Brenda Page murder: Scientist Christopher Harrisson found guilty of murdering ex-wife in Aberdeen 45 years ago

Dr Page’s family described her as an "extremely kind, intelligent woman (who had) her whole life ahead of her".

A retired university scientist has been jailed for life after being found guilty of beating his former wife to death more than 40 years ago.

Christopher Harrisson, 82, was found guilty at the High Court in Aberdeen on Thursday of murdering his ex-wife, fellow academic Brenda Page. He forced entry to her Aberdeen flat, which Dr Page had moved to after fleeing their abusive marriage, and killed her by striking her on the head and body. Her body was discovered on July 14, 1978 by a concerned colleague and a neighbour.

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Harrisson spent decades denying his crime but prosecutors from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) were able to disprove him using DNA examination and forensic techniques. Biological samples taken from the sheets of Dr Page's bed were re-examined using state-of-the-art analysis.

Brenda Page & Christopher Harrisson.
Brenda Page & Christopher Harrisson.
Brenda Page & Christopher Harrisson.

Dr Page's family said they are "delighted" with the verdict, adding it has brought "justice" for an "extremely kind, intelligent woman (who had) her whole life ahead of her". A jury found Harrisson guilty after hearing evidence that Dr Page was terrified of her former husband and had told associates she feared he would one day kill her. Letters written detailed some of the abuse and in one, Dr Page asked her lawyer to ensure she receive a thorough post-mortem examination should she ever die suddenly. Harrisson was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum jail term of 20 years.

In a statement released through Police Scotland, Dr Page's family said: "We as a family are absolutely delighted with the verdict of today's trial. Brenda's murder, nearly 45 years ago at the incredibly young age of 32, has affected the family and so many of her friends, work colleagues and of course Police Scotland.

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"Not a day goes by when we don't think about Brenda and the horrendous ordeal she must have suffered that night. Brenda was an extremely kind, intelligent woman with her whole life ahead of her. It hurts us to think of the great things she would have undoubtedly achieved. Forty-five years is a long time to be at liberty whilst the family have endured such tragedy, sadness and loss. Reliving these events over and over again each time Brenda's case was re-investigated or publicised in the media was difficult to say the least.

"We extend our sincerest thanks to Police Scotland's Major Investigation Team (MIT) in Aberdeen and Crown counsel and COPFS for keeping Brenda's case open and tirelessly pursuing the justice today has brought."

Christopher Harrisson: Elderly scientist convicted of murdering his ex-wife nearly 50 years later
Christopher Harrisson: Elderly scientist convicted of murdering his ex-wife nearly 50 years later
Christopher Harrisson: Elderly scientist convicted of murdering his ex-wife nearly 50 years later

National procurator fiscal for homicide and major crime, David Green, said: "The relatives of Dr Brenda Page have waited a very long time for justice and our thoughts are with them as they come to terms with today's outcome. Christopher Harrisson took the life of their loved one and subjected them to further torment by maintaining his pretence of innocence for many years. A man once recognised as a skilled scientist himself has been brought to justice through scientific expertise."

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The case has been one of Scotland's longest-running murder investigations and the MIT instigated a re-investigation in 2015 following instruction from the Lord Advocate.

Detective Inspector Gary Winter said Dr Page was "never forgotten" and they hoped one day her murderer would "face the consequences of his actions". He added: "Various improvements in available evidence since 1978 allowed the investigation to progress to trial. Part of this is down to a better understanding of domestic abuse and abusive relationships, which has helped us highlight what Brenda went through over many years. I would like to thank all those who have assisted with our investigation and in particular those who helped at the time of the murder and the friends and colleagues we revisited during our most recent investigation, many of whom have sadly passed away."

Christopher Harrisson: Elderly scientist convicted of murdering his ex-wife nearly 50 years later
Christopher Harrisson: Elderly scientist convicted of murdering his ex-wife nearly 50 years later
Christopher Harrisson: Elderly scientist convicted of murdering his ex-wife nearly 50 years later