As Channel 5 screens new documentary, our reporter goes... Inside evil Paige killer’s Delicious Deli crime scene
THE murder of Clydebank schoolgirl Paige Doherty was thrust back into the spotlight in a new Channel 5 documentary. “Murder Next Door” gave viewers a glimpse into the lives of those connected to the 15-year-old during her two-day disappearance and the subsequent murder investigation. Here, Evening Times reporter MAXINE McARTHUR, who covered the story for the Clydebank Post, and featured in the documentary, describes what it was like to stand on the spot where the teenager was murdered one year on
IT was hard not to be affected as I walked in. It still looked like an active crime scene, untouched almost a year after Paige’s brutal murder.
Floorboards were ripped up in a pattern where the teenager’s blood spilled during her terrifying final moments. Red arrow stickers pointed to almost unnoticeable red specs of dried blood on the walls and fridges.
It was perhaps one of the most shocking moments of the hour-long film. When viewers were taken inside the Delicious Deli, the site where vile John Leathem ended the youngster’s life, which has remained closed following his arrest on March 23, 2016. Watching it again brought the memories flooding back.
It’s a place I had never visited before Paige’s death and to which I have since been granted exclusive access a handful of times.
As we closed the office door to film the sequence, the tiny space was unnerving.
My eyes began to dart around the four walls as I tried to comprehend how anyone could do what he did in this room. Suddenly I felt extremely claustrophobic.
It was hard not to think about Paige, who was held to the ground as she was murdered, knowing this is the last sight she saw, the terror she felt was unfathomable and the emotions which sweep over you are almost uncontrollable.
It was an incredibly surreal place to be. At first, it appeared as just an unused café, frozen in time from its heyday and left to go to ruin – until the door to the back office opened.
It remains very much as it did, ice cream still cold inside the fridges, staff rotas dotted around the walls and its former owner’s jacket flung over the coat hook on the back of the office door.
For more than two years, I have worked closely with Paige’s family, namely her mother Pamela and stepfather Andy, in a bid to ensure the popular schoolgirl was remembered for how she lived – not how she died.
And that made the documentary even more difficult to watch. Hearing, even for the hundredth time, the brutal final moments of the youngster’s life still sends shivers down my spine – like beginning the entire two-year journey again.
From finding out she had gone missing and the frantic search conducted around Clydebank and Glasgow, hoping she had just been a typical teenager and was out being daft somewhere, to hearing a body had been found in the search and the sinking feeling that comes with knowing it’s her but praying it is anyone else but.
Even now, almost three years on, the confusion and fear when looking at Leathem on the screen, hearing his voice and listening to his callous conversations with the family following Paige’s death are still present.
Although the grim details surrounding events of March 19, 2016, are unthinkable, and would easily merit switching the channel in a bid to escape, it’s vital those closest to the situation have the opportunity to tell their own story in their own words – as Pamela, Andy, and the rest of Paige’s family and friends had the chance to do.
We see a lot of crime scenes in this profession, but rarely do we go beyond that blue tape and never are we stood in the very spot where the murder of a child took place, looking at her blood on the walls, wondering what possible reason there could be to do this to her, to her entire family.
The documentary hoped, as our reporting at the Clydebank Post and the Evening Times had, to determine that reason but, it’s likely we never will.
All we can do now is remember Paige for who she was and hope, one day, he will give her family the answers they deserve.
Maxine at the deli, and inset, Paige Doherty
A policeman at the scene at the time of the killing, and inset, Paige’s killer John Leathem