All of the information on this page was either presented at trial in 2008, or available to Michael’s defence team.
2 June 1994
Shamsuddin Mahmood was murdered at around 7:10pm, while serving a table of customers in the Mumutaz Restaurant. He was shot at point blank range in the head by a masked assailant, who vacated the scene and disappeared within minutes. There had been a total of 14 witnesses inside the restaurant and 7 witnesses that saw the killer, either before he entered or after he left the restaurant. A further 2 witnesses saw an unmasked man, whom police believed to be the killer, running from the end of the lane beside the restaurant. Descriptions of the killer and his clothing varied dramatically and many of the witnesses within the restaurant only had seconds to take in what had happened.
On 19th May 1994, two weeks before Mr Mahmood’s murder, a teenage girl and her mother had witnessed a male behaving strangely in a wooded area next to their home. Papdale Woods is in a completely different area of town to the location of the murder scene. It is a mile away from the Mumutaz restaurant which was situated on Bridge Street, near the harbour area. Papdale Woods are located between the local secondary school and the school hostel, where isles pupils stayed during the week. There were other people that witnessed the male in Papdale Woods, however no-one reported it to police at the time on 19th May. It was only reported to police on the day after Mr Mahmood’s murder because the person in the woods had worn a balaclava at times while in the woods. Police were contacted by the teenage girl and her mother on 3rd June 1994.
This is a chronological account of events that followed the reporting of the Papdale Woods sighting on 19 May 1994. It is entirely understandable that police would be very interested in this information under the circumstances; however, the course of the police investigation thereafter gives huge cause for concern.
3 June 1994
A member of the public contacted police to say that she and her daughter had seen a male behaving suspiciously wearing a balaclava in Papdale Woods on 19 May 1994, 2 weeks prior to Mr Mahmood’s murder:
5 June 1994
The 17 year old daughter of the woman referred to above returned home on 5 June and provided the following account of the suspicious person in Papdale Woods:
9 June 1994
A description of the killer of Shamsuddin Mahmood appeared in the local paper:
This gives a very specific description of the clothing the killer wore, in contrast to eye witness accounts which were entirely inconsistent with each other in that regard.
This mentions “a navy blue thermal or fleecy jacket”:
- Only one adult, and the 9 year old child belonging to that adult, specified that the killer had worn a thermal or fleecy jacket. They had seen him in the street fleeing from the scene. The witnesses were in a passing car.
- There was a total of 23 witnesses, therefore 21 of them made no mention of such an item of clothing. The summary notes that accompanied the adult witnesses account were as follows:
Police have chosen to specify that the killer had worn a fleecy jacket with very little evidence to support this as fact. Because of this, it now appears that the outer garment that was worn by the killer on 2nd June matches the outer garment described by the first Papdale Woods witness from the sighting on 19 May – “a dark blue wooly bear” with a hood. This directly links the Papdale Woods sighting with the murder in the media, seven days after the crime, on the testimony of two witnesses out of 23.
- Were police strongly linking the Papdale Woods sighting to the murder at this early stage?
If this witness was viewed by police to be so reliable that they put this testimony that the killer had worn “a fleecy jacket” before that of 21 other witnesses, then the description of the height and handedness of the killer could also be deemed reliable. The witness in question estimated that the killer was 6′ tall (Michael Ross is 5’7″ now, as an adult) and also stated that the killer held the gun in his left hand (Michael Ross is right handed).
The following table shows all witness descriptions of the killer:
CLICK IMAGES TO VIEW
These witness accounts are extremely varied in relation to height and build of the killer. Police would have been aware that the trauma experienced by witnesses in the restaurant could have affected their recall of events.
Michael Ross can’t have been taller than 5’7″ at age 15, because this is the height that he is now.
Two witnesses from out-with the restaurant, therefore not traumatised, described the killer as 6′ plus. Could a teenager, the height of less than 5’7″, ever have been mistaken for 6′ tall?
