Glasgow & West Scotland

Elaine Doyle murder: Killer John Docherty loses appeal

John Docherty and Elaine Doyle
Image caption Elaine's Doyle's killer John Docherty has also lost an appeal against the minimum 21 years he must serve in jail

A former soldier who was jailed for life for murdering Greenock teenager Elaine Doyle 30 years ago has lost an appeal against his conviction.

John Docherty, 51, from Dunoon, Argyll, was convicted in June 2014 and jailed for a minimum term of 21 years.

Judges have also rejected an appeal that the minimum term was excessive.

The body of 16-year-old Elaine was found in a lane close to her parents' flat in Greenock in 1986. Docherty's DNA was later identified on her body.

'Callousness and brutality'

Rejecting Docherty's appeal, Scotland's senior judge, the Lord Justice General, Lord Carloway, said: "This was a compelling circumstantial case and the appeal against conviction is refused.

"This was a murder of an innocent 16-year-old girl making her way home along the public streets after a night out in central Greenock. It is a crime of rare callousness and brutality.

"As the trial judge records, it caused widespread public revulsion and anxiety and terrible anguish for the deceased's family over many years."

Image copyright BBC - police handouts
Image caption John Docherty as a young man and being interviewed in 2013 by police following his arrest

Lord Carloway added: "Although the fact that the appellant was in his early 20s when he committed the crime, and is now 51, is a matter to be taken into account, a significant punishment part was inevitable notwithstanding the appellant's unblemished record since joining the army in the year after the crime."

The former soldier was arrested in 2012 following a cold case review and found guilty of murdering Elaine as she walked home from a disco in Greenock's Celtic Supporters' Club.

Detectives arrested Docherty, of Dunoon, Argyll, after his DNA was found on sticky tape used in 1986 to lift hairs and fibres off Elaine's body,

The techniques required to match DNA were not available at the time of Elaine's death but cold case detectives reviewed thousands of statements and discovered Docherty had not been questioned after the murder.

Police 'shambles'

When he was asked for a DNA sample, Docherty agreed and appeared "stunned" when he was later charged with Elaine's murder.

During his trial, it emerged Docherty, then 21, and a friend, had been at the Celtic Supporters' Club, and while the friend was interviewed and named Docherty as being with him, officers never approached him.

The ex-Royal Engineer, who moved back to Greenock after leaving the Army, was one of 722 potential suspects and he was tested in May 2012.

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Elaine's body was found in a lane yards from her home in Ardgowan Street
Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Elaine had been at a night out in Greenock when she was murdered

Docherty denied murder and did not give evidence in his defence and his QC, Donald Findlay, branded the investigation "a shambles", after hearing a blanket from a police car was draped over Elaine.

He claimed the crime scene had been contaminated and the DNA evidence was not reliable.

But the jury disagreed and found Docherty guilty.

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