Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has given her backing to a new book by a teacher from her old school in Irvine.

Author John Kellie, who taught English at Greenwood Academy when Ms Sturgeon was a pupil there, has written about some of the country's most infamous crimes from the past.

'Scottish Villains and Victims' looks at 23 crimes across the country including murder between the 18th and 19th centuries, some of which remain unsolved to this day.

John, now 63, taught at Greenwood between 1983 and 1993 when Nicola was a pupil there.

He wrote to her with a copy of the book and was astonished to get a handwritten letter of thanks last week.

John, who is now retired, said:"She told me in the letter that English was her favourite subject at school.

"I knew from my time at Greenwood and speaking with her teachers that she was a keen reader.

"Nicola was a very polite girl at the school, very studious and noticeably intelligent. Very mannerly but quite shy.

"I remember colleagues telling me how intelligent she was and how impressed they were by her."

John says Greenwood was his first teaching post.

He then moved to Loudon Academy in Galston before retiring in 2012.

John took a job at Culzean Castle before becoming a full time author in 2016.

Irvine Times: John's new book

Though he never had the SNP leader in his class, he was always struck by how conscientious she was.

John added:"I remember her studying in the library after classes.

"She has had a bad time recently and I feel very sorry for what she has gone through - though I did not mention that in the letter.

"I wanted to thank her for all the hard work she had done for this country and say what a credit she was to Greenwood Academy.

"I said that she shouldn't feel obliged to reply - because I knew how busy she was.

"A week later a handwritten reply came saying that she did remember me well from Greenwood Academy and was looking forward to reading my book.

"I was very touched by that."

Scottish Villains and Victims, John's fourth book, features the story of a bank courier murdered in Edinburgh in 1806 while carrying money between two banks.

Another chapter tells of a rivalry between two ice cream sellers in Glasgow in 1890 which also resulted in murder.

Closer to home is the story of Christina Gilmour, from Dunlop, who poisoned her farmer husband.

There’s the tale of Girvan poacher Thomas Ross, who murdered the gamekeeper on the local estate and the killing of wealthy property heir Robert Rankin in his cottage home in Moscow.

John added: "The book only came out last week and is already selling well."