'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'
Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012
Friday, 28 August 2020
This post is an upsetting one involving the murder of a youg girl, Katherine Brown, which you may not wish to read further.
On several different threads on the Oxgangs - A Pastime From Time Past Facebook group the dreadful murder at Colinton Mains of seven year old Katherine Brown has been a topic.
I’m conscious that even though 50 years - half a century - has since passed there are still many families and friends who are still alive today who were and are affected by what occurred.
The gist of the tragedy and what happened can be ascertained amongst some conflicting memories contributed by many members - quite natural, given how long ago it was, but for some who held Katherine close to their hearts it will be as if it were yesterday.
People’s recall of dates etc. has been impacted by the passage of time and what was and wasn’t reported at the time - again quite natural.
After some reflection I thought that on balance I should post an edited version of what was reported in the media at the time and how the sorrowful tale slowly emerged, but without any comment or interpretation from myself.
Katherine went missing on the early evening of Monday 24th June 1968.
It was first reported in the Edinburgh Evening News and Dispatch on Tuesday 25th June.
Katherine’s 10 year old sister, Alice, first raised the alarm after going round to visit 7 year old Anna-Maria Andretti on the Monday evening.
Katherine’s dad, Albert Brown, couldn’t understand how she could have vanished into thin air in such a short space of time.
16 year old Ronnie Andretti who worked in the family grocery shop said he called the girls (7 year old Katherine and her friend Anna-Maria Andretti - Ronnie’s sister) to come upstairs to wash their hands; he said his father was in the living room reading a book. He said Katherine left the house after heading downstairs shouting cheerio - her normal cheery self.
The following day, Wednesday 26th June, the Evening News and Dispatch reported that the search for Katherine had been extended and that 80 policemen including mounted officers and dog-handlers accompanied by Scots Guardsmen had combed the Colinton Mains area.
Mr Andretti had been in the living room reading a book. Further, it reported that Katherine had been last seen by her 7 year old friend Anna-Maria Andretti at 6.10 p.m. Anna-Maria had been called in for her tea and told to wash her hands (after playing in the sandpit); her father told Katherine that she couldn’t go home like that and should wash her hands too. She went upstairs, washed her hands, then left, saying cheerio and walked away.
Mrs Andretti gave a timetable of Katherine’s last known reported movements: '6.00 p.m. Playing at the sandpit with Anna-Maria. 6.05 p.m. The girls washed their hands in the Andretti house. 6.10 p.m. Katherine left - and then vanished.'
On Thursday, the 27th June, the newspaper reported there had been a dramatic change of events which halted an extended search by policemen and the army. The headline stated the police and the fiscal had gone to a house. It reported that a body had been found at a house in Colinton Mains (the Andretti home); the police were going through certain formalities and Chief Superintendent Beattie said a statement would be made soon. A woman had accompanied them to Oxgangs Police Station; later on a man and a woman similarly accompanied them to the station.
The next day, Friday 28th June, it was reported that the Sheriff Court had been cleared of the public and that a 15 year old boy had been charged with murder. No plea or declaration was made and he was returned to the cells.
What is perhaps less commonly known is that poor Katherine’s death was caused by strangulation and a stab wound to the chest.