She was beautiful and bright. He was handsome and rich. A match made in heaven – or was that hell? Sheila Watson was beautiful, for sure.
When handsome, debonair and wealthy Max Garvie courted her, no one in the small north-east Scotland community was surprised.
Married in 1955, they seemed destined to prosper and last. But would they?
Max and Sheila Garvie settled into his family’s luxury farm at Fordoun, Kincardineshire, and had two daughters and a son in the first few years.
Still only in their late 20s, they seemed to have everything- money, healthy children, a loving relationship – then it all went sour.
It was the 1960s and times were changing. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll were all the rage for those who could afford them. The Garvies could.
Max had been getting bored for some time. Described as a farmer, he was more of a manager with other people doing the work and him reaping substantial profits. First fast cars filled his time, then a private aeroplane.
But he was still bored. Danger was in the air but no one smelled it.
Max took to drinking heavily and downing handfuls of tranquillisers, often while flying his private plane in hands-free, dare-devil stunts over the North Sea. The risks gave him the buzz he craved but that too soon wore off.
It was his other, more intimate tastes that started the rot. Sex.
Max organised for a triangle of trees and thick bushes to be planted near their home. No one thought anything of it. Farmers did that type of thing to provide shelter against the north-east’s strong elements.
His shelter wasn’t for crops. It was for naked people. Max Garvie had built a nudist colony.
At first only friends were invited. Just some well-to-do folks having a laugh. These were not times for the shy or self-conscious.
The sex orgies followed soon after. Close friends to start with in small groups. At first Sheila refused point blank to participate.
She was happy just looking after the kids and getting on with their lives. It led to rows between her and Max who called her a fuddy-duddy, square, old fashioned. What had she to lose? She might like it.
Max was persuasive. Soon Sheila was into the orgies and as enthusiastic as her husband.
The Garvies were flamboyant. Max with his plane and his cars. Sheila dressed in the best of fashion, short skirts and tight tops from Carnaby Street showing her fine figure to advantage. Even in that area of large estates and farms, the neighbours were beginning to notice
what the Garvies and their pals were up to.
The sober minded, Doric-speaking villagers dubbed the Garvies’ home Kinky Cottage. If only they’d known the half of it.
The big scandal in Aberdeen only a few years before was the trial of young Henry Burnett. He’d had an affair with an older married woman, Margaret Guyan, and went insane with jealousy when she returned to her husband, Thomas.
On May 31, 1963, Burnett had forced his way into the couple’s house and shot Thomas in the face at point blank range. Dead.
Burnett then took his erstwhile lover hostage, threw her into a car and drove wildly through the city with the cops on his tail. It could have turned into a bloody shoot out, but Burnett surrendered after half an hour.
A crime of passion. But crimes of passion have no status in Scots law. Henry Burnett was hanged in Aberdeen on August 15, 1963 – the last man to be hanged in Scotland.
Such lurid details of affairs aired in open court shocked polite society in Aberdeen. Now the Garvies’ sex games were doing the same. And all wasn’t well at Kinky Cottage.
Max Garvie was slowly losing the plot. As the sex orgies broke one taboo, he had to move to new challenges. He found his next move in a most unexpected setting.
Garvie was an office bearer in the SNP. There he met a handsome young man, 20-year-old Brian Tevendale. Max had already had a few affairs with young men and was certainly attracted to Tevendale but he had other plans for him.
Tevendale was invited to the Garvies’ home frequently. Max would leave the young man alone with Sheila and later demand to know from his wife if the two had had sex. Sheila was upset at the very thought.
The orgies with friends were something she and Max did together. For her to have sex with another man on her own was like an affair, infi-delity. Sheila wasn’t that type – not then.
One night in 1967, Tevendale was staying over at the Garvies’ yet again. In the early hours, his bedroom door was suddenly opened and a naked, shivering Sheila shoved into the room by her husband. At last he had broken his wife’s will.
Now the games took a new turn with Max and Brian tossing a coin to see who would sleep with Sheila. When Max lost he insisted the three go to bed together. Then Max started an affair with Tevendale’s sister, Trudi Birse.
A policeman’s wife, Trudi joined in four-in-a-bed romps with the Garvies and her own brother. Trudi’s husband even joined in though Max thoughtfully arranged another female partner for him.
Never mind swinging London. It was fair birling in the Mearns – at least at Kinky Cottage.
Max had a low boredom threshold and soon tired of Trudi Birse. He wanted him and Sheila to dump their playmates and find new ones. She refused.
To his horror, Max realised Sheila and Tevendale had fallen for each other.
Used to getting his own way, Max tried to come between them. The man who had forced them together now tried to prise them apart. On the morning of May 15, 1968, Sheila Garvie wakened in b ed to find her hus-band gone – or so she said. Reporting the matter to the police, Sheila said that nothing unusual had happened the night before.
Max Garvie was posted as a missing person.
In August, for reasons best known to her, Sheila shared some suspicions with her mother, Edith Watson, that her lover, Tevendale, had killed her husband. Law-abiding Mrs Watson went straight to the cops.
On August 17,1968, Max Garvie’s putrefied body was found in the drains of Laurieston Castle, St Cyrus – Tevendale’s home village.
Immediately, Sheila Garvie, Brian Tevendale and one of his friends, 20-year-old Alan Peters were charged with Max’s murder.
Sordid – was how judges, lawyers and the media described the trial at Aberdeen High Court on November 19, 1968. As the sexual shenanigans unfolded, Sheila Garvie and Brian Tevendale blamed each other.
Sheila claimed she woke in the middle of the night to discover Tevendale and Peters had murdered Max.
Tevendale said the killing was Sheila’s idea and he had gone along with it out of infatua-tion. The prosecution claimed Sheila and Brian had coldly plotted the murder.
According to the Crown, Sheila persuaded Tevendale to murder Max so they could pursue their relationship.
On the night, Sheila went to bed with Max and had sex with him. In the early hours she slipped out of bed and let Tevendale and Alan Peters into the house, handing them a .22 rifle belonging to Max. With Sheila watching from the bedroom doorway, Tevendale smashed Max’s skull with the butt. Then, placing a pillow over the man’s face, he shot him once in the head.
The three went downstairs, their nerves shattered, and drank a whole bottle of whisky.
The men wrapped Max’s corpse in a blanket, dumped him in the boot of Peters’ car and took him to his last resting place in the drains of Laurieston Castle.
The media had a field day feeding the public’s desire for details. Church groups spoke out about sinning leading to destruction.
Back in the High Court, Aberdeen, the jury found the case against Alan Peters not proven. Brian Tevendale was unanimously found guilty of murder. Sheila Garvie was found guilty of murder by a majority verdict.
She almost slipped away an innocent woman, but in Scots law a majority of will do.
A short time before, the pair would undoubtedly have been hanged for their crime. But capital punishment had been repealed and they were sentenced to life.
At the end of the trial, Sheila wrote to Tevendale in Perth Prison: “I have decided to have nothing more to do with you ever again.”
The great passion that had led them to cold murder had died.
An insurance company confirmed Sheila had stood to gain £55,000 on one policy alone as well as other policies, the farm, investments and capital. Sheila and Tevendale were never to meet again.
Both were released in 1978. Tevendale married and became the landlord of a pub in Perthshire. He died in 2003.
Sheila married twice – she was divorced once and then widowed. She led a steady, respectable existence running a B&B in Stonehaven. Quieter days than her swinging years as mistress of Kinky Cottage.
Max Garvie pushed his naked/ shivering wife through the bedroom door. At last/ he had broken her will. She stayed with the young man till morning.
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