A woman named Mary goes missing after spending the evening at a popular nightclub. Local police have few leads. Then police learn a sex offender from Ireland is in town and was seen harassing women customers before leaving the club with Mary. Detective Shaun, who is supposed to be taking his vacation, suspects something terrible has happened and pulls out all the stops to find the Irishman. When they finally catch up to him he denies any wrongdoing, until a surprising scientific detail puts him at the scene of a grisly crime.
Retired Detective Superintendent Shaun was a Police officer for 30 years and a detective for the majority of that time, working in the Tayside area of Scotland for the majority of his service. In his last few years he was honored to represent Scottish Policing overseas and worked with Police Officers in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malawi and Zambia, as well as welcoming officers from across the USA to come and share good practice in Scotland. Nowadays he run investigations for a humanitarian charity. He is married with 2 grown up daughters.Read Transcript
Shaun: One of our cops gets in touch and says, “I know exactly who that is. We stopped him last week. We’ve now checked him out. He is our sex offender.” So, you can imagine how I felt when I was told that. You go from, “Maybe it’s nothing,” to “Whoa, hold on a minute. What’s the situation here?”
Yeardley: [00:00:24] Hi, I’m Yeardley. This is Detective Dan.
Dan: [00:00:27] Hey, there.
Yeardley: [00:00:28] And his identical twin brother, Detective Dave.
Dave: [00:00:30] Hello.
Yeardley: [00:00:31] And this is Small Town Dicks.
Dave: [00:00:34] You will hear detectives from Small Towns around the world discuss their most memorable cases.
Dan: [00:00:39] We cover the intimate details of what went wrong and what went right.
Yeardley: [00:00:43] As these dedicated men and women search for justice and crack the case.
Dan: [00:00:48] Names and certain details have been changed to protect the privacy of the victims and their families.
Dave: [00:00:53] So, please join us in maintaining their anonymity out of respect for what they’ve been through.
In Unison: [00:01:02] Thank you.
Yeardley: [00:01:09] Today, on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. This is a good day. We have Detective Dan.
Dan: [00:01:17] Hello there.
Yeardley: [00:01:18] Hello there. And we have Detective Dave.
Dave: [00:01:21] Hello, Team. Good to be back.
Yeardley: [00:01:22] Hello, you. It’s always good to have you. (laughs) Small Town Fam, we are so thrilled to welcome a new guest to the podcast, Retired Superintendent Shaun.
Shaun: [00:01:36] Hi, everybody. Good to see y’all.
Yeardley: [00:01:38] Ah, as you can hear, possibly, Shaun is joining us from Scotland. Thank you so much for sitting down with us today.
Shaun: [00:01:47] No, thank you. It’s an honor.
Yeardley: [00:01:49] So exciting. Shaun, before we get into the case that you’ve brought to us today, will you give us a little bit of the lay of the land, what your department was when you were there and your jurisdiction?
Shaun: [00:02:01] Yeah, of course. In this story, I’m going to take you back to 2010. In 2010, I was Detective Chief Inspector and I was working in a city in Scotland called Dundee. Dundee is the largest city in Tayside. Tayside police was the name of the organization that I was part of at that time. Tayside had about, oh, 1100 officers, which policed quite a large geographical area. Tayside covers three areas, Perth and Kinross are sort of the local authority area, Angus which is a coastal region, and then Dundee city, and like I said, Dundee was the largest city there. Dundee is one of these places that although it’s a city, everybody knows everybody else. You’re never too far away from people that you’ve seen before, etc. It’s a very close-knit setting. Dundee, it’s an old city. It was founded on what they called Jam, Jute and Journalism. So, they had jam factories, they had factories that need jute, i.e., hessian that they made bags and so on from, and journalism.
Yeardley: [00:03:13] When you say jam, are you talking like strawberry jam, that kind of jam?
Shaun: [00:03:16] Yeah. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. I’m talking about strawberry jam. I’m talking about marmalade. That’s exactly what we’re talking about. As I’m talking, you’re probably thinking, jute don’t really use jute. Now, we don’t. Jam is not such a big thing. Journalism has spread across the world. Dundee has suffered as a result of that, because a lot of the industries that are previously relied on have now stopped functioning, and it’s hard to find a new approach.
One of the things that Dundee has found was the gaming sector. Dundee has two universities. Both of those universities have got a big number of students who learn how to code and to set up games. So, gaming has become a really big part in Dundee. So, Dundee’s population has changed as a result. So, you’ve got quite a lot of young people, students, all working in Dundee, and it’s quite a vibrant, what we call, the nighttime economy. So, the bars, the restaurants, the clubs. From a policing point of view, quite a challenge, because everybody’s out, everybody’s having a good time. Some people have more of a good time than others, and they end up falling out with each other, as we say. So, presented a lot of challenges.
[00:04:31] My role as DCI, as we would call it, Detective Chief Inspector, my responsibility was serious crime. Any serious crime that happened in Dundee, I had three detective inspectors, and I had about 30 detectives working for me, Because of the makeup of the city, I don’t know if you use this term in the US, but we talk about areas of Multiple Deprivation.
