Unsolved – Full Analysis

There follows an analysis of a programme made by ITV as part of a series first broadcast in 2004. The series, entitled, ‘Unsolved – Getting Away with Murder’ featured unsolved murders and highlighted specific ‘suspects’ in relation to the crimes. One of the episodes in this series was based on the unsolved murder of Shamsuddin Mahmood in Orkney which took place 10 years earlier on 2nd June 1994. This particular episode presented Michael Ross as the only suspect in Mr Mahmood’s murder. During the making of this programme, several key witnesses refused when asked if they would participate in the programme. As a result, only one actual witness took part. Others interviewed were the brother of Mr Mahmood, two of the Ross family friends, two police officers and three local journalists.



0:42 – 0:53
The narrator states that a psychological profiler had “warned police that the killer would strike again”. The files that were made available to the defence team of Michael Ross show no documented evidence that the police ever consulted a profiler.



1:01 – 1:25
The actor used to play the part of the killer in ‘Unsolved’ was a teenager. This directly contradicts eyewitness testimony given at the time of the murder in 1994. There were 21 witnesses that saw the killer of Mr Mahmood and two witnesses that saw an unmasked man running away from the scene directly after the shooting, and not one described his stature or build to be that of an adolescent. The two witnesses that saw the unmasked man running from the end of the lane said that he was 25-30 years old. It is clear from the stature, physical characteristics and gait of this actor that he is an adolescent male. If the killer had displayed similar characteristics and was of similar build, surely one of these witnesses would have described him as such. All photographic and video footage of Michael Ross at age 15 would clarify that he had the appearance of an average adolescent male of his age.



1:50 – 2:05

DI Chisholm retired from the police in 2002, two years prior to the making of this programme. He went from the police to the role of Office Manager at the Procurator Fiscal’s office in Inverness. He worked under Andrew Laing, the the same PF that eventually proceeded with charges against Michael Ross in 2007.

Here, DI Chisholm is describing the killing of Mr Mahmood as a “motiveless murder”. This claim was put forward in the media from the early days of the investigation, the first time being in newspapers only 5 days after the crime at which point it had been impossible to establish the victim’s background. He had only returned to Orkney 6 weeks prior to his murder. Police had the opportunity of a national audience with Crimewatch UK in October 1994, and yet completely omitted to emphasise the need to discover a motive or ask for anyone that knew the victim to come forward.

There were three persons of interest that were acquaintances of Mr Mahmood that the enquiry failed to trace. One was a London based Bangladeshi man that had been a close friend of Mr Mahmood with whom he’d visited regularly since coming to the UK. Another was a man that had presented three cheques in Mr Mahmood’s name to an English travel agent. Finally police failed to trace a fellow waiter from Southampton with whom Mr Mahmood had issues. An employer told police that Mr Mahmood had left his employment due to ‘bad feeling’ between him and the waiter. There was no appeal for these three persons to come forward at any point in the investigation.

From the statements made available to defence, as far as can be ascertained, it appears that police failed to speak to anyone that knew Mr Mahmood socially while he was in the south of England. He must have had friends and acquaintances out with his employment in the 26 month period that he was not in Orkney. While in Orkney he had met numerous persons socially and all were interviewed by police, therefore it stands to reason he would have had a social ‘scene’ elsewhere. It appears as though only colleagues of Mr Mahmood were interviewed from the places he’d worked in England and there appear to have been no statements taken from customers that frequented any of these restaurants.

