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P&J Investigations

Andrew Innes: From quiet computer genius to sadistic double killer

The life and career of Andrew Innes, who went from seemingly respected Dundee software engineer and family man to heartless killer. reports.
Dale Haslam
Two pictures of Andrew Innes from outside court, right, and in his younger days
Andrew Innes. Image: DC Thomson.

Andrew Innes was condemned in court as a cold-blooded killer and paedophile, who stole the lives of a woman and her child – and traumatised another little girl.

Such was the friendly persona he projected towards friends, many of them are today struggling to believe it is real.

When asked about Innes after his arrest one former colleague said: “I assume that is someone else. The Andrew Innes I worked with moved to Tokyo some years ago.”

Another of his ex-workmates also insisted we must have the wrong guy.

That was until he was stunned into silence when being presented with undeniable evidence that the man in the dock at court was, indeed, the man they once knew.

Andrew Innes. Image: Police Scotland.

Innes was born as Andrew O’Hara to parents Andrew and Helen in June 1970 on a British military base in Germany.

One of his parents was in the Armed Forces and he spent much of his childhood near the city of Hanover.

It is not known why he later changed his surname, though both his parents – retired hotel housekeeper Helen and retired water treatment engineer Andrew – also changed their surnames from O’Hara to Innes.

When not on the continent, Innes’s family lived in the quaint Derbyshire village of Church Gresley, 16 miles south of Derby.

Throughout his 33-year career, he worked on games such as FIFA soccer, All Points Bulletin and Tamarin.

That love for computers began when Innes was aged 11.

His father bought him a ZX81 – a home computer made in Dundee by Timex.

In an online profile, Innes said he “rapidly became addicted to it, in part because I was raised in the mountains of Scotland where there isn’t much else to do”.

As the 1980s continued, Dundee became known as a world hub for computer games design.

The most famous of all start-ups to emerge from Dundee was DMA Design.

Founded in 1987, it went onto create the Grand Theft Auto series. It is now known as Rockstar Games.

A Japanese dream

According to his own online CV, Innes landed a job with DMA Design as a programmer when he was 24.

He was among the team of designers that created the cult-classic 1994 Nintendo game Uniracers in which the player races a unicycle around a track, doing tricks to go faster.

Computer-game fans still rave about the game on online forums to this day – and the unicycles that players choose from are all named after those who developed it – including Innes.

During that period, Innes said he was “lucky enough” to travel to Nintendo’s Japanese headquarters for two weeks.

Afterwards, he reflected: “During this trip, I fell in love with Japan and cultivated the ambition of living there one day.”

He stayed with DMA Design for three years.

Aside from his software engineering skills, Innes’s early experiences of living in a military environment proved to be an asset.

One former colleague recalled working with Innes over a seven-year period to create a game.

An important element of the game was that the characters moved like soldiers.

The former colleague said: “We were looking at things like – if the character were in a team of soldiers marching forward, trying to attack the enemy – how would you proceed with that? What kind of formations would you make?

“Innes had some experience in that.

“He was professional, the way he spoke about it.”

“He did flaunt (his military experience) on his Linkedin previously but I think it was removed over time. I have no idea why he would have deleted it.”

Andrew Innes, left, when he worked Realtime Worlds, a leading Dundee computer games development company.

In 2009, Innes was working for a computer games design firm called RealTime Worlds, based in West Marketgait, Dundee.

The firm was so successful it won a BAFTA award for its game Crackdown and ended up expanding its office space to accommodate new staff.

Innes’s stock was rising too.

His former colleague said: “He worked on games for over 20 years and was very accomplished.

“His skills were hard to come by.

“He is someone with a very deep computer science background, and can understand the fundamentals of how computers work.

“He would have been better paid because that sort of thing is harder to find.”

Some of the work meant travelling the world, and Innes occasionally visited Tokyo.

There, he met Ryoko Nagashima.

The couple married on August 31, 2002. Innes was 32 and his new wife was 30.

Their birthdays are just two days apart, in June.

The ceremony took place at King’s College Chapel at Aberdeen University

Innes was only allowed to hold the ceremony there as he is a former student of the university.

The couple had two girls and a boy together.

Around 2009, the couple lived together at Innes’s home on Troon Avenue, Dundee.

Documents show the pair jointly notified Dundee City Council in 2011 that they intended to convert the property’s garage into a family room.

Ryoko would sometimes travel between Scotland and Japan, even taking the family dog on the plane.

After stints working for London-based trading firm Tibra Capital as a software engineer and another Dundee-based games company Outplay Entertainment as lead engineer, Innes got his big break.

In 2013, Innes was offered a job by Unity Technologies – a multi-national corporation dealing in all aspects of software design.

This meant he could fulfil his ambition and live in Japan, with his wife moving back to their native country.

It is understood he rented out his Dundee home during this period.

Innes took to his new life well and began referring to himself as ‘Tokyo Andrew’.

He even created a mobile phone app called Japanese Kanji Tree, aimed at teaching people Japanese writing.

Records show he updated this app every few months until July 2020.

Another former colleague said Innes was interested in language. “He was interested in starting a business for himself,” he added.

During his time with Unity Technologies, Innes wrote games for various Nintendo consoles and also worked for three years in California.

He then returned to Scotland where he worked from home on games for the PC and mobile phones.

Around 2019, Innes’s marriage broke down.

He told the court that he had encountered difficulties with his wife who cut and dyed her own hair because, in his view, she knew he preferred it to be long and dark.

Innes told the jury his wife did not like living in Scotland and did not settle in California either.

And so eventually she wrote down a list of “demands” – which he called a “ransom letter” for him to follow, and threatened to break up with him.

He told the court: He said: “I spoiled her. She was not happy.

“She said she wanted a car with six seats and holidays in Japan each year.

“She said that if I didn’t get her these things she would leave me and I would never see my daughter again.”

The marriage ended and Innes moved back to Scotland after another relationship with a woman he had met at a rope-bondage club ended by text message.

Andrew Innes
Andrew Innes. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

Innes was back living in Dundee alone, albeit with his children visiting from Japan on at least one occasion before the Covid-19 travel restrictions.

What has stumped those who know Innes is how he went from a seemingly quiet, respectable family man to a heartless killer.

His former colleague said: “How do you go from having a family in Japan to all these things happening Scotland? I don’t understand the transition.”

Some believe Innes felt frustrated after being rejected by two women and because his old colleagues were doing so well.

Among those who worked with Innes in the 2000s were computer games developers who now work in very well-paid roles in the US and Canada for computers such as Google and Ubisoft – the kind of company Innes could have worked for in another life.

His former colleague said he would often have email conversations with Innes about which direction they each saw their lives moving in.

He added: “Innes was a little bit envious of me starting my own company, but at the same time he didn’t want to do it himself.

“I did have conversations with him about starting his own company because I kind of wish I could have been involved with someone like him, but I got the impression he just wanted to stay in his job.

“The thing I reacted to the most is when I found out about his crime – is there a connection to his military days?

“It seemed like the military was really his thing.

“We’ll never know what drove him to kill someone.”