Yeardley: [00:04:55] No.
Shaun: [00:04:56] Areas where people don’t have jobs or they have low-paid jobs. The housing that they are in is either provided by the authority or housing associations, not a lot of homeownership. And there’s not a lot of prospects for them in these areas. That leads to issues with drug taking, using controlled drugs, heroin, ecstasy. So, you had a population that suffered a lot, didn’t have a lot of money, mixing with another population who were young, who were making lots of money, who were out. And because it’s a small city, you’ve got a real mix of cultures and a real mix of people. Also, to throw into the mix, Dundee isn’t far away from St. Andrews. I don’t know if we have any people that follow the British Royal Family.
Yeardley: [00:05:50] Sure, me. I do. Mm-hmm. (laughs)
Shaun: [00:05:53] Well, you’ll know then that Will and Kate met when they were students at St. Andrews University.
Yeardley: [00:05:59] That’s right.
Shaun: [00:06:00] St. Andrews, lovely town though it is, doesn’t have much going on at night. Some of the students would come across the Dundee because that’s where the nightclubs were, and so on. Thankfully, Will and Kate were not involved in the story, that’s a good, good thing. [Yeardley laughs] But you aren’t getting students and so on coming across from other parts of the country into Dundee. So, that’s the kind of area that we’re working in.
[00:06:25] At the time that this case happened, it’s the end of February in Scotland, which is cold. The weather was particularly bad. Another thing to feature into the equation was, our police annual leave ran from start of March through to the end of February, that was your calendar year. People like me wouldn’t use a full quarter of annual leave, and there would be a pressure to try and use as much of your leave as you can, before the end of the year.
Yeardley: [00:06:58] Do they take it away from you if you don’t use it?
Shaun: [00:07:01] You could roll it over. But then, all that created was that was just more leave to use the following year. And so, you just got into that spiral, and eventually you just never took it. And that was one of those things that when you are in charge, you are always encouraging your team to take that leave so that they will get the rest. And then, they would look at you and go, “Well, wait a minute, why aren’t you taking yours if you’re telling us to take ours?” So, you had to make sure that you took your leave. So, I was just embarked on a week’s leave just to use up some time because trust me, in Scotland in the winter, there ain’t much to do with your leave, but it was [crosstalk] week off, I was going to be at home looking after the kids.
[00:07:42] I went off on leave on Friday. We had an incident that came on the Friday night where three boys tried to break into this house in a small village just outside Dundee. They were stopped trying to break into the house, and they ran off, police in pursuit. They caught up with two of them, but the third one managed to run away, but we knew who he was. He was known to us, 16 years of age. So, there had been a general search for him to try and track him down and arrest him. As you would expect with these things, they would go and knock-on doors and try and go round all his associates to find them. Everybody’s going, “Oh, no. We haven’t seen him.” Of course, we think, “Well, they’re saying they haven’t seen him, but he’s going to be around there somewhere.” So, they’ve been searching and searching.
[00:08:34] And then comes Sunday, there’s a body discovered in a ditch about half a mile away from the scene of this break-in. Lo and behold, this young man had run off, going to hide, had either tripped, fell, and banged his head, but because it’s so cold, hypothermia kicked in, he sadly died in the ditch. We had a team of detectives then working on this death and trying to piece everything together and make sure that we’d done everything that we could have done, and that there was no foul play in relation to the death. That’s what started off on the Sunday although I was off and thinking, “DI has got that, have got a team on it. It’ll be fine.”
[00:09:19] Then, at the same time as that, a 14-year-old girl goes missing. And this 14-year-old girl had a history of problems with her family. She was constantly going missing and just was a troubled young woman. Of course, it was a major concern to us because she always found herself in risky situations. When she went away, we would always have to intervene to get her back. She couldn’t assimilate risk and couldn’t manage herself. We knew that when she was missing she was going to be in danger. The DI that was in charge, the detective inspector that was in charge of childhood protection, he had two or three detectives working on that. We had those two incidents running on.
[00:10:08] And then on Sunday evening, a call comes in from the mother of Mary McLaren. Now, Mary McLaren was a 34-year-old mother of three. She lived with her family and her partner. Mary was the type of woman that would go out regularly with her sister. They would go to local bars, and they would end up at the clubs. She would have a few drinks and she just enjoyed being out and socializing and dancing and just having a good time. Now, Mary, when she went out occasionally, didn’t come back that night and would either stay at her sister’s or stay at a friend’s or whatever. She went out on Thursday night, and when she didn’t come back on the Friday, her family thought, “Oh, that’s okay, it’s Mary. She’ll be back soon.” She didn’t come back on the Saturday. “Oh, that’s not like Mary. Mary would normally be back within 24 hours.” So, come Sunday, her mother thinks, “No, this is not like Mary. We are concerned now.” So, gets in touch with us to say, “Our daughter is missing.”
Shaun: [00:11:31] At that point, I’m not involved in the detail of this missing person report, and it’s a missing person. We don’t have any indication to any foul play. We know that Mary was out for the night. We know that she went to a local nightclub called Fat Sam’s. And we also knew that when she came out of the nightclub with her sister, her sister was involved in a disturbance outside the nightclub and her sister was arrested.
