Kevin Mcleod death: 'We have to put our trust in someone'

By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter

image copyrightKevin Mcleod family
image captionKevin Mcleod was 24 when he died

The family of a man whose death has remained unsolved for more than 20 years say they finally feel hopeful the case can be closed.

Kevin Mcleod's body was found in Wick harbour on 9 February 1997.

But police did not investigate his death as a murder as instructed by a Crown official.

With the case now to be scrutinised by Merseyside Police, Kevin's uncle Allan Mcleod said: "After all this time we have to put our trust in someone."

Kevin Mcleod, a 24-year-old electrician from Wick, was last seen alive on 8 February 1997 while on a night out with friends in the Caithness town.

His body was recovered from the sea the following day.

image copyrightKevin Mcleod family
image captionMr Mcleod had been on a night out with friends the day before his body was found

The Mcleod family has long campaigned for answers as to why no-one has been brought to justice for Kevin's death, and repeatedly complained about police handling of the case.

Allan McLeod said this had left the family angry, frustrated with, and deeply suspicious of, Scotland's justice services.

In 2017, Police Scotland said there had been "serious failings" on the part of the former Northern Constabulary, and officers had missed "the opportunity to gather vital evidence".

The following year, the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, instructed an experienced prosecutor to review police handling of Mr Mcleod's death. This review remains ongoing.

This month, Police Scotland said it had asked officers from Merseyside Police to also review the case.

image captionKevin Mcleod's parents June and Hugh and uncle Allan believe the 24-year-old was murdered

Mr Mcleod said the family now hoped they were seeing signs of a breakthrough.

He said: "After all these years we don't have just one review, but two.

"It makes us think 'what have they found?'"

The family were told of the Merseyside Police review in a meeting with police and Crown and Procurator Fiscal Service officials in Inverness.

Mr Mcleod said the news came out of the blue.

"We went into the meeting expecting more bad news," he said:

"They let use say what we wanted to say and then told us Merseyside Police would review the case. We were shell-shocked."

image copyrightKevin Mcleod family
image captionMr Mcleod's family say they have put their trust in those now reviewing the case

Mr Mr Mcleod said senior Police Scotland officers and Crown Office officials deserved credit for having the handling of his nephew's death, from 1997 and since, re-examined.

He said the search for answers over the last 22 years had been a huge strain for the family, with Mr Mcleod himself almost on a weekly basis seeking updates or information from the authorities.

"Even my young grandson knows when he sees me typing on the computer that it has something to do with the case," he said.

"He'll come over and shut the laptop."

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