DETERMINED: Peter Bleksley, pictured centre with his team in Hunted
ALISTAIR WILSON is enjoying the domestic bliss of preparing his two young sons for a bedtime story with his wife Veronica when there’s an unexpected ring on the doorbell of their home in the Scottish Highlands at just after 7pm on a chilly Sunday evening.Veronica goes down to answer the door and is greeted by an unfamiliar man wearing a black baseball cap and dark clothing, who asks to see her 30-year-old husband.
She returns upstairs, keen to get on with putting their sons, four and two, to bed, so Alistair goes down to speak to the man and returns upstairs a short time later holding an empty blue envelope, which had the name Paul written on the front.
Looking baffled, he has a quick conversation with his bemused wife about the bizarre postal delivery.
Alistair then walks down the stairs to the front door with the apparent intention of asking the man hovering outside some pretty direct questions about what he is playing at.
Seconds later Veronica hears what she thinks are wooden pallets falling on to the pavement but she is mistaken.
What she hears, in fact, is the sound of three bullets being fired into her husband at close range, two in the body and one in his face.
Heart racing, Veronica runs down the stairs to see the prostrate figure of her dying husband sprawled over the threshold of the family home, but she also catches sight of the man who mercilessly shot him disappearing into the darkness, never to be seen again.
Since that terrible night on November 28, 2004, in Nairn, a beautiful coastal town on the Moray Firth, Veronica has been desperate to identify the person who took the life of her much-loved husband.
So far all the investigations by the police have drawn a blank.
HAPPY: Alistair and Veronica in 1998
Veronica’s appeals for information have not produced the golden lead.
Now, as she approaches the 14th anniversary of one of the strangest doorstep assassinations in British criminal history Veronica is, perhaps surprisingly, not getting involved in Peter Bleksley’s vigorous and bold attempts to solve the mystery and bring the killer to justice.
She refused to be interviewed for Peter’s book To Catch A Killer, My Hunt For The Truth Behind The Doorstep Murder (published last Thursday) but nonetheless his intensive inquiries in Nairn have given him a good idea of what happened in the minutes after the outwardly motiveless shooting.
“Veronica is clearly in a state of panic after the shooting,” he says in that familiar south London accent which is so popular with viewers of Hunted.
“She sees her mortally wounded husband and then the four-year-old boy starts to come down the stairs.
“She quickly shouts to her stepfather, who lives in a top-floor flat in the property, to deal with the kids. Then she runs to the pub opposite her home, The Havelock, but runs out when she doesn’t recognise anyone she knows.
“She calls 999 at 7.11pm and then runs back to the pub and asks for help, and people try to do what they can.”
Later a search of the area does not locate the blue envelope handed to Alistair and there’s no sign of it inside the house.
Victim Alistair Wilson
It appears that after emptying three bullets from the small, rare pistol, the killer casually took the envelope from Alistair’s hand and put it in his pocket, perhaps realising that it could reveal tiny traces of DNA to identify him.
“That was a very cool-headed thing to do at that time,” says Peter.
“It suggests the killer knew exactly what he was doing and didn’t want to leave significant clues behind. There is no sign of the gun at the scene but on December 8, 2004, council workmen found it when they were cleaning drain gullies in a road about 600 yards from Alistair’s home.
“I think it is perfectly possible there was a getaway driver nearby and a decision was taken to get rid of the gun before they drove off from Nairn.”
Ballistic tests on the weapon discovered in Seabank Road, Nairn, showed it is a Haenel Suhl model 1, Schmeisser’s patent handgun made between 1920 and 1945 at its factory in Germany.
The .25 calibre ammunition was made by Sellier & Bellot in the Czech Republic between 1983 and 1993.
Such handguns were often given to German soldiers, as they were small and easy to conceal in coat pockets.
Peter’s interest in the case was sparked in 2005 when he analysed the crime for the BBC and he has since made countless trips to Nairn, probing why an accountant who found new business for a bank in nearby Inverness was assassinated in this way.
To Catch a Killer, My Hunt For the Truth Behind The Doorstep Murder
In the book he also examines scandals at the Bank of Scotland, particularly one involving a Scottish football club, but despite his best efforts Peter cannot link Alistair’s work to any of those incidents, so a theory that he was killed to buy his silence over dodgy dealings is not supported.
Peter also discovers there is no evidence that Alistair was having a dangerous liaison with a woman, knocking down another theory that it was a crime of passion.
Perhaps in desperation at being flummoxed on the trail, at the end of the book Peter pens an open letter to the Doorstep Murderer.
He writes: “Credit where it’s due, you’ve done a remarkable job of evading capture for a very long time, although the police investigation wasn’t the best, was it? “This case is not going away and nor am I. As I said at the start of the book I will not give up.
“Please do not take it as a threat, for I’m not in the business of threatening anybody, but it is a promise. So how about you put the record straight?”
To Catch A Killer, My Hunt For the Truth Behind The Doorstep Murder, is published by Bonnier Books and costs £8.99.