Yeardley: [00:12:01] What’s her sister’s name?
Shaun: [00:12:02] Her sister’s name is Michelle. Mary was then apart from her sister. And at that point, nobody knows where Mary went. Those were the circumstances that we had at that time. But it’s a missing person report. Now, if you’re going to ask the public if they remember seeing a person, you want certain cues, you want to be able to describe that person to the media, and ask people if they’ve seen her. Mary was perfect for us as a police organization to describe, and people should remember her, and I’ll tell you why. She went to a pub called the Gauger Bar. The Gauger Bar that night was doing karaoke. And through the karaoke, they had various animations up. One of the animations was an inflatable toy, and the inflatable toy was called Wicked Willie. I don’t know if you have Wicked Willie in the US.
Yeardley: [00:13:04] No, what’s that?
Shaun: [00:13:06] Basically, it’s an inflatable penis with a face on it.
Yeardley: [00:13:10] Oh.
Shaun: [00:13:11] So, picture a three-foot-high, blow-up penis with a smiling face on the front of it.
Dave: [00:13:19] Looks like Dan.
Shaun: Yeah, there’s a number of people that I work with that looked like this one.
Yeardley: [00:13:29] When you say there are animations behind you when you’re singing karaoke, I’m thinking on a screen.
Shaun: [00:13:35] No.
Yeardley: [00:13:35] Are you saying these are actual objects?
Shaun: [00:13:37] Yeah, these are the objects, like blow-up objects.
Yeardley: [00:13:40] Got it.
Shaun: [00:13:41] There was Wicked Willie, there was palm trees, there was blow-up flamingos, just all sorts of nonsense.
Dave: [00:13:49] I’m picturing somebody leaving the carnival with a huge stuffed teddy bear.
Shaun: [00:13:53] That kind of thing, but just picture it as a blow-up penis. That’s what you’ve got.
Yeardley: [00:13:59] (laughs)
Shaun: [00:14:00] So, there was this blow-up toy called Wicked Willie at The Gauger Bar, and Mary decided that it would be a great idea when her and Michelle were going to Fat Sam’s that she took Wicked Willie with her. She walks from The Gauger Bar which is about half a mile to Fat Sam’s, and Mary had a problem with her hip. So, she had a limp. So, you have a woman with a limp carrying a blow-up penis, goes missing in Dundee.
Yeardley: [00:14:33] I feel like that would be hard to miss.
Shaun: [00:14:34] Yeah. That’s pretty good for a start on in terms of trying to get the public to actually say, “Did you see Mary when she left the club?” because she still had this blow-up penis when she left the club. So, they had kicked off the missing person inquiry, that was done by a uniform team. So, beat cops who work in that area start talking to people who were with Mary at the time, go to the club, see if anybody at the club can remember her. And this runs on for Monday into Tuesday and they manage to look at the club CCTV, and they pick out Mary with a man. We don’t know who this man is, but we notice that Mary and Michelle are both dancing with this man. So, they go and they speak to Michelle. Michelle isn’t happy with the police, doesn’t really like the police that much anyway, and likes us even less because she’d been arrested that night at the club.
Yeardley: [00:15:35] Because she caused a disturbance outside the club.
Shaun: [00:15:39] Exactly. Michelle has been involved with police inquiries before, and we had dealt with Michelle on a number of occasions, and she’s blaming the police for the fact that her sister went missing because if the police hadn’t arrested her, then she would have looked after her sister and her sister would never have gone missing. So, it was the police’s fault as far as she was concerned. So, that was really quite difficult. However, Michelle did confirm that they had spoken to this guy in the night club, and she described him as a bit of a pest, but they had both left with him out of the nightclub. And then, Michelle had been arrested but she didn’t know what happened to her sister.
[00:16:21] Fat Sam’s is the biggest nightclub in Dundee and on a Thursday night is the place to go, and it’s the place to go for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you come from a sort of rundown area of Dundee or you come from the best house on the other side of Dundee, you’ll gravitate towards Fat Sam’s nightclub. And we had a group of students from St. Andrews University, who’d also gravitated towards the nightclub as well. These students had heard the appeals that we’ve been putting out looking for Mary, and they had come forward because they’d been in the club and they’d been taking pictures, and this guy had approached them.
Yeardley: [00:16:59] Oh, this pest of a fellow?
Shaun: [00:17:00] Yeah. What we get from the St. Andrews University students is that he was smelly. He wasn’t well dressed. He was disheveled. We told him to go away. He spoke with an Irish accent, and his chat-up lines and so on were not good.
Yeardley: [00:17:19] His pickup lines, as we would say.
Shaun: [00:17:21] Yeah, well, in Scotland, we call it patter. His patter was not good. Basically, it was walking up to them and just going dance, and they would just turn around and walk away.
Yeardley: [00:17:32] (laughs)
Shaun: [00:17:34] One of our cops in Angus gets in touch and says, “I know exactly who that is. That is Patrick Rae. We stopped him last week in a van for a road traffic offense. We’ve now checked him out, and it turns out he is a sex offender from Ireland.” So, you can imagine how I felt when I was told that. You go from, “Maybe it’s nothing,” to “Whoa, hold on a minute. What’s the situation here?” So, I know that you’ve spoken to Roddy before.
