Glasgow & West Scotland

Elaine Doyle murder: John Docherty can appeal 'without limitation'

John Docherty and Elaine Doyle
Image caption Docherty lodged papers in August last year to launch an appeal against his conviction

A former soldier's appeal against his conviction for murdering teenager Elaine Doyle in 1986 has taken a step forward.

Court of Criminal Appeal judges agreed to allow John Docherty's challenge to go ahead without limitation.

His defence is to argue that no "reasonable jury" would have returned a guilty verdict.

A previous decision by a single judge had allowed the ground of appeal to proceed but in a limited way.

Docherty's defence counsel Donald Findlay QC argued against that ruling and Lady Paton, sitting with Lord Drummond Young and Lady Clark of Calton, agreed that the ground could be heard in full.

It advances the proposition that the verdict was one which "no reasonable jury, properly directed, could have returned".

DNA evidence

The 50-year-old from Dunoon, in Argyll and Bute, was sentenced to serve a minimum of 21 years after being convicted of murdering 16-year-old Elaine in Greenock.

At the trial Docherty denied the murder charge, but a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh found him guilty of strangling the teenager, who had earlier been at a disco.

Elaine's body was found in a lane close to her parents' flat in Ardgowan Street.

Years after her death DNA evidence - unknown in crime scene investigations at the time - was found on her naked body, providing a link to Docherty who later provided a sample.

No date has yet been fixed for hearing Docherty's appeal against the murder conviction.

It emerged in August last year that Doyle's legal team had lodged papers with court officials in Edinburgh to begin an appeal.

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