Police revive decade-old murder cases in fresh bid to snare killers

The field in Tranent where Steven Brown's body was found
The field in Tranent where Steven Brown's body was found
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DETECTIVES are set to probe two unsolved murders from a decade ago in a bid to finally bring the killers to justice.

Officers will re-examine the murder of Steven Brown, who was found dead in a field in Tranent in 1999 after being attacked by a gang of men wielding baseball bats.

Three men appeared in court over the slaying of the 35-year-old father-of-one, but were later released due to a lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, detectives will also investigate the murder of Portobello pub landlord Billy Sibbald, whose body was found in undergrowth near the A1 in East Lothian after he vanished in October 2002.

Various theories have been put forward for Mr Sibbald’s murder, including speculation that he may have been the victim of a gangland hit.

A report was sent to the procurator fiscal in 2004 naming a few individuals who could have been involved in the killing, but police never had enough evidence to pin the blame on one person.

Detectives will now review the case as the tenth anniversary of his disappearance approaches.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that the cases would be subject to renewed scrutiny in a bid to bring them to court.

A former senior detective said that he expected the suspects in both cases to be re-interviewed as part of the inquiries.

He said: “With the Billy Sibbald case there was very little public information coming forward. The police had the name of the person they believed was responsible, but there was not enough evidence.

“Now ten years on, officers will dig out all the forensic samples and other evidence and see if scientific advances can help them make a case.

“They will also interview prime witnesses involved. Allegiances change over time, especially within the criminal 
fraternity, and just because someone was on one side in 2002 doesn’t mean they will be now.”

The former officer added: “The Steven Brown case will be much the same. They will look at forensics and re-interview witnesses and suspects. These are not no-hope inquiries. The police would not expel the resources if they did not believe they could get a result.”

A trio of local men were charged with the murder of Mr Brown, of Kerry Road, Tranent, three days after his body was found, but they were released due to a lack of evidence.

At the time, residents came forward with possible names for the people who attacked Mr Brown and left him with fatal head and body injuries.

Police believed the murder may have been the deadly culmination of a long-running feud over a broken window.

Mr Sibbald, a father-of-three, who lived in Joppa and ran the Pop Inn in Portobello, was stabbed to death after vanishing on October 8, 2002. The ex-sauna boss disappeared after telling his wife, Julie, that he was going to meet some business associates. His body was found three months later.


Nine other killings remain unsolved in the Lothians, dating back to 1966.

David McMenigall - The body of city businessman David McMenigall was found at his home in Glasgow Road on February 24, 1966. The 52-year-old had suffered head injuries.

Catherine Duncan - Catherine Duncan, 46, was found dead in her flat in Wallyford, East Lothian, on February 2, 1968. She had been out playing bingo on the previous evening with her husband, Tom, who discovered her stabbed to death after he returned from his night-shift as a miner.

Helen Kane - The partially-clothed body of 25-year-old Helen Kane was found on May 25, 1970. The Craigmillar housewife, who died from head injuries, was discovered on a building site south of the Pleasance.

Neil McCann - Ex-boxer Neil McCann, 37, was stabbed and beaten to death in Craigmillar Castle Loan on February 20, 1974.

J Ralph McIntosh - Widower J Ralph McIntosh, 72, died after being beaten and stabbed in his home in Gullane, East Lothian on January 26, 1982.

Sheila Anderson - Prostitute Sheila Anderson, 27, was deliberately run down by a driver in Granton on April 7, 1983.

Ann Ballantine - Ann Ballantine, 20, vanished in November 1986 and on January 21, 1987, her naked, strangled body was pulled from the waterway 100 yards from her Polwarth flat.

John Nisbet and William Lindsay - The charred remains of John Nisbet and William Lindsay were found on a farm track in Elphinstone, near Tranent, on October 13, 1999. The victims were believed to have been shot in Lanarkshire before their bodies were dumped.