UK

Police watchdog to probe handling of Aberfeldy dog walker murder investigation

A murder investigation was not launched until several days after the body of Brian Low was found.

Police are investigating the death of Brian Low
Brian Low death investigation Police are investigating the death of Brian Low (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Scotland’s police watchdog is to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a gunshot victim which was not treated as murder until several days after his body was found.

Brian Low, 65, who had been walking his dog, was found dead on a remote track on the outskirts of Aberfeldy, Perthshire, at around 8.30am on Saturday February 17.

His death was initially treated as “medical or non-suspicious” however concerns around the wound he had suffered were raised on Wednesday February 21 during an initial medical examination and the police major investigation team was called in.

A post-mortem examination on February 23 established that Mr Low had sustained a fatal gunshot and a murder inquiry was launched.

Police have been carrying out investigations at the scene
Brian Low death Police have been carrying out investigations at the scene (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The public and media were not informed that a murder inquiry had been launched until February 27, 10 days after Mr Low’s body was found by a member of the public.

Detectives have admitted evidence may have been lost in the delay in setting up a crime scene which did not happen until four days after Mr Low’s body was discovered.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) has confirmed that it is looking into the case.

A Pirc spokesperson said: “On 1 March 2024, Pirc was directed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a 65-year-old man discovered near Aberfeldy on 17 February 2024.

“Once the investigation is concluded, a report on our findings will be submitted to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).”

Speaking at a police press conference on Thursday, Detective Chief Inspector Martin Macdougall said that “criminality” was established on Friday February 23, but there were “concerns around the injury” two days earlier.

He said: “Obviously, once it had been established on Wednesday there were concerns about the death, the scene was established at that stage.

“But, yes, I appreciate that in that time frame between the Saturday and Wednesday some things could have been lost, but we have taken every opportunity since to recover every item from that area.”

There has been a police presence in the area
Brian Low death There has been a police presence in the area (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Questions have been raised about the police handling of the case, with politicians among those calling for answers.

Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart said locals had contacted him with “concerns” about how the “shocking incident” had been handled.

He has written to Police Scotland calling for “urgent clarification on what is known to have happened thus far, and why the investigation was not launched sooner”.

And Perthshire North MSP John Swinney said he has written to the Chief Constable to “seek answers on key questions in the handling of this case”.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, he said: “It is vital that public assurance can be given on these issues.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We have received correspondence and it will be responded to in due course.”

In relation to the Pirc investigation, the spokesperson said: “The circumstances have now been referred by Police Scotland to the Police Investigation and Review Commissioner. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment further.”

A COPFS spokesperson said: “COPFS has instructed PIRC to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a 65-year-old man near Aberfeldy.”