9 June 1994
Police spoke to an 11 year old boy who had also seen the person in Papdale Woods:
15 June 2014
A 17 year old friend who had been with the other 17 year old girl referred to above, said:
15 June 1994
Police spoke to a 14 year old boy in relation to Papdale Woods:
16 June 1994
The following account is from a 10 year old boy who had seen the person in Papdale Woods:
19 June 1994
A 14 year old friend, who had accompanied the 14 year old boy referred to above, spoke to police in relation to Papdale Woods:
From intelligence gathering, police noted statements from seven Papdale Woods witnesses over the period of 3 June to 19 June.
23 June 1994
This appeal was published in the local paper, ‘the Orcadian’ on 23 June. It was in a very small box and overshadowed by a wealth of other reporting on the murder case. This was the first time that the Papdale Woods sighting had been made public and it was not publicised again until 6 October 1994:
20 July 1994
A 17 year old girl gave an account to police 2 months after witnessing someone in Papdale Woods:
Out of the eight Papdale Woods witnesses, five would have attended Kirkwall Grammar School at the same time as Michael Ross. Two were primary school age children and one was an adult. Michael was in full view of pupils travelling home from school that day.
12 August 1994
Michael Ross’ father, Eddy Ross, handed in a full sealed box of bullets to police. He stated that he had been given them by his friend, James Spence:
14 August 1994
James Spence was interviewed by police and gave a statement:
Four days after Eddy Ross handed in his sealed box of bullets, from 16 -21 August 1994, three separate witnesses were re-interviewed by police:
16 August 1994
An adult witness had seen a balaclava-clad man crossing Junction Road towards the lane leading to the Mumutaz Restaurant on 2 June just prior to Mr Mahmoods murder. The initial account given on 6 June 1994 was as follows:
An updated account given on 16 August has changed very little except for the height and build of the balaclava clad man:
- The description of the killer issued by police initially was that he had been 5’8″ to 6′ tall.
- Only two witnesses out-with the restaurant had said that the assailant had been within the range of 6′ or over, and here, this witness has inexplicably changed the account they gave with regards to height.
18 August 1994
The 10 year old witness from Papdale Woods who gave his initial statement on 16 June, was visited again on 18 August, 3 months after witnessing the person in the woods. He gave a much more detailed account of the ‘man’ in the woods, which elaborated and said that the person in the woods had been in possession of a wooden object. None of the other woods witnesses mentioned such an item, and it is not clear why this witness was re-interviewed on this date:
21 August 1994
The 11 year old Papdale Woods witness was also re-interviewed in August. He added very little to his previous account from 9 June, except from commenting on the height of the person in the woods:
The rationale that led to these revised accounts being taken in August is not known; however, on paper, it now looks as though the person in Papdale Woods could potentially have been mistaken for being much taller than he actually was, even though it had been very young children that provided the information.
August 1994 (exact date unknown)
One of the police officers on the peripheries of the investigating team was instructed by one of the senior officers to obtain statements from members of the Full Bore Gun Club to ascertain the movements of these individuals on the evening of 2 June and information on weapons held:
It is not known how long this officer had been attempting to gain these statements from the Ross brothers. He finally obtained them on 24 August 1994. The pro-forma questionnaire obtained from Michael Ross stated:
Was this whole exercise part of an intelligence gathering operation on Michael Ross?
29 August – 4 September 1994
The main 17 year old female Papdale Woods witness contacted DI Chisholm by ‘phone to say that she thought that she’d seen the person she witnessed behaving suspiciously in Papdale woods. She was told to keep an eye out for him and call the police station as soon as possible, if she saw him again. She was told by DI Chisholm that they were “anxious to identify this man”
8 September 1994
The witness referred to above contacted police to say that she’d seen the person from Papdale Woods again. She had been having coffee with her mother in a local cafe and they both saw him through the window eating a roll he had purchased in the shop opposite. They had been unable to get through to the police station on the ‘phone, but contacted them later once they had arrived home. They were visited by police that evening and shown CCTV footage from the shop and both positively identified the person they thought they’d seen in Papdale Woods.
Remember: The main woods witness had initially said: “I can definitely recognise this man again“
9 September 1994
Officers accompanied the witness and her mother to Albert Street in Kirkwall. The witnesses spotted and identified the person they had seen previously and thought they’d seen in Papdale Woods. One of the attending officers was able to provide his identity as Michael Ross. The officer knew Michael through his colleague and Michael’s father, Eddy Ross.