 



2:26 – 2:45
It is now known that Mr Mahmood sought to come back to Orkney at the end of 1993. There were no jobs at the Mumutaz then; however, he telephoned again early in 1994 and was offered employment. He arrived 2 weeks later in April 1994. Mr Mahmood had worked at the Mumutaz for approximately 9 months in 1992/93 and during that time had become well known to the regular customers. There was a concern raised by one of the customers in the restaurant after he was murdered and she gave a statement to police. She had overheard another customer ask Mr Mahmood why he was in Orkney and he had responded “I have to be here”. Additionally, there were 12 regular customers, that had known Mr Mahmood from both occasions he had worked at the Mumutaz, who gave statements putting forward varying degrees of concern about Mr Mahmood’s demeanour since returning to work in Orkney 6 weeks prior to his murder:

“The waiter’s mood appeared to have changed remarkably……..not his usual talkative self”

“wasn’t his normal self…….It seemed so much out of character for him”

“Something was different about him…..his whole personality seemed to have changed and that something was bothering him. He didn’t talk to us as much as he used to”

“Mahmood went away and then came back again, he was a completely different person. He was very withdrawn, didn’t want to acknowledge anyone”

“….did not seem his usual, friendly self”

“Shamol, the waiter appeared to be a bit agitated that night. He is usually very chatty and speaks to everyone, but he was a bit different that night”

“The waiter was not his usual self. He seemed very morose and there was no humour about him at all”

“He seemed low and was not his usual, happy self…. He seemed preoccupied, as if he had something on his mind”

“…..he acknowledged us and obviously recognised us but he was no longer so friendly and appeared to us to be quite distant. On all our subsequent visits to the restaurant, he maintained this attitude. He seemed to me as if something was bothering him and seemed reluctant to get involved in conversation”

“He was always a very jovial character who would come and speak to us even though he wasn’t serving at our table….. it was very noticeable. The waiter was very distant and certainly not his usual self”

“He seemed to be unhappy with himself which was a bit out of character as on other occasions when we had seen him in the restaurant he was quite a happy, polite bloke”

“The waiter seemed a bit agitated that night. I noticed this because he was normally a cheery sort of a fellow who would normally make conversation. I noticed that he would nervously be peering above the menu to the door. When he was writing out the ‘chitty’ for my order he looked up four or five times towards the door. He didn’t seem at ease”

It is apparent from the above statement extracts, taken from 12 separate witnesses, that Mr Mahmood appeared troubled in the days and weeks prior to his murder.

In all of the media coverage, which was based on information given out by police, it was emphasised repeatedly that police could find no reason for Mr Mahmood’s murder and that his life was more or less perfect. The above statement extracts would surely have given cause for concern. It would be inappropriate to divulge information on the murder victim; however, there was a vast amount of information given to police in statements about Mr Mahmood’s background that would have been of great interest to any competent investigator. From the information available in the case files, none of the concerns that were raised appear to have been prioritised to any great extent.



2:44 – 3:14
Mr Shafiuddin, the eldest brother of Mr Mahmood tells us here that Mr Mahmood was a graduate in Economics and the family were aspiring for him to go on and study Law. It appears that there were only two statements taken from family members of Mr Mahmood. Mr Shafiuddin’s wife gave the first statement as her husband had been in Bangladesh when his brother was murdered. Mr Mahmood’s sister-in-law stated that Mr Mahmood had been a graduate in ‘Islamic History’ as opposed to ‘Economics’. In the course of the investigation, a colleague of Mr Mahmood gave a statement to say that Mr Mahmood had told him that he was the most poorly educated of all of his family and this was a source of regret for him.

When interviewed for a statement on 5th October 1994, Mr Shafiuddin told police that, back home in Bangladesh, Mr Mahmood had been “keeping bad company at home and getting into fights” and that “the fights were over girls and things like that”; however, in the Crimewatch appeal in 1994 he describes him as a “very brilliant student” who was “about to go home to get married to his girlfriend”. In Mr Shafiuddin’s statement he goes on to say: “Because of his getting into bad company and falling behind with his studies it was decided by the family that he should come to Britain to continue his studies.”  Despite Mr Shafiuddin giving information in his statement that should have been followed up, no second statement was taken from him. Surely it stands to reason that, if it is the case that Mr Mahmood was getting into “bad company” and “getting into fights” in Bangladesh, it is entirely plausible that this could also have been the case in the UK?

From the case files made available to defence, there appear to have been no statements taken from any other member of Mr Mahmood’s family to provide background into his family life. Mr Mahmood was around 23/24 years old when he came to the UK and both of his parents were deceased; however, it is clear from Mr Shafiuddin’s statement that his family had enough influence to make decisions on his behalf.



