Orkney fears the perfect murderer

Crime/ 'Tandoori' killing

GEORGE GOUGH has a job most policemen would envy. His beat is the most scenic in Britain - the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Crime is rare and most offences are cleared up in a matter of days. In small communities, where everyone knows everyone else, information is easy to come by.

But this week Det Supt Gough of Northern Constabulary is an unhappy man. "I'm extremely frustrated, baffled. Barring some kind of miracle, we are going nowhere," he says. For Mr Gough, a plain-speaking, stocky Highlander, this week marks one anniversary he would rather forget.

It is one year since Orkney suffered its first murder for a quarter of a century. At 7.15pm on 2 June last year, a man wearing a balaclava and gloves strode in to the Mumutaz restaurant in Kirkwall, the islands' capital. He pulled out a pistol and shot a waiter, Shaymol Mahmood, at point-blank range.

The bullet passed straight through Shaymol's head and lodged in the wall next to a table where a local family was eating the chef's special.

As the 26-year-old collapsed and died, the gunman walked out of the restaurant and ran down a narrow alley. He was last spotted near Kirkwall pier.

As Det Supt Gough sailed from John o'Groats to Orkney late that night, he was confident the murder would be solved within weeks. After all, the killers of crofter Andrew Bruce, the last islander to be murdered, in 1969, were arrested before breakfast the next day. "Orkney has a village mentality; this is a village crime. People there say you can't pee in the dark without someone seeing you. We'll get something soon," he told himself.

It was months before he left Orkney and returned to force headquarters in Inverness - empty-handed. Some 4,000 people had been interviewed, including tourists from as far away as Japan and Australia. Every home in Kirkwall was visited and waiters at scores of Indian restaurants in the Highlands had been questioned. But all inquiries were in vain. The hooded gunman had, it seemed, disappeared into the Orcadian night.

Det Supt Gough and other detectives have returned to Orkney a dozen times in the past eight months but the case is still as impenetrable as ever.

"Whenever we go to Orkney, we look at all theories," he said. "We thought there could be a racist motive, but we have now ruled that out.

"We have considered some kind of feud within the Bangladeshi community but there is no evidence of that. We looked at mistaken identity but dropped it. There was no attempt to rob the place. And, clearly, the killing was not some kind of impulsive crime.

"We have worked with other forces and Interpol and found no family feuds, no jealous husbands and no debts. I have been involved in a dozen murders in my 20 years in the Highlands and this is by far the most baffling. We just cannot find a motive or any positive leads."

Shaymol, from a respectable Bangladeshi family, was a hard-working, popular waiter at Kirkwall's only curry house. In broken English, the owner of the Mumutaz, Moina Miah, 36, who came to Orkney from Aberdeen three years ago, says he cannot imagine why anyone would want to kill him: "He was a very good worker - all the time smiling. Customers liked him. Sometimes there were arguments with people who were drunk who wanted to come in. But nothing serious. I am still shocked. I run a good business. I cannot think why this happened here."

Mr Miah, who fears that the gunman may return, has put his restaurant up for sale. Although the bullet hole has been papered over and a new carpet fitted, he has received no offers.

The killing still shocks the local Kirkwall community where, for the first time in a generation, people have begun to lock their doors at night.

The Rev Ron Ferguson, the local Church of Scotland minister, said: "People talk about that dreadful night. There is unease and a great sense of bewilderment that it could have happened here.

"Most think it was a contract-style killing, revenge for something that happened when Shaymol was working in England or Bangladesh. But there are those who have genuine fears that the killer is still here on Orkney and may strike again."

It is a fear shared by Det Supt Gough. After the murder, airports and ports were sealed off and there were no sightings of small vessels leaving any of the islands' secluded bays. "My experience tells me the murderer is more likely to be local than an outsider, still there in the community," he said.

But he is no more confident of finding him now than he was a year ago. After one last appeal for information later this week, the pounds 200,000 police investigation on Orkney will officially be scaled down.

Detectives don't like to admit it, but most now think that a far-flung outpost of Britain's tandoori empire has witnessed the perfect murder.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam