TUESDAY, March 15, 1864 began like any other day.

Thomas Arnot rose early and prepared for his day’s work as a surfaceman on the Alloa to Stirling road near Tullibody Bridge where he was paring the path and clearing the run channel which was clogged with leaves and debris.

The work was mundane, but that the afternoon, his life was to change.

Twelve-year-old farm servant James Paton was in the vicinity and approached Arnot who by this time was in a foul mood.

Paton worked for, and stayed with, George Henderson of Black Grange Farm.

He was leading a horse pulling a cart and ran over the place that Arnot had just finished clearing.

He was so incensed by the boy’s actions that he grabbed his shovel, raised it above his head, and without a word, knocked the boy down with a blow to the back.

Using the edge of the spade, he hit the incapacitated Paton on the head two or three times.

When he finally stopped the assault, he simply picked up his tools and went home, leaving the boy where he lay.

The next day, Paton succumbed to his injuries and died. That night 54-year-old Arnot was arrested and thrown into Alloa prison.

At the time of his arrest he was deemed to be eccentric, or intellectually impaired.

During interrogation, Arnot freely admitted what he had done, saying he was so angry, that if it had been a giant, he would have done the same thing.

He claimed his actions were not his responsibility but that of the Free Church which had spurned him and said they had published articles in the local paper against him.

He also accused Robert Mowbray, owner of Cambus Distillery, of being instrumental in this persecution. He had told his wife and family on the Tuesday night and had shown some remorse.

Arnot was held in prison until his trial on Monday 6th June 1864 at the High Court in Edinburgh.

His defending solicitors J Guthrie Smith and RV Campbell claimed their client was not of sound mind and was unable to give instructions for his defence.

John Wallace, writer at Alloa, was the first witness. He told the court he had been consulted by Arnot’s wife in April about his defence and the next day he saw him.

He said the discussion was disjointed and asked Dr Brotherston to visit him.

He saw him 10 days later then again on 26th May but Arnot simply repeated his accusations rather than give an eyewitness testimony about what had occurred.

THE next witness at Arnot’s trial was the Rev F Goldie of the Free Church in Tullibody.

He told the court that Arnot’s daughter had come to him on March 15 in distress and told him her father had killed the boy, but he did not believe her story as Arnot had a habit of making things up.

That fateful night, Goldie visited Arnot at home. The minister told him he had heard the boy had been run over by a cartwheel but Arnot refuted the claim and told him that he was responsible. When asked if he felt remorse, he replied: "Not a bit for the deed – I’m sorry for my wife and family."

Robert Mowbray also took to the stand but said he had only ever spoken to Arnot once, and he had never spoked to Goldie or conspired with him.

Another witness was Arnot’s co-worker, Andrew Stalker. He had known him for four years and said he used to complain to him that he was being persecuted, especially by Mowbray, and that the minister was preaching against him.

He went on to say that about a month before the murder he had asked him how he was getting on with his work to which he replied not very well and that it was the government’s fault.

Next to take the stand was the Rev Thomas Murray who had spoken with him on May 7 while he was incarcerated.

When pressed as to why the Free Church would have a vendetta against him, he said it was because his wife was not a member.

He claimed the persecution had been going on for years. Murray concluded after the hour’s conversation that Arnot was in a state of monomania.

Professor Douglas MacLaggan was called next. He had seen Arnot twice along with Dr Arthur Mitchell and he was of the opinion he was insane.

He had wanted to ascertain his state of mind and firmly believed he was delusional but instead of suffering from monomania he believed he was suffering from mania.

Mitchell agreed when he took the stand and was further convinced by the evidence given at the trial.

On the evidence submitted, Lord Colonsay, the Lord Justice General, after consulting his fellow judges Cowal and Deas, agreed he was insane, not fit to stand before the court and was "at present in a state of insanity".

He was sentenced to be held in Alloa jail at Her Majesty’s Pleasure and removed from the court.

During the trial Arnot showed indifference to the proceedings.