3:27 – 3:45
David Hartley describes Mr Mahmood as having a “humble background” and a girlfriend back in Bangladesh who was training to be a doctor. There is nothing in the case files to suggest that the investigating team spoke to the “girlfriend in Bangladesh”. In his statement, Mr Shafiuddin submitted that, although his family had been pleased with the match, the girl’s family had not been. He stated that the reason for their displeasure was due to Mr Mahmood “falling behind with his studies”. Mr Shafiuddin, in his statement to the police had stated that he and his brother had argued because he had suspected that Shamol had a girlfriend in Orkney that was of “easy virtue”. However, during the Crimewatch appeal in 1994, Mr Shafiuddin stated that his brother was “about to go home to get married to his girlfriend”. There is no documented evidence in the case files that suggests that Mr Mahmood had an immediate plan to return to Bangladesh, although he did speak of his girlfriend to some of his colleagues.



6:13 – 6:31
This clip goes on to say that local police were ill equipped to deal with the murder and an investigating team was drafted in from Inverness; however, the Inverness team were also at a great disadvantage in investigating this crime. This type of murder was unheard of in the Northern Constabulary command area and the victim had been in Orkney for a relatively short time. Although at one point press reports stated that the murder enquiry had stretched to Bangladesh, there is nothing in the case files to suggest that any statements were taken in Bangladesh to establish a history of the victim. The only statements from the family of Mr Mahmood that were disclosed to the defence team of Michael Ross were those taken from Mr Shafiuddin and his wife in the UK.



6:31 – 6:42
George Gough, the senior investigating officer on the case, gave media interviews saying that he believed that it could have been a local person or a person remaining in Orkney that was the perpetrator of the crime. His rationale was that the killer appeared to know his bearings; however, once the killer was seen running up the lane away from the restaurant, he was not seen again. There were no search parties looking for him immediately after the crime due to resource issues and the Inverness based team only arrived in the middle of the night, hours after the crime. The killer could have gone anywhere on the mainland of Orkney in the hours after the crime. There are many places that a person could ‘lie low’ undiscovered. The Inverness based team would have been very unfamiliar with the local area. It is highly likely that there would have been major under resourcing of this murder enquiry given the scale of investigation required.

Considering that this type of crime was unheard of in the Highlands, it appears strange that Gough would come to the conclusion that a local living person would be responsible. Mr Mahmood had only returned to Orkney 6 weeks prior to his death and had been working in the Mumutaz restaurant for much of that time. Statistically, most murders are committed by a person known to the victim.

All passengers leaving Orkney in the three days after the murder had to complete a form for follow up at a later date. Details of this part of the investigation have not been disclosed and it is not known if all persons were traced. Anyone leaving after the three-day period was completely unchecked.



7:13 – 7:26
Again, police are making the claim that there was no discoverable motive for the murder of Mr Mahmood. The very day after the murder on 3rd June 1994, police were informed by a young waiter that had shared a room with the deceased in the Mumutaz that Mr Mahmood had a diary and the waiter specifically told police that they would find details of his family in the diary. On 20th October 1994, almost 5 months after his murder, that same young waiter gave another statement at the point where he presented Mr Mahmood’s diary to police. He told police that he had found it under the bed of the deceased. What does this say about the investigation and search procedures used by the investigating team during the early stages of the police investigation? Surely on finding out that the deceased had a diary the very day after the murder, every effort should have been made to locate this, given that there could have been vital information contained within.

In a dramatic twist, when the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission examined the case in 2014, they discovered that the diary of Mr Mahmood had gone missing after it was handed in to police in 1994. The diary had been placed in the hands of DI Chisholm on 20th October 1994; however, had not even been logged as a ‘production’ in the case, let alone submitted for translation. In a murder case, even the most insignificant items of evidence are logged as ‘productions’ until such a time as they are deemed irrelevant to the case. Examples of productions held in this case are Mr Mahmood’s wage slips and other items of his documentation. The waiter that submitted Mr Mahmood’s diary to police was issued with a receipt for ‘deceased’s property’ and a copy of this receipt was logged as a production. It is remarkable that Mr Mahmood’s diary was not logged in the production register and, had it not been mentioned specifically in the waiter’s statement at the point that he handed it to police, there would be no evidence of it’s existence. DI Chisholm was not asked to explain the vanishing diary during the course of the SCCRC review, although the legal officer from the SCCRC spoke to him on other matters throughout the review process.



