Glasgow & West Scotland

Moira Anderson police to retrieve objects from canal

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPolice divers join efforts to trace a schoolgirl Moira Anderson

Police divers are to retrieve objects from a canal for assessment by forensic experts in the search for a schoolgirl who disappeared 60 years ago.

The items have been highlighted during recent sonar scanning of the waterway in an effort to locate the remains of 11-year-old Moira Anderson.

She left her grandmother's house in Coatbridge on 23 February 1957 to go to the shops but never returned.

Convicted paedophile Alexander Gartshore is suspected of her murder.

Det Supt Pat Campbell said: "There are five distinct areas which have been identified which relate to items or structures within the silt layer.

"We are going to deploy divers from Police Scotland to remove these objects."

He said specialists from the University of Dundee would then identify the objects and determine whether any of them are bones.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image copyright Getty Images
Image copyright Getty Images

The first phase of the operation last week focused on a 170m (185 yards) stretch of canal at Carnbroe. Although it is 3.5m (11.5ft) deep, around 2m (6.5ft) of that is silt.

The team were joined by leading experts including soil forensic expert Prof Lorna Dawson and forensic anthropologist Prof Sue Black.

The search involved the use of ground-penetrating radar, sonar scanning and magnetometry, which identifies magnetic anomalies within the water and silt layer of the canal.

Image caption Det Supt Pat Campbell says divers have been deployed for the next stage of the operation
Image copyright Getty Images

Bus driver and convicted paedophile Alexander Gartshore, who died in 2006, is suspected of murdering Moira and disposing of her body.

When she left her grandmother's house during a heavy snowstorm, she boarded a Baxter's bus that was driven by Gartshore.

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

Image caption Moira Anderson was last seen by her family on 23 February 1957
Image copyright BBC and SWNS
Image caption Police believe child abuser Alexander Gartshore murdered Moira and disposed of her body

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

Gartshore's own daughter Sandra Brown was convinced he was the killer and campaigned to have him charged.

In 2014, prosecutors announced that Gartshore would have faced prosecution for the schoolgirl's murder if he were still alive.

A previous search has focused on the theory that he may have buried her body in Monkland Cemetery, in the family plot of an acquaintance, but an excavation in 2013 found nothing.

The latest searches were prompted by a sighting, reported in 1957 but not followed up, of a man carrying a large heavy sack towards the canal.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites