HUNT FOR A KILLER

How ad­vances in DNA test­ing fi­nally snared evil Sin­clair

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Jonathan Brock­le­bank J.brock­le­[email protected]­lymail.co.uk

THE two girls’ bod­ies were dis­carded with such ca­sual con­tempt that, surely, they must have held an abun­dance of clues.

These were not so much care­ful, cal­cu­lat­ing killers as shame­less sav­ages who ex­hib­ited the ex­tent of their de­prav­ity in the state in which they left their vic­tims.

Chris­tine Eadie was found on her back, her wrists bound with one leg of her tights. The other leg had been used to stran­gle her. Her pants were stuffed into her mouth and her bra was around her head, hold­ing the gag in place. She had been beaten, bit­ten and raped.

He­len Scott was found hours later, face down, naked below the waist, her coat belt bind­ing her hands and Chris­tine’s belt around her neck. There was a stamp mark on the side of her head with a tread pat­tern that matched a foot­print at the site where Chris­tine was found. She had been raped, too, and may well have watched her friend die be­fore the killers turned on her.

These were brazen, sex­u­ally mo­ti­vated mur­ders which cried out for jus­tice. And yet, for al­most 40 years, none came.

In the 1970s, foren­sic sci­ence was a much blunter in­stru­ment in crime de­tec­tion than it is today. DNA pro­fil­ing would not be known for a decade or more. But there was still plenty to be gleaned from old-fash­ioned

‘Cruel luck ham­pered the in­ves­ti­ga­tion’

po­lice work. Eye­wit­ness ac­counts, for one. The World’s End pub had been packed when Chris­tine and He­len ar­rived there with their friends Toni Wale and Jacqueline Inglis shortly be­fore 10pm on Oc­to­ber 15, 1977. Some­one in­side must have seen the two girls af­ter Toni and Jacqueline last did.

It turned out quite a few had. But, even in those early days of the mur­der in­quiry, a streak of cruel luck was ham­per­ing it. Vir­tual dop­pel­gangers for Chris­tine and He­len had been in the pub just be­fore they ar­rived. Many of those who gave in­for­ma­tion had seen the ‘wrong’ girls.

Those who re­ally had seen Chris­tine and He­len told of two men who had been in their com­pany. The stock­ier one wore trousers with dis­tinc­tive patches at each pocket. His friend had a thick, dark mous­tache.

Policeman John Raf­ferty came clos­est to wit­ness­ing the tragedy un­fold. As the pub closed, the 50-year-old of­fi­cer had seen Chris­tine fall and had helped her to her feet. He then be­came aware of a man star­ing at him close to the door of the pub. He stepped for­ward and of­fered the girls a lift to ‘ wher­ever they wanted to go’, re­called Mr Raf­ferty.

The policeman next saw the girls head­ing down St Mary Street with the same man and an­other. For years, spec­u­la­tion would run riot about the iden­tity of these two men. Were they the killers? The truth would fi­nally come from the un­like­li­est of sources – Sin­clair him­self, when he made the un­wise choice to take the stand and con­firmed that he and his brother-in-law Gor­don Hamil­ton had spirited the girls away that night.

Back in 1977, de­tec­tives spent a great deal of time try­ing to track those men down. The man­power Loth­ian and Bor­ders Po­lice threw into the mur­der hunt was un­prece­dented. At its height, 60 of­fi­cers were work­ing full-time on the case. They chased up nu­mer­ous leads, many of which turned out to be en­tirely false. One wit­ness in the pub thought one of the two men seen with the girls men­tioned an Army back­ground. And one of them had an un­fash­ion­ably short hair­cut. As a re­sult, ev­ery squad­die in Scot­land was spo­ken to.

Un­der­world fig­ures, such as Glas­gow crime boss Arthur Thomp­son and his son Arthur Jnr were also in­ter­viewed – but that was only be­cause their en­e­mies had passed false in­for­ma­tion to the po­lice just to nee­dle the Thomp­sons.

There was pre­cious lit­tle in the way of clues which might have pointed Sin­clair’s way. But one was the sight­ing of a van out­side the World’s End pub, and a sim­i­lar one parked out­side a phone box in the East Loth­ian vil­lage of Drem, three miles from where He­len’s body was found in a field near Hadding­ton.

Sin­clair had a Toy­ota Hi­ace camper van. Could this have been the ve­hi­cle which was seen?

Then there were the knots in the lig­a­tures. Those bind­ing Chris­tine were reef knots – in­dica­tive of a killer with knowl­edge of knot-ty­ing. As it hap­pened, Sin­clair had made fish­ing nets dur­ing his first spell in prison. A much more rudi­men­tary granny knot had been used to bind He­len, which sug­gested two men were in­volved.

There were other rea­sons to sus­pect two killers. Two would be able to con­trol a cou­ple of teenagers, pos­si­bly fight­ing for their lives, much more eas­ily than one.

By spring 1978, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was run­ning out of steam. Moun­tains of files, state­ments, tip- offs and eye-wit­ness ac­counts seemed to point nowhere in par­tic­u­lar.

Ef­fec­tively, the case re­mained in cold stor­age for a decade. Sig­nif­i­cantly, how­ever, all the girls’ clothes were scrupu­lously pre­served.

This, po­lice say today, was tes­ta­ment to the de­ter­mi­na­tion of ev­ery­one in­volved with the case to en­sure who­ever was re­spon­si­ble for such a hor­ri­fy­ing crime would be caught.