7:26 – 7:36
Mr Shafiuddin speaks here about how he cannot think of any motive for his brother’s murder. In the one statement he gave to police, it was apparent that he hardly saw his brother and knew very little about his life since he took Mr Mahmood over to the UK. Mr Shafiuddin spent a great deal of time over in Bangladesh and Mr Mahmood had moved out of their home very soon after arriving in the UK. According to information given in the case files, Mr Mahmood came over to the UK in May 1991 on a two year visa. This must have therefore expired in May 1993. It is not known whether Mr Mahmood renewed his visa; however, there was information given in statements that Mr Mahmood was awaiting discovery by the “authorities”.

Mr Shafiuddin only knew the name of one of the places where Mr Mahmood had worked in Southampton, although it is known that Mr Mahmood worked in various locations in the south of England. Mr Mahmood did visit his brother and their family periodically, but the last time that Mr Shafiuddin saw Mr Mahmood prior to his death was in March 1994 at which point they had a heated argument about an inheritance. Mr Mahmood had wanted money for his share of some land back in Bangladesh. If Mr Mahmood was desperate for money to the extent he argued with his brother over it, was there a reason he needed money?

Mr Shafiuddin  told police in his first and only statement taken on 5th October 1994 that he had not been on speaking terms with his brother at the time of his murder. He had told Mr Mahmood not to get in contact with him again unless he was willing to pursue his studies. This was in March 1994 and he did not hear from his brother again. Mr Mahmood returned to Orkney in April 1994 and was murdered 6 weeks later.

In highlighting the information given by Mr Shafiuddin, the intention is to draw attention to the apparent lack of concern shown by police to the details he provided. In all of the publicity about Mr Mahmood’s murder that arose from information released by police, there was never the slightest hint of any troubling issues in Mr Mahmood’s background, in spite of information from multiple sources and relating to multiple factors that would have given cause for concern to any competent investigator. It is clear that Mr Shafiuddin gave information honestly and willingly to police; however, it is also apparent that police had cause to question him further to clarify details and gather more information. There was only one statement from Mr Shafiuddin disclosed in the case.



8:02 – 8:32
In this clip, Gordon Urquhart provides information about police investigations into possible motives for Mr Mahmood’s murder. Given the distinct lack of statements from family, apparent lack of follow up of associates and no appeal for those that were untraced by the enquiry, it is hard to see how he can make the claim that a thorough investigation had taken place. While working at the Mumutaz, Mr Mahmood had become well known to many of the regular customers and all were able to give statements that showed a knowledge of his interests and character. He’d enjoyed an active social life the first time he’d lived in Orkney and had frequented the pubs and nightclub with friends. He had made friends with locals and had attended parties locally. It appears as though not one single restaurant customer was interviewed out with Orkney from any of the places Mr Mahmood had worked previously and there was no hint of any social life whatsoever in any statements taken that referred to his two years in England. Considering police appear to have mislaid the diary of Mr Mahmood and with that, lost all potential to examine the information contained within, it is difficult to see how they can claim to have left no stone unturned in the hunt for a motive into his murder.

There were a number of statements taken from staff that worked in Indian restaurants in the north of Scotland. Most had never been in Orkney, didn’t know the victim and had no connection whatsoever to the investigation. Some of these people were asked about ‘protection’ rackets in the Scottish Highlands. There is nothing whatsoever in the files to suggest that ‘protection’ was a factor in this part of the world.

As previously stated, when given the opportunity of a national Crimewatch appeal, there was no opportunity taken to appeal to friends, acquaintances or customers that knew Mr Mahmood to come forward to enable police to build a picture of his time in the south of England.



