IT WAS described at the time as ‘a terrible and most mysterious tragedy’ - and 100 years on, the Portencross Murder remains unsolved and equally shrouded in mystery.

But could modern policing techniques have cleared up the crime and brought the murderer to justice?

On October 18, 1913, retired farmer Alexander McClaren, his wife and her sister Mary Gunn, sat round the fire reading in the remote and isolated Northbank Cottage at Portencross.

It is said that a lamp was lit but it was not the trio’s habit to draw the curtains.

The scene of domestic tranquility was shattered when gunshots were fired through the window - wounding Mrs McClaren in the back and killing her sister instantly.

Mrs McClaren would later die in hospital from her injuries. Alexander was hit in the hand but left the scene to raise the alarm at nearby Portencross Farm House and West Kilbride police arrived within an hour accompanied by a doctor.

An obvious contrast between how such a crime would be reported and responded to 100 years ago and now is how the technology we take for granted was unheard of then.

Land line telephones existed but a house so remote would not have been on the network, and it is likely that the constable reached the cottage on horseback.

A Police Scotland car would be able to reach the cottage from police lodgings in West Kilbride in around five minutes. But other technological advances are less obvious to the lay person - unless you are a die-hard CSI:NY fan.

The Herald spoke to Inspector Brian Skimming from Police Scotland’s North Ayrshire Community Policing Team to get a modern policing take on the crime.

For the full story see this week's Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald.