Page last updated at 08:39 GMT, Saturday, 24 October 2009 09:39 UK

Scapegoat found for high society murder

(L-R) Iain Hay Gordon and Martin McCann in the role of Iain Hay Gordon
The part of Iain Hay Gordon is played by actor Martin McCann

A drama about a young RAF airman wrongly convicted of murdering the daughter of a prominent judge may not seem like the most obvious choice for two of Northern Ireland's most successful comedy writers to tackle.

However, Damon Quinn and Michael McDowell from the Hole in the Wall Gang said they were spurred on to write Scapegoat by two main forces.

One was the fear that a lack of funding for comedy programming would force them to return to their previous careers as lawyers and the other was that they wanted to tell the story about a subject which has enthralled people in Northern Ireland for years.

Scapegoat is based on the story of Iain Hay Gordon who was found guilty but insane of the 1952 murder of Patricia Curran, the daughter of Sir Lancelot Curran - a High Court judge who went on to become the Attorney General in Northern Ireland.

Mr Hay Gordon was a 20-year-old RAF national serviceman from Glasgow who was based in Northern Ireland at the time of the murder.

He knew the family through his association with the victim's brother, Desmond Curran, and was quickly identified as a suspect and arrested.

Mr Hay Gordon spent seven years in Holywell psychiatric hospital in Antrim after being found guilty but insane of killing Ms Curran.

Patricia Curran
Patricia Curran was the daughter of a prominent judge

He always maintained his innocence and claimed he had been forced to sign a confession by Superintendent Capstick, who had been brought over from Scotland Yard to investigate the case.

Mr Hay Gordon began his appeal in 1992 when he retired and was eventually cleared of the crime at the Court of Appeal in Belfast in 2000.

The person who murdered Patricia Curran has never been found, but many people at the time believed that the Curran family had something to do with her killing.

The family has always denied having anything to do with her death.

Damon Quinn, who co-wrote and produced Scapegoat, said he and Michael McDowell had discussed a number of story ideas before settling on the case of Iain Hay Gordon.

"We discussed various options, but the Curran murder has been the one which has fascinated the place for 50 odd years everyone's dad or mum knows somebody who knew something about it," he said.

"It is such a fascinating story. It is like Jack the Ripper, you are never going to know who did it.

"A character puts forward a theory, which has been a fairly much trampled theory over the years, but no-one really knows."

Iain Hay Gordon
Iain Hay Gordon was cleared of the killing in 2000

The story of Scapegoat is told through the eyes of Rossiter Lewis, a psychiatrist hired by the defence team to examine Gordon and support the case that their is guilty but insane.

Although Lewis initially believes that Gordon was guilty of the murder, his opinion shifts and he concludes that he has been left to take the blame for a crime he did not commit.

"We decided that the real drama lay in the character of Rossiter Lewis," director Michael McDowell said.

"He is the only one who can stop this young lad hanging, but he has to do it in a way which is against his own medical ethics by saying he was insane.

"His evidence is ridiculed because the case that he was insane is a pretty poor one.

"But I think he faced that dilemma at that time. The only way to get the guy off hanging was saying he was insane."

Scapegoat will be shown on BBC 1 Northern Ireland at 2100 GMT on 26 October.



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SEE ALSO
Gordon confession 'unreliable' - Crown
25 Oct 00 |  Northern Ireland
Murder conviction was 'unsafe'
24 Oct 00 |  Northern Ireland
Murder case sent to appeal court
20 Jul 00 |  Northern Ireland
Commons passes 'insanity' law
23 Jul 99 |  UK News

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