9 September 1994
An account was taken from the girl referred to above, as follows:
When this young girl (17) had witnessed Michael in the woods initially, she watched him for around half an hour and was able to give police an incredibly accurate description of him, including his clothing and a watch he wore on his wrist. In her first statement she had said “I can definitely recognise this man again” and yet, here she states that the man she’d seen in September was “similar” to the man she’d seen in the woods and that the man in the woods had “appeared older”. She also said that she “did not know this man by name”.
By this point in September 1994, a plan was underway for the proposed Crimewatch appeal. If Michael Ross had been positively identified as the ‘man’ in Papdale Woods, it would have been impossible to justify using the Papdale Woods sighting on Crimewatch.
The mother of this witness had also been very actively involved in the above identification process; however, there was no statement taken from her on 9 September.
This extract of witness testimony is taken from the ‘Orkney Today’ newspaper and was reported during the trial of Michael Ross in 2008:
In her statement, this girl had said “I do not know this man by name”, and yet in court, when she speaks of seeing him prior to contacting police, she said that she had heard one of his friends call him “Michael”. This detail was completely omitted from the relevant statement.
Prior to the trial of Michael Ross in 2008, police officers that had been involved in the Papdale Woods identification process gave accounts of their involvement:
23 September 1994
Police had been preparing an appeal for BBC’s Crimewatch UK programme. The filming for this public appeal concluded on 23 September. A witness featured on Crimewatch, who had seen a suspicious man next to the restaurant at 5pm on the day of the murder, provided Michael’s campaign group with some information relevant to the case made against him, as follows:
24 September 1994
A full two weeks after being provided with the likely identity of the person in Papdale Woods, senior investigating officers approached Eddy Ross at Kirkwall Police Station when he was on shift. He was asked if Michael owned a sweatshirt similar to the sketch drawn by the main Papdale Woods witness:
Eddy Ross confirmed that Michael did own a sweatshirt like this. He was then asked to bring Michael into the police station for questioning.
On 24 September, Michael provided DI Chisholm and DS MacKenzie with the following voluntary witness statement:
On the same day, police requested photographs from Michael. He agreed to this request. Two of these photographs were as follows:
5 October 1994
BBC Crimewatch Appeal was broadcast:
There are several issues with this public appeal as follows:
- This appeal implies that police are entirely unaware of the identity of the person in Papdale Woods.
- The Papdale Woods scenario was misrepresented. The fact was that the person in the woods had waited underneath a wall for a full half hour, viewing children going home from school. Crimewatch has focused on what was described as “commando maneuvers”, which only took place for a fraction of the time.
- Police localise the killing and don’t give any indication that the perpetrator could have been someone from out-with Orkney, despite early assumptions made in the media of a possible contract killing or professional ‘hit’.
- The witnesses that saw the man running from the end of the lane did not give an estimated age on Crimewatch, despite both indicating in statements that the man they’d seen had been in the region of 30 years old.
- The actor used to play the person in Papdale Woods was used for all other sightings, thus creating a link that did not exist within the information held by police.
- There was no information released about the weapon or bullets used in the murder.
ANOTHER CRUCIAL OMISSION FROM THIS APPEAL WAS THE FOLLOWING, COMPLETELY UNSOLVED, SIGHTING:
The sighting of two men at the door of the restaurant that WAS featured on Crimewatch was at a completely different time and date from the one highlighted above. What could possibly explain the decision to leave out a sighting where the words “I’ll shoot you” had been spoken to a man 2 days before he was shot?
12 October 1994
Extract from a police officer’s account taken pre-trial in 2007:
20 October 1994
On this date, police were handed a diary belonging to the murder victim, Mr Mahmood. This is an excerpt from the statement taken by DI Angus Chisholm:
“Since I came back from holidays at the end of Sept I have found Shamol’s diary under his bed. It was about 2/3 days ago I found it when I was tidying up my room”
“PRODUCTION – SHORTHAND STYLE NOTEPAD”
The witness that handed this in to police had initially told them of it’s existence on 3 June 1994, the day after Mr Mahmood was murdered:
“You will be able to get all of the details of his family from his diary”
It is clear that police searching the Mumutaz for evidence after the murder did not locate this diary, which could have potentially been the source of a great deal of information about Mr Mahmood’s recent movements and people he knew.
