So here's my problem with the SIO's theory.
First and foremost I think the whole plan that Gilroy is believed to have hatched is improbable. He decided (probably the previous night) that he was going to lose the body in the Rest and Be Thankful area. So far so good. But somehow he was aware of this super-dooper CCTV camera in Arrochar. How? This thing isn't common knowledge, I for one have never heard of it and I doubt if many people who live in Edinburgh know about it even if they are in the habit of driving up that way. I'm boggling on this point already. But let's run with this. He wanted to use the R&BT area, and he knew about the Arrochar CCTV. So he thought, cunningly, if I drive the northern route and duck back into the R&BT area from the west, the cops will see I haven't passed through Arrochar so they'll never guess what I did.
This means he was prepared to use up a lot of time driving a very circuitous route, and prioritised that over having more time to conceal the body. This seems self-evidently foolhardy. The area isn’t exactly the wilds of Outer Mongolia and while there may be a decent chance that a body simply dumped in the forest somewhere won’t be found, there’s also a chance it will be, even by chance, and given that he couldn’t keep the Lochgilphead trip a secret, the body turning up anywhere accessible from a road to Lochgilphead would be pretty damning for him.
Also, even if he knew about the camera at Arrochar and knew to avoid it, how could he be sure there wasn’t another camera that would give him away? There almost was. I asked the SIO about the petrol station camera at Inveraray and he said it wasn’t there in 2010. I said you can see it on all the Streetview images right back to 2009. He said then it wasn’t working, anyway there were no images from there. But there easily could have been. If there had been, it would have nailed him going east from Inveraray without a shadow of doubt. The petrol station and the Main Street camera (apparently on a chip shop) are only a few hundred yards apart. In that very section of road, the turning he’s supposed to have taken to the R&BT happens. If he’d been caught at the petrol station at two o’clock, having driven directly from Tyndrum, then again in Main Street at 15.51 (as he actually was) then there’s no possible road he could have taken other than the A83 back east. So much for that cunning plan.
So first I don’t see how he would specifically have known about the Arrochar camera at all. And secondly, even if he did, relying on his absence from that camera to “prove” he hadn’t driven the R&BT route is very risky - what if it wasn’t working that day and the cops just assumed he’d gone that way anyway? But then thirdly, if he’s thinking about CCTV cameras, I don’t see how he could be confident that avoiding Arrochar would mean that the police wouldn’t have evidence from other cameras that would show him ducking back in from the other direction. And that evidence would have been extraordinarily incriminating.
You don’t have to follow that train of thought too far to see where it leads. If he’d gone straight to the R&BT via Arrochar, even if he was caught on that camera, well there’s nothing out of the ordinary about that, it’s probably the expected route to Lochgilphead. Then assuming he has to get to the school by half past four, that would have given him 2 hours and 13 minutes (by the AA timings) to conceal the body. Conversely if he ducks back from Inveraray and is detected doing that he has not only cut his available time roughly in half, but he has been detected taking a detour that an innocent person would have had no reason to take. Why?
The SIO agrees Gilroy knew where he was going when he set off. I think that's unarguable if he really did drive to the Rest and Be Thankful via Inveraray. However in that context the idea that he spent the entire (almost) two hours in the afternoon simply on a recce to choose his disposal site seems perverse. If he knew where he was headed, why all the driving around? (I think this is part of the explanation for the missing fuel, that he drove around for most of the missing time in the afternoon looking for the right spot.) A round trip of about 30 miles just to get to the R&BT from Inveraray, that’s 44 minutes, but then another hour and a bit scouting round for the perfect spot? But he’s supposed to have already had a spot in his mind all along, hence the non-stop (albeit circuitous) bee-line for the R&BT in the first place.
Then he finds the perfect spot - and doesn’t leave the body there. Instead he turns round and heads for Lochgilphead, leaving himself the same detour to do again on the way back in order to do the actual disposal. The SIO thinks he only had about 20 minutes actually to unload and conceal the body, on this timetable.
I can’t see it. If he really had a specific spot near the R&BT in mind, he’d have been better off not doing the circuitous journey, both as regards giving himself more time to hide the body and as regards not risking being spotted on an unknown CCTV taking an incriminating detour. Also, if he had a specific spot near the R&BT in mind, why did he need to spend such a long time finding that spot in the afternoon, then not actually disposing of the body, and then having to go back in the evening. And how did he manage to conceal the body so that a search of the right area didn’t turn anything up, even though he only spent 20 minutes concealing its whereabouts?
And finally, maybe heavy rain is an implausible excuse for cutting south through Ardlui in the evening, but thinking it was a quicker road than the Callander road is even more implausible. Nobody with any experience of these roads could possibly imagine that would be the case. And he just turned his phone on when he was only a couple of miles from Arrochar (after having driven a 65-mile detour from the other side of Arrochar), drawing attention to his presence remarkably near the R&BT, just because he had finally got rid of the body and thought it was OK now. And trusting that the camera in Arrochar (that he somehow knew about) was actually working and so the cops would realise he hadn’t actually come through the village.
This is really what the SIO thinks Gilroy did. And he thinks that because he’s convinced that the witness sighting of a man resembling Gilroy (and one or more sightings of some sort of silver car) somewhere in the R&BT area, I don’t know exactly where, was indeed Gilroy. I can’t refute that, obviously, but I am sceptical.
And yet at the same time he was talking about being quite interested in the A819 through Glen Aray (the area I started off being interested in), and the Duncan Ban
road, and Glen Shira - none of which involve going into the R&BT.
As he said, it all comes down to which haystack are you going to look in, and that’s a very fair comment. But while I don’t think I’ll persuade him to give up on the R&BT, he hasn’t persuaded me to his line of thinking either.
I’m just wittering here, it’s getting late. I’ll probably make some more concise sense out of this later, but I’ll post what I just wrote anyway.