Yeardley: [00:18:09] Yes, we love Roddy. He gave us two cases for Season 8. Roddy is great.
Shaun: [00:18:16] Roddy was my boss.
Yeardley: [00:18:18] Oh!
Shaun: [00:18:20] Roddy was Detective Chief Superintendent at that time. So, he was my boss. Roddy had various connections in Ireland. So, I get on the phone to Roddy and say, “Can you speak to your guys in Ireland, run this name by them, and find out what you can?” Roddy gets on the phone to one of his friends who does a bit of work and goes, “Well, yeah, here’s the situation.” Turns out Patrick Rae had been charged with a serious sexual assault and rape, was due to go to court in 2009. He hadn’t gone to court, skipped out, and there was a warrant for his arrest in Ireland. But even at that, we didn’t have an enforceable warrant for Patrick Rae in Scotland. And Patrick Rae had been stopped by various Scottish police forces since he had gone on the run. Patrick would do a lot of gardening work. So, he would constantly be going down and doing work in people’s gardens and all of that kind of thing. So, he was very itinerant in terms of his activity, because he would just go wherever the work was.
Yeardley: [00:19:28] When the Scottish police stopped Patrick Rae for these traffic offenses, are they aware that he has a warrant? They just can’t execute it?
Shaun: [00:19:37] No.
Yeardley: [00:19:37] So, that information doesn’t even cross the border?
Shaun: [00:19:41] No, that information is not on our system. We didn’t know that there was a warrant, but we then became aware that there was a warrant.
Dave: [00:19:51] And it explains why Patrick would leave the country.
Shaun: [00:19:56] Absolutely.
Dave: [00:19:57] He knows this is hanging over his head and that he’s probably going to prison. So, he’s never going back to Ireland by choice probably.
Shaun: [00:20:04] You’re exactly right. The only way that we could ever have done anything with it is if Ireland had applied for a European arrest warrant. But at that time, to be fair, they had no indication that he had gone to Scotland. They just knew he hadn’t turned up at the court and he could have just been lying low somewhere in Ireland. So, we had him identified in terms of, this looks very like the guy, but we still hadn’t found Mary. Mary was still missing. So, I’ve still got the death of the teenage boy in the ditch being investigated. I’ve still got a missing 14-year-old girl. And this is now priority here, we’re going to have to thin out these other teams, because we need to form a team to deal with Patrick.
[00:20:46] So, we pulled together a team, we get the detectives working on it. And one of the first actions is go and find Patrick Rae. We need to bring him into at least look at the pictures, look at him and satisfy ourselves that, “Yes, this is the man that we’re looking for.” Thankfully, we managed to locate him quite quickly. And he came in voluntarily, and I’m going, “Yeah, that’s our man. That’s him. That’s the man that’s left the nightclub with Mary.
Yeardley: [00:21:12] When you see him in person, you go, “That’s the guy on all these CCTV images?”
Shaun: [00:21:17] Absolutely. Quite clearly, the same guy. In fact, he’s still in the same jacket. A couple of detectors are sent in talking to Patrick Rae as part of a missing person inquiry and they’re trying to establish on Patrick, “Were you in Fat Sam’s nightclub?” “Yeah, I was in Fat Sam’s nightclub.” “Did you talk to these women?” “Yes, I spoke to these women.” “Do you remember their names?” “Oh, not really. I think one was called Mary. I’m not sure what the other one was called.” So, he’s putting himself in the club, he’s putting himself with Michelle and Mary. And then go, “Okay. So, when you left, who did you leave with?” “Oh, no, no, I just left alone. I saw some kind of disturbance. So, I just walked away. I don’t know what happened, and I just walked away.” “Did you have any contact with Mary?” “Well, yeah, I danced with her. We were together in the club. But when I left, I wasn’t interested, I just wanted to go.” I’m looking at him, I’m going, “We can’t let you away,” because I don’t even know if Mary’s alive or dead at this time. I don’t know if he’s got held somewhere, or whatever, I just don’t know,” but I have no evidence. We have no indication of foul play at this point. We just know that we’ve got a sex offender, left the nightclub with Mary, and she’s nowhere to be seen. We’re thinking the worst but with no evidence. What am I going to do? I can’t let this guy go and just disappear into the sunset, because he’s already fled once. If he gets a sniff that we think he’s responsible, he’s just going to disappear.
[00:22:43] While all this is going on, you have your intelligence teams, doing intelligence profiles of individuals. So, I’m sitting with an intelligence profile of Patrick Rae from the systems that we’ve got in Scotland. Roddy is by this time sitting in my office, and the two of us are looking at this going, “We can’t let this guy go. How we’re going to keep him? What we’re going to do? We’re probably going to have to put surveillance on him. We probably going to have to follow him and just see where he goes and what he does.” We bring in the Detective Inspector in charge of the surveillance unit, and I hand him the intelligence profile, say, “Look, can you have a look at this? See what you can pull together because we can’t keep this guy for much longer.” By this time, he had been with us probably three or four hours and we can’t keep him forever. He’s here voluntarily. We have nothing. The Detective Inspector goes away. 10 minutes later, he comes back and he says, “Well, why don’t we just arrest him for this theft?” I’m going, “What theft? What are you talking about?” “Theft.”