The SCCRC were asked to locate this diary to investigate whether any exculpatory evidence was contained within it, with regards to potential motives for Mr Mahmood’s murder. This was their response:
“The Commission contacted Police Scotland in this regard. They informed the Commission that they were unable to locate any such document. It did not appear in the production register. It would thus appear to the Commission that this line is a dead end. It is regrettable that the diary appears not to be available, although, standing the age of the case, not overly surprising”
This diary did not go missing because of the age of the case. It was not logged as a production and then mislaid.
IT WAS NEVER LOGGED AS A PRODUCTION.
By this stage of the murder inquiry, Michael Ross was the focus of the police investigation.
2 December 1994
Michael Ross was re-interviewed about the Papdale Woods ‘Breach of the Peace’ and the murder:
Transcripts of these interviews as follows:
The following factor will be of great interest to anyone that has experience of working within the legal system. This is an extract from the initial ‘Statement of Reasons’ issued by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission in July 2014:
In any police investigation that results in charges and a trial, it is essential that adequate records have been kept in order that a defence can be prepared. In this investigation, there was virtually nothing recorded in the period that was of the most significance in mounting a defence.
5 December 1994
James Spence was interviewed again regarding the bullets he gave Eddy Ross:
6 December 1994
Michael Ross was arrested from school in full view of pupils and teachers, despite having given police a partially corroborated alibi; he knew that one of his alibi witnesses had cut grass at a location that was not his own home on 2 June 1994, and he could not have known this if he hadn’t been there and witnessed it for himself.
Michael was re-interviewed about the murder of Shamsuddin Mahmood:
5 January 1995
Michael Ross was arrested for an identity parade. He was presented to three of the witnesses that were featured in Crimewatch; two of whom had seen a man they described as 25-30 years old running away from the murder scene and the other had seen a man he described as 30 years old acting suspiciously, entering the restaurant at 5pm on Thursday 2 June, 2 hours before the murder:
The line-up photograph:
Michael Ross was not selected by any of the 3 witnesses that had seen a much older man on the day of the murder.
On this same day, 5 January 1995, the following headline appeared in ‘the Daily Record’:
“Cop’s Son in Gun Death Quiz”
13 March 1995
Michael’s childhood ex-girlfriend gave an account to police about an occasion that she and Michael had walked on a beach in the summer of 1993, when they had both been 14 years old:
Michael Ross was not re-interviewed by police in order to provide his account of the walk on the beach.
This is an extract from Michael’s interview with police on 6 December 1994:
3 August 1995
This article appeared in ‘the Orcadian’ on 3 August 1995:
24 August 1995
DI Chisholm requested a petition warrant to arrest Michael Ross for the murder of Shamsuddin Mahmood:
The Procurator Fiscal did not accept the case for referral.
Eddy Ross was taken to trial for ‘Perverting the Course of Justice’. At his trial, Northern Constabulary took the unprecedented step of officially naming Michael Ross as a suspect in the murder of Shamsuddin Mahmood.
Eddy Ross was found guilty and sentenced to 4 years in prison. He served 2 years and was released.
Police appealed for witnesses to come forward that may have information about guns surrendered to Eddy Ross.
DI Chisholm gave the following testimony at trial, copied from ‘the Orcadian’ newspaper:
10 years after Mr Mahmood’s murder, police released a documentary about the murder, highlighting Michael Ross as the ‘Prime Suspect’:
Justice for Michael Ross asked the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission why the ‘Unsolved’ sighting of the two men in an altercation threatening to shoot the victim two days before he was shot (31 May 1994) was omitted from this programme, as it had been from Crimewatch. The SCCRC questioned DCI Iain Smith and their response to J4MR stated:
Whether they had been locals “who did not wish to associate themselves with the murder investigation”, or not, surely anyone issuing a repeated threat to “shoot” a man 2 days before he’s actually shot would warrant a degree of interest in a murder investigation. Consider that Michael Ross received a significant level of interest for wearing a balaclava in a wood, nowhere near the murder scene, a full 2 weeks before the murder.
