Retired police inspector found guilty of murdering wife

Keith Farquharson killed Alice Farquharson at their home in Aberdeen.

Keith Farquharson: Guilty of murder following trial at High Court in Glasgow.
Keith Farquharson: Guilty of murder following trial at High Court in Glasgow.

A retired police officer has been found guilty of murdering his wife of 33 years.

Keith Farquharson killed Alice Farquharson at their home in Aberdeen last August.

The 60-year-old ex-inspector had denied murdering the 56-year-old school support assistant, but was found guilty by a jury at the High Court in Glasgow.

He will be given a life sentence, with a minimum prison term to be set next month. An attempt to plead guilty to the lesser charge of culpable homicide was rejected by prosecutors.

After the verdict, the Farquharson family said they “will never be the same again”.

They added: “To describe the loss of our mum, Alice, as a shock would be an understatement. She was an incredibly kind and caring person, with a great love for life and the people in it.”

During his trial, the former police officer, who retired from the force in 2010, claimed his wife’s death was an accident after a struggle in their bedroom.

He had previously claimed he’d come out of the shower to find her unconscious in the room.

Alice Farquharson died at her home in Aberdeen last August.

Farquharson admitted to having affairs with other women and told the court Alice didn’t trust him.

She had suspected him of seeing another woman shortly before he was murdered, the trial was told.

The court heard police initially believed her death wasn’t suspicious, before being persuaded by one detective to investigate the case as murder.

The couple’s three grown-up children – chemical engineer Joanna, teacher Sarah and son Kerr – who is in the RAF – were in court for the verdict.

Their father showed no emotion and refused to look at them as he was led handcuffed to the cells.

Detective Inspector Gary Winter, of Police Scotland’s major investigation team, paid tribute to Alice’s family.

He said: “I can’t begin to imagine how difficult this has been in addition to dealing with the devastating impact this incident has had on their family.

“Although today’s verdict can’t change what happened, I hope the outcome gives them some sense of justice for their mum.”

On the morning of the murder, Farquharson got up to start his shift as a school bus driver.

As she lay in bed, Alice asked him: “Do you love me?”

Farquharson admitted he “groaned” at the question before claiming his wife slapped him.

The ex-traffic officer insisted they had a struggle and he put his hand over Alice’s mouth to stop her screaming.

Farquharson went on: “It was as if she started to choke. I knew something was wrong. When I let go she just rolled off the bed.”

He made a panicked 999 call but medics were unable to save Alice, who was found to have suffered “mechanical asphyxia”.

Farquharson then spun a web of lies to relatives, claiming he had discovered Alice stricken in the bedroom after hearing a noise while in the shower.

Alice Farquharson: Family described her as ‘incredibly kind and caring’.

But he told the trial: “I continued with the lie because I was in a state of shock. I felt guilty and did not want my family to know.”

Detectives initially treated the death as “non suspicious”.

But Inspector Christopher Kerr – one of the officers at the Farquharsons’ home that morning – pushed for further inquiries.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC asked him: “You had reached a view this should be treated as a suspicious death.

“But, a detective inspector and sergeant decided the matter was non suspicious and that that the home was to be returned to the family.

“Did you agree with that assessment?”

Insp Kerr replied: “No.”

He insisted a post-mortem should be “expedited immediately” eventually leading to a murder probe.

Farquharson repeatedly sobbed in the witness box insisting he did not mean to kill Alice.

He said: “It was totally accidental. I wish it never happened.”

Keith Farquharson will be given a life sentence when he returns to court next month.

A pathologist concluded Alice’s neck had been compressed and that bruises on her face were consistent with gripping.

Mr Prentice said Alice must have been “fighting for her life”.

It also emerged – hours before she was killed – Alice had made web searches including “bidding for a house in Shetland” and “houses to bid for Shetland”.

After the verdict, the advocate depute revealed Farquharson had been convicted in 1998 of a breach of the peace while serving in the former Grampian Police.

Mr Prentice: “This is described as being of a sexualised nature and he was fined £500.

“It involved a work colleague and some form of writing, There were disciplinary proceedings which resulted in demotion for a period of time.”


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