Unsolved Murder of Alistair Wilson, Scotland, 2004

small automatic pistol

Haenel Schmeisser .25 that killed Mr Wilson

This case is of the type that must be dreaded by homicide detectives. As you will see the event was sudden and the follow up investigation hit a wall into which leads disappeared. Was the murder of banker, Alistair Wilson, a case of mistaken identity or was there a motive that has remained in the dark all these years?

Time and Place:

Lothian House, Crescent Rd, Nairn, Scotland. 7.10pm Sunday, 28th November, 2004.

northern scotland

What Happened

The Wilson family were settling down for the night. Alister, 30, was reading a bedtime story to his children when his wife answered the front door. There was a man of between 35-40 years of age who was wearing a dark jacket and baseball cap. He was described as being under average height. He asked to speak to Alistair by name.

smileing couple Veronica and Alistair Wilson
Veronica and Alistair Wilson


She called her husband and he went and spoke to the man. A moment later he walked back upstairs to where his wife had taken over the bedtime story. In his hands was a blue envelope with the word ‘Paul’ written on it. He had closed the front door. Mr Wilson did not seem worried by the encounter but he was bewildered. He did not understand the name on the envelope and more mysterious was the fact it was empty. He then went back to the front door saying he would see if the man had gone.

Alistair Wilson was then fatally shot. Three shots had sounded. His wife, Veronica found him on the doorstep. He died later in hospital.

The Investigation

I write this over sixteen years after the event and the motive and culprit are still unknown.

Mr Wilson worked for The Bank of Scotland in a managerial position. Within a week he was to leave the organisation for another financial services job. That job was not contentious in any way. The envelope disappeared along with the killer, but a week later a small automatic pistol was found.

The Haenel Schmeisser is a .25 weapon from the 1930s. It will fit into the palm of a big man’s hand. They are often portrayed in old movies as the sort of weapon a woman would have in their purse. The theory went it was probably a souvenir from WW2 brought back by a British soldier.

small automatic pistol
Haenel Schmeisser .25 that killed Mr Wilson


Ballistics linked the gun to the killing but no DNA could be recovered from it. An appeal for information as to who had had it got nowhere. Over the years an identical pistol, along with another similar Belgian one, were handed in from the Nairn area. Given they are pretty rare here that was significant. I guess because it showed that maybe after WW2 someone had brought a batch of them back. This theory led nowhere either.

Police efforts to canvas the area yielded nothing. Mr Wilson’s personal and professional life gave the cops no clue. His wife believes (as of 2017) that mistaken identity is the only possibility. Sadly despite her being totally cleared of any link to the murder the old rumour mill has caused her problems.

Reviews of the killiing have taken place on a regular basis and the case remains of interest to the Police Service in Scotland.

My Take

This is the shortest comment I have ever made.  I scroll through the updates and do not doubt the effort the cops have put in yet little fresh evidence has come to light in quite sometime. I would be daft to suggest something other than has been discussed.

It is striking that an identical pistol was found during a house clearance sale in Nairn and another similar was handed in about five years ago. About a dozen have been handed in over the years since and three of them have a connection to Nairn.

I do wonder why Mr Wilson returned downstairs and opened the door again. According to his wife he did not say the guy was there waiting but rather Mr Wilson said he would go and see if he had gone. Maybe he was just concerned and as he had no explanation he decided to ask more questions.  Then the shots rang out. Was the guy expecting him to come back out? Was he about to knock again when the door opened? Had someone in the shadows confirmed that it was the Alistair Wilson they wanted?

An old private detective trick springs to mind. You used to wrap a parcel with any name on it and give the door a knock. You say you have a delivery. The person looks at the name and says you have the wrong address. You then ask them who they are so you can tell the depot or whatever that you tried to deliver. Was that why there was an empty envelope with ‘Paul’ on it? Where they just confirming who was at the house?

Other than that I am out of ideas. God bless the family. What a terrible thing for the kids to live through. I read one account that said the now grown son remembers seeing his father on the doorstep in a pool of blood.

I did read they had not got any DNA from the gun but I notice they have taken DNA samples from people of interest. Maybe the advance in the technology has given them a sample since 2004.

I noticed that as of 2018 they were trying to trace a guy called Shaun Douglas who had lived in Nairn at the time but had since gone to North America. In 2020 they were still trying to find him via his family who live there. At the time of writing they have had no luck. This lead seems to have come from an ex detective who has written a book on the case. The book ‘To Catch a Killer’ is written by Peter Bleksley and is available as an ebook apparently.

What do you think of this case?


Take Care