Tracey Wylde. Source: Daily Record.

Wrongly accused in the murder of Tracey Wylde.

In 1996, a young 19 year old Sougat Mukherjee from India arrived in Glasgow to study at the Glasgow Nautical College near the city centre. Sougat settled quickly into his new life in Scotland. During his time in the city, Sougat focussed mainly on his studies, exploring the surrounding city and holding down several part time jobs in Glasgow restaurants. Sougat’s time in Scotland was relatively peaceful and the student kept himself to himself. After failing aspects of his college course, the decision was made to return home to Mumbai.

On Sougat’s return to India he restarted his studies at university and went on to meet and marry his wife. He started a family and undertook regular travel as part of a successful career in business development.

In the October of 2014, a whole 17 years later, Sougat would realise that his return home to India had caught the attention of police officers who were investigating the death of a 21 year old female in Glasgow. Shockingly, his local police advised him police in Scotland had made him the prime suspect in the girl’s murder.

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Tracey Wylde had struggled through life, having had a troubled upbringing in her early years. At the age of 21, she was at a stage where she was starting to turn things around for herself. She had a young child and was attending support groups to help battle her drug addiction. Friends described her as fun loving, popular and well spirited.

On the evening of the 23rd of November 1997, Tracey Wylde left her home in the Barmulloch housing estate in the north of Glasgow. She was heading for work in the city centre and was last spotted on CCTV at 0330 in the early hours of the following morning. Later that same day, Tracey failed to attend a support group appointment which caused some concern for friends. They visited her flat and could see that the door of her veranda had been left open. Neighbours were sent to check in on Tracey at the flat and made the sad discovery of Tracey’s dead body behind the door of her bedroom.

It had not been widely known at the time but Tracey had been working as a prostitute and had gone into the city centre that evening to seek work. It was quickly realised that Tracey had been strangled to death in her own home.

Neighbours had reported hearing arguing in Tracey’s flat that evening and despite CCTV footage of Tracey in the city centre, police appeared to have no clear suspects or indeed witnesses in the case. The investigation continued for 2 and a half years with no arrests and the murderer remained at large.

A BBC Crimewatch appeal released a CCTV image of a man they wished to speak to in relation to the murder. At this point it is thought a member of the public had recognised the image of the man and identified him as Sougat Mukherjee. This identification from the public, coupled with the timing of the student’s departure from Glasgow, three months after the murder caused concern for police officers. Detectives also claimed that bite marks on Tracey’s body were likely to have been caused by Sougat due to the unique shape of his teeth in the picture. Sougat began to face mounting pressure from the Indian authorities and moves to have him extradited to the UK began.

Sougat spent three weeks in prison and even appeared on local media accused of the murder, causing a back lash against him and his family. He lost his job and was forced to give up the lease on his apartment with his landlord stating he didn’t want a murderer living in his property. His children also suffered and were ridiculed because of the accusations. Their lives had been turned upside down yet Sougat maintained his innocence and claimed to have never met the girl. He provided a voluntary DNA sample to police in Scotland in a bid to clear his name.

In the summer of 2018, still under a cloud of suspicion, Sougat received a news alert on Google announcing that someone else in Glasgow had been arrested for the murder of Tracey Wylde.

By chance, a Chinese national named Zhi Min Chen had been arrested for an alleged assault in the Cowcaddens area of the city. His DNA was run through the database and police found a match with DNA taken from the scene of Tracey Wylde’s murder. He would go on to admit to the murder and plead guilty at the high court in Glasgow. He was given 20 years in prison.

In the years after the murder, Zhi Min Chen continued to live his life in the Anniesland area of the city, seemingly living like other law abiding citizens. He married, had kids and set up the Dragon Chinese Restaurant in East Kilbride which continues to operate to this day with Chen remaining a director.

Chen appealed his sentence delivering more heartache for Tracey’s family. His sentence was reduced on appeal by four years. It was also reported at this stage that Chen had in fact come to the country illegally in the 90s. His appeal centred around being in fear of being sent back to China to face corrupt police officers there. The family of Tracey quite rightly were repulsed by the reduced sentencing. They argued that Chen had already escaped justice for over 20 years and that his sentence represented only a fraction of the time Tracey had been dead for and less time than Chen had been free to live his life.

Despite Zhi Min Chen’s admission of guilt and his guilty conviction, Sougat still felt the impact of the accusations and so many questions remain unanswered about his treatment.

A DNA sample from Sougat was submitted to the inquiry but he was never eliminated and never received a response from police in Scotland. Was the sample ever checked? He never had any direct contact with Police Scotland yet was required to report to his local police station once a week at home in India. His treatment has understandably caused him significant upset and stress for which he now has to take daily medication.

Sougat only received official confirmation of his exoneration in May 2019 after receiving a letter from the Department of External Affairs of India. Sougat continues to be haunted by the accusations. He asks why it took so long for his innocence to be proven and often wonders what may have happened had Chen not been arrested.

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A Scottish true crime blog based in Glasgow. Writing about some of Scotland’s most interesting true crime cases.

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Scottish True Crime

A Scottish true crime blog based in Glasgow. Writing about some of Scotland’s most interesting true crime cases.