Case against John Mitchell Henderson (1924-1925), Kirkintilloch

In 1925, John Mitchell Henderson was charged with the murder of an elderly man, a jeweller in Kirkintilloch in September 1924. Henderson, in the indictment, is alleged to have committed the crime with a hammer or axe, fracturing the deceased's skull. Tried at High Court, Stirling, the verdict returned was Not Guilty.

  Accused discussing one of the photographic productions in the case with his counsel, Mr Craigie Aitchison The accused, a man in early middle age, dressed in a fashionably-cut dark overcoat, walked smartly into the dock. He is clean-shaven, sharp-featured, with a pale complexion, and grey on the temples. Professor Glaister spoke of finding stains on the prisoner's jacket, on the inside pocket, and outside right-hand pocket. From an examination there was no doubt that they were blood stains, but he could not tell whether it was the blood of man, cat or dog. He also found on the inside pocket of Henderson's jacket traces of a substance which corresponded exactly to a substance found on the hammer which, it is alleged, was the weapon used in the crime. With regard to the hammer, the Professor said he found blood on it and also two particles of hair, human hair, the colour of which was white, the same as that of the deceased man. Cross-examined with regard to the blood-stains on the prisoner's jacket, the witness said it was possible that the stains might have got there by the man having a cut finger, or if he cut himself in shaving, applied his handkerchief, and put the latter in his pocket, that also might account for the stains, providing, added the Professor, that he made a decent nick.

 Verdict Applauded After an absence of 45 minutes, the jury in the Kirkintilloch murder trial unanimously returned a verdict of Not guilty.

Doubt About Hammer, There was doubt that the hammer produced in court was the weapon used by the assailant in his attack on the deceased. Re-examined by Mr Aitchison, witness said that assuming that Professor Glaister was right in his assertion that there was blood on the head of the hammer there was nothing, in his opinion, unusual in finding blood on a garage hammer.

The Question of the Stains, Counsel spoke on the evidence of the expert witnesses as to stains of the hammer and the accused's jacket. He thought that the jury should be chary in reaching a conclusion that any blood was found upon the hammer or upon the clothing. The accused's explanation of his interference in a fight in Glasgow could have accounted for the stains on the jacket lining.

Associated material

  • National Records of Scotland: Ref. AD15/25/17: Precognition against John Mitchell Henderson for the crime of Murder Ref. JC26/1925/69: Trial Papers relating to John Mitchell Henderson, tried at High Court, Stirling, 26th January, 1925.