[00:23:39] On our intelligence profile, there was a crime noted in Greenock, which is the other coast of Scotland, so hundreds of miles away from us, but it’s just as you come from Ireland into Scotland, it’s one of the ports that you can come into. Patrick Rae appears to have got friendly with a woman in Greenock and has been staying with this woman in Greenock for a few days, and he stole her mother’s bracelet, and her mother reported the Patrick had stolen this bracelet, but we’d never caught up with him. Straight on the phone to Greenock, and got Roddy to make the call because it’s always better when it’s the chief superintendent that makes the call.
[00:24:24] So, I got Roddy to make the call. I said, “Roddy, try and get them to get a grip of this and see if they can do something with it.” He speaks to a DI in Greenock, who was brilliant. He just went, “Leave it with us, boys. Leave it with us. We’ll sort this out.” And they managed to get enough for the case. So, they get in touch with us and say, “Wait. There’s enough to arrest him. You can arrest him, bring him through a Greenock and we’ll put him to court the next day.” That’s exactly what we did. We got two of our finest detectives, got Patrick into the back of a car and gotten through to Greenock. So, Patrick was arrested for that. He went court, and the court were able to remand him, so keep him in custody for seven days. So, we had him in custody for seven days. We were in a better position. We were kind of, “At least we’ve got him,” but we still didn’t have Mary. We still had a potential murder, but we don’t know.
Shaun: [00:25:35] All of this is rumbling on, and of course, media in Dundee have latched on to this, because the Dundee public were so interested in the fact that Mary was missing.
Dave: [00:25:45] The initial media blitz on Mary being missing, would that have been difficult for anybody in the area to avoid the coverage?
Shaun: [00:25:56] It would have been, because it was on every billboard outside every newsagent, and her picture was on the front of newspapers and so on. So, very difficult to avoid.
Dave: [00:26:08] And you have all these students from outside the area. You have, I’m sure, citizens from Dundee, they’re contacting you guys saying, “Oh, yeah, I remember that person with that inflatable toy.” Patrick, one would think if you’re not involved in some sinister activity, that you would come for and say, “Actually, I had left with that person. And here’s the last place I saw them,” if you’re trying to be helpful. During this interview, your detectives pretty quickly determined that Patrick’s lying to us, and I’m sure you guys have that aha moment when he’s like, “No, I didn’t leave with her, I left by myself.” If you’re going to lie about the little things, you’re never going to be honest about the big things. So, he knows that the minute he’s walking away from that bar and he’s the last person with Mary, that he’s now made himself suspect number one.
Shaun: [00:26:58] You’re absolutely right. As we’re working on this, two or three things happen. Firstly, once Patrick Rae’s arrested, we obviously don’t tell the media about that, but because we can’t link him at that point. But what we do want to do is try and ramp up the public knowledge of it. We want to try and get as much information as we can, because we’re still looking for Mary. We brief our media all the time in terms of, “Here’s what we’re looking at. Here’s what we’re dealing with. It’d be great if you could not mention this at this time, but we’re telling you because we don’t want you to stumble across it and then put it out.” We had briefed the media about the background of this, and we told them that, “Look, Michelle, she’s really stressed at this time. So, it’d be better if you kept away from Michelle, because the whole family are really struggling to get to grips with this.”
[00:27:55] Our local news broadcast live from Michelle’s house the following day for our 6 o’clock in the evening news, which is our primetime news slot. Michelle, of course, really upset, still upset with the police, blames the officers that arrested her for the fact that her sister is missing. I had two or three cops who are sitting at home with their families watching this on the telly, and thinking, “That’s not what happened. That’s not how it went.” but then feeling really, really bad and quite badly affected by all. So, in the background, then we’re supporting these officers to say, “Look, no, you did exactly the right thing. You were dealing with something completely different at that time, and it wasn’t your actions that have contributed to this. It was Michelle that got arrested for something that Michelle did, not for something that you did.”
Yeardley: [00:28:49] Right. It also bears mentioning though that even as Michelle got herself arrested that night, it doesn’t mean that she’s responsible for what happened to Mary either. Maybe if Michelle hadn’t been arrested, she would have had the same fate that Mary had. It’s all just terribly tragic.
Shaun: [00:29:11] Absolutely.
Dave: [00:29:12] And it’s a give and take between law enforcement and the media. They want all this information. And you have to worry about them coming across information a different way and then releasing it, and that’s harmful to your case, because you want to protect specific details that only the suspect would know about. So, the minute you say, “I need this to be off the record,” or, “I need you to hold on to this for a few days before you release it,” and they betray that, I’ve had those relationships with people in the media and I don’t speak to them ever again, because you just blew up my case. You didn’t keep the big picture in mind.