9:03 – 9:22
This clip implies that witness descriptions of the killer were unreliable. One could question, which witness descriptions were viewed as so? At the time of the murder, there were 21 witnesses that had seen the killer, 14 inside the restaurant and an additional 7 sightings of a man police believed to be the killer either before he entered or after he exited the restaurant. A further 2 witnesses saw a man running from the end of the lane that the killer had used directly after the shooting wearing similar clothing but without his face masked. These witness accounts did vary; however, in 1994, police used what was presumably the most reliable of them to release the following description of the killer to the public:

“a man of average build and height (5’8” – 6’) in his mid-twenties wearing track-suit trousers, a navy blue thermal or fleecy jacket on top of a pale blue hooded sweatshirt with a navy blue or black balaclava and light coloured footwear, possibly trainers”

The ‘off the cuff’ remark implying that all witness accounts were unreliable is misleading and could be seen as an attempt to justify the complete shift from the above description to that of an adolescent male as was used to play the killer in this programme. Michael Ross was built like an adolescent at age 15. There is photographic and video evidence which shows this to be true and he has never attained the minimum height given in the above description. He is 5’7½ as a grown man.

There were 9 witnesses out of 21 that stated that the killer had a ‘noticeable stoop’ and this was spoken of in the Crimewatch appeal in 1994. Michael Ross does not and never has walked with a ‘stoop’. The exact opposite is true and he walks with his back straight. This factor has been completely omitted from the ‘Unsolved’ programme.

In this clip, you will see that a photofit picture was faded into a still of the masked killer. This photofit was first released in 1994 during the Crimewatch appeal. It was implied in the course of the ‘Unsolved’ programme that this young killer was Michael Ross but police were unable to prove it. However, to link this photofit picture with Michael Ross is categorically inaccurate and prejudicial. The witness that produced the photofit based it’s likeness on an unidentified man that he had seen acting suspiciously in the lane at the back door of the Mumutaz two hours before Mr Mahmood was murdered, at which point Michael had an alibi.

The witness had described the man as 28-30 years old and built like a body builder. Michael Ross had appeared in an identity parade in front of this witness in January 1994 and was eliminated as the ‘man’ in the lane. This witness has since stated that he had been surprised to see that there was a “wee boy” in the line-up and had remarked about this to one of the other witnesses at the time who agreed with him.



9:22 – 9:32
This bullet casing was the only tangible clue left at the scene of the crime, therefore it comes as a shock to discover that, according to information handed down to the cold case review team, this important and only ‘clue’ was apparently not submitted for forensic DNA testing and fingerprinting in 1994. It appears from the case files that it was not tested until more than 10 years later during the cold case review which subsequently led to the arrest of Michael Ross. At that point, testing proved ‘negative’, meaning that police could not learn anything from it.

Murder bullet casingThe reason given to explain the lack of testing in 1994, was that the casing was “heavily contaminated with soot”. The only statement from the case files that refers to the bullet casing in any detail was that of Eddy Ross. He described the casing as having “powder burn on the outside of the case”, not as being heavily contaminated with soot. A ‘Scenes of Crime’ officer gave a statement to a defence agent in 2007 stating that the bullet casing had not been contaminated with soot. The crime scene photograph appears to show some powder burn; however, no heavy contamination.

If it is the case that the bullet casing was not submitted for DNA testing and fingerprinting in 1994, this would surely be a major flaw in the police investigation. This bullet casing was the only item of hard evidence available to the investigating team and it would be logical to at least attempt to find fingerprint or DNA evidence from it, even if it was deemed that testing would be unlikely to yield positive results.



9:47 – 10:59
Chisholm states here that “nowhere on the island could we find this type of ammunition” and he is referring to the specific Kirkee 9mm bullet used in the murder. There is no evidence either in the files or in Orkney locally that police ever searched for “this type of ammunition”. There were over 100 statements taken from gun club members, persons registered to keep firearms and anyone with an interest in shooting. The specific type of ammunition did not feature in any of these statements. If bullets were discussed, they were only referred to in general terms as ‘9mm bullets’. The public were not asked to surrender any ammunition, and only 9mm weapons, not ammunition, were collected and checked by police.

