Be­hind scenes of mur­der trial that rocked Scot­land

New BBC doc­u­men­tary gives un­prece­dented ac­cess to cap­ture the in­ner work­ings of a High Court mur­der case

Evening Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY STACEY MULLEN Mur­der Trial: The Dis­ap­pear­ance of Mar­garet Flem­ing will air on BBC Scot­land on Jan­uary 7 and 8

‘YOU will never get an­other case like this.” The words of Thomas Ross QC per­haps ex­plain why a doc­u­men­tary crew was keen to cap­ture the mur­der trial of the car­ers who killed Mar­garet Flem­ing.

Ev­i­dence emerged to prove Mar­garet was killed at just 19 years old be­tween De­cem­ber 1999 and Jan­uary 2000 by her car­ers Ed­ward Cair­ney, 77, and Avril Jones, 59, who then cov­ered up the crime to claim £182,000 in ben­e­fits.

Vul­ner­a­ble Mar­garet moved into the pair’s home in Seacroft, In­verkip, in Oc­to­ber 1995 when her fa­ther Derek died.

What un­rav­elled is re­vealed more than two decades later in Mur­der Trial: The Dis­ap­pear­ance of Mar­garet Flem­ing, which will be aired on the BBC Scot­land chan­nel on Jan­uary 7 and 8.

It stars High Court of Scot­land pros­e­cu­tor Iain McS­por­ran QC, de­fence coun­sel Thomas Ross QC, who rep­re­sented Cair­ney, and Ian Duguid QC, who de­fended Jones.

The doc­u­men­tary team was given un­prece­dented ac­cess to the in­ner work­ings of a high court mur­der case re­sult­ing in the two-part se­ries which delves into the pasts of both the vic­tim and her killers, who will each serve a min­i­mum of 14 years in jail.

The doc­u­men­tary fol­lows on from when the pub­lic was first in­tro­duced to the pair in a TV in­ter­view with BBC News re­porter Suzanne Al­lan.

In the in­ter­view, which aired in Oc­to­ber 2017, Jones and Cair­ney de­nied hav­ing any­thing to do with Mar­garet’s dis­ap­pear­ance and even sug­gested she was alive and work­ing as a gang­mas­ter in Poland.

Ross, 56, was given the dif­fi­cult task of de­fend­ing Cair­ney when he al­ready put that ev­i­dence into the pub­lic do­main.

He said: “It is one of the parts of ev­i­dence that you can’t re­ally do any­thing about.

“I don’t know why he did the in­ter­view, it was there it had been recorded. He doesn’t need to prove that he is in­no­cent. He doesn’t even have to prove that she is alive. The crown has to prove that she is dead.

“We knew it was there and would have to be dealt with.”

Dur­ing the trial, an­other key piece of ev­i­dence came from PC Jonathan Gil­mour, who told the jury that Cair­ney pre­dicted the case would end up in a mur­der charge.

Ross said: “Look­ing at it in iso­la­tion, it sounds very sig­nif­i­cant. “But it started with two rou­tine cops com­ing to check, then an­other two cops, then two CID, then a dog unit, then some­body talk­ing about he­li­copters and divers. “When you have gone from two cops turn­ing up for a miss­ing per­son to your house full of about 15 cops – and say­ing this is go­ing to end up a mur­der charge, it was in the con­text of the po­lice en­quiry.”

McS­por­ran, 55, added: “That is a good ex­am­ple of why we have two sides be­cause I made some­thing of it in my speech I am sure. “Why would you be talk­ing about mur­der if some­one was just away be­ing a gang­mas­ter in Poland?” The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Jones and Cair­ney is also ex­plored in the doc­u­men­tary and no-one – not even their own de­fence – is able to de­ter­mine what went on be­tween the pair.

Ross said: “We didn’t get any in­sight at all into the re­la­tion­ship. I am only talk­ing about the ev­i­dence.

“We know they stayed to­gether for years and we know wit­nesses said they weren’t sure if they were a cou­ple.”

He added: “He [Cair­ney] was quite clever and he took an in­ter­est in the case in a way a lot of ac­cused don’t.”

Duguid, 64, said: “It would be quite dif­fi­cult to get to the bot­tom of the na­ture of their re­la­tion­ship be­cause ob­vi­ously is­sues of con­fi­den­tial­ity re­main.

“But even to try to es­tab­lish what the re­la­tion­ship was over a num­ber of years was quite hard to dis­cern re­ally over the case.”

He added: “As a per­son­al­ity, she was just quite re­served. She didn’t show many emo­tions.

“You see her when she was in­ter­viewed on the tele­vi­sion by Suzanne Al­lan.

“That is pretty much the em­bod­i­ment of her gen­eral per­son­al­ity.

“Some peo­ple said she was a bit de­tached from the process some­times.

“She cer­tainly gave a good in­di­ca­tion of fol­low­ing all the pro­ceed­ings but it is hard to find a de­scrip­tion for her. She is quite un­emo­tional I think.”

From the wit­nesses who take to the stand to the peo­ple who knew Mar­garet grow­ing up, the doc­u­men­tary takes the viewer on a jour­ney plac­ing a woman who so­ci­ety for­got about at its very heart.

Thomas said: “You will see how hard peo­ple work to pre­pare the case and be or­gan­ised.

“There is also a mis­con­cep­tion that lawyers can be snipey, grand­stand­ing or the­atri­cal. There is no much of that.

“It is ob­vi­ous that the wit­nesses were treated de­cently and re­spect­fully.”

Clock­wise from above: mur­der vic­tim Mar­garet Flem­ing; Ian Duguid QC, Ian McS­por­ran QC and Thomas Ross QC; and con­victed killers Avril Jones and Ed­ward Cair­ney

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