digital clocks clicked to 10:00. A court hearing starting at its appointed time! Who would have believed it?

Everyone had a clear view of Gilroy, in a sombre suit and more colourful shirt and tie, as he sat in the dock.

Lord Bracadale glided through his words as he imposed sentence. With the clocks showing 10:14, he had finished and was on his way off the bench. History had been made, in the space of 14 minutes.