Press release

Famous Scottish ‘murder’ case re-examined in forensic podcast

Published on 27 June 2024

Leading forensic officers are delving into a famous ‘murder’ from more than 100 years ago, in the return of a true crime podcast from the University of Dundee

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Inside Forensic Science features researchers from the University’s Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science (LRCFS) as well as leading experts from medicine, science and law, as they compare historic crime investigation to current day practices.

As part of the podcast’s third series, they examine a curious death which took place on the Ardlamont estate in Argyll, Scotland, on 10 August 1893, amid a private shooting party.

A young aristocrat, his tutor – who would become the main suspect – and a stranger went hunting in the woods of the estate, each carrying long, double-barrelled shotguns.

Moments later a shot was heard by servants. The aristocrat, Windsor Dudley Cecil Hambrough – who had recently taken over his family’s estate – was dead.

Hambrough’s tutor, Alfred Monson, went on trial the following year accused of murder.

In the podcast, narrated by broadcaster Pennie Stuart (presenter of BBC science series Brainwaves), experts from LRCFS and senior officers from Scottish Police Authority (SPA) Forensic Services explore the case in depth, scrutinising the real evidence as presented to the court at the time.

Other professionals, such as doctors, forensic pathologist, gamekeepers, and legal professionals, also discuss the evidence.

Close up image of man looking straight at camera and smiling. Older man with greying hair and outside in the countryside

In the first episode GP Miles Mack OBE, describes his shock at the then doctor turning up at the home on the estate to examine the dead body in a bed, having been wrapped in a rug and moved from the woods into a bedroom, where it was washed.

Historical documents detailing his statement to the court during the trial reveal the doctor examined the wound with his finger and found a hole in the skull, confirming a shot wound.

He certified death then went upstairs to have dinner with the family and guests, including the main suspect, Monson.

Miles comments that, while shocking compared to modern procedures, this was likely normal practice at the time. He then goes onto describe how differently the same situation would be approached today.

old newspaper photograph of courtroom with lots and lots of people sitting facing a judge who is sat on a bench much higher

Copyright of Illustrated London News Ltd/Mary Evans

He said, “The idea that the doctor was called to the case was startling because I wouldn’t be called to a firearms incident now.

“My sympathy is with the doctor being put in the position of being asked for a medical certificate cause of death, reflecting on how sometimes there is still discretion about how we present that.

“Earlier in my career we might have been asked to confirm life extinct, which is different from doing medical certificate cause of death, and so I was called to some gruesome deaths, mostly in cars, but now ambulance services are able to declare life extinct so I wouldn’t be called at all.”

Insight into murder investigations

Forensic scientists from SPA Forensic Services also discuss current working practices, giving a rare insight into how murder investigations are carried out in Scotland.

Monson’s defence was that Hambrough had awkwardly shot himself in the back of the head, with his own shotgun, by accident.

Ahead of the trial, Monson’s investigators tested this defence by carrying out shooting experiments at varying distances to examine the difference in bullet entry points.

Old newspaper cutting of a drawing of three men's head and shoulders. Two on either side wear bowler hats and all are well dressed

Copyright of Illustrated London News Ltd/Mary Evans

To produce the podcast, some experiments were also safely carried out under controlled conditions by a gamekeeper who fired shotgun bullets into pieces of paper to recreate some of those early experiments and explore how the entry wound might have presented differently depending on the distance at which the gun was fired. 

Professor Niamh Nic Daeid, Director of LRCFS, said: “We are delighted to work with the Adventurous Audio team and all of the specialists and practitioners who gave us the benefit of their experience and knowledge to review this case.

“The aim of the six-episode podcast is not to reopen the case but to explore the complexities of forensic science, demonstrate the challenge that the jury may have in understanding scientific evidence and what tools being developed and used today might help criminal investigations.” 

The latest series, along with previous episodes exploring difference cases, can be found on the University’s website and on all podcast providers including Spotify, Podbean, and Google podcasts. 

Notes to editors

Licences have been purchased for use of newspaper images but they must all be captioned as ‘copyright of Illustrated London News Ltd/Mary Evans’.


Sheanne Mulholland

Media Relations Officer

+44 (0)1382 385423