Mystery surrounded the battering to death of 82 year old Marion Gilchrist in her Glasgow flat on 21 December 1908. Her maid Helen Lambie returned to find a neighbour investigating a noise. A man walked calmly out of the flat as they went in. A cheap brooch had been stolen, but not her valuable diamonds.
Five days later, police identified German Jew and gem dealer Oscar Slater as prime suspect. He had pawned a similar brooch and had cleared off on the Lusitania. Arrested in New York, his Scottish trial resulted in conviction.
Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fought for Slater's innocence when he discovered the brooch had been pawned a fortnight before the woman's death. But Slater still served 18 years, finally receiving £6,000 in compensation. Conan Doyle was convinced a prominent Glaswgian was the real killer, rather than the known womaniser and gambler, Slater.
(c) Anthony North, Feb 2007