Soon after the murder, it became public knowledge that the murder bullet had been of ‘Indian’ origin. The local newspaper quoted from a police firearms expert: “Asian origin is not necessarily significant as such Indian-made ammunition is commercially available in this country. Military surplus ammunition like this is widely advertised in gun magazines and any registered firearms dealer can get it, although, in this particular case, one would assume it was bought on the black market. There is so much stuff coming into Britain from Eastern Europe these days”. –  ‘The Orcadian’, June 1994

Further, police had an opportunity to appeal nationwide on Crimewatch UK in October 1994 and yet there was no information released during this appeal on the bullet or type of weapon used in the crime. Eddy Ross had voluntarily handed in a sealed box of Kirkee 9mm bullets to the investigating team in August 1994. If anyone else had taken the decision to hand in similar bullets, the case made against Eddy Ross could have been dramatically weakened.



13:25 – 13:51
Chisholm further states that he had spoken to Eddy Ross to ask for information about the Kirkee Arsenal and that he’d been “astonished” when PC Ross had told him that he had a box of these bullets at home. Chisholm declares that the bullets had been “the focus of our enquiry”. As already stated, there seemed at that point to have been be no investigation into the specific make of ammunition in general enquiries locally. At the point where Eddy Ross made this voluntary disclosure, it was only 10 weeks into the enquiry.

At an earlier point in the programme, the narrator tells us that police discovered that the make of bullets was part of a “massive consignment” purchased by the British Army. From the paper files, the first hint of investigation into the involvement of the British Army with this type of ammunition was in June 1995, a full year after the murder, when police approached the Army Base Ammunition Department. An army captain in charge of records prepared a report at that time to say that the Kirkee 9mm bullets had been in service in the British Army.

If these specific bullets were the “focus of our enquiry” at the point where Eddy Ross disclosed his possession of the one sealed box as implied by Chisholm, why were the army not officially approached prior to June 1995? As Chisholm states in this clip, he approached Eddy Ross to ask if he could find out an address for the Kirkee Arsenal, therefore police hadn’t pursued this particular line of enquiry prior to speaking to Eddy Ross. It is difficult to see how Chisholm can claim that the bullet casing was the “focus” of the enquiry when no fingerprinting or forensic DNA examination had taken place on the very only physical clue left at the crime scene.



14:04 – 14:42
Here, DI Chisholm refers to the initial statement given by James Spence on 14 August 1994. Chisholm states that Spence had claimed to have only given Eddy Ross “the one box” of Kirkee ammunition and “he would not be swayed from that”. Does this imply that the interviewing officers tried to “sway” him during his first police interview?

At a later stage in the investigation at which point Michael Ross was very much the focus of their enquiries, on 5th December 1994, police visited Mr Spence again. They spoke to him at home and again at the police station, both times off-record. Subsequently a recorded interview took place with Mr Spence where he changed his story completely and stated that he had also given Eddy Ross a part-used box of the ammunition in question. At this point, Mr Spence was charged with three offences which, if convicted, could have led to a prison term. On giving evidence against Eddy Ross in 1997, these three charges were dropped. Could the charges he faced have been enough to “sway” Mr Spence from his original position?

Please refer to the CASE FILES section of the website for information about the evidence provided by James Spence.



14:41 – 15:10
As stated here, Michael Ross was identified by a witness as the person in Papdale Woods on 8th September 1994 and was subsequently named by police viewing CCTV footage. If this was the case, why was the Papdale Woods sighting featured on Crimewatch UK on 6th October 1994 as if police had no idea who it was?



