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Woods flasher was 'forced to confess' to Pamela's murder; Gilmour wins appeal after 19 years in jail.

Byline: NORMAN SILVESTER EXCLUSIVE

A PRISONER convicted of the rape and murder of a schoolgirl 20 years ago has won the right to a fresh appeal.

The decision comes after official investigators voiced concerns about Raymond Gilmour's alleged confession to one of Scotland's most notorious murders.

Gilmour was jailed for life in 1982 after telling police he strangled Pamela Hastie, 16, in a wood near her home in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, in 1981.

He had earlier been convicted of exposing himself to girls.

Since then, he has fought to prove his innocence, claiming two confessions to the murder were forced out of him by detectives.

His legal team will now launch a fresh appeal in front of three judges after the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission found serious flaws in his conviction.

The appeal could overturn his conviction or order a retrial.

Gilmour's case is the 10th to be sent back to the courts by the new seven-strong commission, which was set up by the Scottish Executive to look at alleged miscarriages of justice.

In a confidential report seen by the Sunday Mail, the commission said Gilmour could have been intimidated into telling detectives what they wanted to hear. The SCCRC decided that two signed confessions can't be relied on.

The 21-page report concludes: "The result of the psychological evaluations which have now been performed on Mr Gilmour, taken together with the information contained in the statements and the lack of forensic evidence, cast doubt on the reliability of the confession, without which there would not have been sufficient evidence to convict Mr Gilmour,

"This has led the commission to believe that there may have been a miscarriage of justice and that it is in the interests of justice that the case be referred to the High Court of Justiciary for consideration."

Pamela was murdered in Rannoch Woods, Johnstone, just hours after being appointed a prefect at school.

Gilmour became an immediate suspect because he had been convicted the previous year for indecent exposure.

Police also discovered he had scared other schoolgirls the day before Pamela died by exposing himself in the same woods.

Gilmour admitted he had been in the woods two hours before Pamela was attacked. A piece of string used to strangle Pamela was similar to a piece of binding on a parcel Gilmour had handled.

Gilmour was unable to provide any alibi.

And detectives found books in his bedroom which matched pornographic magazines found in the woods. Under bushes, they also found petrol receipts from the garage where he worked as a part-time pump attendant. They carried his handwriting.

Police believed Pamela had spotted Gilmour exposing himself. To stop her reporting him, he had raped and strangled her.

The prosecution case hinged on two signed confessions made by Gilmour during the inquiry.

The man leading the murder hunt, Det Supt James Brown, was unconvinced by Gilmour's first confession, which he claimed had been made under duress.

But while Mr Brown was on holiday, the head of Strathclyde Serious Crime Squad - the late Charles Craig - had Gilmour brought into Paisley police office.

After a prolonged interrogation, he confessed again and was charged with rape and murder.

In 1993, Paisley lawyer Gordon Ritchie took up Gilmour's case.

A top forensic psychologist claimed the confessions had been written by more than one person.

Channel Four's Trial and Error series also claimed in 1994 that Gilmour was a victim of injustice.

Appeals to then Scots Secretary Ian Lang and the European Court of Human Rights failed.

In 1996, Gilmour was convicted of exposing himself in Edinburgh while on a jail work placement.

Because Gilmour has always maintained his innocence, he has been regularly refused parole.

If he had admitted his guilt, he would probably have been let out on licence about six years ago.

A detective who worked on the case told the Sunday Mail: "There was never any doubt in our minds that Gilmour was the killer.

"Had we had things like DNA and taped interviews available to us at the time, then I am sure Gilmour would still have been found guilty."
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 10, 2001
Words:683
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