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24 March 2017, 06:13
Detectives working on the case of a schoolgirl who vanished more than 60 years ago have not found any human remains after scouring a canal in the search for answers.
Officers looking for the remains of Moira Anderson said a number of bones were recovered from their recent operation at Monkland canal, but they were found to be animal, not human, remains.
Moira's relatives have been informed and the investigation remains live.
The schoolgirl was 11 when she disappeared from her home in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, in February 1957 while running an errand for her grandmother.
In 2014, prosecutors took the highly unusual step of announcing that local bus driver and convicted paedophile Alexander Gartshore, who died in 2006, would have faced prosecution for the schoolgirl's murder if he were still alive.
A reinvestigation set up in 2013 identified six potential deposition sites in Coatbridge, with a 170 metre area of the canal at Carnbroe the priority area.
Specialists in sonar scanning, ground-penetrating radar and magnetometry began scouring the area last week for any sign of remains, jewellery or clothing and established five distinct "areas of interest'' within the canal for divers to investigate.
Police Scotland confirmed on Thursday that several animal remains were recovered and identified but no human bones or remains have been found.
The operation at the site is now complete and has been stood down.
Detective Superintendent Pat Campbell, who led the operation, has been in contact with Moira's family and friends.
He said: "An extensive search, utilising a significant number of subject matter experts from across the UK, has been ongoing for the past two weeks.
"Following the identification, by ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and sonar scanning, of a number of areas of interest within the extensive silt layer - a recovery phase commenced on Monday.
"This structured phase involved the deployment of Police Scotland divers and the subsequent identification of recovered matter by staff from the University of Dundee.
"Over the past five days a significant number of bones were recovered from the areas of interest which, following expert examination, were found to be animal remains. The search at this conclusion has been extensive and thorough and no human remains have been recovered.''
A plot in Old Monkland Cemetery, Coatbridge, was previously searched by experts but they could not find Moira's remains there.
Mr Campbell went on: "I have been in contact with Moira's sisters and made them aware of the outcome of the search and although they are naturally disappointed, they remain positive that this continues to be a live investigation.
"I have reassured them of my own and Police Scotland's commitment to recover Moira's remains and bring closure to the family and the community.''