Shaun: [00:29:48] Absolutely right. In the background, I have got some people who have latched on to what Michelle has said and are trying to run an antipolice campaign in Dundee saying that the police are responsible for Mary being missing. So, we’re having to work with the community to try and get our message out. You don’t want to be critical of the family because the family otherwise were really good, working well with us, understood what we were trying to do. But you had these agitators outside the family that were trying to make political capital over the fact that they reckoned that the police had in some way been responsible for Mary going missing, which was not true. So, that was going on.
We then had one of the biggest searches that we’d ever had in Tayside. I told you that we had maybe about 1100 officers. I had 300 officers doing searches, looking for Mary. We’re searching everywhere. We’ve done loads more CCTV work and we’ve got a bit of a break. So, we’ve managed to track Patrick and Mary walking away from the club through a few streets in Dundee, and then we lost them because we didn’t have any cameras. However, we then two hours later, pick up Patrick going into a 24-hour petrol station, and buying some candy, and then coming out to the petrol station. So, we managed to speak to the attendant who was working in the petrol station at the time that Patrick went in and he remembered him, because he said, “Patrick’s clothes were muddy, it looked like there was maybe some blood on his jeans.” And this was like 4:00 in the morning. So, it was mainly people coming to the clubs, so they’re all dressed in their finery. And then, this guy turns up. He’s a bit disheveled, and he speaks with an Irish accent, and this is Dundee in the middle of February. So, he stuck out.
[00:31:47] So, we’ve got Patrick appearing from a totally different part of Dundee to where the nightclub was in the direction that they had walked away. We also had two cops, who were attending a call about the time that Mary goes missing that she’s caught on CCTV. And these two cops see Mary and Patrick at a roundabout. In Dundee, they call them circles, sort of a junction. One of the cops says, “We saw Patrick and Mary at that junction, and just happened to notice because of course, Wicked Willie,” they make a comment, “Look at that,” and on they go. But we were only able to speak to one of the cops, because the other cop, and you can make this stuff up, the other cop was going in for an operation. And she was under sedation, the cops that we could speak to had said, it’s here. And this junction that she points out, it’s only about 200 yards from the service station.
[00:32:48] Of course, we then see Patrick on CCTV, so it all makes sense. So, the search is sort of centered around this area. We’re knocking on doors, we’re going into sheds, we’re everywhere. And still, we haven’t found Mary. Patrick’s been locked up three or four days, and we only had him for a week. So, we’re in the middle of the next week. We do another interview with Patrick when he’s in custody to say, “Well, we’ve now got a picture of you on CCTV coming out of the club and walking away with Mary.” “All right, yeah, yeah, that’s right. Yeah. I’d forgotten about that. Yeah, we did walk away. But then, she got sick. She was throwing up because of the amount of drink that she’d had. So, I just walked away and left her.” And then, we said, “Well, you turned up at the service station, you had mud on your jeans, what was that?” “Oh, I got lost. I don’t know Dundee. So, I go for a walk, find myself in the middle of that path, end up fallen down and get mud all over myself. And I cut my hand, rub my hand on the jeans.” He just changes his story to fit the circumstances. So, we’re getting no further forward.
[00:33:56] And then, we get a break. The other cop comes out of her surgery, recovers, and we send two detectives to go and speak to her, to just confirm sighting of Mary. And this cop was a Dundee cop. So, she was born and bred in Dundee, she knows Dundee well. She says, “Oh, it wasn’t there. It was the one further up. It was the next junction that we saw them.” Significant, because our search was going away from that junction, not towards that. Myself and the DI that I was working with, we go for a walk and we go around the corner to the correct junction. It’s quite a big roundabout. In the middle of the junction, you’ve got a planted area and then to the side of the junction, you’ve got this big planted area with a high wall. There’s ivy running down the side of the wall, there’s trees, there’s bushes, it’s a quite a dense area. So, I think, “Okay, we need to move the search this way.”
[00:34:59] Weget our search team in, and I go back to the office. And about the 2:00 in the afternoon, we got a call. There’s a body been found in this dense area near to this junction. The searcher had been on his hands and knees, and had been crawling on his hands and knees searching along because this place was so densely overgrown, and he’d reached out and he could feel her feet. I told you there was a high wall and there was ivy coming down the side of the wall. What had happened was Patrick had pulled the ivy down from the wall and used the ivy to cover the body, almost like a quilt of ivy over the top of the body. And it was only the fact that he hadn’t managed to cover her feet that led the searcher to be able to find Mary.
Yeardley: [00:35:48] When he pulls the ivy off the wall, is there not now a negative space where ivy used to be?
Shaun: [00:35:54] No, because the wall wasn’t completely covered, so you had patches of ivy.
Yeardley: [00:36:00] Got it.
Dave: [00:36:02] Based on the CCTV, the police officers who see him at the roundabout and the attendant at the petrol station, you’ve now shrunk that window of time where Mary’s alive and then she’s not seen with Patrick anymore, and Patrick’s going to have to explain that.