15:10 – 15:30
Chisholm describes here that he interviewed Michael Ross in the presence of his father initially, at which point Michael denied he’d been in Papdale Woods behaving in the manner described. During this interview, which took place on 24th September 1994, Chisholm did not tell Michael that he’d been identified by two witnesses in person and through viewing CCTV footage. When police officers accompanied the witnesses to the on-street identification on 9th September 1994, it was possible for one of the police officers to name Michael. The officer had stayed next door to the Ross family in police houses in Orkney. If Chisholm had told these facts to Michael during his interview, could this have elicited an early confession from him?

It was implied by police that Eddy Ross had been allowed to accompany Michael during this interview out of fairness to Michael. Considering that Eddy Ross had previously handed in bullets of the same type used in the murder, it was highly irregular to allow him to be present during this interview of his son. There was no requirement for him to be there as Michael was at this point over 16 and could have been interviewed on his own.

Could the presence of Michael’s father during the interview have had the effect of preventing Michael from admitting to his conduct in Papdale Woods?



15:41 – 15:46
Michael’s alibi “doesn’t stand up”. Please refer to the CASE FILES section of the website for a full analysis of the ‘alibi’ of Michael Ross.



15:46 – 15:58
Michael was questioned again on 2nd December 1994 and “now 16” admits to Papdale Woods but denies anything to do with the murder. Michael had been 16 years old the first time he was questioned on 24th September 1994. He had turned 16 in August of that year. During the 2nd December interview, he was again initially accompanied by his father; however, Eddy Ross was asked to leave the room at which point Michael Ross “immediately” confessed to the behaviour in the woods. The factor that led to his ‘immediate’ confession was his father leaving the room. Surely the tactic of asking his father to leave the room could have been employed during the interview on 24th September given the fact that Michael was 16 when this interview took place?



15:58 – 16:22
In this clip, Chisholm describes the explanation given by Michael Ross as to his behaviour in Papdale Woods as a “story”. He says that police checked and the boy that Michael had said he wished to confront had “left the school, I think it was several months previous”. This is true. The boy in question had left school; however, he had been attending a catering course that was delivered in the same school building until he was dismissed from this in mid- April 1994. There was also a police report filed about this boy when he assaulted a local girl within the school grounds on the 19th April 1994.

The Papdale Woods sighting was on 19th May 1994, two full weeks prior to Mr Mahmood’s murder. It was not reported to police at the time; however, because Michael had worn a balaclava, the witnesses diligently contacted police on 3rd June, the day after the murder to let them know of the suspicious behaviour. Papdale Woods is not near the scene of Mr Mahmood’s murder. It is adjacent to Kirkwall Grammar School. There were multiple witnesses that saw Michael in the woods that day and he did not try to hide himself from them. The two key witnesses watched him for half an hour and saw him with his face uncovered. They were able to give police a very clear description of him and his clothing, including a detailed description of a watch he’d been wearing and the pattern on his white sweatshirt.

Michael Ross had been in Papdale Woods on 19th May as shown in the clip; however, he had been on exam leave from school since the end of April. It is therefore plausible that he didn’t know that the boy had been dismissed from his catering course in April. The account of the boy being violent towards a girl is an undisputed fact. The victim of the assault was an ex-girlfriend of Michael that went on to be a friend. She had shown Michael bruises that were inflicted on her by the boy and she gave a statement to police to say that Michael had “looked disgusted” when she had told him about the violence. The head teacher of Kirkwall Grammar School during Michael’s time there gave a statement to the defence team to say that he thought that it was entirely plausible that Michael could have been under the impression that the boy in question was still attending his course in the school building in May 1994. The former head teacher was due to testify to that effect in court at Michael’s trial; however, he was not called to give evidence.

All media that highlights this behaviour in the woods focuses on the “commando manoeuvres” displayed by Michael; however, the reality is that he spent around 30 minutes crouched behind a wall watching children that were heading home at the end of the school day, which is entirely consistent with his explanation, or as Chisholm describes it, his “story”.



16:22 – 16:56
Chisholm claims here that, when James Spence was re-interviewed, he “effectively” claimed that Eddy Ross had asked him to lie to police three times. During the recorded second police interview given by James Spence, he never once states that Eddy Ross “asked” him to lie to the police.

