Heather Sharpe had a feeling about Robbie McIntosh — a feeling that the “cold, calculating” killer would strike again when he walked out of the prison gates.
Just months after prison chiefs started allowing him some freedom after a 15-year stretch inside, her instincts were proved correct.
When Ms Sharpe heard news that McIntosh had brutally attacked Linda McDonald at Templeton Woods earlier this year, it brought back memories of her involvement with the criminal — and the case which brought him notoriety back in 2001.
The coffee shop owner was a detective constable with Tayside Police when McIntosh murdered Anne Nicoll near Dundee Law in a random knife attack on the 34-year-old civil service worker.
Ms Sharpe was appointed as family liaison officer for McIntosh’s mum Heather during the investigation and subsequent trial.
Speaking exclusively to the Tele, the retired officer said: “I knew that he was due to be released and it genuinely worried me that he would strike again.
“I believe he should have served a life sentence for the life he took.”
Recalling the investigation into Ms Nicoll’s murder, she said: “McIntosh’s family went into denial. They simply didn’t want to believe that Robbie had killed Anne Nicoll. His mum did everything she could to stick by him — and while I had to remain neutral at the time, it was difficult.”
Peter Meldrum was also a detective constable at the time of Ms Nicoll’s murder and the man tasked with interviewing McIntosh.
“From day one I didn’t like McIntosh and had a gut feeling that he had killed Anne Nicoll,” he said.
“He was pretty switched on and very forensically aware.
“He tried to create an alibi and he immediately washed his clothes — but I suspected him straight away.
“I believed he deliberately went out of his way to be forensically aware and I also believe he had a desire to be infamous.
“What eventually caught him out was a speck of blood on a sock that didn’t come out in the wash.”
Mr Meldrum said he did not agree with the decision to allow McIntosh — who had been allowed out of prison for work placements — any kind of freedom.
One of the first officers on the scene of the killing said he “wasn’t surprised” to learn of the violent offender’s involvement in the Templeton Woods attack.
The former detective, who asked not to be named, added: “What struck me during the 2001 inquiry was how cold and emotionless McIntosh was. He wasn’t like other teenagers his age and showed very little emotion.
“You would have expected someone that age to crumple under questioning — but he didn’t.”
Ms Nicoll’s sister Linda today said: “We were disgusted that Robbie McIntosh was not sentenced today but sentence was deferred for risk assessment and reports. Surely after spending 16 years in prison these assessments would have been carried out? Hopefully he will be given a whole life sentence. We were told by the chief inspector in my sister’s murder investigation that he would commit another crime if he was ever released.
“We send best wishes for a speedy recovery, both physically and mentally to Linda McDonald.”
Killer told he would serve at least 15 years
McIntosh was found guilty of the murder of Ms Nicoll following a trial at the High Court in Forfar.
Lord Bonomy ordered that he should be jailed without limit of time but recommended that about 15 years would be an appriopriate period of incarceration for the then 16-year-old.
McIntosh, a resident at Rossie School, by Montrose, had denied that on August 2 2001, at a wooded area adjacent to the path leading from Law Crescent to Law Road, he assaulted Ms Nicoll, of Byron Street, stabbed her repeatedly on the head and body with a knife or similar instrument, stamped on her face, and murdered her.
He had lodged a special defence of incrimination against a 16-year-old friend.
But jurors rejected McIntosh’s claims and he was convicted of the random killing.
Lord Bonomy said he could only impose one sentence on McIntosh for a crime of murder but said he had to determine the length of time he would have to spend in detention before he could seek release — and even at that stage, it would be for others to consider if release would be appropriate.
He said he had regard to the fact McIntosh had never been in trouble before and that the social inquiry report to the court was generally favourable apart from a minor involvement with drugs and a more significant involvement with drink.
But he added: “I also have to take regard of the extremely violent nature of the attack on Anne Nicoll.
“One witness described her as being butchered and no better description can be applied to the way in which she met her death. It was a dreadful way for anyone to lose their life.”