Shaun: [00:36:21] Yeah. This is where CCTV becomes quite important as well. The CCTV in this was the massive piece of the jigsaw, if you like. Because of the CCTV both in the nightclub and the city center, we could piece Mary’s movements for a significant amount of time. However, we had two gaps. A gap of 20 minutes in the club, and then we lose Mary before she gets to the point that she’s found. So, it’s about 50 yards from the point where she’s found to the last CCTV camera. We have a series of interviews with Patrick, and he now knows that we found the body. So, we said that there will be a whole load of forensic tests being done, we will be taking samples from Mary’s body, and we will be comparing them against his DNA. So, “Are we likely to find your DNA on Mary’s body?” Patrick’s response to that was, “Yeah, I didn’t actually tell you this at the time, but I had sex with her in the nightclub.” So, we’re going, “Say that again?” “We had sex in the nightclub. I should have mentioned that before. It’s probably important. But we had sex in the nightclub.” “Right. Okay. This is nonsense.”
[00:37:43] Dispatch a couple of detectives down to the nightclub and say, “Look, I know that we can’t see them for 20 minutes, because there are blank spots that the cameras don’t cover. But he’s saying that he’s had sex with her in the nightclub. Is that likely? Does that happen?” We’re expecting no. That’s not what we get. We get, “Well, it’s a nightclub. These things sometimes happen.”
Yeardley: [00:38:09] Oh, my God!
Shaun: [00:38:11] “There’s dark spots, and we will occasionally find there are people enjoying each other’s company at various points in the nightclub,” so we couldn’t rule it out. However, that then starts to rubbishes his claims because the pathology indicated that Mary had been raped. She had been stabbed, she had been strangled, clothing had been removed. Horrific, absolutely horrific.
Yeardley: [00:38:47] So, Shaun, the evidence of rape combined with Patrick’s DNA on Mary helps prove that he didn’t just have consensual sex with Mary at the club, like he claimed.
Shaun: [00:39:00] Exactly.
Yeardley: [00:39:01] And then also, you clearly see Patrick leaving the club with Mary on CCTV. So, everything is pointing to Patrick at this point, but you find Mary in this little park. How are you able to prove that Patrick was in the park where Mary was killed?
Shaun: [00:39:21] We got a scientist who did pollen matching. So, they would look at the pollens and the spores from plants and be able to match the pollen spores and soil to particular areas. And because we’d managed to get Patrick arrested, we had all his clothing, we had his shoes. They recover pollen and spores and so on from his shoes. They then get the samples from the scene and they start to match the pollen on his shoes to the pollen that they recover from the scene. The scientist said to me says, “You know what would be really helpful, is if we actually had a plan of the planting within this particular area.” So, it’s the local authority that look after it all. So, I send a couple of detectives to the local authority, to the parks department to say, “This area here, even happen to have a planting map of it.” And the guy that they spoke to went, “You’re not going to believe this, I kept it because that was the first area that I ever worked on.” And he produces a plan of the planting regime for that particular area. I was gobsmacked. It was fantastic, because it allowed the scientists to plot where the various pollens had come from the plants so you could see how they had gone into the area, how they come out of the area, the plants that Patrick had walked on and brushed past and become attached to them, they we were able to match it to the planting regime within that particular area. So, that became really, really compelling.
Dave: [00:41:04] As you are detailing this examination of the plants and the spores and the pollens, those are like fingerprints for a plant. That kind of thoroughness and detailed investigation is so compelling to juries. Just based on the CCTV, Patrick’s going to have a hard time explaining how Mary is dead, and he had nothing to do with it. But then, you put the scientific evidence on top of it, that’s brilliant detective work.
Shaun: [00:41:36] Yeah. And it allows the jury to visualize it, because you’re able to show the jury the CCTV right from the point that Mary leaves the pub to go to the nightclubs. You can see a woman that’s having a good time with her sister, having a laugh, going into the club, just looking to have a good night and a dance and just enjoying herself. And you can see them dancing with him in the club, coming out, CCTV tracking the pair of them walking away to about 50 yards from where she was found. And then, being able to show through the pollen and the spores, that the murder could only have happened at this point, because it’s only at this point that all of these plants are together in one place, and being able to pick out the various pollens and spores from that. And then, linking that back to Patrick in terms of his DNA. There’s loads of it as you would expect, loads of his DNA on Mary’s body. The fact that we could show that he had been in that bit of ground, because all the spores are on his shoes and on his trousers and his jacket. We link him to the scene, we link him to Mary through the DNA, and then we have pictures of them together the whole time.
[00:42:48] But also, really importantly, as a context for all when you’re in the jury, we have so many witnesses who are either speaking about Patrick’s behavior in the club, i.e., he was not a nice guy, and not many of the women want to be anywhere near him. And then, the jury could really get a picture of this woman who was just out for a night out being preyed upon by this individual and could really understand what happened. But Patrick Rae continues to deny it to this day. He took it to trial. He went to trial and the trial lasted five days, and the jury took just over two hours to find him guilty. He was given life with a minimum of 20 years and he’s serving his sentence.
Yeardley: [00:43:34] A sentence for this murder as well or for his sex offense?
Shaun: [00:43:38] Just for this murder. The Irish stuff had probably been sorted out now, but it was just for this murder that he was given the life minimum 20 years. So, he’s now 10 years into that 20-year sentence.
