Postie's hand delivery horror

November 27, 1998

The grisly find of several human body parts in the town of St Andrews following student celebrations has prompted improvements in security arrangements at the university's medical school.

A postman found a human hand in a pillar box after last week's traditionally riotous Raisin Monday revelries, which welcome new students to Scotland's oldest university. Shortly afterwards, a skull and part of a spine were found in the grounds of a primary school.

The body parts are believed to have been stolen from St Andrews University's medical school, and there is suspicion that the culprits may be students. On Raisin Monday, new students give a bottle of wine to senior students who are their academic "parents", and are given a "receipt" to carry for the rest of the day. These receipts are increasingly outlandish, and have included bicycles and car wheels.

A university spokesperson said: "It goes without saying that the university views this matter as being of the utmost seriousness and the matter has been reported to Fife police. We have been in constant touch with the school, and on visiting the headteacher we were relieved to be informed that no children were distressed by the incident."

There has since been an urgent review of security arrangements at the medical building, the spokesperson said. Additional measures are now being introduced, including the installation of CCTV cameras and security coded locks. "Given that investigations are under way, it would be inappropriate to comment further," the spokesperson said.

The university has overhauled the medical school's disciplinary rules for the new academic year. It insisted earlier this year that this was unrelated to allegations by several biomedical sciences staff of a breakdown in discipline and disruptive and abusive behaviour by some students.

Ben Attwood, president of the student Bute Medical Society, said: "Our educational experience at this medical school is academically excellent with a strong emphasis on the highest standard of behaviour."

He condemned the body-part thefts as a despicable act that had been met by disbelief and universal condemnation from medical students. Their training instilled respect and they felt immense gratitude towards those who had generously donated their bodies for teaching, he said.

"We are in total cooperation with the investigations that will ensue, and fully expect those responsible to be dealt with in the most severe manner."

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