Teacher's death was murder, says ex-pupil

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The Independent Online

Police are to reopen the case of a teacher who fell to his death on the slopes of Ben Nevis while leading a school trip 41 years ago. New evidence suggests that he might have been murdered.

Howard Keeley's death was treated as a tragic accident at the time, but a witness has led officers from the Northern Constabulary to investigate whether some of the children in the party were responsible. A former pupil from Balgowan School in Dundee, where Mr Keeley, 23, worked, recently contacted police with new evidence about the incident.

The man, now aged 51, alleges that he helped to cover up the truth about the death, and that pupils pushed Mr Keeley 1,000ft down the mountain. The former pupil is reported to have given police the names of two pupils who he claimed kicked the teacher as he stood on the mountain's edge. The two pupils have been questioned and have denied the allegations.

A police spokesman said: "As these inquiries are at a very early stage, we will not be commenting further at this time."

Inquiries have been frustrated because mountain rescuers who attended the scene in 1962 have been impossible to track down. Current mountain rescue teams operating on the 4,406ft Ben Nevis, near Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, are understood to have been asked to assist the police. Terry Confield, of Lochaber Mountain Rescue, said his team's records did not go back to the incident.

The Scottish Highlands are notoriously dangerous, with dozens of climbers and walkers caught each year in unpredictable weather. On average, 39 people a year die on the Nevis range from accidents and hypothermia.

Balgowan School, which housed a number of pupils with behavioural problems, was set up in 1855 and closed in 1983.