‘Forgotten murder’ gets new police probe after 18 years

Detectives spend year looking into death of 22-year-old Darren Birt following STV News special.

Police have launched a new investigation into an 18-year-old “forgotten murder” following a family’s campaign for justice.

Detectives have spent the past year re-interviewing witnesses about the street killing of Darren Birt, 22, in Glasgow’s east end in 2002.

Darren’s father Brian Birt told STV News: “Our family are delighted that Darren’s murder is finally receiving proper attention.

“The officers have been empathetic, professional and sincere and reassured us they’re conducting a full and comprehensive re-investigation.

“They’ve been working on the Inquiry for over a year and have spoken to original witnesses. I vowed to get justice for Darren and this is the closest we’ve got.”

A letter to Brian from Detective Inspector Stuart Grainger confirmed that “Darren’s murder is to be reinvestigated”.

Over the past 12 months, Brian has received regular updates from detectives and also met a senior Crown Office prosecutor.

He said: “One officer who’s been in the job for 30 years said she was confident about handing the new information to the Crown Office.

“I asked if that meant they had enough to put people in the dock but she said that was a decision for the Crown.”

Darren died in a pool of his own blood after being attacked by men armed with hammers and knives in Calvay Place, Barlanark. Three men were charged but not prosecuted and the murder attracted little media coverage.

One of those men was Malcom Kelt, 47, who was previously convicted of killing another man in nearby Calvay Crescent and was last year jailed for a violent assault in Edinburgh.

Brian has been critical of alleged police failings in relation to his son’s case and accused the criminal justice system of operating an unspoken “postcode lottery” for murder enquiries.

Last year Darren’s “forgotten murder” featured in a series of STV News reports which told how every homicide in the UK is assigned a category – A+, A, B or C – based on Home Office guidelines.

Since 1960, there have been more than 1000 homicides in Scotland for which no-one has been convicted. These are mostly recorded as “unresolved” – which means the police think they know who is responsible. Only around 60 of the total are classed as “unsolved”.

Brian added: “I’ve got no doubt the STV News reports were instrumental in getting the police to look at this again after all these years. We are confident but not getting carried away.

“Waiting to hear what happens next is not easy thought and has been affecting the physical and mental health of myself and my family.

“It’s also important to say to anyone who knows anything about Darren’s murder that it’s not too late to do the right thing and come forward.”

Police Scotland said: “As enquiries into this case are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”

The Crown Office said they had “received information” from the police but could not comment on the “live police investigation”.

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