Please refer to the CASE FILES section of the website for details of Mr Spence’s police interview.



18:46 – 19:09
“Under oath, police officers reveal his alibi had been proven false…..”

In their investigations into the case in 2013, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission stated that it had been inaccurate to describe Michael’s alibi as “false” in ‘Unsolved’ given that the only persons qualified to make this judgement are the jury at a trial. At the time that this programme was released, Michael Ross had not been charged and no trial had taken place. This being the case, police officers that testified “under oath” that Michael’s alibi had been ‘false’ at the trial of Eddy Ross in 1997 were committing an abuse of due process. Please check the CASE FILES section of the website for more information on Michael’s alibi.

“that he’d been seen wearing similar clothes to the killer in Papdale Woods……”

The clothing that Michael said he wore in Papdale Woods was:
Jeans – described by 2 out of 23 witnesses
A white sweatshirt – described by none of the witnesses
A zip-up navy tracksuit top – all witnesses gave varied descriptions of the top layer of clothing worn by the killer. These included a royal-blue or french blue sweatshirt, khaki sweatshirt or anorak, faded navy sweatshirt , navy anorak, navy jumper, navy fleece and olive green jumper.

The wearing of a balaclava was the only factor connecting the Papdale Woods sighting and the murder.

“and that he’d taken part in an identity parade.”

Michael was taken in for an identity parade in January 1995. He was eliminated by all three witnesses that took part in the parade. This is hardly surprising given that all of these witnesses had described the ‘man’ they had seen as 25-30 years old. It was very misleading and prejudicial to mention this ID parade without a full explanation of the circumstances surrounding it.



22:04 – 22:19
The conclusion to this programme was that police are close to solving this crime and the content points exclusively towards Michael Ross as a suspect. The narrator tells the audience that police are “missing that final piece of evidence to complete the jigsaw”. This programme was broadcast in 2004 and no new evidence came to light after it was aired; however, in 2006, a ‘new witness’ came forward in the investigation. Please refer to the CASE FILES section of the website for the file entitled ‘The Primary Witness’.

The Forgotten Threat:

A startling omission from this programme was the sighting on 31st May, 2 days before Mr Mahmood’s murder, where two men had been seen arguing with Mr Mahmood at the door of the Mumutaz Restaurant. One of the men had used the words “I’ll shoot you” twice. Bizarrely, this sighting did not make the cut for the Crimewatch UK appeal in 1994 either, despite the fact that police were completely unaware of the identity of these men. This sighting is still completely ‘Unsolved‘. None of the witnesses that reported this altercation were called to give evidence at the trial of Michael Ross in 2008.

The Identikit Man

The sighting of the unidentified man that featured in the Crimewatch UK appeal was also ‘unsolved’ at the time that this programme aired; however, as opposed to highlighting this sighting, the programme implied a link that did not exist between the ‘identikit man’ and Michael Ross.

The ‘Running’ Man

A further sighting featured on Crimewatch of a man running from the end of the lane taken by the killer was completely omitted from ‘Unsolved’ despite the fact that he was also unidentified. This man was of similar build to the killer and described as wearing similar clothing. He was described as 25-30 years of age. The two women that witnessed this man did not select 16 year old Michael Ross from an identity parade, therefore who was the man they saw? Police did not include this sighting in ‘Unsolved’ even though it was completely unsolved; however the identity parade was highlighted in an attempt to imply Michael’s guilt.


In the UK, we are entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law and we are entitled to the right to a fair trial. Both of these rights are enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights.

This programme was broadcast throughout Scotland containing selective and inaccurate information four years before Michael Ross was detained and charged with the murder of Shamsuddin Mahmood. The programme was misleading and did not provide a balanced account of events surrounding the murder of Mr Mahmood. Using a sensationalist approach, Michael Ross was highlighted in ‘Unsolved’ as the only possible culprit, while also stating that police did not have enough evidence to convict him. This is a clear breach of human rights and against all of the objectives of the Scottish Justice system; which should ensure that those on trial are “innocent until PROVEN guilty”.