Glasgow & West Scotland

Moira Anderson body not found at Old Monkland Cemetery

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Media captionCh Insp Kenny MacLeod said the case would remain open

Police have confirmed that a grave in North Lanarkshire does not contain the body of missing schoolgirl Moira Anderson, who disappeared in 1957.

The 11-year-old vanished during a trip to the shops in Coatbridge.

Specialist forensic teams had exhumed the family burial plot of Sinclair Upton at Old Monkland Cemetery.

Mr Upton, who died in 1957, was an acquaintance of Alexander Gartshore, a convicted child rapist who had been linked to Moira's disappearance.

Radar scan

Gartshore's daughter, Sandra Brown, and Moira's family believe that he murdered the schoolgirl and had suspected that he hid her body in Mr Upton's grave.

A radar scan of the plot in 2007 uncovered soil anomalies which may have been consistent with the presence of another body.

Image caption Moira Anderson disappeared while on an errand for her family

Following a campaign by Mrs Brown and Moira's family, a sheriff granted an exhumation order in December to search the grave in Coatbridge.

However, a three-day operation with specialist forensic personnel to examine the plot has now concluded with no evidence being found that Moira was buried there.

Ch Insp Kenny MacLeod, of Strathclyde Police, said: "The main objective of the operation this week was to establish if the remains of Moira Anderson, missing from 1957, were within a burial plot in Old Monkland Cemetery.

"No human remains, other than those already interred at this plot, have been found at this location.

"Officers have spoken to Moira's sisters, who are fully aware of the outcome and our thoughts are with them at this time.

"Despite today's outcome, this case will remain open and if any other lines of inquiry are identified they will be fully investigated."

Mrs Brown said that she was "very sad" that Moira's body had not been found but was "absolutely satisfied" the police operation had established the truth.

She said: "Moira's two sisters now know, but I've explained that although the grave is closed, it's not the end of the story and we strongly believe that Moira still wants to be found.

"We've had experts here working with the police with the highest integrity, but the people who did this crime were devious in the extreme and their wickedness knows no bounds.

"My belief is that Moira is not far from us, but she remains concealed by extremely wicked people.

"It's a difficult day but my thoughts are with the Upton family, who can now hopefully have their family members put to rest."

Image caption The burial plot was exhumed by forensic experts during a three-day operation

Moira was last seen by her family on 23 February 1957.

After leaving home during a snowstorm to run an errand to a local Co-op, she boarded a bus driven by Gartshore, who was the last person to see the schoolgirl alive.

Later that year, he was jailed for raping a 17-year-old babysitter.

In 1999, convicted child abuser James Gallogley named his former friend Gartshore as Moira's murderer.

Gallogley was said to have made the confession to another inmate while he was dying in Peterhead Prison.

After Gartshore's death in 2006, Mrs Brown, a former friend of Moira, published a book in which she accused her late father of the schoolgirl's murder.

She said she believed Gartshore had initially buried the child's body in a ditch but later moved it to Mr Upton's open grave at Old Monkland Cemetery.

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