We think of stalking as a comparatively new phenomenon, but as long ago as 1963 Edinburgh had a pioneer stalker who, as a few stalkers do, became a killer.
The intentions of ambulanceman John Andrew Geddes, who lived in Bruntsfield Avenue, were always suspect, because he covered his stalking activities by telling his victim that he was a police officer.
The object of his sinister favours was 66-year-old Miss Jane Gorrian, a retired cleaner, who phoned the police after noticing Geddes loitering near her tenement flat in Potterrow. She phoned again and at regular intervals after Geddes began to pester her.
The police response was routine for that era. They were sympathetic but powerless because the stalker had broken no law. They could act only when he did break a law, which Geddes promptly did. On MARCH 12th, 1963, he went to Miss Gorrians flat, walked in, stabbed her repeatedly, then took off one of her stockings and strangled her with it.
At that point, of course, the police knew who to look for, having been regularly given a full description by the unfortunate Miss Gorrian. She had described him as aged between fifty and sixty, but it turned out that Geddes was only 33, with a young wife and baby.
At his home 22-year-old Mrs. Geddes told detectives that her husband had recently not been himself. The police had already learned that he had been certified insane and confined to a mental hospital after being found unfit to plead to a charge of arson. He was released in 1962 and married soon afterwards. Now, on arriving home, he was not disconcerted to find detectives waiting for him. Asked if he would accompany them to the police station, he smiled and said, Of course. After all, I am a police officer.
At Edinburgh High Court a psychiatrist recalled in evidence that when he examined Geddes in 1953 he was acutely insane. Now, however, he was sane and fit to plead.
He was sentenced to hang, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment four days before the execution date. He was released on December 1st, 1978, after serving 15 years at that time one of the longest stretches served in Scotland.
Then, in 1990, while working as a taxi-driver, Geddes was convicted of an assault on a passenger and was returned to prison to resume his life sentence.