Glasgow & West Scotland

Margaret Fleming accused predicted murder charge

Margaret Fleming
Image caption Margaret Fleming would now be 38

A police officer has told a jury that the man accused of killing Margaret Fleming predicted the case would "end up in a murder charge".

It is alleged that Edward Cairney made the comment to police after they were contacted by social workers in 2016.

PC Jonathan Gilmour spoke at the trial of Mr Cairney, 77, and Avril Jones, 59, at the High Court in Glasgow.

They deny murdering Margaret Fleming in Inverkip, sometime between 18 December 1999 and 5 January 2000.

Margaret, who would now be 38 years old, has allegedly not been seen for more than 19 years.

The court earlier heard that she was cared for by her mother for a time after her father Derek Fleming died in October 1995.

However, Margaret then went to live with Mr Cairney and Ms Jones.

Dog's bowl

Concerns were raised after Ms Jones filled in a benefit claim form for Margaret in September 2016.

In it she claimed that Margaret ate food from a dog's bowl, would cut her palms with a knife when anxious and had picked a hole in her forehead.

Inverclyde Council social worker Veronica Bennett told the court she contacted Ms Jones by phone.

Miss Bennett said: "When I asked what the doctor said, she [said she] hadn't taken her to a GP."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The case is being heard at the High Court in Glasgow

The social worker was so concerned that she and a colleague drove to the house and when she saw the property, which she described as being in a very poor state, she called the police.

When PC Gilmour and a colleague arrived, on 28 October 2016, they were told by Mr Cairney and Ms Jones that Margaret had fled out of the back door when she heard the police.

They said that Margaret and Mr Cairney had been to Wemyss Bay to buy chocolate and had returned just as the police turned up.

The police officer told the jury that Mr Cairney became aggressive during questioning.

PC Gilmour said: "He said, 'you can see where this is going Avril, she's away. This is going to end up in a murder charge.'"

'Shared' socks

The jury heard that PC Gilmour asked for items of Margaret's which may have had her DNA on them.

He was given a tartan jumper, a blue T-shirt, a toy penguin and a quantity of socks.

Prosecutor Iain McSporran QC asked: "Were there any personal items, make up, a hair brush?"

PC Gilmour replied: "No."

When asked what happened when the socks were produced, the police officer replied: "Avril said 'now I've got no socks left'.

"She told me they shared socks."

PC Gilmour also said that Ms Jones told him Margaret was "doolally".

Mr Cairney and Ms Jones are also accused of defrauding £182,000 in benefits and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by claiming Margaret was alive.

They deny all the charges against them.

The trial before judge Lord Matthews continues.

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