The family of a man who died in Wick harbour nearly 25 years ago will need to wait a few more weeks for answers after more experts were drafted to examine the case.
The body of Kevin Mcleod was found on February 9, 1997.
His family has spent years campaigning for his death to be investigated as a murder.
Police Scotland had asked Merseyside Police to carry out an independent review of the case.
That review has now concluded.
Its findings were due to be discussed with the family before the end of September.
But that timeline is being pushed back as the Crown Office has asked pathology and forensic chemistry experts to examine the findings.
Deputy crown agent Lindsey Miller has apologised to Kevin’s family for the delay.
She said: “In certain circumstances, forensic chemists can offer an opinion on the potential cause of unusual bruising patterns.
“This is being assessed to see if the information and photographs we have allow the scientist to be able to offer a view.”
High Court trial hampers review timetable
“We will need to consider what the experts tell us and decide on next steps.”
Ms Miller said the decision was not “unusual”.
An upcoming trial at the High Court is also hampering the timeframe for the Crown to report back to the family.
The “sensitive and complex” trial is due to begin at the start of October.
It will last for around two weeks.
Ms Miller said: “This means we will not be able to arrange to meet with the family until after the trial.
“We can then provide the family with a report in sufficient time for them to prepare for the meeting with the Crown and Merseyside Police.”
The long wait for answers for the Mcleod family
It was initially ruled that Kevin had drowned after suffering internal injuries from a fall.
At the time, local police said his death was “accidental”.
But his family always believed there was more to it.
In 2017, police chiefs finally admitted legacy force Northern Constabulary had blundered by not treating the death as murder.
Kevin’s uncle Allan Mcleod said it is time for the Crown Office to tell the truth about the “epic scandal”.
He said: “This latest delay is obviously frustrating. Hopefully we are nearing the end of a long and arduous road.
“We’re surprised that it has taken almost a quarter of a century for these necessary experts to be included by the Crown Office.”
The Crown Office will issue a new timetable for discussing the review in early October.
Allan added: “We can only hope that the independent review undertaken by Merseyside Police has left no stone unturned.”
What happened to Kevin Mcleod?
Kevin’s parents, June and Hugh, reported him missing on February 8, 1997 when he did not come home from a night out.
A local diver found Kevin’s body at the bottom of the harbour the next morning.
Any criminal aspect to the case was played down. From the very beginning.
The constable who first arrived on the Mcleods’ doorstep informed June there were “no suspicious circumstances”.
That was despite the fact that a post-mortem had not even been carried out yet.
This, along with several other failings, strengthened the Mcleods’ resolve to find the truth about what happened to Kevin.