The family of a man whose body was recovered from Wick Harbour more than 20 years ago have received a personal apology from Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone.
DCC Livingstone met the parents of Kevin Mcleod in Wick earlier today following a reassessment of the case by Police Scotland.
He apologised over the handling of the case by the former Northern Constabulary and confirmed there remains insufficient evidence which would clearly indicate the circumstances surrounding the cause of Kevin’s death, either criminally or accidentally.
Mr Mcleod, an electrician, was last seen in the early hours of February 8, 1997, as he enjoyed a night out with friends in the Caithness town. His body was recovered from the sea the following day.
Following a private meeting with Hugh and June Mcleod in Wick, DCC Livingstone said: “I have today met with Mr and Mrs Mcleod to personally apologise for the policing response to their son Kevin’s death in 1997.
“The tragic events leading to the recovery of Kevin’s body from Wick Harbour left Mr and Mrs Mcleod with a 20-year search for answers.
“I can only imagine the pain and trauma their family has suffered and I have nothing but the highest admiration for their strength and determination in seeking those answers.
“Since this tragic incident, numerous investigations have substantiated the family’s belief that there were serious failings on the part of Northern Constabulary in both the initial and subsequent handling of this case.
“There is no doubt that basic policing procedures were never carried out and the opportunity to gather vital evidence was missed.
“Legacy policing services undoubtedly failed this family and I am further disappointed that their complaints were treated in a dismissive manner in the years which followed Kevin’s death.
“During a recent comprehensive reassessment of this case Police Scotland has come to the conclusion that, because of the initial police investigation failures and based upon the evidence now available, we are unable to present any evidence which would clearly indicate the circumstances surrounding the cause of Kevin’s death, either criminally or accidentally.
“Kevin’s death remains as unexplained, as directed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscals Service (COPFS). Police Scotland is fully committed to investigating any new evidence which may come to light.
“I fully understand that such a conclusion must be difficult for Kevin’s family to accept and on behalf of the policing service I regret the pain and anguish that this has caused them over such a long period of time.
“I hope that this unreserved apology may go some way to bring some form of closure to Kevin’s family and once again on behalf of Police Scotland I apologise unreservedly for the past failings of the police services in Scotland.”