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C4 documentary shows how phone data helped catch Steven Donaldson’s killers

It highlights deleted data from the phone of Tamsin Glass, one of the Kirriemuir killers.

Channel 4 documentary shows how Steven Donaldson's killers were caught
The documentary shows how Steven' Donaldson's killers were caught. Image: Channel 4

An upcoming Channel 4 documentary will show how digital equipment helped police solve the Steven Donaldson murder case.

Monday’s episode of Murder Case: The Digital Detectives follows those behind the convictions of Tasmin Glass, Steven Dickie and Callum Davidson.

In May 2019 the trio were found guilty of killing 27-year-old Arbroath oil worker Steven in Kirriemuir the previous June.

The documentary follows DCI Andy Patrick, who led the probe into Steven’s death.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Patrick led the probe. Image: Channel 4

He said: “I’ve been in the police for 26 years now and this is definitely the most violent, sustained attack I think I’ve ever been involved in.

“Whilst people can often lie, this digital footprint is like a key that unlocks the full truth.

“Some of these investigations we just can’t solve. I didn’t want this to be one of them.”

How were the police able to confirm Steven Donaldson’s killers?

Steven’s battered and burned body was discovered next to his burned-out BMW at Loch of Kinnordy Nature Reserve on the morning of June 7 2018.

Despite his phone being destroyed in the fire, friends told police he had taken it to the Apple Store at Aberdeen’s Union Square to be fixed.

The digital forensics team accessed his details because Apple had backed up his information.

They recovered a backup of his iPhone data on his laptop, providing details of calls and messages Steven had made up until the day before his murder.

Police found a deleted call log from Tamsin Glass’ phone. Image: Channel 4

Some of the messages were sent to Tasmin Glass.

With the assistance of a router from her house, police collected data from Glass’ Apple Watch which showed that she got home just after 11pm on the night of Steven’s death.

A recorded heartbeat showed no change in rhythm, indicating that she went to sleep.

How police followed killers’ movements

Apple phones also have a setting called ‘significant locations’, which highlights movements.

Steven Dickie’s device had this set up as being on, opening up the possibility of following his movements more closely.

Despite Dickie and Callum Davidson telling police that they were asleep, Dickie’s phone data showed that between 12.39am and 12.51am he was at a location near Kirriemuir’s health centre.

CCTV footage was found of Callum Davidson riding on a bike covered in Steven’s blood. Image: Channel 4

CCTV footage also showed two figures walking past the health centre.

Police were later able to use the town’s CCTV footage to find Davidson cycling through town at 2am, on a bike containing blood stains belonging to Steven.

Deleted call records helped confirm motives

Police also obtained deleted data from Glass’ phone, which contained messages showing she owed Steven £1,000 for a car he gave her, and that he was hounding her for the money.

She promised to meet Steven at Peter Pan Playpark with the money, despite him wanting to go to her house to collect.

Discovering that Steven had arrived at the play park, Glass drove towards the area, dropping Dickie and Davidson off halfway for them to arrive by foot.

She then drove home and went to bed as the pair carried out the gruesome murder.

The show shares CCTV footage of the trio being interviewed by police. Image: Channel 4

At the end of the episode, Steven’s dad Bill said: “At first I felt that that was amazing work by the police to actually get them.

“But, deep down, it was like it doesn’t really matter, because I’ve lost Steven and whatever happens to them, I’ll never replace him.

Steven’s dad Bill appears on the show. Image: Channel 4

“We usually go to Steven’s grave at least once a week. We’ll go up to Kinnordy Loch now and again, but on special occasions, his birthday and the date of his murder.

“I just want to remember Steven as the kid who gave us lots of enjoyment and great times, great memories.

“He’ll never be lost in our memory and long may that continue.”

The episode is broadcast at 9pm on Monday, but can be viewed now on Channel 4’s on demand service.