Dan: [00:43:50] Patrick really sounds like a budding serial killer.
Yeardley: [00:43:53] Does he?
Shaun: [00:43:54] Absolutely, no question in my mind that if we hadn’t got him at that time, he would have killed again.
Dave: [00:44:01] Was the knife ever found that she was stabbed with? Was the inflatable?
Shaun: [00:44:06] Wicked Willie was found. Wicked Willie was deflated and was found near the scene. But we never found the knife. The knife was never recovered.
Dan: [00:44:16] The 16-year-old boy who was found in the ditch, completely unrelated to this case, correct?
Shaun: [00:44:20] Completely unrelated to the case. Just a really unfortunate set of events. And the 14-year-old girl was traced, she was okay. All of that worked out all right. She went missing again, which caused us even more problems later, but that resolved.
Dan: [00:44:37] What was Michelle’s family’s reaction after the arrest? I know they were very critical of your investigators at the beginning, did that change at all?
Shaun: [00:44:47] To be fair, you almost had two parts of the family. Michelle, who was very antipolice and obviously really struggling with the fact that she’d been on the night out with Mary and Mary had gone missing, so all of that builds up. But her partner, her children, and that part of the family were actually really supportive. They would listen to what we had to say to them. They would understand what we were trying to do. It was like they were having an out-of-body experience, like what was happening wasn’t real. Even when we got to the point of trial, because of course, they’re hearing what’s happened to their mom, they’re hearing the injuries that she has sustained, they’re hearing everything that’s happened in terms of the forensics and so on, you just got the impression that they just wanted to stop. They were thrust into this situation where everybody knew that the mom was missing, everybody knew that there was then a murder inquiry, and all of that stuff was playing out. And it was happening in the full glare of the media and so on, and trying to protect the kids because the oldest child was 15, so acutely aware of everything that’s going on. So, it was really, really difficult for them. They were really gracious and really appreciative at the end, but they just needed to go home and be a family again.
Yeardley: [00:46:12] Sure. Shaun, this case is clearly still so vivid for you. What about it makes it a case you’ll never forget?
Shaun: [00:46:26] The end of all of this, what you’re left with is a family with three young children without their mother, and that’s what all of this came down to. You had an individual that, for whatever reason, decided that was the night that he was going to die. And then you have three young children, two of them will under eight, will never really know their mom. And that’s the sadness of all– Those children are now growing up, and what they see when you look online is about their mom’s death, and that’s not really fair for a young kid, and for somebody growing up.
[00:47:01] Another bit that really made me sad at the time was when Mary was found, I could just about see that from my office, it was only about 100 yards from my office. When I thought about the sort of week to 10 days we had that we were just desperate to find her, I was driving past where she was every day. Didn’t know. That didn’t feel good. But she was just there. I wish we could have found her sooner.
Yeardley: [00:47:31] Shaun, what an extraordinary– as Dave said, it’s really fantastic detective work. We’ve often said on this podcast that we hear a lot about what might be considered imperfect victims. People who maybe aren’t straight A students, who don’t do everything right, who suffer from addiction and various things. But what’s so striking about all the detectives we have on this podcast are none of that matters. People deserve justice, no matter how they go through life. I just think it’s so important for people everywhere to hear that law enforcement who have their heart and soul and desires in the right place and do this job the right way and consider it a calling, you guys are amazing.
Shaun: [00:48:21] It’s what drives you, isn’t it? It’s about just making sure that you look after the people that can’t look after themselves.
Yeardley: [00:48:28] That’s it.
Shaun: [00:48:30] I always found that to be a privilege. You guys will all be the same. You get asked throughout your career, “Why do you do what do you do it for?” We’re lucky we can. We can step up for the people that can’t step up for themselves. We can look after those people who are vulnerable, and not with the ability to look after themselves. That’s the right thing to do and that’s what we’re here for. In the 30 years that I did the job, never once I considered myself a hero. It wasn’t about that. It was about just being lucky to be able to do the job that I did. I loved doing what I was doing. And yes, it’s difficult, and yes, it’s taxing and you have nights that you can’t sleep because you’re mulling over everything that’s going on that day and you know you’re going to have to get back into it again tomorrow, and you’re really worried that you’ve missed something. But it’s a privilege. It’s an absolute privilege. And if somebody offered me to be able to do another 30 years, I would do it again because it is one of the most privileged positions I think that you can ever be in, to be allowed to look after people and to protect those who need protected. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Dan: [00:49:38] 100%.
Yeardley: [00:49:39] Brilliant. Thank you so much for bringing that to us today.
Shaun: [00:49:43] It was an absolute pleasure. Thank you for allowing me to talk about it.
Dan: [00:49:46] Thank you, Shaun.
Dave: [00:49:47] Impressive detective work.
Shaun: [00:49:49] Thank you.
Yeardley: [00:49:54] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and Yeardley Smith, and co-produced by Detectives Dan and Dave. This episode was edited by Logan Heftel, Gary Scott, and me, Yeardley Smith. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor, the Real Nick Smitty, and Alec Cowan. Our music is composed by John Forest. Our editors extraordinaire are Logan Heftel and Soren Begin. Our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.
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