Sandy Davidson – Ayrshire – 1976



Sandy Jardine Davidson was born on 28 May, 1972. He was abducted/went missing on 23 April, 1976 from his grandmother’s home in Irvine, Ayrshire, Scotland.

The three-year-old was in the care of his grandmother, who lived in the Bourtreehill area of the town, when he and his younger sister Donna (b. 1973) were playing in the front garden of the house with a family dog, which ran onto the street.

In the lead up to his disappearance, the child is believed to have followed to look for it. When the dog returned home without Sandy, the children’s grandmother raised the alarm.

October 2011

A toddler vanishes ..then a beautiful young woman. Was one man to blame?

Two beautiful kids, a brand new home – the future looked good for the family. Then misery struck.

It was 1976 and Irvine was buzzing. A decade before, the seaside town had been declared one of Scotland’s five new towns and houses and businesses were springing up everywhere. Families agreed it was a great place to raise children.

Not in every case.

Phillip and Margaret Davidson were delighted when they got the keys to their house in St Kilda Bank in the Bourtreehill area of the town.

It was a smashing house, only four doors from Margaret’s mother’s home. What could be safer for the kids?

Mary Bunce loved her grandchildren, Sandy and Donna, and was always willing to babysit to let their parents go out and work.

There was employment in Irvine for everyone who wanted it and the Davidsons did. They’d do anything for a better future for their children.

It was April 23, a sunny spring day and the young family had been in their home for only four weeks when Margaret dropped Sandy and Donna at her mother’s and headed to work.

Soon the kids were in the garden. Sandy was four and Donna two.

They were young but the garden was a safe haven for the wee ones to amuse themselves.

Out they traipsed with their loyal pet, Kissie, the family’s Afghan hound.

Granny sat in the house yards away, safe in the knowledge that she could hear if any of them got upset and could look out now and then to check.

Sandy and Donna were good kids. They’d run to their granny at the first sign of trouble. That’s when she realised only Donna was in the garden. Where was Sandy?

Kissie the dog had run off and Sandy had gone after her. They wouldn’t have gone far and would be back any second. Kissie came back – alone.

PANIC and fear gripped Mary. She called out and searched but there was no sign of the boy.

Sandy was a curious child and full of energy – a combination that sometimes got him into scrapes.

Minor scrapes, but this time he didn’t come back and his gran had to call his parents and the police.

Family, police and neighbours systematically scoured the whole area.

Houses and roads were still being built in Bourtreehill and the area was a big building site scattered with sand pits, scaffolding, cement mixers – all magnets to a curious little boy.

The massive search party worked through the estate and on to surrounding wasteland. No sign of Sandy.

Phillip and Margaret sat down with Donna. She was a bright child and the last person to see Sandy. Could she tell them what had happened to him? “A bad man took him away.”

She kept repeating this but couldn’t give more details.

Sandy loved cars. Once before, he had clambered into a neighbour’s van, staying hidden as the man drove off.

He had travelled four miles before he realised Sandy was there, turned and brought him home. Maybe that had happened again?

As the hours passed by, it was obvious Sandy hadn’t sneaked into some friendly neighbour’s car. The search went on. No luck.

As the days passed, Margaret and Phillip moved from frantic worry to a deep despair that their wee boy had met with some harm.

That somebody had taken him. That somebody had hurt him.

The police didn’t agree. They stuck to the line that Sandy had got lost.

As days turned to weeks and there was still no sign of Sandy some locals started to gossip. Terrible rumours circulated the town.

Rumour: There was a camp of gypsies near Irvine. They must have taken Sandy.

Rumour: Phillip Davidson had given him away because he wasn’t his real dad. Awful, hurtful rumours that were simply nonsense.

As weeks turned to months, the police still treated Sandy as a missing person.

There was no way they’d be persuaded that he had been taken and kept some place – or even harmed or murdered.

NOT in Irvine, in sleepy, safe Ayrshire, that kind of thing didn’t happen there. Then someone else disappeared.

The brunette wore trendy clothes and was an attractive young woman who liked to socialise.

But 22-year-old Patricia Black didn’t run wild. She was close to her mother and always let her know when she would be home.

Just as she had on October 8 when she phoned to tell her mum she was going to spend that night in Irvine.

It was Friday night after all, a good night for dances in the Irvine hotels.

A better place for a night out than her home town of Saltcoats. The next afternoon, Patricia was in a local hotel.

Though maybe tempted to stay, she had promised her mother she would be home that night.

She wouldn’t want her mum to worry, so at 5pm Patricia she left and walked to the nearest bus stop. That’s where she was seen for the last time.

Within a day, the cops launched a massive search of the area – the second in a year.

Irvine wasn’t Glasgow but the unsolved Bible John murders of the late 1960s were still in every cop’s mind. Was the killer now stalking Irvine?

Despite the massive search, there was no sign of Patricia.

It hadn’t escaped anyone’s attention that Sandy and Patricia disappeared in the same small town only six months apart.

A young boy and a grown woman – it couldn’t be the same man who took them, could it? In 1976, even our best cops were just learning about men who prey on others and murder them for sex.

ASYEARS went by and Sandy and Patricia were still missing, theories emerged. Theories based on the horror of experience.

Now known to be a double murderer and serial rapist, Angus Sinclair had already killed and raped by 1976.

In 1961, he was found guilty of murdering seven-year-old Catherine Reehill, as well as raping other kids.

Last year, Sinclair was charged with Edinburgh’s World’s End murders of 1977 but the case collapsed.

Sinclair is now known to have used his hobby of fishing as a cover to roam the countryside.

His lifelong perversion was for children as well as adults.

Serial killer Robert Black was very active in his sick game of abduction, rape and death in 1976. He worked as a courier driving all over the country. A job that allowed him to snare his victims almost anywhere.

Black lived in Greenock at one time – not far from Irvine – and admitted sexually abusing young girls and boys while there.

Though sentenced to life for the murders of three girls – Susan Maxwell, Sarah Harper and Caroline Hogg – his sexual, sadistic tastes also included women.

Back in Irvine in 1976, the cops were oblivious to the activities of men like Sinclair and Black.

All they knew was that two people had disappeared and were never seen again.

Privately, cops admit that for too long they treated Sandy as a lost child.

Maybe they could’ve found him if they had suspected abduction sooner. Maybe they would’ve caught his killer, maybe they would have saved Patricia.

With modern DNA and forensics, one day maybe the truth will emerge.