A LEADING pathologist has backed a West Fife family's search for justice and criticised police and prosecutors for not treating the death of their son as homicide.

Colin Marr, originally from Inverkeithing, died of a single stab wound on July 10, 2007, after a row with his fiancee Candice Bonar, with police telling his family it was an "open and shut" case of suicide.

However, the family began to suspect the mortgage advisor did not take his own life with Fife Police and the Crown Office admitting a series of failings in the way the case was investigated.

Fearing a cover-up, his mother, Margaret, and step-father, Stuart Graham, began a long campaign for the truth and sought opinion from experts like Dr Nat Cary, a forensic pathologist who worked on the case of Soham child murderer Ian Huntley and assisted the families of those killed in the Hillsborough Disaster.

His latest report casts doubt on the finding of suicide and he said: "The pathological findings are not typical of self-infliction in that there are no tentative wounds, severe force would have been required and the knife was withdrawn from the wound, allegedly by the deceased.

"In my opinion, this case is, and always was, a homicide until satisfactorily proven otherwise.

"It is disappointing that the direction of further inquiries appears to have been more about shoring up a position that it was not a homicide, rather than considering it from a neutral position."

Colin, who was 23 when he died, was found on the living room floor of his home at Johnston Crescent in Lochgelly with a kitchen knife at his side.

The post-mortem stated that the single stab wound had gone through his sternum (breastplate) and pierced his heart.

Ms Bonar has always maintained that she didn't kill Colin.

She emigrated to Australia with her parents in 2008 but travelled back for the Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) in 2011 where she said he stabbed himself after she accused him of being unfaithful and that she would leave him.

After hearing the evidence presented to him, Sheriff Alastair Dunlop was unable to determine if Colin had taken his own life or if someone else was responsible.

Mr Graham said: "This is not about who killed Colin but asks the question, why did they not want to know who killed Colin?

"The continued distortion of evidence to ensure protection of their own has been the constant barrier to effective justice."

He said it should have been treated as a suspicious death but claimed that there was no police investigation, that no fiscal or pathologist attended that night, that Candice's version of events was taken as fact and not corroborated, and that the case effectively closed that night.

The officer in charge was never called on to explain why he took the actions he did and there were no formal notes or records, while the scene log was lost or misplaced.

Mr Graham said: "There were concrete attempts, particularly from Fife Police at the time, to make this case go away.

"Evidence was hidden and not allowed to be presented at the FAI if it didn't support their suggestion that the wound was self-inflicted.

"They didn't investigate at the start as they should have."

He said that, since the FAI in 2011, the police and Crown Office had sought to present new evidence about the position of the wound and the severity of the blow, suggesting the knife hadn't gone through bone and supporting their finding that it had been self-inflicted.

He said this contradicted the evidence given by experienced pathologists at the FAI and in the post-mortem and led them to ask Dr Cary for his expert opinion.

The pathologist's first report said: "In my opinion, it is both possible and plausible that this was a stab wound inflicted by a third party."

It was submitted to prosecutors in 2021 who said they were pursuing "new lines of inquiry".

Dr Cary's latest report, and seven new statements "from people prepared to speak out about what happened that night", have also been submitted to the authorities.

Mr Graham said they had gone back to him to ask him to review a broader set of information he had not seen previously: "We wanted to go to someone else who wasn't involved in the FAI and didn't have a position to defend.

"We were fortunate to get Dr Cary and, in fact, this time he came in even harder on the homicide perspective and was more critical of the police and Crown approach."

That approach has been examined in great detail in a series of YouTube videos posted by the family, leading to some troubling questions for the authorities to answer.

They claim the authorities had blackened Colin's name by "distorting" the narrative, omitting any facts that didn't fit their version and "dramatically exaggerating" any negatives to suit their theory that his mental state was affected badly by drug-taking and that he couldn't live without Candice.

However, Margaret said Colin knew, days before his death, that she was probably going to leave him and that he didn't seem overly upset.

He had also spoken to Margaret roughly 15 minutes before he died to invite her for dinner before she went back to the USA.

She questioned whether he would really take his own life knowing his mum was on her way to his home.

The family i also concerned that reports of a third person at the house that night – neighbours reported hearing three adult voices – have not been looked into, while a "crush abrasion" to Colin's forehead was largely ignored, they claim.

Mr Graham said: "They knew within a month or two they had screwed it up and did nothing.

"It's not about Candice or even Colin any more, it's about protecting themselves."

The online material includes a February 2008 letter from a senior fiscal raising serious concerns about the way the death was investigated.

He had admitted that it "seems a very unlikely scenario" that a young man with no history of suicide attempts or mental health problems would, following an argument with his girlfriend, plunge a kitchen knife three inches into his chest.

The fiscal had written: "In 36 years as a procurator fiscal, I have never come across somebody who has committed suicide by stabbing himself in the chest."

The family were told that Fife Police had been directed to re-open the investigation and that it should be treated as homicide until otherwise proven.

The fiscal later informed them, in June 2008, this had been done and that the findings showed it was suicide, he had even demonstrated to the family how it could have been done.

However, Fife Police later admitted "this was not the case", that the force had not re-opened the inquiry and no further investigations had taken place.

And in a later meeting in October 2008, the fiscal told them he now believed it WAS homicide, he had seriously doubted suicide and that the case had been closed far too quickly.

But he added that nothing more could be done, the second investigation was a solid re-check of the evidence, Candice had been re-interviewed and that his view was final.

Mr Graham said: "We left that meting shocked and confused. How can you go from being told Colin had taken his own life – and shown how he did it – to now being told it was homicide and yet there was no new investigation?"

An internal Fife Police investigation followed in March 2009, with concerns about how they handled the case, and found 25 failings.

Fife Police and the Crown Office also produced reports that were critical of the original investigation into Colin's death and issued apologies to his family.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner upheld 12 complaints over the force's handling of the case.

This week, Detective Chief Inspector Brian Geddes, of Police Scotland's major investigation team, said: "Our sympathies remain with Colin's family and we acknowledge the severe impact his death and the subsequent inquiries have had on them.

"Material from Colin’s family was provided to Police Scotland in April 2021 and passed on to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). We continue to support the COPFS, as required.”

A spokesperson for COPFS said: “In 2021, the Lord Advocate identified areas for further enquiries based on information provided by Mr and Mrs Graham to the police.

“All available evidence is now being considered by prosecutors and a final decision will be taken by Crown Counsel with no previous involvement in the case.

“We appreciate the importance of this work to the family and they will be informed of significant developments.”