It was as if they some­how knew that, one day, sci­ence would have much more to say about the ev­i­den- tial ma­te­rial stored in the po­lice ar­chives.

In 1988 a pris­oner at Ed­in­burgh’s Saughton jail claimed he had heard two in­mates talk­ing about the mur­ders in a way that sug­gested in­side knowl­edge. Archy Mo­tion and Colin Coyne were each in­ter­viewed but turned out to have al­i­bis for the time of the mur­ders.

The episode did prompt a fresh look at the case, how­ever, and a very ba­sic DNA pro­file from a se­men stain on He­len’s coat was ex­tracted. But no match was found.

By 1996 huge ad­vances in DNA pro­fil­ing al­lowed a 12-band pro­file to be ex­tracted from the same stain and for this to be checked against the na­tional DNA data­base set up the pre­vi­ous year. But again there were no matches.

Po­lice there­fore tried a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. They be­gan a process of ‘in­tel­li­gence-led DNA swab­bing’ in­volv­ing hun­dreds of po­ten­tial sus­pects who were not on the data­base. Those ap­proached for swabs were promised their DNA pro­files would be checked for this case only and then de­stroyed. In or­der to rule them­selves out, the vast ma­jor­ity were happy to com­ply.

It was a mas­sive ex­er­cise which took sev­eral years but, ul­ti­mately came to nought be­cause the DNA pro­file po­lice held be­longed to a man who was not on the data­base. Gor­don Hamil­ton had died in 1996 and it was sim­ply bad luck they had

‘At long last the po­lice had a name’

not man­aged to ex­tract Sin­clair’s DNA.

But their l uck was about to change. In 2000, dur­ing an­other cold case re­view, foren­sic sci­en­tist Lester Knibb un­tied the knots on the tights used to stran­gle the girls.

From the ma­te­rial which had been in­side the knots, a ‘ soup’ of DNA be­long­ing to more than one per­son was re­cov­ered. Noth­ing of use could

be ex­tracted from it at the time but this area of sci­ence was mov­ing very quickly. In time, DNA pro­files cor­re­spond­ing with both girls and both killers would be found in the knots.

In the mean­time, a new DNA process in­volv­ing the com­par­i­son of Y chro­mo­somes, which are passed down the male line, was com­ing on-stream. A pre­vi­ously un­touched sec­tion of stain­ing on He­len’s coat yielded two DNA pro­files, a dom­i­nant one and an un­der­ly­ing one.

A po­lice source said: ‘The dom­i­nant one gave suf­fi­cient ma­te­rial to do a low copy pro­file and we got a com­pletely dif­fer­ent DNA pro­file com­ing up. We ran it on the DNA data­base and it came back as An­gus Robert­son Sin­clair. I knew of him. He was in jail for mur­der.’

At long last, po­lice had a name. Not only did his DNA pro­file fit, his crim­i­nal pro­file fit­ted too. Any of­fi­cer ex­am­in­ing his record would have had no dif­fi­culty in be­liev­ing the Glas­gow- born mon­ster was ca­pa­ble of com­mit­ting the World’s End mur­ders.

But whose was the mys­tery DNA pro­file? A thor­ough trawl of Sin­clair’s past as­so­ci­ates threw up the an­swer. Hamil­ton had en­tered Sin­clair’s or­bit when he came to stay with his sis­ter Sarah Hamil­ton in Glas­gow. Sin­clair, a painter and dec­o­ra­tor, was her hus­band.

In the sum­mer of 1977 the two men planned a se­ries of weekend trips in Sin­clair’s van. They were sup­pos­edly fish­ing trips, but there was no ev­i­dence of fish hav­ing been caught when they re­turned home.

What were they re­ally do­ing on these trips? Hamil­ton, dead for ten years, was in no po­si­tion to tell de­tec­tives. And Sin­clair, in prison since 1982, was not of a mind to do so.

Ul­ti­mately, a search of a flat in Glas­gow’s Den­nis­toun would pro­vide the DNA match that proved Hamil­ton was Sin­clair’s ac­com­plice. Hamil­ton had erected ceil­ing cov­ing when he lived in the flat and had left his DNA on it. Thirty years af­ter the atroc­ity, de­tec­tives fi­nally knew who was re­spon­si­ble for it. The an­swer was a se­rial killer and his loner, mis­fit brother-in-law.

Noth­ing that hap­pened in the sub­se­quent trial of Sin­clair in 2007 al­tered the po­lice’s view of who was be­hind the mur­ders.

In­stead, when the case col­lapsed fol­low­ing a mo­tion of no case to an­swer from Sin­clair’s coun­sel Edgar Prais, QC, po­lice voiced as­ton­ish­ment.

Sin­clair had lodged a special de­fence of in­crim­i­na­tion, blam­ing his dead brother-in-law for the mur­ders. But seven years later, there was no mis­take.

An­gus Sin­clair, a man with­out com­pas­sion or re­morse, was the se­rial killer re­spon­si­ble for two of Scot­land’s most chill­ing mur­ders. It had taken much too long to nail him.

Care­free teenagers: He­len Scott, left, and Chris­tine Eadie, right, pic­tured with their friend Jackie Thomson

Mur­der hunt: Po­lice search­ing near the spot where Chris­tine’s body was found

Brother-in-law: Gor­don Hamil­ton

Vi­tal clues: Sin­clair’s Toy­ota Hi­ace camper van, above and right

Ques­tion­ing: An­gus Sin­clair be­ing in­ter­viewed by po­lice

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