“I’m prepared to help you day and night,” Robert Rigg, 17, told police after his niece, eight-year-old Phyllis Merritt, was found dead in an air-raid shelter near Holywood Road, Edinburgh, on Wednesday, July 11th, 1945. Rigg, who had reported finding the body, was promptly charged with the little girl’s murder.

He was alleged to have assaulted Phyllis, seized her by the neck, pressed her throat and struck her head against a wall, then struck her again on the head and shoulder with stones.

When he was brought to trial he was helped slowly into the dock, where he stood looking dazed. His defence was that he was insane or alternatively in such a state of mental weakness as to make him irresponsible for his actions. But the evidence didn’t stand up and he was found not guilty.

As Rigg left the court relatives waiting outside rushed to him, threw their arms around him and kissed him.