De mortuis nil nisi bonum
In March this year I wrote a short piece about the murder in 1952 of Patricia Curran (here). Patricia was the daughter of a judge, the police investigation of her death was thwarted by the judge, a ‘confession’ was obtained from an innocent man who, in a travesty of the legal process, was found ‘guilty but insane’ and incarcerated in a mental hospital for seven years.
This man was Iain Hay Gordon; no explanation was given for his release, though he was required to live under an assumed name. Only in 2000 was he acquitted on appeal.
When I wrote the piece, I noted that Patricia’s brother, Desmond, was then the only survivor and witness of this tragedy, and ended with an appeal for information. Desmond came from a staunchly protestant family, but some years after her death he converted to Catholicism, later taking holy orders. He became a missionary in South Africa.
I received an email today with a link to a Facebook page. Desmond had remained in S Africa, and had recently died there. He was remembered with affection; and the author only discovered Desmond’s story after many years, confirming his view of Desmond, that he had a ‘past’, that he carried a ‘burden’.
A search found another post, a short note dated 25 August 2015, noting Desmond’s death —scroll down to read it.
With Desmond’s death, it seems that we will never know what exactly happened to Patricia Curran.
My thanks to Liz for the email and Facebook link, and to Brian O’Neill for technical help.
Robert Campbell is a retired surgeon.