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Friday, September 8, 2023

The Alexander Hilton St. Andrews Poison Case

     In 2011, Alexander D. Hilton, a 20-year-old rich kid from Princeton, Massachusetts, attended St. Andrews University in Fife, Scotland. The sophomore prep school graduate (St. Johns) had moved to the United Kingdom to study economics at this ancient and prestigious institution of higher learning.

     On March 5, 2011 on the eve of the annual St. Andrews ball, Alexander Hilton and a group of his fellow students were participating in a dormitory drinking game. One of the drinkers, Robert Forbes, an American from Virginia, after gulping down a bottle of red wine given to him by Hilton, became seriously ill. The 19-year-old suffered loss of balance, severe nausea, had trouble breathing and temporarily lost his eyesight. He spent a week in the hospital. Doctors said that had Forbes not received medical treatment he could have died.

     A few days after the dormitory drinking game, local investigators questioned Hilton about the incident. The authorities suspected that Hilton, known around the school as an anti-social oddball, had intentionally poisoned Robert Forbes. Hilton denied mixing anything into the wine. The Scottish authorities didn't have enough evidence to charge the American with a crime, but urged him to leave the country. He was also kicked out of St. Andrews. On March 18, 2011 Alexander Hilton returned to his parents' home in Princeton, Massachusetts.

     Back in Scotland, toxicological tests revealed that the red wine that had made Robert Forbes so sick had been spiked with methanol, an ingredient found in antifreeze. The sweet-smelling liquid, also known as wood alcohol, is colorless, highly flammable and deadly. A search of Hilton's computer determined that he had investigated the toxicological effects of combining red wine and methanol. In Hilton's dormitory room investigators found a funnel.

     After Hilton returned to the United States he enrolled in a college in New Mexico. About a year after the St. Andrews drinking party, Hilton learned that the authorities in Scotland planned to charge him with the attempted murder of Robert Forbes. Upon learning this Hilton dropped out of the college in New Mexico and returned to his parents' house in Princeton, Massachusetts. Seven months later, in the fall of 2012, the prosecutor in charge of the case in Scotland charged Alexander Hilton with attempted murder.

     On February 4, 2013, under an extradition treaty the United States had with the United Kingdom, United States Marshals took Alexander Hilton into custody. The federal authorities hauled the former St. Andrews student to the Central Falls, Rhode Island Detention Center where he was placed under suicide watch.

     Hilton, on February 21, 2013, appeared at his bail hearing in federal court in Boston before a U. S. magistrate judge. Assistant United States Attorney David J. D'Addio, in arguing against bail for this defendant, said, "This is an attempted murder case, a serious case, and we can't lose sight of that. The evidence before us is that Mr. Hilton deliberately poisoned a student at St. Andrews."

     Hilton's defense attorney, Norman S. Zalkind, argued that because his client was seriously mentally ill, bail should be granted in order that the defendant could continue taking his medication and not be denied psychiatric therapy. According to the defense attorney, if Alexander Hilton remained in custody he was "...going to get sicker and sicker and sicker." Zalkind described Hilton as an extremely intelligent person with the socialization skills of a 14-year-old. The defense lawyer wondered why someone at the university didn't notice Hilton's mental problem after he started flunking his classes. 

     The U.S. magistrate judge withheld Hilton's bail decision pending the outcome of his extradition hearing scheduled for March 7, 2013.

      On March 7, 2013, the federal judge certified Hilton's extradition to Scotland. Following that ruling the U.S. magistrate judge allowed the suspect to post bail. Hilton's attorneys immediately appealed the extradition certification to a federal court of appeals.

     Robert Forbes, in March 2013, filed a personal injury suit against Hilton in federal court. A federal judge later dismissed the civil lawsuit. (It may have been settled.)

     The federal court of appeals, in February 2014, granted Alexander Hilton a stay of extradition on grounds he was mentally incompetent to stand trial in Scotland.

     Hilton, in May 2015, was extradited to Scotland to stand trial in the attempted murder case. In July 2015 the defendant pleaded guilty as charged pursuant to the claim that, at the time of the poisoning he had been mentally ill. Judge Lord Burns of the High Court in Edinburgh sentenced Hilton to three years in prison. 


  1. Alex Hilton is now out on Bail with an ankle braclet and must stay at home

  2. I worked at Hilton Photography a decade ago. Alex's father was I guess okay, at least to his son, but could be really cold. His mother was just awful, mean, nasty. Loved humiliating people.

  3. I went to high school with Alex and he was very unsocial and "strange" not surprising

  4. The so-called suicide watch: Alex was thrown naked into a windowless room with no sheets on the cot. The room was cold. Isn't this torture? No wonder he had a breakdown.

  5. This case had serious effects on people other than Forbes.it is sad his mother is ill but he should face justice like anyone else.

  6. The mother is ill? With what and why is that relevant?

  7. Your all very brave to post snide remarks behind the anonymity of the internet. Dont throw stones.

  8. Also, he will be standing trial in Scotland eventually. One reaps what they sow.

  9. He's in Dundee now so the extradition must have went through at last.......

    "The 24-year-old, of Princeton, Massachussets, appeared in private on petition at Dundee Sheriff Court, charged with assault to severe injury and permanent impairment and attempted murder.

    He made no plea or declaration during the brief hearing and the case was continued for further examination.

    Sheriff Elizabeth Munro granted the US national bail ahead of further court dates being set."

  10. I was in HMP Edinburgh with Alex before his extradition... I`m not going to try to minimise his actions but he was nothing but nice to everyone he spoke to and he helped me with the novel I was writing at the time, I also had the pleasure to be one of the first people to read his book he had finished while incarcerated. What he did was wrong on so many levels but he wasnt an all bad guy.

    1. I sometimes google his name when bored and had the pleasure to come across this blog.

      I was in the courtroom when he was sentenced. I sat behind his mother and father. The coward never apologised. He was exactly as the court described him: a remorseless monster. We never got an explanation for why he did it.

      The yellow coward walked past me in front of the courtroom and never said a word on his way in.

      If you are in contact with the rat bastard, let him know that he is not forgiven.

  11. A case of affluenza, perhaps?