OK ayrshireman, I absolutely recommend that you in particular try and pick up a copy of The Missing! I bought a used copy online last week for only £1.99. I posted a picture of the little section mentioning Renee, but have just read though a section of about 40 or 50 pages and your post just about sums up everything he mentions - Sandy Davidson's case in detail (Andrew himself was part of the search with just about everyone in town it seems), Tricia Black's disappearance, back to Renee MacRae again, and generally lots of details on the excitement of moving from Glasgow to the "New Town" as they were called. He says he lived in Pennyburn, if that rings a bell? And numerous mentions of the hot summer of 1976 and life as a kid growing up there. Just exactly as you said.
I was born in the early 80s in Glasgow, so it is slightly before my time but I of course know Irvine, and a lot of the atmosphere he describes. He has also covered Bible John in the book so far.
I posted a picture of the snippet about Renee thinking it was a passing mention due to the fact William McDowell lived on his street when he was a young boy, but it has since gone back to discuss more of the general mood when she disappeared. Going from what he recalls, McDowell seems to be the prime suspect from day one. I do hope he is brought to justice even after all this time if he was responsible. It's gone a bit quiet since his arrest last year.
Again though, I really recommend this book, I think you would recognise so much in it.
Hi, its a book I keep meaning to buy or at least read from the library.
I doubt a 7/8 year old Andy was actually part of the search for Sandy, but I do know and remember that plenty of local residents helped the police in local searches. The two most discussed ideas were a--falling into a construction site or b--snatched by 'tinkers' (there was a small traveller community at the north end of Irvine for many years, they were investigated and found to have nothing to do with it, Sandy disappeared at the southern end of the town anyway).
His sister under hypnosis remembers a man leading Sandy away to a car, so most likely a child sex offender/killer OR a snatch by a childless couple. A recent claim was made that a disturbed teenage girl was the culprit, but that's based on a claim by one man that he was attacked by a teenage girl around that time, as a small boy. And one he didn't mention for 40 yrs, so imo not credible. There is a persistent claim he fell into construction work at the local school and is buried there, but the school was already built and finished.
Pennyburn, yes I know, its an area of Kilwinning, sitting at the north end of the town heading north to Stevenston and Saltcoats, and its mostly the then brand new and all mod cons housing estate put up by NAC (or IDC as it was then), with some older farms and private houses. My mum and Dad lived there 1969-71. Then moved to Irvine. Where I was born in 73.
The irony is that, even knowing the case from a very early age, and given the other cases I mentioned (which as I said, I didn't know until much later), I never felt anything but free in the 70s/80s, and parents in Irvine were much less paranoid than today. Go out and play all day, come back in the dark, as long as your parents knew where you were. His disappearance was seen by most probably as some sort of tragic accident. I got the impression growing up that most assumed he'd fallen in somewhere and got trapped and buried. Tragic and horrible, but 'well, these things happen' etc.
Its only maybe in the last 20 years that the idea he was taken and possibly raped and murdered by a paedophile killer has started to unsettle people. I guess we will never know. Either he was dead within hours, or there is a man out there 44 years later that thinks he is someone else. And has no idea he is Sandy. And never will.