As Chan­nel 5 screens new doc­u­men­tary, our re­porter goes... In­side evil Paige killer’s De­li­cious Deli crime scene

Evening Times - - NEWS -

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

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