Murder Trial: The Killing of Dr Brenda Page: how was killer Christopher Harrisson caught 45 years after crime?

BBC Two documentary Murder Trial: The Killing of Dr Brenda Page explores how killer  Christopher Harrisson  was finally caught

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The murder of Dr Brenda Page and the 45 year wait for justice is the subject of new BBC Two Murder Trial documentary. Page was murdered in 1978 but it wasn’t until last year that her killer was finally sentenced for one of Scotland’s most high profile crimes.

The two part series explores the background of the decades old crime before following her killer’s trial which took place in Aberdeen last year.

The two-part episode is part of the BBC’s Murder Trial series which also features the case of Margaret Fleming who was killed by her carers some time between December 1999 and January 2000, and the killing of Renee McRae and her three year old son in 1976.

Dr Brenda Page was killed by her ex-husband Christopher HarrissonDr Brenda Page was killed by her ex-husband Christopher Harrisson
Dr Brenda Page was killed by her ex-husband Christopher Harrisson

Who was Brenda Page?

Brenda Page was 32 years old when she was killed - she was a scientist and leader of the the genetics department at the University of Aberdeen, one of the few British women with such a prominent role in the scientific community at the time.

Page also worked as an escort, where she went by the name of Miss Brenda Adams. She was brutally murdered in her Aberdeen flat on July 14 1978, her attacker had beaten her around 30 times on the head and body. 

At first it was suspected that she had been killed by one of her clients, however police suspected that the man responsible was her ex-husband, Christopher Harrison. The couple had divorced in 1977, and Page claimed that Harrison had been abusive towards her. She also wrote her attorney a note in which she stated that if she were to die suddenly, ‘make sure I get a good post-mortem’.

Christopher Harrisson was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years for the 1978 murder of ex-wife Dr Brenda Page last yearChristopher Harrisson was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years for the 1978 murder of ex-wife Dr Brenda Page last year
Christopher Harrisson was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years for the 1978 murder of ex-wife Dr Brenda Page last year

What happened to Christopher Harrisson?

Whilst police suspected Harrison of the killing from the beginning of their investigation, due to allegations of his abusive behaviour, they felt they did not have evidence to prosecute the case. Harrison was questioned by police but released without charge, and later moved to the Netherlands.

However, following advances in DNA evidence, which did not exist as an investigatory tool at the time of Page’s murder, Police Scotland reopened the case in 2015, accrued more than 500 new statements, and convicted Harrisson.

A flake of paint from Page’s window was found to be from Harrison’s Mini Metro, and this previously overlooked piece of evidence turned out to be the smoking gun that investigators needed.

Harrison was arrested in 2020 - 42 years after Page’s death - he denied the charge of murder but was found guilty by a majority verdict at Aberdeen High Court in 2023. He was sentenced to life with a minimum of 20 years to be served before he can apply for parole. Now in his 80s, it is exceedingly likely that Harrison will die in prison.

Murder Trial: The Killing of Dr Brenda Page - Part One airs on BBC Two on Wednesday January 24 at 9pm with the second episode airing at the same time on January 25. Both episodes are available to watch on BBC iPlayer now.

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