In ‘Unsolved’, much was made of the fact that police could “find no motive” for Mr Mahmood’s murder, and yet, a diary belonging to the murder victim completely vanished without trace at the end of October 1994.
The only ‘evidence’ that WAS prioritised, was anything at all that led to Michael Ross (age 15). You can read an analysis of the above ‘Unsolved’ episode here:
A new witness presented in the case. You will find an analysis of his testimony here:
COINCIDENTALLY, AS WELL AS PROVIDING TESTIMONY THAT MICHAEL ROSS HAD BEEN IN KILN CORNER TOILETS ON THE EVENING OF THE MURDER, WILLIAM GRANT ALSO GAVE DETAILS OF HAVING WITNESSED MICHAEL ROSS AND ANOTHER MALE PERSON SHOUTING RACIST ABUSE AND THREATS OF VIOLENCE OUTSIDE THE MUMUTAZ ON AN UNSPECIFIED DATE IN MAY.
This ‘sighting’ became one of the charges led at trial. It was only dropped towards the end of the proceedings, just days before jury deliberations.
The fact that the sighting involving the altercation and the threat to “shoot” the victim had not been solved was NEVER released to the public.
How is all of this relevant to Michael Ross now?
A case was submitted to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission over the course of 3 years from 2012 – 2015. A substantial aspect of the submissions focused on two key areas of the case made against Michael Ross; ‘Oppression’ in the police investigation and ‘the Cadder Ground’, unfairness of police interviews.
The SCCRC concluded that the investigation hadn’t been oppressive and that Michael’s police interviews had been fairly conducted. They claim that he had not been a suspect of murder on 24 September or 2 December when he was interviewed; therefore, there was no issue with him not having access to legal representation for either of these interviews.
The SCCRC further stated that Michael hadn’t even been a suspect for the Papdale Woods ‘Breach of the Peace’ until he admitted this at the start of his police interview on 2 December 1994, even though he had been positively identified. The SCCRC said that the police were completely justified in using the clip of Michael in Papdale Woods for the Crimewatch UK broadcast, because Michael had not been confirmed as having been the person in Papdale Woods at the time of the broadcast on 6 October 1994.
Michael Ross was a child of 16 when his life was turned upside down by the murder of a complete stranger. In present times, children under 18 years of age would be classed as vulnerable persons and, in theory, would be protected from oppressive police tactics and manipulation of evidence. Young, vulnerable witnesses under the age of 16 were interviewed without the presence of an appropriate adult. On one occasion, a 14 year old boy was in the back of a police car while making a statement. Several of these child witnesses were presented at trial against Michael Ross, trying to recall details from 14 years earlier, half of their lifetime ago. Two of them were found in contempt of court for the manner of their evidence and yet the primary witness, who admitted lying to police during his testimony in court, received no more than a telling off.
When Michael Ross was found guilty of murder in 2008, ‘the Orcadian’ newspaper interviewed the Chief Inspector of Northern Constabulary, Orkney Division:
Former Police officers Chisholm and MacKenzie were interviewed by the SCCRC and they insisted that they didn’t know for definite that it had been Michael Ross in Papdale Woods at the point where the Crimewatch appeal was released. It is preposterous for them to take this position , given the wealth of information that they had been in possession of at that time.
A case was submitted to the SCCRC in respect of the Cadder Ground and Police Opression; however, the SCCRC declined to interview any witnesses to clarify their position or find out if the situation had been manipulated.
At trial in 2008, Donald Findlay stated: “What I suggest to you is that the Crown has mounted a sustained attack on the character of Michael Ross”
The sustained attack on Michael’s character started long before, and within the confusing mess of so-called ‘evidence’, the true character of Michael Ross was lost. He was a child, who still hadn’t had the opportunity to grow into the man he would have been if his life hadn’t been tarnished by a catastrophic miscarriage of justice.
Michael Ross has made every attempt to clear his name and show this case for what it is;
IS THIS JUSTICE?